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Intruder alert

27 Mar

I don’t know when or how it arrived, but there was a big fly in my house last night.

It could have slipped in through the front or back door as I took Lucy out for one of several Spring Break walks. It could have slipped in while I was taking out the trash or recycling. Regardless, it was here, in the evening, buzzing around the house.

I was thankful that Lucy was asleep. If there is a fly, she is on high alert, zooming from room to room, trying to catch the darned thing. She was curled up next to me, snoring, as I knit and watched a season 11 of Doctor Who.

I mostly tried to ignore the rotund, black beast – but it was big and LOUD as it zoomed from room to room. Was it looking for an escape? I grabbed a roll of ads from the recycling bin and decided to help.

I have this theory that flies seek light and fresh air. Wielding my rolled up weapon, I went from room to room, strategically turning off lights in an effort to lead the intruder to the kitchen and the back door. It worked until it didn’t and the fly buzzed out into the dark parts of the house. then it came back. it settled once, twice, three times in various places in the kitchen. Neither my roll of ads nor the broom I swung to reach to the top of the cupboards, smooshed the beast. Good thing. I have a really strong gag reflex and don’t do well with fly guts. Hence, the crafty light  strategy.

I’d left the door open and, although I didn’t see the intruder escape into the cool night air, at some point, there seemed to be no buzzing in the house. Was it truly gone or just settled in for the night? Morning would tell. If the beast were still alive (and Google tells me that the housefly – musca domestica – has a life expectancy of 15-28 days) Lucy will surely be on fly patrol. but she’ll have to wake up first.

Lucy on fly patrol

Library people

26 Mar

Monday was officially my first day of Spring Break and I spent part of the day at one of my favorite places : the public library.  Truly a place for everyone, here is who I saw:

A mom pushing a toddler in a stroller and holding the hand of her older child, crossing the street, on their way to story time.

A dad with two daughters, dressed identically, though one was clearly older. Both girls pushed identical babies in identical strollers.

A woman at the circulation desk, getting help placing holds.

A man at the circulation desk, taking care of his fines.

A woman exiting a study room, leaving a man with headphones inside.

People of all ages, colors, socio-economic statuses using the computers.

Toddlers of all colors – and energy levels – in the children’s area.

The Street Roots vendor out front, chatting to a former Streets Root vendor.

And Harry, patiently waiting for his mom and sister.




Music to my ears

25 Mar

Sunday afternoon found me a little restless. The sun was shining and Lucy and I had already been on a long walk. I wanted to knit but I was not in the mood for an audiobook or whatever program was playing on Oregon public radio. I knew I didn’t want silence, even though, lately, I’ve found myself sitting in silence. No radio. No audiobook. No music.

When I returned from three years in Medellin, Colombia, my first major purchase, after a car, was a CD player. It was 1994 and I was ready to move into the next phase of my life and career and that meant new technology. I was so sure about this that, while in Colombia, I purchased CDs instead of cassette tapes to bring home. Over the next two decades, my CD collection grew.

So, Sunday, feeling restless, I poked through my CDs, thinking something classical might be just the thing. I put on the CD I’d chosen, but it didn’t satisfy my need. I dug a little deeper and came up with Clasicos de la Provincia by Carlos Vives, the very first CD I’d ever purchased.



Listening to me brought me back to 1994 and the previous three years in Colombia. The sun shining outside my Portland home, felt as warm as my memories of my Colombian years. I felt nostalgic and energized at the same time. I decided I would dig deeper into my CDs for more of those firsts.




After Carlos, I put on Amplified Heart by Everything But The Girl. This was a band I’d heard a lot on the one radio station in Medellin that played contemporary music in English. I hadn’t listened to this CD in years, and was pleasantly surprised at home well I remembered the lyrics.




Everything But The Girl led naturally to Diva by Annie Lennox. For some reason, I associate this album with the day I was supposed to leave Medellin for the last time. A pilot strike started that morning and I arrived at the airport only to discover that I wasn’t flying home that day. the night before, I had joked with a friend that I might end up on her doorstep. I burst into tears when I did. I’m pretty certain that we listened to this album that night. As with Amplified Heart, I remembered more of the lyrics than I had expected.



Finally, I put on Fumbling Towards Ecstasy by Sarah McLachlan, who I hadn’t heard at all in Colombia. Hers was a transitional CD, marking my return to North America from South America. I listened as I transitioned from afternoon to evening, feeling content.

Lucy’s Haiku Series

24 Mar

Lucy’s nails had grown long. Because her nails are black, I can’t see the quick.  I am afraid to cut them they way I confidently cut her predecessors’ nails. So, Saturday, we made a trip to the vet for a professional trim. Here is a haiku series I think she could have written.

Lucy's Paws


We are in the car
Should I feel worry or joy
I start to tremble.

Shake shake shake shake shake
Drool drool droll drool drool drool drool
Shake shake shake shake shake

The door of doom looms
We have come to the place where
They torture me

I don’t like other dogs
But I hate this place more so
I ignore the others

The mean girl bribes me
Back, to the torture chamber
She cuts off my toes

Finally back to Mom
I will stare out the front door
Until we can leave

The drive home is short
And I am soon home, sweet home
Time for a nap.

Lucy's Paw


Planning ahead

23 Mar

“Wow! You sure have a lot of energy this morning,” my teaching partner commented as I handed here the prototypes of the revision centers our students will visit when they return from Spring Break.

“I had three cups of coffee at the staff breakfast this morning, ” I confessed. “I also have an idea for a rubric they can use to evaluate their work at each station.”

My teaching partner puts up with a lot from me in the morning. I am naturally a morning person, but today I was over the top. Although I was grouchy and draggy last week (what is it about the week before the week before Spring Break?) this week, I became happier and more energetic as Spring Break neared.

“Do you want me to print them?” she asked.

“They aren’t quite ready. I want to make them pretty – maybe add a border or something,”  I replied.

We had brainstormed a list of “issues” we’d noticed in their writing overall and narrowed it down to six, because we both have six tables in class.

  • paragraphing dialogue
  • punctuating dialogue
  • writing numbers
  • commas VS periods (run-on sentences)
  • verb tenses
  • showing elapsed time

I showed her my idea about how to assemble folders. Sometimes, having been an elementary school teacher really makes you better equipped for organizing things like this in middle school.

Later that day, with the rubrics and each center’s direction printed, I got out my Sharpies and wrote each center’s name in bubble letters on the front of a folder. While the kids worked, I colored in the bubble letters. The coffee had worn off and I was ready for Spring Break to begin.



Disrupted reading

22 Mar

A sneeze.

A cough.


A metal water bottle knocked over on the table.

These are the sounds that sometimes interrupt our choice reading time. Usually, it’s the students. This week it was me.

No, I am fine. Thanks for asking. I have managed to mostly avoid the cough/cold/flu that’s been going around.

I laughed and I gasped as I read To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer.


Early in the week, I was laughing. The book is told in the voices of two girls whose dads have fallen in love. They live on opposite sides of the country and are sent to camp together to get to know each other. Hijinks ensue as relationships are formed and fall apart. My LOLing got me some looks that I usually through at students. Touché, young friends!

With yesterday’s sudden turn of events, the audible gasp I uttered resulted in most heads turning my way. I think I might actually have put my hand to my mouth in a gesture of worry.

I was loath to stop choice reading because I was only 20 pages from the end.  As the students worked silently on an in class essay reflecting on the Ray Bradbury’s short stories, I returned to the world of Night Owl and Dog Fish. I’d peeked ahead and thought I knew how the book would end. I was wrong – but this ending was so much better than the one I’d thought was coming.

Ode to Avocado Toast

21 Mar

Unripe avocados sit upon my counter
until the day they all ripen, too quickly
for my heart to bear
and so, for many meals, I eat
the humblest, yet noblest of meals:
avocado toast.

First comes the toasting of the bread –
white, brown, with seeds or grains,
it makes no difference, for the toast
is merely the vehicle for the fruit.

O, noble avocado you were no friend in youth
Whether my mother spurned you in the grocery store
Or if you made no appearance there, I do not know.
I only know that I made your acquaintance
in university, dabbling and experimenting as
young dilettantes will, and yet
I knew not how to eat you
for my lack of youthful experience.

But lo, these many years later,
having eaten my weight in avocados
and found many ways to savor the
delightful and delicious green orb,
whose hue was sacrificed
on the altar of good taste in the 70s,
now, I serve you, lightly seasoned,
upon an altar of toast.


Fire Drill

20 Mar

Sunshine + the last week of school in March = a perfect day for a fire drill

Maybe the week before Spring Break isn’t ideal for a fire drill, but the weather was perfect and March must have one, so I shouldn’t have been surprised by the email announcing one would happen Tuesday morning.

With a class of 8 quiet girls and 16 boys who love to talk, I offered up a bribe as I announced the impending drill.

“If you can go outside, line up in two straight lines and remain quiet and still, I will pass around the Jolly Ranchers,” I said with a naughty smile. Sixth grade eyes glinted at this rare treat.

Everyone got to work, mostly quietly, although whispers of “Jolly Rancher” caught my ear from time to time. They were deep into their task when the alarm sounded.

“Remember the Jolly Ranchers!” was the rallying whisper as chairs were pushed in and the class exited the room. They were silent in the halls, even when they merge with the 8th graders. We found out spot along the fence and, though they needed some help getting started, two quiet lines formed. Around us classes were noisier, but my class was still(ish) and quiet(ish) as we waited for the signal to return to class.

Once back in the room, there was a soft buzz of anticipation as they got back to work and I made good on my bribe.

Photo on 3-19-19 at 12.03 PM

Test prep

18 Mar

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am test knitting a sweater for a designer. Here is a collection of words and images – a sort of visual prose poem – that tells the story of what I need to do before I can actually begin knitting the test knit.

It starts with the pattern

Screen Shot 2019-03-05 at 6.01.11 PM

Next comes the yarn


Which has to be wound,


And weighed


Then swatched and gauge measured

Before the test knit can begin.


Livin’ in the Persian’s Paradise

15 Mar

As kids, we often took familiar tunes and rewrote the lyrics to serve whatever purpose we could find. TV theme songs, commercial jungles, holiday songs. I can still sing a particularly nasty one we wrote – to the tune of Hark the Herald Angels Sing – about how much we were going enjoy seeing the last of our grade seven teacher. She was the only teacher I never warmed to.

Even now,  when a particular sentence recalls the rhythm of a line of song, I will sing it, to myself, to Lucy, and, sometimes to my students.

As class was ending Wednesday, we had a few extra minutes, so I asked for volunteers to share a “performance” of one of the “tasks” they are producing for the Ancient Mesopotamia simulation we have been doing. We are nearing the end and most presentations have been exhortations to the people of Ancient Mesopotamia about irrigation, skits about scribes and cuneiform, or “songs” that sound more like poetic recitations with a lot of giggling.

“J is ready to do his performance, Ms G,” a Hittite told me.

This ought to be interesting, I thought. J is a little quiet and likes to play the class clown, but, he is as capable as anyone else. I wondered, how bad could it be, right?

J turned his ever-present baseball cap sideways and swaggered up to the front of the room, a fellow Hittite carrying a Chromebook joining him. Clearly the sound man. J took his place, turned his cap a quarter turn and announced, “This is Persian’s Paradise sung to the tune of Gangsta’s Paradise.”

I balked a little. Should I have looked over his lyrics first? But the familiar music started to play and J began to rap. He was clearly nervous at first, but then he got his groove going. You know how the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day? Well mine was doing the same thing. J’s lyrics were amazing.  Everyone in the room was diggin’ it. Well, maybe I was diggin’ it and the students were doing whatever Gen Zers do.

When J finished, I am sure the whoops  and applause were audible in the office. He was clearly proud of himself and his classroom cred had risen considerably. We all left for lunch singing “Been spendin’ most their lives/ livin’ in the Persian’s paradise”.


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