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Tooth or consequences

1 Oct

I have been blessed with excellent dental health.

When I chipped my tooth two weeks ago, I was concerned and got into the dentist asap. Expecting a crown, he repaired it like a filling.

Last Tuesday, while eating my lunch, the filling popped off. I called the dentist right away and got an appointment. I also got a better sub than the week before.

The dentist I go to is new to me. My insurance changed and I switched dentists. I’d had my previous dentist for over 20 years and I was accustomed to his ways. I guess that’s why I assumed both times I’d be getting a crown. Dental work was serious and drastic.

My new dentist looked again at the chipped area and surprised me by still opting for no crown. He repaired it using a different material. and then he talked me off the ledge I hadn’t realized I’d been standing on.

“If it breaks while you are away next weekend, it won’t be an emergency,” he told me, eyes sparkling above his surgical mask. “The tooth is still very sound.”

I had told him about an upcoming trip to Vancouver, BC and I think he could tell there were an awful lot of what ifs swirling around in my head.

“If this does fall off, come in when it is convenient. We could do a crown if you want, but we could also just smooth down the rough edges.”

Whoa. My mind was blown.

What I’d thought of as a dental emergency was really not. As educators, we hear about serious dental issues can make it hard for kids to learn. They are having dental emergencies and not getting the care they need. My dental owie, though it could have been worse, was nothing compared to what some students experience daily.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the dental bus that used to come to the school I taught at for over a decade. It’s not that far from my current school, but it is miles away on the socio-economic scale. Kids were get their teeth checked for free. They could have sealants applied and a few had to have some serious dental work done and looked woozy when they returned. A few had teeth so bad they had extra, still free, visits to the dental school.  I had no idea some of these kids had such terrible teeth. They must have been in terrible pain and yet they carried on.

I am taking care to ensure this filling holds. I hope the dental care those former students received years ago holds.

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Hammer time

24 Sep

Week four and the hammer falls.

We have spent the last three weeks in training – learning when and when not to go to their lockers, what to bring to each class, when to go to the bathroom. The first two weeks were friendly reminders. Last week’s reminders were a little more serious.

“If you do that next week, you’ll have lunch detention.”

Lunch detention is hardly a hardship. Students sit in silence, eating their lunch and reading a book. In a school of 1600, where over 500 6th graders eat at the same time, lunch detention can seem like a respite, but at this point in the year, the 6th graders don’t know that yet.

I had an idea of who my first detainees might be. So, imagine my surprise when one of the sweetest, most responsible boys in class confessed he had left his writer’s notebook in his locker. They students had just taken their seats to begin generating ideas for personal narratives around first times, last times, and times they learned something. This young man, because he was sweet and honest, didn’t just get some notebook paper, he confessed.

I don’t make a big deal out of lunch detention when it happens. Most kids are worried the first time, and ask funny questions like “Are you going to tell my mom?” or “Will this go on my permanent record?”.

The student came back to class with a worried look on his face, so I tried to alleviate his worry with some humor.

“Maybe you could write about “The first time I got lunch detention,” I suggested, grinning.

He smiled back at me, opened his notebook, and got to work.

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Revision

10 Sep

I bought some yarn this summer. Im, fact, I bought quite a bit of yarn. I went on vacation with four patterns in tow and a plan to get yarn for two of them. By the time I got home, I had yarn for three.

I started knitting one of the sweaters, a beautiful short-sleeved top that involves colorwork. I knit a swatch and worried a little that the contrast, which seemed evident in the skeins, seemed muddied in the knitting.

I started the sweater, hoping it would be better, but two rows into the colorwork, I knew it wasn’t going to get better. I set the project aside.

I had purchased the yarn at a store in Montréal. Of course, it was the house brand and only available there. I looked through the color options and placed an order.The yarn arrived yesterday.

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As tempted as I was to jump right back in a  few things had to happen first. I had to finish the sock I was knitting. I had to wind the skein into a cake. And, I still had to tear out the two rows of colorwork I had already completed. I finished the sock last night, so, when I get home from school today, I will wind and rip. With any luck, I will also begin knitting.

The Big Five-0

3 Sep

I started school on the Tuesday after Labour Day in 1969.

I’ve been going to school for 50 years!

I was four years old, a December baby, and it was the days when the kindergarten cut-off was December 31st.

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My kindergarten school picture – dress sewn by Mom 

I was super excited about school and insisted Mom teach me how to write my name before we started because I thought that was something I was already supposed to know.

I only found out many years later that, because I was such a shy and introverted child, my parents had considered keeping me home an extra year to mature. They sent me to school that first day with my twin sister, hoping I’d be OK. Fortunately, it worked out and I thrived at school.

So, here I am, 50 years later, still excited about the first day of school. I hope everyone who comes into my class thrives the way I did in Miss Belyea’s class. I know some kids won’t be quite as excited, and that some parents might be worried, like my parents were. I will do my best to be as good for them as Miss Belyea was for me.

Back in style

27 Aug

Many people have back to school traditions. Some people take a yearly photo. Some people have breakfast traditions. For the last few years, I’ve knit socks.

This year, I had my 2019 back to school socks ready for the first day of inservice week.

These are knit in a colorway called Patience. It seemed appropriate.

My 2018 socks were knit in No. 2 Pencil.

The 2017 school year started shortly after the eclipse. Naturally, this colorway was called Total Eclipse of the Sun.

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In 2016, I used this yarn, Fall for Barrie, for another project, but had enough left over for a pair of shortie socks.

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Hand knit socks aren’t cheap, but it makes me happy knowing my feet are sheathed in something made by my own hands.

 

My secret strategy

6 Aug

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The only thing that keeps me going back to my local supermarket is its proximity to the pet store where I buy dog food. Over the last two years, following a buy-out from a national corporation, the local chain has transformed – and not in a way I like. My secret strategy is to park my car in a spot near the park that separates the grocery store from the dog food store, walk to get the dog food, then do my groceries.

Yesterday, my secret strategy played out. As I walked back to my car with the dog food, I saw a silver sedan pull into the shady spot beside my car. Imagine my surprise as I saw who emerged: an 8th grade teacher from my school who will be joining us in 6th grade in September. Apparently, he uses the same secret strategy.

We chatted at the cars for a while, discussing our violation of parking prohibitions. Before too long, he was picking my brain about 6th grade. Instead of getting his cat food then groceries, he decided to get his groceries first so we could carry on our discussion. Eventually we parted, me to the Vitamin section, him to produce, each saying something like “See you in a few weeks”.

As I exited the grocery store wheeling the cart to my car, I saw him again, coming from the direction of the pet food store. We laughed and said “See you in a few weeks” once more.

 

Hurry up and Wait (and don’t let the door hit you on the way out)

30 Jul

I knew I need to replace my back door, but when the condominium exterior doors and trim were repainted in the Spring, my door was skipped. Oh it was prepped, alright. Just before the painting began, the doors that needed replacing – and there were three – were marked. I’ve been living with the mark ever since.

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Emails flew between the three people who were going to replace their back doors. One person volunteered to coordinate. I looked at doors online. Then an opportunity came up and the person coordinating decided to move.

I got busy with work and decided to take care of it in summer. At the end of June, I started calling small, local, door and window companies to get an estimate. Rejected by everyone! Apparently I was late to the game and everyone in Portland had already scheduled their summer door and window replacement. This was a concern because I had hoped to have the work done while I was off for the summer. I was back to square one.

When my neighbor to the left moved in, he’d had his front door replaced. I reached out ti him because I knew he’d gone through Home Depot. His experience, I learned, had been good, but I know other people who had had less than great experiences with them. I booked a consultation for my last day of school.

The consultation was straightforward and a few days later, I got a call from the contractor – a small, local, door and window company – for an appointment to take measurements. the day of the appointment, they called to see if they could come earlier than planned. I was more than happy to hear that. The young man came on a Thursday, took the measurements and said I should get a quote from Home Depot in a few days, but Monday at the latest. Monday came and went and there was no call. The following Monday, I called Home Depot.

The woman on the phone told me the guy I’d worked with was at lunch, but she looked up my file. She asked a couple of questions and said she’d get a quote to me in an hour. She called back with a one more question. With her next call, she had a quote. One of the doors – I was also adding a screen door – was on sale until Wednesday. I could come in and sign the contract any time, but if I came after Wednesday, the sale was over and the price would go up a bit. The difference wasn’t great, but I was anxious to get the ball rolling, so I went in to sign the next day. The doors were ordered and I was told they’d be in around August first.

One of the great things about modern technology is the ability to track purchases. From the updates, I received, I learned my doors were running ahead of schedule and would arrive at Home Depot on July 26th. On the 27th Home Depot called to say my doors were ready. The young man I spoke with said he’d let the contractor know. Yesterday, the small, local, door and window company called and we scheduled the installation for August 20th. I go back to work on August 26th. If all goes as scheduled, I will have achieved my summer repair goal.

 

My morning cup of joe

23 Jul

I like the ritual of making coffee, and I am a person with strong routines.

Every evening after dinner, and after I’ve tidied the kitchen, I get the coffee pot ready for the next morning. When I get up, I stumble to the kitchen, turn on the coffee pot, then take a shower. That way the coffee is ready when I am out of the shower, so I can sip it while I reflect on what the day holds. Summer, winter, weekend, weekday, the routine is the same.

This morning, I went through the routine, but when I poured my coffee, I got a surprise.

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I lifted the lid of the coffeemaker and realized where things had gone wrong.

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So, I started over again. I refilled the reservoir, actually put a filter AND coffee in the gasket, and pushed the button. In the time it takes to shower, I had a fresh pot of the real thing.

 

 

Go ahead, make my day

2 Jul

I’ve only been on vacation for two weeks, but I have already reached the point where I have lost track of the day of the week. Turning the page on the calendar yesterday morning was a helpful anchor, but, with so much unencumbered time, it makes me worry when I actually have an appointment. Like today.

Lucy is in need of a nail trim, so last week, I scheduled an appointment for today. As soon as I got off the phone, I began to worry. Would I remember the appointment if I have lost track of the day? So I came up with a coping strategy.

Lucy doesn’t enjoy going to the vet. If she could read, I suspect she’d hide these notes. For me, knowledge is power; for her, ignorance is bliss.

 

Waiting

25 Jun

I have officially been on vacation for a week, but the big end of the year drama happens today.

Sunday afternoon,  staff got a text telling us to check our email. I did and the message was short and sweet: Tuesday the administrators will call all staff to tell them what their job will be next year.

It’s been a long wait. The discovery of budgeting irregularities meant that our district had a severe shortfall and the projected cutbacks for the 2019-20 year meant jobs would be eliminated. At first it seemed like the RIF might be as bad as the bad year, after the financial crisis. But with retirements and consolidation, it was projected to be not as bad. But still bad enough that we left school last week not knowing for sure what we’d be teaching.

But today is the day.

The staff are buzzing, trying to predict how the calls will happen. By grade level? Alphabetically? Bad news first? Moving first, staying second? It’s a way to try to make sense out of this crazy process.

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I don’t normally bring the phone with me when I walk Lucy, but today I will. Lucy will be there to support me if it is bad news and celebrate if it is good. Wish us luck.

Late Tuesday Update: Good news: My team gets to stay intact!

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