Tag Archives: #sol16

Countdown to Spring Break

18 Mar


10 miles there & back

9 days without school

8 hours at school

7 traffic lights to drive through

6 hours of teaching

5 minutes of passing time

4 quarter hours in the car commuting

3 teammates

2 Humanities classes to teach

1 morning meeting

 Blast-off to Spring Break

House blessing

17 Mar


Basil? Check.

Water? Check.

I’d been tidying for days, in anticipation of my house blessing. It’s an Orthodox Christian tradition in which the parish priest comes to your home in the weeks after Theophany (the celebration of Christ’s baptism, celebrated January 6th) to bless your home with holy water.

When the knock came on the door. Lucy, who had been dead asleep, awoke and started barking. Fr. Timothy, who has a dog named Zeus, entered my little house and gave Lucy a some time to sniff. He put on his epitrachelion (his stole) and intoned the opening words of the short service.

Blessed is our God always, both now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

This was followed by a litany and prayers, during which he poured holy water into my little bowl and blessed it. And then the fun began. He picked up the basil and the bowl of water and we walked around my one bedroom condominium singing the hymn of Theophany:

When Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee.

All the while, he dipped the basil leaves in the bowl of water and flicked water throughout the house. Lucy watched a droplet land near her with great fascination, then followed Fr. Timothy as he walked through the house. It was over in a couple of minutes, but I was left feeling happy and peaceful.

As Fr. Timothy left, we joked about seeing each other next year, even though we know we will see each other sooner.

Future ready? Not today!

16 Mar


It’s the latest buzz word: Future Ready.

We are supposed to be a future ready school in a future ready district, but we’ve had an ongoing connectivity issue for a while.

The wifi works.

The wifi doesn’t work.

The wifi works.

The wifi doesn’t work.

Over and over again, all day long.

Yesterday I had to take attendance with paper and pencil for my Core 2 class, and yet, ten minutes later was I was able to show a YouTube video. Thank goodness that worked in my favor. Had I tried to show the video ten minutes later than I did, though, I would have been S.O.L., and not in the Slice of Life sense.

It hit a new low today. I couldn’t even connect with an ethernet cable. Seriously! Eventually our tech person went from room to room connecting the ethernet cable to the phone, not the wall part. Who knew you could do that.

We are on Spring Break in three days. I am hopeful  that the kinks will be worked out before we get back, when SBAC testing starts. I hope that is enough of a reason for someone to figure out what the heck is going on.

Weather fetishes

14 Mar

One of the things I love about living in the Pacific Northwest is the temperate weather. I can usually make it through Winter with a fleece and a raincoat.Summers are usually not too hot. You’d think there wouldn’t be anything for me to obsess about, and yet, I obsess over two things.

In the summer, when the weather is generally perfect, we get an occasional heat wave. When that happens, I check the two websites I have bookmarked. My favorite thing to do on these days is to go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  website.


It has a lovely little link on the right hand side called “3 Day History”, which gives you the temperature EVERY HOUR for the last three days. During a heat wave I can compare the hourly temperature from one day to the next and compare how quickly each day is heating. I might think “Oh, it is heating more quickly today than yesterday. I should take Lucy for a walk earlier.” I can also look ahead to see how soon the heat wave will break and pace myself.

In winter, I tend to use a local TV station’s website to track rainfall. I love the fact that they not only track how much rain has fallen in  day, but also in a onto and in a year AND they compare it to the average.

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Is it normal to care this much that we are currently 13.34 inches above average in they rainfall year?

I also track rainfall on my drive home. As I cross the Willamette River on the Marquam Bridge, I take my eyes off the road and look at the water level.


I use two landmarks to help me determine how high (in winter) or low (in summer) the Willamettte is. First, I look to a little beach area next to a marina.


In high water the beach is gone and it has been absent most of March. I put my eyes back on the road. Next, I take a moment to look at the Hawthorne Bridge, which connects to land on the West side of the Willamette, just south of the little beach.


The bridge’s concrete supports have water level markings and I  have to dart my eyes back and forth between the road and the bridge a few times to determine how high (or low) the water is.

Just for the record, at the time of writing this, rain is forecast through Tuesday. Wednesday will be a transition day and it will start warming up on Thursday. Spring Break begins on Friday afternoon, so I am hoping we might have a little sunshine while I enjoy my staycation.

The Quiz

10 Mar


Privacy folders were up and I passed out the quiz. Pencils were poised awaiting the signal that they could begin.

“Go!” I called.

The sound of papers being flipped was followed by the scratch of pencils. Then giggles. A few kids stopped writing and appeared to be finished.

Before too long, I saw a hand go up and student said, “I am on number 8.”

More giggles. Some groans and then everyone was finished.

Yes, we tricked them. All four of the teachers on my team gave THAT quiz: the one about reading directions. We’d all recently had kids get test questions wrong because they didn’t read directions, so we thought we’d teach them lesson. My class had a good discussion about the importance of reading and listening to ALL directions and, though this could have been boring it wasn’t . The were especially impressed at how the four teachers had conspired against them.

I think we rose in their estimation today.





9 Mar

I saw my first trillium today.

Driving down the highway towards home, I took my eyes off the road. I’ve been doing so since the beginning of the month because this is when the trilliums come.

And today, I saw my first trillium.

It filled my heart with joy, to see it there nestled among the ferns in the forest bordering the highway. Where there is one, more will come.

My mid wandered, thinking about the Flower Fairy books by Cicely Mary Barker that my grandmother gave us. Did you ever read these? Here is a sample.


To my knowledge, Cicely Mary Barker never wrote a poem about trilliums. Inspired by CMB  and the trillium I saw today, I wrote one

The Song of the Trillium Fairy

The road is wide, its banks are steep,
Where Douglas firs reach high;
And gently through the ferns I creep,
‘Neath Oregon’s grey sky.

The people in the cars below
Look up and see me there,
Where shyly my three petals show
That Spring is in the air.


Divided loyalties

6 Mar


My heart longed to be in two places.

Saturday was our regional meet for Oregon Battle of the Books (OBOB). I’d been bringing teams for years, but I am at a new school, Stoller Middle School, coaching a new team.

Last year’s team was my heart team.There is a term in the basset world, a heart dog, that refers to a dog who is your canine soulmate. Last years Bookmarks team was my heart team.


Only three members were back, but I’d known these girls since kindergarten. I was their OBOB coach for two years and their teacher for one. I just knew them better than the 7th graders I brought, who I’d only known for a few months and do not teach. I’d been in touch with some people and knew the Bookmarks would be at the regional meet too. Fortunately, this year they had staggered starts and I was able to attend the Bookmarks’ first battle (they won handily!) before my middle schoolers were due to arrive.

While chaperoning my real team, I was in touch with a mom by text and followed their progress. I squealed when I learned they were one of the top 16 teams, the Sweet Sixteen, who would go on to the next round.  Damn, I’d miss this one.

Interestingly, although we lost our first two battles, Stoller’s point total was enough to get into the middle school Sweet Sixteen competition.  Then, I learned the Bookmarks had won and made it into the Elite eight. Damn. I wouldn’t be able to see this battle either.

And then something clicked with my middle schoolers. They kept winning! We were in the Elite Eight, too! Double Damn and Hooray at the same time. I wanted to watch both teams.

The Bookmarks went to the Final Four. So did my middle schoolers. And that is where our paths departed. We lost our battle, but the Bookmarks did not. They ended up in 2nd place and will go on to the State OBOB meet.

There was a point when I was worried I would have to go to the State meet with divided loyalties. I am sad my team, who had worked so hard and did so well today, don’t get to go on. I will make sure we celebrate their hard work when we get back to school on Monday.

But on April 9th, I will go to the State OBOB meet and be 100% in the Bookmarks’ corner.


3 Mar

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word ‘frog’ has 5 meanings.

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 3.18.40 PM

I hate to be a pedant, but they missed a few.

Frog can also describe a basset with his or her rear legs stretched out.

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It is a common term in Bassetdom as many basset hounds find this position very comfy and relaxing.

Frog is also a knitting term. It is a verb of recent origin, said to come from the sound a frog makes. Ribbit sounds like rip it and means to rip out your knitting. Let me use it in a sentence for you.

Realizing I had misread the directions, I had to frog the baby dress I started Saturday.

Alas, this exemplar is also a statement of truth. I started a new knitting project on Sunday. When I found it, I read the note that said “errata available” and actually found the error and correction. But caught up in the ecstasy of a new project, I promptly forgot about it. I was about 1/3 of the way through the back of the baby dress when I realized something was off. I kept going for a bit more, then remember the  “errata available” message. I reread the correction and realized it was unsalvageable, so I frogged it.

Then, I started over, doing correctly. It looks much better now.


Sometimes a little frogging is all it takes to make the world right again.

Inspiring Middle School Readers & Writers

2 Mar

Today is Read Across America Day, a celebration of reading on Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Some students in my class will truly read across America in a Skype reading session with students in Madison, Wisconsin and Portland, Maine. The high point for me was yesterday when I took my last period class to hear Rosanne Parry talk about her writing life.


I first met Rosanne when her first book, The Heart of a Shepherd,  came out. Her dad came by the school to drop off some copies of her book and let me know she had attended our school when she was young. A published alumnus, I thought, we must get her in! And so we did.

I saw her around at bookish functions and at school board meetings where she lobbied hard on behalf of school librarians. I am now at a new school and Rosanne has just published her fourth book, Turn of the Tide.  When I heard she was coming, I jumped at the opportunity to take my class.

She started off by telling the stories that inspired each of her novels.She told of a college trip to Eastern Oregon where you left you key in the car’s ignition in case someone came by and needed it. She told of her experiences teaching in the Olympic Peninsula at a school operated by the Quinault Indian Nation and of the history of whale fishing among the Makah.


She talked about the difficulty of navigating the Columbia River Bar. She held the rapt attention of the students as she retold the story of an American army captain visiting with Russian soldiers in the former East Germany, after the Berlin Wall fell. I’m sure they were all visualizing naked Russian men running down the street wearing each other’s prosthetics. I was most touched at how she teared up when she described the hardships these men had suffered during the Siege of Stalingrad.

She truly showed the students how a slice of life can be an inspiration for their writing.

Randy Ribay

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