Friday, March 16, 2018

Tasty Pasty

If you've ever traveled to the UK you may have tried the meat pies on the menu of many pubs.  My sister and I were big fans of them when we were there a few years ago.  A warm pastry, filled with meat, vegetables, and potatoes- could there be anything better? 

Yes.  It turns out they taste pretty darn good with a cool, British brewed beer.

Tonight I was lucky to get a taste of both, sort of.

The Pure Pasty Company of Vienna, VA serves authentic, award-winning pasties, just like those served in Cornwall, England.  These hand-held meat pies were popular among Cornish tin miners in the late 16th-19th century.  It provided workers with a hearty meal that was easy to transport.

Perhaps it's best served with a Newcastle Brown Ale.  Tonight it went well with Guinness, because, after all, it is an Irish kind of weekend, right?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Getting to Know You

My 6th grade students have been working on their own "Slice of Life" writing challenge.  Students are required to write at least 10 "slices" during the month.  They can also challenge themselves to write at least 20 days or really increase the ante and write each day of the month in hopes of writing for the next 100 days.

This is only my second year doing the end of year writing challenge.  My colleague has been doing it for years...and trying to get me to do it as well.  The only thing I can say is, "Wow! What took me so long?"

In my opinion, the over-emphasis on data has taken the fun and connections out of the classroom.  The expectation that one will keep pace with their grade-level colleagues means worrying about how one will keep up with the others if she/he takes time out to talk a bit in class.  In short, it's hard to get to know each of my 111 students over the course of five 42-minute classes.

Thankfully, the March writing challenge has allowed me to get a glimpse into many of their lives.

School violence is on the minds of many, as is having to learn about puberty in health class.  The science videos this week were characterized as creepy and most students are not fans of Daylight Saving Time.

Hey 6th graders!  It's nice getting to know you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Bring It On

My cat is staring at me.  Yea, Edgar is sitting smack dab in front of the television glaring at me with his large green eyes.  I'm pretty sure he knows that the perch he's picked is making it difficult for me to see the news.

We got back from a visit to the vet's office about an hour ago.  The poor cat, he had no idea anything about his daily schedule was going to change.  Perhaps wondered why dinner wasn't served at the usual time.  Maybe he even noticed the cat carrier had appeared out of nowhere. Even if Edgar was smart enough to figure out what was up for his evening,  he certainly wasn't expecting the cold wind blowing into the carrier as we made our way to the car.

He probably wasn't considering the possibility of rectal thermometers, a harsh light in his eyes, nail trimmers, or eye drops.

Sorry, dude.  

On the bright side, he got extra food for dinner.  And even though I could move him from his current perch I won't.  Let him glare and make my life a tad miserable. I clearly deserve it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Pile-up in Alexandria

I recently told a neighbor that I have a high tolerance for living in mediocrity.  I can ignore a squeaky door, loose knob and a little bit of dust and clutter for quite some time.  Eventually, those little things add up and reach the tipping point.  That point comes at different times, as it is totally dependent on how busy I am with work.  

September is a tough time in the world of teaching so if one was to walk into my house unexpected at the end of that month they would definitely be shocked to see just how mediocre things have become in my home.  

March brings a little more light.  Not only is there more daylight, but there's also a light at the end of the tunnel of the school year that I can just make out.  So, it's about this time of year that I start looking around at all the things I'd like to clean up or out of my house.

Spring Break will allow me to get a start on things.  First to go will be sweaters.  With daffodils and forsythia in bloom, my body practically repels the thick sweaters taking up space in the closet.  I'll allow a few to stick around until next year, but anything that has lost its shape will be gone.  

Once summer comes I'll go through each room in the house in search of things that don't belong.  Donation bags will find their way to Goodwill.  Trash bags will multiply and make their way to the curbside for pickup.  With any luck, August will uncover a cleaner, more orderly household.

Before I know it, September will arrive and along with it will come the start of the next pile-up.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Where I'm From

Saturday afternoon, with a few hours to kill before meeting my niece for dinner in DC, my sister and I went down the rabbit hole.  

Christmas of 2016 found my dad and I spitting into a small test tube that would be sent off to Ancestry so the scientist people there could analyze our DNA.  The good news is that my father is most definitely my father.  Not that I ever doubted that, but can you imagine the kind of sticky situations a test like this may provoke?

My father has always been the one interested in the genealogy of the family.  He's gone pretty far back on his mother's side.  Far enough back that I was able to pay a visit to the grave of my distant relatives while in Ireland a few years back.  With all that information readily available I decided to dig into my mother's side of the family.

My maternal grandmother's family came from Germany, so feeling a bit intimidated by a language barrier I opted to look at my maternal grandfather's English relatives, the Middletons.  My mother was a tad worried.  I guess she was thinking I might find out something she didn't want to know.

She shouldn't have been concerned.  It seems my grandfather's family has been in Maryland since the mid-1600s.  The first pilgrims arrived in Maryland aboard two ships, The Ark and The Dove that landed in St. Mary's City in 1634.  I'm still trying to figure out if the Middleton that came over on that voyage is in my ancestral line, so I can't say my family has been around since the first settlement.  

I spent most of Saturday afternoon trying to figure out how my "immigrant relative" ended up about 60 miles north of that settlement by the year 1672.  Many roads lead to my 8th great-grandfather but I can't find that road that got him to Maryland.

So, even though I can't explain how that first Middleton ended up in Maryland at least I can understand why I feel such a connection (and longing) for my home state. Maryland- it's in my blood.

Sunday, March 11, 2018


If we're counting nays and yays in regards to Daylight Saving Time I'm going to cast my vote for yay, even though it takes some getting used to.

I went to bed later than usual last night.  After a late dinner with my sister and niece, I still had a slice of life to post.  By the time my head hit the pillow, it was about 12:30, although I made a mental note to consider it 1:30.

I was up at 8:00 with a confused Fitbit telling me I slept for 5 hours and 42 minutes.  Surely, that wasn't correct but everything is a little off as my body adjusts to the different flow of lightness and darkness.  The biggest adjustment will come tomorrow morning when my morning wake-up/get to work routine will once again be completed in darkness.

Over the last few weeks, I've enjoyed the early morning sunshine that greets me as I walk to my car.  Tomorrow's darkness will be a shock to the system.  In the end, patience will pay off, as it will only be about 30 days until that walk to the car is once again done in daylight.  As long as I can hold on to that future promise of light I think I'll be okay.

When that day does arrive, around April 9, I'll let out a "Yay!"- the same way I feel about DST.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

This Isn't My Mother's Monkey Wards

My first bra buying experience took place at the local Montgomery Wards.  I was whatever age you are when your mother decides it's time to buy one, so she was there as well.  We were wandering around the undergarment section of the department store when without warning my mom pulled a small white bra from a box on the shelf and strapped it over my clothes, around my chest, to check the fit.  I don't think I could have been much more embarrassed at that age.  I think that first experience must have really done a doozie on me, as I have never enjoyed the bra buying experience.

Until today.  Today my sister and I wandered into a nearby Jockey outlet store.  We were given a warm greeting by the salesperson show offered a free pair of underwear if I got a free bra fitting.  Well, I needed both, so why not?  These days fittings take place behind clothes doors with tape measures and plastic cup moldings.  Yes- it's a long way from my mother's "over the clothes" fitting technique.  Within 30 minutes I was out the door with everything I needed.  And even better, everything was on sale.  Now that's what I call a great shopping experience.