Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Visible Progress

My school is finishing up a yearlong renovation process. My space was one of the last to be completed, which meant packing up everything in my room last June so it could be stored in trailers over the summer while carpet was replaced, new lighting was installed and the walls were repainted.

Unpacking and organizing 25 boxes of stuff is not easy work, especially with the usual beginning of the year tasks that need to be taken care of. But, I'm not complaining. Really, I enjoy seeing the daily progress that I'm making in the classroom. I walked in yesterday to a few tables and the same 25 boxes I packed up last June. By the time I left this afternoon half of the boxes were unpacked, tables were set in the usual seating arrangement, the computer was hooked up and my desk was starting to take shape. The concrete evidence of my work gave me instant gratification.

Teaching provides an enormous amount of gratification, however it doesn't always come so quickly...not as quickly as the time it takes to unpack a box of books.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Another staff meeting, ah but this time with a new twist! Somebody thinks it would be a great idea if each team in the building would sign up to provide snacks for our monthly staff meeting. Sorry...I'm not interested.

I dislike the food sign-up sheet. I've taken a few classes in the past few years and food sign-up is always the first order of business. Why? We are adults; we are capable of throwing an extra apple or granola bar in our bag and heading off to a class or curriculum area meeting. Food sign-up is not only a major inconvenience... it also becomes competitive.

The first class or meeting of the year usually starts off innocently enough with a bag of tortilla chips, some salsa and maybe some carrots and dip. Time marches on and as it does people feel the need to do a little more. By the last meeting of the year there usually a pizza, homemade guacamole, all kinds of cut up vegetables and, of course, freshly prepared hummus.

It's too darn much. I'll feed myself thank you, it's much easier than trying to feed thirty people.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bring it on...

Bring it on...the new start of the school year, that is. After a long summer of leisure I'm ready to take on the challenge of setting up my classroom, scheduling students, sixth grade orientation, and middle school jitters. Would I rather be sitting on the beach? Yeah, right now I would, but I know there will be more than one grand moment this school year. It will be a moment that will make me feel happy, successful and like I am doing the thing I was meant to do.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Any time on the beach is a good time. However, with that said...the most delightful time, for me, is the last two or three hours of daylight. The sun slips down into the western horizon casting enough of a glow on the water to leave a green, blue, orangey sheen. The crowds have left, the lifeguards are off duty and only the true beach people are left. True beach people are not just sun worshipers, although it's a nice perk of a beach day, it's not the only perk. After most have headed back to their beach condos the waves continue to provide the background music to a bit more fun, laughter and girl talk. It all makes Monday seem so very far away.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Today's Moment

A tiny silhouette of a sailboat sits on the distant horizon. The greenish-blue water sparkles in the late summer sun. The gentle breeze caresses my neck as I listen to the rhythmic crashes of the waves as the break at the shoreline.

I am relaxed.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Here I was, sitting on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland with 3 girls I went to college with. We're in our later 40s now...we started going to the beach together over 18 years ago. As I walked onto the beach with Julie and Jeannie today I remarked, "I don't think we've been on the beach together in at least 15 years." It was surprising to us all, but it was true...we had not sat on the sand together in quite some time.

It was a great afternoon. The water temperature was perfect, a little chilly but refreshing.

The evening was capped off by dinner at a great place. The Grove Market has all of about 8 tables. Getting a table tonight was some sort of miracle. It's the kind of place that has no menu; the waitress just lets you know what the chef has decided to cook for the evening. For us it was smoked fish appetizers, crab salad, flounder duck, scallops and grouper. All of it was topped off with a bit of wine and for dessert, some kind of awesome coconut cake.

It was all good, made even better with good friends.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Way back when I never really had any money, the days when I was not above sitting around with my housemate rolling up change to pay the rent at the end of the month, I could always scrounge up the money to go out to lunch. Back then, it seemed that my housemate was going through a break-up every other week. Lunch was a cheap form of emotional therapy. We could meet when my courier job sent me near her place of work and have someone bring us food for relatively little money.

Sure, it would have been better to put the money towards rent, but sometimes, especially when in your twenties, doing the right thing is easily overlooked.

Maybe it's because I spent most of my school career through high school looking into a brown sack to find another PB & J sandwich and a ring ding.

When I worked at the Smithsonian the other GS-5ers and I would have leisurely lunches that started as soon as our boss left and ended almost 90 minutes later. When questioned we let him know that we left for lunch at 12:45, about 15 minutes before he was scheduled to return. It was dishonest. We'd leave 1o to 15 minutes after him and head to places like Armand's for the all you can eat pizza bar or the Tune Inn on the hill for great, greasy burgers. Sometimes we'd nap on the mall, if it was cold we'd head to the Hirshorn Museum for a nap on the comfy, leather couches found on the third floor.

During the school year my lunch hour is only 35 minutes. It doesn't leave time for napping or wandering around town. I pack my own lunch, and it's hardly ever a PB& J.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Leadership Conference

I take notes during most meetings to keep my attention in check. I find writing a few words about what is being said not only helps me process the information, it also gives me a place to go back to when I have trouble recalling minute details of long meetings.

Today's school leadership conference was six hours long, with a few breaks here and there. I filled 14 sheets of my new, red composition notebook. The word accountability was scribbled in several places.

Of all the notes I took there are two phrases that stick out to me:

"We're in the business of getting students to grow, not in the business of punishing them."

"We are leaders, and remember leadership needs to be continually moving forward."

Go, go, go...grow, grow, grow.

Monday, August 23, 2010


I've been going to the same dentist for 16 years now. For the most part, I see him twice a year for a check-up and teeth cleaning. He's a no frills sort of dentist. The appointment starts with a few x-rays, done by him, followed by a bit of looking around at my teeth, also done by him. He also takes care of the teeth cleaning.

I'm happy to say that I haven't had to hear the high-pitched whirr of the drill in quite a few years. Dr. H was happy to tell me it had been some seven years since I'd had a filling. He went on to tell me that my teeth should continue to do well, no need to worry about cracked bicuspids and crowns for another ten years or so.

Good to know.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Back Home

How nice it is that I could wake up in Chicago this morning, have breakfast while looking out on Lake Michigan, catch a cab up to Grant Park to take some pictures of the impressive Buckingham Fountain, board a plane at O'Hare and be back to the comforts of my own home by 6:05 pm.

Air travel can be a pretty nice thing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Today in Chicago I Saw...

...the luscious emerald green waters of Lake Michigan...a bevy of interesting architecture along the Chicago River...tourists galore walking too slowly for my taste around Navy Pier...a friend who I haven't seen in 12 years.

There was great food, good weather, a bit of shopping and good friends.

All in all, a darn good day.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Night Cocktails

While sitting in the dimly lit, oak bar on the first floor of the Drake Hotel in Chicago I was suddenly hit with the urge to order a martini. I've never had one. Well, I've never had a real, classic martini complete with gin and olives and straight-upness. Shaken, not stirred, or whatever 007 always said.

One friend ordered a Cosmopolitan, the other some sort of martini with a juicy name, something like Pomegranatini or Cranberrytini...whatever it was I certainly didn't consider it a real martini.

Sitting in my red leather chair, looking around at the dark walls with darker wallpaper inlaid in rectangular patterns throughout the place there seemed to be no other cocktail option.

Having never ordered such an adult-like drink I decided to text a friend for advice.

"How do I order a martini? Dry?"

The response was quick: "Dry, up, extra olives."

And then there was a small postscript: "Good night ladies!"

Goodnight, indeed. My brain is in Eastern Standard Time, my body is in the Central Time Zone and with a swirl of gin down the hatch I'm happy to be upstairs in my room with the bed turned down.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Embracing the End of Summer

I've always been the one who needed to get home early after a weekend away in order to "regroup" before starting up the workweek on Monday morning. It was a concept my friends never understood. For me, a weekend at the beach meant heading home around 1:00 on Sunday so I could do a bit of laundry and get to bed at a reasonable hour. My friends, on the other hand, were more likely to continue with the fun in the sun until late Sunday night or even Monday morning. Some would head home about 9:oo pm Sunday get to bed about midnight and scramble off to work the next morning with a bit of sand still in their hair. Others would wake up at 4:30 or 5:00 AM Monday morning, grab a coffee and make the three- hour drive straight into work. I never understood how they did it.

This summer I've decided to embrace the last few days of my break. Whatever isn't done by next Thursday isn't getting done on a summer schedule. It will just have to be fit in to the free time I have outside of my work schedule. Thursday morning I'm heading to the beach to relish in the last few days of a nice summer break. My goal is to embrace the time on the beach with friends without thinking about the stress and work that the beginning of the school year is certain to bring.

I think I'll even stay for dinner on Sunday night.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mail Call

One of the things I am sorry to see go by the wayside as technology continues to steam ahead is the handwritten letter.

While away at college it was always exciting to find a letter tucked away in my post office box. Junk mail hadn't found me in Southern Maryland so if there was anything showing through the small window of PO Box 268 it was most certainly a letter from a friend or family member.

I got a good deal of mail during the four years I was away at school. However, of all the letters I receive my favorite was the one I received from my grandmother. When I opened the envelope in the post office I found a small piece of paper folded neatly into thirds. Tucked inside was a five-dollar bill.

The letter was short and to the point:

Here's five dollars. Go get yourself a sandwich.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Jewel of Summer

How about a big shout out to the summer tomato? You know the one. Its the huge, dark-red orb populating farm stands all over the place these days. I sliced one monster tomato up tonight to throw a slice on a hamburger I made for dinner. The first bite was one big mouthful of beef, cheese, mayo and late summer tomato. It was enough to make me stop. I stopped chewing for just a second to consider all the bland, tasteless tomatoes I suffered through all winter. There were the grape tomatoes, the cherry tomatoes and all kinds of other summer tomato wanna-be types. They never will be, they never can be, as absolutely delightful as the late summer tomato that is cruising the streets right now. My advice: enjoy them while you can.

Oh yeah, have you tried the cantaloupe out there?

Monday, August 16, 2010

The End Looms

The end of summer break looms. What were all those things I had hoped to do during my extended break? Ah, yes...clean a few closets. Check in with the doctor. Exercise a little more. Rest. Organize. Go to the beach. They're not lofty goals, they were set out that way...to be attainable.

With two weeks to go I'm on track to accomplish what I set out to do this summer. Knowing that makes me feel good. The last closet gets a cleaning tomorrow, sometime before my afternoon doctor's appointment.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Quiet Sunday

Today's wet, dreary weather served as the perfect backdrop for a slow kind of Sunday. Scattered storms completed the picture by offering up the soothing sounds of gentle rainfall.

I maneuvered through the day with slow intent. There were a few chores I hoped to complete today. Nothing too large, those kinds of chores are saved for later in the week. At the end of the day I am content with the progress I made.

It was...a good day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


My best friend's six year old daughter climbed into the back seat of my car last week and immediately pursed her lips and wrinkled her nose.

"It smells like you in here! Everything of yours smells like you...your house, your car...it all smells like you!"

I was startled and unsure if this was a compliment or a problem I needed to work on.

"Is that a good or bad thing?" I asked.

Older brother Danny piped in, "Oh, it's a good thing. It's a good smell."

What a relief.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Deadlines and Accountability

I'm a deadline sort of person. I operate best when I need to be accountable to something or someone. I've tried, on numerous occasions, to get into some sort of daily writing routine. Who knows why but a blank journal page has never provided enough of an accountability threat to me.

For some reason my silly little blog has. Maybe it's because I know that there are three, maybe even four or five people, that read it on a regular basis. Whatever it takes. I'm here tonight with very little to say and twenty minutes to spare. I'm pretty sure I'll be back tomorrow as well.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What's in the Bag?

What would someone find if they looked in your purse more than 20 years after your death? What if it was just seven years later?

It's the kind of question that I've never thought about. Well, until today when I had the opportunity to look through the purse of my great-aunt who died over 20 years ago. I was helping my mother pack up her house in preparation for moving day tomorrow. There were two purses on the top shelf of her closet, one belonged to my great-aunt, the other to my grandmother-my mother's mother-who died seven years ago.

My mother remarked that she'd never looked in either one. Today seemed like as good a time as any.

I think the most interesting thing about the experience was the items common to both purses. Namely...newspaper clippings... obituaries and wedding announcements. My aunt had quite a collection of pictures. Included in the assortment were, of course, pictures of her many nieces and nephews as well as a collection of shots from her retirement in the late 1960s. My grandmother had a few pictures and clipped obituaries as well. She also had the mass program from my sister's wedding and a postcard I'd sent her from Florida in 1983.

It seems like these days women have a different purse for every outfit. I know for myself, that the obituaries I have clipped are stuffed in the top drawer of my dresser. Every time I use a different purse during the year I find the same few items: lip balm, tissues and a little bit of pocket change.

My apologies to whoever gets to go through my purse after my demise, it won't be nearly as interesting as my experience today.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More Mouse Tales

Perhaps you've noted the mice problems I've been having as of late. An annoyance in the form of a small, little rodent body first appeared back in March and then had an encore performance this summer. As far as I could tell they kept their shenanigans contained to the sink area. I should have known better.

Apparently, they've been chewing on the cable wire that runs behind the kitchen cabinets as well. I can't imagine that the plastic coating on the coaxial wires tastes that good, but who can tell what the palate of a mouse is like. Is it possible that the coating is something akin to "the other white cheese" in mouseland? To each his own I suppose, but this strange craving is creating havoc with my internet signal.

The Comcast technician showed up today to repair my internet connection that went out last week. His fancy equipment indicated the signal coming into the house was weak. It's confusing to me since the signal coming in is strong enough for television reception. Apparently the internet signal is a different kind of animal. A check on the outside showed that the signal was fine coming from the outside, but lost a good deal of juice on the inside. The cable coming in would need to be replaced.

Unfortunately, my 1940s townhouse is a somewhat of a cable-wiring nightmare. The line comes in somewhere behind the kitchen cabinets and is pretty much inaccessible. So, it's time to rewire the house--something else to add to next week's "to-do" list since this week is already pretty much booked up.

Maybe I should add call the exterminator to that list.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dealing Out the Cards

Sometime during the spring of this year 5th grade teachers around my school district worked hard on blue cards designed to inform 6th grade teachers about the ups and downs of the students they'd been charged with for the year. Those cards were, in turn, turned over to the counseling staff at the middle school.

Leadership has its privileges...or is it pitfalls? Whatever the case may be, I will be in possession of those very cards later this week when I meet with the team leader from the other sixth grade team and the grade level counselor. We will do our best to sort the students into two equal teams. I think we do a pretty good job and really, I always enjoy the process. It's tough to get a feel for a breathing pre-adolescent from a data and ink on a grouping card. The real fun comes a few weeks later when students and teachers meet for the first time.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Bit of Hot Air...

Like most people, I have my fair share of pet peeves. I do my best to limit the list but every once in a while I find it necessary to add one more annoyance to the record.

This week I do believe it's necessary to include...drum roll please...charging for air at the gas station. Yes, in many places it costs 50 cents for a little air in the tires. I guess free air has gone by the wayside, along with the Texaco man who would run out to pump the gas and clean the windshield.

I suppose it's bothered me for sometime now. However, it wasn't until I was stuck a half-mile from home with a flat tire on my bike that paying for air found it's way on the list. Really, should it cost me the same 50 cents to fill my tiny little bike tire that it costs some guy, or gal, in a Ford F-150 pickup?

I just don't think so.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Almost Back to Normal

So, the cable came back on this morning, but the internet (that comes through the cable company) did not. I did a bit of tinkering, trying to reset the modem connection, but was unable to get back on line. A phone call to the service representative convinced me it was a modem issue. Perhaps the modem was just another casualty of Thursday's storm.

With a new modem hooked up I was sure it would take nothing more than a quick call to the cable company to be up and back online. Not quite. A home visit is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

In the meantime, I'd like to thank whoever is providing me with a weak, but free and unsecured Wi-Fi signal.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Keepin' it Short

Power on. Cable out. Posting from my phone...not so much fun.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Boom, Boom...Out Go the Lights

The report from Thursday at 6:30 pm:

I’m sitting in the dark. The sun doesn’t go down for another two hours, but it’s already dark in my house. A storm with the energy of none I’ve seen in awhile swept through the area about two hours ago leaving a path of wind swept leaves, downed power lines and tree limbs in its wake. The most intense part of the storm lasted less than 15 minutes, but those few moments made for quite the rock and roll show.

I’m fortunate in that my house has always been untouched by power outages. In the ten years I’ve lived here I’ve lost power three, maybe four times. It’s never been out for more than two or three hours, and even in the midst of Hurricane Isabel a few years back when friends lost power for days on end I suffered nothing more than a flicker.

The first report from Dominion Power indicated I would be back in business by 7:00 pm. However, after a quick drive through the neighborhood and a survey of the damage I wasn’t too surprised when the latest update changed the time frame to more like 11:00 pm. Certainly, I should be able to be off the grid for 7 hours. Actually, it’s nice. It’s quiet except for the sounds of tweeting birds and gentle rainfall outside my back door.

I just wish I could find my headlamp.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer Purge

I ran into a former work colleague at Goodwill today. Apparently, I'm not the only teacher out there who sees the summer as the best time to take stock of what's needed and what's not around the house.

I've been making steady progress in that area. Today's donation included an old DVD player, a small assortment of clothes, books, a hummingbird feeder, and a picnic basket.

A picnic basket always seems like something every person should have. It's not something I'd buy for myself, of course, but I liked knowing it was stashed away in my closet just in case a picnic came a calling. I think I've used it twice, maybe three times, in the 16 years I've owned it. Even so, it survived many a summer clear out. Well, until this year.

No regrets.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Regarding the Mouse Memo

You were warned. Really, I've pretty much turned a blind eye to the little droppings I've seen under the sink over the past month. Not that I was concerned for your small well-being. No, not at all. I just didn't feel like getting down on the floor and cleaning all the stuff out, setting the traps and waiting to pull your little mangled body out.

Yes, it's only my lack of motivation that has kept you and your mousey little friends untouched.

Until now.

Be aware. I went over to that quirky little hardware store today and stocked up on traps. Tomorrow I will get down on my knees, clean out the droppings of evidence and step up my attack.

If you're smart, you'll make yourself scarce and move on to someone else's kitchen. If not, I'll happily find someone else to clean up your demise.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Shame on Me

A sure sign that I'm deep into summer break is when I feel like an 11:00am appointment is early. Crazy, right? During the school year, my day is half over by 11:00.

At 11:00 this morning I was still in my PJs, sipping coffee as I worked through today's crossword puzzle. Shameful.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Home Again

Unpacking after a week-long vacation isn't nearly as fun as packing.