Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Flying in the Breeze

I did not get the "good hair" gene.  My head is draped in fine hair with a mind of its own.  There are a few things I've learned about dealing with this hair of mine.  First, finding a good hairstylist is essential.  Second, those perms I had in the late 70s and early 80s were a terrible, terrible idea.

The perm was most likely my mother's idea. That's been her move for dealing with her fine hair all her life.  Remember, it's okay to not always listen to your mother.  Times change and hairstyles do too.

I'm fortunate to have a hairstylist I love. I met Octavia on a whim when I showed up at my local Hair Cuttery a few years ago.  Not only did she do a great job on my coloring needs, but she also listened and guided me to a haircut that I every once in a while actually gets a compliment. 

The last time I saw Octavia was in mid-February. I had come in with a hair plan. Perhaps some of you have seen the cute little layered look that Reese Witherspoon pulls off in the movie, "Sweet Home Alabama."  Her blonde locks are cut in long layers.

"Now, of course, I know I'm not going to look like her," I started, "but what about the cut? Can I pull that off."

Octavia stood back and looked at my head. She grabbed a chunk of hair and let it fall through her fingers.

"There's not enough to quite do it yet, but we can get there."

We hatched our hair plan. 

Obviously, that hair plan didn't include a global pandemic and closing down Octavia's now-solo hair business. But here we are- two months since my last hair appointment and a good 10 weeks until my next possible appointment.

Yup, it's going to get "hairy" around here.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Waiting Patiently

I've been keeping my own spreadsheet of numbers on the Covid-19 virus.  It was probably a mere 4 weeks ago that I started looking at the CDC website each day.  I was, and still am, intrigued by the changing color of the US map and the daily posting of numbers.  How many cases overall?  How many deaths?  How many states reporting cases?

A friend thinks it's kind of creepy and maybe it is.  For me, it's a way to have some control over the situation.  Watching the numbers climb isn't easy but I feel it's the only way I'll be able to also see them start their steady decline.   Once I see those numbers begin to tumble I know I'll feel my anxiety level tumble as well.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

New Day Old Workout

After a day of lounging around like a feline, I got up and moving today.  First came the dusting off of my Wii. It's been quite awhile since the gaming console has been plugged in. According to Wii Active, it's been 1999 days since I last logged in for my 30-day challenge. So, today was a restart of the calendar.

After sweating through a quick 25-minute work out- I chose medium intensity- I tried my hand at tennis.  Apparently, my tennis skills have slipped a bit.  It only took about 15 minutes to lose two different matches. I ended my exercise session with a quick boxing match and a quick victory. I had my opponent knocked out on the mat by the middle of the second round.

This evening I took a walk around the neighborhood with a stop in at CVS for batteries. My Wii Balance Board is in need of batteries and I'm thinking there may be a little snowboarding in my future.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Following the Feline Lead

This gray, overcast day zapped me of all energy.  For most of the afternoon I've been moving from one soft surface to another and napping intermittently.

I'm wondering if spending this much time with my two cats is detrimental to my energy level.  Because boy do those two felines know how to nap.  They wake up long enough to do a classic cat-back stretch and then resettle and close their eyes again.

I could never nap as much as Edgar and Alice do- but for today I'm willing to let them take the lead on relaxation techniques.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Pandemic Teaching

I used to complain about having the kind of job that didn't allow for teleworking.

Well, here I am at the end of week 2 of online teaching so I guess I do have the kind of job for teleworking.

In this new reality, I find structure works best.  Every workday I wake at 7:30 and jump right in the shower.  What a bonus to sleep two and a half hours more than I was just fourteen days ago.  By 8:00 am I'm in my "office" checking on what work my students have completed overnight.

As the day wears on I respond to students who have questions about assignments and due dates.

3:00 pm signals the official end to my workday.

I'm hopeful that we will all be back in the classroom when the new school year starts because, even though we can make do for now, teleworking and teaching aren't the perfect match. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

A Dog's Life

The sun was out today and I was able to take full advantage of the weather by taking not one, but two walks outside.  This morning I met up with two friends and their dog for a walk on the local bike trail.  We kept our distance (sort of) and caught up on what's been happening in each of our online teaching worlds.  It felt great to connect and work through some of my own questions about teaching in this new normal.

This afternoon I caught up with an old college friend and walked around a nearby park that I'd never been to before.  Again, we caught up and worked through some of the anxieties both of us were feeling with this new normal.

One day.  Two walks.  Five miles.

I'm beginning to understand why all the dogs are so happy these days.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Maryland, My Maryland

It was on this day in 1634 that the first European settlers landed on St. Clements Island in my home state of Maryland.

Even though I've lived in the neighboring state of Virginia for the last 30 years my heart has always belonged to Maryland.  I can't say for sure why but thanks to my own family research I guess I'd say Maryland has been in my blood for a long, long time.

Robert Middleton, my 8th great grandfather, was born in England but came to Maryland somewhere around 1671, a mere 37 years after those first European settlers. His family settled off the Potomac River in present-day Charles County. Since his arrival, there have been Middletons living around the Potomac River and the nearby Chesapeake Bay.

At some point, those Middletons took a trip across the bay and settled in the small fishing village of Rock Hall on the eastern shore of Maryland. 

It's hard to argue with all that Maryland history and all those Middletons that dotted the land along the western and eastern shore of the bay.  I can only guess those people stayed in Maryland because they liked it there- they found a damn nice place to live and never bothered to look further.

I think they were right--and this former Marylander looks forward to returning to her home state.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


One of the first running races I ever ran was called the Dave Wottle run. It was a PE requirement in middle school. I didn't consider myself a runner, and like many kids that age had no idea how to pace myself for the race. I didn't come in last but I was definitely in the back of the pack.

In my twenties, I dipped back into the running thing after a housemate got me to run with her. Every stride was a struggle- I guess because I didn't see myself as a runner. I was slow. I didn't have the look- the right clothes- but eager to make a new friend in my new town I chugged along.

In my thirties, I kept on running with friends.  We ran 5Ks, 10Ks, and 10-milers. Still, for the most part, I didn't love it. In my eye, I was a person who runs, I was not a runner. I enjoyed the way running burned calories allowing me to eat more but I was not a runner.

Eventually, running took its toll on my body. There were aches. A doctor uttered the A-word...arthritis. Last August I got myself a new knee and officially said goodbye to my life as a person who runs.

When I'm out walking I see the runners. I see them stretch those legs out and hit full stride.  And I miss it.  I ran in my dream last night and it felt great.

So, when my students-the ones who didn't seem to care about school at all- the ones who didn't see themselves as students- write about how much they miss school (and even me)...I get it.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Big Activity Brother

If you have an Apple watch you know about the three activity rings.  They are the three rings that track my daily activity, exercise and the number of times I stand.  I have goals to reach with each of those rings- one goal being thirty minutes of exercise. 

Yesterday, I was out on my bike for about 50 minutes.  Unfortunately, when I checked the green exercise ring only showed 9 minutes. Well, that was frustrating.  I mean it's not like I was on some leisurely roll down the canal path.  There was sweat.  There was some huffing and puffing.  And yet, my watch didn't seem to think there was any exercise.

Last night I got a cheery message on my watch- "You can still do it!"

Ugh.  After my afternoon ride, I was tired and ready to relax. 

The pull of closing those rings was strong and a few minutes later I was out the door with arms swinging high on a brisk walk through the neighborhood.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Turtles and Deer Oh My

The turtles were out in full force today. I hit the towpath at Swain's Lock, a little north of yesterday's ride, and headed south toward Great Falls. The turtles were everywhere- lined up in an organized manner on logs all down the canal. I noticed there seems to be a pecking order to arranging a bale of turtles on a log. It seemed the smallest was always farthest up the log--meaning they were the first out of the water and into the sunlight. That makes sense. It's easy to imagine the rest of the group working as spotters of sorts as the tiny turtle makes its way out of the chilly water and onto the sunlit fallen tree.

Pedaling along I considered the peaceful turtle and somewhere between singing my very best rendition of Elton John's "Rocket Man" and Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" I decided perhaps they were my spirit animal. After all, we both like sitting by the water with the sun on our back. So, really- is it too far fetched to consider that our relationship goes a little deeper?

I'm not clear how one goes about identifying their spirit animal so I turned to the internet for help. One site listed a few ideas for getting in touch with my spirit animal. Basically, I had to be on the lookout for animals and note the ones I keep seeing- whether it be in real life or in a dream. Another option was to take an online quiz. Certainly, the turtles were everywhere today but that was only because I chose to be in an environment where I knew they would be. Does that mean anything?

Who knows. I took the quiz and was told my spirit animal is a deer. I was disappointed at first because the other thing I did while riding my bike today was write this blog post in my head. Finding out the turtle was my spirit animal was really going to bring this all together. Sorry readers-- that didn't work.

It's okay though. Having the deer as my spirit animal apparently gives me the power to deal with challenges with grace. Apparently, I have the ability to "be vigilant, move quickly and trust [my] instincts to get out of the trickiest situations."

Yup, I'll take that right about now.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

My Happy Place

The second day of spring brought temperatures in the 50s.  Even though it was a little chillier than yesterday the sun was out this morning and I was feeling ready to get moving.

By 11:30, when I finally got my act together clouds covered the skies that had been bright and blue just a few hours before.  My plan was to park at my usual spot on the C&O canal and take a leisurely bike ride along the towpath.  A lot of other people had the same idea.  My usual spot at Lock 10 was full so I continued down the Clara Barton Parkway towards DC in search of a parking lot with a bit of free space.

Fortunately, I didn't have to go too far.  The lot at Lock 6 offered up a few free spaces.  Once on the path, I headed north towards Great Falls.  It didn't take long to spy a few turtles trying their best to warm up on a fallen log in the canal.  Families of all size walked, biked and ran along the path.  I noted more than one person who preferred to turn their back to me as I approached.  There was no reason to take it personally as it seems everyone has staying healthy on their mind.

After about thirty minutes I turned myself around to head back to the car.  Just as I was thinking I had not seen much wildlife I was surprised by five deer galloping through the woods.  The weather for tomorrow is forecasted to be sunny and back in the 50s.  So, if anyone is looking for me I'll most likely be looking for wildlife along the canal.

Friday, March 20, 2020

No Surprise Here

Last night three friends sat around a backyard bonfire.  With a good distance between all, it seemed like a perfect diversion from the world's main event.

It didn't take long for these three college friends to start laughing.  Once the laughter started it was hard to contain. 

 Slowly the tension left my shoulders and before I knew it I had just about forgotten about the headlines of the week.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Days Like These

My students have been posting to our daily discussion board as they have been working on their own Slice of Life writing challenge.  I've been enjoying the connection with them and hearing about how they are spending their time:

Yesterday I went biking with my mom. It was fun, except it took my mom five minutes longer than me to get up this one hill close to our house. We went to Iwo Jima because I like biking down the stairs over there. I was chugging up the hill and after the dang hill, I sat there for 5 minutes waiting for my mom to catch up, and then another five minutes waiting for her to drink water and get ready to go. Overall it was pretty fun and those stairs at Iwo Jima are still really fun to go down.

 Today I got up in a good mood. I decided to make bacon and pancakes for breakfast. I put it on the griddle and right as it got on it smelt so good. Right away, I wanted to just eat it all for myself. The grease splattered all over me and it soaked into the hot griddle. I had to touch it a couple of times and my hand would like burn. While I was waiting my mom showed me an email that said my state championship gymnastics meet was canceled for good. The seasons over. All in all, I did great and I’ll talk about that tomorrow. Back to bacon, once it was done I tried a piece and I was in heaven. It was so good.

Yesterday, I played tug of war with my dog. He won every single game. He is way stronger than me. Right now, my dog is asleep right next to me. He is curled up in a ball and breathing very slowly.

Yesterday I was at the park with my sister when our friend Maya came and started carrying long sticks back to her house. While Isabella was on the swings I asked Maya, “ What are you doing?”
Maya simply replied, “Making a house with sticks without parental help, wanna help?”
”Sure!” I said because at the time that sounded fun.
Maya, Isabella, and I walked to her backyard where we had to saw of other branches and take all of the bark of the sticks. It took us forever just to do 5 of the sticks! We did over and over again and by the time we had to go home, we only did 15 sticks. Today I am going back over and continuing. It will take forever.
Today my sisters taught me how to knit, I didn’t know how to before I think it’s really interesting how people like to do this or some people even have it as a hobby.
I'm glad to see the resiliency in my students.  I know they are anxious about the current situation but I also know we will all get through it together.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Perfect Pupils on the Prairie

Playing school as a kid was always satisfying.  I could stand in front of my pupils- whoever I rounded up that day-and they would listen attentively.  If I gave out an assignment work was completed without a complaint.

Honestly, it was like a modern version of Little House on the Prairie- desks in a row, eager pupils raising their hands and not one little peep from the peanut gallery.

Real school isn't like that.  Desks never stay in place.  By the end of any given day, the previously perfectly arranged desks are askew having suffered through five different classes of sixth graders who prefer to exit their seats with a desk push instead of a chair slide.  Assignments are not met with Laura Ingalls smiles--I know, unbelievable.

Online teaching is completely different.  Each night I prepare activities for students to work on the next day.  I hit save and picture my students greeting each day's work with a smile as they log on to the leaning platform excited for another day of learning.  I know it's truly a dream but if a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound?  If a kid complains about the work at his own home--a good 2 miles from my home...?

Even though I'm pretty sure the desks in my classroom are in the same position I left them last week- I miss the kind of mess they are at the end of a day of learning.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Canine Adjustments

My sister's dogs, Lana and Bailey, are exhausted.  Perhaps some readers also have canines experiencing similar pandemic exhaustion. 

Lana and Bailey have it pretty good.  Each morning before Jeen heads off to work she takes her two labs, one black and one yellow, out for a walk around the yard.   Sometime later, around noon or so, my mother comes over and lets them outside again.  Mumsey, as she is known to most everyone these days, sits on the front porch while the two dogs run around a bit.  Mumsey is always packing treats so they also spend a good deal of time laying at her feet looking cute- the kind of cute that makes a person give you another treat.  The rest of their day is spent laying around waiting for people to come home.

What must it be like to be a dog who goes from being home for a good part of the day- who goes from sleeping the day away- to a day of all their humans being there all the time?

Oh yeah, there is a lot of butt wiggling and tail wagging going on up at Lana and Bailey's house.  They are happy to have their pack together all day long.  But they are also missing those daytime naps.  They are missing the couch space that has been taken up by the humans. 

No matter, Lana and Bailey have also discovered that the humans don't mind when they cuddle up with them on the couch.  Also, human laps make for great pillows.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Dancing With Myself

Flipping through the program I received upon entering the small church, I noted the usual fare for a funeral mass.  There was "Amazing Grace" and an old favorite, "How Great Thou Art."  And then there was one I would have never expected--"Take On Me".

Younger folks may not be aware of the pop song made famous by the Norweigan band, A-ha, in 1984.  1984 was prime MTV viewing time- the MTV that actually showed music videos 24 hours a day.  A-ha's cartoon sketch video was memorable and in high rotation on the cable channel.

Even with all its popularity, I don't think I'd ever consider it funeral music. 

My good friend Robin found a connection between the lyrics and the Alzheimer's her stepmother, Bronwen, suffered from for years before she died last month.  Her solo slowed the song down a bit making it easier to rethink the meaning of the words.

"...Today's another day to find you...
I'll be coming for your love okay?...
...so needless to say
I'm odds and ends
But I'll be stumbling away
Slowly learning that life Is okay
Say after me
It's no better to be safe than sorry

Take on me(take on me)
Take on me(take on me)
I'll be gone
In a day or two"

The original version came on tonight while I was cooking up dinner in the kitchen.  Before I knew it I was dancing from the kitchen, through the living room and dining room with my spatula-microphone in hand.  Smiling, I belted out the lyrics and thought of Bronwen.  I have a clear memory of her from a few summers ago- a time when the disease was new- we were enjoying a Fleetwood Mac cover band and I watched as Bronwen got up from her seat, making her way to the front of the crowd so she could dance.  She twirled and glided to the rhythm of the music.  Apparently, Bronwen loved dancing and Fleetwood Mac.

If she were here tonight I bet she would have danced right along with me.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Singing Along

I have returned home after a quick trip north and boy, am I glad to be back in my own comfy home. So far, I've stayed away from watching too much news but the little I've seen appears to confirm my thought that we haven't experienced the worst of things yet.  I have small moments of worry- not panic- just a little worry.  You see, I've never been a fan of the unknown.

Fortunately, I am a pragmatic sort of thinker.  Even if one part of my brain worries the other part moves through the day doing what needs to be done.  So tonight, I've got sheets in the washer and other clothes in the dryer as I start a big house clean.

There are plenty of other mindless distractions as well.  Earlier this evening, a friend alerted me to the fact that the movie "Moonstruck" was playing on cable.  Thank you, Turner Classic Movies, for giving me a little lift.  It's not even necessary to watch the entire movie-- all I need is the last 30 minutes to make me smile and sing along--

In Napoli where love is king

When boy meets girls here's what they say

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie

That's amore

When the world seems to shine like you've had too much wine

That's amore

Even better, it's just the kind of earworm I can use over the next few...?

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Rule Breakers Since High School

I kept a dinner date with an old friend tonight.  Ed was back in our hometown from San Diego to oversee some health problems with his father.  I drove up 95 early this morning to visit my parents and meet up for a meal with the guy who I first met in my 9th-grade Russian class over 40 years ago.

The Tidewater Grille has a view of the Susquehanna River right before it meets the head of the Chesapeake Bay.  On any other Saturday night, especially one right before St. Patrick's Day, the place would have been full of people enjoying seafood dinners. That wasn't the case tonight as it seems most people decided that staying in was best for all. 

That meant great service for us and a table front and center with a view.  After dinner, a trip to the empty bar for a nightcap allowed for more talk time and the appropriate social distance.  A walk down the main street found the two of us feeling like we were the only ones around- even the Irish bar across the street was looking lonely.

I can't complain about having a quiet restaurant with a great view to catch up with a good buddy.  Tonight is most likely the last outing for awhile. Tomorrow night I'll be back home following all the rules for appropriate social contact for who knows how long.

Friday, March 13, 2020


I. Am. Exhausted.

For the last two weeks, my colleagues and I have wondered about possible school closures. 

Yesterday we planned online learning options. 

Today we waited...and waited...and waited for an announcement about school closings.  I went over the "what if..." plan with my students and waited some more.  Finally, at noon today, the word came down that school would be closed until after our scheduled Spring Break in April.  Relief washed over me-- I finally had an answer!

I survived the last class of the day.  The class where I tried my best to keep the attention of 20 sixth graders who were in front of me but who were clearly thinking about a month away from school.  They were excited and sad because as nice as a month off may seem the reality of being away from their friends isn't fun for most of them.

At the end of the day, I did a cursory straightening of the piles on my desk, packed up my spider plant and walked out in search of a long afternoon nap.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Bottoms Up!

The Green Door.  That was the name of the one and only college bar located about one and a half miles from the small liberal arts college I attended in the early 1980s.  There wasn't much to the place back then-by the time I started hanging out there the dirt floor had been upgraded to wood.  There were stories passed on about the guy who found a hole in the floorboards, stuck his hand in it and fished out a bottle of Bud.  Of course, no one ever knew the name of that guy.

The Door, as it was known, didn't have tables.  There was one long bar that stretched pretty much the length of the building and enough open space to house a small standing room area, a ping pong table, and two pool tables.  By late in the evening the ping pong table became a huge bench for drunken conversations.

Drinks were cheap and the owner was accepting of all kinds of payments.  I wrote more than one five-dollar check to the owner to pay for my night of drinking.  Yes, I said a five-dollar check--drinks were cheap back then.

On a recent trip back to the area my sister (who was apparently known to walk on top of the bar to move from one conversation to another when it got too crowded) and I stopped in for a nostalgic look-see.  It was early on a Saturday afternoon- the college kids were back on campus- so it wasn't quite the crowd scene I remembered from my younger days. 

Jeen and I posted up to the bar and ordered 2 Miller Lites.  We looked around and took note of the changes that had taken place over the years.  Really, it wasn't much.  The bathrooms were a little nicer and the ping pong table was gone. 

But the same old beer smell, the smell that permeated many a sweatshirt of mine back in the day, was still lurking in the air.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Scrappy Gets It Done

There's a whole lot of learning that one has to do to become a teacher.  Everything from behavioral theory to how to thread a film projector was taught when I went back to school for my Masters in Education.  All that educational content and pedagogy is necessary.  (Okay, maybe not threading a film projector.) And then there's the stuff you don't learn in school...the kind of stuff you don't ever think about happening in your classroom.

You see, as a teacher in training, I'm sure most people only think about the perfect classroom environment.  Maybe it's like the pretend classroom they had growing up when they were teaching their stuffed animals who dutifully listened to their every word and participated like nobody's business.

Fortunately, there are actually days that resemble those playrooms.  The animals aren't there, but the students listen and even participate!  And then there's the other things that schooling doesn't prepare you for, like:  when a kid slams his finger in the classroom door,  or when a student bursts into tears because you offered a small suggestion on how to better her oral presentation, or when an 8-year-old hands you a note from his mother that informs you she has breast cancer, or there's a sniper in the area and recess will be held inside for the undetermined future, or a student loses her fight with leukemia, or 9-11.

Sometimes, it's a lot.

But teachers--we're scrappy and we get through it all. 

Pandemic?  Yup, we'll get through this too.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020


"I'm not panicked about the quarantine.  I'm panicked about the panic of the quarantine." 

That's what my sister texted earlier this evening after we both returned, in towns 68 miles apart, from the grocery store.

I had decided to stop into the supermarket on the way home from work today.  I was in need of cat food and thought it might be a good idea to pick up a few extra rolls of toilet paper and perhaps extra eggs.  I spoke with Jeen just before I entered the store.

"Toilet paper.  Hmmm, that's probably a good idea," she replied.  "I think I should go to the store and pick up some toilet paper.  And meatballs.  If we're going to be stuck at home we're going to need meatball subs."

Grabbing a cart I strolled through the produce section.  Raspberries, blackberries, and bananas were placed carefully in my cart.  A bag of spinach was thrown in before I made my way to grab some eggs.  Making my way toward the cat food aisle I felt a buzz on my watch alerting me to a text message.

There were 6 new messages- all of them from a group chat of my grade level team. 

A whole lot of things were being said but every text centered around the seemingly imminent closing of school sometime soon.  Each person in the group had a different piece of information to share--possible closings for a day so teachers can prep online learning-- iPads being sent home with younger students so they can be sure they connect to home wifi--other counties already making the call--

Every text meant more food in my cart.  Finally, I found myself in the frozen food aisle making a call to my sister. 

"What kind of meatballs should I buy?"

I'm not worried about getting sick.  I am not in a panic, but for about 30 minutes I was definitely in a bit of a panic over the panic that is sure to build in the next week.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Another Writer in the Family

Thanks to my niece- my dad, the secret writer, has been working on all kinds of writing projects over the last year and a half.  It was Christmas of 2018 that Megan gifted my dad a subscription to an online writing community.

Every month my dad receives a writing assignment, a question chosen by the gift giver or another family member.  These questions can be anything to What was one of your most memorable birthdays to the one he answered today, What was your wedding day like?

My dad is 85 years old.  Lately, he's reported having a hard time finding his words.  His monthly writing assignments give him a daily purpose as he spends time trying to get his thoughts together.  He takes the time to review files on his computer and works intently to make sure each word is just the right fit.

On the occasion of his 80th birthday, my dad sat back and smiled.  He went on to say that the one thing he always dreamed of as a kid was to grow up and have a family of his own.  His writing celebrates the family he knew as a young man growing up in Baltimore.  

I consider myself lucky to get a glimpse into those memories and am thankful that he was given the opportunity to write them down.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

I Will Not Be Fooled

On this first full day of Daylight Saving Time, I must remember not to be fooled.  I can't be fooled by the light.  Even now, as I look out the window at sunlight and blue skies I'm thinking it could be 4:30 or 5:00 pm.  But. It's. Not.

It's 6:20 pm.  Perhaps that's not a big deal for many but this girl gets up at 5:00 am and knows that bedtime preparations start in just over two hours.  So, I'll keep my eye on the clock--not the daylight--to ensure a smooth start to the new work week.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Oh What A Beautiful Saturday

Oklahoma is by far, my favorite musical.  To be honest, I don't even know why.  As a kid, I was involved in many a musical- first as a member of the chorus and later as part of the backstage fun bunch.  Even with all that musical experience, I was never a part of the production of my favorite show.

I think it's that opening sequence when Gordon McRae belts out "Oh What A Beautiful Morning."

It was that kind of day in my neck of the woods today.  I was up early, feeling more rested than usual, with a shortlist of things to accomplish today.  By 1:00 pm I had been to Uhaul to have a trailer hitch installed and been to the gym for a bike ride. 

Blue skies and bright sunshine pulled me outside and I headed to a local park, Roosevelt Island, for a stroll.  Fresh air and sunshine were in abundance, as were kids, families, puppies and bird enthusiasts.  I took my time on the mile-long path that outlines the island.  I stopped to take in the shedding cattails in the marsh smiling as I listened to the wind whistle between the trees.  Traffic from the nearby highway could have been easily mistaken for rushing water, so it was easy to forget exactly where I was.

Rodgers and Hammerstein had it spot on when writing about a day just like this.  It's the kind of day that makes me feel like everything's going my way.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Joe Also Known As

My friend Kathy and I share the same pet care guy.  Kathy has known our guy, Joe, for years.  He helped her out years ago with her St. Bernard, Elsa.  After Elsa, she had a cat- sweet Wheezy, who curled up next to her while she withstood chemotherapy and radiation.  Joe was there to help out whenever she needed a hand.

In the meantime, I had gone through a number of different pet care people.  Kathy herself used to help me out but when her own battles took over her life I realized that I needed to find some pet care that I could count on.  So Joe became my guy as well.

The thing about Joe is that he can be counted on 110% of the time.  He leaves me a detailed note about how he fed the cats, changed the water, and cleaned the litter box.  His note always mirrors the directions I leave for him.

Recently, Kathy acquired a new St. Bernard- Winter.  Wheezy left us a few years ago, so she was back in touch with Joe today.  Which is how we came to talk about him over dinner at her place tonight.

"Oh, there's a text from Joe," she said as she showed me her phone. 

I noted the contact at the top of the text.

"Yea, I call him Joe Dog," she laughed.

I smiled and pulled out my phone.  "That's funny, I call him Catsitter Joe."

Thursday, March 5, 2020

.25 Pounds Soaking Wet

As part of her nighttime rounds, my young cat Alice likes to gift me her "toy of the moment."  For awhile that toy was an old plastic cover to a Wii remote.  Then there were any number of small tin foil orbs.  Alice is a huge fan of a homemade tin foil ball.  In fact, the mere sound of me ripping off a sheet of tin foil will bring my ever-curious cat running to see if there will be a piece saved for her.  At this very second, there are no doubt 20-30 tin foil balls hiding under my couch.

Then there was the small, white furry mouse. That was a few months ago- every morning I would wake up to find Alice and her little white mouse next to me.  The one thing I couldn't understand was why the mouse was always soaking wet.

Early one morning the mystery was solved.  I shuffled into the bathroom and found a little white mouse in the toilet.

These days Alice's favorite toy is a small, black furry mouse.  Before I go to bed each night I always make sure to close the lid on the toilet seat.  I'd like to say I always wake up next to a very dry furry mouse, but that's not true.  For it seems, Alice has figured out another use for her water bowl.

No matter- I'll take a water bowl over the toilet bowl any day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020


My students are participating in their own Slice of Life Challenge.  Some kids are posting as

part of a 100-day writing challenge that will take us pretty much to the end of the year. 

Others are posting as part of a weekly homework assignment and still others are trying

to post at least 20 times throughout the month so they can win a prize.

With a day off yesterday, a number of students posted.  They wrote about how they

slept until 11:00 and all the Tik Tok videos they watched.

Today was my turn.  

Thanks to a well-timed doctor's appointment I was off today.  I'd like to say that I slept

until 11:00 but that didn't happen.  I was hopeful that I'd sleep until at least 8:00 but

by 6:00 am my body had all the sleep it needed.  That was fine with me though because

it meant I could linger over a second and a third cup of coffee.

I had a pleasant trip to the doctor and followed that with a physical therapy

appointment for some back issues I've been dealing with.  Back PT means moist heat,

some deep tissue work and a few exercises to get me back to 100%. I left feeling much

better than when I walked in the door.

Extra time meant I cooked a real dinner tonight that included protein and

vegetables--a far cry from the cereal I ate for dinner on two occasions last week.

Tomorrow I expect I'll return to work feeling refreshed...

much like I'm sure my students felt today.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

A Friendly Encounter

"I didn't do it."

The voice, which came out of seemingly nowhere, was loud enough to break the spinning of thoughts that were rattling through my brain.

I had made a quick stop at the gas station after a three-hour meeting.  According to my car, I could drive another 22 miles before I ran out of gas but I decided not to recreate a famous scene out of Seinfeld and pull in before meeting my colleagues for lunch.

As I watched the numbers on the pump continue to climb I took a mental inventory of what the rest of my day had in store for me.  I was just about ready to create my virtual grocery list when I heard the voice.

Looking up, I saw a gray-haired older man at the pump across from me.

"Excuse me?" I asked.

"Whatever you think I did, I didn't do it," he replied.

Obviously, I had a bit of a jokester on my hand.

I smiled, "I'm sure whatever it was, I did it."

"Are you Catholic?" he asked.

I laughed, "You got it! There's a lot of guilt to go around thanks to all that Catholic schooling."

He smiled as I turned to climb back in my car.

"Have a great day!" he called.

"And to you as well," I responded.

I smiled and kept that smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Duck, Duck, Duck...

Twelve-year-olds surprise me almost every day.  The most recent surprise came on Thursday as my nine homeroom students gathered to bid farewell to homeroom member Salma who was moving back to Egypt.

I brought in donuts to ease or sorrows as we said goodbye to one of our own, but my 9 students had an even better idea for amping up the celebration.

"Okay," Henry yelled, "We definitely need one last game of Duck, Duck Goose with Salma!"

A chorus of yes erupted from the rest of the group and before I knew it all the desks were pushed aside and the nine were seated in a circle on the floor.

For the next five minutes that small group of 12-year-olds acted much younger than their age.  Somewhere along the course of the school year, this collective of kids had found a common bond of a game from their childhood.  Homeroom time doesn't often leave time for such games but enough opportunities had arisen throughout the year, thus allowing me the joy of seeing a small bond form within the group.

We talked about Salma in homeroom today.  We're missing one of our group.  Luckily, she'll most likely be back in the area in a few years.  So my homeroom students may run into her again in high school.

In the meantime, I'm sure there will still be a few more games of Duck, Duck Goose.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Hey Spring, I See You

I spent Saturday just about 2 hours south of my home and got my first glimpse at Spring.  I was lucky to be able to stroll around the beautiful campus of William and Mary.  Bright, yellow daffodils danced in the breeze as the long bare branches of a nearby Willow tree whipped around in the wind.  A closer look offered the slightest bright green specks sitting on each of the drooping branches.  Outside of my hotel window, I could see fuzzy redbuds perched on tree branches looking like they're considering when they will fully exhale and become the first few leaves of spring.

The sky was bright blue and the sun was warm.  Looking out at the azure skies through the two-story windows of the student center all I could think of was how inviting the day looked.

Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving- for as soon as I stepped out the door the cold February wind wrapped itself around me.  I put my head down and drew my arms in tight with my hands stuffed in the pocket of my gray sweatshirt.  Yes, it was chilly -but boy was the grass below my feet a beautiful spring-like green in color.

Hey, Springtime--I see you.