SOLC Day 17: Space Adventures at Home Depot

slice-of-life_individual

March 2020 SOLC–Day 17
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Looking at a potentially long stretch at home with less than the usual work load, we decided to head to Home Depot for painting supplies. We gathered our paints, brushes, tarps, etc. and headed to the self check-out.

I held up each item helpfully while Kurt scanned it.
Beep!
Beep!
BeepBeep!

“Oops! I double scanned that one,” Kurt said.

We motioned a sales person over and explained the situation.

“Oh, no problem,” he said, grabbing our package of paint roller covers and heading back into the store, “I’ll just go grab you another one then.”

“Wait…what?  No…” we stuttered.

He turned around, laughing. “Pretty good, huh?”

We laughed, too and then he proceeded to help us sort out the issue.

“I tell you what I’m gonna to do,” he said. “I’m gonna get rid of this one,”–he pointed to the doubled charge on the screen–“cause you only are buying one. Ok?” He looked at me pointedly, waiting for me to respond.

“Ok,” I said dutifully.

Beep!

“Then,” he continued, “I tell you what else I’m gonna do. I’m gonna also get rid of this one,” –he held up the package– “and give it to you for free, cause I want you to fill out the survey on the end of your receipt and say I did a great job. Ok?”

“Uh. Ok.”

Beep!

He pushed his name tag forward.

“Kirc”

“Like Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise,” he explained dramatically.

He leaned slightly toward us.

“I’ve been grounded,” he confided. “They found out I was racist.”

We looked at him, at a total loss, slightly concerned at what he might say next.

“Yes,” he continued, “I just hate Klingons. So they grounded me, and now I can no longer boldly go forth.”

He finished up our transaction, handed us the receipt, and pointed to the survey at the end of it.

“Don’t forget,” he said.

All in all, it was a successful trip to Home Depot and a nice bit of levity in these crazy times. I guess, as Kurt always says, “Ya gotta find some way to make your job fun!”

Clearly, this man was already a master at that or maybe just a real space oddity.

 

 

 

SOLC Day 16: A Dose of Deer

slice-of-life_individual

March 2020 SOLC–Day 16
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Image may contain: people sitting and indoor

I spent all day at school with my colleagues, planning and organizing materials for distance learning. This is what our school lobby looks like now–Full of materials ready for students to pick up. So many people worked hard to make this happen in one day. I’m sure there will be glitches. I’m also sure we’ll work together, adapt and overcome them. But I’m sad. And I’m weary. And I don’t want to give the corona virus any more room in my brain.

My son and his fiancee just had to cancel their couples shower. I know that’s not the worst thing in the world, especially right now, but I just feel so bad for them. They’ve been planning for so long and were so excited. They’re trying hard to stay optimistic, but who knows what will happen with the wedding…

Parents keep writing, thanking me for my work, thanking me for touching base, telling me to stay well. With every e-mail, my eyes prick with tears.

This is all just so much.

When I got home, I started thinking about what I would write tonight. I turned to Kurt and announced, “I’ll be damned if I’m going to write about the corona virus. I don’t want to write about the corona virus and its impact. I’m sick of thinking about it but my whole day was about the corona virus. It’s all I can think about.”

He looked up at me, surprised at my outburst.

“I’m just sick of it,” I said again, “and I am NOT going to let it take over my writing, too! I won’t!” 

He looked a bit taken aback, though he was wise enough not to say much.

A few minutes later, I pushed aside my computer and put on my sneakers.

“Are you going to work out?” Kurt ventured cautiously.

“Yes.” I said shortly, then headed into the spare room and began power walking on the treadmill.

About 15 minutes later, Kurt poked his head into the room.

“The deer are out back,”  he whispered, as if they could hear him from there. Or maybe he was just a bit tentative about my response.

He retreated.

I kept on walking for a few minutes. The deer have been coming by most evenings lately. I didn’t need to go see them. I walked some more.

Then, after a few minutes, I pushed the red button, and the treadmill slowly came to a complete stop. Kurt knew what I needed. I’d return to the treadmill later, but for now I’d make time to see the deer. I grabbed my camera and snuck outside.

There they were–a momma and two babies. They grazed in the field contentedly. I crouched behind the wood pile and zoomed in for a photo. One of the young ones raised its head and stared at me for a long, long time. I stared back.

Somehow it just made me feel better.

DSC_0821

SOLC Day 15: A Dose of Mother Nature

slice-of-life_individual

March 2020 SOLC–Day 15
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

I’ve spent most of the weekend grading, scoring and writing report card comments. Considering we’re now facing at least two weeks without school, it feels odd to be doing that, to say the least. 

I’m trying hard not to obsessively follow the news. I’m also working hard to stop my spinning brain and to get outside every day. The latter is something I always enjoy, but these days it feels even more like a necessity.

Here are some pictures from my wanderings over the past few days–a series of small moments, I guess.

This is where I find peace. I hope you do, too.

DSC_0727.jpg

On the river, cloud-laced blue skies, ripples and one lonely iceberg.

DSC_0737.jpg

Sun rays spill from dark clouds. Dawn always soothes me. 

DSC_0710 (2).jpg

Dueling eagles–too fast for a good photo–too “wonder-ful” not to share! 

DSC_0725.jpg

Grumpy bald eagle–I think he lost the duel.

DSC_0677.jpg

Who can resist the softness of a pussy willow?

DSC_0760.jpg

At the beach an intent seagull invades my air space. 

DSC_0794 (1).jpg

A happy well-fed seal poses cooperatively–much to my delight!

DSC_0804.jpg

The first rose-breasted nuthatches of the year stopped by today. So cute! The feeders were buzzing with finches as well. 

89722651_200047541227571_1893562050429321216_n.jpg

Casting shadows in the late afternoon. Together.

 

DSC_0813.jpg

Spring is coming… 

 

SOLC Day 14: Meditating on Juncos

slice-of-life_individual

March 2020 SOLC–Day 14
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

44967141_10216862294934952_2312223835966930944_o.jpg

At this time of year, they’re here every morning, always the first birds to appear in the garden. In the dim morning light, I see them first as shadows, hopping about on the ground. As the light grows, I watch them fly up to the wisteria arbor and perch. In flight, their hidden white tail feathers flash dramatically.

As is so often true, the coloring of the males is starker, more dramatic. Slate grey on top and white below. The line between grey and white is so clear, it reminds me of darkened tree trunks limned by a windy snowfall. I often take them for granted, these daily visitors, but today I sit and watch. Meditating on juncos.

As I watch, I realize there aren’t as many here today. One junco lingers beneath the platform feeder. It hops about through the pick-up-stick garden debris, then flies away, flashing white. Another lands and then progresses in a meandering path over the brick walkway and into the garden, stopping every so often to peck at the ground. Several swoop in, forage a bit under the feeders, then fly off again.

Now the garden is quiet. Not a single junco in sight. They’ll be heading north soon. Perhaps the migration has already started.

 

I decide to sit and hope they return, then watch them a bit more–to enjoy them while they’re still here.

How is it that so often we don’t appreciate something until it’s almost gone?  

SOLC Day 13: Double, double toil and bubble

slice-of-life_individual

March 2020 SOLC–Day 13
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

download
This post is serving double duty for the SOLC and this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

I woke this morning with Macbeth’s “Song of the Witches” in my mind. It seemed to lend itself to a contemplation of our current chaotic and unsettling situation. 

Double, double toil and trouble;
media buzz, infection bubble.

Virus of ferocious speed
spawns illness, anxiety–
plunging markets, travel woes,
lights out on all Broadway shows,
social distance, closing schools
quarantines, stockpiling fools.
For lasting harm and lingering trouble,
add inept leader, boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
media buzz, infection bubble.

©Molly Hogan, 2020, draft

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Matt Forrest Esenwine at his blog, Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. He’s sharing all sorts of happy poetry news. If you need some respite from the world around you, check out his post and maybe click on a few links. Poetry helps.

SOLC Day 12: Perfect Timing

slice-of-life_individual

March 2020 SOLC–Day 12
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

The timing was perfect.

We were playing Jeopardy yesterday to review what we’d been learning about systems and the human digestive system in particular. I’d divided the class into two teams. Team Banana was up. Team Watermelon looked on anxiously.

“Large intestine for $400,” the student from Team Banana called.

I clicked, and the question appeared on the screen.

I read aloud,“What do you call the sphincter at the end of the large intestine?” 

Team Banana went into huddle mode, turning to each other and immediately giggling and comparing answers. Clearly they knew this one! They quickly agreed on their final answer.

Just as they turned and in one loud, enthusiastic voice declared, “The anus!”, the classroom door opened and our Principal walked in. My finger, already in downward descent, clicked the see-answer button.  The words “The Anus” appeared, emblazoned on the screen.

Team Banana cheered.

Team Watermelon groaned.

The Principal looked slightly taken aback.

I started laughing.

It was priceless.

At the end of the day I mentioned to our principal how perfect his timing had been. He admitted that after hearing the kids roar “The Anus” as he’d walked in, he’d had to resist the temptation to comment, “That’s Mr. Anus to you!”

 

SOLC Day 11: Timelines

slice-of-life_individual

March 2020 SOLC–Day 11
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

I taught a reading lesson yesterday about the importance of keeping track of timelines in historical fiction: the character’s timeline and the historical one. Preparing for this lesson, four years ago, I created my own timeline adjacent to one with the relevant history. I pull them out every year, and every year, students are fascinated.

The first reaction is always to my birthdate. This was true yesterday as well.

They gasped.

“1967, Mrs. Hogan!?!”

I nodded.

At first, they looked at me doubtfully, pretty sure I had made a mistake. Then, when I assured them that the date was accurate, they looked at me differently–sort of like I was a museum exhibit.

Yesterday, once they recovered from the shock of my birthdate, we looked at the time lines, considering how both my personal history and the history of the time impacted me as an individual–my actions, my perspective, etc. We talked about my life events—births, deaths, moves, travel, educational milestones– juxtaposed with historical ones–the advent of cell phones, the Challenger disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall. I indulged in a brief nostalgic monologue of how cool Sony Walkmen were when they first came out. (I’m not sure they knew what I was talking about.) We talked about the Twin Towers, how that was such a change in my world, yet has always been a part of their own. They nodded solemnly.

“What’s that?” a student asked, pointing to the historical timeline dot labeled Y2K.

I briefly explained, but it was pretty incomprehensible to them. From their vantage it seemed like a blip in history, something they’d never heard of and would probably never encounter in their history books. Slightly ridiculous.

Yet, I still vividly recall the the turmoil around the perceived Y2K threat. People forecast bank collapses, massive computer shutdowns and system failures. There were rumors that any planes flying at midnight would drop from the skies as their computerized systems failed with the advent of the new year. People stockpiled money and supplies. Cooler voices tried to chime in with solid advice and realistic expectations, but fear and rumor prevailed. It was hard to know how real the threat was.

It made me pause and wonder about the current situation with the corona virus. The parallels are there. Threat. Rumor. Fear. Are we overreacting? Will it, like Y2K, be a footnote on future historical timelines? It’s hard to know. But even if the health impacts turn out to be relatively minor, the social, economic and political fallout is mounting.

The children in my class will certainly remember this.  The newest game at recess is “Corona Virus Tag,” but beneath that they are anxious and have many, many questions. In the face of the intensifying hubbub, my reassuring, “The best thing you can do is wash your hands!” is beginning to feel like an inadequate response.

Years down the road, if my students have to construct their own timelines alongside historical ones, I’m pretty sure they’ll include a 2020 dot labeled corona virus. I only hope, like Y2K, that it’s something they have to explain to an incredulous class. 

SOLC Day 10: Valium Lick Anyone?

slice-of-life_individual

March 2020 SOLC–Day 10
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

I’m sitting with my Writing Group. Three prompts were offered up tonight. Not one of them is catching my interest. I simply sit here feeling tired. I rub my eyes, watch the pens of others move across the page, hear the productive click of their laptop keyboards. There’s nothing wrong with the prompts. Tonight I just can’t seem to find a way in. I’ve got nothing. As the saying sort of goes, “It’s not them, it’s me.”

People gripe and moan about February, but March just about does me in every year. It’s the month when report cards and parent teacher conferences crash in. It’s also the time when you start to worry about what you haven’t yet done for certain students. Especially those kids who got triaged to the back of the line–the ones who fly beneath the radar or whose needs are more subtle or at least less obviously demanding. So, beneath it all, Teacher Guilt flourishes. Then, it doesn’t help that the year’s supply of patience is also running low. In fact, I could relate only too well today when I overheard my colleague groan, “I could really use an epipen of patience right about now.”

Everyone is feeling overwhelmed and out of sorts.

This year, March feels even tougher than usual. It’s like a perfect storm with the regular components and then the rancid political climate, a potential pandemic, and Daylight Savings Time thrown in for good measure. You can’t even enjoy it when an unexpected gorgeous 60˚F day pops up, because it’s just an indication of how messed up the climate has become. It’s a toxic brew.

I remind myself that I’ll get through it. It’s just March. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again. I also remember there’s much to be thankful for, and signs of spring and student growth abound. 

But, as a previous colleague of mine used to say when things got tough, “A valium lick in the teacher’s room would go down really well these days.”

SOLC Day 9: An Interesting Way to End the Day

slice-of-life_individual

March 2020 SOLC–Day 9
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

It was the end of the day and the general packing up chaos prevailed in our classroom. Kids were stacking chairs, grabbing homework, and picking up.

“Hey, P., your backpack is leaking water!” R. shouted across the room.

There was a sudden silence as all eyes turned to P.. and then looked down at the water trail across the carpet.

“Oh, no!” P. said, throwing his bag down and plopping onto the floor beside it.

With dramatic flourish, he started pulling out snow pants, his lunch box, hat, gloves, etc. They were all wet. Dripping wet. Then he pulled out his water bottle and looked at it in amazement.

“The whole lid fell off!” he cried.

Knowing that buses would be called any second, I walked over to help.

“Let’s see how bad it is.”

I looked into the bag. It didn’t look too bad.

“I think most of it already got soaked up,” I said. Then I turned the bag over to shake out the remaining drops so we could pack everything back up. In an instant, a veritable flood of water poured out over my foot and onto the floor. I had utterly misjudged the situation!

P.’s jaw dropped and he looked up at me open-mouthed. Next, we both stared at my dripping boot in the middle of the huge puddle spreading on the ground. Then, after our initial stunned silence, we both burst out laughing.

“Well, I guess that takes care of that, ” I said.

Quickly we crammed his items back in his backpack and he zipped it up just as the bell rang. I shook the water off my foot. We both glanced again at the puddle on the floor and then walked out the door to the bus circle, still laughing.

SOLC Day 8: The Press of Time

slice-of-life_individual

March 2020 SOLC–Day 8
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

I woke this morning thinking of a grade school friend whom I know is going through a very difficult time. We’re really memory friends at this point, seldom in touch, but maintaining affection for our long-ago close friendship. We may have spoken three or four times in the past decade. I see her occasional Facebook posts, and I imagine she sees mine. I can’t remember when we last saw each other.

Last summer, she called because she was in the area, and hoped we might get together. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, but we chatted for a while.  She shared her news. Since then, I have thought of her and her family so often. But I haven’t called. I haven’t written. I’ve had all sorts of good intentions but I’ve been waiting to find the right words. They are so elusive.

Feeling unsettled this morning, I opted to go down to the river. I hadn’t been there in weeks. Arriving, I opened the car door to hear the birds singing, their chorus louder and more diverse than on my last visit. These days, you can see and feel the change in the air. Winter isn’t quite so firmly entrenched. 

At the river, solid ice had retreated slightly, and newly opened patches of water reflected the clouds. I glanced across the water for the mergansers but didn’t see them. Had they already departed? I felt a twinge that they’d left without me noticing. More and more, I’m feeling the press of time and lost opportunities. 

I huddled in my jacket. The cold this morning seemed heavier, deeper than the temperature suggested. My fingers ached. Even though the sky was awash in color, and the sun lingered just below the horizon, I thought about leaving.

I wandered a bit, here and there, my eye caught by the intriguing ice sculptures along the water’s edge or the geometric skim of advancing ice on the water.  I listened to an unfamiliar bird call. A flash of movement over the river caught my eye, and I turned to see a merganser skimming through the air, heading for a patch of open water. I watched him throw his wings open and land in a spray of water. I smiled slightly, relieved. They hadn’t left quite yet.

I lingered a bit longer, watching the rising sun gild the trees, then slide up and behind a low bank of clouds. I waited for it to emerge. Taking pictures in the growing light, I noticed a few more mergansers on the water.

Then I put away my camera, got in my car, and went home to write my friend.

DSC_0635.jpg

DSC_0663