Document Camera

slice of life“Are you the Incredible Hulk?”

This is not a question I expected from my class.  But I did notice that the document camera was giving me a definite lime green hue.  Once I proved to the students that I was not in-fact either green or wearing gloves I went on with the notes.  Oh, yes, you should know these are high school juniors and seniors, not primary students.  We also played the, “guess what color this marker is” game for the rest of class.  And the following day.

Sadly I have not ingested a chemical concoction to turn me into a superhero.  Technology was just annoying me.

So, I eventually turned in my document camera for a different one.  I finally plugged in the replacement this morning and to my vast astonishment it worked on the first try.  And I was not green.  I taught using it first period but my projector seems to be aging also so while previous years I didn’t need to dim the lights during presentations, I find it essential now.  I hate kids sitting in the dark, but am lucky to have some under-cabinet side lights so it isn’t really dark.  This document camera didn’t have a light.  Nothing was crisp on the screen and I wondered how well the back row could see.  They are too nice to complain.  So before third period I got a desk lamp, figured out where to run the cord and plug it in and was so pleased with myself at how well it projected.  That lasted less than seven minutes.  Somehow I managed to confuse the poor camera to just keep trying to focus.  Before we all became nauseous watching the screen, I turned off all the technology and wrote on the board.  The blackboard.  No, not a white board, a real black board with chalk.  The do still exist.  I have chalk dust on hem of my black slacks to prove it.  Don’t ask.

I requested help from media.  A different document camera appeared via student in my room.  Guess what?  It makes me turn green.

How was your day?

Electricity

slice of lifeI am a very thankful Floridian who felt the effects of Hurricane Matthew but was only mildly inconvenienced.  I was without power for about a day and a half but it was amazingly enlightening.

First, during my preparations I noticed the new LED flashlight, complete with batteries, had a belt clip which is a great feature so I wasn’t constantly wondering where the flashlight was when it got dark.  But I could still walk into the windowless bathroom, with the flashlight in one hand and flip the switch with the other.  At which point again, I wondered what part of the electric being out didn’t my poor dear brain comprehend.  I didn’t just do this once, I did it repeatedly!

Once the curfew was lifted I ventured out for ice.  Again, I have become so used to all the things electric that it seemed around each corner was another ah ha moment of, oh, that doesn’t work either, that I really should have anticipated.  The neighbors had told me where to get coffee and turned right out of the condo but I turned left and to my horror saw the traffic light wasn’t operating.  Again – this comes as a shock to none of the rest of you but my brain had not thought that far ahead.  Okay, if the light is out, you treat it as a four way stop.  Okay, I need to make a left turn.  Get in the right lane and go right.  I refuse to try to make a left turn from a two lane road onto a six lane road with a 50 mph speed limit without a light.  After a while I made a left into a nice little plaza, and exited and found another light with people directing traffic and eventually after meandering about five miles out of my way arrived at a grocery store with power and food and ice!  By this point I realized I had to get back home, across that same six lane road but was able to map out a plan.  A plan where I had to turn right at that intersection, not cross it.

Again, against all the advice, I opened the freezer door.  But my freezer isn’t that good anyway, so I quickly came to the conclusion, I needed to throw away the contents of my freezer.  I really wish it was New Year’s so I could make a New Year’s resolution to be mindful of what I put into the freezer.  Some was well labeled.  Other things, no.  Living alone I cook a lot of dishes with ground meat, and I usually freeze what I have left-over.  I need to make a plan to use what I freeze.  Also, I don’t need to keep things I am not going to use.  The real fruit popsicles are a good example.  They aren’t ice cream and I am not seven years old so no one is being fooled.  Once I went out and purchased Klondike bars they should have gone into the trash.

The most interesting find was a snack size ziploc bag with three ginger cookies inside.  I guess I was being good and making portions and I suppose for whatever diet/health kick I was on at the time it worked, because they were lost in the mad pile of frozen veggies and Lean Cuisines but I felt bad for the three little cookies.

Electricity has been restored, I go back to school tomorrow after four school days off and the neighbor’s tree was just tall enough to hit my kitchen window but not do any damage.  I am truly thankful for wifi and cable and people with chainsaws but mostly grateful for traffic lights!

They Make Me Laugh

slice of lifeI leaned over the senior in my chemistry class and said, “Just to be very clear, I am not laughing at you – I am laughing at his reaction to whatever just happened here.”

I was thanked and I felt reassured that I had talked to the student.  My class was working in self selected groups on a series of purposely challenging problems so I could assess where everyone was at.  Last week was one of those crazy weeks where I was in and out of the classroom and I wasn’t sure if any of the instruction had stuck with the students; and it was homecoming week.  The math was not trivial, but not “rocket science” either.  But you would have thought by the reaction the other group member had that the student thought 1+1=cat.  He raised out of his chair, reached over, fussing at the other student and just kept saying, No!  He was loud with a bewildered expression on his face.  How could anyone have done that?

I love the difference in my students.  They may be in the same math class, they may not.  It really doesn’t matter.  Some kids come to me with some rather big holes in their math backgrounds but with practice they can identify them and fill them in.  And then I get some who are just very, very good at math.  And it is very hard for them to understand everyone else on the planet.  And they are just so fun to watch when they work together.

A few years back I was teaching honors physics and as a first day activity they wrote down what math class and teacher they had.  I double checked in the computer.  My honors physics kids had seven different classes and twelve different teachers.  Well, okay, I guess I will just assume absolutely nothing.  And the only two sophomores in the class were the stars.

Another year, again in self selected groups, a shining math star was helping the girl seated next to him.  This was physics.  And he retreated totally.  No pleading on her part could get him to help her because whatever math error she had just committed was the final fatal blow.  He put the neck of his shirt up over his head and sat like that for the rest of the period.  He couldn’t look at whatever it was that she had done.  How could anyone help but laugh?  I figured I didn’t need to know the details of that exchange either.

Why do I teach?  Because it is constantly changing, dynamic, entertaining, enlightening, and some days just downright fun!

Mama’s Cruet

slice of lifeEveryone seems to separate the world into two categories.  The problem is the sometimes I’m just not comfortable in either one.  Saturday I broke Mama’s Cruet, well, it wasn’t my mama’s cruet, but I’ll get to that.

The two categories to consider today are those who will use those things they love everyday and enjoy them and those who will keep them in a safe and secure place so that nothing happens to them.

My grandmother was definitely the latter.  If you gave her something she really liked, she would put it away and keep it.  But she wouldn’t use it.

My best friend lived in the other category and I admire it but I just am not sure I can fight genetics and not follow in my Grandmother’s path.  Lisa and her family would come to visit on Christmas night.  She was always dressed in a new outfit from her socks to her earrings showing off the best selection of her Christmas presents.  My presents were always kept, nicely displayed in the box back under the tree until the tree went down on New Year’s Day and the new clothes were put away to be used, later.  I can’t really tell you when later is, so please do not ask.

My grandmother’s half-sister, Lizzie, loved to go to garage sales.  For a number of years while I was growing up I remember her on a quest to find a stopper for Mama’s cruet.  This clear glass jar used for oil or vinegar that may or may not have actually belonged to their mother.  The stopper was lost or broken  so Grandma couldn’t use it.  She kept it safe, in the china cabinet.  Aunt Lizzie (great aunt is just too long and formal) was ten years older than my grandmother.  My great-grandmother died when my grandmother was eight and Aunt Lizzie was 18.  There were nine children total, and Grandma was the only girl at home to take care of the younger brothers.  So, this glass jar was the only thing they had of their mother’s.

For years Aunt Lizzie would find a top to a cruet at a rummage sale and give it to Grandma who would say it was too fancy, too tall, too plain, too thin, too wide, too something.  She must have finally given in, because when I inherited the cruet it had a top.  A top with a plastic stopper so this is not the original 1920’s stopper.

I had just finished making dinner Saturday night when I turned around and knocked the cruet, filled will flavored olive oil, on to the tile floor where it broke in many many pieces.  Thankfully only one piece has found my bare foot so far and I think I have mitigated the oil slick I created, but Mama’s Cruet is gone forever.  If I had just put it away…if I hadn’t put the basil olive oil in it…if I were more careful.  So, hopefully writing the story will atone for breaking the cruet and I can still remember the wonderful times with Grandma and Aunt Lizzie, even when I was dragged to rummage sales as a kid and maybe I shouldn’t regret using the cruet since that is why it was made.

Going the Wrong-Way in the Grocery Store

slice of lifeAm I the only one?  I feel like I am the only one that routinely gets caught circling the grocery store, unable to escape.  Allow me to explain.

On a recent trip to the store I needed a card, bread, a can of soup and pet food.  A really easy, simple trip, one would imagine, and yet I circled by the same bewildered stock person at least three times.

I picked out the card first.  This was a bit of a hassle because their selection was too good.  They had a card for every possible circumstance and I didn’t really know that many details but I eventually found a suitable generic yet sincere sympathy card.

Then I went to the pet food.  No problems there.  With two cats anytime I am out where I can pick up more food I do.  Onward to get bread.  Now, I live alone and feel very guilty about wasting food, so I have almost quit buying loaves of bread because I can’t possibly finish the bread before it molds.  But I was craving a grilled ham and cheese so I had to have bread.  On the way from pet food to bread I passed the refrigerated section.  I saw the cheese and thought, when was the last time I used cheese?  It may have been a while, better get some more.   Feeling happy I thought of that I march on and realize I have completely missed the bread aisle.  In my defense, the bread used to be more toward the front of the store, but then I should disclose that was probably three years ago.  Oh, the bakery is close, maybe I will find suitable bread in the bakery.  Onward, a great loaf of bread in my cart.  Oh yes, back to the soup.  At least it is only one aisle away.  Can of tomato soup and a spare.

But wait, I’m not done.  I make tomato soup with milk.  Not only have I quit buying loaves of bread because they go bad, but I have also quit buying half gallons of milk, because they go bad.  Milk is on the other end of the store near the cheese as you might imagine.  So back I go again.  The same earnest employee I told I didn’t need help the last time by is still there, at least he didn’t even offer assistance this time.  It is obvious that I am a lost cause.

But as I walk back toward the front to check out I wonder why no one else ever seems caught in the vortex.

 

Summer Camp

Did you go to summer camp?  I didn’t.  I had no desire and I really don’t think it was an option.  I have never been one to make friends quickly so I can’t imagine being forced to sleep in a cabin with girls I didn’t know.

And then there is the bathroom situation.  I still recall when the roadside rest areas in Pennsylvania had outhouses.  I can just imagine going someplace with less than pristine rest rooms.  No Thank You!

And the food?  I don’t eat eggs or mayo so I am seemingly impossible to please for breakfast or at any picnic.  And I used to be super picky about the hotdogs I ate.  I would have starved.  It is so sad to think about.  And before you suggest it, I ate peanut butter sandwiches, or jelly sandwiches, but never the two mixed.

Oh yes, and swimming is usually featured at camp, right?  I can swim.  But I won’t jump into a pool or off of a dock.  It is that fear of falling.  So even though I took seven – yes seven- years of swimming in school plus lessons at the YWCA at least twice I never progressed beyond basic because I couldn’t pass the test because I would not jump in the pool and swim a lap.  So images of fun in the water don’t really appeal.

The one time I went camping with girl scouts my mom went too.  That way I didn’t actually have to talk to anyone else.    We didn’t have sleeping bags which embarrassed me.  And all the girls in our cabin had pajamas.  I had a night gown.  That was just so embarrassing I don’t think I got past it.  And the food should have been OK.  We made the traditional foil packets of potatoes and carrots and chicken to leave in the fire before going on a hike.  Mine just wasn’t cooked after the hike.   No more camping after that.

So in this summer season, I have to ask myself, why are you leading camp starting Tuesday?  OK – it isn’t a “real” camp.  It is day camp, at a school, focused on science but still.  Or maybe that is really why I am doing camp now, because I didn’t way way way back when.

 

So Long

I can’t believe how long it has been since I have posted.

And the school year really hasn’t been that insane.  I need to return to the habit of writing.  Otherwise I will never improve!  And tonight is the perfect night.  It is raining.  I can hear the water running out of the gutters.  I will try to not dwell on the fact I should hire someone to clean out the gutters, and enjoy the restful dripping sounds.

I think I will just ask questions into the ether, tonight.

Why does the cat walk on the keyboard?

Do other people suddenly hate their entire wardrobe and want a new one?

How do you get rid of an old computer?

How early is too early to go to bed?

Why do I never know the answer when someone asks what my favorite movie is?

Do other people watch parts of movies on TV repeatedly without having to see the entire thing?  Movies beside Harry Potter?

I will watch any part of You’ve Got Mail, Shawshank Redemption, or Remember the Titans.

As long as I see,, “Get in the car” from the Blindside and “My name is Maximus…”from Gladiator I don’t need to see the rest.

Why wasn’t I allowed to have pink as a favorite color as a child, just because Lisa’s favorite color is pink?

Is there an “organized” gene?  I don’t seem to have one.

Do Sharpies make you sneeze?

If I were taller, would I appreciate it as much as I think I would?

Why is my email always full?

OK, enough silly questions for now.  Off to watch boring British TV.  Thank you Netflix.  I really like it much more than anything shown in the US right now.

 

Love Snapshot

I left work a touch after 6pm and my tired, whiny, entitled self couldn’t envision heating up the leftovers in the fridge so I drove to a nearby restaurant.  I could hardly make it into the place, the wait time was 15 to 20 minutes, but isn’t that what they always say?

“Can I sit at the bar?”

I sat at the bar.  Wasn’t even too unhappy when she asked a second time was that salad no cheese and ranch?  No, it was no cheese and honey mustard.  Of course I got no cheese and ranch but I was hungry enough, and they are good enough that it didn’t matter.  Nor did the fact that my bread had still not appeared as I scarfed the last of the lettuce but the nice lady next to me offered their left over one, so then bread  magically appeared from the kitchen.

But by then the bar almost emptied, the news show didn’t hold my interest and my phone was completely dead.  Just as I ate my first forkful of pasta I noticed a man, and a woman, shuffling out of the woman’s rest room.  They looked about 80 and she held tight to him as they walked.  I scooted in, expecting them to walk by, but he settled her in the yet uncleaned spot by me.  Wow, to have a guy who will help you in the ladies room.

He ordered coffee, cream and an extra cup.  Then an iced tea.  He made her coffee with cream and sweet-n-lo with an ice cube or two.  Then poured half of it into the empty cup.  He gave her the coffee, now a manageable amount and temperature.  Then he took napkins from the bar stack and cleaned up his mess.  They split a piece of chocolate pie.  She didn’t plan on desert, but ate once he put the spoon in her hand.  That is when I noticed her purse was across his body for safe keeping.

The bartender said she wanted a guy just like him, when she got to be their age.  The woman made a face and he said they would be together 67 years on Thursday.  He added that she still hadn’t decided if she would keep him forever.  The humor between them almost made me forget his level of care for her, until she said something quietly to her husband, and he told her the thing behind the bar was a refrigerator without any irritation in his voice.

If only we could all be so blessed as to have someone to care for us the way this man did for his wife.  And what a wonderful end to my day.

Gratitude List – in no particular order

  1.  Freedom of religion
  2. Pets, specifically my cats to keep me company
  3. A job I mostly enjoy
  4. A job that is not physically taxing
  5. Coffee – hot and cold
  6. Pretty things, pink or shiny
  7. Extra space
  8. Vacation time
  9. Sleep, good dreams, soft blankets and pillows
  10. Great story tellers
  11. Great preachers, especially ones who don’t take the message in a predictable way.  Thank you for making me think!
  12. Friends, near, far, sort of related, not related at all.
  13. A running car.
  14. Internet
  15. Life milestones to look forward to or to look back upon
  16. Books
  17. Electricity
  18. Heat and AC, running water, indoor plumbing and garbage service.
  19. Being the master of my schedule
  20. Great food!

Holiday Dinner

What are your holiday memories?  Here are mine.

Grandma served dinner on Thanksgiving and Christmas as 1:00.  Or at least that was the plan.  Uncle George would be sitting at the table, even if the bird still wasn’t cooked.  Grandma had something against turkey, so it was usually chicken.  The day before we went to the bakery to pick up two pies.  One was always pumpkin and the other was sometimes mince (ewwww) or apple or cherry.  The night before she cut up the onions and celery for the stuffing.  One mason jar of each, stored in the fridge for morning.

This was all a mystery to me before Mom got sick and I went to live with my grandparents.  After that, I got to see the traditions first hand.

Grandma made sage and bread stuffing.  She never liked the dried packaged cubes so once it became impossible to buy fresh cubed bread for stuffing we also had to cut up a loaf of bread the night before.  I was allowed to do that job.  The onions and celery had to be done just so, so it wasn’t until a year Grandma had the stomach bug that I took over.

Once I lived with them, I would wake up to the smell of cooking onions.  Grandma was very particular that the onions and celery were fully cooked, but not browned before adding it to the bread cubes, sage (out of a 10 year old bottle, used twice a year), milk and an egg.  Then into the bird it went.

Once the bird was is in the oven, breakfast could progress then we could get dressed and work on the rest of the meal.

Menu

  • chicken
  • pale yellow gravy, too thin some years, often thicker than the jello
  • mashed potatoes
  • squash, frozen cooked in a double boiler
  • a vegetable for Anne (me)
  • rolls – from a tube of course
  • olives and pickles
  • jell cranberry sauce straight from the can
  • jello
  • pie and cool whip in the afternoon

These were the only days of the year we said grace.  That was Grandma’s job.  I once saw the grace she said printed on a place mat and was amazed she said the Catholic version,  not Protestant.

And then we ate leftovers for days and days.  Not the creative casseroles you see on the cooking shows.  Exactly the menu above reheated again and again.  Plus a chicken sandwich for lunch.   Thanksgiving and Christmas, just the same.  So that is what a holiday meal is to me.