Vaca part 3.

It is good to be too busy to write much.

Altitude sickness is real
The little black spots are fading. The combination of salty snacks, water, Advil, and tine seems to have helped.

Everything I read says that only 10% of those who visit the Grand Canyon foto the North Rim. Now I understand. Monday morning spent on the lodge overlook patio with roughly twice the number of people as chipmunks. Oh, there were two chipmunks.

It is so pretty. It smells amazing here. Every direction one looks is gorgeous. It inspires awe. If the Raven would fly away, I would even say it is quiet. Silent.

Fear of heights and falling is real. Those of you without it, I think the rest of us my live longer. I am sure some the the photo ops I have seen people take are spellbounding, but they are also insane.

The Adventure Continues

Or maybe it is just starting. I have just under an hour before meeting the tour group and this trip really starts.

So far this trip has helped me remember empathy and reality are not seen as frequently as they could be. Examples? I took a two hour shuttle yesterday. I ended up in the back row, ironically with the most leg room. This was a well used 15 passenger van with a trailer for luggage. It was between 114 and 117 degrees F out during the entire trip. The other two passengers in the back complained and muttered most of the way. Yes, it was hot. My favorite was her thought that the van would pull over each hour to change seats. I just keep imagining this insane Chinese fire drill on the side of the road. At least then she might have understood that yes we were all hot.

Before getting the shuttle I spent time at the hotel people watching. Went for lunch at Wahlburgers which was most yummy and I highly recommend the onion rings. My favorite people watching were the parents and grandparents interacting with kids. I was truly amazed at the vast range of attire in the theology/casino at all hours. I haven’t seen that many half shirts since the 90’s but I digress. This amazing little grandmother giggled and pointed with the granddaughters at the lady in the high heals and butt cheeks hanging out of her teeny shorts.

Oh, and beside being both cheap and unlucky there is no danger of me gambling lots. I am so unaccustomed to smoke. Good grief but the air quality was bad.

Ok, that wasted 23 minutes.

The Grand Pre-Birthday Vacation Part 1

Reflections from yesterday and this morning

I really don’t like to travel even when everything goes right. Did you know that there are really big racoons living in satellite parking at OIA? There are. I was wary of exiting my car but I finally found enough courage to proceed to the shuttle bus. Dear driver, I didn’t need an apology, it was the gaggle of ingrates traveling Southwest that expected you to park the bus an inch from the gate in that traffic. Hey, you let me off at the right terminal and lifted my suitcase off the bus. Job well done!

SeaBands are amazing. I don’t care if it is psychosomatic hooha or sound science based on pressure points. They got me through turbulence, other passenger vomit, an epic diaper blowout and airline air freshener certain death.

I want to be rich. I really like overpriced hotels, expensive dinner and stunning views. I need to remind myself that on my dear teacher’s salary this is the once in a lifetime, or at least once in a decade adventure. I will not get to repeat this every break. I will not get to repeat this every break. I will just keep repeating it until it sinks in.

How do you get the mental, “I should” messages ingrained in the brain to turn off? I am not talking a departure from ethical and moral behavior, I am talking the stupid things, “You should leave the sheers drawn over the window,” and “You shouldn’t just sit in your hotel room.” By the way, I had breakfast, outside in 100 degree heat, saw evaporation rate that was utterly amazing. Was trying to reset my internal clock. Walked 2500 steps before adjourning to my room. Of course the young man in the elevator said he was just on his way to bed and marveled at us who were up.

Mountains are amazing. I should google what I am looking at. My grandmother’s horror at my lack of basic geography is real. I blame fifth grade. The other class learned the 50 states and we learned the Canadian provinces and capitals.

O was amazing. I was in the splash zone. It was okay. They need a behind the scenes video of how they do that show. If I go to YouTube I am sure to find one. But it was great. I am sure there was so story about finding true love for all or something amid the acrobatics and aerial feats. All I know is it was mesmerizing. And impossible to take it all in during just one performance.

I need a synonym for amazing.

Are those orange Lamborghinis parked over there? I am gazing out of the window and looked at something beside the mountain. Oh, sitting by the storefront that says exotic car rental? Yes Dear, well spotted.

The 20something in the elevator last night said he saw more brides in the hotel than he had in his entire life. Think he was a bit nervous. I am guessing she was his girlfriend. But someone else pointed out that yesterday was 7-7-17 so all those numerology minded folk probably wanted to get married.

More later…

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?


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.