All posts by SingleAnnie

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.

Tacky

I admit we probably were tacky.

No, I don’t think as a high school student, I was particularly sticky or in any way like an adhesive. I have come to realize that in general teenagers are the exact opposite of polished and sophisticated. That is what my homeroom teacher meant when she said we were tacky. We lacked finesse and polish.

I had the privilege of having Ms. Potter as my eighth grade English teacher. She moved to the high school with us and was my homeroom teacher, I hung out in her room before school and she helped me write essays when I was afraid to ask my own English teacher for help.   Some time in our five years of interaction she got married and became Mrs. Baker but was still the same, no nonsense teacher. But she was fond of referring to all of us as being tacky. I knew it wasn’t good, but I never quite got it until recently.

I have finally quit expecting my tenth, eleventh, and especially my twelfth graders to be polished and sophisticated. They are kids. They are works in progress. They may drive, have jobs, get straight A’s in calculus and tower over me in height, but they are tacky. They often say whatever comes into their heads, having no empathy for me or their other teachers. Because they are kids. But I still need to constantly remind myself, they are kids. Cut them some slack. Give them a break. Very few are purposely mean or hurtful but on occasion any one of them may come across as tacky.

What do I mean? Just last week a retired teacher and his wife stopped by my room to say hello while at the school. “Miss, is that your sister? You look just like her! Really! You do!” She had to be at least 25 years older than me. But through the teen age eyes, we all are just in that old adult category. No use getting mad.

“Miss, did you grade my test?” The one you waited three weeks to make up, spent all of lunch trying to do, handing it to me less than an hour ago as I started teaching? Oh wait, you just asked a question. No reason to rant. A simple, “No,” is much better than the indignant rant playing in my brain. You don’t know my minute by minute plan any more than I know yours. It was just a simple question. Same thing with the email sent after ten o’clock at night, the make-up work buried in the stack and every teacher’s all time favorite, “Did we do anything while I was out?”

So take a deep breath, be the example you want them to become, and give a short and polite answer with a smile, each and every time you are asked the same tacky question. No matter how much they look like adults, they still are kids.

October 1

Happy October.  Of course in Florida, it barely registers as fall, yet.  The weathermen happily note that the high is only 89 instead of in the 90’s, but for the rest of us, we really don’t feel any change.

We have been back to school for over a month now.  The routine has set in.  Unfortunately that routine consists of constantly being tired and swamped with paperwork and pulled in too many directions at once.  I realized this as I walked to a meeting yesterday to find a locked door.  The walk wasn’t that far, but as I gazed through the window into the dark classroom I was upset.  This of course quickly passed.  Eventually my weary, end of the school day brain realized that they weren’t hiding from me.  This wasn’t personal, just a mistake.  I trudged back to my classroom and checked my email.  Probably the only email I deleted this week was the one giving date and time.  So I sent out an email saying sorry I missed you.  The meeting moved, and I wasn’t cc’d which is just fine.  I didn’t need to be there, and I was quite able to find work to fill my time and they were quite able to function without me.  But it was Wednesday afternoon, therefore I must have a meeting.

As all true teachers know, you not only teach, but to survive you have a second job.  Some of us hope this is only for a season, but I fear this is my lot in life.  You see, I do mind eating Raman at age 48.  So, I tutor.  I left today to tutor and realized I had a missed text.  “Is it too late to cancel, he has an activity after school?”  “No problem,” I texted back.  Freedom.  So I bought an iced coffee and went and bought a pretty yellow mum.  Even if it doesn’t feel like autumn, my entryway can look like fall.  And the red, white, and blue planter bought on sale after July 4, 2014 (yes really!) is looking a little scraggly.  So I have a friendly yellow plant to greet me and I used part of the time to “rake” the leaves off of the porch.  Of course, these are just the dead leaves that have accumulated for months from the neighbors’ oak tree, and I swept,  I didn’t actually rake, and I did need to recuperate in the AC when done, but never-the-less, it was a lovely fall day.

Happy October 1, y’all!

 

It Must Be August or You Might Be A Teacher If…

Happy first day of August.  I am enjoying the summer in that odd style that only teachers will probably understand.  Beside the date on the calendar, I realized it was August 1 today for many reasons.  The first reason you would think, the heat wave hitting the country, the record temperatures, the mild scent of sweat drifting in the air even if you venture outside for an instant wasn’t really what confirmed it.

I know it is the first day of August because before nine this morning I had two arguments with myself over what day of the week it is.  It is Saturday.  This was confirmed by morning television but, it is really hard to keep track.  After all the only day I have to set the alarm is Sunday so in my relaxed teacher mind there are only two days in the summer, Sunday and Notsunday.  And I really enjoy sleeping until I wake up.

How else do I know it is the first of August?  I know it is the first of August because I have both physical and mental energy.  The energy drained by a school year teaching chemistry and physics seems be refilled. I know that someplace I have a little battery like on my electronic devices and it is green and full but it took a really long time to overcome the drained, red, less than 10% status that I ran at in June.   I have planted flowers in place of the ones burnt by the summer heat.  I have trimmed and watered and found lots of other projects to do outside.  Then, while wandering through the kitchen I have identified new ways to organize the dishes, make use of those shelves way above my head and cull out those things lurking in the back of the cupboard and donate them to charity.  Believe me when I tell you all these things are rare events for this couch potato.

While preparing my list of things to do I also now have a second category.  The working title is, Next School Year.  So far this summer I haven’t really done much but avoid thinking about next school year.   But so far today I managed to scan material that would be helpful for next year.  No big deal, you think?  It involved cleaning off the scanner, connecting it to the “new” laptop, shooing the cat off the laptop when she walked by and somehow managed to cancel instillation,  well, you get the picture.  But it is done.  It wasn’t started and then I lost interest like most things attempted in June or July.  And I have a laundry list of ideas for Next School Year. And the list of ideas is invigorating not draining.  Yes, it must be August.

Just so you don’t think I completely set out to brag, I also have this little buzzing in my brain reminding me that the next pay check is a month away and the savings is getting smaller and wouldn’t it be great if you could save money?  I know, you can make it a game, the back corner of my brain suggests. You can go anywhere you want for lunch tomorrow, but you have this much money to spend.  Oh, that wasn’t exciting enough, fine, just tap into the hurricane supplies.  The weather in the tropics is calm.  You won’t miss a couple of cans from the pantry.  They would work well with the leftovers.

Lastly, how do I know it is August first.  Well, it is 23 days before school starts.  The countdown begins.

Online Course

I want to share a secret with you.  I’m taking an online writing course.  You may have noticed I don’t post to the blog a lot.  I thought a writing course might help.  One of the ongoing assignments is to write in your journal at least an hour a day.  Perfect, I thought.  But this has not helped me post to my blog.  You see, I have been too busy to blog.

That isn’t to say that I haven’t learned many valuable skills during the online course which is two weeks shy of being over.   But the most important thing I have learned is empathy for my students.

One of the first things I have learned is that sometimes life gets in the way of doing homework.  This specific course has standing assignments due every Wednesday and Sunday.  That seems so easy, until you have to do that and have a life.  You may have heard, that earlier this summer a tree fell on my car.  And I needed to get it off.  But that was the evening I planned to do my homework.  So much for that.  Then I had to put it off another day.  Wait, this isn’t easy!  Or you are driving home after a perfectly fun day of movie and a dinner with friends and it hits you, wait, it is almost 7:00 pm.  And while you have five hours to complete your homework by midnight, was that really what you planned to do Sunday night?

I have also learned the importance of reading directions and it is really easy to miss one word in the directions, completely changing the meaning.  So that assignment I worked so hard on that was in third person that had to be written in first person.  And luckily I saw my mistake before hitting submit.  What if I hadn’t seen that word at that moment?  Hopefully I can be more compassionate and realize how easy it can be to misread and put in work, but not answer the question posed.

But today tops it all.  I so felt like one of my sophomore chemistry students.  You see, I lost my text book.  I have a reading assignment due tomorrow and we have two text books.  But I read ahead and hadn’t needed one of the two books for three weeks now.  And I couldn’t find it.  Seriously.  I am an adult and I bought this paperback for nearly $30 you would think I wouldn’t lose it.  But alas, it was hiding from me.  So, I cleaned the living room.  But it wasn’t there.  But an hour went by.  Thankfully, in the next place I looked I found it covered by a pile of laundry that needed folding.  Hopefully I will remember this the next time a kid tells me they can’t find their book, or the more common story of “I was at Dad’s house and my book is at Mom’s,” or vice versa.

And lastly, we are eight weeks into a ten week summer online course and the instructor hasn’t posted grades.  Any grades.  Did I mention we have assignments due every Wednesday and Sunday at midnight?  Yup, no grades yet. I’m over the anxiety but I’m not a 16 year old who could get grounded if the grade isn’t good.

So in conclusion, I think the greatest thing that I have learned over choosing to take an online course, is the reminder of what it is like to be a student.

UPDATE:  Just that week an assignment was graded as was the final portfolio, but still…I feel for you students!

The Tree

The tree fell on my car.   It is a Monday morning.  I am dressed but have not made coffee yet and decide to let in the cat.  Miss Heidi likes to stay outside when there is a full moon.  Something doesn’t look right.  Wait, no.  Something looks wrong, would be more accurate.  The tree fell on my car.

The tree.  I live in a condo in the South and to shade my parking space was a maple tree.  It was a hard decision to buy a place but the maple tree was a reminder of home and going to the maple syrup farms on field trips as a kid and loving maple sugar candy.  Sorry, I am not a maple syrup fan in and of itself.  I don’t like any saucy slimy things on my food.  Never any mayo or miracle whip. Mustard and ketchup are used only sparingly.  Plain is usually best.  If I get chicken nuggets, yes, I am an adult and eat chicken nuggets, get over it.  If I get chicken nuggets you will barely be able to tell that I used any dipping sauce.

So the condo had a maple tree.  A pretty ugly, badly trimmed, riddled with holes maple tree.  A tree that lived mostly in the shadow of a huge Oak tree whose roots occupied all the space between the two buildings.  But it reminded me of upstate NY and home and Lisa’s maple and Grandma’s Japanese maple and home.  I planted the bush I was given at Dad’s funeral underneath it.  And then when it died, I bought another one and actually watered it this time.  But it fell over.  It broke off at the roots and just tipped over onto my car.  I believe it happened early Monday morning.  A large crash that shook the condo woke me at 2:00 but I went back to sleep.  It was the noise of the loudest door slam you ever heard, but it wasn’t followed by yells or obscenities so I fell back to sleep.  Living in a condo makes for a series of drama unfolding around one nonstop.

So, I opened the door and there was the tree.  My maple on my car.   What to do.  Ah, my cell is charged, that’s a plus.  Text someone at work that I will be late.  (Text didn’t go through, but I didn’t find that out until later.)  Call car insurance company.  Take lots of pictures.  Keep circling the car.  Maybe I could pull forward?  Well, if the sidewalk and building weren’t in the way and the weight of the whole tree wasn’t resting on the trunk.  Thankfully I was too chicken to try that.  Neighbors leave for work.  No advice.  I understand, they don’t want to be late.   I  see someone I work with putting out the garbage so beg a ride.  And I am even on time.

Before  giving up at being productive at work and begging a ride home, I  find a guy with a chain saw, who magically attracts neighbor with better chain saw and in the rain they free my car from the poor rotted out tree.  It still looks wrong when I drive in or look outside.  I miss my tree.

Change

I live someplace between these two images.  I actually own the pink change purse, as a kind of benevolent brain-washing.  It hasn’t really worked though.  I know that change happens and that I need to be okay with it, I am just not.  I resonate so much more with Sheldon.

Today I will go to my new seats at the Daytona International Speedway.  Yes, I am one of those NASCAR fans.  Did you catch the part about new seats?  This wasn’t a planned upgrade, like when I had the perfectly awful seats on the backstretch that were so badly designed you couldn’t see any racing action, and it was an additional two mile walk to get to the “privilege” of sitting there.   I upgraded to the front stretch as soon as I was offered the chance.  One race, no one even took my ticket stub.  I guess they knew that no one would even try to sneak in back there.  Seriously, no one was manning the gates to take tickets.  I paid for that ticket!  I digress, as usual.

No, I didn’t plan this change.  They are renovating.  My old seat is no more.  I am on the same level, same general area.   But I had those seats in Petty Tower, section S, 3 and 4 since they were built.   Probably a little closer to the flagstand now, but still, it is different.  I had a well established routine and now it is changed.  And lets face it, they aren’t the seats Dad sat in with me.  And the wonderful gentleman from England quit coming with his family so there were different strangers sitting in seats 1 and 2.  And there will be a new usher.  For at least the last half-dozen years we have had the same usher.  Her daughter works with media for the Speedway so she has wonderful stories.  Had wonderful stories.  Well, probably still does, I just won’t hear them.  And what if the new usher is lazy.  Won’t get rid of the drunk seat surfers.  You know, those obnoxious people who usually travel in large packs and believe they deserve better seats so sit in any open seat available.

Oh, and they changed qualifying for NASCAR.  I must admit I haven’t even watched it, except for the weekly clips of the mishaps.  Sigh.  I really hate the image that all NASCAR fans care about are crashes.  For the serious race fan, qualifying was how you determined which car was good.  Seeing each car, alone, on the track for two laps gave the fan a lot of information.  But then, I went to qualifying at Watkins Glen with Dad.  It was a long day.  A really long day, but any day with him tended to be long.  You either became a fan or died of boredom.  Might as well learn to hear differences in engines, watch the lines the cars took, figure out how much faster the second lap would have to be than the first to qualify at the front.  But one of the announcers explained that qualifying was too long for the “young fans.”  So they made changes.  Sigh.  They will miss a lot.

I really wish I could be in the Change is Good camp today, but I must agree with Sheldon.  Change is never fine, they say it is…but it’s not.