Thursday, March 31, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Thirty-one: Days fall away

These days of March

have fallen quickly away

each made distinct

by the leaving of words on a page.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Thirty: I'm busy

I've noticed as of late that when I'm asked "How are you?" in a pleasant exchange, my answer more often than not is "I'm busy." 

I don't say it in a curt manner.  It just happens to be the first thing that pops into my head.  
But "I'm busy" really doesn't answer the question.  "Busy" is what I'm doing.  "Busy" is not how I am.

Everyone is busy.  My colleagues, family, friends are not slackers.  We all have a to-do list that tugs at our time.  On the busy-ness scale, I probably fall somewhere in the middle--not too busy to miss out on a favorite TV show or get less than six hours' sleep, but busy enough that I'm spending more time than I'd like on the computer screen working on projects. 

Today, when I'm asked "How are you?", I'm going to pause for a second, really think about how I really am--not what's racing through my head or what I'm doing--and answer from a place of being.

The answer will most likely be "I'm well, thank you.  And you?".
Photo by Philip Kromer

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Twenty-nine: Passion and pictures

Two tasks have the same deadline this week, one professional, one personal.

I volunteered to do a five-minute talk to my colleagues in a peer-to-peer, teacher-initiated professional development session this Thursday.  The topic is of my choosing, but should be centered on what excites me as an educator, something I'm passionate about.  

I have considered several ideas for my talk, and can't seem to settle on one.  It was suggested that we provide slides, too--twenty slides, timed at 15 seconds apiece so that the talk is metered and kept within the time limit.  Because I haven't chosen a topic yet, I haven't started on the slides.

At home, I have a Groupon deadline for a Shutterfly photo book.  I purchased it months ago, with the idea that I would work on it over spring break.  Instead, I forgot about it until this past Friday, when I realized the coupon expires this Thursday. 

I spent all day Friday going through three thousand pictures from our trip to Japan, and chose almost seven hundred of them to upload.  Every day since, I've spent two to three hours working on placing photos in the online scrapbook.

Two major projects due by Thursday; will I finish either one? 

Monday, March 28, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Twenty-eight: Literate ladies who lunch

Today is our district elementary librarians' meeting.  We have thirty-three elementary schools, and our district is fortunate to have administrative support for a certified librarian on every campus, so thirty-three of us plus our director, systems operator, their assistant, and various presenters take over a campus library once a month.  The hosting location changes each time, and fellow librarians help with the refreshments and decor.

We have a packed agenda.  We pick books to read and review, do a quick icebreaker, and then move into learning and collaboration activities.  Today we are discussing interlibrary loans, reviewing our TeachingBooks access, learning about leadership opportunities, witnessing the reveal of next year's Armadillo book list, and signing off on a purchase order we all had to make as we get used to a new financial system.

Before lunch, we'll discuss plans for National Library Month and summer reading programs.  During lunch, it's sharing time with a focus on technology and infographics.

Then we head back to our individual campuses at noon, heads buzzing with new ideas, motivated to make our library programs the best they can be. When you're the only "you" at a school, it is great to meet with others who shoulder the same responsibilities and purpose.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Twenty-seven: Blooms amid chaos

For the past ten years, there have been fresh flowers gracing our house almost every day.
I started this habit when I turned forty, based on the comments of a much older and wiser teaching assistant I had during my first few years in the classroom.  She said she preferred to get flowers while she could enjoy them, not heaped on her grave and destined for the trash. 
I started buying flowers for myself, placing them in the kitchen, at the table, sometimes next to the bathroom sink. 
My husband now buys them with the weekly groceries.  They last for ten to fourteen days, and usually cost under fifteen dollars--an affordable extravagance, on our middle class income.
The flowers are displayed no matter how chaotic our surroundings are.  The table may be strewn with mail and brochures, the counter covered with fruit and cereal boxes...but the flowers grace our lives with color, and make us pause, take note, and be thankful. 

I went shopping with my husband this week, and picked this bunch of tulips to decorate our Easter dinner.  I love the beauty in the simplicity of a bunch of tulips.

Happy Easter, readers.

(Pictures by Chris Margocs.  Use with permission/ attribution only.)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Twenty-six: My beetle summer

I returned to Austin halfway through the summer, having spent the first month in Germany with my family so I could attend my brother's high school graduation ceremony. 

My roommate went home for the break, and I was on my own. There weren't too many affordable housing options close to campus for a six-week stay, so I subletted an apartment that I had only briefly seen before my trip abroad.

A friend accompanied me from El Paso, where my grandparents were housesitting our family home and where I had stashed my stuff in May.  After the fourteen hour drive, we arrived at the apartment in the hot, sticky dark.  It was in an old complex, just two stories built around a central courtyard that had a pool badly in need of upkeep.  We climbed the stairs and walked over to the corner unit.  I put the key into the lock, opened the door, and reached for the light switch.

Nothing happened.  The landlord had not turned on the electricity yet.  We took a few steps into the murk, and felt crunching underfoot.  An odd smell permeated the gloom.

There was no telephone to call someone; I had opted not to connect the line for such a short stay, and these were the days before cellphones.  My friend and I decided to find a hotel for the night and come back in the daylight.

In the morning, my friend left for El Paso, and I returned to the apartment alone.  The crunching underfoot?  Dead beetles, littering the floor from what I could only guess was an unfinished extermination job.  The smell was from a head of lettuce in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator, left to rot in the heat when the power was turned off.

I did get the electricity turned on that day.  Unfortunately, I spent the next six weeks sleeping with a can of Raid next to my bed, as the beetles returned to reclaim their space.  I would find them crawling across my bedcover in the middle of the night. Several would be dead in the bathtub in the morning, entering through the drainpipe and exhausted by the attempt to climb the smooth porcelain walls, no doubt. I was fascinated by the different kinds and sizes that visited the apartment, but disgust outweighed curiosity.  My extermination efforts were twofold--the aforementioned can of Raid, and the addition of allowing a neighborly cat into my unit each day to happily pounce on and eat the offending roaches.

When the six weeks were over, I couldn't move out of that apartment fast enough.

Friday, March 25, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Twenty-five: Revisiting the Book Nook

Testing days throw off my library schedule.  We normally see twenty-nine classes in the library on Tuesday and Wednesday (this is our schedule!), and there is no way I could reschedule that many classes.

I also don't like to start a new lesson with a grade level that's going to be interrupted; it makes it hard to keep up with who's been taught what. (One of these days, I'll make use of the neat lesson template I made for myself, so I can keep track...but that's another story.)  Next week, the library will be closed for Tuesday and Wednesday for state testing.

So I emailed the teachers in the "testing grades" on Monday, and told them that for the next couple of weeks we would skip cross-grade lessons in the library.  If there was a class-specific need they wanted me to support in a lesson, or if they would like a read-aloud, I would be happy to accommodate them.  Third and fifth grade teachers requested read-alouds!  Fourth grade was in writing camp, so they would just be coming in small groups to get books.

I took a quick look at our district curriculum calendar, and saw that both grades were working on ecosystems and food chains/ webs in science.  In language arts, third grade has been working on sensory language.  I chose What the Sea Saw by Stephanie St. Pierre, illustrated by Beverly Doyle, for that grade.
What the Sea Saw
The poetic language focused on visual images was a perfect fit for their read-aloud.  We talked about strong verbs, adjectives that help to make sharper mental images, alliteration, and repeated phrases that bring the story to a full circle closure. The illustration of an oceanic food web and ecosystem was a bonus.

There are so many great picture books in our library that don't get checked out because the littlest readers see too much text in them, and the upper grades forget about our "everybody section".  For the fifth graders, I was delighted to pick The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest, written and illustrated by Lynne Cherry.
The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest
I had great fun changing my voice to suit the animal characters who state their case for saving their Kapok tree--and the fifth graders had great fun listening to the story.  Using open-ended questioning, I focused on the persuasive nature of the text; Cherry is making a plea to save the rain forests, but does not explicitly state that until her author's note at the end.  The interdependency of the plants and animals in the book tied in nicely with their science unit.

It was great to have the big kids in the Book Nook again; smiles from the students and teachers told me they enjoyed it, too.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Twenty-four: Accurate prediction

Boom! Rrrrrruuuuuuumble.  I open my eyes for a moment in the dark, roll over, adjust the pillows.  

Just on the edge of sleep, there it is again.  Boom!  Rrrrrrrruuuuuumble. I open one eye, take a look at the clock.  

Two a.m.  The weather forecast was right on target.

Slumber returned swiftly; thunderstorm or not, I couldn't tell you.  When my brain calculates two-and-a-half hours of sleep before the alarm, it is pretty good about returning to dreamland.  I'll have to rely on the evidence in the morning to determine the true accuracy of the meteorologist's prediction. 

Padding out to the kitchen, I start my coffee and empty the dishwasher.  Remembering the evening's interruption, I look out onto the back patio.  The concrete is still damp.  The flowers and plants are intact, leading me to think we didn't get any hail.

I write until my coffee is done, and then take my steaming cup through the front door.  A few puddles remain, edges shining in the streetlight.  Our cars are plastered with yellow from the pollinating oaks, stuck like dull, powdery glitter on a child's art project.

The air is cool, and my bare feet are cold against the concrete.  Breathing deeply in this freshly washed morning, I return to my desk and finish this piece.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Twenty-three: The prompt

"You learn lessons in school and in life.  Think about a lesson you've learned.  Explain how it has helped you.  Organize your thoughts.  Remember to use proper capitalization, spelling, punctuation, and grammar." (paraphrased)

I was the honored presenter of the prompt yesterday morning at day two of our fourth grade's Camp Write-Along rally in the cafeteria.  Before I unfurled the laminated scroll (coincidentally tied with a purple bandanna which matched my hair!), I shared with the students that I could feel their pain and struggle with writing because I had been doing just that, every morning, for twenty-two days.  I was hoping the prompt would help me out, too, because after three weeks of writing, I was running out of fresh ideas.

By fifty, one has hopefully learned many, many lessons in school and life.  One lesson I've learned in this age of technology is to pay attention to the URL of a website; it happens to be a lesson I teach my students, too.  

Last night, I was registering my son for a summer camp, and had gotten to the page where I was supposed to submit the payment details.  All along, I kept noticing that the security portion of the URL bar was red; the "https" was crossed out with a diagonal red slash, and the little padlock symbol was red and had an "X" over it.  When I investigated by clicking on the padlock, the pop-up told me that a third party might have access to this information, or could easily hack into it.  I didn't want my credit card number falling into the wrong hands!

I did not feel comfortable putting my credit card information on an unsecure page, so I decided to call the help desk the next day.  The website does have contact information listed.  I wrote down the phone numbers and other pertinent information I would need to register my son. Now I'm just hoping for a free moment this morning to make the call.

The need to be alert when using the internet--that is one lesson that I have learned in school that has been very important in life.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Twenty-two: The subtle shift

It used to be hard to get up in the morning, because I didn't know what my day would be like, with so many reasons things could go wrong, so many fires to fight.
It's still hard to get up in the morning, but only because the alarm is so early; I like to get a jump start on my day.

I used to count down the days each week, because I was so wrung out by Wednesday that Friday couldn't get here soon enough.
Now I worry about having enough stamina to be just as energetic at the twentieth read-aloud as I was at the first--because the twentieth class deserves a good read, too.

I used to count down the days until the next break, because my heart was heavy and my mind was tired and my fingers just couldn't type out one. more. piece. of. paperwork.
I'm still counting the days, but only because I have so much to teach and share and I want to be sure to squeeze it all in.

I used to worry, all the time, about whether or not I was really doing a good job, feeling like I was always patching holes that could never be completely filled, wondering if today would be a breakthrough day or a hanging-in-there day.
Now, I get to provide service with a laser-like focus.  

One all-encompassing subject.


Monday, March 21, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Twenty-one: Where is the love?

Flour used to be on the shopping list monthly, along with butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and other assorted extracts.  The counter was cleared for rolling out dough and filling cookie sheets and cake pans.

Now the Nordicware is getting dusty, as are the muffin trays and cookie sheets.  My usual schedule for spring baking--Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day--passed by on the calendar without a single batch of dough made.  I was going to bake this weekend for a baby shower today, and will have to run to the grocery store before work instead.

I used to love to bake!  I've blogged before about the zen state I can get into when my hands are in the flour.  Last year, I lamented the decrease in my baking time, so this is definitely a pattern.

Is my love for baking going away, or is it just life, getting in the way of a hobby?  I know what I was doing yesterday instead of baking--compliance training for work for over two hours.  I also spent over an hour prepping a homemade crockpot veggie soup (which was delicious!)...and doing laundry, watering the plants outside, getting my clothes ready for work,  and taking a nap because this time change is still hard for me.

Maybe life is just taking over.  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Twenty: These are the days

On a blustery, blue-sky, cold-snapped spring morning, three friends ventured on a road trip to meet a fourth.  For the three, the tradition of meeting in March had started because of their shared birthday month, but the fourth was such a beloved friend that she naturally became part of the spring ritual.  

This year was special; an invitation to meet in the country was extended, and the three Pisceans happily agreed.  Road trip! 

There was much catching up to do on the road.  Major life changes, hair color changes, job changes.  Missed exits, U-turns, and spilled coffee.  And laughing; so much laughing among these friends.

After another U-turn to pick up breakfast tacos, they finished the last leg of the journey and pulled into the gravel driveway of their friend's glorious, rustic country home.  Small talk and tacos were had at the dining table.  The story of the house, and all the amazing details, kept the friends enthralled.  The first hummingbird of the season was spotted through the window, sipping at a flowering bush. Laughter bounced around the table, and memories of shared work experiences were rehashed, vented, and packed away once more.

There was more to be seen on the grounds.  Rain barrels and water storage tanks, two fur-babies roaming their well-sized dog run, trees in various stages of blooming.  Black-and-white and red chickens were scratching in their coop.  Fresh vegetables were snapped off at their stems and passed around for tasting; who knew asparagus could be so tender, or that red carrots were still orange inside? 

The afternoon was winding down with quiet conversation in the front yard.  Pictures were taken to remember the gathering; though not said aloud, these women know that times like this must be treasured.  Thank-yous and hugs were exchanged, gifts of fresh eggs were given, good-byes were said.  Then it was back on the road for the three.

Only one missed exit this time.  And laughing; so much laughing among these friends.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Nineteen: Taxing times

The tax preparation software is supposed to make this easier.

Our paperwork seems to be growing exponentially each year.

Plug this info in here, these numbers in there.

Text husband for clarification.

Call husband for clarification.  

Oh.  my.  gawd...what do you mean, we owe THAT much?  We haven't owed the IRS in YEARS, if ever!

Adding up all the medical expenses and charitable donations.  Maybe, just maybe, we can itemize....this....year....nope.  (insert expletive)

Call college girl for educational expense form.  Leave message.  She calls back, says she's at work, she'll text a picture of it.

(Waiting on text, trying to take a nap to reduce stress, can't fall asleep.)

Text arrives, picture is blurry, like a bad tattoo.  Can't read a thing on it.  Text her back, delete picture.  Back to the computer.

Maybe if I fill this in...wait...I have no idea what "basis" menu isn't helping...maybe Googling it will make it clearer...nope, still confused.

(Leaves computer to do laundry, since dirty clothes are low on the stress-meter.  A bit of chocolate needs to be had before heading back to the screen.)

Giving up on the confusing bit.  Don't think it really applies to us, doesn't seem to put a dent in what we owe, anyway.

This is really depressing.  Oh, yay, hubby is home so I can tell him the bill so far, see if he can figure out the confusing part.  Now we're both depressed.  Forget dining out tonight, let's just go through a drive-through.  

(Isn't it just moronic, abusing my body with grease and soda and onion rings when stress hits?)

Wait, finally got college girl's form.  Start plugging in those numbers...YES!  Bill has gone from REALLY depressing to only SOMEWHAT depressing.

Still ticked about not getting a refund.  Aaarrrrggghhhh.

Friday, March 18, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Eighteen: The timid gardener

Like a new mother, I am always surprised when plants survive my handling.

Four hours of gardening on a hot March afternoon.  Dead stalks and weeds pulled out, soil amended, new plants put in.

Now, in the predawn hours, clad in pajamas, coffee steaming in hand and scuffs on my feet, I step outside in the cool spring air.  Yes, the plants are still alive.  Upright, even--and are those flower buds just the teensiest bit more open?  
Round two for Persian shield in the big container.  This year I'll try not to break the stems, since hubby got me a watering wand to attach to the hose instead of the power sprayer.
Noticing the slow, steady unfurling of the old hosta that has blessed me with yet another year of surviving die-off and dormancy, its "baby" just barely poking its pointy head through the soil.  Hoping the new lantana likes the afternoon sun; bonus if the butterflies like it there, too.  
Checking the tag on the new hosta, making sure that yes, it should grow to fill and overshadow the tall pot.  
Still not sure about the sedum in the repurposed angel fountain; will have to wait and see if it spreads to fill the upturned shell, otherwise another trip to the nursery is called for.

Moving on to the backyard, I am happy that the new salvia is alive in its container, one of two decorative ceramic pots that survived a transAtlantic trip from Italy.
When the sun comes up, I will repot the foxtail fern that has split its current home.  The dead stick of a tomato plant will be replaced with new, hearty cherry tomato variety; hoping it will perform better than last year's dud.  The hen-and-chick container needs to be weeded, and the flower-shaped sedum needs to be rid of the brown leaves threatening to keep out the sun.  The remains of basil will be pulled out, and two more salvia need to be potted.  The mother-in-law's tongue is looking rough; should probably give it some new soil, too.  And the old foxtail fern could use some pruning of dead branches.

I'm sure I'll be up again tomorrow morning, making sure today's work is still alive and well.  

Thursday, March 17, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Seventeen: Padraig and Brigid

My mother's family is Irish, and Catholic, so it should be no surprise that St. Patrick's Day was celebrated with the wearin' o' the green and greeting cards exchanged.  My own nuclear family extended the tradition to include a visit from Seamus the leprechaun, who leaves gold-wrapped chocolate coins for the children to find (except one year when chocolate coins couldn't be found, and he left Sacagawea dollars instead!).

I grew up hearing about St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland and converting pagans to Christianity, using the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity.  When I discovered Tomie dePaola's Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland, I had to get a copy for my own home library.  I loved sharing the story with my quarter-Irish children; not knowing much of our family history, I could at least offer this part of their heritage.

Several summers ago, I went on a search for more feminine examples of the Divine, and came across the story of Brigid, another patron saint of Ireland.  Born a slave, with a pagan father and Christian mother, she went on to become Ireland's first nun and form the first Christian community for women.  One of the miracles attributed to Brigid was a never-empty pantry despite the food she gave away to the poor.  Her story is interwoven with a pagan goddess of the same name, and her feast day is celebrated at Candlemas--February 1st, also known as the pagan celebration of Imbolc, when the first stirrings of the fertile spring season are seen.  Like the goddess of hearth, healing and childbirth, Brigid has become the saint of "dairymaids, cattle, midwives, Irish nuns, and newborn babies." (Catholic Online)

Today, I shall think of both Patrick and Brigid, as I remember my Irish roots and celebrate the wearin' o' the green.

(Image of Saint Brigid window by By Nheyob (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Sixteen: Truth or fiction

I recently watched a trailer for the documentary "The Brainwashing of My Dad".  You can find it on Vimeo here

Without even viewing the whole film, I feel validated about not watching popular "news" shows in our house.  This news-avoidance lifestyle is not the result of a Pollyanna approach to life.  It is a conscious decision to base my beliefs and knowledge on what I see with my own eyes, experience in my own life, and hear from friends and family and those who see and experience themselves, who I trust to honestly share their lives.

I don't want to be told what to believe by people who just talk without firsthand knowledge.  How did they get their information?  Did they experience it themselves?  See it with their own eyes?  Triple-check their sources?

Maybe they are simply shouting stating their opinions based on what they think and feel, not bothering to look around them and see what is really happening beyond the sound bites and thirty-second video clips edited to omit context.  Maybe they are afraid of change. Maybe the idea that "others" can and should be treated equally makes them feel "less than", as if there is not enough esteem to go around, only winners and losers and they must be the winners at all costs.

This is what I know to be true.  I see people of all races and beliefs working and living together every day, without threat of violence.  I have friends and family members of homosexual orientation who live and love and work, with the same ups and downs as heterosexual relationships, the downs exacerbated by outside criticism and prejudice.  I see policemen doing their jobs in a professional manner, and have witnessed those who didn't.  I have friends who have been racially profiled, and I have been the minority in social situations. I look at the voting records for politicians in both major parties, and see those on both sides who vote--and don't--the way I'd like them to.  I have experienced warmer winters, drought, and flood-like conditions, more so in the last decade than I remember (and I know where to look up those records, should memory fail me).

I have worked with children whose families were struggling to make ends meet on minimum-wage jobs, who were not sporting the latest iPhone or brand-new cars bought with welfare checks.  I have been sexually harassed, and have friends who have been sexually assaulted.  I have seen gang graffiti in my quiet neighborhood, and heard parents talk about where their kids were scoring drugs.  I have seen a house burn down, just down the block, when there are two fire stations within a five minute drive.

I have seen beggars at the walls of the Sistine Chapel, the clean and not-so-clean streets of major cities in Europe, the results of universal healthcare and education in other countries.  I have worked in schools with over sixty percent free and reduced lunch recipients, and at a school with one percent of the same.  I am keenly aware of the differences between the two.

These things I have seen with my own eyes, heard with my own ears, felt with my own heart.  What I don't personally know, I prefer to learn by listening to and reading about those who have experienced it themselves--people who have lived and explored lives foreign to me, not just those sitting in front of a camera and conjecturing.  

Are the screaming talking heads expounding on their own experience?  Or are they just getting folks riled up, feeding on fear, offering one-sided solutions? I see the latter each time I come across such shows...and promptly turn them off, preferring to think for myself.   

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Fifteen: Junebugs

It's too early for junebugs

But one got in the house last night, and another
Was banging spastically against the kitchen window,
Drawn by the light over the sink.

It's too early for junebugs

But there are ant piles spilling out of sidewalk cracks
And dotting yards, among the dandelions
Threatening to ruin picture-perfect lawns.

It's too early for junebugs

But spider lines are glistening in the morning sun
Waving in the March breeze, like jump ropes
Twirled by the trees and grasses that anchor them.

It's too early for junebugs

But the hosta is poking its bright green spearlike head
Through the soil in the pot outside my door
Flowerlike sedum bursting in another container.

It's too early for junebugs

But the morning sun is bright and hot
Forcing me to cast my eyes downward on my walk
Noticing the ant piles, and dandelions, and spider lines.

It's too early for junebugs.

Monday, March 14, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Fourteen: Banishing the to-do list this week

It's Spring Break!  In previous years, that would mean one of two things:  taking a trip (stressful), or major cleaning/home improvement/yardwork/(insert stressful task here).

This year, I am banishing my to-do list and replacing it with an "I'd like to do" list.

During Spring Break, I'd like to:
  • go into a book coma at least three or four times
  • make our house look spring-like, by changing out the mantel painting, doll's clothes, throw pillows
  • make me feel more spring-like by switching out my colognes, clothes, and nail polish, and go for walks in the sunshine
  • get rid of dead plants in pots that make me sad and fill them with green, growing things that make me happy
  • spend just ONE day working on library lessons and book orders
  • blow the dust off my motorcycle and see if I remember how to start it and get it in gear (it's been years, folks)
This "I'd like to" list sounds more fun than my "have to-do" lists of yore.  I might actually get more done this way!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Thirteen: Barcodes on a book

I had a natural disaster dream this morning.  This one involved an incoming storm of some kind, maybe a tornado. I was at work, but the building and students and most of my colleagues were not the same as my waking life.  We were calmly going around this school that looked more like a house, shutting curtains, moving breakables off the walls, getting kids to hunker down in a blanket fort (?).  Some of the breakables were pretty glass plates in the shapes of owls, my favorite animal.

In the midst of all this activity, I reached for a door and noticed the side of the doorjamb was torn off, and I could see between the walls.  Stuffed between the studs were two library books.  I pulled them out and checked the barcodes. They were from my library, books that had been missing for a couple of weeks.  I showed them to my library assistant, and we shook our heads over yet another unusual place our library books are found.

Dreaming of barcodes...I'm thinking spring break is right on time.  No barcodes for a week!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Twelve: My morning soundtrack

(Inspired by )

I often wake up with a song in my head.  I used to think it was just the radio alarm, my brain picking up a measure or two that blared into my left ear before I hit the off button so as not to wake my later-sleeping husband.

Then I noticed that a song was often present between my ears even when it was a DJ's voice waking me up.

One summer, I started keeping track, writing the songs down. I did this for almost a month.  I would search for connections between the songs and snippets of dreams I might remember, or what was happening the day before or on my current agenda.  Sometimes I could tease out the reason for the song, sometimes not.

I will say that I do have a knack for remembering songs from the 60s through the 90s. I like to play "Name That Tune" while listening to the radio.  I tease my children by saying that when I'm in the old folks' home, I may not remember their names, but I'll be belting out "Delta Dawn" or "Breathe (2am)" or Don McLean's "American Pie".  I might even embarrass them with some Metallica or Iron Maiden tunes; my voice may be appropriately raspy by then.

But I digress...back to the topic of morning songs.  Today's tune?  The chorus to Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain".

Friday, March 11, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Eleven: Stormy weather, stormy mood

Woke up after a restless night
Hips and knees and calves stiff, 
Feeling disjointed, off-kilter, worn down
Coughing through my morning routine.

A headache starts throbbing on the way to work.
Thick cleaving pain, right between my eyes

The ache worsens as the morning goes on
Coffee doesn't help
But the lucky find of cold meds in my purse does.

Behind the wheel again for an afterschool event.
Lots of traffic, an accident on the way
No close parking, and now the rain
Is returning, just in time to walk 
In with my unlaminated poster, a little soggy.

Drove home on autopilot
Thinking about karma
And how things don't always work out
As they should
And how kids sometimes cry
When they shouldn't have to.

I missed a window of opportunity 
For an act of kindness
Instead, fulfilling a menial task
Could I have waited fifteen more seconds?

Thoughts creep back to karma again.

I pondered my next course of action
Forgive, forget, move on?
Confront, set boundaries, stand strong?
Changes will be made; I decide it's not worth the battle.

After the wet, dreary ride home
I pulled into my driveway
And realized I had lost my umbrella.

The second headache of my day
Is threatening once again,
A light thumping over my right eye.

The delicious smell of dinner
My husband has made, so happy to help out
Cannot penetrate my gloom.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Ten: Why did I decide to go purple NOW?

I should have had a happy day.

After all, I had students in my library yesterday, getting books and reading and taking surveys and doing regular library stuff, the only day this week they got to do so because, well, it's that time of year.

I took the day off on Tuesday and got a lot of important personal stuff done--a medical appointment, made dental appointments, attended my son's junior counseling session for credit check and senior planning.  I got fun unimportant stuff done, too--I bought an owl house and went to the salon for a haircut and color.

And I have purple hair, after that salon visit.  PURPLE hair, folks--and kids and staff loved it.  I should have been laughing and joking about growing older and having fun with purple hair.

But I got called to the carpet for an unrelated reason that I won't go into in this space.  One of those I-thought-I-was-handling-a-situation-fine-but-someone-got-ticked-off-and-told-my-bosses kind of a reason.  It has me second-guessing everything I did during the chain of events, and trying to figure out what I would have done differently.  My intentions were pure, there were deadlines to meet, and a dozen plates being spun in the air.  I did what I thought was best in the moment.

Will I do better next time?  Sure, starting with only juggling nine or ten plates with this project next year.  

Did it end up okay?  I think so; I'll see if anyone gives me the stink eye at a district reading competition we have this afternoon.

They certainly won't miss seeing me, purple-haired target that I am. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

SOLSC '16 Day Nine: Purple

"When I am an old woman"
"I shall wear purple"
"With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me."**
I warned my principal that I'd be going purple for my 50th birthday, in honor of Jenny Joseph's famous poem.  It won't be too bright, I said; just some color over my own naturally dark brown-and-silver curls.  
You probably won't even see it in certain light, I said.
I wonder if she'll be the one issuing a warning today.  

It will most likely be gone in four weeks, my hairdresser said....But in the meantime, I will "make up for the sobriety of my youth."**  

And maybe even learn to spit.

**"Warning" by Jenny Joseph, copyright 1962