Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Oscar the dachshund

Sleeping, yes definitely sleeping.  That is my favorite activity.  I guess that is why my friend Jennifer gave me the nickname Speed Bump.  I have found the best place to take a day nap is in the middle of the living room floor.  From there I will be alert to any opportunity- be it a treat or an excursion- and can keep an eye on my toys.

I should introduce myself.  My name is Oscar.  Alma, a two-legged member of my pack, often calls me Oscar Meyer Mayes.  Jennifer calls me a handful of names, beginning with Duckbilled Platypus, Doodle Bug, and Dude.  But by far my favorite thing is when Phil, leader of our pack, calls me Oscar.  He is a good strong leader, but he calls my name with a kindness I find hard to resist.

I became part of Phil’s pack long ago.  I can barely remember the other pack because I was mostly alone, for some reason I don’t know why.  Phil and Alma adopted me into their pack on a temporary basis.  I have been here over 63 years (I guess two-leggeds count time different, so convert that to 9).  I wonder when “temporary” became “permanent?”

My small size and short legs caused my friends to underestimate me.  They soon learned this small package contains the heart of a hunter and the soul of an adventurer.  Soon, two chickens lost their lives to the sting of my fangs.  And Phil came to learn that although I love him, I enjoy a good wander, even if I have to ignore his calls.

The highlight of any week is a car ride!  These can include errands for the pack, play dates with Jennifer’s pack, or unfortunately the doctor.  Jennifer’s pack includes Ellie and Tater.  With her long hair and soulful eyes, I instantly wanted to be Ellie’s boyfriend.  But I can’t seem to make her understand she is not supposed to ride on me.  Tater recently joined Jennifer’s pack.  We became friends instantly.  It is fun to psych him out, making him think I am going to keep his precious Kong.  He seems to love drooling on my toy Monkey, but not nearly as much as I do.  I offended him when I destroyed one of his toys, so one day while the pack napped he shredded my favorite stuffed toy, Froggie.  That day we sat nose-to-nose and had a heart-to-heart.  No toy is worth a lost friendship.

The pack mostly stays home now.  There is a fence that tells others “This belongs to Phil’s pack.”  Pepper is an old dog whose job is to guard and alert the pack.  He is so serious about his job that he has never come inside where we sleep.  Outside the fence we have more chickens and a turkey.  I ignore them to give them a false sense of security until my next attack.

I am a bit of a daredevil.  Phil and Alma learned to hold me tight when we ride in the truck because I once jumped out of the window.  I bounced on the pavement but was too macho to show that it hurt a bit.

The worst time in my life was when I hurt my back.  I am an extra-special, extra-long kind of dog and it is common for dogs like me injure their backs.  The pain was bed, surgery was worse, and I nearly gave up.  But Phil and Alma made me exercise in a warm pool of water and babied me.  One night they nearly gave up on me.  I could tell his heart was breaking by the way he said, “Tomorrow the vet will put Oscar to sleep.”  The next morning I jumped out of bed and trotted down the hall out of sheer will and love.  I didn’t want to disappoint my pack.

Now I maintain a busy schedule of napping, eating, laying with Monkey in my mouth, getting patted, and watching the cat, ICK!  My pack allows her to live with us because Alma seems to like her.  Tess and I have mutual disregard for each other.  Despite this one lapse in judgement, you can see my pack is the best.

Wait!  Did you hear that!?!  Alma just opened the treat container.  Gotta go!
In May 2013 Oscar died suddenly while at the vet.  He was later diagnosed as suffering kidney cancer.  We were glad he went suddenly, but miss him still.  Shortly after this my parents lost their other dog, Pepper.  Tater now lives with them and is very loved.

The idea to write Oscar’s story came to me from a former student.  All of her dogs have been memorialized in written form and I loved the heartfelt tribute.  I decided to write this from his POV because I wanted to try to convey his love of life and sweet nature.  I hope you like it.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Car Pool Lane

I am a woman of forty-four years.  I am a teacher with nearly eleven years of experience.  I have fulfilled hours of babysitting and was a nanny.  But none of that helped today.

Two of my best friends are traveling and I am honored to be housesitting/dog sitting/ kid sitting for them for 4 days.  However, I learn poorly by being given verbal directions, preferring to observe the task or to try it the first time with supervision.  That was not possible this morning.  I needed to convey the family's eight year old to his school.  What a madhouse!  The street we approach on is perpendicular to his school which is on a busy street, and there is a stop sign for our direction but not the others.  There is also a left hand turn lane towards the street we are on.

Parents and small children darted out then jumped back as if they intuited that I was a dangerous novice participating in their morning routine.  This was anything but routine to me.  A kind stranger in the left lane impeded traffic on my behalf and we entered the stream approaching the school with our lives intact.

But then in the parking lot, there are multiple lanes.  Picture a small charter school with the kind of complex parking lot, lanes and lines one usually sees at a huge airport.  And I foolishly ask the eight year old which lane I should be in.  He vaguely points.  Is he enjoying my ineptitude?  I think so.

After depositing him I returned to my friends home to sooth my frayed nerves with coffee.  But did I mention I am spending the day with their sixteen year old, a girl I adore but who long ago figured out how lame I am?

But fortunately I am a basically positive person.  I can't help processing this morning as a metaphor for my classes.  Do I make assumptions about my student's ability to do ANY task simply because they have been students in the past?  Do I make allowances for auditory, visual, and tactile kinesthetic learners?  Do I abandon them in confusion with multiple possibilities for success or failure?  And because of this do they resort to seeking guidance from a source who is equally clueless, or has a different agenda?

Food for thought...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Living with my Laptop

Living with my Laptop

I am visiting my best friends.  Actually, it is more accurate to call them family by choice.  My least favorite part of traveling is packing.  So, I threw my laptop into it's bag without looking at what else I am toting about.  The following things are living in the same space as my laptop:

1. A red Avon lip balm that I don't like
2. A copy of Westword, a Denver publication
3. A catalog for Beyond the Blackboard because I may splurge on some teaching supplies
4. A notepad with a rough draft of a future blog post tucked inside (waiting for the frenetic environment of my favorite coffee house and a cup of their best)
5. Flash cards I made for a tutor client
6. A pad of sticky notes
7. A completed job application and list of references (before I started teaching at my current school, I carried these with me in case I found a job online)
8. Five pens (two with blue ink, one red Sharpie, and two that are deceptive, each writes black but has a pink or purple case, I think I thought these were different colors)
9. Mechanical pencil and Clic eraser (wonder does this mean I make more mistakes than I output?)
10. Pack of bubble gum eggs from last Easter with 7/12 remaining, guess I didn't like them
11. Pencil bag that holds an extension cord and a corded old school mouse
12. Charger for MacBook Pro
13. Phone number of my newest friend, Cheyanne (I gotta call her, does she know I am blogging?)
14. Packet of Kleenex
15. Business card for West Central Colorado UniServ (I don't know what this business is or how I got this card)
16. Sticker for www.boomwriter.com (looks cool)
17. Unused lanyard
18. Altoids tin full of thumb drives

I need to lighten my load.  When did I cross the line from "prepared" to "pack mule"?

Friday, March 27, 2015


Goals for this year
- less upsetti, more spaghetti (Confession: I stole this post idea from a friend's daughter, and this first goal is word-for-word as she shared it)
- kiss my dog one million times everyday
- bark less, wag more (yes, stole this too)
- with friends, family, and pets who are like family, remember daily that each moment together is precious
- participate in a book club, a book challenge, and read 2 books I've "always wanted to read" 
- only drink good coffee
- drink more tea
- drink more water

- make more friends
- eat more kale and ice cream
- remember moderation in all things
- take more photos
- consume less
- feel the feels (even when they are painful)
- exercise more
- travel more
- spend more time at home

(I love posting this in March instead of January, no pressure)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Looking at the World Like a Writer

Seven more nights of SOLSC and I am planning to finish strong.

Today has been a great day.  While I drove around and caught up on errands after a day on the road yesterday, and in preparation of leaving town for a week, I was flooded by fleeting story ideas.  I don't think I have the creativity and perseverance to write a book.  But blogging and the routine and accountability has convinced me that daily writing can be a great way to process the events of the day.  And my senses are heightened.  I feel like I am looking at the world like a writer.  I am looking for stories.  And since my friend Marie, another SOLSC blogger told me last week about Blogging Tuesday, I will have an accountability outlet I can live with.

Gotta go pack for my trip, but I have a great blog post coming soon!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Piece (of My Mind) Train

I have gotten so much out of the Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC), the month long blogging challenge.  In particular I feel more confident that I can share an experience with others, they will be kind.  I have also enjoyed the accountability that participants are expected to post daily.  Blogging gives my day a bit of ritual.

Having said that, I doubt I'll be able to post to my blog tomorrow.  I am a middle school teacher in Colorado and tomorrow there is a rally at the State Capital to discuss the negative effect that the over abundance of standardized tests are having on children in the state, and elsewhere in the USA.  Called "Our Students Are More Than A Score," the rally will include lawmakers, parents, students (hopefully those on Spring Break) and teachers.

But I will need to travel more than 230 miles to the rally.  So a group of teachers will leave early on a bus, rally, then return the same day.  I am looking forward to the time with my colleagues and meeting others and hearing what they have to say about this issue.  However, I also know the day will be exhausting.

But seeing the frustration, fear and fatigue of my students has motivated me.  I don't normally rock the boat.  But I am thinking tonight of others who risked more than I'll ever risk to make their voices heard and hopefully bring about change for the good.  And the song Peace Train is going through my mind.  So I guess tomorrow I will be riding the Piece (of My Mind) Train.

If you don't agree with me on the standardized testing issue, I hope you'll at least say a prayer that my travels are safe.

More details in two days...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Keeping It In Perspective

Why did I do that?  Why did I waste two days, days I will never get back, worried and stressing over a doctor's appointment?  The appointment was tolerable, I even like my new doctor and can see having her as my primary care physician for a long time.  I learned I have lost more than two pounds in the past three weeks (I'm sure I'll find them again soon :-) ).  And my doctor is very kind, she offered to let me come in monthly for a quick weigh-in and to have my blood sugar tested.  The part of the appointment I was most concerned about took 10 minutes at most.

I am reminded of the Prego ad where a woman tries that brand after buying another brand of spaghetti sauce.  She likes the Prego so much that she wonders about all the other poor decisions she has made, hilarity ensues.  Considering the ratio of 36 hours of stress to 10 minutes of unpleasantness, I have come to realize how often I allow my mind to blow things out of proportion.  

I'm not proud of that, but I am proud of the fact that I am a good learner.  I learn quick and am always willing to reflect.  So, I am going to make more effort to live in the moment, treat my time like it is valuable, and have confidence that whatever situation arises, I can handle it.