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Singing About Seasons

Wednesday, 23 May 2018, 01:28 UTC

Pam had the students work through an exercise that involved finding people in the large room and writing their names to icons for the four seasons on some cards she had passed out. She walked back to her table and started some music.

The room filled with the low roar of people talking. They all had pencils, and they were jotting down names on their cards.

“Do you have somebody for fall, yet?”

“Would you be my spring?”

And in the background Pam’s music played.

Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there
And I’ll be there, yes I will.

Afterwards, as everyone was sitting down and Sweet Baby James was finishing the song, Pam said, “Let’s sing it together.”

She started singing. Some others started singing. I started singing. And we laughed when we got tripped up by the repeated

Ain’t it good to know?
Ain’t it good to know?
Ain’t it good to know…

that comes just before 

…you’ve got a friend.

As the song ended, someone at the next table said, “I have never heard of that song.”

Now, can someone tell me how on earth that is possible? Wait. On second thought, don’t tell me. I don’t want to talk about it.

Discussions I Didn’t Ask For

Tuesday, 22 May 2018, 12:58 UTC

1. The Health Care Center

The phone rings. We never pick up anymore, because well over 90% of the calls are junk. We really need to just cancel the landline like the cool kids have long since done.

“Hello,” a robovoice announces. “This is the Health Care Center calling about the health plan you just selected.”

Right. No thanks.

2. A Chili Combo

The woman in front of me was having a hard time ordering her lunch. She wanted a combo but she didn’t want a combo. She wanted chili, but she didn’t want chili. There were three drinks, two bags of chips, two sandwiches, a bowl of chili… well I didn’t understand what she was ordering. Neither did the woman behind the counter.

Then the woman behind the counter figured it out and announced that the woman wanted three combos in spite of the fact that the customer just wanted two sandwiches. Because, you see, in spite of the menu saying nothing to that effect, you can get a combo with chili for the same price as a combo with a sandwich and the $2.00 surcharge for chili on a combo is not applicable at that point, …

Just give me a sandwich.

3. The Constitution

Sandra was looking at sound cancelling headphones as I walked up to look at them, too.

She asked for some help understanding the cord coming out of the headphones that were supposed to be wireless. I wasn’t much help, and in any event, I’m not eager to drop big bucks on wants right now.

Our conversation wandered around a bit, and then…

“You know why they don’t teach them cursive anymore in school, don’t you?”

I just looked at her and shook my head. She leaned in towards me and spoke in hushed tones.

“It’s because they don’t want them reading The Constitution.”

As you might expect, it was a while longer before I was able to extricate myself from that conversation.

Lizard and Snake

Wednesday, 16 May 2018, 19:33 UTC

On my way to water the tomatoes, I spotted a Spiny Lizard sitting on a log in the sun. It did not move. It was watching me warily. I turned to get my camera from the house.

When I returned, as I walked barefoot on the grass, I kicked a flimsy twig, swooshing it out of the way with my toes. I looked down.

This was no twig. It was a small Rat Snake, as surprised at the swooshing as was I. It looked up at me from the grass as warily as was the lizard on the log. And then it slithered into the Turks Cap growing in great profusion at the base of the Pine tree.

I looked over to see if the lizard was still there. It was. It had seen it all.

Time for Transplanting Soon

Tuesday, 15 May 2018, 08:52 UTC

It’s amazing what happens when you push acorns into the dirt — as long as you defend them from squirrels. Check ‘em out: four Monterey Oaks in the foreground and a Lacey Oak photobombing from the back.

It’ll be time for translating, soon, where soon is defined as: after the resume and cover letter are finished and the philosophy of education is written and I rewrite some lesson plans to populate a portfolio.

I Watched a Sparrow

Tuesday, 15 May 2018, 08:38 UTC

In the cool of the morning, as a breeze blew in the back, as the sun peeked over the top of the duplexes on the other side of the alley, as birdsong filled the backyard, I watched a Sparrow. It flew in, gliding between the tree trunks, landing on the leaves beside a long log that forms the boundary between our semi-civilized lawn and the less-civilized butterfly garden.

One hop, two hops, three. It tried to pick up a bundle of ball moss, but the bundle was too big. So the Sparrow moved on.

One hop, two hops, three. It picked at a stick from yesterday’s clean-up, but the stick was too long, making the Sparrow look like a cartoon weightlifter trying to press it above its head. So the Sparrow moved on.

One hop, two hops, three. It grabbed a sprig of St. Augustine that I pulled up yesterday, since it was making an unwelcome advance from the semi-civilized lawn to the less-civilized butterfly garden. And here, the Sparrow succeeded.

The Sparrow flapped its wings furiously and slowly became airborne (although only barely), flying off to some nest in some distant tree back on the other side of the alley.

Without Fail

Sunday, 13 May 2018, 10:42 UTC

Without fail you’ve wanted to know how my sore throat felt. Without fail, you’ve felt the aches and pains and sneezes lurking. Without fail, you’ve asked how things were going, asked when the test results would be in.

Because you’ve always cared to know, and you’ve always held your arms around me.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

A Theory Tested

Saturday, 12 May 2018, 07:01 UTC

“Hey Trudy?” I asked as I walked into the dining room to retrieve my (lost) cup of coffee.

I had this theory, and I wanted to confirm it with my fair and industrious spouse.

My theory was that there’s some kind of energy conservation principle at work in moments of duress — that I turn inward, shutting off the outside world, giving myself strength to focus on the task at hand (say: nausea from chemo, radiation burns, incisions, lack of sleep… the setback and humiliation of failing a certification test). My theory was that somehow my brain knows it’s stressed out and unconsciously chooses to conserve energy. That was my theory. I was curious whether or not it squared with Trudy’s observation.

She didn’t look up from her phone.

I took a sip of lukewarm coffee and continued. “Would you say that I react to the stress of a test like I react to the stress of being sick?”

Her head instantly jerked upwards, and her eyes opened wide. “No!” she said. “You did not react the same as when you were sick!”

We looked at each other.

“You do fine when you’re sick,” she said, “but you were massively stressed out from this test!”

So much for my theory. I guess that for many reasons it’s really fortunate that I passed.

Certification Test Countdown

Friday, 04 May 2018, 08:26 UTC

image src: NASA/JPL/Juno – jupiter blues

Let us, then, be up and doing, with a heart for any fate…

T-2 hours and counting… TODO: shower, eat, drive to the test site. (Take pencils. Take eraser. Take admission ticket. Don’t take anything else.)

…learn to labor…

Right. Let’s do this, shall we?

Own Things

Saturday, 28 Apr 2018, 08:29 UTC

Somewhere in Kentucky there are three kids doing their own things.

My cousin’s kids. The Leader of Cheers. That Lady. The Runner of Races. Doing their own things.

Happy Hour and Sunset (On Mars)

Saturday, 28 Apr 2018, 08:20 UTC

1. Are You Going?

“Are you going to your happy hour,” Debra asked.

I had been sitting in the office after having turned in my monitors and my laptop and my keyboard and my mouse, after having taken my Philodendron down to the car, after having cleaned my desktop and the counter where the Philodendron has been sitting for years. I had been reading my phone, because I got all my check-out activities finished, and I still had an hour and a half to go with, quite literally, nothing left to do.

I looked up at Debra.

“Your happy hour,” she said, “Aren’t you going?”

“Well, it doesn’t start until 4:30,” I said. (It was 3:50.)

“4:00,” she said.

We walked over to her desk and looked at her calendar, because mine was closed up in my turned-in laptop that we sitting on the counter in Derrick’s office. She took a look. Sure enough: 4:00. I was going to be late for my last hurrah. 

Let’s just say that’s par for the course. 

2. B.B.Rover

“David. David. David,” Brett had said a week before. “Say it’s not true.”

I couldn’t say that. He was gracious in expressing his regret. 

“I’ll schedule a happy hour at B.B.Rover,” he said, “and I’ll invite all the folks who love you.”

There was a flattering turnout. Somewhere between a dozen and twenty people: some who came to briefly say good bye, others hung out with me for two and a half hours. They bought me sours and fries. And we talked and laughed and offered cheers and finally said our goodbyes as we walked to our cars, promising to stay in touch.

3. Sunset

image src: NASA/JPL – Sunset in Mars’ Gale Crater