Wednesday, March 30, 2022

In Which I Give March The Boot And Discuss Its Fallout


M
arch is blustering off, and I say Good Riddance. You were a bit of a bitch, March, and I didn't appreciate it. At all. About the best thing I can say for you is You Were Not February. Now get moving and don't even think about giving April any advice.

Over the weekend, we had two inches of heavy, wet snow dumped on us very unceremoniously. It was not the Dept.'s fault; we had our snow shovels prominently displayed next to the door as custom demands in NEO until mid-April at least. We know how this works. No, Dear Readers, I blame these people:

Taken on March 24th

Do you see the dead, deflated Christmas Thing there flanked by blooming daffodils? On March 24th? That is, right there, the reason we got hit with shitful snow last weekend--Climatological Confusion caused by Seasonal Dissonance. These individuals have a lot to answer for. A. Lot.

Because of that lousy snow, I forced myself to take the whole day Saturday (after shovelling) and complete some projects. One of those was The Dreaded Cat Brushing. The cats have become so belligerent about it that I now shut myself and one of them at a time in the small hallway. All the doors to the rooms are also shut. I sit on the floor and rotate like a child on a Sit 'n' Spin, wielding a brush, taking swipes as a cat deigns to pass. During a break in the action, I paused to take a photo of my new shoes--bought at Target on clearance for only nine bucks:

Remember when vegan leather was just vinyl?

I sent it to Jared and Sam, bragging about my bargain.
 
Me:  These are my 9$ shoes!
Jared: What a bargain!
Sam:  Why are you on the floor?

Now that I look at the picture, my ankles look terrible and hairy. They are not, honest. Just in need of lotion.

Finally, one last photo. March has been cruel, and my dear BFF Leanne in Maryland knows it. She decided to send me my birthday present very early, and I am so glad she did. My tears were happy and grateful ones when I opened it. It's a day late for Tiny Needle Tuesday, but she made me this beautiful sampler. We share its sentiment so very, very deeply:

Sorry it's skewed. It's so hard to photograph glass in any light.

It's not March's fault that my friends live so far away, but it did nothing to help it, either. So, screw you, March. Hit the road. You were even devastating for my fantasy basketball team (SIX players on the Injured Reserved at once! Steph Curry out. Damontas Sabonis out for five games in a row. I can't even go on.) 

Join me in saying So Long to March. Let's have High Hopes for April. Certainly more Christmas decorations will be gone...won't they? (Tell me what I want to hear in Comments.)


Thursday, March 10, 2022

How I Celebrated International Women's Day And Other Sundries

 Oh, hello. Welcome back to the Fabulous Life that I somehow lead. How to Sort It All Out for you and where to begin? Let's just jump in Anywhere and go.

~*~On Tuesday the 8th, I showed up at 9AM (what was I thinking?!) for my mammogram. I put on the requisite pink mammo-shirt and walked into the chamber--freezing, of course. The technician greeted me warmly and said, "What a great day for a mammogram! Happy International Women's Day! It's the perfect way to celebrate!" Luckily, I am a Tactful Person, born of years and years of teaching teenagers, and I was able to respond with, "And to think I had no idea when I made this appointment. What a terrific coincidence!" She was kind, professional, and even gave me a nice pink pen.

~*~Piper and Marlowe, the Resident Cats, turned twelve earlier this month. Our relationship has become...strained. Shall I blame it on The Pandemic? The old adage "Familiarity breeds Contempt"? They've gotten mouthy and demanding. They start staring at me and snarking for their meals at least an hour before time. Marlowe never, ever shuts up unless she's asleep. I cannot sit down without having Piper commandeer my lap. AND THE HAIR. Is there such a thing as an industrial strength vacuum that one can install at one end of the house and it just sucks really hard and pulls out ALL THE CAT HAIR AT ONCE? I need that. Pronto.

~*~I cannot believe that I have to say this on March 10th, but here it is:  CHRISTMAS IS OVER. TAKE DOWN YOUR OUTDOOR DECORATIONS. At this point, they are abusive. If you would like to keep Christmas in your heart and in your home, for whatever reason, please do. Keeping them outside to lower property values and everyone's spirits is selfish and lazy. Today on my walk, I had the jarring experience of witnessing a deflated Santa flanked by a shamrock wreath and an Easter egg tree. If there were a bar on my route, I'd have stopped in and had a stiff drink.

~*~Things are, however, Looking Up. We're getting longer stretches of decent weather between winter storms. The silver maples are full of bright red buds. The magnolia trees have soft little catkins all over their branches. My daffodils have emerged from the landscape beds about an inch or so--brave things! Robins, having arrived back in early February, are now everywhere and singing. My sage, chives, oregano, and thyme are already coming along in the herb garden. With the weather giving me safer sidewalks, I can walk far more often, so my moods are less gloomy and grey. I'm starting to believe that Spring May Come.

Tell me if our Worlds collide or anything about Your World in Comments.


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Saturday, February 19, 2022

Ray

The other day Rick was looking outside and remarked, "Wow.  Look at those clouds. What an ominous sky."

I immediately smiled and corrected him, "It's pronounced om-nee-us. It's an omnious sky."

He chuckled.  "Right. Omnious. How could I forget?"

"Well, you can, but I can't. Ray said I'd never forget him, and that kid was right. Every single time I hear the word Ominous, I think of him, smile, and silently pronounce it Omnious. I loved that kid."

Ray was a student in my Creative Writing class many years ago. He was skinny, almost wraithlike, with platinum blonde hair that he wore just below his ears. His skin was pale and his eyes were large and blue behind his glasses. He had a sort of bug-like look about him, but in an endearing sort of way. His smile was large and easy, and he was thrilled to be in a Creative Writing class. When he found out that all the writing was to be read aloud, he was a bit leery, but upon hearing assurances that each writer first got a round of applause, then positive comments before one constructive critique, his concerns were settled.

As it usually happens in CW, the students formed partners or small groups among themselves. Most often, these turn out to be writing critique/help associations, and not based upon friendships. I individualized instruction in the form of one-on-one conferences at my desk during class time, so students found the groups/partnerships to be extremely valuable.

Ray, who was into Wicca and Native American spiritualism, and had recently come out (very difficult back in the 90s--he helped found our school's Gay Student Union), chose as his critique partner Nathan. I sat back and waited for...I don't know what. But something, certainly.

Nathan was joining our huge, diverse urban high school after being homeschooled for his entire life.  He was a fundamentalist Christian who always had his Bible with him. He was very quiet and from a big family. Creative Writing was already quite a jolt, I was sure, and Ray had to be a living, breathing Culture Shock for him. 

Those two, however, got along famously. Ray was so kind and gentle, and he was so accepting and tolerant that he could get along with anyone. He once confided in me that his father had no idea what to make of him, and that he had little in common with his own family; he loved school where he could be himself and be around all the people he really liked. 

One day Nathan admitted that it was difficult for him to work in CW class because it was often a bit chatty and he couldn't concentrate. Ray asked if we could have one day a week where we worked in silence, except for my conferences. I immediately said yes, and that we would even call it Nathan Day. And so we did.

Ray ended up truly enjoying reading his work aloud. He got quite good at it, and often became very dramatic. In CW2, which was the poetry semester, the students had to write a sonnet. When Ray came up to read his aloud, he took a moment at the lectern to compose himself, then made a sweeping gesture with his hand as he intoned in a deep and un-Ray voice :  The omnious horizon loomed ahead--

And I almost lost it. Almost. Omnious. Honestly, I can't remember if I corrected him later, during critique, or if I just corrected him on the paper or what, but bless his heart, I will never forget that as long as I live.

At the end of the year, Ray gave me his photo. On the back he wrote a great many nice things about me and our time together. At the bottom he wrote, "You'll never forget me." I remember when I read it, I chuckled at its confident assurance. I also thought it was just like Ray--most people would say, "I'll never forget you," but not Ray. Even now, I'm smiling and shaking my head.

He was right, of course. I've never forgotten him. I've no idea where he is now or what he's doing (of course, I hope he's writing), but I bet he's remembered fondly by many, many more people than just his Creative Writing teacher. 

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