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maybe next year...

Friday, January 20, 2017
...will be the time when this great idea will come to fruition on a local basis: I just read on a garden website that Jan. 28 is National Seed Sharing Day. I assume it is on some universal calendar for the last Saturday in January. Which would be a great time to get some seeds, allowing you to start them in a cold frame or green house. To be ready to go in your garden or landscaping when the weather is conducive for outdoor transplants. What a fun idea! Especially for anyone who finds good therapy in gardening, pulling weeds, digging holes, rearranging landscaping, or just enjoying the great glorious sun-shine-y outdoors. That would be me, finding all of the above gratifying.

I am not volunteering to be that individual who will do the organizing to promote/plan and pull off such an event, but already thinking of ideas to contribute to make it more amusing and successful. Actually not original with me, but still: having a 'food truck' come and help celebrate, even if they do not have any seeds to share. The one I read about in the article about national events, being someplace far away from middle GA, was called the 'Cluckwagon', offering chicken sandwiches. Having a table set up with cups, potting soil, fast-germinating seeds like beans for kids to plant something for a taking home. People who would provide advice about soil and offer bags to collect samples and send in for testing home gardens.

I am hopeful to use my lobbying skills in promoting the idea of a day of sharing the beginnings of new life. Enough to inspire someone in my circle of gardening friends who will join with me in deliberately coming together with other like-minded diggers to devote a day in the drab, dreary days of January to proliferating. As well as just coming together to do that other thing on my list of resolutions for this newly begun year: laugh over lunch.

if you take a big step...

...backwards, lean to the left, squint with your right eye closed, hold you tongue just right and hop on your right foot while raising your left hand over your head, you will see, just barely, that taking another substitute teaching job today has put me almost nearly past the 1/3 mark towards a goal of ten days for the semester. You must do all the previous gyrations simultaneously for the desired effect. Today's actual count is three, but when you are dividing by ten, it is close enough to one-third for me ( the congenitally math-impaired) to claim as fact.

It was a pretty good day.  Due to the fact that I was not actually responsible for anything. This particular job I accidentally signed on for (when I did not intend to press 'accept') was a para-professional in a Kindergarten classroom.

The teacher was present, and well prepared for that little conclave of chaos. She obviously has years of experience, and is accustomed to dealing with the quirks, capabilities and tricks demonstrated by a diverse group of five-year-olds. Maybe twenty or so - some very smart, cooperative, well-behaved. A number of them were youngsters who are obviously well tutored at home by parents who really understand and appreciate the value of education and literacy. Others students who appeared to have some degree of disability or undiagnosed difficulties with learning. The usual mix, presenting a variety of challenges for even the most capable classroom manager.

Being the para-pro meant I was responsible for supervising their lunch time and a short period of running steam off when we got back to the room. Sadly, much to my chagrin, we sort of maybe locked ourselves out of the room when we went out to buzz around in the yard. A mom came to check a kid out early for a dental appointment and saved me from having to disrupt a neighboring class to get us back in the building.  We practiced writing letters, some sight words, numbers, simple addition/combining problems and talked about animal families.I would say it was a remarkably uneventful day.

while driving across town...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017
...this afternoon returning home from a day in a first grade classroom. I was in traffic at a stop light, behind a vehicle with an interesting license plate: 3NVYNO1. I had to read it several times to finally 'get it' but find it very thought-provoking. It is much more readily understood with a couple of hyphens added, but you are smart enough to figure it out on your own, right?

It was a pretty good day with the six year olds. Fortunately, the regular teacher came in, and provided some instruction, plenty of work for us to accomplish, as well as names of several teachers in adjacent rooms, to call on if needed. There was one little guy who did not have such a great day, and ended up spending the afternoon with a different teacher. I saw her at one point, and she reported he said he was 'bored', which she felt was a good thing - for him to want to return to the classroom as opposed to being isolated from the general population. Otherwise, thankfully un-eventful.

And only eight more days to go to reach ten required to remain in good standing with the school district. I already have another one on my calendar for tomorrow.  Meaning I am nearly one-third of the way towards ten if I survive again on the morrow.  Hope it will be as relatively stress free as today.

addendum to the headlight story...

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

 ...that occurred back in the fall. Sad. And funny. In the way things can be tragi-comic, when you want to be sympathetic, while trying not to laugh. Never a good idea to find amusement in another person's misery, though you are allowed to be thankful it is not happening to you.

Review of part I: You may not remember - so here is the CliffsNotes version: The Man Who Lives Here had a head light go out, and went to the GMC dealership to get it replaced. Mistake #1. Another went out two weeks later, so he went back again. Mistake #2.

I told him after the first tale of woe: "You should have gone to AutoZone. They will sell you the bulb to go in the headlight and install it right there in the parking lot. For no extra charge." But did he listen? Did he heed my wise advice? Did he go back to the dealer the second time? Did he pay them $167 twice to get two headlight bulbs replaced? No. No. Yes. Yes.

Part II: I knew all that because I had to get a light replaced. I was in SC visiting my pen-pal, he took me to AutoZone where I bought a bulb for less than $30. And the clerk said he would put it in for me. But I was not driving my vehicle, so we had to go back to the house and get my car for the guy to install my new bulb. The one thing you need to be careful about is: Do Not Touch The Bulb. Oil from your fingertips will cause it to burn out quickly.

Part III: I had a head light bulb burn out last week, so I went to AutoZone on Saturday to get a replacement bulb. For $14.99.  But by the time I got there, the other one needed to be changed too. So I actually purchased two bulbs that day, and had them both replaced 'right there in the parking lot'. For no extra charge. I did have to buy the $2 kit with the nitrile gloves for the guy to install. But got a 10% 'good customer' discount. Even though I have never been in that store before.

After I got two new bulbs installed, I asked the guy to look in the book to tell me how much replacements for a GMC would cost. After consulting his guide, he reported that it would use the very same ones I just paid $14.99 for. I have decided it would not be helpful to tell him this story.
As much as I do not like to drive his hulking ginormous Acadia, I would have taken it to AutoZone if he had let me. Would not have refused if he had offered to pay me $167 for a new bulb. Or two.  Installed right there in the parking lot. For No Extra Charge.

book review: "The Glass Castle"...

Monday, January 16, 2017
...by Jeannette Walls. The cover announces she is a New York Times Bestselling author, having also published "Half Broke Horses". I am pretty sure I randomly picked up the "Horses" book at the library, to read myself to sleep every night. Sorry - not reviewed here.

"The Glass Castle" refers to plans the author's dad drew up to build a fanciful home for his family, of wife and four children. After reading the book over a couple of weeks, my first thought is of  how astounding and amazing that Walls survived such dysfunction to escape as a teenager and grow into a gifted young adult news reporter and writer. Her dad was an engineer and inventor, always scheming, making plans for financial success that never came to fruition. He was also an alcoholic, using money they needed for rent, utilities, food, to feed his desire for drink. Her mother was a artist, part of the family, but did not function as a caregiver, assertive or forceful enough to stand up to her husband.

The stories she tells of how her mother and siblings struggled when the children were young are literally unbelievable. They were not seriously abused, physically. But the trauma they went through due to poverty is so heart-wrenching it is difficult to accept as anything that would really occur in a place where there are so many social service programs that would provide assistance. Just the little things she reports in her story: a brother who slept on the top bunk in a room where the roof leaked so badly he had to sleep under a tarp. Until her mom won an inflatable boat in a contest, and the brother began sleeping under the overturned boat to stay dry at night.

Digging a big hole with her brother (that they thought might be for the foundation of a newer, sturdier, well-built home) and eventually filling it with their household garbage when they could not pay for trash pick-up. Wearing all your clothes to bed to stay warm, in a un-insulated home with no heat in a sad, shabby, falling down house in the mountains of West Virginia. Walking down the street with a bucket to pick up mined coal that as fallen off trucks to feed a fireplace. The dad breaking into the kids communal piggy bank and stealing all their escape funds, and using the money to go on a bender. When the front steps rotted away, and porch began to collapse, leaving and entering the house through a window - every day. Digging through the trash cans in the bathroom in high school to find food thrown away by other students to eat for lunch.

The siblings eventually were able to get out of that depressing, disturbing discouraging environment, and one by one moved from West Virginia to New York. And then their parents relocated, but chose to live on the streets. Walls is an excellent story-teller, in this book written as a memoir. Difficult to believe that they survived such a sad, hard-scrabble youth and, once away from the parents, and were able to succeed to become capable productive adults.

what IS that...

... you will ask when you see the photo? Now baffled into wonderment as to why it is a topic that is blog-worthy when you read on. The answer to the question is remarkably simple, but after more information you will still be stalled in the wondering stage of asking: why?

Start with the premise that old people do not sleep well. We will all eventually get to the point where we wake at two o'clock and wonder 'is it time to get up?' Or take sleep inducing drugs on a regular basis in self defense. I take drugs. Over the counter stuff I found at wallyworld that seems to work pretty well. Going to bed early due to exhaustion from a long day at work, or just being miserably cold is to my detriment. But if either of those things occur: cold or tired, I fall in too early even though I know better.

I don't want to take the generic form of benadyrl as I do not care for the side effects. After reading lots of labels, I found something similar, and actually even cheaper than the store brand of benadryl. I cannot buy in quantity, so the package has only has 32. In order to not have to go every month for more, when I get there I will buy three or four packages: only $4 each, enough to last a while, as I take it every night.

It used to come in boxed, with two foil blister packs, but now the box has a small plastic child-proof bottle. And in the bottle with 32 little blue pills rattling around in the bottom, is a two inch long piece of cotton. I combined all four into one bottle, and had four pieces of cotton I was going to put in the trash. And thought: I could put it out on a bush in the backyard for bird-nesting material. You are seeing shreds of cotton I draped across twigs for the song birds. All those feathered friends who have found my bird feeder. Hope they will notice the shreds of cotton batting and use to build their little nests and raise a crop of birdies to make more songs.

can of soup...

Friday, January 13, 2017
...opened this evening to go into a recipe I found and wanted to try. Made me think of my mom and her interest in anything Free. Even though I cannot recall the last time I opened and used any variety of Campbells's soup, looking at the label reminded me of a story I would now like to tell on my mom.

Prefaced by the fact that she was a child of the Depression era, and raised by people who were remarkably frugal, saving leftovers for soup pot, odd bits of string for tying together, rusty screws and bolts because you might need one just that size, bent nails to straighten out and re-use. As well as clothing to hand-me-down, then recycle again as quilt pieces. Thrifty to the bone.

When I was maybe not yet in my teens, she heard about a deal where you could send in ten labels from cans of Campbell's soup and get a free coffee mug. The mug was printed with the colors, in the same design as the paper labels on the cans, so it looked like you were drinking your morning coffee out of a soup can with a handle on it. Nothing fancy, but free.

Choppy went to all the neighbors and asked them to save labels from cans when they used the soup. But that did not produce enough labels to suit her. So she made my dad go with her to the city dump to root through trash and find more soup cans. I do not know how many mugs she ended up with, but there were Campbell's soup mugs around our house for years and years.

And likely still some of those 'free' mugs in the attic today. Probably a collectible now, but even after all this time, I doubt they have any real value. Other than a holder for a cup of hot tea or coffee, since they must have given away a gazillion. I had to laugh when I opened that can of soup and thought of her.  When she got a plan in her head, you better get out of the way....