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what I did on Wednesday...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
I had no idea how my name got on the mailing list, but I was offered an opportunity to be a volunteer today. So with a little rearranging, I went out into the wilds of Marion County and planted native grasses for several hours. It was not at all what I had envisioned, but it was quite educational.

I must have misread, or misunderstood the email when it first came several weeks ago. I thought they were telling me that we would be planting long-leaf pines, which I know had originally pretty much covered most of the states in the southeast: before men with dollar signs gleaming in their eyes appeared in North America. Who apparently thought the First Families who had been living here for hundreds of years were idiots for choosing to live a subsistence life style, harvesting game, planting crops for a season, then moving on. Including clear cutting forests as far as the eye can see, and then over the next hill as well.

But what the volunteers did and will be doing through next Monday was planting 'weeds'. That as you know are actually wildflowers and native grasses, just growing in places humans don't approve. There were three of us, plus the supervisor/employee of the Nature Conservancy. Out there on a cold, windy, overcast morning, planting little plugs of native grasses to provide an understory for seventy acres of the long-leaf pines that were planted back in March. I think I remember it takes about seventy years for this type pine to mature - about three times a long as the yellow and slash pine farmers plant for selling to sawmills and and as pulp wood to the mills that make cardboard and paper products. So you definitely would not plant this slow growers as a cash crop, unless you were intending to leave it to your grandchildren. And they would probably look so magnificent a hundred years after they were mature, no one would want to cut them down to make houses and furniture.

The grasses, two different kinds, were planted in rows, lined up across an acre, in between the rows of pine seedlings, that survived the summer's heat/drought. The land we were working on is owned by the Conservancy. It is in full, over 1700 acres, with about 900 that was clear cut and burned in recent years, the rest in trash pine and volunteer undergrowth. We got a full acre planted, and the Conservancy Field Service hopes to get several more in the ground with various volunteers to come in the next several days. One group being a Botany class from CSU, who will come Monday afternoon to do 'lab work' (putting the grass plugs in the ground.) The grasses were grown in south GA. by a company that goes out and harvests seeds, germinates and grows until they are big enough to sell - so I guess there are lots more native-type seedlings available than what we were planting. I hope I can come back in seventy or a hundred years and see the results!?!

It was either a very successful day or completely non-productive, depending on which way you choose to look at forestry programs, ecological balance, and environment restoration. I'm choosing having spent my time driving to get lost in the wilds of Marion County as being a vital part of restoration.

happy day after Thanksgiving

Friday, November 23, 2012
You probably know by now to expect this from me: Every day is Giving thanks Day. Even though it was pretty low-key here, it was a pleasant day. Hope yours with spent with folks you enjoy, and food that amused your taste buds. An added bonus was a beautiful clear sunshine-y day, and I had one of my most favorite ever people to get out in the fresh-air-and-sunshine to walk with me.

There is a lot of heartache in the world, and people wandering around in misery, but we all have so much to be thankful for, I am choosing Joy.

Thankful for living in America. Thankful for the Constitution, and feeling of safety when I am at home, and when I walk out the door. Thankful to know that I don't need to root around to locate my passport every time I get in my car to go someplace, that I am free to travel without concerns about mysteriously  disappearing. Gratitude for the freedoms the Constitution provides, and the people in the Armed Forces and local defenders who are willing to enforce it. Especially Thankful for Family and Friends: you know who you are, right?.

Thankful for plenty: a job to work, health to work it, income working provides... but then on the other hand: I can't decide whether to go back to Weight Watchers right now, or make it worse in the next month, and go when half the people in town show up with their New Years' resolutions in hand. I don't have any problem with getting out to walk some calories off every day, but it's pretty obvious from the way my pants are making me feel squozen around the middle that I am consuming more than I am burning. So it's obvious I will either have to exhibit some self-control, and put less in, or figure out the best way to burn more... it's all so sad, because honestly - I want to do neither.

I will go for a walk while I ponder it all....

becoming a model citizen

Wednesday, November 21, 2012
I have a great suggestion for the simplest way for anyone to become the model of a well-behaved, discreet, law-abiding citizen. It's really very easy: just leave home without your driver's license. It helps to also leave any other forms of identification or ability to make a purchase behind when you travel.

I went to FL on Monday to visit friends down in the panhandle area, just west of Tallahassee. Trying to leave home by seven a.m., to make the three hour drive and hopefully arrive soon after 10:00. When making a road trip, one of the simple joys is stopping someplace along the route for a cup of convenience store cappucino. It's especially pleasant to make a run to the curb store this time of year when the machines are stocked with the 'pumpkin spice' flavor. So about an hour down the road, I stopped and got a refill in my frequently used, often recycled styro. cup, to cheer my tastebuds and sip along the way. I had a pocketfull of change so didn't need to open my wallet for folding money.

I love driving in and through south GA in the fall, seeing fields of cotton, ready for harvest. Most of the area in southwest quarter of the state is either wooded or cleared for agriculture: growing cotton, soybeans and corn. With a long-term affinity for the cultivation of cotton plants, it is guaranteed to be a plesant trip when the cotton has bloomed and matured, and we are in the season of going into the fields to pick and take to the gins. I recent years I have noticed farmers baling the cotton like hay, rolling into big cylinder shapes, and covering with plastic, leaving it in the fields until they can get it to the gin for processing. And suspect they used the same equipment they make the big rounds of hay with.

When I got to north FL, I  stopped at a convenice store for personal reasons: a result of that excellent cup of cappucino I had enjoyed. Then walked across the parking lot to the General Dollar to look at blankets. I have a co-worker who told me of her church desiring to collect blankets to give away to homeless members of our community. So I thought I would donate a few blankets to the project. But when I went to the check out and reached in my pocket: no wallet! Oh! Oh, no!

I told the cashier I would have to run out to my car and get it - but of course it wasn't there. Then I thought: maybe I dropped it in the restroom minutes earlier? But when I went back across the parking lot to ask the clerk if the person who went in as I was exiting... he said 'No.' I had to go back to the Dollar store, and apologize, asking her to void out the transaction, as I could not pay. Pretty sure she thought the whole thing was completely bogus.

I decided I must have never put it in my pocket when I changed all  my usual clutter from work pants to khakis. And called to see if it might be lying on the bed at home. Thank fullness ensued when that was confirmed.

But I still had to get back home without any proof of identity. No cash, no cards, no way to even cash a check, as everyone requires a photo ID. I crept out onto the street and eased myself back out in the highway mid-afternoon, with fingers and toes crossed, hoping to stay completely under the radar. After I got back into GA, I did see some pulled over by a GSP, with blue lights flashing. Needless to say, I did everything right: slow down, change lanes, look like the picture of innocence.

I know we all have an infinite number of things to be thankful for. I often remind myself what a blessing it is to live in the USA, where we have the freedom to travel, cross state lines, get in a vehicle and go anywhere we want (and can afford the gas to go.) There are so many places in the world where people don't have that freedom. Have to ask for permission to travel, and are constantly stopped to have their proof/papers checked before allowed to continue along the journey. I am very thankful for the benefits of being an American citizen, and all the constitution guarantees. And even more aware of the importance of putting my wallet in my pocket before I leave the house. Nothing will make you desire to be the picture of Law-Abiding like not having any identification on your person.

degrees of mortification

Monday, November 19, 2012
I should be ashamed, and you may think less of me after you read this - but sometimes the things you do/say are more effective than you ever expected. And this one of those times.

I was out later than usual for some reason, one afternoon recently. And expected my Spouse to be sitting in his recliner, snoozing in front of the tv waiting for me to come and put a meal on the table, as in: snap your fingers, or wiggle your nose, a la 'Bewtiched' style. So when I came in the door, probably around 7:00, far later than he normally expects to be called to the table, I asked from the kitchen if he had eaten. When he said that he had gotten himself some take out/fast food up the street, I asked if he brought me anything. I was quite surprised to hear that come out of my mouth - but there it was, catching both of us by surprise. His response was that when he usually calls to ask about bringing me something to eat when I am at work, I usually say ''I work in a grocery store - the place is full of food".

Then I said: Do you never think when you go someplace that has food I like to get something for me? Do you never think when you go to chic-fil-a to get me a sandwich? Do you never think about bringing home takeout for both of us to eat? Does it never occur to you when you go to the Pickle Barrel that makes the best Ruben in town: "I think I will get a sandwich to take to my wife, she likes the Ruben so well?" And several other comments along those lines. He was so thoroughly chastised that he apologized for only thinking about himself. Which, in itself, was pretty unexpected.

But the really amazing part is that he called me yesterday when I was at work, frantically making salads, to say: "Can you come out front and meet me on the sidewalk? I have something to give you."  I was completely baffled, but said "Sure" and immediately started walking to the front of the store. He was sitting there, in the tow-away zone. When I walked up to the open window, he gave me a take-out box with a delicious, hot, toasted Ruben sandwich. It was very good. I thanked  him, and dashed back in the store, to resume my frantic salad assembly. 

It's such a huge sandwich that I have to wrap half up to have for another meal, and expected to do that yesterday. But remembering I was going to be walking five miles at Callaway Gardens on my already tired feets, took it with me to eat on the way up to Harris County. It was almost as good cold as it was steaming hot. So I thanked him again this morning.

I have had a few minutes regret that I was so vociferous when I got home and he had only fed himself. But if the chastising worked well enough for him to be willing to want to feed me occasionally, I think it was worth the occasional twinge of guilt. I seem to be getting over the  mortification fairly well.

pre-holiday working and weary...

Sunday, November 18, 2012
Guessing it is a good thing to be working for four days prior to Thanksgiving. Especially when I read on the front page of the paper yesterday that the Dolly Madison plant here suddenly closed, leaving several hundred people unexpectedly unemployed a month before Christmas. If you listen to the news, or watch TV, you probably know more about it than I: the unionized workers went on strike (which I could not support for any reason other than safety) and the owners said: work or be unemployed. So they shut down/closed up. There were people in my workplace yesterday discussing the news and hearing of a 'run on Twinkies'. You can definitely have my share.

Even though I will be on the job for four days, none of the days are a full eight hours. As much as I would like to get paid for more time, I know my feets and legs can't tolerate it. And expect the shorter work day will be as much 'fun' as I can manage.Especially considering I need to squeeze in time to do some food shopping for TurkeyDay.

Plus: today is the day that Callaway Gardens is open for the Nightwalk through the Fantasy in Lights show. The only night pedestrians are allowed to stroll through the thousands of lights along the roadway decorating the Gardens for the Christmas season.The price of admission has gone up over the many years I have been going for the walk-through, with the first tickets I purchased being $6. And the most recent going for $16. Support for the March of Dimes non-profit program is featured prominently in the advertising and on the tickets, but I am pretty sure they Gardens gets a cut if for no other reason than to help defray the cost of what must be a gigantic power bill.

I have enjoyed walking the walk over the years, but just thinking about it now: walking five miles, after being on my poor tired feets for five hours, makes me cringe. So I best put it out of my mind. And try not to think about wanting to lay down and take a nap right now to rest up. I'll take shoes and socks to change after work, but still have a residual feeling of dread. My co-walker, co-hort PC told me after the Country's midnight run that she thought she had done that for the last time back in August. I am already feeling that about the Nightwalk, and it hasn't even happened yet!

more on sub. teaching...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Not only was it not bad, it was kinda amusing:

The second grade teacher, before she left the classroom to go to the IT training session had given her students a piece of Double Bubble to chew up and blow a bubble. You know how hard as a little rock the bubble gum is when you first unwrap it and put it in your  mouth? So they were all industriously chewing away when I got in the class. The instructions she had given them was to chew it long enough to get it soft enough and pliable to blow a bubble. Then they had to write out the process: so more 'sequencing'. Stop and think about the things you do inside your mouth before you can make that bubble appear on the outside...

Another of those vital skills you find so necessary to daily living that become reflexive. I rarely put a piece of gum in my mouth, but am fairly certain that before I get finished I have made bubbles and 'cracked' it any number of times. I grew up thinking I was 'poppin' my gum, but my mother-in-law referred to it as 'cracking'. There is definitely a skill set required before you can get to the point of being a successful bubble blower. And not something you were born knowing: any more than you were naturally able to tie your shoes.

Remember when you sat on the floor with your mom, right there between her knees, with her hands on your hands, talking about bunny ears and how one had to be tucked through the loop of the other, and pulled tight? Remember the first time you successfully made a bow tie out of your shoe laces? Remember getting up and doing the happy dance because you were so pleased with yourself and proud of your accomplishment? I thought when velcro came along, and all the kids sneakers were held together with the loop-and-burr material that shoe tying would become a lost art. I probably said 'tie your shoes' two dozen times today to guys who either didn't; or didn't pull the bunny ears tight enough for the laces to stay.

They are also learning to type in elementary school, because they can do things on the computer that completely baffle me. They are not experts with the keyboard, but we are raising a generation of technology whizzes. I can type, but if you want info. from me, you better call! I'll be sitting here practicing my shoe tying.

another day of sub. teaching...

It wasn't bad.

I'd agreed several weeks ago to be a replacement in a classroom today, and again in Feb. at the same location. It's probably the most desirable elementary school in the county: the one your kids have to 'test' to get into, and the only one in town every student is in the magnet program. Other schools have specialized tracks, but are also neighborhood schools, with kids who live in that zone/area attending. This one has students from all over town, but they are there because their parents want them to be in a place where they are expected to excel - from Kindergarten.

Teachers were out of their classrooms today for several hours of IT instruction, so they were all still present in the building, just being trained instead of teaching. I spent half the day in a second grade classroom, with a group of students who were well behaved, doing work that I would not have expected eight year olds to accomplish, and remarkably cooperative, a very pleasant experience. After lunch, I was sent to a class of fifth graders, who were doing stuff that completely baffled me. Posters up on the wall with examples of what they were expected to know, from early in the school years, were well beyond my comprehension. (Math: you're not surprised, of course!) Polite, well mannered, knew what to do and when to do it. If the system did not require an instructor to be on hand at all times, the fifth graders would be perfectly capable of managing their classroom for several hours without my 'adult supervision'. Plus they went from sustained reading and AR testing  to PE to computer lab and then went home, so they really didn't need me.

This is the same school where I was a sub. about a month ago, in a Kindergarten class, where the teacher had the students so well organized and on track - the five year olds could have done it without me - had there been a talking clock there to tell them the time, since that was probably all they could not do. And the kids in the second grade today was actually practicing their time-telling skills when we did a work sheet that had clock faces on it and they had to write in what time the hands were on - plus several rounds of Clock Bingo, which was pretty amusing. I guess it's all a matter of readiness.

It is interesting to see how skills build on skills and develop in complexity.  I remember all those years ago when I was in Head Start and giving kids papers that had a jumbled up series of illustrations on it. They had to color and cut their work into squares(practicing fine  motor skills) then glue them down on another sheet of paper in the proper sequence - figure out whether Billy got out of bed first, or got dressed first, or got on the school bus first, or walked out the door of his house first. Another of those things we forget we were not born knowing; requiring a bit more thinking, and a different kind of information processing than how to operate a coat hanger, since you have to do it all in your head.

Interesting to ponder...

something you probably never thought to be thankful for....

Monday, November 12, 2012
Holy cow - just when you felt like you had thought of all the reasons you have to be thankful - here's one I heard about today... that kinda came by way of the back door/unexpectedly.  I was working yesterday, plowing through the list of things that have to be prepped every day, to have plenty of fresh salads, fruit bowls and yogurt parfaits to have ready to the sales floor every morning. Trying to get as much ready as possible for Monday at 7 a.m. when the store opened and all the 'outdated' fresh products had to be pulled off the shelves.

Sort of frantically working, knowing that anything that did not get done  by Me, would not get done: the guy who was supposed to be there, prepping fruit, cutting melons, pineapple, strawberries to be ready/'ahead' with bowls of cubed and sliced fruit for today just didn't show up. No one told me why he wasn't there, or what had happened, so I thought: when he found out he was the fruit cutter, he thought of a good reason to not show up. Suddenly taken deathly ill, or car trouble, or family issues that called him out of town - anything to avoid a messy, onerous job.

But when he came in today, and I casually wondered what happened, he told me a story that reminded me to be continually thankful for things that never happened. He lives with a girl friend, who has a sixteen year old son, with an apparent chronic lack of impulse control. The sixteen year old kid took his car, without permission, and without a driver's license. Drove to Harris County to pick up a girl friend and went joy riding. Wrecked the car. They saw it leave the apartment parking lot, and assumed it had been stolen, since the mom checked and found the teenager asleep in bed (which was a ploy, so could be considered an outright lie - pillows under the blankets made to look like a person). So they called to make a police report. Then hours later, discovered the teenager not at home, and had to back off from a stolen vehicle report.

The teenager would not answer his phone, until he wrecked the car and needed help. So they were all up all night. Which explains why the fruit cutter was not at work, after about thirty hours without sleep.

I am so, so, so thankful for healthy happy adult children, who (to the best of my knowledge???) did not stray. I am thankful for their common sense, impulse control, capable self-managment and just general, all-around adult hood. I forget to be thankful that they have turned into fully functioning adults, until something like this comes along to remind me that we are blessedly past the hormonal years and they are independent and mostly normal, mature, civilized adults. Thank you, God that we all survived the teenaged years, without anyone getting strangled. Or blood and missing body parts.

If there is anything you would like to confess, I think I am ready now...

frequent employment

I find myself so regularly employed, it might be inconvenient to my life-style.

There was a time, several years ago, when the economy was so down in the gutter, I came to expect that I would only be working once a month, just enough to keep me from being dropped out of the computer. And bagging groceries at that. Over time, things got a bit better, and the department mangers began to give me a little more work. I could expect at least a day a week, and occasionally two. But by that time, apparently I had programmed my brain to believe I had plenty of fredom to do things I (and anyone with common sense) would rather do than punch the clock.

Giving your time to someone else: corporately speaking is the way we function in this society, but it's rarely by choice. I know there are people in the world who enjoy their jobs so thoroughly - it does not feel like work. And there are people who are so devoted/dedicated to what they are trained to do, they reportedly would do it even if there was not reward/remuneration involved. That's Not Me.

When I started down the path of working in the floral industry, I must have been walking backwards. I don't think I actually 'chose' it, I was floundering and just needed to become employed. Someone suggested training in basic floral skills, and 'it seemed like a good idea at the time'.  Thus, after starting in this line of work in another century, it still 'seems like'. I tell people I decided when I felt my children were old enough to stay at home for several hours in the afternoon without burning the house down (or killing each other), I applied for a part time job. And have been at it since 1997.

I must need to a good' talking to', with an occasional finger shaking in my face- as I am struggling with working several days in a row. Part of the difficulty is purely physical, how tiring it is to be on my feet five or six hours a day on the hard concrete floor - it's  exhausting. Steady employment for four days in a row is not something that happens on a regular basis - and hard to adjust to the physical demands, plus factor in my independent, free-floating life. It's nice to have all the time in the world to do things I choose, but even doing nothing has it's price. To have the funds to buy gas for traveling is really important, and to have the resources to eat on a regular basis is definitely a Basic Necessity.

So here I am, on the schedule for three days of making salads and fresh fruit yogurt parfaits. And then a day of sub. teaching on Wednesday.

election 2012, part 2

Friday, November 9, 2012
Here's the thing about my vote. I registered to vote the day I turned eighteen, taking my responsibility (and the opportunity to express my opinion, no matter how small and insignificant one vote might be) very seriously. I may have had the idea that becoming a registered voter in America was of equal importance as the day I turned sixteen and got a permit to drive - and voting was not nearly as scary as turning the key in the ignition and stepping on the accelerator.

I knew when I went to the polls that I was undecided, and considered to possibility of not voting for anyone in the presidential race - but got there, where it was time to fish or cut bait and conscience, riding on my shoulder, would not let me skip over it. The most important reason I made the effort to get to the polls was to vote for a local man who was trying to unseat a long-serving incumbent in the House. He sadly, dramatically lost. In my opinion, due to the fact that such an overwhelming number of people voted for another four years. Incumbents are always hard to unseat, no matter the office. I believe the people who voted for the incumbent president also voted party lines, and put the local Representative back for another term. He's not a bad person, but has gotten comfortable after twenty years. And probably thinks himself impervious, with the large majority he received in this election.

When I registered all those years ago, I had opportunities to vote for people who I knew were incompetent, incapable of providing good public service. I decided I would write in my dad's name instead of casting my ballot for someone who was not qualified to serve: knowing that if he were to be elected, the position would be filled by a man of integrity and character. As  the campaign process narrowed the field down to the two guys I did not want to vote for this week, I was initially delighted that some of the incompetents and clowns were eliminated, but as mud-slinging started, I was especially saddened. And occasionally morose that I did not have to option of writing in the name of a man who would be a better candidate than the choices that were printed on my ballot.

I am reconciled: my vote was not needed by the Democrat, and would not have helped the Republican. So let's just keep praying for America.... to wake up, turn around, go back to the principles in the Constitution and the moral standards of the founding fathers.

amusing or not....depends on your age?

Keeping busy this week: worked at my little jobette Sunday and Tuesday. Went to Decatur Tuesday evening, so I could get up early on Wednesday and drive to SC. I try to go about once a month to visit my pen-pal in Greenville - and this month got full so quickly the opportunity nearly got past me. Mr. Homer is my dad's Army friend who served with him in WWII. I enjoy going up and spending the day, just hanging out... if 'hanging out' is a term that can be applied to a man who is 89 years old. I think  most of what we did this past Wednesday: eating several times.

Then I got back to Decatur and was forced to eat again. After a carb.laden meal, it was definitely time to lay down in pants with a stretchy waist band. Factor in waking up about 4:30 am. due to brain that is still scrambled from the 'fall back' time change, and that was the end of being productive for the day. I have yet to get what I consider a normal night's sleep - either weary from awaking far too early and having to go to bed at 8:30. Or the other extreme of staying up to late, and feeling like I am running behind when I don't wake up before the crack of dawn.

But we did watch a comedy show I wanted to see on netflix, that surely burned off a thousand calories due to hilarity. I'd had a report that there was a story about the guy riding a little putt-putt scooter in full biker leathers(claiming that the scooter with a maximum speed of 45 m.p.h.was all his wife would allow) that was worth the price of admission, and it was amusing. But overall, this guy, part of the original blue-collar comedy tour, seems to get all his laughs from poking fun at his wife and their relationship. Probably due to being  at the age that I have no hesitation for expressing strong opinions, or possibly aging hs made me more and more conservative, but I find it tiresome and offensive to hear people, of any sort, in jest or not, constantly finding their amusement at the expense others because of gender (or color, or ethnic background or etc.)

So I guess the blue collar tour would not be the entertainment that it was some years ago: the one guy who stands there with a 'drink' in one hand and cigar in the other - that in itself enough to turn me off. As he tells off color jokes filled with poor word choices. Completely unnecessary. If you have to resort to four letter words to get attention: not at all funny. Maybe in the bathroom in grade school, but not for people who pay lots of money for tickets to be entertained.

Then there is the guy who acts like a doofus cable installer, and the guy who started it all with :'you might be a redneck if...'. Occasionally the redneck jokes are amusing, but overall, if you think about it - pretty insulting to a large segment of the population. Calling locals hicks, ignorant, lazy and dumb. I guess the 'fun' part of funny got old.

I had to work on Thursday, so I got up early and drove home that morning. Remarkably, surprisingly - I don't have anything that must get done today, so hope to put some more plants in the ground before the cold creeps in for the duration. It has apparently rained enough that the ground here is not like quarrying stone, clay soft enough to dig - but only temporarily, so I need to get on with the hole digging and planting.

election day, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
I am still very disheartened about the Presidential Election. I don't think either of the options is qualified. And have considered the possibility of not voting for either, but just showing up to cast my ballot for others running, and have an opinion about changes to laws.

I'm so distressed to think that neither of the options has the integrity to manage such an overwhelming job. I know they can surround themselves with people who are experienced and have great knowledge in specific areas to get the best advice for making wise decisions. But they just don't seem to be 'presidential'.

I read the Obama book back in the summer, and that did raise my opinion of him as a man, but am concerned about the future of our nation. Romney seems to often be out to lunch.

Where are the people who have America's best interest at heart? Probably don't want to get mired in the muck of politics....

more things to be thankful for...

I know I have written at some point in the past about the little book where I keep an on-going list of things I consider blessings in my life. Occasionally the book gets misplaced, buried under the flotsam and jetsam of misc. and does not get a daily entry. But when it resurfaces and I start up again, I can always find some otherwise mundane things or people that I am thankful for on any given day.

When I was working as a replacement for the teacher's aide/para.pro in a class of four year olds yesterday, I found something unexpected that we should All be thankful for. Just another of those things that you have never stopped to consider: you were  not born knowing how to operate a clothes hanger. To watch those little people who were struggling to get the hanger inside their jackets was so amusing. And touching and sweet and made me want to go over and help, fingers itching to make it easier for them to move on to the next thing. But I knew they could and should have to opportunity to figure it out for themselves. To master that recalcitrant hanger, develop the skills to get it under control, and do it often enough that in time, they too will be able to take 'hangering' for granted.

Us, who also take literacy for granted, cannot remember the time when we could not wrangle a hanger into an article of clothing. And if we had, we were likely too short to be able to hang it on the rod in the closet that was designed for use by a fully grown adult. Although I do recall that my dad put the clothes rod in the closet of the house where I grew up down at a level that was proper height for child use. Providing me with the opportunity to learn:  responsiblity of hanging up my own clothing. And denying my small self the excuse of being height-impaired.

I remember years ago reading that you should tell them to lay the garment out on the floor, with the front open, then tell them to lay down on it, to better put it on by themselves. They would eventually get the hang of it, and be able to put their arms in the sleeves without rolling around on the carpet. The pre-K teacher told them yestereday to remember they were supposed to lay it out on the table before they tried to put the hanger into the sleeves - something you and I do so easily, without thought. I watched them attack the sweaters and jackets with the hangers - fumbling to get it in one sleeve, and have that side fall off the hanger, while they were intent on the other sleeve. Never realizing until that day, what a chore it is just to insert a hanger in a coat. But for those who have never had the experience, coupled with still developing motor skills - getting the two items: coat and hanger to mesh smoothly together is obviously a real challenge.

So - if you ever run out of things to be thankful for, there is always the ability to put your clothing on a hanger without assistance.. And... clothing to put, hangers to hang, closets to put them both in... safe comfortable houses with the closets neatly installed, safe streets and communities. Living in America. All that and more.

an educational field trip/stroll in the woods...

Sunday, November 4, 2012
Welcome to the world of Orienteering.

I had no idea what we would be doing when I signed us up for the orienteering experience at FDR State Park in Harris County. But I took my compass on a string around my neck and went to find out just exactly how it works. Which I still don't know. The map we got for the easier of several trails was so/too easy that we commented about how much amusement it would be for a troop of elementary age Girl Scouts. I could just picture them running off at top speed, dashing pell-mell along the trail ahead of their leaders, seaching for the next checkin location. It was such well marked, easy to follow path, your average nine year old would have not found it too challenging.

But for us who had no notion of what was involved, it was probably a pretty adequate introduction.There were quite a few other participants - some adults, singles and in pairs. And two yellow school buses from public schools that had ferried groups of JROTC students to try their luck at finding their way in the woods. We were on some time constraints, so did not have the opportunity to try a more difficult path, but will certainly want to give it another go in the near future.

The event was remarkably well organized, and the people who were in positions of responsibility appeared to have a good deal of experience with processing participants - having done it enough to pretty much have a good 'system' in place. From talking to one of the organizers, it seems that the group plans events every month, sometimes nearly every weekend in different locations around the state, often in state parks. And I think it was good that I was with someone who was equally inexperienced, as there is not much about me that is competitive. The idea of dashing through the woods, trying to complete the course in record time does not appeal - especially on such a beautiful fall day when just meandering along down the trail through the fall leaves was such a treat.

I'm so old school, I probably would have been even more entertained by the event if it had not been dependent on electronics: you had to rent a little thumb-drive type device that you poked into all the markers along the trail to register that you had found that particular location. And your time was recorded and printed out when you plugged your device into the lap-top at the finish line. Back in the 'olden days' you had to find the numbered marker on the trail and use a manual hole-punch type device, to poke a specific design on a card to prove you had located all the stations on your map. And think how much that would have entertained a crew of little girl scouts with braids flying, and brownie sashes flapping as they went charging down the trail.

that 'extra hour' of sleep from time change....

Let's all compare note and talk about all the interesting things we got accomplished from having an extra hour in our day! If you think you misplaced it, you need to remember it is not really a Gift, but that same hour the 'great and powerful Oz' took away from you back in the spring when we started that delightful creation known as 'daylight savings time'. Not that there is any delight in having your sleep patterns awry for two weeks: both spring and fall, as your brain struggles to compensate for silly legislation.

So... what did I do with all that spare time/change? Laid awake in bed thinking of all the things I should be doing instead of lying in bed, of course! Looking at my watch, then at the bedside clock, trying to decide which one was right: 'what time is it, really?' Now that I have been awake for hours, how to best use my time? Dig holes, of course, one of my most favorite forms of therapy - especially if you have something you can put in it!

I have lots of things in pots, some gifts, some rescues, that I need to get planted before the weather gets seriously cold. Yesterday afternoon I found myself digging and plunking things down in holes. It's been dry here, so I will have to be diligent about keeping them watered until they loose leaves and appear 'dead'. But hopefully only dormant, and still  making some roots down in that good rich store-bought dirt I tucked them  into. I put a couple of azaleas in the ground, a pot of rescued mums, half a dozen gerbera daisies that may/may not survive weeks of benign neglect, some small roses that probably won't make it, plus a mystery plant that might be a 'mallow' with a dark purple trumpet-shaped bloom. They got a good dose of time-release fertilizer in with the good, rich soil, so there is the possibility of resurrection in the spring. And I hope to get a couple of hydrangeas planted today, as well as a mini-rose put into a pot.

It's definitely fall here- I got out the blower and cleared a path in the driveway - where so many acorns have fallen, the asphalt is covered in orange splotches from being smashed with car tires. I noticed the grancy-graybeards being brilliantly yellow, now that they have gotten big enough to be noticed when they change their outfits.

Right now, I am of the opinion that the most likely success in my 'formerly known as' garden plot in the back yard will be zinnias and marigolds. I was so disheartened by the poor showing of tomatoes, that the likelihood of trying again is nearly non-existent. The fact that I was not a good 'tender' probably has a lot to do with the sparseness of the crop. Absolutely no possibility of even making the effort to plant again in the spring: until it gets to be actual Spring and I get itchy fingers, go crusing through the garden shops and see all those tempting flats of plants, hear the tomatoes calling my name... lookit it me,... over here.... look....

what-to-do, what-to-do...

Friday, November 2, 2012
Most mornings, Monday through Friday, the telephone rings about 6:07, or 6:15, with a call from the computer generated Sub-finder, looking for someone to fill in vacancies with the school system. I am quite surprised that there were no calls - and no vacancies - today. I woke up about 5:15 and got up to check the website to see if there were any jobs available. On the one, very rare day, that I don't have anything else on my calendar, and would go to a school to substitute for the day: no one wants me?

Not that I can't keep myself busy all day.  I have: things in pots that I have been watering for months and need to get put in the ground, things that need mending and have been stacking up in the laundry room for months, floor that gets dirtier every day and needs cleaning. Plus all the people I could go see and enjoy visiting, in order to avoid all the things that I should be tending to at home.

I am completely baffled by why the phone did not ring, either last night or early this morning. It usually starts in the evening, prior to the day when a teacher will be out - and will go on from 5:30 till 9:00 p.m., if you don't hit the star button to notify of non-availability and end the constant ringing.  The mornings when it does not ring in that 6:00 to 6:30 time are extremely rare... so I am curious to know why I did not scratch up a little 'day labor' job?