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now the question is...

Saturday, February 25, 2017
... where should it be installed to be most beneficial to people who would stop and peruse the offerings? I would love to put the little free library out on the street in front of my house, but there is virtually no 'foot traffic'. No one walking along a very busy thoroughfare to stop and choose a book, or make a donation by leaving reading material for other patrons. Everyone who passes by is traveling at a rate of speed much too great to take the time to poke around in a little wooden box full of literature.

As much as I would like to keep the little free library nearby, it makes sense to put it someplace there would be pedestrians. Make it convenient for people who would slow down enough to open the little wooden door, and look inside. Be delighted by the assortment of books, and find one to take home and enjoy, or read aloud with a child.

Our house is located about half a mile from an elementary school, so I thought about asking the principal if she would agree to putting the library up on the school property. If I were a teacher, or school librarian, or even a parent of a small child - it would thrill me to see a little free library installed there near a local center for education. An obvious encouragement to little people to peer inside, select a book to read, share, enjoy, return. And possibly bring other books to donate for more children to see and choose. But then I thought: a proposal for a permanent structure on school board property would likely need so many levels of approval, it would be years before administrators could come to consensus. I've already discarded that idea as too frustrating to pursue.

Now I am thinking: maybe at church. There are lots of small grass islands with trees in the parking lot. It could go out there where hundreds of people pass in the course of a Sunday or during the week. This seems like the best option. Hopefully it would be a much simpler process to gain permission to dig a hole and mount the wooden box. I propose to take my library to show the administrator, who might be willing to make the decision, without having to form a committee and debate the decision half to death. How could you not want something so clever and useful sitting there for all passersby to see and enjoy?

a little free library...

...has suddenly made an appearance. I first noticed a tiny free standing box with used books on the streets of Decatur several years ago. Walked by the structure, and backed up to take a look. My next thought: "Oh, my! How cool is this! I need one of these at my house - to fill with interesting things for people to come and choose."

Delighted by the idea of encouraging passers-by to randomly to open the door, look at the offerings and choose a book. I already envision all those readers stumbling along, tripping over their feets, as they insert their noses in books, bumping into trees, signs, buildings, immersed and intrigued with their printed matter. I was instantly charmed by the idea of luring complete strangers into holding a book, turning paper pages, and choosing literature over mind-numbing electronics.

F., who lives in Decatur, was having dinner recently with friends, one of whom is a talented wood-worker, makes a good living in construction, doing remodels, building custom furniture. She was talking about the little wooden boxes that have popped up all over town, with reading material. He mentioned having lots of odds and ends, scraps of wood he thought he could assemble, to make her a box for books to install in her yard, near the street. For passersby to 'take one, leave one'.

He made TWO! One is mine. I am so excited. It is made from old barn wood, with a translucent front, probably plastic rather than glass to be more durable. When she called to say the friend was building library boxes, I immediately began to think of where I might dig a hole. Put a post that would be the mount for my library. And ponder on how to paint it. The wood, old heart pine, with a beautiful grain is so pretty I am hesitant to cover up the natural wood, but - you know me: tempted to get out the red, white and blue, pour on the patriotism.

I actually have the paint on hand. I bought some little cans months ago, with the intention of painting more wooden pallets to look like flags. Expecting I could give several away to people who will agree to put them out in their yard. Celebrate all things American, as a permanent sort of installation, to be prepared in  case a parade came along, with brass bands in full-Sousa-march attire. So I will get it home and stir up the cans of celebration, get in holiday frame of mind with my patriotic colors.

inching closer...

... and wondering if there is any likelihood that I will keep doing the sub. work after I accumulate the minimum number of days required to stay in good graces of school system? It's open to debate - my feeling at this moment is unlikely, due to having spent another day in a room of 20 four-year-olds. I was the replacement for the para. pro again today, thankful the teacher was there to keep them under control.

Thursday makes day 6. Why do I continue to feel the necessity to remain in good standing, reach that goal of ten? I cannot say, but am I headed in that direction, moving along in fits and starts. Now that I can, with my limited math-skills, look at the objective and see that I am over half way, I am confident of accomplishing that  minimum.

today equals five...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
...if we do not count that half day I went into a Kindergarten classroom a couple of weeks ago. Looking back, I cannot say why I even took that 1/2 day position, as it does not help me get closer towards the magic number. Mayhaps another of that sort will come along so I can add the two halves together?

The day spent in pre-K gets me over the hump and on the downhill slide towards the goal of ten days of sub. teaching before mid-May when the semester ends. I was a para.pro in a room with about twenty little people. The teacher seemed be well organized, and more than capable, but with that many students, it will always be challenging to get through the day. And as usual, it is easy after just a couple of hours, to pick out the two or three that are going to be consistently high-maintenance.

We had a lot of much needed rain late in the afternoon. Thankfully it held off until after the allotted time for the class to get out on the playground and run off some steam.  It was a pretty good day. Even though I am still struggling with this gunk in my head, and more than once during the day, wanted to just take nap, close my eyes, turn off my brain for ten minutes. When I did get home, I made a bee-line for the couch.....

one of the things...

Tuesday, February 21, 2017
... I am thankful on a daily basis: good health. Arms and legs that (mostly) operate like I want them to, though that trick knee will always be problematic. And eventually get worse according to the orthopedic guy. But overall, I consider myself in good shape. Until this stuff in my head wore me down and forced me to seek medical advice.

After several days of misery, I took myself for the first time ever to a Doc-in-a-Box on Sunday. My amateur diagnosis was a sinus infection, that my amateur OTC medications could not cure. I do not hesitate to consult the experts when needed, and was ready for some serious drugs and resolution. I took my magazines, my insurance cards, and went to wait out the process.

I listed my symptoms, and he looked in my ears and down my throat, thumped me all over my face.
Gave me a script which I immediately took to wallyworld. I'll be taking antibiotic caps. for a week, then miraculously cured. I may be better already, as my face does not ache like it did 24 hours ago.
One of the things the dr. told me to do was to quit taking the stuff the pharmacist sold me on Friday morning. Which possibly explains why taking it for three days had not produced any improvement.

Started writing this on Monday, and it is now Tuesday afternoon. I might be getting better, but still feeling a bit like the response you get when you question the Magic Eight Ball: Ask again later.

free labor....

Sunday, February 19, 2017
...provided an opportunity to get some yard work done yesterday. I had a couple of little projects that were only a dream, but with help from two willing workers came to fruition on Saturday. Nothing particularly complicated, but due to severe motivation deficiency they had languished for months, without no visible progress.

A little spot in the front of the house right near the front door, that would not grow anything. I had an idea, and started on my project months ago, digging up some hopelessly infertile dirt but stalled out and made no more effort. The space is about four feet square, tends to wash badly when we get a heavy rain, due to Someone (The Man Who Lives Here, perhaps?) demanding that a metal piece that would divert water into guttering be removed.  I believe he felt this little piece of metal, installed by roofers, caused leaves to accumulate in the valley and cause problems with dampness under the shingles.

In conversation with someone, as I was seeking advice about my little problematic area I was lead to understand that even rocks will 'float', strange as that sounds. Which I took to mean they will tumble down stream if the force of running water is strong enough. I knew I needed to get rocks big enough to not wash out of that little space when we have a downpour. We went to the landscape supply shop, and took my recycle bins. Got one filled with good sized rocks, and two filled with cypress mulch.

The plan was to install bricks for edging, with the intention that they would be put in at an angle, so they would help keep the dirt in the planter area. Leveled with the concrete of the driveway on one end, and slightly elevated on the other, to help retain the dirt and plants that would go in this space. Of course I lacked several bricks of having enough, so might have make a surreptitious run to a nearby public park to abscond with a dozen more bricks to complete the edging.

I dug up some plants and relocated them in the area where the rocks would go, hoping they will grow and develop a root system. To prevent erosion over time as they spread and stabilize the area beneath the rocks. Agapanthus, blooms blue on tall stalks, from a bed that is just across the walkway leading up to the front door. And some Mexican petunias  that have dark purple flowers,from a friend, that could be considered 'invasive' if you are not careful where you put them..

The cypress mulch got put in the planters up close to the house, sprucing up a sadly neglected space where I hope geraniums will grow and re-bloom in summer. Making that space look much improved. Then we put out the bin full of rocks. Some pea gravel to fill in between the rocks will make it perfect. I am very pleased with the result. And thankful that those people showed up to provide the motivation and labor to see it through.

you might recall...

...my plan to deliberately find people who would want to have lunch, with the requirement that they be folks who make me laugh. We are nearing the end of the seventh week of 2017, and I have a perfect score. Just to prove how well I am doing, I will now share the joke I heard when my friend Kelly met me for lunch on Wednesday. She said it came from her eye doctor.

A little old geezer took his fishing pole and went down to the creek. He was sitting on the bank waiting for a bite, when he heard something rustling in the undergrowth. When he looked around  a frog hopped out of the bushes, and sat beside him. The frog said: "I am really a beautiful princess under an evil spell. If you will kiss me I will turn back into a human, and will love you devotedly for the rest of my life." The man replied: "I am going to put you in my pocket just like you are, as I would much rather have a talking frog than a young woman in my life."

at the student's club...

Friday, February 17, 2017
...we enjoyed a talk about a couple of fiction writers from Florida. I was sort of familiar with one, who I  have not read, but know the name, and that he is a prolific producer of mysteries. Carl Hiaasen writes for the Miami paper, and is an ardent environmentalist. A staunch supporter of preserving the natural wonders of south Florida swamps, mangroves, and the area known as Ten Thousand Islands, low lying land to the west of the Everglades. Where there is an abundance of wildlife living in the hammocks and watery byways of southwest Florida.

Hiaasen has written a number of books, in addition to his investigative reporting for the Miami Herald, most of which would be classified as 'who-dun-its', but also several books for young adults. A number have debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. He attended Emory University, finished at the University of Florida and began a career as a newspaper writer.

The other Floridan we learned about was Charles Martin. His name was not at all familiar to me, but when I looked at one of the two books the speaker brought, I'm pretty sure I read it in recent years. About a couple who take a canoe trip along a river in north Florida, ending in Jacksonville.

I now wish I had been at the January meeting, when the talk was about three Georgia authors: Ferrol Sams (I recently read his memoir), Margaret Mitchell,  and Bailey White from Thomasville. I read Gone With the Wind in high school, and have read a couple of things by Sams,  and  at least one book from White. Pretty interesting, though from what I understand the 'program' is supposed to be limited to about fifteen minutes - not nearly enough time to share a wealth of research the monthly speakers apparently do before presenting.

We had lunch, severed on white linen table cloths, cloth napkins with five utensil place settings. I do not recall the last time I had such elegant table service. Green salad, baked chicken breast, steamed broccoli, homemade yeast rolls,  and a yummy dessert. I kept my hands in  my lap, did not drop any food, or swear inappropriately, believe I was remarkably well behaved.

suprisingly, there is....

...nearly nothing on my calendar for today. Except a luncheon that prevents me from trying to rustle up a day of sub. teaching. The event I will attend is with a group called the Student's Club. I thought when I started trying to wangle an invitation, they were a book club, a group of women who would agree to an assignment each month, then meet to discuss what they had read.

Wrong. The pick a topic for the year and assign different people to do research, present a program each month for the members. This year's topic is southern writers. I missed the meeting in January, due to a previous commitment. I will go today and hope to be much more well informed after it is over. I think we have lunch first, then the presentation about some well known writer (who I have probably never read.)

When I went to a talk last night at the public library, about Carson McCullars, the speaker had a handout, with a list of well-known, highly regarded writers of the southern genre. Some long deceased, and some still actively publishing.  One, Donna Tartt from Mississippi, won a Pulitzer for 'The Goldfinch', so I will request that one and get it read. The list included people like Harper Lee, Truman Capote, William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor and others. I have read very few of the titles listed, making me feel ill-informed and slightly ignorant.

It will be interesting to hear what the presenters have to say about the writers they were assigned. While we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of Carson McCullars birthday the talks on other well known works from southern authors to be most timely. I will try to be more deliberate in my reading, and get some of those 'classics' taken care of. Better than sitting in front of the TV mesmerized for hours on end.

survived another Day of Love...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
... and happy to know that the next one is 364 days away. I've been celebrating Valentine's Day in the floral industry for more years than I care to confess. The first one, to the best of my memory, was when I started working in a retail floral shop in Albany. It was a family owned business. I'd been hired to do really simple basic stuff, then got a lot of on the job training over the time I was there.

The thing I most clearly remember is standing in one place, putting dozens of red roses in vases for twenty four hours. LIterally. Work all day, take a break to go find somethign to eat, come back and work all night. Go home for a refreshing shower but don't lay down, find food. Get back to work.

Where you will see buckets and buckets of roses, dozens of vases, tons of fern and fluffy stuff (gypsophilia, commonly known as 'babies breath', the tiny white flowers that are the filler in the rose arrangement). Producing dozens of arrangements of red roses, to be delivered all over town by a small army of drivers recruited for the day: family, friends, friends of friends, in-laws, out-laws, anyone with a valid license.

I am thinking the price, 'way back when, was about $45. I heard some disembodied voice on the radio today commenting that the average price of a dozen, delivered over the most recent holiday/event was $140. All I can say to that is: 'You should have gone to Publix.' We sold all we had ordered for the occasion, even though we are expected to look into the crystal ball and predict how much we will need well back around Labor Day in September.

you may think...

...that it sounds trivial, but it was really interesting. I volunteered to get with  group of people who will be participating in a Trivia Bee. Which is, I guess, similar to a Spelling Bee, but you don't have to know how to actually spell anything. Instead you just have to be a storehouse of useless information. Which I like think I have a abundance of, and would gladly share with anyone who cares to listen.

I got involved after receiving email from the man who is the president of the local artist's club. He sends a monthly newsletter, with meeting minutes, plus various updates, notes about upcoming events. Reporting that the Guild will be participating in the Trivia Bee. A fundraiser for the Literacy Alliance, which also happens to be an organization where I volunteer, in an elementary school one morning a week reading with a four year old.

I've read about the Bee in the news over the years, but never interested enough to attend. Or possibly just never been recruited to put my wealth of useless information on display for the general public. I understand the teams can decide on a theme for the group. Hear rumors that costumes and decorations can get completely out of hand. So even if my group does not end up with bragging rights, it should be sufficiently amusing to share here...

When I went today for the practice, there were maybe twenty or so other people in the room. I got there late (not surprising), and they had already started. Going over questions from previous Bee events, attempting to guess answers independently. It took a few minutes to figure out what was going on.

Then we were grouped by fours and put on teams. Given  more questions and timed for writing answers. I was (probably inappropriately) quite pleased with knowing some answers. All manner of topics: current events, history, geography. Questions about awards events like Grammys, Oscars, Emmys - where I was completely ignorant due to not watching TV at all. More to come....

well, that is over...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017
...for another year. Glad to see the back side of Valentine's Day until it happens again next February. It made me wish a had rented a 'fit-bit' for twenty four hours. I feel like I walked ten miles today, from one side of the store to the other and back to front a gazillion times. I would love to know how far I would have gotten if I had actually been getting somewhere!

 I am going to drink my cold beer and go to bed, since I have to go back at 6 a.m. tomorrow to put out fresh flowers from the warehouse.   I called to check on the situation after my co-worker would have been leaving. He said there was nothing left.  Needless to say, I am very Happy to know I am done with being employed until next week. Thankyouverymuch.

the day before the day before...

Monday, February 13, 2017
... the chaos of retail Valentine's Day in the floral industry. I went in to work at 7:00 am, and was supposed to be there until 6:00, which seems excessive to me, so I left at 5:00. I failed to eat lunch,  was tired, cranky, bummed out and right before having a bad attitude by the time I finally got home. While I was thinking about what I might eat, I accidentally ate the biggest half of a chocolate bar I had hidden from myself before Christmas. Back when I knew I would be cutting sugar out of my life in January.

I was remarkably conscientious about the sugar business, really did a good job of sticking to my plan. Having practically nothing with sugar added for an entire month. Reading labels to keep stuff like dextrose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup out of my mouth. Admittedly I felt like a seriously deprived person for a couple of weeks early on, but it got easier as the month progressed. Sadly, not having lunch and being on  my feets all day caused me to be hungry to the point of grabbing the first thing I saw and stuff it in my mouth.... hmmm... who would have thought it would be chocolate??

A friend gave me some expensive, obscure bars of the evil stuff that she claimed were so exotic they were not to be had any place closer than the big metropolis of Atlanta, and therefore I should be very parsimonious with them. Carefully husband, eat in wee bites, savor while slowly chewing and saying: mmmmmmmmm. I did not ask if having your eyes roll back in your head was necessary. I did eat a couple of squares before I tucked them away in the auxilllary fridge in hopes of forgetting they existed. Which I did pretty well until very recently.

One was flavored with potato chips,  and another had the essence of honey. I have not hastily gobbled the other, so do not know what the third I was intended to savor has to make it wonderful. I will try to forget about that one, so it will be a surprise for later. I will also try to resist the temptation to buy the big bags of candy that will be marked down to half price after Valentine's Day is over.

and after that...

Saturday, February 11, 2017
...day that was: Filled With Opportunities. An expression heard here at my house when you feel like you have spent the day completely overwhelmed. Pushed to the limit, feeling like a firefighter, with little brush fires popping up all around. As soon as you get one under control, two more come to life. Kinda' like "Whack-a-mole" x 100.

I decided to go out in the yard and dig holes, plant some things after the recent rains. A close associate gave me a couple of really pretty hydrangea plants at Christmas (along with the Mormon holly family). When we went through Kroger, I stopped to look at them, put out as holiday gifts. They are a fairly new variety, that do not have the snowball shaped bloom, but just some white star-shaped blooms around a central nondescript core. Called 'Shooting Star'. I kept them inside, watering semi-faithfully, to enjoy the blooms as long as they were pretty. Today was the day they got put in the ground.

I put them up close to the house, where I can see them IF they bloom.They are easily visible from where I am sitting typing, looking out the big window to the north. Sadly, while I was in the process of digging, putting good home-made dirt in the hole to give them a head-start, I noticed deer tracks literally inches away. I have some hydrangeas and a few day lily plants that have been in the ground for years and Never once bloomed, due to deer browsing. I choose to think of myself as the perennial optimist, even though I know how much the deer like to eat them. Perpetually hopeful that local wildlife will find ample other food, and give those decimated, but deserving plants a chance to flower.

I am already thinking, if they do not do well where they are, I can always move them into the back yard where they might stand a chance. Even though I have seen deer hoof prints in the bare places inside the fence, that they apparently jump as if having a fun field day filled with hurdling events. I choose to be optimistic, but realism will have me relocating them if necessary to enjoy the show.

thought it would be...

... a day when I would be working in the floral department, doing prep. work for Valentine's Day. With hundreds of cash and carry roses bunches coming from the warehouse to put out on the sales floor. And dozens of plants: tulips, azaleas, hydrangeas, asiatic lily plants all in pots. But I spent most of the day cutting fruit instead.

I went to work at 6 am and got off at 3 pm. Not sure slogging away at employment qualifies as 'productive', but I think I did a decent job of keeping my head above water. The person who usually thinks she 'is the boss of me', does the majority of the prep work for the produce area has been MIA for several days. A once-a-year women's event she helps with and enjoys attending at her church has taken all her attention for several days.

There was not much of a back-up plan in place, other than thinking all of the stuff Alice does would magically, mysteriously happen in her absence. I've been mumbling and  muttering for months (if not years) the amount of work requires  two people to get everything done. Just more than one person can get accomplished in eight hours. If proof was needed, it was definitely demonstrated today: I felt swamped.

Remember that old joke about the engineers who were tasked with draining the swamp? How they encountered all these unexpected problems? Things they had not prepared for, not warned about, completely out of the realm of possibility: quicksand, cannibals, man-eating snakes, alligators. They did not falter, did some creative thinking and overcame all the myriad crises they encountered. All the while reminding each other, as they rescued team members from the enveloping sand, boiling cook pot, writhing snakes, toothy 'gators: "Drain the swamp."  "Drain the swamp."  "Drain the swamp."   I have days when I walk around saying that under my breath all day long....

I did some things I have never done before, mostly because I was reluctant to say I could not. The fruit salad turned out better than I had expected.. I told a co-worker it was not in my skill set, and the blabbermouth told the boss. He just laughed. And said: " as long as it has all the right stuff in the container, it is ok with me."  Which I took to mean: as long as someone else is doing it, it is all right with me.

can't really say....

..what was expected, but it was not what I thought would happen. I put my name in the pot to attend a dinner at church last night. It was designed to be a women only event. Apparently the planners thought a free meal would be enticing enough to bring in a crowd. I guess maybe there were a hundred people there, but do not know how many of those were organizers and how many were just curious. I went thinking I would be fed and entertained, so you can count me among the curious.

It was designed to help people who are not connected meet members, and hear about opportunities to volunteer with various ministries within the body. I am about as involved as I care to be, with the little under-the-radar jobs I do when it fits into my schedule. I've been the person who goes to Sam's Club once a week to shop. Purchasing coffee makings, or office supplies, or cleaning goods for the janitorial workers.

Along with the occasional random buy of something that catches my eye: like the biggest container of Tide laundry detergent I have ever seen, to take to TN. Or the strongest smelling dryer sheets on the planet, with enough in the package to dry your laundry 365 days a year. Or maybe a case of those little over-priced bottles of sugar-fied iced coffee from Starbucks.

Plus I am the person responsible for the basket of dirty kitchen towels mysteriously getting washed, dried, folded and back to the kitchen to be reused. They got so ratty recently, I bought more at Sam's and started throwing away the ones that were hole-y or so stained from floor mopping, coffee spills all the bleach in the world would not help.

And those pots I replanted this week: the friend with the pick up truck came and got them today. To put them out in that little patio area on the east side of the building. Where they will bloom, and look bright and cheerful to passers-by as they enter the door into the offices.

Sorry, that's about as committed as I care to get with church work. If anyone has the gumption to ask me which committee I would like to be on I have no qualms about saying: my own. I do feel like I have put in plenty of time supporting various ministries of the church, teaching SS for years, cooking meals for years, doing landscape work, women's and youth programs.  The committee of me!

a small foot...

Thursday, February 9, 2017
... note of historical interest. In reference to a former resident of Columbus, GA. The town is the birthplace of Carson McCullars, a southern writer of note. This year is the 100th anniversary of her birth, so we are celebrating all things literary. I don't know much about her other than her childhood home is owned by the university here, and occasionally will host writing workshops and speakers. At least one of her books was made into a movie some years ago.

I am going to a talk about McCullars at the library tonight. Apparently if you are a student of her work, you would soon conclude there was quite a  bit of dysfunction in her family. I've not read any of the books or stores, so do not know the details. There are several speakers who are scheduled to discuss McCullars during the month. Talking about various aspects of her life, the era and what it was like here, in this small sleepy burg when she was writing.

I expect some  will be people who love to dig into people's lives and leap to conclusions about family and relationships. As the art critics can do, when they claim to have discovered all manner of mysterious details and significant symbolism in  ancient works. Pieces of well known and acclaimed art that the artist surely did not ever intend to be interpreted as commentary on their personal lives or politics of the era.

two giant pots....


...that I put some growing stuff in to return to the church. There is a little area adjacent to a side door, where there are a couple of metal tables with chairs for outdoor sitting in pleasant weather. It is on the east side of the building, so unless it is blistering hot, it is shady in the afternoons. Making the area a nice place to sit and visit, share a glass of tea or cup of coffee in the late afternoon.

I had friend with a truck pick the pots up and bring them to my house several weeks ago. The rosemary bushes, one of the hardiest, toughest, most resilient things I know - died last summer. Probably due to extreme drought, since there was no one taking responsibility for doing the mimimal care necessary.  If a super durable rosemary plant could not survive the heat and lack of moisture last summer, its a wonder any of us did!

The pots were pitiful, with dead rosemary, sans leaves sitting there in the corner of the little patio area. I decided to take matters into  my own hands. With a little research, decided to look for a shrub that I think might do well in the planters that are about 24 inches across and maybe two feet in depth. I went to a local nursery to ask about the shrubs, and surprised to find them available, for a reasonable price. So I have two Virginia sweet spire planted in the two containers.

I wanted something that would be upright, so I could put other things in the pots around the edge. Thinking that I would periodically add some seasonal color with a variety of annuals as the weather changes. I found some dianthus, with several plants in each pot, and have divided them up to tuck a few in around each of the sweet spire plants. As well as some bulb plants, donated by a friend who dug them up from her yard. I hope they are daffodils and will bloom in the next couple of weeks.

Called my friend with the truck to say they are ready to go back when he wants to come and load them up. They have been sitting on the driveway (it's a wonder I have not hit them yet!), so got a good watering when it rained recently. I am hopeful to remember to keep them watered and swap out seasonal bloomers over the months so there will always be some colorful blooms in the containers.

about that demonstration...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

...of the 'enviroscape' I somehow accidentally volunteered to do for the third grade of an elementary school. The teacher had called the county agent, to ask if someone could come to the school and talk to the students about pollution and environment. No one seemed to be interested in doing that, so after some degree of pondering, I thought to myself: Surely I am smarter than a third grader, so yes, I guess I can do it. It was not much complicated, I just needed enough information to be sure I could answer questions. Of which there were very few: mostly just wanting to share stories.

I spent several hours viewing you-tubes and video demonstrations of the kit that came from the Extension Office. In a big rolling bin, with a plastic 3-D landscape, little houses, vehicles, animals to show a variety of different situations where a number of substances can create bad stuff in the water.  When it 'rains' (water misting bottle) after you sprinkle the bad stuff around, you see all the things washing into the ditches, waterways and realize it doesn't just disappear.

There are a variety of 'contaminants' used to show how different things can turn into pollution. All perfectly harmless - mostly colored sugar sprinkles, as used to decorate Christmas cookies. Lots of different types to represent pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, animal waste, soil erosion, oil and petroleum products, litter from human indifference. Cocoa powder to represent sludge from waste water treatment plants when heavy rains cause overflows. Paper shreds to show how stuff you toss out the car window does not really vanish.

I started off by asking what they knew about food chain, and water cycle. I guess I was a bit too optimistic about the baseline, as there was not much response. They either had no knowledge from science classes or were reluctant to volunteer - not much to share in the way of facts..

I was so organized. Had all my notes on file cards, so I would  not forget to say the really important stuff. I expect that the only thing they remembered long enough to go home and repeat to parents was: the water in the toilet before they use it is clean enough to drink, and every living thing poops. You can bet I heard a lot of 'ewwwhhhh' after that!

literacy tutoring...

...with the four year olds. One of which was not even remotely interested when I went to get him out of the classroom to read today. He simply said he did not want to read, or write or color, and wanted to go back to the classroom. You cannot Make Them, so I took him back.

The other one was really interested in the book. About animals and what they might really mean when they make their animal sounds. You know: moo, baa, hissss, quack. A cute and amusing book, with lots of repetition, to help the readers learn sounds, as well as identifying different animals and associating the word of the sound with that illustration. Asking us to imagine what that animal really meant when it said 'cluck' or 'neigh'.

I think this was the third week of a series of volunteers going to the school, retrieving a child from a pre-K classroom and reading a book to each little person. There is always a work sheet of some sort for them to color, draw a picture related to the material in the book, to reinforce what they have learned. Today, that little guy just was not interested. Maybe he thought they were doing something that was more fun in the classroom? If so, he did not miss much, because our session was pretty short.


Monday, February 6, 2017
...in thinking today would be an opportunity to find another sub. teaching job to add to the sadly miniscule number accomplished since mid-January. I had expected that I would be scrounging around to find a bit of work today that would get me to the half-way point towards the total needed of ten for the semester. And nearly committed myself to a position as a replacement for a kindergarten teacher when perusing the listings on Saturday night.

But something made me hesitate to follow through. When undecided, the best policy is: don't. It might have something to do with age and caution, but my thought is there will be fewer regrets if you listen to that small voice in your head that says: don't. Plus I had to work on Sunday, and put in a long day on that hard floor, so came home too tired to think.  So I did  not make any effort to see what sort of options there were to pick up a teaching job for today.

Because I need to educate myself on the Enviroscape to be able to demonstrate in a manner that will inform four classes of  nine-year-olds. Teach them about the water cycle and how they can impact and preserve the purity of the water we drink. This large three dimensional landscape in a box has been sitting in the carport for a couple of weeks, waiting for me to find the time to devote to learning how it works.

I have looked at a Youtube or two, and understand the concept. But need to review and get the specifics down, now that I am up against the wall with a looming deadline. So I will 'practice' today, have a dress rehearsal. I agreed to go to the school on Tuesday morning and have a little show and tell with third graders.

That's my project for today. Along with some routine house work: laundry, floors, etc.

millenium gate...

Sunday, February 5, 2017

.. is actually a museum. A beautiful stone arch in the middle of the Atlantic Station development, housing a history of the state as well as quite a bit of information about the founders, early entrepreneurs of the city. It was like a Cliffs Notes version of Georgia history. Comprehensive, but condensed into a small space, starting with the native peoples who were here before the European invasion.

A good bit of the space inside the arch was devoted to telling the stories of many of the families who were original settlers in the city. People who came in as traveling salesmen, with their goods in wagons, likely bartering and trading more than receiving cash payments. Gradually accumulating financial stability to open shops and stores in small settlements in the area. Becoming the earliest merchants, building homes, growing families and providing all the accompanying establishments needed as their communities grew. Schools, churches, post office, livery, railroads and other industries to meet the needs of the villages as they grew and spread. Interesting note: many of the street and place names date from the earliest European inhabitants who built homes and businesses, where there were fords to cross creeks and rivers: Howell's Mill, Pace's Ferry.

Including, after the devastating fire in the 1860's destroyed stores, factories and warehouses that were  providing supplies for the Army, the Atlanta Foundry. The foundry was rebuilt and expanded to become Atlantic Steel Industries. After the business closed, and the site was sitting unused, it was purchased by a group of investors, who spent millions to clean it up enough to meet federal EPA demands before redevelopment. The area is now the multi-use development of Atlantic Station with hundreds of homes, eateries and retails stores, spread out across the acres where a steel manufacturing business once thrived.

In talking to the guy, Michael, who let us in, we found there is event space available for rent. I think he said he was the business manager, a recent graduate from GA Tech. He would not allow us up in the arch, where the party space is located, due to some (secret) special event prep. going on. This place has been on my bucket list since I first noticed it a couple of years ago. It sits in a beautifully landscaped park in the median, with traffic whizzing around all day and night. Located right in the middle of the street, one of those things you could drive by daily and never really notice: certainly not realizing it houses some fascinating history and family artifacts from centuries past.

A nifty little hidden gem, right there in the middle of the commercial/residential development. Well worth the price of admission. Glad I went, and since I could not take it all in, expect I will go back again.

thought-full quote...

Saturday, February 4, 2017
...from a most unlikely source. I was in a business office, speaking to an employee and read this posted on her wall. It was so well-worded, succinct, and useful if you take it to heart. I asked if I might have a copy. It's the sort of thing you find in some small publication, tiny book of inspirational messages designed to motivate you to 'reach higher than your grasp'.

When I got home and looked at it again, I was quite surprised to discover the source, written in small type at the end of the larger-font message. If you are familiar with American culture, it would seem most unlikely this individual would have something so thought-y and profound to say about life circumstances. Reminding us there is usually much more to a person than appearance, and to judge someone on sight, what you see on the surface, is always a mistake. We do not know the circumstances, back story or goals of anyone on first introduction. Therefore, misjudgments will easily cause us to jump to inappropriate conclusions if we take others at face value, making assumptions based on initial impressions.

"I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they're right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together." 

I am not 100% in agreement with all the above. It seems to be my nature to trust people. Meaning I am hopeful to never immediately assume the worst - choosing to not think the planet's population basically dishonest, grifters from the get-go. But there is a lot of truth in the quote. Much of it is spot-on accurate, though only fully understood in retrospect.

There is another quote, though I cannot relate verbatim, that has been hanging around in my brain for years. I read it in a book by Tony Hillerman, when I was so fascinated with his characters I consumed everything he wrote . Something like: 'If you think things happen at random, you are looking at life from the wrong perspective.'

The above quote (in bold print) is from Marilyn Monroe.


Friday, February 3, 2017
...is what I have today. I found a position for going to substitute teach in a kindergarten classroom, but it is only for a half day. It would be nice to believe I will get 'credit' for a whole day, but expect it will only add up to 4 1/2 towards the minimum of ten. Not so much a concern that the pay for the effort will amount to less that what is granted for eight hours in the classroom. I'd almost rather not get the funds, and be granted an acknowledgement it is a full day of work, inching closer to the goal.

I don't have to be there until noon, which is unusual. Most of the half day positions will have the replacement on the job early in the day, and leaving at twelve o'clock. But this one is twelve to three. With only three hours of being on the premises, no hope of it qualifying as an entire day towards ten. Hopefully I will find something I can tolerate on Monday, inching closer to getting this monkey off my back.

he did it again...

...making me think the (now adult) children are not the only ones who are convinced you can walk in the back yard and pick more fresh off the tree. If your funds run low, just go get more at the ATM, right? Out of money? Step out the door and harvest another crop.

I am beginning to think that they might have absorbed that 'let's just go pick more' lesson from the Man Who Lives Here. He is such a consummate worry-wart there is no need to ask if he has concerns about finances - he never runs out of something to fret about. Personally, I confess to being a little towards the 'Pollyanna' end of the scale (or maybe 'Scarlett' would be more apropos) but there is no doubt the Man Who Lives Here can dream up new things to add to his list of fret-worthy items.

He knew before the end of the year he was in need of a set of tires for his over-large gas-hog vehicle. Had mentioned he would be in the market for tires, plus brakes, as the light on the dash was often coming on to alert about a problem with braking system. We had lots of rain early in the year, so I asked: have you made a tire purchase? He confessed to dragging his feet on the matter. I suggested he should do some pricing, what the younger generation calls 'research' (though they do it on the Internet, and us geezers tend to drive all over town for comparisons.)

I was insistent he should talk to the man at the tire store where I get oil changes and the like. He agreed and did, got an estimate, but then went to the store owned by a man he likes to think of as 'good friend', and asked if they would match that remarkably good price. They agreed, and he bought his tires at the price my tire guy offered. Instead of buying from my tire guy, who obviously really wanted his business. If he had not had that price for comparison, I expect he would have paid several hundred dollars more.

So, now he decided to get the brake work done. And went to the dealership to have computer diagnostics/evaluation. He reported they said it would take five hundred dollars to get the problem resolved, and ordered a replacement part. When I heard this story I said: you should price it around, now that you know what the problem is. He replied: 'no, I've already paid for the part'. I suggested that 'yes he could' if he would get what he had purchased and take it someplace else to have it installed, thus avoiding a $60 an hour labor fee.

But what do I know? Apparently, nothing. It's done. He admitted back in the fall when he started talking about needing to invest funds in his vehicle the money was in hand, he just did not want to spend it. Then said he was thinking about buying another van, instead of spending a little on the one that is already paid for. What do I know? Apparently, a minuscule amount, as he is still driving he vehicle that is paid for, instead of trading like he planned....

wondering if...

Wednesday, February 1, 2017
.. it.is possible for a person to volunteer her tail off? If so, I came pretty close today, but I just looked to be sure, and find that my backside is still right where it was this morning. I went to work at 5:00 a.m., to get the three hours I gave up yesterday. Tuesday was a day when there were various opportunities on my calendar, things I had agreed to when I thought I would only be working one day a week for the entire month. Three time/hours were there for the taking, so I took it. Went in again early today to get that extra time on  my paycheck.

Left work at 8:30, to go to the elementary school to read the 'Silly Sally' book with a couple of four year olds. And then went back home. To meet with the man who supervises the landscaping at the golf course across the street. Talking about some thoughts I had for adding some perennials and colorful blooms to the area around the sign, by the entrance. He will get some of his 'free labor' (prison trustees) to trim some of the overgrown shrubbery back. I will put out the word and round up some plants people are ready to divide and relocate them in the bed around the sign.

Met a friend for lunch and laughs. Then I went to Sam's Club to do the shoppping for weekly church needs, delivered and had a quick visit with an amusing friend on staff.  Sounds like a busy day, huh? I came home and took a nap!

Went back downtown to the Girl Scout office for a Gold Awards introduction/training.  There were eight teens there, high-school-aged girls there who are thinking they might want to pursue higher awards. Ready to know how to start the process and what to do. I thought it was very interesting, informative. Not enough for me to wish I was fifteen again, but helpful for knowing how the program works. I hope those young people will want to make time in their busy lives and put forth the effort to invest in this program. Pretty impressive when they do achieve, reach that goal.

So: literacy tutor, church shopper, Girl Scout volunteer. Busy day.