Day 27 – Slice of Life Challenge – And so it begins

The e-mails were flying today, and the conversations with teachers was a bit on edge. Tomorrow it starts for our school and everyone is unsettled.

The spring state tests are what starts. imgres.jpg

I work part time in a k-5 inter city school. My job is to do the prep work for the test – set up the computer sections, scheduling, running the computers, tracking who takes what test and reporting back to the district and state and solving problems what ever they are. I also see my job as helping to keep people calm and settled around this time of year.

There is the worry about the students, their ability to perform well on these tests, there is the budget cuts and job changes and the regular exhaustion that hits everyone right now. Teachers are worried – the political climate is not helping the situation.

Today I just smiled, answered questions, tried to complete tasks so others did not have to. I also just tried to breath myself. It is easy to get caught up in the high energy around testing. I know that does not help students, staff or myself.

Tomorrow I hope to walk in calm and settled. The 5th graders are taking their science test before we leave for spring break on Friday. It is one test with 2 parts. They can do this!

We will stretch, breath, say a few positive statements and then login!

Spring – the birds are singing, the plants have just a touch of green, today the air started to warm just a bit and the testing begins! images.jpg

 

 

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Day 26 – Slice of Life Challenge – Walking the Grounds

It is another wintery grey Sunday morning, it is 36 degrees (feels like 32) and wet! It rained about a half an inch during the night and the ground has thawed enough to take in this lite misty rain. Everything is wet!

I made a cup of peppermint tea, find my old clogs (I am to cheap to buy the glorious garden boots I have been eyeing for two years) and I open the deck door and step out in to the moist, cool air. I have decided to walk the perimeter of the yard to see what might be peaking out and if I can tell what has survived the winter.

back yard March 26.JPGThe yard and garden are full of branches that have fallen from the neighbors tree. They are green with moss, bark crumbling off in places and chewed on by the local critter population, which is large this spring since the winter was not harsh enough to cull the herd of rabbits and squirrels we have here in the city. (I know they are not herds but at times it feels like it from the damage they do.)

In the first sweep over the back yard I pull the larger branches off of bushes and gather some of the mess into a pile to collect later. I need the whole area to dry out a bit.

The second walk is to follow the activity at ground level. The chives are up about an inch, the columbine swirl of leaves are also up. There is a sign of a few tulip leaves but they have already been eaten by the rabbits. The rhubarb nubs sit ready to break the ground once the air warms and the sun is out for more that a few minutes each day. The creeping charlie is doing great crawling in under the fence all around the yard. (Darn it!)

There are holes everywhere. The squirrels must be seeking nuts they buried last fall and truly can’t find them. It is clear the wild animals have had a winter of fun in the yard. The smaller bushes are eaten to the ground. Many of the low branches have been striped of bark leaving the wood bare and open for winter kill and all the climbing vines have been chewed through leaving the upper branches swinging with the string trellis in the breeze.

I am a bit saddened by the early spring destruction but I realize a lot of these plants have a strong root system and will grow back. It will take time but they are not totally lost. There are a few that I am really worried about – the Smoke Bush has taken a larger hit this year and will need to be trimmed way back. The raspberry canes do not look good and several are completely missing. Not sure what happened there.

The front yard bulbs are all fenced so I have hope that the spring display will at least have a show there.

Then there is a lilac bush that lost a large branch. It was hidden behind the old fort so it Lilac branches.JPGwent unnoticed until now. I pulled that branch free and dragged it up to my pile of sticks. Most of the buds had been eaten by the rabbits but there were a few that were above their reach. Those branches I have cut and brought into the house hoping to force them into an early bloom. I am determined to save what I can. Time will tell if we are able to get them to bloom.

It is early spring – my clogs are now by the deck door, wet and muddy, there are branches on the dinning room table, I have seeds everywhere ready for planting and my husband is just shaking his head at my mess. (It’s ok really, he will tolerate my spring mess in exchange for the summer veggies and the winter salsa from the freezer.)  Now I just need it to dry out a bit and warm up.

Gardening in the wet 30’s is not as much fun as you would think!

 

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Day 25 – Slice of Life Challenge – Tender moments in the woods

It is 40 degrees this morning with deep grey clouds. They were either lingering from last night rain or getting ready to unload another round of moisture on the cold wet ground. I am standing just outside the Maple house at the U of M Arboretum. I am meeting my daughter’s third grade classroom who have come to learn about tapping trees, making syrup and the Native American history around this activity.

It is a group of high poverty, high behavior issues and mainly boys. They tumble out of the bus loud and excited (even though she took a few minutes to quiet them down before leaving the bus). They are energized at the woods, the buildings and even more animated when they see me standing there. I have not been in their room as much this year but enough that they are thrilled I have joined them. There are hugs all around and then we all work to settle them so we can be on our way to our first activity.

My role is to help wherever I can – keeping boys mainly in line (which means off the rocks, out from under fences and out of the melting gardens). They had three short classes to participate in.

  • The first was to see the lines that run out of the woods and into the Maple house where the sap is being cooked down to syrup. They tasted the fresh sap, they learned about how much water and sugar is in the sap. They saw the syrup being tested for sugar content and tasted both fresh maple syrup and the syrup they might get at the store that is not really Maple syrup at all.
  • They then had a class on the history of sugaring – from Native traditions to pioneers, to how it is currently being done. maple house 2.jpg
  • Their last class was a march to the woods to identify a tree – a maple (not an oak), be sure if it was tapped before they find the right place to tap this year and then to drill a hole and hang a bag on the tree to let it fill.

Excited beyond belief!

During this time I was running – picking up the pieces of behavior that were bursting out of students that just find it hard to track, sit still and listen. Yes, we were tired by the time they finished their lunch and crawled back on the bus but as I waved good by and walked through the frozen gardens one more time here is what I thought :

  • There was the moment that the mouthy boy with the nosebleed looking into my eyes grateful for the help, grateful for the ice I retrieved to settle his nosebleed and the smile he gave he the rest of the morning – even when I told him to get off the rocks.
  • There was the smile and amazing grin on the Somali girl’s face when I showed her how to use the odd hand drier in the bathroom.
  • There was the trouble maker who stood beside me in a time out, kicking dead leaves and sticks. When I asked if he had gotten to use the drill he angrily said no that was the problem. I suggested he take my hand and walk with me calmly. He did, we walked hand in hand and got at the back of the line. I eyed and nodded to his teacher – we moved quietly and slowly up the line and yes he got to help drill a hole in the tree and remove the drill. Life was good again.
  • There were the girls with their I-pod trying to take pictures that I needed to keep moving along that were a bit sassy but were very happy when I help them get unstuck from the thorn bush they walked into.
  • There was the wild boy who had tried to climbed tables, tried to throw his lunch grapes across the room and dragged behind all morning but as we lined up to walk to the bus he leaned against me, looked up with a smile and said, “I am so glad you were here.”maple house.JPG

 

And so was I!

 

 

 

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Day 24 – Slice of Life Challenge – Walking

Ok, I have to admit that my walking chops are down. The winter has kept us from the long lake walks, the long walked to the local restaurants and the hikes in the woods. We have ventured out a bit when ever ice was gone and when the wind has not been below zero. We have done some walking in the shopping mall just to keep moving on those cold days. ( I hate walking inside – just so you know.)

So today I realized I am out of shape but also that I can push myself and get back to those days of long walks.

I started the day running around a school getting ready for testing that will begin next week. Left there and drove to the Arboretum to meet a group of third graders at the Maple House. Lots of running kids to the bathroom, in and out of the woods and a long walk down to the education center to say hi to a friend. From there I drove home to find a note that said I am at the local coffee shop – walk over and we can walk home together.

So off I went to join him. From there we decided to walk over to a favorite bar for a quick drink and bite to eat and then walk home. On the way home I realized I was feeling a bit tired and starting to drag but on we went. I got this!

Finally sitting on the couch at home feet up and a nice tall glass of water I checked the Fit Bit – I reached the daily goal of 10,000 steps plus today.  I did 6.9 miles of walking. That means 15,982 steps. Not bad for a Friday in March!

There is hope that I will get my walking legs back for the summer! My all time best was walking 22 miles in a day but that was a few years ago. I have a ways to go but I have started! Yeah for spring walking!

 

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Day 23 – Slice of Life Challenge – Families, eating, chatting and books

Families, eating, chatting and books – Long ago when we were a young family I thought about how I wanted my children to be readers, how I loved the idea of sitting and talking with my children about books, the world and their life.

It all seemed like a impossible dream. We were always on the run as young families are. There was always work to be done or a place someone had to be. As they got older they were just gone – off into the world of friends, jobs and who knows what (I was sometimes afraid to ask.)

There were also those years when we just couldn’t agree on anything. It appeared we lived in very different worlds. I recall saying once to my daughter – “really I don’t want to spend the rest of our lives arguing with each other.”  She in her all knowing way at the age of 17 told me it is just want we need to do in order to separate from each other and for her to become an adult.  Well, ok then! – What do you say back to that?

FAmily.JPGNow it is many years later and last night a three of us met at a local bar and restaurant. (we were missing Pete, his partner and Missy’s partner.)  We ordered dinner, drinks and settled back into a wonderful evening of conversation. We reviewed the day. She teaches third grade in a high poverty school with high behavior needs. So a bit of processing the day is always a good idea.

But that was short and we moved on to friends, weddings, world events – the good, the bad and the ugly, and then books. She is a reader.

While sick last week she spend the day reading The Color Purple. She wondered how she had gone this long with having not read it. I shared other books I have by Alice Walker and she let me know she had bought another one on kindle that Walker had written about life and chickens. We talked about books in our book groups and which children’s books she is sharing in her classroom.

Life was good and that impossible dream was there right before my eyes. We have become that family who talks, shares and reads. We share books by way of kindle and actual books as well. We talk, we listen and we learn from each other.

As we parted ways I smiled and felt a warm glow – I headed home, downloading her chicken book and settled into reading about chickens by Alice Walker.

Life is good!chicken-chronicles1-717x1024.jpg

 


The Chicken Chronicles: A Memoir

 

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Day 22 – Slice of Life Challenge – questions and the heart

“The human heart is the first home of democracy. It is where we embrace our questions. Can we be equitable? Can we be generous? Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinions? And do we have enough resolve in our hearts to act courageously, relentlessly, without giving up–ever–trusting our fellow citizens to join with us in our determined pursuit of a living democracy?”

I believe we do —imgres.jpg

From “The Open Space of Democracy” Terry Tempest Williams

I have been playing around with fun words, quick prompts and have enjoyed every minute of it as I write my posts for this challenge. I  did however promised myself today I would  write a post with more depth. I would be thoughtful and engaged in writing to express more. I was not sure what that more was. I just needed to connect with my writing in another way.

Then this morning arrived and as I worked on my computer through out the day news flashes have popped up leaving me lost and sadden as not only our country but others struggle to over come this deep sense of hate. The fight that happens over the conflict of beliefs and ideas is so hard for me to comprehend.

I believe in democracy. I believe in listening and working to understand but the violence that follows for some I just can’t connect with. I can not believe that it will lead to any good. So I found Terry Tempest Williams statement from her 2010 book – The Open Space of Democracy. 

I hold this questions in my heart today and want to follow her thinking of yes – yes – I believe we do!

“…do we have enough resolve in our hearts to act courageously, relentlessly, without giving up–ever–trusting our fellow citizens to join with us in our determined pursuit of a living democracy?”

I send blessing and healing thoughts to all today as we once again process another attack  in the UK and the struggle for truth in our own nations capital.

images.pngLet there be Peace!

 

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Day 21 – Slice of Life Challenge – Joining the Party

I am not much of a party goer and not much of a joiner. I do love sitting with friends and chatting. I love having tea with people and learning from them. I am pushing past my party fears and joining the group over at – A Day in the Life

balloon-1991991_1280-2-3.jpg

She sent out an invite for all to join.    Leigh Anne Eck’s invitation  The request is to bring 5 things – what would you bring?

(I was reading at AliceNine.Net when I found the party. )

So here is what I am packing to bring to the party

  1. My notebook and pen since these are all teachers and writers – I am guessing there will be lots of ideas and things to learn. I will need to write it all down.
  2. Bubbly water to share – I am off the stronger stuff to drink due to medications and I am working hard to stay away from all the sugar drinks.
  3. Mary Oliver’s most recent book Upstream – there are fun nature writings to share
  4. My phone – because it has a camera – it would be great to get photos of this wild and wonderful event. (also we could order in food if we needed!)
  5. A good pair of walking shoes – It is always my hope at a good party to find a few new friends who like to take long walks and talk just to get to know each other a bit more.

 

Here are a few other who have decided to join –

THANKS Leigh Anne for the invitation.  I’m delighted to add my name to your guest list.
Jennifer at Sweet Writing Life
Diane at Newtreemom
Loralee at This and That
Denise at Dare to Care
Linda (the original partier!) at Teacher Dance

 

 

Hope to see you over at the blog party!

Joanne

 

 

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