Snow Day – Ice Day prep

We had an inkling that a day off might be in the works. Toward the end of the school day, we saw an email from downtown – the Powers That Be had cancelled all after school and evening events, and the morning wellness appointments had been rescheduled. I slid a little in the parking lot; the freezing rain had begun.

By the time I saw the announcement that our local schools would close the next day, I had already prepped for the possibility of power outages. Sometimes, the two go together. Ice, power outages, kind of like chocolate chips and cookies, Romeo and Juliet, or birds of a feather. It’s not a panic situation, but we’d rather not be forced to travel the slick roads in search of eggs or bread if the trip can be avoided.

Our pantry is pretty well stocked as a general rule. A quick stop for bunny food on the way home from work, and we can feed everyone under our roof.

Blankets: if the heat goes off, we’ll need to double up on blankets. We have plenty, and at any given time most are reasonably clean. Most.

Bean bag chairs. Just kidding – sort of. Amigo has several. Bean bag chairs plus blankets equal a cozy corner for relaxing and keeping warm.

Firewood: Bring in a good stack of dry or relatively dry wood. If the heat is off, we’ll huddle up in the den near the fireplace with bean bag chairs and blankets.

Charge everything that needs a charge. That’s probably the biggest challenge on the list. If I can’t plug anything in during or after a storm, I need to be ready to keep the major tools of life charged. To give you an idea, here’s a list.

  • Smart phones – three
  • Kindle
  • Laptop
  • FitBit (it keeps my vibrating alarm on time!)
  • Is that all? No, but those are the high priority items.

I don’t have a battery operated coffee maker. If we lived in a place where power outages were more common, I’d probably get one. A generator for the freezers would be useful, too. Our two chest freezers are full of vegetables from last summer and meat purchased on sale and a full stock of soup broths (haha). In a short outage, we just leave the freezers closed to maintain their temperatures.

So, folks, how did I spend my bonus day? Power stayed on. Heat stayed on. I relaxed on the couch, watched some HGTV and DIY (no news; after I had the closing confirmed, I didn’t want to see any more news), put a loaf of bread in the bread machine, cleaned a little, sipped my coffee, ran the dishwasher, and a whole batch of small chores. A day like this is a gift, when we’re prepared for it.

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“That’s how (blank) felt when…”

We were bowling Friday night. Picture this: a group of teachers and spouses, most dressed in their Friday Green and Gold, gathered at the local bowling alley (and Pokemon gym) for a post-holiday party. I managed to catch several Pokemon critters while we were gathering. Chuck captured a local craft beer for himself and a glass of white zinfandel for me. And then we bowled.

None of us – okay, few of us – were any good at it, so spares and strikes were exciting. It was reminiscent of the Pepsi commercials featuring Odell Beckham and some ordinary everyday folks celebrating their own achievements. Remember “This must be how Shelly felt when she won that purple bear”? I came back from a that’ll show ’em spare announcing to my team “This must be how Aaron Rodgers feels when he throws a Hail Mary!”

And it built from there.

Strike! “This must be how DaVante Adams felt when he scored that touchdown!”

Spare! and a strike to follow! “This must be how Clay Matthews felt when he caused that fumble and recovered it himself!”

Gutter ball. “This must be how Brett Favre felt when he retired – the first time.”

A missed split for a missed spare: “This must be how Odell Beckham felt when he punched a hole in the locker room wall.”

You can imagine the inspirations for these.

 

This must be how Richard Rodgers felt when he caught that Hail Mary against the Lions.

This must be how Mike McCarthy feels every time Aaron Rodgers throws a Hail Mary.

This must be how Jordy Nelson felt when he got speared in the ribs by that dirty hit.

This must be how Mason Crosby felt when he kicked off and then had to tackle the receiver.

This must be how Tom Brady felt when he got caught deflating his footballs.

Yeah, it was getting lamer than lame as the beers and the gin and tonics got tallied up and we returned our ugly shoes to the counter. In our defense, it was Friday the 13th, a full moon, and we’re teachers, for heaven’s sake!

So readers, let’s leave it at that. Play the game with me. What would you say to fill in the blanks? “That must be how (blank) felt when (blankety blank) happened.” Now put your Diet Pepsi down, and think on it. If it takes a little while, just remember that the 23rd time is the charm. Hey, it worked for Shelly.

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That’s good, That’s not so good.

  • We picked up Amigo’s prescription. That’s good.
  • My new insurance made a typo and changed his birthdate in their records. That’s not so good.
  • Let the phone calling begin. He has a state I.D., a passport, and we have a copy of his birth certificate around, if the Powers That Be get too crazy about it.
  • Amigo and I went to Fleet Farm for bunny litter (wood fuel pellets). They were on sale. That’s good.
  • Fleet Farm was out of bean bag chairs. That’s not so good.
  • We’ll wait patiently and read the Sunday ad inserts. Fleet Farm always has bean bag chairs.
  • We ran errands this morning. That was cold.
  • We’re settled on the couch now, warming up in blankets. That’s warm and cozy.
  • Chuck just brought up the storage bins for ornaments. That’s ominous; it means he’ll want us to get up and help undecorate the tree.
  • I have a new cast iron skillet! That’s good!
  • I seasoned it last night! That’s good, too!
  • I scrambled eggs in the newly seasoned skillet! That’s amazingly awesome!

Okay, now I’m clutching at straws. Look for this desperation in seeking out the positive to increase through January 20. After that, who knows?

 

 

 

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Goodbye, 2016. Hello, 2017.

“Happy” New Year? The inauguration of a horrible leader is looming. It’s not a happy start to 2017.

R.I.P. 2016 and all whom we lost during that time period. Some were elderly and ready to go. Some were *gasp* my age or close to it. How did George Michael get younger than me? Carrie Fischer was a few years older than I am, but not many. And Prince? The man seemed ageless, and his talent infinite.

Maybe we need to get used to seeing notable people die in, gulp, larger numbers. The entire Baby Boom population is in the AARP range now. Many are in and many are approaching social security age. Proportionately, the number of deaths will make sense. To our hearts and memories, those deaths strike us as significant.

Back to January 20. I’ve been sitting back and observing my activist friends. Don’t count out those progressive spirits who worked their tails off for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. They took time to mourn after November 8, and then the grass roots began growing again. There’s already a sizable citizen action co-op operating in my area. Last time I heard, there were enough people committed to demonstrating in D.C. and in Madison that coach buses were being reserved. To prepare for the demonstrations, some are making pussy hats. Search the web for knitting and crocheting patterns if you want one. Grab that, DT.

Friends and colleagues admit to having trouble speaking or even typing Donald Trump’s name. Think about Harry Potter, my friends. He Who Shall Not Be Named or You-Know-Who – by not saying his name, they gave him power. With that in mind, folks, let’s not give Baby Hands or Cheetoh-head any more power than he deserves.

Let’s call him Voldemort.

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Planting Season?

The Burpee seed catalog came a few days ago.

I decided to try an experiment I saw on Facebook.

These two are unrelated, unless you consider that fact that I am Daisy, the one who approaches new experiences and ideas with, “Hey, could I grow that?”

I haven’t opened the catalog yet, but it won’t be long. I might start with a quick inventory of seeds I already own. I reorganized my seed collection last August to make inventory easier.

The Facebook experiment came in the form of a short video. Lop off the base of a head of leafy lettuce, soak it in water for a week, and then plant it. Easy, right?

I cut off pieces from two kinds of bunny food:- romaine lettuce and green leaf lettuce. Each hunk of lettuce got dropped into a wide mouth canning jar with a few inches of water. Then, good gardener that I am, I waited. And I waited. I kept looking for roots to grow or signs of sending out shoots from the bottom. Nothing. I waited the seven days and a few more, and still saw nothing in the way of rooting material.

Chuck commented, “At least they’re not dead,” which prompted me to back off a little. Sure enough, he’d noticed new growth at the top of each lettuce head. I’d been looking at the bottom. I decided to try the next step: planting.

Small, but very green, this has potential.

I also planted a few green onions. The onions have root balls, but they’ve been sitting in the cold garage since late October. I don’t know if they’ll grow or not. With that in mind, I also planted a toothbrush.

A toothbrush?

Yes, people, I planted a toothbrush. While I monitor the scallions in the hopes that they’ll thaw and grow, I’ll also monitor a toothbrush. My sister-in-law passed it on to me, saying it was supposed to be biodegradable and would I please test it? Of course! I left a little bit sticking out so we can observe and evaluate the process. Heck, it works with tongue depressors and craft sticks.

And now, I wait. There’s a catalog to browse while I let the greens grow and the toothbrush decays.

Readers, do you plant indoors? Have you tried any of the lettuce experiments?

 

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Deal? Read the Tags. All the tags.

I’ve been considering putting a few lights in the backyard. I’m not talking about extending power to the garden patch, but just a few stakes with solar-powered lights in them. I would then be able to take out compost after dark without tripping.

I bought an inexpensive wind chime that had such a light in it, and the darn thing never worked. I guess I got what I paid for in that case.

When I saw the tiny (about 6 inches tall) canning jar facsimiles in a specialty store, I thought about getting a few.

Cute. Very cute.

I looked more closely. The adorable little mason jars with solar-powered lights inside were available at a cost of $8 each. Oh, my. That’s a little steep, considering I want several.

111Cuter up close.

Also prominently stamped on the tag: Made in China.

No, thanks. Maybe I can convince my engineer husband to rig something up using mason jars I already own. Chuck, what do you think?

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Potential Violence – Too Close to Home

It can happen anywhere. That’s the scary part.

Earlier in the day, Amigo mentioned he’d heard a news update of a suspicious package at Trump Tower in New York City. The situation cleared up shortly after that announcement. I thought to myself, “I wouldn’t want to live in a Trump property right now.”

In the early evening hours, as I was texting with my sister-in-law, I saw an update come up on Facebook. It was from a teacher friend.

Scare at the mall. Got a call from daughter that everyone was to evacuate and police are there. Anyone know what’s going on?

Over the next hour, we learned that police had been called to the mile-long shopping center we locals call The Mall. Stories varied: evacuation, shelter in place, welfare check, possible suicide attempt. One, two, or even three people with weapons, thought to be guns.

It seemed each and every news outlet had a statement. Limited statements, of course, were released because there wasn’t a lot of official information. I thought to myself, “As teachers, we train for incidents like this, but danger can happen anywhere.”

I’ve trained in Non Violent Crisis Intervention. I’ve intervened in fist fights between kids bigger than I am. I’ve taken what we call “ALICE” Training – Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. In terms of a large place like a mall, with crowds of individuals and strangers, it’s a whole different situation.

A woman who had been in the mall’s food court mentioned two groups of young people arguing and flashing “signs” at each other. She moved her young children away from that area, and soon afterward heard an emergency announcement. Gang fight? I thought to myself, “I know we have gangs in our city. I’ve worked closely enough with our liaison officers to know they’re here.”

Another statement came out – rumor? Maybe? – that two people were in custody, and police were looking for a third. And then we heard that police were seeking a man who might have had a gun and might have been headed for the mall. That individual was not found, or wasn’t at the mall to begin with. I thought to myself, “A crowded public place, seeking an individual who may or may not be dangerous, and in the meantime hundreds of folks are scared to pieces.”

Eventually, my friend posted in large font that her daughter had been evacuated and was on the way home. It’s a relief to her, to her family, and to all of us who fear the growing violence in our world getting all too close to home.

I’m not a mall shopper. I’d rather browse the clearance racks at a local department store that doesn’t anchor a mall. I’d rather support our downtown’s small businesses. I’d rather shop vintage and even thrift stores. And now? I’m even less likely to head to our local mall.

I fear – well, I’m less fearful about the random shooter style violence and more fearful that nervous people will take the law into their own hands. I fear that folks who celebrated the passage of a state concealed carry law will carry weapons with them when they go shopping. I fear that those carrying guns will cause more violence rather than prevent it.

I’ll pick up a newspaper tomorrow morning, but the most important news came over Facebook minutes ago. My friend’s daughter arrived safely at home.

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It’s all in the fortune cookies.

Chuck is a tolerant sort. He knows I have trouble throwing away the fortunes from the cookies that come with Chinese take-out food. When I cleaned out my work desk last spring, I found two (only two!) in my main desk drawer. A few days ago, we ordered Chinese for lunch at work. As we gathered together away from our desks, we shared both the humorous and the thoughtful on the little slips of paper in the cookies.

Mine.

Mine.

I might have more faith in it if there were more than two weeks left in the current year.

2016 has definitely been a roller coaster. The apocalypse of November 8 was a highlight, er, lowlight on the calendar.

Now, to the future. 2017 has the potential to bring to reality all the fears of 2016. The question: how can I resist the negative? Where are the best opportunities for activism, opportunities that will have an impact?

Meanwhile, I’ll settle for a photo of this fortune. I don’t need to keep it any longer. In two weeks, it’ll be history.

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Busy, Busy, Busy!

I haven’t posted lately because we’ve been – yep, you guessed it – very busy. Let’s skim the high points.

Chuck has a new job! He’s no longer making sure the news gets on the air. He is no longer driving and running and repairing live trucks and satellite trucks. He is now installing electrical components in brand new fire trucks. He’s been training for a week now, and it looks like this job is a fabulous fit for him. His official title is Electrician, Fire Truck Division.

Maybe he’ll actually enjoy the NFL playoffs this year instead of huddling in a corner crying out “No, no, don’t send me on the road again!”  

In other news, it’s Christmas concert season for Amigo and the barbershop chorus! He’s already sung in two shows in two weeks, and the third comes up in a few days. He looks very festive in his elf costume, and his sense of humor keeps rehearsals light.

For example, consider the following. Dress rehearsal at the restaurant that will host the Barbershop Bistro. Risers are set up, guys are in place, lights are adjusted. Director scans the chorus and asks, “Is there anyone who can’t see me?” Think on this for a minute.

Amigo, he of the white cane club, gleefully raised his hand. The chorus members were beside themselves with laughter. When I picked him up two hours later, the guys were still chuckling. He livens up a party, all right, my Amigo.

My holiday shopping spreadsheet is in place, and I’m filling in the blanks. Wrappings and trimmings and trappings are organized and ready for use. The Christmas music CD collection is accessible – those albums not on my desk at work, that is.

The O.K. Chorale is settled in for the remainder of December. The blog might even reflect that – when I have time.

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Action

In the words of others, it sounds easy.

It’s time to turn our anger into action.

Take one action each day. Write a letter. Send a postcard. Make a phone call. This friend posts her “One Thing” on Facebook and shares opportunities for others to join her in staying active. One Thing.

Speak up when you can, Show up where you can, and Stand up with whomever shares your values. This activist friend used this, her new motto, as the heading in her email. The email continued with an upcoming event at which she hopes many will show up, stand up, and maybe even speak up.

From The Art of Non Conformity, I found this gem:

We’re not going to change the world, but you can. You are the only life you have ownership of. You are self-governing and can use whatever powers you have for good.

From a leader of our local teachers’ union came a similar thought.

I cannot go back and change history; while Act 10 and recent elections may not have resulted in our favor, I can control my mental well-being. There are plenty of attacks on public education that are trying to derail its progress and undermine its significant importance. I do not need to be one of the complainers. My goal is to initiate positive conversation and look at the glass as half full.

In the words of others, it sounds easy. Correction: when I listen to others, it reminds me that taking action isn’t easy, but it is important. No, not important: essential. I will see the glass as half full, not half empty, and stand up and speak up to keep the contents of that fragile glass in place.

Pour me a cold one, someone, half full if you must. And then fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a very, very bumpy ride.

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