Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Snow Pics 2006

Hey that rhymes! This is a sampling of the photos we took on our walk yesterday:

The house in all its snowy beauty. I have to keep reminding myself that rhodies are from the Himalayas so they can probably handle this chill.

The shrubbery in our front yard was practically buried! Hee! Hee! I said "shrubbery"! Perhaps Roger the Shurbber will appear.

This tree branch is determined NOT to give in. Never submit! Never surrender!

This is the reason I declined to drive my ultra-light, two-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, soft-top car out the last few days. The dark bits represent about an inch of ice over the road. It is tough even to walk across these stretches.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snow and Also ICE!

Wow! I think perhaps Jack Frost was listening when my kids wrote persuasive letters begging for snow. We got snow in a big (for us anyway) way. Accumulations varied from a dusting to six and seven inches. We are a bit up above sea level, so we were on the more end of things. However, it was not just the snow that cancelled school today. When we went to bed last night it was snowing beautifully. When we got up this morning it was one big sheet of ice. The highest temp. around here today was only about 28 degrees, so even though it was beautiful and sunny, not much had the chance to melt.

They decided to cancel school for tomorrow at about 5pm today. This is unheard of because officials for our district usually wait for the absolute last moment always hoping for some sort of miraculous heat wave. Even they could see the ice in the streets today. We will pay for this in June when we have to make up the days, but I can't help enjoying the novelty and the time off.

I refuse to set foot in a car (my car is pretty much the worst ice vehicle out there) but many people are happily flying around on the ice. These people are stupid (I've done a fair amount of snow and ice driving so I feel I can say that). The road outside our house is literally an untreated sheet of ice, and yet many different types of cars are just zooming along out there. The news is littered with footage of people spinning out, hitting each other, or just sliding out of control. Snow tires (not to be confused with chains, studs, or ice tires) are not very helpful on ice. Many all-wheel/four wheel drive people are surprised when they slide off the road, but they don't help much if none of your tires have traction. There is no substitution for going slow. If you just don't build up the speed you don't have to find a way (or a wall) to brake it later.

Pics to follow (I hope)

Monday, November 27, 2006

No Snow Day

The disappointment is as bitter as the weather here at school. The kids (and I) were teased by cold temperatures and snow falling thickly yesterday. Many of us thought that we would get at least a late start and maybe even another day off. Come 6am the truth came out that it had not snowed past about 10pm, and the roads were clear. School was on as usual. Now the temperature is hovering around freezing, the predictions are for more snow (60% chance the last time I looked), and all eyes are turned towards the windows. If youthful prayers and wishes have any power the snow will be falling any moment now. Personally I'm all for snow, but I would prefer if it would hold off until I get home because I already had on harrowing drive this morning.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hooray for Vacation!

I love my job, but I love vacation too. As soon as that bell rang on Wednesday I was as happy as the kids. The benefits of sleeping in, doing exactly as you please, and taking it slow cannot be overstated. Yesterday we slept late, went to the gym, browsed around a bookstore, and then went to dinner and a movie with friends. That has got to be one of the nicer ways to spend a day. Tomorrow, of course, is the last day of this four day weekend, and that is sad. However, it is only a few weeks until Christmas :)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thinking of Thanksgiving

Today in school everyone is feeling pretty antsy and excited about the upcoming holiday. In an attempt to salvage some of their attention, and to honor the holiday itself, I asked the kids to do a writing activity about thankfulness. They were to write a list of 100 things they were thankful for in no particular order. I showed my own list as an example, and I reminded them to be creative and think of all five senses. I also encouraged them not just to include the obvious entries like friends and family, but to also think about the small things that make life good. We agreed to try and think about the "nooks and crannies" of daily life as well as the other stuff. Here is a sampling of my list:

1. Soft white snow
2. Red leaves in autumn
3. Sunday newspapers
4. Music
5. Flannel PJ's
6. Great books
7. All kinds of pie
8. A good job
9. Disneyland
10. Thai food
11. Mt. Rainier
12. The library
13. Tea!
14. Vacations
15. Raspberries
16. The smell of fresh-cut grass
17. The beach
18. Camping
19. Jeans and tennies
20 Family and friends

Monday, November 20, 2006

Screaming For Power

Last week our area experienced high winds and lots and lots of rain. Rivers were rising over their banks, debris was being blown around, and many trees were toppling over. We were lucky to be up high, so the water was not too much of a problem, but the wind still managed to make things interesting. A tree fell over in our front parking lot hitting four cars (though luckily not doing much damage), and the power was switching on and off all day.

Middle School students absolutely love change from the normal routine. In fact, any kind of unexpected change usually sends them into a screaming, giggling, jabbering fit. The power situation was certainly no exception. The first time the power went out I was in the hall before classes. The moment it went dark I was surrounded by the sound of 930 children screaming at the tops of their lungs. A few minutes later the lights came back on, and there was a collective sigh.

Once classes started I carefully explained to my students that power outages are actually bad things for them because we don't get first priority on going home. A massive outage can cause schools to be closed, but since share our busses with three elementary schools we do not get to go straight home. Imagine that the school day is canceled due to an outage at 9:30am, it takes about two hours to get the little kids home, and another hour to get all the busses back and loaded. This means the earliest pick up would be around 12:30pm. We would get to sit in the dark, getting colder and colder, for THREE HOURS with NO LUNCH other than PB and J. I explained all this to them, and they agreed that it sounded not fun.

A few minutes later the power went out again and, you guessed it, they all screamed their heads off. Logic is not always their strong suit. The power came back on again a few minutes later. You begin to see the pattern. Very little work actually got done that day, but still no one got to go home early. If the power is going to go out again, I would really prefer it go at night so they can cancel school BEFORE everyone arrives. I'm not sure my ears can take another day like that one.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I Love NY (but it smells)

Whew! We're back from a whirlwind trip to the East Coast! We packed as much as possible into four short days, but I still feel like I've only seen a tiny portion of it all. There is just so much to see on that one tiny island (we never left Manhattan). I feel like I spent the entire trip looking up at things with my mouth hanging open. We saw:

1. Times Square (all nice and sparkly)
2. Statue of Liberty (smaller than expected but still beautiful)
3. The subway (smelly)
4. Grand Central Station (incredible ceiling they have there)
5. The NYC public library (it makes you want to weep for joy)
6. The subway (very smelly at times)
7. Central Park (wonderful)
8. Canal Street (many things to buy but no room in my luggage)
9. The Farris Wheel at Toys 'R' Us (how fabulous is that?)
10. The subway (not only smelly, but also full of very glum-looking people)

We did not get to go to the Russian Tea Room or a Broadway show or to the Metropolitan Museum of Art or a number of other things, so we certainly need to go back sometime. Next time we will ride the subway SOME of the time, and we will occasionally save time by riding in an actual taxi. However, it was a great chance to get our feet wet and to hang out with the family. One more major American destination to check off the list!

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I hestitate to be completely delighted about the election just yet. Once everything is signed, sealed, and delivered I will believe that we've made a sweep, and we can break out the irrational exuberance. My friend T sent my this perfectly marvelous comic. I haven't enjoyed a comic so much in about six years:

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Political Success?

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (John 1:5)

Thank goodness for the fact that the light has indeed begun to shine in the political darkness. We may not have made a sweep of the whole thing, but the situation is definitely improved. The jury is still out on the senate, but no matter which way it falls, it will be much more difficult for Republicans to simply ram their agenda home. Whether Bush really is comprending it not is now up for debate since Rumsfeld has resigned, but it will take some time before we really see how he responds to the change.

Races in the final two states are still undecided, but both counts had slight leaning in the left direction the last time I looked. Oh please! Oh please! Oh please! Retaking both the house and the senate would go far to lightening my political mood, and it's been crummy for SUCH a long time now.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Election Day Tomorrow

Oh please! Oh please! Oh please! I may be an atheist, but I'm still offering a heartfelt prayer to any gods who may be listening! Election Day is tomorrow, and I will most certainly be heading over to the voting booth as soon as school gets out. I'm just hoping that about 100 million other Democrats decide to do the same thing. Winning back the house would be great, but winning house and senate would be fantastic. Of course there are other possible outcomes too, but they don't bear thinking about. As R likes to say the Democrats do have a knack for snatching defeat from jaws of victory. Oh please! Oh please! Oh please!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sad :(

My poor old dog died on Friday. We took her to the vet becuase of a persistant cough, but the vet took an x-ray and found things to be not good. We wondered if we might be able to wait a bit since she still seemed to have happy moments, but the vet said she was probably having a lot of trouble breathing. "Labs have a big heart. They try really hard to stay cheerful, but life can't be very nice for her anymore." Above all we didn't want her to be suffering for no reason. They let us stay with her the whole time, and I was feeding her cookies as they did their work. She went so quickly quickly that she never got to finish the last cookie. I'd had her since I was sixteen. She was a great dog, and she did have that big lab heart.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Playing With Pumpkins

Pumpkins are one of those things that make me feel great about fall. Somehow they manage to convey this feeling of cheerful warmth that really makes this idea of fall (and the end of summer) an acceptable thing. Back when I was a college student my route home used to take me past a huge field of pumpkins being grown for a Mrs. Smiths Pie plant nearby. It was always quite a sight just before they were picked.

Now we have to go to Fred Meyer instead of the back yard or the farm stand, but at least we still get the pumpkins. This year M and I went and selected several good ones. Choosing a good carving pumpkin is not a task to be taken lightly. Color, skin texture, flat spots, grooving, stem, and heft are all parts of the selection process. Plus, you have to make certain that the pumpkin actually sits flat on the ground and doesn't flop over. Some people prefer the more oblong shapes because they are more head-like, but I always go for the classic squat ones becuase they look the most traditional. Having a nice curling stem is definitely a bonus.

Once we'd chosen our bunch we took them home for carving. The nieces were kind enough to join us for this task, so it was one pumpkin per person with Grandma L there for moral support (I think Grandma L has already had her lifetime supply of pumpkin guts, so she was quite happy not to have her own).

First we cleanded; then we carved. Little niece informed me (with a serious gleam in her eye) that cleaning is fun "because of the squiiiiiish." She needed a little help with cutting the top open (that does take muscle on a big pumpkin) but then she was off and away. Big niece used the BIG knife to cut hers open all by herself (thank you very much) and she actually did a great job. One of the nice things about her is that she is safety obsessed, so you don't have to worry quite as much.

Carving was a good time too, and everyone approached the task a little differently. M had purchased a pumpkin carving kit, so he and the nieces had all sorts of interesting tools to work with. I stuck with the paring knife for mine. Over all the results were quite good. M created a work of squash art while the rest of us made silly faces. A good time was had by all.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

R is a god

I hit up all my flexibly scheduled friends to help with the essay grading party at school. R was the only one who was available, so he joined me and seven other teachers at the grading table. Firsts he went through the fun of a background check, and then he had to get up early, struggle through traffic, and find a parking place near our crowded campus. Finally, he helped us grade 307 essays TWICE. Don't forget that these were essays written by a bunch pre-teens, so they were sometimes a challenge to read or understand. Like I said, R is a god. We will reward him with birthday cake.