Two weeks later . . .

I thought it was a mistake when I saw that my last post was from two weeks ago. I mean, that went by like a lightning bolt.

I still haven’t gotten around to taking pictures of the last batch of tablecloths I got during our last antique store run, so all of you who hate that sort of stuff can breathe a sight of relief. For those of you who love that sort of stuff, I promise that the pics are coming. Someday.

I now have one week of the new school year under my belt, and I’m exhausted. I’m sure the students are too, frankly. Although we had a partial block schedule in the past, this year is daily block – 4 periods of day, 1.5 hours each. So, basically, if you are sitting in a math class and you abhor math, it’s going to be a looooooong period for you. I shudder to think of having that long of a math class when I was in school. Math and I did not get along. That probably explains why I am an English teacher.

New year + new virus = lots of new routines: masks during passing time and when in close proximity to students, plexiglass on lunch tables, cleaning desks between each period, making sure you know exactly where each kid is sitting during each class period with strict seating arrangements, etc. I am a fairly relaxed teacher, so this is, well, different. I do not like the hesitation I feel with every decision, wondering if it is “Covid approved.” I do not like seeing the hesitation on the kids’ faces when they are unsure whether it’s even OK to move around the room to grab a tissue or plug in their computer. I’m trying desperately to create a normal, nonthreatening environment as possible, but it kind of feels like trying to pick strawberries with my hands ties behind my back. If I were a student, I would feel very strange if I asked a question and saw my teacher have to pull up her mask before being able to approach me and answer me. That’s the introvert in me. That is why I am trying very hard this year to make sure the introverts in my class know that while we do have some stricter rules, we do not have to sit there, muted and still.

Today will be a day of planning for the upcoming week and some relaxation. My aching back is not letting me sleep in very much these days, so I’m dragging a little. Such is life.

Stay tuned for the pics of the tablecloths. I got some good ones!

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The cicadas tell the time

I’m going to miss sitting outside in the morning with my coffee, listening to the pond. That quiet that surrounds me during those moments is crucial to my well being, I think. No other sounds can be heard except the water running from the waterfall and the fountain.

See how my fountain looks sort of wonky? Funny story.

I used to have the fountain sitting on top of a platform in the middle of the pond. It had two extension tubes at the top so it was just visible over the surface. It was lovely.

Then a new neighbor dog decided that my pond was going to be his personal swimming pool. Every day he would come over and get in one one side, swim around a few laps, then get out the other side. My fountain sometimes got knocked over by Swim Dog, and during one of those swimming episodes, the extension tube got knocked off and sank to the bottom.

As you can see, my water isn’t all that clear this year. All the products I have tried have not cleared up the algae in the pond this year, and I can’t go too crazy because I still have freaking tadpoles that are in the pond. I honestly do not remember them still being there in August, but I also know that the frog love got a late start this year due to, well, let’s just say due to 2020. That seems to be a nice catch-all for anything weird that happens.

When I dug the pond, I did so rather impulsively. I didn’t really think about how making a deep pond would kind of be a pain in the butt when it came to maintenance. The thing is about 3 ft deep in the middle, so when an extension tube sinks in greenish water, I ain’t gonna go get it. I was hoping that the tadpoles would have been teenagers by now and that I could do a water exchange in the pond, but no dice. Apparently they don’t want to grow up.

So now I have the fountain perched on one of the shallow rims that go around the edge of the fountain and I just make it do a little arc. Looks kind of Wal-marty, but it still makes the same nice noise, so I don’t care.

Swim Dog’s reins seem to have been tightened by his owners, for I have not seen him in several weeks. His swimmin’ days are over, apparently.

The cicadas are out in full force, chattering the nights away, which means school is starting soon. And they are accurate, for this whole next week will be filled with meetings as we prepare for what will probably be a very unusual school year. You know – UNPRECEDENTED. Everything this year has that adjective blanketing it. Last night at a faculty gathering, we were guessing how long it would take until we would have to shut down again after school started. We should probably start a wager on that one.

The big question of the year is, “Are you ready?” Some say yes, some say no, some say they will just be winging it this year. After you’ve been teaching for 20-something years, it’s pretty easy to “wing it” and make it look easy, but this year, that’s all any of us can really do. We could be super organized and map out the entire semester, but we don’t even know if we will be having in-person classes the entire semester, so why bother?

I will miss sitting by the pond, sipping my coffee, and not having to strategically plan my bathroom breaks. I love my job, but there is a reason summer break exists, and it’s so teachers everywhere can take a deep breath and remember how to relax again. We’ve had an extended break of sorts, and although I have been working on school stuff for the past couple of months, I am ready to be back in the classroom again. The year didn’t end normally, graduation wasn’t normal, and we never got to say goodbye to the seniors like we normal do. They were just gone. We were all gone. I had a few students stop by the other day to say “hey” before they went off to college, and I just about cried when I saw them standing on my front porch – three awesome girl whom I never had a chance to say goodbye to when school called off. I haven’t even seen them since mid-March, so it was lovely for them to take time out of their beautiful summer day to bring me some mini candy bars and chit chat for a while.

Those moments – those are why we teach. As great as summer break is (and necessary), that’s not why most teachers stick with this industry. It’s because of those kids who turned out to be decent human being and will go out to make the world a better place. It’s also because of the kids who are total shits but have a reason to be, so we stick with them until they stop being so angry at the world. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

This job is a strange mixture of soul-killing stress and joyful exhilaration and every emotion in between. I love it and I hate it (the stress, the grading, the endless hoops to jump through to prove I’m doing my job) but every fall I get that little tickle of excitement where I want to buy ALL THE THINGS in the school supply aisle and am excitedly pouring over my rosters for the year.

The cicadas are my ending bell for the summer and my starting bell for school.

I just hope all that chattering isn’t some weird code for how 2020 will get even stranger than it already has.

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Tick . . . tock . . . tick . . . tock

Such is the sound of August – every year. School will be starting back up in a week and a half, and for the first time since I started teaching, I am mentally prepared to go back to school, probably because, well, I’ve been out of school since mid-March. While I always need a mental break after a hectic school year, this was a little too long. The school year ended with an abrupt karate chop, and it’s just not normal. I’m used to ending the year frazzled and exhausted, and while I was getting there in mid-March, I hadn’t yet hit the true craziness of the year.

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Goodbye, July?

I did a doubletake when I looked at the calendar this morning. July 28? Can that be accurate? It seems like five days ago when I was just getting back from Branson.

It feels like I fell down a rabbithole somewhere, and I guess I have. I started the tedious process of trying to get my materials ready for the school year. This year is a wee bit different, of course because I have no idea what the school year is going to look like.

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A quick trip to Branson, MO

The period from March 19 until now is the longest I have stayed home in a while (that’s right, Covid-19 – I’m looking at you!). I have gotten pretty used to hitting the road regularly with my husband’s band and photographing the concerts while I’m there. As of now, we have missed a good handful of gigs and more are getting canceled by the day. For the people in the music industry, this is a rough time. Those who depend on this income as their sole livelihood have had to scramble to enact Plan B.

My husband and I were going to celebrate our 1-year anniversary on the last weekend in June by going to Branson, MO, where we married, but my son’s graduation stopped that plan when it was rescheduled for that weekend. No biggie. We just pushed the vacation back a week. We needed to get out of the state of Iowa so badly! We were tired of this house, tired of this town, and – to be honest – tired of the endless cornfields and flat land of Iowa. It was time to travel.

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The calm AFTER the storm

I survived graduation weekend. I survived making 20# of taco meat at 6 a.m., hauling that and 3 gallons of queso along with all the other fixins’ for a meal over to the venue with the help of family. I realized too late that my folding picture board wasn’t as well designed as I thought it would, as the pictures would fall out of their corner pockets as soon as the board was folded up for transport. All were small little problems, however. The party was not very well attended due to people’s concerns about COVID (I’m guessing), so I have taco meat, queso, and Doritos sitting around my house for daaaaaayyyyyyyys.

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It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to!

I’m not usually one to host events, mainly because I have not had the life experiences which require them. However, this weekend is FINALLY going to be my son’s graduation, and we are partyin’ in style tomorrow.

This year is so weird. Nothing has been normal. My son lost out on his last year of trap shooting (something he excelled in), and graduation got pushed back over a month later to this Sunday. His original open house was supposed to be on May 10. Now here we are, over a month later, getting ready to finally celebrate the end of this chapter.

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A boom in the tablecloth market

I apologize for writing about tablecloths AGAIN. By now you’re probably thinking I have a bit of an issue. Well, perhaps I do. Back when I was selling tablecloths pretty regularly from my Etsy store, I so enjoyed the process of finding cloths, cleaning them to look like new, and then either keeping them or selling them.

For awhile, I had no luck finding them in antique stores, so I really didn’t buy any.

When I met my husband, we had a mutual love of all things retro, although our retro eras were a little bit apart; I loved stuff from the 40-60s and he loved things from the 80s – mainly 80s vinyl. But we do enjoy browsing through antique stores and seeing what treasures we can find.

Suddenly, I am finding great tablecloths left and right and I can feel that excitement that I used to feel whenever I ran across one with a great label or one with the original tags still attached. I went from not being able to find it anywhere to having to be selective about which tablecloths I do get because I’m finding them everywhere. Here are a few that I picked up on our last trip:

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Little things

My husband and I decided to get out of town again and visit Spencer, Iowa, home of Carey’s Electronics, which is in turn the home of a wicked vinyl collection in their upstairs store. My husband found some great treasures, and I made off with a couple of albums as well. The vinyl collection is fun and easy to look through because of the clear rating and labeling on each album. I found a near mint condition Dina Washington to add to my collection:

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Well, that just about killed me.

Install laminate flooring, they said. It’ll be easy, they said. Just click it together, they said.

Good god.

Perhaps for Stan the Handyman, installing laminate flooring would be a breeze. For me the English teacher and my hubby the graphic designer/drummer, well, that was a different story.

The morning after the bulk of the flooring was put in, I arose at 4 a.m. because my entire body was so sore (especially my back) that it felt that I had malaria. Ok, I will admit that I do not know what it feels like to have malaria . . . but I think it probably feels like that. The constant bending over, measuring, placing, crawling around on my knees and pounding in the boards got to my aging body. Plus, I only had a vague notion of what in the hell I was doing, so there’s that too.

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