30 April 2020

Easier Said Than Done


I don't know what I asked or heard 11 years ago. I suspect it had something to do with an upcoming decision that I would have to make about the job I'd started the previous August. If you remember 2008 - 2009, there was a recession. I could tell that funding for my brand new shiny job was going to go away. I had some options within the agency I could take, but I also knew that my experience there over the previous nine months hadn't been a bed of roses. Maybe I wanted to look for a job in a school again. Or maybe something else.

I'm listening a lot this spring, too. I am not looking for a job or a major change, mind you. I think that what's happening out in the great wide world is enough to prompt reflection and a reminder that opportunity is always out there. I do have a dream deferred with my Data Lab idea...but I am still pondering how to breathe life into this, but in a different way. I think that if I just hold on for a year, there will be a lot of opportunities. I think the unfortunate economic consequences of the current pandemic will mean that there is a space for me down the road. I just need to be quiet and still and make an effort to listen closely.

This year, I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

29 April 2020

Magnificent Obsession

Not a lot to share from today's date (full list of tweets). Maybe it's quarantine malaise or just the time of year. In previous years, this was always a low point because it's such a long stretch between spring break (first week of April) and Memorial Day. The days are longer and weather is more promising. There is a longer list of things I'd rather be doing outside the (home) office than inside of it.

And yet...here we are.


I've written plenty about Hemo in this space before. I may have stopped teaching, but I have not stopped loving it and what it represents. This would have been about the time of year that I would have shown it in my classes. I suspect that many teachers are grieving for all the things they won't get to share with students this year while they are instead forced to share this experience of a pandemic.

Hang in there.

28 April 2020

Socializing Distantly

A few days ago, I posted about about our local Arts Walk. It takes place on a Friday night and all day Saturday the last week in April and first week in October. This tweet (full list from today's date) references one of these events:


And while I'm still sad about not getting to display my work at Arts Walk this year, this tweet is also a reminder of something very good. This was the evening I reconnected with a former co-worker...and we've been friends ever since. In the Before, we'd meet for brunch a couple of times a month and it was good to have someone to share things with. He is the most "me" like person I've ever met. We're lifelong (for the most part) singletons...in our 50s...very independent...and tend to approach problems and issues similarly. It's fun to visit with him. In the Now, we've been getting together every weekend to take long walks and chat. We are the only people we see in person (apart from the occasional errand) and that connection feels really important. The very first week of the lockdown, we finished our walk and he asked, "Do you think we should risk a hug?" I thought it was okay...so we did...and he immediately exclaimed "Suicide pact!" So, yes, he's got a great sense of humor, too. Nothing romantic to report. It really is just walks and coffee and brunch. But it's lots of fun and I am grateful for every moment of it. And to think it all started with this tweet.

27 April 2020

It's All in the Feet

I know plenty of people who have discovered that if you give a toddler a camera that you end up with a lot of pictures of butts. Those are at eye level, after all. And once you remember that different view of the world, other things start to make more sense.


Shoes are very important to primary age students. I can't tell you the number of times I've gone to help with kindergarten lunch or a first grade class and kids look at my feet before they look at my face. And because this is often the sequence of things, you immediately see on their young faces that they have formed an opinion of you that may not be favourable. There's disappointment when they see boring footwear. (I suspect that fun socks would also be acceptable...but I don't wear them.)

I remember one of my education professors telling a story from when she had been a kindergarten teacher. She said she'd come to class one day and a student had noticed that she'd gotten her hair cut and looked different. She asked the kid, "How did you know it was still me?" He said, "Your shoes. They're the same boring brown ones." Shoes are as good as a name tag...at least when you're five. As we grow older, and more importantly, taller, our perspectives and what we notice and value change.

Since the lockdown, I've bought two new pairs of shoes (one is shown below). I have nowhere to wear them yet. But I will. There will be more kindergartners and I will do my best to make them all smile and know that I cared enough to bring my best feet for them to admire.

This year, I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

26 April 2020

Death, Taxes, and Weeds


On one hand, I like to think of weeds as flowers that no one has learned to love yet...and, on the other, they are very hard to love. Their relentless invasion in my flower beds and now, in my garden, is a most unwelcome intrusion. I spent at least 90 minutes yesterday just tending to the raised garden beds in my back yard, as I intend to plant herbs and veggies this week...and there's plenty more in the front where the poppies and lavender are trying to pretty up the place.

In 2008, when I posted this tweet (full list from today's date here), I had more things I would rather have done with my time than pull weeds. This year, in the middle of the pandemic, there is something therapeutic about being in one's own space and tidying up. I am running out of deep cleaning chores for the inside of the house. I've reorganized the kitchen, pantry, and Costco cabinets. I've been through the closet and dresser. I've scrubbed the grout in the bathroom. (Yes, really.) Now that the days are growing longer and temps are warming up, it's time to plant myself, no pun intended, by different areas in the yard and see what I can do to tidy up a little more than usual. What are you taking on this spring to give yourself a break from all the screen time and clear out the brain fog?

25 April 2020

Into the Breach

I don't know where this was, exactly.


Nine years ago, I hadn't moved down to the capital city. So, I suspect I was either hanging out in the mint green kitchen that was always filled with light or napping with a pile of cats on my red velvet sofa. It might have meant I was reading a really good book or watching a favourite movie for the umpteenth time. Maybe I went to the local brewery for a late lunch of a salmon sandwich and the Bock beer they only made in the spring (it was always their best offering). I suppose I could have gone to the nursery and wandered through the warm greenhouses or by the pools of koi. It's possible I spent time with a friend, just catching up. All of these are good candidates. Many of them are the things I would identify now as options, but I have updated the list over the years, too. Now, with the pandemic, I'm still figuring out what my new Saturday routine and happy spots are. But today, I am grateful for time in the sun, morning coffee and breakfast tacos, and a clean kitchen.

This year, I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

24 April 2020

You Snooze, You Lose

I used to take walks in the morning before work. The route around the lake is about 1.5 miles, which at my pace takes 30 minutes. I liked the peacefulness of the early morning walks. It was also nice to do something for myself before launching into the work day.

But this time of year, as the sun peeks above the horizon earlier and earlier, also gives the bonus of some amazing sunrises. I am quite fond of sunsets, mind you, but sunrises are a different kind of special. Maybe because so few people are up at that hour to enjoy them. They demand attention by appointment.


Since the shutdown, I've taken to walking different places at different times. When I need a Zoom break, I'll walk a few blocks in my neighbourhood or down to the post office. Sometimes I wait until the end of the day to wander through downtown and window gaze. But I will have to make a point to go in the early morning again to catch the colours and reflections and a bit of peace before the day launches. I don't know about you these days, but I could certainly do with a bit more of that.

This year, I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

23 April 2020

Just Visiting

I've talked before about how I used to go out to our smallest districts. Most of these places didn't have much in way of services. We often stayed in motels that were 30 miles away...and that was the closest option. In these little towns, there was always a bar and a post office (and occasionally more). One of our favourite activities was to go to the bar for a little while. It gave us something to do, was often the only option for meals (such as they were), and it was helpful to get a sense of the local population. While we were not ever greeted with a standard line of "You're not from around here, are you?" There were always discreet inquiries that we politely answered. Sometimes, a conversation would start up after they learned we worked in education. Here is a sample of one of those from seven years ago:

Via list from this day

I clearly remember this guy and his backstory. The backstories were always important, because people chose to live in these very rural areas for a reason. Some were afraid of the government. Some had a past they were hoping to run away from. Some had been there for generations. But it was always good to hear what they shared. In these little places, the community is a much bigger part of school life than in larger areas. Part of this is simply because the school is the largest employer and has the most resources. But beyond that, the community never sees test scores (n size is too small) or other comparison measures. It wants what it wants and that always comes first. Some of the people we ran across in the bar had some...intriguing...opinions (see above), but mostly they taught us about the values and history of the place. I hope they are all weathering well in this current situation. Maybe our paths will cross again. I'd like to hear a few more stories.

22 April 2020

This Little Light of Mine

Not much to share from this date (full list of today's tweets), so I will share a picture from my most favourite annual event...which will not be happening this year:


I will write more about Arts Walk in another post, but it happens twice a year in our area. In the spring, there is a big parade where people dress up as their favourite living things. It's called the Procession of the Species (you can see last year's version online). But the first evening of the event, there is a lumnaria parade when the stores close down for the night. It's wholesome and beautiful and I am very much looking forward to seeing it next year.

21 April 2020


When I worked for the state, I telecommuted one or two days a week. It was a lovely way to break up the week and I got pretty good at arranging my time. I always had a list going of things I wanted to work on during work from home (WFH) days—projects that I could do sustained thinking with, because I knew there would be no phones ringing or other interruptions. And, it was easy enough to block out email, as needed. These were golden days.


There is no telecommuting in a school district. At least until now. I know that my more extroverted friends are struggling with being home all the time. I know that we miss some of our colleagues and students and routines. But the current shutdown has been really good for me. It's true, I have never previously had a WFH that lasted more than a day or two. I wasn't sure what it would be like full time. And it's true...it's impossible to keep a completely clear separation between work life and home life when your "office" is 20 paces from your bed. I admit that I've folded a load of laundry and cooked meals while watching online presentations, which is something I never do when I watch webinars at work. I haven't set my alarm clock in more than a month. And there are more days when I haven't worn a bra than when I have. However, the work is getting done. I do miss a few people and some of the conveniences of being in the office, but for the most part, I'd be happy to be stuck at home another six weeks.

This year, I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

20 April 2020

The Invisible Woman

This is my sixth year in my current role, and this year marked the third time I sat across the table from two men in our top two leadership positions. I realized at some point during that conversation that this might well not be the last time. Meet the new patriarchy. (It's the same as the old patriarchy.)


At the beginning of my career, I didn't care so much about whether I was invisible. I grew up in west Texas, and while my parents might have raised me with more of a feminist mindset, the prevailing culture did not. I could tell tales of my first years on the job—the custodian who showed up drunk on my doorstep one night trying to force his way into the house, the counselor who kissed me in the middle of a conversation in his office, the assistant principal who liked to remind me that I was "all right...for a girl." Being invisible was safer.

Times have changed and I see and hear less about these sorts of behaviours. But it doesn't meant we've really become more inclusive and equitable. I think all of these attitudes are just simmering under the surface of what is viewed as being professional now. I also think I have become more attuned to when I am required by others to be mute and invisible. And it happens quite often. Not just as referenced in this tweet from three years ago (full list here), but within the last week. I am trying to be better about pointing these things out (sometimes, I'm even nice about it), not just for myself, but for others. I can tell you that these comments are very rarely welcome, but I don't care so much about that anymore. I can make an effort to create a better space for everyone...or I can be invisible.

19 April 2020

Happily Ever After


When I wrote this tweet 12 years ago (full list from this date here), I was at a critical transition point in my career and life. And while I didn't figure out the answer to those questions until a few months later, they are questions that return every once in awhile. The responses are always temporary because life is ever-changing, but it is nice to feel like I have it figured out at times.

The pandemic is creating a whole new game, however. Right here and now, I'm keeping the homefront going and I'm doing as much regular work as I can. I say "regular" because I would normally be knee-deep in state testing at this point. Instead, my attention has shifted into some other areas where we need support.

But I am also thinking about the future while the ground is shifting. Here and now, I need to focus on surviving. There is also opportunity for more, and I am starting to have more conversations about that. I like thinking about what's possible...maybe not right now...but in the After. 

18 April 2020

Existential Crisis #527

Everyone is making adjustments these days. Individuals, families, organizations, communities, all the way up. Some of these changes represent more immediate needs, while others are only showing their faces after a period of time. There are plenty of "How are we going to..." and "I didn't think about..." sentence starters at the moment. I suspect that addressing these, like some existential version of whack-a-mole, will happen for a long time to come.

Our district is not unlike many others which are wrestling with grading and reporting. What if students can't connect with us, due to lack of Internet or barriers? What if students won't connect with us, even though they could, because family obligations or just basic self-care are more important at the moment? What if we offer a Pass/Fail option for our high school kids—We know the NCAA doesn't like this...are we going to be hurting the futures of our students by putting Ps on transcripts? How are we going to use narrative comments at K - 5 to communicate with future teachers—Since families are doing a lot of instruction, do we add their feedback?

And on and on. When I saw my tweet from this date (full list here), it brought back to center what's important...and what's missing from our current conversations:


At some point, we are going to have a conversation about how we've done a shitty job of teaching most kids to love learning. I say this because the biggest arguments we seem to currently be having are centered around using grades as motivators. The questions I have been getting from other administrators are around students taking advantage of the system (in their opinion). What if a high school kid has a "D" in the course and chooses to take a Pass for the semester...they can pretty much be done with the class right now? Yup...and so what? It's possible that what is happening in a student's personal and home life needs to be the focus right now. It's also possible that there wasn't a love for learning in that area that was established or nurtured...and now, it's too late. If we didn't engage and develop a relationship with a kid before COVID, we aren't going to do that now.

It's the "So what?" that I keep turning over in my mind. Every high school, college, and university has students whose transcripts are going to be a big asterisk in terms of the spring of 2020 (and possibly beyond). We don't have the only high schools that will be sending students out into the world with fuzzy grades. It's all going to be okay. The world cares far more about whether you have a diploma than the actual grades reported. A high school transcript only matters until the next step, then your experience or college/university transcript takes precedence. These are not hills we need to die on now.

But I do think that as we think about the After that we're going to have to face this failure of ours to create a love of learning. Maybe everyone might not love Calculus, or PE, or Orchestra. That's okay. That's not the point. But if we see the student as an integral partner in shaping their path...when school becomes we do with them instead of to them...then distance will not be our enemy anymore.

17 April 2020

Future Work

I used to work in a cube farm. I'm not quite sure why it's called that. Oh, I understand the basic reference. I've lived it. But the term is a little bit like "children's museum," which implies that I should be able to see dioramas of children...rather than a museum designed for children. A cube farm does not produce cubes for sale, either.

But, I digress.

So, I was working in this cube farm. I did my best to make my space as comfortable as possible. I brought in a comfy chair and my favourite desk lamp. And lots of little knickknacks. There was a little window on one side with a view into the next cube, and I was able to put a little curtain across so I didn't have to look at the person in that one. But there are more senses than just vision. In the cube farm, you can't block out the smells and noises. You hear every single conversation, every phone ring, and every bit of music that isn't run through headphones. This can be amusing at times.


Now, I have a corner office with two windows that open to the outside and a door that closes. It is heavenly.

I do wonder what will happen with all of the open offices and cube farms in a post-COVID world. I can't imagine that as things start to restart, even in limited ways, that these open plans will be welcome. People might be six feet apart, but I can imagine that every cough and sneeze will be received far differently. Will employers be willing to risk lawsuits if workers become ill in these environments? Will workers be willing to sacrifice themselves for the company's bottom line? No doubt, some will...and many will have no choice. But I suspect we will see a transition in work environments. I don't think anyone will be sad to see the cube farms fade away.

This year, I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

16 April 2020

Red in Tooth and Claw

It's one of those days where there's a dearth of interesting (or even semi-interesting) tweets from this date (full list here). So this one will have to suffice:


My friend has chickens. Her husband calls them his ladies. And they are much more like pets than anything. They come and knock at the door for treats and run after him to get into the coop each night. But yesterday, a bald eagle was hungry and nearly made off with one of their little flock. The ladies were quite traumatized, as you can imagine.

Not so different than the hawk who used to dive onto my patio to grab a little sparrow or finch now and then. It always made me feel terrible...like I had set the bait on purpose. Tennyson may have noted long ago that Nature is red in tooth and claw, but that doesn't make it any easier to see it in action. I've been squeamish about this since going to see Bambi when I was a small child.

However, I am glad to see the birds return at this time of year. I haven't stopped using a bird feeder or making sure the bird bath is full of fresh water. I might not be able to keep away the hawks, but I can do things to keep life moving forward.

15 April 2020

Insert Godzilla Noise Here

This year, there is no more state testing. I have to add the word "more" in there because we did quite a bit already. Not all of it is federally required, but there is usually some sort of window open and population of students that we're working with.

But this spring? My life will not look like this:


This tweet was from the very first year in my current job, and also the first year of Smarter Balanced testing. It was a big transition for everyone and I was swamped with new learning at all hours. It did get better, of course. And by now, things tend to run fairly smoothly. We'll see how we do next year after a two-year gap.

I suppose that there are some who are happy to see that state testing is set aside for the year. I am not one of those. I am not one who thinks the tests are good or bad, but I do think their results get abused. It's interesting to me how much of our system depends on these scores for various things, and their absence is starting to be noted as we make plans for the coming year.

Some people are worried about having students complete our district benchmarks at home. What if parents/siblings/Google helps kids? What if they don't try? What if the data aren't valid? Sure. All those things can and will happen. But school will be out for a long time, I think...and we are going to have to find ways to get over our trust issues. We can't learn about this if we don't try. I also think that this may well be the push we need to think about developing and using truly engaging and authentic assessments...something that should have happened long ago. If we provide students with work worth doing and that aligns with what they and we value, then that would be the best possible outcome.

But for now, Godzilla is slumbering and I will have to await his return. 

This year, I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

14 April 2020

The Future Is Calling

I got my first cell phone in 1996, a couple of months after I moved to Washington. I had ended up getting a job about an hour from where I was living and the combination of the commute and being new to the entire area seemed like a good reason to test the waters.


This tweet would have marked the last time I didn't have a smart'ish phone. As I recall, this phone has been my very favourite out of all the ones I've had. I miss it, actually.

I have, since this tweet, learned to text message. (Full list of tweets from this date here.) Like Twitter, texting took me awhile to figure out a purpose for. I know that sounds odd in 2020 when we are so dependent on text messages for all sorts of reasons. But at the time, it didn't feel natural. 

I have to assume that if I'm still around in another 25 years that technology will have evolved even further. These days, I worry more about data privacy and surveillance than convenience or simple connection. There are times, recently, when I am a bit wistful for that 2008 phone and its lack of features. I suspect I will feel even more nostalgic for it in the coming weeks.

13 April 2020

Cookies? Whoopie!


I think cookies may well be my favourite treat. Cake is a close second and may occasionally hold the number one spot. I have never been a big fan of pies, cobblers, and their ilk.

The best time to make cookies is in the evening. There's something that makes them a little more fun when it's dark outside and something magical is happening in the oven. A warm cookie before bed makes for a sweet transition to dreamland.

It's a challenge to find some staples these days. I had to make three grocery shopping attempts just to find a bag of flour. I'm fortunate to have a co-worker who has lots of hens and I can pick up a dozen eggs nearly any day. Sugar and butter are also commodities in limited supply. But last week, I just needed the comfort of a cookie and "spent" some of these precious resources to get my fix.

Need to try something new? Here are a couple of recommendations. I love the peanut butter cookie recipe from the Magnolia Bakery, although instead of peanut butter chips, I throw in a mix of mini chocolate chips and mini peanut butter cups. Sometimes, I like to make a batch of sugar cookies to stash in the freezer. Bakerella may be famous for her cake pops, but I adore these soft sugar cookies. This is the recipe I made on Friday (and then shared with friends in Easter baskets I left on their doorsteps). And finally, one of the new recipes in my rotation is this one for salty sweet butter pecan cookies.

This year, I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

12 April 2020

The Dirty Dozen

As of today, I've been on Twitter for 12 years. Here is last year's reminder (full list of today's tweets here):


Here was my very first tweet:


Assuming the numbers at the end of the URL refer to the chronological order, then at the time I started on this service, there were just over 3/4 of a billion tweets. And while that is a large number, the one from last year is 10 orders of magnitude larger. That's a lotta tweets floating around.

When I joined Twitter, I wasn't entirely sure what it was. At the time, it was most commonly referred to as a "microblogging" platform, but I haven't heard that term in a long time. I quickly fell in love with Twitter...whatever it may be. I enjoy the stream of consciousness that it becomes. I like the mix of people and organizations I follow. I like its whimsy, as well as its speed and sense of connection. I have met people there who have become friends in the real world...and I have friends from the real world who have joined Twitter and connected with me there, too. I am not one of those people who believes there is a right and wrong way to use it. I know some people are quite selective about only using it for "professional" connections, for example, but I can't keep the lines from blurring. My Twitter stream, my blog, my life is just all mixed together. I like it that way.

11 April 2020

Here Comes the Sun

This is the time of year in western Washington when the weather can't quite decide what it wants to be. We still have mostly cool temperatures...and there are plenty of grey mornings and sprinkles...but there days like today (and the one from 11 years ago referenced below) that tease us with better days to come.


This time around, I did not do yard work, although there is plenty to do. Instead, I deep cleaned the kitchen...which is about as exciting. But I like having the cabinets organized, the barware sparkling from a round in the dishwasher, and everything inventoried for the continuing isolation. We're expecting some decent weather for the next week, so plenty of time to work outside and make the yard look presentable for another season.

This year, I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

10 April 2020

The Smalls

In my previous job, we worked to build PLCs among our smallest districts. Some of the ones we worked with had two teachers and 25 students, such as the one referenced below (full list of tweets from this date here):


I loved this work. I loved seeing what "school" looks like in all different places and situations. Most of the places we visited had a post office and a bar. This one had a convenience store with its restaurant, which was a big deal.

This little district had a K - 2 classroom and a 3 - 5 classroom. Their only kindergartner had arrived the previous month and spoke no English. The sole paraeducator in the district was working with the student to get them going. The teacher of the 3 - 5 classroom was also the bus driver. Her brother taught high school social studies in a nearby district (one with about 80 K - 12 students) and served as superintendent for this district. They had grown up in this little wide spot in the road and attended the school as children. Like a lot of the small schools we visited, long-term residents were the custodians of the school. Some even had a third-generation superintendent...one who would farm the fields most of the time and head into school as needed.

I miss these smalls. I miss the ones that are still using their one-room schoolhouses from 100+ years ago. I miss the teachers...one of whom started as a bus driver in her little district and is now the superintendent. I miss their dedication and passion and resilience. I hope that they are weathering the COVID-19 storm in good stead, as are their students. Maybe I can go visit again one day.

09 April 2020

After Trash Day

I've been at home nearly a month now. In that period, time has become somewhat irrelevant. I haven't set my alarm to get up for work. I'm grateful that my past self set a weekly reminder about whether it's Trash Day or Recycling Day, because damned if I know that it's about to be Wednesday again. I did pay my bills on the first of the month...so I'm good there for awhile. Unless it's about to be the beginning of the month again. Is it? Who knows?


Today's tweet (full list from this date here) was likely written when time was dragging. I admit that I've had several moments like that recently, too. It's not so much the time during the day...work and chores seem to pass by quickly enough. But it's the fact that each day is spent at home in pretty much the same way that makes the overall gestalt feel Groundhog Day'ish, as if we're never really able to make much progress.

I guess this means tomorrow is Friday. Not sure how I'll know if I don't look at a calendar. Guess I need to find to find out.

08 April 2020

Helena Handbasket


This tweet from this day (full list here) reminded me of when I applied (and interviewed) for a job with the state department of education in Montana. It was a research position and they were looking for someone with more of a statistical background than I possessed.

And I was never so relieved in my whole life to not be offered a job.

They would have been perfectly content to interview me by phone, but I couldn't imagine what would happen if the job felt like a good fit and I accepted it without ever seeing the town or getting a sense of the workplace. So, off I went on a road trip across Washington, a chunk of Idaho, and on into Montana. A lot of the drive was beautiful. Helena was not. I realize it was just getting into Spring after a long Winter, but the entire town—buildings, cars, roads, everything—was the same shade of brown from all the sand and mud. I tried to like it. Honest. I spent time visiting little stores to try and get a feel of what people were like. I ate in the mom and pop restaurants. I drove through neighbourhoods to see housing and schools and how people lived. And while I have no doubt whatsover that there are thousands of people who are very happy there, I knew that I wouldn't be.

Mind you, this all happened less than three months before the job I had at the time went away (a story for another time) and I was forced to take a job I really didn't want for the upcoming year...but even then, I never looked wistfully in the direction of Helena. And still haven't.

07 April 2020

Getting Warmer


Today's tweet (full list here) is from eight years ago...but is something I could have just as readily tweeted today. We are still a ways away from being able to put a garden in or sleep with the windows open, but it's a start. The longer daylight hours help make things look normal for this time of year, even though they most definitely are not.

As of yesterday, school buildings are closed for the remainder of the year...and there are no promises about reopening on schedule in the fall. "School" is supposed to continue through June, although I think that is a big mistake. I don't think it's respectful of our families, many of whom are struggling with transitions in their work schedules, forced estrangement from relatives, and economic hardships. Learning will continue, regardless of how many packets are sent home or online lessons assigned. Let kids learn about household budgets...cooking a meal...sewing on buttons...planting a garden...or whatever it is that is helpful. It will all be fine.

I am sad, of course, that the year has to end this way. It's not how we would like to leave things. It's not how we would wish to celebrate or move forward. But here it is. Seniors will have unique celebrations. Kindergartners will have to wait another year before they find out what the last day of school really feels like. All those end of year barbecues and golf tournaments will be sweeter in 2021. We will have a long time to anticipate them.

I am also sad that we don't seem to be having the conversations that we could really be having about school and what we want things to look like when we return. How will we manage a space where we may have lost students and staff? How will parent expectations be different after 6 months (or more) of providing instruction themselves? How do we make long term plans, perhaps for the next couple of years, to support all students in getting caught up? I understand all the need to sort out some of the immediate pieces, but those don't seem as critical in the grand scheme of things. We can figure out getting teachers into classrooms or Chromebooks out to families. But it will be a much bigger lift to bring everyone back together.

But since that it is beyond my reach for now, I will enjoy the sun and the opportunity to stretch my legs and breathe. I've waited for this day a long time, too.

06 April 2020

It's the Water

The original brewery that pumped out this stuff is now closed (the beer is now made in Wisconsin), but its location, as well as the waterfall depicted in the logo, are about a half mile from where I work. There's a shady little half-mile trail to enjoy in the summer...salmon spawning to watch in the fall...and right now, all the spring rain and snow melt are creating a deafening roar. A friend and I stopped to watch and listen on Sunday while on a long walk.


There are a few Artesian wells still left in action around town. There is one downtown with freeflowing water where people come to fill all sorts of containers. One of the restaurants downtown still uses the well at its site. And a couple of years ago, a new craft brewery started making beer from its well and even named itself after the original listing: Well 80.

I won't claim that the water from these wells is better than public water or has more health benefits. But I can tell you that there's something fun about enjoying things the way others have done for decades. Even if the water isn't special, the experience is. So, raise your glass...of water.

This year, I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

05 April 2020

Spring Breakin'

It's Spring Break...well, for the kids anyway. For us administrators, we are on the clock Monday - Thursday this week. I hope to extend my 3-day weekend, but we'll see how things go this week.


When schools closed due to concerns over COVID-19, we had a parent call one of our schools to ask why the bus didn't show up that morning. In spite of the phone calls and emails home to say that schools would be closed, in spite of the coverage in the news of the governor's statement, the parent didn't get the message. I suppose there is no such thing as overcommunication, whether it's Spring Break or Armageddon.

This year, I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

04 April 2020

The Eternal Question

For the most part, I am not a fan of dinner. Oh, I like dinner menus...but I am hard-wired to be an early to rise, early to bed type person. I find that if I eat a meal after 3 or 4 in the afternoon, I don't sleep well. It throws off my whole rhythm unless I plan to be up late or don't have to be anywhere the next day. Breakfast is my jam. And as much as I love the traditional fare—scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, etc.—I am also quite content with pasta, a burger, or stuff most people prefer later in the day. Typically, I don't eat a "full" breakfast, but when I do, I find that I don't need to eat the rest of the day. A small salad at lunch is plenty...and that's it.


I do, however, love to cook. I started cooking in middle school when my amom was in and out of the hospital quite a bit with her chronic illness. My adad was a smart man with many talents, but cooking was not one of them. The man burned water once (he set a pan to boil water...and then forgot about it). To be a teen is to always be hungry. So if I wanted to eat, I needed to make it happen myself. And I've been at it ever since. I won't claim that I'm a great cook...but I know the basics of getting around a kitchen. It's something that is serving me well during this period of self-isolation.

I've lived alone for a long time. Cooking for one is challenging...so I don't do that. When I find a recipe I like, I make the whole batch. Then, I split it up into servings and freeze what I don't want to consume right away. It's not unusual to find my freezer stashed with breakfast burritos, twice-baked potatoes, casseroles, and ready-to-bake cookie dough. I've learned a lot of tricks along the way.

At the moment, I seem to be craving comfort foods. I made French Onion Chicken Lasagna Roll-ups, and green chile chicken enchiladas. I have chili con carne. My pantry is stocked with flour and sugar and coffee. The freezer has sausage and bacon and hamburger. It's nice each day to just pull out one thing to thaw and bake as a home-cooked meal. Since we're under a stay-at-home order for another month, I am finding myself looking back through my recipes to think about what I'd like to make for the next round of items...although it is the time of year when I am trying to finish out whatever is in the freezer. Summer is coming, along with its bounty, and there needs to be room for cherries and blueberries and peppers. Summer is coming.

This year, I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.

03 April 2020

The I Is Silent

I have blogged before about my absolute hatred of the word team, but today's tweet (full list here) is yet another reminder:

A few weeks after this tweet, I wrote

Which brings me to my current thinking about the word "team" as it applies to the educational workplace. As I've mentioned here before, I find its use somewhat offensive. I'm a person—not a thing—I don't want to be referred to as a collective noun. More importantly is the association of the word "team" with "competition." Education is not a game. We are not out to beat anybody and run up the score. We are here to do the best we can for each child. Meanwhile, "team" implies that there is a "captain" who gets to do as they please while the rest of the group works to satisfy his/her goals—rather than goals in common for student ends. Education is about collaborative action on behalf of a student. A collaborative effort means that everyone's voice is important and each person brings value to the discussion. In a team, one person's voice will always be important and the rest only have value inasmuch as they agree with that person and or can do the specific work s/he wants.

And I have to say that I have not changed my mind in the intervening years. This word grates on my nerves more than any other. I have noticed that I hear it most often from the men in my orbit to reinforce their bro culture. I keep tally marks at meetings of how often my humanity is erased...how the word only adds to the sense of being owned and used.

Until recently, I thought that maybe I was the only one who didn't like the word. As it turns out, I am not.


In addition to this tweet I saw last year, I discovered that the wife of one of my co-workers is also not a fan and finds it incredibly demeaning. While it is not specifically referred to in Kate Manne's Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny, the word is noticeably absent and she does write about how these sorts of terms can be misogynistic. (My book is at the office...but I will try to remember to get it the next time I stop by.)

I know that stomping out this term isn't a battle I'm going to win. There are plenty of people for whom it's not an issue. But I hope that more and more, we continue to be mindful of our language and its impact on others...that we look at it to see who it benefits...and remember that we are people-first.

02 April 2020

Memory Lane

The building I work in is next door to an elementary school. One of the playgrounds is right next to my window. I love seeing and hearing the kids out there playing every day. Rain, snow, or shine, there is always something happening.

Some activities I see engender a sense of nostalgia
Oh, how I loved it in elementary PE when we got to play with the parachute. The colours and the rush of air...getting to do something that was not just different from other sessions, but something that you'd never get to do at home or while over at a friend's house. And, it didn't really matter if you were "good" at it, like when people picked teams for kickball or something. If there was a parachute class at a local gym, I would totally sign up for that now.

I will miss seeing this activity this spring. School isn't canceled for the year here just yet. I think chances are very slim that we will see students again this year, which makes playing with a parachute just a memory for me again.

This year, I am selecting a tweet from a list provided each day by On This Day as a prompt to get back into blogging.  You can see my full list of tweets posted on this day, or start seeing your own by following that account.