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Spring is coming, right?

6 Mar

I’m starting to feel ready for Spring.
I’m starting to feel soggy with mushrooms growing around my edges.
I’m starting to think longingly of pink blossoms and yellow daffodils.
I’m starting to hope Spring is coming soon.

IMG_0508

53 books and nothing to read

17 Jan

Oh, the agony of a Kindle.  I have 53 books in my “to be read” category.  Seriously, 53 books.  That’s along with 6 in my currently being read category . . .

and I don’t want to read any of them right now.

Kindle with egret image

There’s nothing wrong with the books I have in my lists.  Some of them are excellent books that I’m really enjoying but I’m not in the mood for them right now.  I’ve been reading urban fantasy romance novels about human animal hybrids and vampires and the like.  That genre is still appealing to me buuuuuuut I hate to buy new books without knowing they are good and that I’ll like them.  What I’d really like is if my favorite authors would all come out with new books.  That would be GREAT!

Enough whining for now . . . guess I’ll go force myself to read something good that I’m not excited about . . .

Noooooooooooooooo!

17 Sep

weather

This seems like a cruel jest.  A few days of perfect weather, after nightmarish heat and then . . . back to Nightmarish Heat.  Whine, whine, whine!

(Oh, that current temp of 56F was the 6am temp.  Sigh.)

Where my mojo went . . .

25 Jul

I think I know where my mojo went . . . It was sucked down into a black hole with all the hope for the future of the state of California.  Please go read this article on our current budget status . . . it’s short, I’ll wait.

So, you’ll understand why Greg, a native Californian, and I, having lived here and loved it here for the last 30 years or so have actually been talking about our prospects outside the great state of California.

In 2003, I went back to school and got my teaching credential.  I took 2 years out of my family’s potential income and gave up a career that paid better because I wanted to a) work at a job that allowed me to be closer to my school aged children and b) believe that our children need great educations that start at the elementary school level.  I was inspired by the amazing teachers that I saw my children learning from at our little small town school.  We sacrificed a LOT of security in those years to make that happen.

When my credential was finished, I snagged the job of my dreams at the same school my kids go to in our small town and settled down to finish my 2 additional years of state-mandated teacher education (on the job training, what they call an induction program).  I just finished that program at the end of this year.  With that task completed, I am now tenured at my district (more on that later).  I should be looking forward to a long career (very long as retirement is a pipe dream for someone who starts their teaching career in their mid-40’s).  I should be getting into my stride as a teacher.  The state requires that we teachers do continual professional development so I can also look forward to continuing to improve my skills. I say that last party with no sense of irony — I love professional development.  Taking classes, learning new ways to do my job even better, is one of my favorite things — really!  I love to learn! My point is this . . . I should be growing and improving each year as a teacher from now on.

My students do well on state tests and our own district benchmark tests.  Furthermore, they do well as they continue on in school.  I manage to teach art and poetry as part of the 4th grade curriculum along with all the required elements.  I was really proud when I took my daughter to Open House at our middle school and got to see papers posted in the 6th grade classroom from my students who had been in 5th grade the previous year.  They did GREAT!   My school and my district appreciate me and rely on me to do my best in many ways.  I’m on the leadership council for my school and participate in district-wide decision making on technology and education issues.  I run the website for my school and support other teachers with their technology concerns.  I am doing my job and doing it well in all areas.

And, it matters not at all.  In all likelihood, I will be laid off this coming March and be unemployed.  My family will no longer have health insurance and risks losing our house and all the equity we’ve built in 20+ years of home ownership.  In part, I blame the teacher’s unions because they refuse to even consider a program that uses merit over years-on-the-job but, honestly, at my school, there are no bad teachers.  I would HAPPILY put my own children in any teacher’s classroom at this school so who would I like to see laid off ahead of me?  I don’t know.  Most of my anger goes to the state government, however.  Come March, my district will have to make decisions about how to keep it’s budget balanced.  It won’t have the luxury of being able to consider drilling off-shore in order to make up lost income.  It will have to face the horrible prospect that money the state promised us for two years was not paid.  We have had reserves but with the cuts to our budget, there is no hope that the reserves will save our district this time.  We laid of 10 teachers in the round of layoffs that happened in March 2009.  I was the last elementary school teacher standing.  Everyone hired after me was laid off.  Two teachers were re-hired based on projections from the state about funding.  Those projections were not honored by the state and additional cuts will be forthcoming so while we can’t let those teachers go, we can’t afford them either.  So, when they look to cut next year, in all likelihood, I’ll be let go.

I know my principal, fellow teachers, and superintendent will be sad to let me go.  I know they appreciate me.  I know my students and their parents will be sad to see me go.  But, there it is.  We have a system based solely on time on the job and I’m at the bottom of the ladder.  Done, goodbye, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

In a state where we were already underfunding education — California *was* 48th in per student funding of education (how embarrassing is THAT?), we have slashed 6 billion dollars from K-12 education in THIS ROUND alone.  $6 BILLION!!!  My 4th graders don’t even know how many zeros that is when they start with me but they will when they leave my classroom.  And, the republican legislatures and governor pat themselves on the back for not raising taxes in our state.  A dear family friend who is a staunch republican complained to my mother-in-law recently that the reason education is in such dire state in our country is that teachers are paid too much money.  I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive him for saying that or, really, for believing it.  His grandchildren go to private schools.

I believe in public education.  If there were a good private school in our area and if we could afford to send our children there, I’d probably still send them to our small town school because it’s damn good.  I’m proud to work there and proud to send my kids there.  But, I’m not proud of what is happening to our state and I’m not proud of the display of our government patting themselves on the back for a job well done.  They should be hanging their heads in shame and going down on bended knee apologizing to Californians for letting us down, for destroying a great state’s economy.  And, please don’t get me wrong . . . I am not just blaming the current government but the state governors and legislators that have been in office since I was an adult and even before.  This problem has been coming for a long time.  The nation’s financial crisis may have been made over the last 8 years and certainly dragged California’s problems from bad to impossible but California was heading for fall and, baby, we’re falling.

(I’d re-read this for clarity and edits but I don’t have time.  I have to go and meet with my fellow 4th grade teachers.  We are taking time out of our summer to meet and plan for next year.  Even knowing I’ll get pinkslipped in March doesn’t change the way I feel about doing my job.  The kids come first.  Next on my list . . . how to fund all the supplies I’ll need for my classroom.  You don’t think the state lets us have ANY money for pencils and paper, do you?  Not a chance.)

Crazy Week

12 Mar

Grandfather's Ties Crazy Quilt - closeup

I searched in my Flickr account for crazy.  This was the first image that came up.  A crazy quilt I did nearly 10 years ago.  I wish my life were this kind of crazy this week.

It all really started last week.  Friday afternoon, my cell phone rang while I was teaching.  The kids and I danced to the song and one kid yelled out, “Isn’t that Rush?  Closer to the Heart?”  Knowing that Greg does NOT call me during the day without reason, I got the kids on a task and checked my phone.  Both a call and a text message.  Yikes.  Text message read:  I am fine.  Truck totalled.

So, we had that to deal with.  He was fine and his sister collected him and his belongings from the wrecking yard.  We love Honda engineering.  When a tanker truck turned from the middle lane in front of him without a turn indicator, the anti-lock brakes, seatbelt, air bags, and crumble zone allowed Greg to walk away without a scratch.

Then he went to Boston and I’ve been running around like crazy.  Weeks only get crazy, hectic impacted for us when Greg is out of town.  Meetings and observations and teaching adult classes and oh-my-god-get-me-off-this-crazy-ride.

It won’t end until I pick Greg up at the airport, Saturday night very late, after being at an outdoor ed training program at Elkhorn Slough to get trained so I can bring field trips through there.

In other news, I had several close encounters with Ravens this week.  One of my students recommended that I write a book that is such a great idea that I am planning to make it my first project this summer.  It involves ravens and school and the ideas are percolating madly right now.

Bridge out

4 Feb

Bridge Out

With the uncertainty about my job next year, I’m feeling a bit like this picture.  I’m on stable ground now but I know I will have to cross this shaky bridge soon.

This is impacting my health, my patience levels, and my happiness.  And, as a teacher and as a mother, I find that being healthy, patient, and happy are really important.  But, everyday now, I have a churning stomach, short fuse, and a bit of a gray cloud following me around.

My husband and I were talking about all this deep stuff about how the economic uncertainty is affecting us — he has had jobs canceled (he’s an architect) and I’ve been given notice that I’ll get my notice . . . I’m noticing that both of us have a tendancy to escape right now into tv and food and silence.

It’s a bit like the Nothing in The Never Ending Story . . . it’s coming and seems unstoppable but if you give in, you just speed it along it’s way.  So, we’re fighting the nothing, the blahs, the blues.  Remaining optimistic . . . it’s a good thing.

Renewal

21 Jan

Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwings noshing on holly berries.

Yesterday was a day of national cleansing.  We felt renewed, invigorated, excited, and refreshed.

Now, we need to move forward and bring that spirit of joy with us.  We need to tackle the jobs in our daily lives with that level of commitment and excitement.  We need to put aside the bickering and disagreements of the past and find a way to move forward.  We need to be creative in solving problems.  We need to have a spirit of problem solving, not partisan ideologues.

California state govenment . . . I’m talking to you. You are destroying lives with your petty , selfish, whiney arguments.  While you complain and argue, lives are being ruined.  My school employs 25 teachers.  We are a California Distinguised School 3 times over.  For years, we have had increased demands on our test scores combined with decreased money to pay for it all.  The teachers, staff, administration and family community have reaching within and reached byeond and gotten the job done.  As a whole, we have not rested on our laurels but continued to search for ways to improve so that our students can improve and have better lives.  And, now, we are being told that the money won’t be there.  That we will likely have no librarian, no computer instructor, no classroom aides, no science teacher, and no PE teachers.  Furthermore, we are told, the state will do away with class-size reduction which limits the number of students per class to 20 or less in grades K through 3.  So, we will have bigger classes with fewer teachers.   We’ll have teachers working harder with more students and no support.  And, the children will lose out.

I’m already looking into options for what seems inevitable at this point.  I’m an adult.  I will find a way to keep contributing to my family’s survival.  But, I’m also a parent.  I have two kids at this school.  Thankfully, I know I can educate them at home to compensate for what they are not getting at school anymore.  But, most families can not do that.

And, the worst part is.  This is ONE part of life in California that is facing this sort of devastation.  While our government whines and complains and holds tightly onto their ideological points of pride, lives are being destroyed.

So, governor and legislators, suck it up.  Step up.  Do the job.  Find a way.  Work together.  Stop fighting.  Grow up.  Solve the problems.  It is a new day.  We can’t accept the old ways.  We won’t accept the old ways.

Let the spirit of hope that is sweeping our country, sweep through Sacramento so that you can find away to save our schools, save our state, save our future.  Get ‘er done!

Bleak mid-winter

16 Jan

Night sky

Feeling a little blue and dark today.

While the whole country is in a monetary turmoil right now, California’s crisis is unique.  Our deficit is more than some countries spend in a year.  We have difficult problems to solve and none of our “leaders” show the will to solve them.  The legislature sends our governor a budget and he vetoes it.  Our governor sends the legislature a proposal on a budget and they won’t pass it.  Meanwhile, we are close to issuing IOUs for our debts.  (Gee, didn’t know we could do that.  Hey, phone company, here’s my IOU.  Hey, electric and gas company, let’s just say IOU for this month, okay?).

It’s nervous-making times as a citizen of this state but as a teacher, it’s terrifying.

I’m a new teacher.  This is technically my 2nd year teaching although I have taught previously for 3 years at the same school, I don’t believe any of them “count”.  We are looking at drastic changes in the way education is handled in California.  And, the worst part of it is, we really don’t know if any of it will happen or none of it but the school district superintendents in our state have been told to plan for the worst case scenario.

Worst case scenario.  I shudder to think what that means for our children in this state.  But, selfishly, for me, I could be out of a job at the end of this school year.  I will likely get pink-slipped in March.  And, hopefully, in May they’ll rescind the pink slip because they will have more information about how this will all play out.  But, worst case scenario, I could be done with teaching and out there with the masses of other job hunters, seeking an illusive, non-existent job.

So, yea, things are a little blue and dark here this morning.

For some hopefully clearer skies, visit Sky Watch.  It’s cleansing!

We’re going camping . . .

9 Oct

We are off tomorrow for Morro Bay, one of my favorite towns in the world.  Morro Bay is on the coast of Central California.  It’s about 3 hours south of here.  The weather is fantastic with lots of fog which I love.  Cool and lovely.  The bay itself is wonderful with lots of birds, lots and lots of birds.  The town is where I saw turkeys walking the streets last year and had a conversation with them.  We are meeting good friends and family there.  It will be a nice break.

Life is very, very stressful right now.  Lots of good things happening but lots of stress as well — particularly at work.  I’m tired of the stress, thank you.  So, I’m hoping that we all see some turkeys who make us laugh again . . . not the ones who get me down.

third turkey

PU

24 Sep

What’s that smell? That rancid, stomach-churning stench.   Oh, that would be the smell of Ruby.  Stinky, stinky skunk chasing dog.  Sigh.

I was all snuggled in and half asleep at midnight last night.  Greg came to bed and slumber sank in deeper.  I smelled skunk smell but it often wafts through the neighborhood so I ignored it.  Greg wasn’t as deeply asleep so he did not ignore it.  He got me up and sure enough . . . Ruby STANK.  She was in my daughter’s bedroom, curled up on her beanbag chair (a truly luxurious beanbag chair that was given to us by a designer who works with my husband).  I took Stinky McStinkerson and gave her a bath.  Greg took the beanbag chair out to the deck.

I am a firm believer in the de-skunk solution you can find on the Internet [click].  It really works.  But, I did not have the supplies on hand.  Ruby still stank after the bath but I couldn’t tell that as I crawled back into bed because the entire house stank so badly.  Greg realized it before he came back to bed and locked Ruby into the kids’ bathroom.

When I crawled out of bed at 6:00, he told me that’s where she was.  Only, she wasn’t.  Nope.  Bathroom empty.  Seems my daughter got up to use the bathroom in the wee hours (get it?) and felt badly for Ruby and took her back to her bedroom and closed her in there.  Ruby spent the rest of the night sleeping on my daughter’s bed.  You can’t imagine how much that room stank when I opened it up to get Ruby out this morning. I hope that I can clean her comforter . . . and the 43 million stuffed animals that she sleeps with every night.

Right now, Ruby’s closed into my laundry room which gives her access to the outside (dog door).  When I get home from school today, I will stop at the store and buy some hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.  If I were smart, I’d buy 47 bottles of peroxide and a dozen boxes of baking soda to keep on hand.  Maybe I’ll just get a couple extra so that next time, the house won’t stink so badly.

What a stinky way to start the day.  Aren’t you glad the Interwebs don’t have a smell-o-vision feature?