Unnecessary Walmart Treasure

I try to avoid Walmart.  Not only because I don’t appreciate their business model, but because I find the stores frustrating and depressing.   I don’t take a hard I’m-boycotting-Walmart stance though, because I know their will inevitably be times that I decide to go to Walmart.   I’m not organized enough to completely stay out of a huge 24-hour store a mile from my apartment.

At 7:00, this morning I found myself darting through the Walmart aisles looking for materials for a lesson I was to teach at 9:05. An ELL teacher asked me to prepare some activities to help her students learn to use the library.   I had a Kahoot prepared to review the vocabulary I had introduced last week , and a treasure hunt designed to give them practice learning how to use the catalog and find different types of materials.  I planned to hide puzzle pieces in the various locations the students would be visiting, and then once the students found the puzzle pieces and assembled their puzzles I would reward them with their “share of the treasure,” which I imagined would be chocolate coins.

Yesterday, I was collecting images for the puzzles online.  I could have found random pictures in old magazines, but I decided I wanted to have pictures of cool looking libraries.  Being a librarian, I couldn’t just print them out, I had to cite them as well.  15 minutes after the end of contract time, I was about to print out the pictures when I realized I was supposed to be at the dentist.

I sat in the dentist’s chair for about two hours.  Afterwards, I discovered that I had left my phone at the restaurant where I had eaten dinner with my husband and parents the night before.   Next, I got in a fight with my mother.

She and my dad had driven up on Saturday to go to a wedding.  Their car broke down about thirty miles from the apartment.  It had been towed to a repair shop near where it had broken down and was to be ready on Monday at 5 p.m.  I wanted to pick up the forgotten phone before driving 30 miles in intense rush hour traffic on a hundred-degree day; my mother wanted me to take them to the repair shop first.  My parents have flip phones and don’t like their GPS, so I think the idea that I wouldn’t want to drive without the phone to give me directions seemed a bit silly to her.  I escalated to, “If you want me to drive you there tonight, we’re getting the phone first,” and my mother threw up her hands and said, “Fine” in the same you’re-completely-irrational, I’m-backing-away-slowly-now voice she sometimes uses with my father.

We collected the phone–not without getting lost on the way–and made our way to the repair shop.   After my dad paid for the new clutch, we ate dinner at a restaurant that Yelp highly recommended, although it did–accurately– call the ambiance “divey”.  My mom and I enjoyed our cheese enchiladas thoroughly.  My dad did not like his carne asada.  I, apparently in a better mood than I had been in the afternoon, refrained from suggesting that perhaps one should not order steak at a dive.

I drove my parents back to the shop.  We said our good-byes and got into our cars.  They headed south, and I headed north.  I was almost home, sitting at the last light before our apartment complex, waiting to turn left.  I glanced at the clock.  It was just before nine.  “I really should stop in the mall and pick up some chocolate coins,” I thought.    “It’s right there.”

I didn’t stop.  I figured I would get something in the morning.

That is how I found myself circumnavigating the Walmart at 7 a.m.  I found some gum ball machine plastic rings in the party section, but no chocolate coins.  I went to the candy section.  No chocolate coins.  I settled on Rolos.  They have no nuts and are at least wrapped in gold foil.

I got to school at 7:30.  At 8:10, I decided I didn’t have time to make the puzzles and abandoned that plan.  I revised the instructions for the students to just collect teacher’s initials rather than puzzle pieces before making copies.

The students enjoyed the Kahoot.  Based on their answers, I realized that most of them had retained very little from the vocabulary lesson last week.  After a little review, one of their classroom teachers put them in groups, and we had them up and about working on the treasure hunt.  I asked the technology teacher to help, so we had a good ratio of adults to students.  

The students were engaged and cooperative until the very end.  They completed nine tasks.  The tenth one was to find books they wanted to read, and check them out.  At that point, some of the students declined.   I dangled the treasure.  They were unmoved.   Eventually one of the teachers insisted that they get books and their prizes so they did.
It was kind of cool that for most of the students, the reward seemed to be the challenge of the treasure hunt, and not the candy.  It was frustrating that some of them didn’t want a book, though.  I’ll have to keep working on that.  And I think I have learned a valuable lesson, which is that I don’t have to go Walmart before school, no matter how cute I think my idea is.


Summer School Blues

I am working summer school.  The last two days have been especially hard.  I tried slicing about it.  Usually when I slice, I write my uncensored thoughts first and then edit the bits I wouldn’t want an administrator to see later.  This time I had trouble even committing my thoughts to text and whenever I did get something down, I’d erase it.  I was left with just a few lines, one of which was, “I am allowed to go to he bathroom occasionally”.  Seriously, friends, if your school has a one-person library, and you drop in unannounced with your students, you may find a sign on the desk indicating that the librarian will return in a few minutes.   Upon her return, it is not particularly kind to grill your colleague as to her whereabouts.

Your colleague in this hypothetical one-person library also may not take a lunch break.  If you see her shoveling a Special K bar into her mouth, she would be appreciative if you would consider giving her a minute to chew and swallow, if not the whole bar, at least the bite she has in her mouth before asking her to do something.

You also might want to consider that, if your school has a technology specialist,  while your librarian might collaborate with this teacher frequently, the librarian does not keep tabs on the technology specialist’s activities.   Instant messaging is a good way to get the technology specialist’s attention.  Pressuring the librarian to get you items out of the technology specialist’s closet and/or desk is a bad way to get the technology specialist’s attention.  If your school doesn’t have a technology specialist, and the librarian in the one-person library is also attempting to fill that role as well, you don’t have to worry about being nice to the librarian, unless the librarian is terrible, because if the librarian is not terrible, she will probably find a better job somewhere else.  The better job may include a library assistant, a colleague in instructional technology, or both.  

Assuming your librarian is not terrible, she will try her darnedest to help you and your students when you run into an unexpected problem, like say, oh, paywalls on newspaper web sites.  You may wish to consider mentioning a project using information sources to your librarian before you get started on it with the students, because not only will it make the librarian happy, she may well be able to anticipate things like paywalls on newspaper web sites.  In most cases, she could put together a lesson on how to retrieve the desired content through resources to which the school already subscribes.  She might even have some news-related Google and Twitter strategies she would love to share with the students.    While your librarian in the one-person library will likely manage to throw a lesson together in-between helping other classes and checking out books to them, she will do a much better job on the lesson for your class with slightly more than 20 minutes notice.

This all assumes that your librarian is not terrible.  It also assumes your librarian exists.  I am grateful to work in a school system in which there are full time librarians in most of the buildings.  I am grateful that, during the year, I work in a busy library staffed by not just a librarian, but two librarians and a library assistant.  Most of all I am grateful that the classroom teachers in my home school plan ahead and include librarians in the process.

There is a story about my day in here somewhere.  Even if it is hypothetical.

This is the Tuesday! Zucchini 

I’m glad to be writing for Slice of Life again.  I had a good time participating in the Slice of Life Challenge in March.  Maybe too good a time.  I sometimes got lost in writing and neglected other things.  Things like the grad class I was taking.  Housework.  Exercise.  

I wanted to start participating in the Tuesday challenge, but it has taken me this long to just sit down and write.   I think once I fell out of the daily habit of writing and posting, it was easy to stay out of it.  The last few weeks of school were frantic and I decided to give myself a break until the end of the school year.  

School has been out for a few weeks.  I never should let myself off the hook about something I really want to do.    I’m working summer school, but I definitely have more time to myself.   My day starts at the same time but ends almost three hours earlier.   I’m not taking any classes.   So far I’ve been avoiding writing by cooking.   I’m an okay cook, but I don’t cook enough.  This new foray into cooking has lasted two weeks.

I think I can maintain the routine, at least for the summer.   On Saturday, I choose the recipes.  The first week, I looked through cookbooks.  This week, I felt too lazy for that so I used Pinterest.  I make my shopping list on Saturday night and then I hit the farmers’ market early Sunday morning and swing by Aldi on the way back.  Both weeks I’ve had to make a trip to a conventional grocery store later to pick up a few remaining items, but it is worth it for the freshness of the food at the farmers’ market and the cost savings at Aldi.  I know there are people who would go to the farmer’s market first, buy what looks good, and then menu plan around that, but my brain doesn’t work like that.

Last night I made zucchini fritters.  I had bought some beautiful zucchini at the farmers’ market.  I went to grate it, as directed, and quickly remembered that my husband had thrown my grater away.  Actually, Ed threw the bottom part of the grater away, because he throughout it was a piece of Tupperware that was missing its lid.  I threw the top part away because it was impossible to use the top part of the grater alone without skinning the heck out of my knuckles.  

Back when I discovered part of the grater to be missing, I complained to my husband about it.  He suggested I use the Microplane instead.  That works well enough for cheese, but it doesn’t work for zucchini, as I quickly discovered last night.  If you take a Microplane to zucchini, you wind up with zucchini pulp.

I contemplated running out and buying a grater, but I had started dinner late, and I wanted to get it on the table at a reasonable hour.  I chopped the zucchini as finely as I could, in the hope that this would approximate shreds.  

I started mixing the ingredients together.  As I was measuring them out, it occurred to me that this recipie had a much higher ratio of bread crumbs, cheese, and egg to vegetable than I had originally suspected.  Not exactly he healthy food I was looking for.

I forged on, forming the mixture into small patties and pan frying them in a little bit of olive oil.  It took a while.  I mistimed when to start cooking the corn on the cob, and it was ready long before the zucchini fritters were.  I removed the corn from the pot with tongs and then emptied the boiling water into the sink.  I put the corn back in the pot and put the lid on, hoping it would stay warm but not overcook.

Ed came home while I was frying the zucchini cakes.  I finished cooking the final fritters, and called him to the table.  The corn had cooled a little more than I would have liked but was still delicious.  You can’t beat fresh corn in the summertime.  I like it with butter and salt.  I don’t usually eat butter, but I make an exception for corn in the summertime.

The zucchini cakes were just okay. Conisidering the recipie used an entire box of crumbled Feta, they should have been delicious.  I might aquire a grater for the zucchini and see if that helps.  I’d like to cutback on the breadcrumbs and maybe use a sharper cheese.  I don’t know what though.  

Ed’s take was that they were good, but that he wouldn’t consider them a main course.  I told him they were too much work for a side dish.

Tonight I’m making Thai noodles of some sort.  Another Pinterest experiment.    I had to buy Siracha.  They don’t sell that at Aldi.  I hope they are easier and tastier than the zucchini cakes.  Or at least one of those.  I really ought to start chopping.

I’m glad I managed to write something first.

Thirty-First Slice: My Buddy David

Last night I hung out with an old friend, my oldest friend.  I think I was two and he was three when we started playing together.   His family lived next door to my mother’s college roommate.   My mother’s roommate lived in a small, inaccessible (back then) beach town, and hooked my parents up with a dirt cheap rental down the street.  For years my family spent two hot, sandy, happy weeks at the beach, and one of the best parts for me was getting to see my buddy David.

When we were teenagers, we decided to start writing letters to each other.   David’s aunt lived near me, so once he learned to drive, he would come up, often with a friend or two in tow, to visit his aunt and to see me.   My senior year I had a car, so I would drive to visit him at State.  When my parents retired to the beach, I already had a group of friends in the area, thanks to my buddy David.

For a while, we both lived in the center of the state, about two hours away from our parents, and I got to see my friend on a regular basis.  But stuff happens, and I moved back to the area where I had grown up, for work.  There is a lot I miss about where I used to live, particularly my buddy David.

We both work in schools.  I texted him to see when his spring break was, and if he had any plans to visit his mom and dad.  His spring break is also this week and he decided to come down yesterday.  We went out to dinner with our parents and then went gallivanting afterwards.  That is just what I do with my buddy David.

We started at the local homemade ice cream shop.  Next we sat at the bar of a Mexican chain restaurant next door, nursing our prickly pear margaritas.  Then, even though I had consumed enough calories for the week that evening, I suggested we drive across town to get a Krispy Kreme donut.  As fate would have it, the Hot Light was on.  We sat in the booth and talked about our lives, and the frightening fact that many adults aren’t that good a being adults.  I lost track of time, like I often do when I hang out wth my buddy David.

I got home before midnight, but unlike Ciderella, I had to write and submit a slice before 11:59.  I tried to write about my friend and our friendship over the years.  The clock I was looking at was slow, and I didn’t leave my link until 11:59: one minute too late.   The second to last slice, and I missed the deadline by a minute.  I was angry at myself, but I’ll have to accept that I mostly completed the challenge, and it was worth being a minute late, to eat junk and laugh too loud and talk about terrible things and lose track of time and just catch up with my oldest friend, my buddy David.

Thirtieth Slice: Old Friend


playing little people/checking out the trash after it had been compacted/juggling underwear/Scrabbleplayin/letter writing/rock show loving/the battleship collage making/staying up too late/getting shushed by parents/hanging out in all night restaurants/wandering around mass-merchandisers/hanging out in the dorm/listening to records/far away/hanging out in bars/record store visiting/breakup coping/wedding celebrating/Big Lots visiting/lobster costume wearing/Mary Tyler Moore fan/E.T. Watching/Joy Division introducing/No wasted guacamole shouting/yellow house dwelling/Krispy Kreme eating/laughing too loudly /ready to go back to first grade/gallows humor employing/karaoke-singing


Twenty-Ninth Slice: Never Trust a California Grit

I’m visiting my parents for the next few days.  My mother and I went to the library book sale and bought 85 books between the two of us.  None of them are for either of us.  It is the last day of the book sale and everything was selling for a dime.  We primarily bought books to give to the students at my school.  For $8.50, you can’t go wrong.  It will proably cost me more in gas to drive them home–the cost of carrying 85 books on a seven hour trip will be more than what I paid for the books–but I am okay with that.

After the book sale we had brunch at the cafe in the art museum and then cruised through the exhibits.  My mother is not one to linger in front of a painting.  We were primarily there to look for a birthday present for my sister but the current selection of art museum earrings was disappointing.  

We nipped over to the mall after that.  There is a store that my husband likes that doesn’t exist where we currently live.  I was hoping to pick up a shirt for him, but there were none on the clearance rack that were non-iron and regular (as opposed to slim) fit in the brand that he likes, and he doesn’t really need a shirt, so I passed.  I found a Wacoal in my size on clearance and my mom and I picked up some little gifts for my sister.

We hit Trader Joe’s on the way home.  My mom needed grits for tonight’s dinner.  They claimed to be stone-ground, but they were made in California.  The directions called for milk and brown sugar and we were suspicious, but we didn’t really want to go to another store.

My mom fixed shrimp and grits and my cousin (actually my first cousin once removed) and his wife came over for dinner.  My father started ranting about Carter and inflation so I hit the wine a little harder than I should have, perhaps.  

My mother had some trouble with the grits.  First, they looked dry, so she added the milk as the package directed.  Then, the grits would not cook down. The shrimp were ready to eat.  We decided to eat the watery grits.  I said they were like dorm grits and she didn’t know what that meant.  I meant they were like grits you would be served if you lived in a dorm–all runny.   The grits still tasted good, and the shrimp were amazing, as usual.  

My cousin’s wife got a lecture from my father on why she should take up bridge while my mom, cousin and I talked a little bit about family history.  My mother said that growing up, the joke about her family was that whatever statement you might make at the dinner table, someone would contradict you.  If you said it was a lovely day, someone would counter that they saw clouds.  My mother claims that the smart phone would have eliminated much of their conversation since much of what they debated could be so easily checked, but I like to think perhaps it would have elevated their conversation.   Maybe instead of fighting about facts, they could have discussed ideas.  Then, again, arguing about ideas sounds dangerous.  Maybe it was better that they quibbled over trivia.

Tomorrow I have to try to crank out some work, and the day after that I have to make the long trip home.  Time at my parents’ has a tendency to fly by.

Twenty-Eighth Slice: Rest Stop

I’m taking half of my spring break to visit my parents.  The worst part of visiting my parents is the drive.  Seven hours is about average.  I invited my niece to come with me but she is working.  My husband is taking the second half of the week off, but needs to work the first.  So I am making the trip solo.

The first hundred miles are generally the worst and today was no exception.  My phone kept encouraging detour after detour, which I gamely followed but I’m not sure any of them actually helped.

When I was a kid, my dad would talk about making good time.  I think that is in the dad handbook, that particular phrase.  I was making terrible time for the first few hours of the trip.  

I pulled out of a traffic jam and got some gas.  Some Girl Scouts were outside selling cookies in the cold and the wind.  I intended to donate a dollar like I usually do, and tell them I already bought, which was true, but I ended up buying two boxes.  I put them in the trunk to prevent myself from eating them on the ride.

Finally I left the sprawl of the region I call home and the road started to open up a bit.

I got the migraine eye twinge about thirty miles north of the state line.  I stopped at a truck stop and took an Imitrex and a Tagalog.  I  could not add an Anaprox because I had already taken one earlier in the day.  I kept going.

But then two hours later, I felt worse.  I pulled into a rest stop and took the Anaprox.  I emailed my mom–she hates texts–to let her know I would be delayed and rested in the car for about 20 minutes.

I got back on the road.  A couple of hours later I saw I had voice mail from my parents.  I stopped to listen to it.  It was my Dad, panicked about my driving with a migraine.  I called home to tell my parents not to worry.  My mother answered the phone, and even though I fully intended to tell her I could finish the drive, I am sitting here at the rest stop waiting for my parents to pick me up.

It is nice to be so loved and cherished.