BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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What Do You Say At a Time Like This?

I’ve felt tongue-tied recently. At least online. I want to write, but I’m not exactly sure what to write about. Naturally there are the BIG things. Things like justice, equity, access to healthcare, governmental responsibility, constituent responsibility, the role of media, the role of the courts, the issue of personal responsibility, the issue of public health.

I’ve stayed away from the BIG topics because I feel like a blog isn’t the right place for me to share my thoughts about them. It’s too one-sided. There are my words, then your interpretation of what I mean, then maybe a comment from you and a reply from me and that’s about it. There’s so much room for ambiguity and misunderstanding. There’s so much margin for error. I prefer to discuss these topics in a more two-sided way, with give and take from both parties. We don’t learn from one another by making proclamations, then closing our eyes, ears, and hearts.

So if not the BIG things, then what? There are plenty of things rattling around in my brain, but they seem so trivial at a time like this. In light of the pandemic raging and the U.S. Capitol being overrun, does anyone really want to read about my seemingly never-ending quest for just the right hand cream? Maybe. After all, I’m not the only one washing my hands excessively this winter.

Or maybe you want to hear about my brownie fail? I’ve made this recipe dozens of times, if not more. These brownies are the best. They ALWAYS turn out. Except the other day they didn’t. The closest I can figure is that I either set the oven for the wrong temperature (maybe 325 instead of 375?) or I set the timer for the wrong amount of time (13 minutes instead of 23?). I was distracted. I had more important things on my mind (more about that in a minute), and I rushed. Sure, they looked a little strange when I pulled them out of the oven, but they weren’t jiggly or anything. And no, I didn’t test them, because why would I? After all, I’ve made them dozens of times, if not more, and I was distracted. They’re still pretty tasty, but they are definitely underdone. Like, way underdone. They hold together, but really, they’re not exactly cooked. Oops.

And why was I distracted? Well, because if was just about kickoff time, and my football team is in the playoffs. Yes, the Buffalo Bills are showing up and it’s glorious. This football season has been a welcome distraction from the BIG things. The team has done so well, and they’ve been so much fun to watch. It’s been a long time since the Bills have gone this far, and it’s a ton of fun. Thank you, Buffalo Bills.

Then there are a bunch of “other” things. Things like the stolen credit card number (that my credit card company caught, thank goodness), the glitchy connection to my online students, and the thousands of spam messages to this blog. There’s the job hunt my son has been enduring, and not seeing much of him due to this stupid pandemic. There’s the mountain of work I need to do in order to complete the requirements to be considered for National Board Certification (for teachers), as well as the professional observation I need to schedule. There’s the concern about going out into the community that has kept me from the dentist and the hair salon, making me feel somewhat like a cave-woman. There’s the worry that I feel for my friends and loved ones, as the list of people I know who’ve been diagnosed with this horrible disease grows. There’s the anxiety of watching the news, but the feeling that I have to keep informed. There’s the wrath that my colleagues and I face from some members of the public, in our community and beyond, because our schools are functioning in an online only capacity for the time being. There’s a lot. And here we are, right back to the BIG things. They’re impossible to ignore.

It seems to me that it’s the big things that frame our lives, but it’s the small things that make them worth living. I’ll set up my observation, and continue the quest for the perfect hand cream. I’ll keep working my way through my National Board materials. I’ll keep looking for work-arounds when our Google meet goes wonky. I won’t give up on that brownie recipe, and I won’t give up on my football team. In the middle of all this crazy, you can still hear me shouting, “Go Bills!”


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A Different Kind of Christmas

No parties, unless you count a brief masked outdoor lunch at work (that I skipped).

No shopping, unless you count online shopping, in which case there’s been plenty of shopping.

No strolls around the neighborhood to enjoy the light displays, unless you count the daily walk to the mailbox that is more of an exercise in avoiding clusters of unmasked people who have come to our neighborhood to stroll around and enjoy the light displays.

No live performances of any sort. No Dave Koz, no children’s choir, no Nutcracker, no Christmas Carol, not even a school winter holiday concert.

I’ve noticed that several of my friends have really embraced the holiday season this year, setting up elaborate displays and decorating their homes to the max. They aren’t going to let a little thing like a global pandemic get in the way of enjoying Christmas. They are the grit your teeth and get it done no matter what folks. I admire them.

I, on the other hand, have gone the other direction. I’ve gone low key this year. Yes, there’s a Christmas tree, and it’s decorated, but there’s another whole tote of ornaments that didn’t make it on the tree this year. It’s okay, though, because the special ones are there.

The stockings are hung, but they’re the only thing on the mantle, which I usually decorate with greenery and various other holiday items.

The picture above the mantle is the same one that’s always there, not one that I put up just at holiday time. In fact on the walls I have exactly one holiday quilt and one holiday cross stitch piece.

The dining room table is covered in a red table cloth, and the kitchen table sports a green one, but neither holds a centerpiece. And Hanukkah? I’m afraid that got skipped all together.

Still, the house looks nice, not overcrowded, and I’ve baked some cookies, so that’s something. My son is quarantining so he can join us on Christmas, and he’s preparing the main dish. He’s turing into a very good cook.

Mine aren’t quite this perfect.

This holiday season may look different, and it may feel different, but I’m fortunate to be able to spend it with the ones I love, so I’m luckier than many people this year. Every day I’m grateful that we’re all still okay. Every day I hope that our good fortune holds out. Next year things will be different, hopefully they will be better. For now, though, I wish you the very best this holiday season. May you know peace, good health, and love.


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Confessions of a Cooped Up Teacher

Day One: March 16, 2020

I don’t want to stay home, and yet I want nothing more than to stay home.

I’ve been home for a week. It was spring break, and five glorious days off school were mine! No big plans for me, just some work and some r & r and some time with Mom, doing the mother daughter things: lunch, shopping, movies. The week started off just fine. Yes, there was some rain, but that only made staying in doing nothing that much better. Then it cleared up some, and Mom & I got together and did our thing. It was great. That was last Saturday. On Tuesday we got together again, this time we went to the movies. We had a terrific time and planned to get together again on Thursday. Then all hell broke loose.

1200px-Pandemiclogo.svgWatching the news and reading articles left me with a sense of dread and doom. I did not want to be a part of that, so I switched off my social media and got off my behind. My sweetheart and I did some grocery shopping, made sure we had tp, and planned to lay low. I called Mom to see how she was doing and if she needed anything. She was fine, and said she did not need a thing. Then I told her our plans Thursday were going to have to be delayed. I was not willing to take my eighty-something year old mother into a crowded place just so we could have a nice lunch. She was disappointed, but claimed to understand my reasoning. I think she was just trying to be agreeable.

Since then schools have been shut down in several states, my own included. It was a weight off my chest when the announcement was made last Thursday that our district would close. The entire state is now closed at least until March 27, but between you and me I don’t think schools will be ready to reopen that soon. I keep getting snippets of information, like everyone else. One friend in New York has told me what her district is doing, another friend, who has a daughter in Seattle, has shared some of her experiences. Getting these first and secondhand accounts is powerful. These are REAL people, not alarmists.

Each day I recommit to staying away from people, but it’s so difficult. When my 21 year old called me and asked if we could go to the grocery store together (clearly he was low on funds) I, of course, said yes. And when my brother, mother, and niece asked me to join them for a family St. Patrick’s meal, well, I said yes to that too. But that’s it. I’m not going anywhere after that. Unless I have to.

As of right now, I don’t really know what I have to do. I’ve been gathering some resources for teachers and parents, but honestly, there’s simply too much to sort through. I’m so grateful to all the children’s presses, publishers, authors, bookstores, and curriculum websites. You’ve been so generous with your time and resources. The only issue is that there’s SO much that it’s overwhelming, even for someone like me, who is familiar with much of it (unlike parents). How are we going to pare this down to its most impactful elements and share it equally? How are we going to reach and engage our students when we’re all living in a shared state of disbelief?

I’m sure some guidance will be forthcoming, at least in regard to work. For now I’m grateful that my loved ones are all healthy, and we have what we need. I hope you can say the same.