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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Staying Home

I was supposed to on vacation this week. Well, maybe I should say “vacation.” It would have involved a quarantine for the entire duration of my trip, which didn’t seem terribly productive or fun. Or safe. I also didn’t want to go to the airport and get on a plane. I didn’t even want to ride to the airport. And what about my luggage? Who was handling it? What if they sneezed on it and got me sick? Paranoid? Maybe, but I just don’t want to take any chances.

I’ve tried to avoid talking about this pandemic thing, because I know it’s polarizing. There are those that believe in science, and those that believe in conspiracies. Maybe there’s something in the middle, but I don’t know what that would be. In case you weren’t sure, I’m firmly in the science camp.

I wear my masks when I leave my property, even if it’s just to walk to the mailbox around the corner. I’m beginning to assemble a nice little wardrobe of masks. The other day I added a fabulous Ruth Bader Ginsburg mask to my collection, thanks to my crafty and generous friend. Now that was a good mail day.

I’m not going anywhere this summer. Not on vacation, not to the mall, not to restaurants, not anywhere. Wait, I take that back. I did make one quick trip to Target last week. It was a coordinated strike, with an action plan in place to get in, get the goods, and get out. Every person in the store was wearing a mask, which frankly surprised me, given where I live. My nerves were on edge the entire time I was in the store.

You see, I’m one of those “high risk” people when it comes to this disease. From the point of view of the disease, I’m an easy target. From the point of view of health care providers, who are currently stressed to the max from too many sick people and not enough resources, I’m not a great bet. I get it, which is why it’s up to me to make sure I stay well. So no, no trip for me.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve been gobbling up professional development opportunities like crazy. I’ve spent hours and hours learning new approaches to teaching, and I’ve earned a few college credits along the way. I’ve been home since March, and this is a way for me to feel productive. Yes, I enjoy my hobbies, but I also love my profession, and I want to be prepared to move forward when the time comes.

The discussion around school reopening has been one that I’ve been following closely. As of a few days ago, the governor of our state pushed back school opening to August 17. We generally start the first week in August. Now what will actually happen on August 17 is still unknown. The last I heard, our district will open providing 3 choices for families: all in person instruction, all online instruction, or a hybrid model that places kids in school for 3 hours each day. I know, I don’t really get the logic of that last one either. As we approach August 17, there may be a change to that plan. Several districts in our state have already come out and said they are only offering online instruction the first quarter. Personally, I think that’s wise from both a public health standpoint, and a consistency standpoint for students.

Let’s face it, there’s no good solution. No matter what happens, education has been impacted in a huge way, and there’s no easy fix.

I want to teach kids. I want to be in school. I also want all of us to stay healthy. I want this horrible pandemic to go away. But as my father used to tell me, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Wishing it won’t make it so. I, for one, will stay home as long as I can to help stop the spread of this disease.