Saturday, June 14, 2008


Last night was Tony's last Friday dinner with us. He leaves for Aynor, SC (35.1 miles from the BEACH!) on Wednesday. At Taylor's suggestion, I made a batch of homemade chicken noodle soup...Tony's favorite. I did a twist on the noodles this time, though. Because of a shortage of flour, I used half Masa flour. They turned out well, and I think I may do that more often. They are a sort of unappetizing gray color, though.

After supper I shot some portraits of him, which I have not uploaded yet. I'm hoping to get a really nice one to give to some of our church members. He's become my little brother and also a sort of son to a couple of the ladies at church. So I hope to have a nice one I can use to print 8x10s and give them away. Sometime this weekend I have to write a story about him. It will be column, not a news story. And it will have quite a few examples of how he's managed to crawl into our hearts to reside.

I have another few days of work this week. I've lost track of how many days I owe the district, but I'm pretty sure it's 4 or 5, so I'll work all next week and be done of the summer. Sort of. I'm organizing our vault of student records, and I won't have time during the school year, so if I don't get it completed this week I know I'll stop in later on to finish up. Taylor and I will be going to Minnesota for a couple of weeks, so it'll probably be late July before I stop in there again.

We have records of every Indian Land student dating back to 1923. That includes not only graduates, but also drop-outs and withdrawals. I've already moved the graduate files to plastic totes with lids so that the records won't be damaged if there's a fire and they get sprinkled. Now I'm working on the drop-out/withdrawal files, which are held in several 4-drawer file cabinets. Most of the drawers are too full to get your fingers into, so when you get a request for records it's hard to pull the file you want. I've decided to pull out all the ones that are more than 10 years old and put them in plastic totes too. For now I'm piling those totes on top of the cabinets, with the hope that I can get facilities management to build me more shelves up there.

The drop-out files are not filed by date, just alphabetically. So this necessitates pulling each file and checking inside to see if there is some sort of clue as to what year they left. I generally don't read students files -- just pull them, get what I need, and get out. But in some cases I have to search for a date and this can lead to some interesting finds. Most of the time there is no reason given for dropping-out or any mention of where the student went when they withdrew. But occasionally I find a poignant comment that gives me pause.

One file said that this 6th grader had been withdrawn from our school for "failure to report." Scribbled across the page was "Ran Away." And in another file was a request for a transcript a couple of years ago from the Ohio Department of Corrections. The request said that they had an inmate who indicated he'd attended Indian Land High School in the 70s and now wanted to pursue his GED.

And there are others that indicate how much personal attention our students receive. I found a note written by my friend Trish when she taught second grade many many years ago. A student of hers was moving to a new state and Trish wrote a brief note to the new school telling them what a delightful little girl the student was, and that she's an excellent student, but needs to get more sleep.

And now it's time to go to Jazzercise. And then maybe a little shopping this afternoon.

Friday, June 13, 2008


My life is pretty much a continuous battle with socks. Oh sure, I have the usual battle with pairs going into the laundry and only singles coming out. But the main problem I have with socks is finding them where they are not meant to be.

The other day I sat down in the downstairs bathroom and there, out of the corner of my eye to my right, behind the trashcan, was a pair of socks.

I decided to leave them there.

For two days they lay there. Finally I gave up and put them in the laundry. As I grumbled my way back downstairs from the laundry room, I scooped up my keys and went out to car to go to Jazzercise.

On the floor of my car, between the front seat, where two pair of my own athletic socks.

People who live in glass houses...

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Turnip is your friend

Listen to the dog barking in the background and then the abrupt that a gunshot?

I Think Bear Saw the White Light

Some may think I was being overly dramatic, but I have to tell you I've seen many pets near death in my life (when in high school I helped out a veterinarian twice a week) and I'm quite certain I nearly lost my puppy last Tuesday.

We got up and walked at 5 a.m. Tuesday like we usually do. We were rounding the last leg of the block when Bear stopped to investigate what looked like a paper towel on the curb. He's a fast little devil and before I could yank him back he had it in his mouth. I snatched him up and stuck two fingers in his mouth to flick the object out. I had it in my grasp but he swallowed before I could get it out. He had some kind of slimy drool dripping from his lips. My thought was "egg... paper towel."

We continued on. About 20 or 30 feet later he started heaving and spit up something on the opposite curb. It was still dark and I didn't really stop to look at the item but it seemed like maybe he'd spit up as much as he'd taken in, so I was good. He was good.

But he wasn't. As we came around the corner toward our house he started slowing down and then finally plopped down. This? Never happens. He's still pretty much a puppy. Incidentally, it was his first birthday on Monday.

I got him into the house where he spread out on the tile floor and went still. Very, very still. His respiration slowed and his heartbeat slowed even more. I bent over him and tried to turn him over and he felt like molten lead. His eyes were glazing over and he really looked bad. It was 5:30 a.m.

I ran upstairs to put on clothes (I was pretty much wearing my pajama top and sweatpants) and told Bob I was going to rush Bear to Charlotte to the Veterinary ER. I didn't know exactly where it was, but had a general idea. He asked if he should come and I said "yes," but then it became obvious that he would want to brush his teeth and put on clothes. I told him I couldn't wait. He put Bear in the car next to me and I lit out.

I called Sarah as I drove down the road. She was fast asleep, but popped wide awake when I told her something was wrong with Bear. She told me where the clinic was. As I drove toward Charlotte, Bear didn't seem to be getting any worse, but he was not getting better, either. He was just lying there, eyes partially opened and still.

I turned onto Westinghouse and then onto Tryon and he suddenly sat up and looked around. As we pulled into the parking lot of the ER, I saw one vehicle there and it was lit up and unlocked. I carried him into the building, but he was not prone by this time. He was up, looking around, and I was carrying him upright with my hand between his front legs and on his chest. He seemed alert.

No one came to the desk when I entered. I wandered around the clinic, but did not go through the "Authorized Personnel Only" doors. I called "Hello? Hello?" several times. By this time Bear was wanting to get down. So I snatched one of their disposable rope leashes off a hook on the wall and walked him around more, still calling out. No response.

So we went back outside and wandered around on the grass, Bear acting completely normal and me watching his every move.

He seemed fine. I told him we'd go home and then see Dr. Curtsinger later if he was still not feeling well. He seemed to think that was a good idea, going over to the car and looking up at me to be put in.

And so we drove home.

He was fine the rest of the day, although pretty quiet. Especially considering we still had my parents and their dog, and sister Julia and nephew Jake all here. I took the day off. There was just too much stuff going on, with Bear and the visitors and Dad's brake problems. And Nate had an interview with the Leroy Springs Foundation about their loan program. Throughout the day Bear stuck close to me, but he does all the time, and I periodically looked at him and said, "I'm glad you're not dead."

The next day I went back to work. We had an all-day planning retreat off-site and at 4:45 Nate called and said, "I think we should take Bear to the vet. He's acting weird. He doesn't act happy to see me and he just lays there." So I told him to pile him in the car and drive straight up to Curtsinger. I'd meet him there. Nate walked in just as they were closing up shop, but they very cheerfully turned stuff back on and ushered him in.

They ran a bunch of bloodwork and determined he had no serious system issues. "He's quite depressed though," they said. "Definitely not our Bear." The final verdict was that whatever he ingested probably had irritated his esophagus and stomach. They gave him fluid under the skin to pep him up a bit and then a shot of something to sooth his gastrointestinal system.

Bear was back to normal in just a couple of hours and by the next morning he was is usual peppy self. Curtsinger's office called to ask about him and they were relieved to hear of his recovery. And here I will tell you: there is no reason that you can't have a vet that treats your pet like a valued member of the family. If your vet doesn't give you this kind of personal attention, then fire him or her.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

So. Where Was I?

Oh yeah.

Monday morning came and the lingering smoke from the night before had pretty much cleared. There was still a slight tinge of burned bean odor in the air, but for the most part things seemed pretty good. I went to work, arriving at 6:15 a.m. We do 4 10-hour days in the summer. I owe 2 weeks and a day to the district. But I'll be dragging those days out for a quite a while, as I planned to take a day or so here and there to visit with my sister and to work the primary election for Cassie.

Mom and Dad said good-bye to us Sunday night, planning to head out of their campground early Monday morning to begin the trek back home to Minnesota.

I started in with the post-school clean-up and shut-down. This necessitates quite a bit of running around the building and also a lot of file-shuffling in our records vault. The vault is nice. It's quiet and there are no phones in there. Unfortunately, there is no cellular signal in there, either. So whenever I've been in there a while, I go back to my desk to check my cell and my desk phone to see if there were calls.

At 8:30 I happened to be at my desk when my cell rang. It was Dad. "We are at Food Lion," he said. "The brakes aren't working on the camper. Do you think your mechanic can help us?"

I called Derek Patterson and told his receptionist the situation. They said they'd take Dad right away and I knew if they couldn't fix the problem, they'd get him to the right place. So I sent Dad up the road about a mile and went back to the vault.

A couple of hours later I checked messages and had one from Dad saying they were stuck at the mechanic and couldn't get back to our house. They needed a ride and couldn't find Nate. The message was 2 hours old. Hmmm. So I called and they had finally found him and were back at my house. They needed to take it to an RV repair place in Charlotte and didn't have a way to get it up there. So called my friend Steve, who is a home handyman. He was around and they did some more diagnosing and testing. Mom and Dad ended up staying until Wednesday morning getting it all done.

During all this time I was getting text messages from Julia saying they were stuck at the airport in Minneapolis. Needed a new plane. Then needed flight attendants. I never understand why flight attendants can't just go to the new plane with the passengers. I told her not to worry about being late getting here...I'd given her bed to Mom and Dad!

So as you can imagine Monday night was pretty chaotic. Everyone was here and I don't even remember what we fed them all. I'm glad Mom and Dad stayed a couple of days. They hadn't seen Julia since February, so they caught up a bit.

Tuesday morning, however, I had an emergency with Bear that really shook me up for a while.