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Showing posts from April, 2008

ABC Wednesday: O is for Oliver Mill~

O is for Oliver Mill

Oliver Mill, in Middleborough, Massachusetts, is the scene of an annual mating ritual, wild and free, a testimony to the strength of biological urges.

Come April, young and old line up on the bridges of this restored mill site to watch the herring swim against the current to the calm pond above the falls where the females will lay their eggs, and the males will broadcast their sperm.

(These fish are attempting to leap the higher falls, having missed the ladder route.)

Oliver Mill is one of many such herring runs where man has built a "ladder" in the stream to ease the arduous upstream journey of the river herring, in this locale either alewife or bluebacks.

Some of the eggs will be devoured by under water creatures, and some adult fish will feed the gulls that have left the McDonald's trash barrels, opting instead to try their wings as fisherman-- proper gull behavior.

Those fish that survive will reverse direction in autumn, letting the current pull t…

The eternal optimist~

With fewer than forty school days left before my much-anticipated retirement, I called my former newspaper editor. I had a quick question to ask, just needed some info that a friend asked me to get.

Then after the chitchat, after the answer to the question, just at good-by, he said, "By the way, we have a position opening up in June. Full-time, forty-hours. Would you be interested?"


It seems an editor for a nearby town was leaving and the seat at her desk was going to need to be filled.


"Well, I'd have some questions." I was stalling.

How did I feel? A desk job. A desk with no students in front. A phone right there within reach. A computer. Local stories to cover . . . Interviews to do-- I love to ask questions.

"I remember you said to keep you in mind when you retired," he said.

But, the thing is, I haven't retired yet. I haven't had a chance to taste the freedom from routine that brings.

"One question: Would I have to get up early?&q…

I will not whine~

A week of vacation comes to an end, and I refuse to whine.

It's been a week of beautiful spring weather and good friends, a week of time alone and time with others, a week of events, not all I'd hoped for, but I can live with it all: a good friend and candidate for Selectman lost the election last night, my son is scheduled for arthroscopic knee surgery on Thursday, a friend is moving out of town next month. But these are mere flecks of dust on the lens I peer through.

Spring's promise is being unwrapped daily and the warmth fills my heart. All is well. I can't complain. I won't.

This I know after this week of "glory devine," I will need structure when I retire, a schedule, something to anchor me in the day and make sure I get housework and other yuck stuff done along with the bike rides and the photography sprees that tug me out of the house.

This week I floated free for the most part . . . and loved it, but my "best laid plans" of cleaning closet…

Karate Kid IV

This spring Bruce and I went to the Garden show in Boston. There were bonsai vendors amidst the floral art and beautiful themed displays.

When I said, "Lets look," he was as captivated by the tiny junipers as I was. We picked one out with the care we give to a Christmas tree, or maybe even to picking out a pet, and made plans to pick it up later after we finished with the garden show.

That's when we learned we might have, in fact, bought a "pet," or a reasonable facsimile.

"Listen to this," I said reading from the instructions we were given with the bonsai. "It says they provide boarding for trees. Who would board a tree?"

As it turns out, many. They require individualized attention; each has its own watering and temperature needs and many board their plants when vacationing.

It also turns out that juniper, the tree we'd chosen because it was among the least expensive, should live outside from late April until just before the frost. Like a ju…

In His name~

Pope Benedict began his US visit today. Some of my fifth graders knew this. They described the Pope as "like a priest" and "a very religious man."

But other than that they had no concept of who he was, where he lives, and what his role is.

Mark knew he was "a Catholic." Mary said he lived in "England or something." But John knew he lived in Rome, although he didn't know that was in Italy. No one mentioned the Vatican City.

And then there were other confusions. Sue had told a friend that she was a Christian, and the friend replied, "Then you can't be a Catholic." Sue was not sure about this; no one was.

"Could you be both a Christian and a Catholic?" someone asked.

I put the word Christian on the board, underlined the word Christ in it. They understood that believers in Jesus as Lord call themselves Christians no matter what the denomination of their church.

But there is Sally who is Jewish and daily keeps me informed of upc…

A pound of flesh~

Beef, Angus strip roast, is on sale for $8.99 per pound, chicken breasts, boneless, $4.99 a pound. My own flesh is worth far more, I found. (Not in the way you're thinking, Elliot Spitzer and all)

I responded to a junk mail ad for a place I'll call as "Shylock Fitness Center." It was a promo, I knew this, but I checked it out just to see. I'm a tough sell and I wasn't worried that I'd get pushed into anything. That never happens, hardly.

The place provides one-on-one fitness training-- a private hour and a half, three times a week with a personal trainer, a nutritional program, and body fat analysis. -I'd visited this place once four years ago to do a feature for a newspaper, so I knew how they operated-- and that they were pricy.

-But you never know. The economy is in a slump. Maybe they are desperate for clients.

The owner, who I'll call Mr. Pecs, showed me around. I wanted only the bottom line: the price. But he was intent on getting me firmly on …

Magic medicine~

Before class, Mike approached me, red faced and nervous. "Mrs. D. Can I go to the nurse?"

"Why?" I always ask, performing my triage role. Paper cuts and week-old bruises get no one out of a math test.

"My arm feels numb, sort of tingly, and my leg is weak," he said rubbing his tingling right elbow with his left hand.

"What happened?" I asked, all the while noticing that he had good color, stood tall, spoke clearly.

"I poked my arm with my pencil," he said showing me his bicep on which there was the tiniest pink spot. He repeated, "My arm feels funny and the feeling's spreading down my leg. All on this side."

Some teachers in a situation like this say simply, "Go sit down. You're fine." Kids who make trips to the nurse for avoidance purposes are common and make teachers skeptical and impatient of complaints that come on the day of a test.

But I knew instinctively what his worry was. Despite the fact that pencil lea…