Saturday, August 25, 2018

First day of high school

Can you tell he was excited? He's a funny kid. He does like his classes and has me for a science teacher.

The first week of school was really busy but I have a great group of kids and am excited for the year.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

back to school

 Today my knee and shoulder are less sore to the touch, but are turning yellow. I guess that means they are healing, which is a good thing.
 It's the last day of vacation and tomorrow the fun begins. The kids don't come back until Wednesday, but there is always so much to get done before the kids come back. I'm always envious of the districts where teachers get a whole week to work in their classrooms. We get 2 days. And half of that time is inservice. That's why I spend weeks during the summer working in my classroom. Most people don't understand why I spend so much time working during the summer, but I want to be ready to spend my time working with the kids, not cleaning and organizing and getting ready. I want to be ready.
 My naked lady lilies are doing really well this year. I loved these flowers as a kid and bought them two years ago. I put them in this abandoned vegetable garden and they don't need any attention. They bloom without leaves and then the leaves come out after they are done blooming-hence the name-naked lady.
 One of us is more excited to be going back than the other...can you guess who?
I went in yesterday and put up this bulletin board. I printed out pictures from Facebook and other places where I could find of the teachers in my department. I have a little surprise planned for every day this coming week to welcome everyone back. The first week is the hardest.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Don't just bloom-produce fruit

 I was telling my dad about this tomato plant at my school that is growing in a weed patch. I was at school this morning and snapped a picture to show him. I guess it's not really a weed patch, but rather an empty, dry used to be weed patch where nothing should be growing. Not only is this tomato plant growing, it is producing tons of cherry tomatoes. From what I can tell, nobody is watering this little guy. The nearest sprinkler is so far away that the overspay has no way of reaching it. Somehow it is getting to water and doing what it does best-making lots of tomatoes!

Of course, I see a lesson here. No matter where you end up in life, do what you were meant to do. Not only bloom, but produce fruit!
I'm feeling better today. My shoulder and knee are more shades of purple but aren't as sore to move. I had to go into the Occupational Therapist doctor yesterday. My work is covering the medical expenses under Workman's Comp because I was at school volunteering, so that's a blessing. We have a Health Saving's Account which means we have to pay for everything out of pocket until out $5400 deductible is covered for the year. The CT scan alone is over $2K and each doctor visit cost $125. I have to go back in one more time to see the doctor so they can make sure I'm healing well enough.

The doctor said I just missed the fascia (connective tissue that surrounds muscle) on my head that would have caused a big bruise on my eye and cheek. Bummer. Now, I won't get a bunch of sympathy on the first day back. :) But at least I will still look pretty.

I didn't do any damage to my shoulder or knee other than the bruise and scrapes. The Lord was watching over me when I fell for sure. A bruised ego, and some soft tissue damage and a headache and that's about it. I'm having the hardest time with resting. I don't know what that word means! I have so much to do and just sitting still is the worst. I'm sure there is a lesson here too, but I haven't learned it yet.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

no more excitement please

You can see the bruise starting to form above my glasses line. This was yesterday afternoon.
Yesterday was orientation for my son at high school. My baby is now a freshman. I took him a little early and I was going to stay the day and help out where needed. I planned to spy on him throughout the day. He jumped out of the car and took off across campus saying he was going to go to the gym to meet with friends. I went to my classroom to drop off my stuff and then headed to the gym to find him.
This was from this morning. It is a little darker and much more sore to the touch. The swelling has gone down.
 I checked out the gym and he wasn't in there. The older kids who are mentors for LINK crew were all in the gym, excited to start the day. They all cheered for me when I peeked my head in. One of the counselors asked if I could run to the office and pick up a microphone for them because they had forgotten it. No problem! Yep, that's when the problem started!

I headed to the office and saw the Vice Principal, who had asked me to stop in to talk to her. I'm the department chair this year, so we have been talking a lot, but still getting called into the principal's office is never fun!

I turned to say hi to her and then a student called my name. I turned a little more to see who it was calling me and wasn't looking where I was going. I tripped over some uneven pavement and was going a little too fast to catch myself and everything started going in slow motion! I could feel myself falling and couldn't do anything about it.

 I didn't have time or coordination to get my hands out to catch myself and hit my right shoulder and head really hard on the concrete. I also hit my left knee. The principal said he heard my head hit the pavement and came running over to help me up. The Vice Principal said I didn't look good before I made the fall. I told her it was because my baby was in high school and I'm having a hard time with that.
today the bruising starts and boy it is sore!
The principal got me into his office and got me an ice pack. I got a goose egg on my head and a nice headache. My husband came and took me to the ER. They did a CT scan and didn't find anything, which confirms my suspicions that there is a lot of empty space up there. No brain bleed or fracture of the skull. Just a mild concussion. My vision was blurry for a while and I got dizzy on the way back from the CT scan.

They sent me home with some ibuprofen and told not to go to work for 3 days. Isn't it convenient that I don't start work until Monday?

I'm really sore today and have whiplash. This big old head is really heavy.

I think I'm ready to have normal now please.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

a closer look

 Yesterday I decided to get a closer look at the fire damage. We have a gate that leads out to the open field that burned. It was hot, but windy so I decided to take a walk out to see for myself. Cows normally graze in this field year round, but they haven't been here for about a month. It's been really dry and most of the grass was gone. Down this dirt road is a lake that was dry for about 4-5 years. This past year we had a lot of rain and the lake filled up again. Every winter Canadian geese come to spend the winter on the lake. They are gone now, but build nests and raise their babies in the field.
 To the left of this picture is a big open field that did not burn. It is a drainage area for the neighborhood and for the prison, which is also to the left of the picture. Those pipes help the water flow under the fire access road and into the little creek which helped save our house. The last time the fire came in about 2003, the fire burned this field and one of those houses because this area wasn't part of the city. Both Fairfield and Vacaville argued over who should put out the fire. Neither did, so the house burned.
 This is a view of the edge of the drainage field. Those trees have to withstand a lot of wind and did get scorched by the fire, but I think they will come back.
 The wooden fence posts weren't so lucky. All night long, all of the wooden fence posts glowed red. In the morning, the firefighters went around and put them out with water.
This is the busy 2 lane road that the fire jumped. To the right is the SPCA.
If you haven't see the video of the rescue yet, it's pretty incredible. The Vacaville police department released body camera video showing how they got the animals out before the fire got to the shelter. None of the buildings were burned, but they lost power and the smoke was really bad.

Here's the link to the video.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Oh Rats!

Our air conditioner broke down on Sunday. It's in the high 90's here in Northern California and having an air conditioner is a necessity.

The repair guy came out in the afternoon and found this beauty in the compressor outside. He had been electrocuted. Probably quite some time ago by how dried out he was. No wonder the air conditioner has been acting up.

The guy was able to partly fix the air conditioner. He's coming back on Friday to fix the part upstairs. What's $3000? At least we will be cool again!

Plus, the duct work needs to be replaced.  The guy said there were a bunch of dried up rats in the attic too. Living next to a field is nice, but it's an open invitation to the wildlife to come party in the attic. We will probably put off the duct work for a couple of months, until it cools down a little.

40 more quilts for the Carr fire

 My friend was heading up to Oregon Saturday and said she would be willing to load up her car and drop off quilts along the way. We finished all of these quilts at our Binky quilt day on Thursday.
That's 40 more people comforted. I now know what it's like to feel the fear of a fire coming at you.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Well, that was exciting

 Last night around 6:45 someone came knocking on the door. I had heard helicopters outside, but didn't think too much about it.  My son came and said there was someone at the door. We never answer the door because it's always someone wanting to sell solar panels or paint our house. I sat there for a couple of minutes and then thought that I probably should get up and just check. Something didn't feel quite right.
 When I went outside, the entire neighborhood was out and this is what I saw. The fire was on the hill on the other side of the road. Since we've lived in our house (2005) the hill has burned twice. It has never made it over the two lane road. Before we moved in, there was a fire that burned the field and actually made it to our neighborhood and burned down a house. At that time, our neighborhood wasn't part of the city yet and so the firefighters couldn't decide who should hook up to the hydrant. Vacaville and Fairfield argued until the house burned to the ground.

 We were told we had to get out of the house. I grabbed the four dogs and my son and got them in the car and took off. My husband was looking for his wallet and got his medicine and a couple of boxes of his expensive comic books from his collection. He called me to say he had locked himself out of the house. So we came back and were told that we could stay on the street, but to be ready to get out if things got dangerous. This is a view out my living room window. The fire truck parked here and stayed over night watching the hot spots. I realized last night that I really needed to clean up the mess back there. I hadn't realized just how much trash had blown back there from the wind. It is either super windy or super hot in the summer and I don't spend much time on the side of the house. This morning I spent an hour and cleaned up the mess!

 As we watched, the fire got closer. This is my across the street neighbor's house. When the last fire came, it burned down their fence and they never replaced it. You can see the fire access road on the other side of the chain link fence and just on the other side of that is a drainage canal that has about a foot of water in it. It drains our entire neighborhood.  Good thing most people don't follow the rule and actually still water their lawns.

 We have the fire hydrant on our property. We also have 6 really big redwood trees. That's our property to the left of the picture. The fire truck pkarked here at the end of the court, but never hooked up to the water. They just watched the fire.

 The palm tree here in the left of the picture is on the outside of our fence and belongs to the city. If the fire had jumped the fire road and caught the palm tree, it would be a very small jump to our house. I'm going to get someone out to cut that tree down. About 5 years ago I had someone cut several palms down on our side of the fence. The fire burned all the way to the drainage creek. Just out of the picture to the left is the first fire truck. They came in my backyard and cut a hose I had hooked to the back of my property to water my plants. They used that to put out a couple of hot spots that jumped over the drainage creek. A very small price to pay! I went out this morning and got a new hose.
 This was the view this morning around 6:30. The hills were still smoking and the wooden fence posts in the field were also smoldering.

 There was ash and soot everywhere.
 Here's the small fire truck that had been parked behind my house all night. Just to the right of this picture is a canal that helicopters had used to pick up water to drop on the fire. There were 4 or 5 helicopters working the fire for about an hour last night.

 It's a crazy site. There is a road right before the hill starts that is a major thorough fare to get between Vacaville and Fairfield. It was closed this morning. One of the power poles had burned and fallen over. I know some people are without power. It's really hot here, high 90's to low 100's. At least we have power still.

 Around 9:30 the firefighters started going out and putting out the hot spots with water. They drove all over the field. Normally there are cows in this field, but they haven't been here for a month or so.

 Just when I thought things had calmed down and everything was over, I heard helicopters again. This is the view from my son's bedroom window.
 Here come the helicopters again. At first there was one every 15 minutes or so. They were flying really close to our house and if I was on the roof, I could have grabbed that water bucket and gone for a ride. The whole house shook when they flew over.
 Then they started coming every 2-3 minutes. The fire must have picked up again. They were dipping the bucket in the canal that leads from the Sacramento river into the North Bay Water Treatment Plant. That supplies our water for drinking.

We've also had a ton of lookie-loos come by. I guess it is pretty exciting. We even had a company come by hoping to get our business. They do fire restoration. The guy asked if our house smelled like smoke. Well, sure. He asked if we were going to do anything about it or just live with it. I guess everyone has to make a living somehow, but wow, way to take advantage of people.

I sure hope things calm down, at least for a little bit.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Binky quilt day

 We had a quilt day and about 20 ladies got together to work on quilts for the people affected by the Carr fire.
 Some ladies put bindings on the quilts that had been quilted by my friend Carla and me. Some ladies sorted boxes of fabric scraps. I have about 30 boxes and brought 4 boxes to be sorted. All of the boxes I brought and the boxes and bags that were donated were sorted by size so they could be cut using the die cut machine into pieces to be sewn back together.
 Some people worked on sewing the pieces together to make quilt tops.
I sewed together binding strips and then worked on a quilt top. It was a great day. We got about 30 quilts finished up and got another 30 or so started. We are never finished with anything. There are always more quilts in the works. We are always ready for the next need. The next round of quilts are headed up to Redding tomorrow.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

classroom set up

 I'm still working diligently in my classroom trying to get it ready for the first day of school.  I can't remember exactly how many hours I've spent, but I'd guess 40 at least so far. The walls are now mostly full of things. I can't believe I haven't put things on the walls in the 18 years I've spent teaching high school. When I taught elementary, that was my life! I would spend countless hours every month changing bulletin boards. I loved it! It is fun looking for ideas (back in the day we didn't have the internet so we made up a lot and stole ideas from each other).
Since I don't have bulletin boards now and just bare walls, almost everything I put on the wall is crooked. I can't step back to get perspective because I have to stand on a counter. I really try to make things straight, but all of the tricks I try just make the poster or paper lean in one way or another. What I need is a laser level. Next year.

Yesterday I started attacking the cabinets. When I clean the room at the end of the year, I just shove things into the cabinets. Yesterday I pulled everything out of one cabinet and found a treasure trove of school supplies. I had so many balloons! We use balloons for a couple of labs and are always running to the store the day before the lab because we never have enough. I probably found enough balloons for two years of labs. Shoved way in the back of the cabinet.

There were matches enough to burn down 1,000 schools and then some and mousetraps (both for catching mice and for doing experiments), and sharpie markers and post it notes and tape and...

I'm hoping that if I can organize all of this stuff I can save some money this year by not having to run out and get stuff because I can't find what I need.  The best laid plans...

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

famous or infamous?

I was at a workshop this summer and found my teacher of the year picture on the wall. A couple of the ladies at the workshop (there were NO men teachers there) came up to me and said they had seen my picture on the wall and asked if I was the famous Solano County Teacher of the Year! It was funny being recognized.

They actually took that picture right after I broke down crying at the end of the video I made. They shot the video asking me a bunch of questions. You know, why did you become a teacher, what lessons do you hope your students remember, who inspired you the most. Well, at the time, my dad wasn't doing so well and I was really feeling stressed, worrying about him being sick. He has always inspired me to ask questions and look at the world through the lens of science. So, when they got to the who inspired you to become a teacher question, I got all sappy and started bawling.

When my dad saw the video, he says, you know your video was really good in the beginning.  You had a great story going there and then you really messed it up at the end when you started crying.  He makes me laugh! Of course, he's never going to die. He will just fix his heart and kidneys and live forever. He can pretty much fix anything so why not this? It's all in the attitude anyways.

He turns 87 in October and three years ago had a 2nd pacemaker put in. The day after the surgery, we climbed to the top of Castle Rock in Colorado. It probably wasn't the smartest thing we've ever done. Once we got to the top of the mountain, I started to worry that they might have to come up and get us down with a helicopter. But luckily, there was an access road for the ambulances and fire trucks and we were able to walk down the easier path and make it back to the car.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

migraine brain

I'm trying to look at things with a new perspective.  I have two weeks of vacation left.  Some people only get two weeks of vacation.

When I get a day like yesterday, when a migraine takes the entire day away from me, it is hard to look at the day and not think of it as wasted.  I woke up feeling pretty good and was excited to get out and get some things checked off my to do list.  I'm working in my classroom and headed out to the Dollar Store to pick up some bins to help me organize the chaos that takes over every year.

Then, I was headed to the thrift store for their 50% off everything sale. I knew if I didn't get there right when they opened at 9am, it was going to be crazy. I got there around 9:10 and the parking lot was full. I had to park at the very back and all of the shopping carts were taken. People were pushing and shoving to save $1 on a t shirt. Out of the blue, my migraine came on and I knew I had better get out of there quickly.

I'm not sure if it was because of the crowd, or the fluorescent lighting or the smell or the stress or just what, but I didn't think I was going to make it. I started to get nauseous, which has come on more recently. The last month or so, the migraines have been getting more often and more severe.

I've been suffering from them since I was in my early 20's and they got better and worse over the years. I've tried every different prescription that is out there. I've also tried acupuncture, a chiropractor and Botox. The Botox worked for about a year and then they came back. Those shots were more painful than the migraines and I figured since they weren't working anymore anyways I might as well stop. The neurologist said that my body had built up an immunity. Bummer, why couldn't my body build up an immunity to fat and sugar instead?

So, I came home as quick as I could and spent the day laying around on the couch. At least I have the luxury of being able to do that. I didn't have to take a day off work and could go to bed early. I woke up this morning with a migraine hangover. I've never had a real hangover as I don't drink alcohol, but a migraine hangover is when you feel really sluggish and dehydrated. Your body just works really slowly the day after a really bad migraine. My head doesn't hurt, but I don't really have motivation to get much done.

And, that's ok too. Again, I have two weeks before I have to go back to school and time to just let my body recover. I will drink lots of water and go to the bathroom whenever I need to-again because I can. Anybody who has never been a teacher has no idea what a luxury going to the bathroom is! And using nice toilet paper! When I become teacher of the year, that's one thing I should change about education. Every teacher bathroom should have nice toilet paper instead of the sandpaper they buy us. :) That's how they could recruit more teachers...

Friday, August 3, 2018

things work out, despite my best efforts

 You would think I would have learned by now that I don't need to worry and fret about things. God's plans are always better than mine and I just need to pray and trust that His knows the end of the story. I'm not sure why I'm such a slow learner, but I'm glad He is a patient teacher.

My good friend from school who started teaching there the same year I did decided he needed to leave and find a job closer to home. He commutes over an hour every day each way. His wife started going blind about a year ago and had to quit her job last December. When she did, they lost their good medical insurance and he had to take the expensive and not so great medical insurance our district offers. My husband and I pay $1400 a month for the least expensive insurance and we have to pay up front for all of the doctor visits and prescriptions. Then, once we hit the $5000 cap, the insurance kicks in and will cover any other expenses for the year. So, if we get seriously injured, or have to spend time in the hospital, we are safe, but going to see the doctor costs $140 and even talking to a doctor on the phone is $45.
 I totally understand why my friend decided he had to switch districts. Saving an hour and a half of commute time and making over $10,000 more a year are really hard to turn down, but he put us in a really tough spot with trying to find someone to replace him. We advertised and got one applicant. He was a guy who didn't have a credential, but who was in an internship program. It's like a teaching credential program, but you get paid to learn to be a teacher. He was a great candidate, but it was taking forever to try and work things out with his program.
 I was getting really frustrated and worried because after a week of waiting and worrying our district still hadn't figured out how to make things work. Here we had a great guy willing to work for us and it seemed like everyone was dragging their feet getting things done.

Well, behind the scenes, my friend had started his new job at his new district. Turns out that the money and commute weren't enough to keep him there and he will be coming back. Things must have been really bad. I don't know the whole story and probably never will.

All that fussing and worrying and things are working out better than I could have planned. The new class schedule is going to be better because of the stress caused by the uncertainty made for a few class switches and everyone will be really happy this teacher will be back.
Now I can get busy lesson planning and finish setting up my room. Hopefully the next time I start getting stressed out, I will remember that things will work out and I should put my energy into being productive instead of worrying.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

quilts for the Carr fire in Redding, Ca

 Yesterday, my friend, in the top, left of the above picture, took about 75 quilts and blankets to Redding to give out to those affected by the Carr fire. She gave a batch to local fire fighters who have lost homes in the fire. She also gave some to a shelter that was housing families who ha been displaced because they have lost homes.
This morning on the news they said that over 110,000 acres have burned and more than 1000 structures have burned.  30% of the fire is now contained but that means the end of the fire is still a long way off.

We are having a work day on August 9 and another group is meeting tomorrow to make quilts. Lots of quilters are getting together or working from home to help bring a little comfort to those who have lost everything.

I am trying to balance getting ready to go back to school with working on quilts and trying to get my house put back together.  It currently looks like a bomb went off. I tend to start many projects during the summer and then get side tracked by other projects and leave things unfinished and laying out because I might come back and finish the first thing I started. Hopefully in 3 weeks when school starts up again, I will have a clean house and rested body and classroom ready for my students.