Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Life in the Portable Classroom:

The power went out yesterday just after the students left and this morning some electricians came in and fixed it up just in time for us to have class. But it was about 90 degrees in there since the AC had been off all night. We only had to survive for an hour and then the kids could go in the main building to music class.

But, in order to access the electrical panel to see why I didn't have any power, the electricians had to move my file cabinets. They were illegally set up right under the electrial box all year. I didn't know this was a safety violation until a week ago and I just hadn't taken time to unload them and move them. (They didn't actually block the electical panel door, but no one could stand there and do anything with the system since the file cabinets were there..)

So now the file cabinets are standing in the middle of the room, placed there by big men who didn't need to unload them first to move them. I can't budge them until they are empty. And anything that had previously been on top of them or near them on the floor is piled up randomly in a corner. These are all the items that I had piled near them on the floor to safeguard them from prying students, kleptomaniac students, greedy, nosey students.

I will eventually unload all the files and put them in boxes (or the trash) when I move out, but I still need to teach for a few days, and as sure as I take out or discard something, I'm going to be reaching for it so I hate to take it all away just now. Probably I'll unload some of the things from a couple of drawers that I'm somewhat confident I won't need, or I could unload them and keep the filled boxes in the room for a few more days...just till the curriculum is finished.

But the only real way to survive the last week of school is keep everyone busy, busy, busy.

Just one more drip from the Chinese Water Torture that this school year has been for a long time now.

6.5 days...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Movie Time

We just came home from seeing "Hairspray" the new musical-movie version of John Waters' film. A hoot!! I recommend it. John Travolta is outrageous as Edna Turnblad, Christopher Walken is super as Mr. Turnblad, everyone is really peppy. Really, it is good and we enjoyed it and we laughed over and over.

After having lived in Maryland all those years, and going to Baltimore so often, it felt quite homey to see the rowhouses, the familiar skyline, and the narrow streets with the shops. It was weird to step out of the theater and be in the middle of a casino in Las Vegas. I had been transported back East for two hours.

That's the dilemma of moving around. Too many places have become "home" and when I leave them, I keep missing little parts that I really loved while I lived there. Whenever I go back to Maryland, I realize how I liked this and that: the trees, the big rivers, a real city like Baltimore, all the history. But when I go back to California I totally love seeing the ocean, the golden hills, just the feel of the air and quality of the sunlight. It's so great there. Then, this week, Sunset magazine came and inside they have several pages of Grand Teton National Park and I left it open on the counter for two day to savor the sight of the sagebrush, the mountains, the aspens. Hmmmm...how can I be homesick for all these places at once??

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Now Arriving At the D Gate

Yeah! We picked up Skye at the airport last night! She is home now from her Peace Corps Volunteering. She looks great huh? And this is after about 15 hours of traveling.
Her luggage did not come home with her. But it will arrive today sometime. It would not have been a good thing to be the customer service people at the Delta desk last night in the Las Vegas airport. Not a good thing at all.
Not because of us....we have the luxury of being in our own home and the luggage coming over today isn't much of a problem. It was all those other people, a couple of flights worth, whose luggage was MIA, that were in the long, long line, hoping to have a nice vacation but now have no clothes, who were questioning the "service" in customer service.
Skye pointed out that we Americans actually expect service. She was serene through the two hours of trying to figure out where, what, why because she has lived in a world where people don't form neat lines, or wait politely, or expect that they will receive satisfaction ultimately. So waiting and being patient and calm are qualities that she has developed and perfected.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Flywheel in the Freezer

There have been many unusual things occur in our home through the decades because of the motorcycle that lives in our garage. Parts have been baked in the oven, greasy rags have been cleaned in the washer (and then the washer drum has needed EXTENSIVE de-greasing.) Once, in a really sleazy rental house, an entire chopper was painted in the spare bedroom.

Today I came home to find the freezer rack on the counter and the ice cube holder out by the sink. My first thought was "Oh no---the fridge has gone KAPUT and all the food in the freezer is ruined!" I opened the freezer to find:

This S & S 93 cubic inch Stroker flywheel cooling off.

That way when it was time to fit the bearings on the shaft, Cool Guy could heat up the bearings on the stove and their metal would expand and the flywheel metal would be contracted and Voila--ease in assembly. Sure...no problem. Whatever is needed so that the motorcycle can be reassembled and I get a ride.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Atmospheric Pressure

There was something going on in my classroom this afternoon. Whew...we'd just gotten things settled down after I'd called in the student dean to take out two girls who were in shouting match that had been preceded by a note-writing "shouting match" that included ugly remarks WAAAAY past "I'm not going to be your friend." I only involve the dean when cursing and racial epithets are used.

Then, I was attempting to pass out homework when Girrrl A walked over to Girl B and used the classroom scissors to sever her backpack strap!!!! Girl B was very upset, "I'm going to be in trouble when I get home." And I assured her that no, it was Girrrl A who was in trouble. Just then out of nowhere, Girrrl C hauled off and smacked Girrrl A right in the face and the brawl took off.

I dashed right in and pushed them apart, and then wrapped my arms around Girrrl A trying to get her to calm down and sit in her chair. Nothing doing. Girrrl C is still shouting and snarling. Girrrrl A is writhing and kicking--down went two desks. She reached out and grabbed a chair--I pried it from her hands before it could get thrown.

I directed all my students to immediately take their backpacks and go outside to the next door neighbor's classroom. IMMEDIATELY. There was some foot dragging---Hey---it was quite a show. Most of them left, and that teacher quickly came over to my room to see what I needed. She pushed my call button, which I couldn't get to since I was busy trying to keep the tornado under control so she couldn't hurt me or herself.

Finally the Tornado spun herself out and lay on the floor sobbing. The bell rang, the VP and the Dean both showed up. We collected the Hitter, the Hittee (aka Tornado) and walked ourselves over to the office to write up some letters to parents: Your child is suspended until you come in for a conference.

I need to figure out how to get some Valium to put into my auto-air freshener that spritzes out a refreshing scent every thirty minutes. I can set it for as short an interval as 3 minutes. I think that'd keep the pressure down a little more. 16 1/2 days...

Monday, July 16, 2007

All Hail AAA

Yesterday, I left choir practice, got in my car and--nothing happened. The battery, which had worked just fine to get me to the church, had gone KAPUT while I was singing. I caught a ride home with some other ladies, and called Cool Guy for advice. "Use your AAA card and get it towed home."

Excellent advice! Then our friend (who manages an auto parts store) picked up a new battery and came over and installed it. It wasn't that easy. My first impulse--drive to a store, buy a new battery, take tools to the church parking lot, install it myself--would have been very difficult to execute. Plus, when I suggested that to Cool Guy (who is back East) and I said, "What's the worst that can happen?" He replied, "Oh you could break your fingers." Oh. It turns out to be a very tricky battery to remove and re-install. But our friend did it with only a cut finger--no breaks.

This afternoon I went out to the school parking lot about 6:10 (I was grading papers) to find: a flat tire!! Sigh. So I called AAA, and a very nice muscular gentleman showed up and did all the hard work. It was 111 degrees. It was hard enough just standing there watching.

So, I'm home again, again, so pleased that the wonderful Cool Guy, who has kept my vehicles on the road for all these years has purchased me a membership in AAA, since he isn't here in person to rescue me when I have car troubles.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Math Error

Oh, there are 22 days left...

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Home" Again, Jiggedy Jig

We moved back to the cabin today. It took about three trips. The first trip I had the students carry their own books. The next two trips I loaded them down with items I had carried over, bit by bit, in the three weeks we've been exiled. Then, I spent about two hours after school completing the move, and sorting and putting things away. Whew.

It still smells funky, but there are no more cheeping sounds in the air vents. Tonight I went to the store and bought a variety of air freshing items to attempt to mask the ick. The students reactions to being back were amusing: "I love this room!" "I'm so glad to be home!" etc. etc. There's nothing like your own stuff.

18 days!!!! Whoooo--hooooo!!!

(But, oy-vey--the things I have to get done in those 18 days...)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Weather Flash

Whew!! In the last 24 hours the humidity in Las Vegas has DOUBLED!!

From 8% to 15%.

Here's the forecast for Washington D.C. tomorrow:

94 degrees


I'll take the desert, thanks.

And I realized today, that when people say to me: "I couldn't stand summer there--it's just awful." Well, it is hot; really, really hot. But during Dec, Jan, Feb when those same people are staying indoors away from extreme cold temperatures, it is very lovely here in the desert. We get three months of difficult weather and nine months of totally moderate temperatures. Which is the exact opposite of my childhood.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Odor Update

What is it now? Three weeks since we were forced from our pathetic little "cabin" as the students sometimes refer to it, into the second grade classroom because of the Eau de Fowl wafting from the air vents? Oh, and don't forget--larvae.

Some workers came over and disconnected the air units on the roof and lifted them out of the way. One day I saw other workers on the roof with buckets...don't know what they did. Just last Thursday some workers came in and re-connected the air units and my room has been mysteriously vacuumed--the carpet at least--but my desktop is covered with...debris--dirt, crumbs of paint from the ceiling (I guess from workers walking on the roof) and feathers. The stench is unchanged. Hmmm.

I asked the secretary what she knows. In a nutshell: nothing. I'd be embarrassed to be the head secretary and give an answer like that.

In four days, we must move out of our present room. But we cannot move into another room because there will still be students in it. Somehow, we must overcome the time/space continuim and have our materials out of the second grade room before the second graders return, but not yet into the new borrowed room until those students depart...hmmm.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

When It's a Dry Heat, It's Still HEAT

This is what you do when the thermometer reads 117 in the shade. Yes, 6:00 P.M.

4th of July

But, it's a DRY heat...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Today as I left the school, a small of men were on the roof of my neighbor's portable, with buckets and tools, and stuff...maybe the cleaning crew?? We'll find out when we return on Thursday after our July 4th holiday break.

In the meantime, the pigeons are really appreciating the easy access to their nests, now that the pesky air conditioning unit is off the ducts and out of their way.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Timetable

Okay, two weeks exactly since I told them about the stench and the maggots, today an electric crew came in to shut off the air conditioner for my portable classroom. Then another crew with a big crane lifted off the unit from the ducting.

The next step is for some haz-mat cleaning company to come and clean out the pigeons and debris. But we don't know when.

It's been more than two months since I first brought the birds-in-the-air conditioner problem to the attention of the office.

So, the question is: how long will it take for the rest of the problem to be solved so I can return to my classroom? On July 16 I must move somewhere, because the classroom I'm in now will need to be re-occupied by the second graders now on track break.