Friday, March 5, 2021

SLICE #5- A Rooney Reunion


Tonight I had myself a Rooney Reunion.

Rooney belongs to Canine Partners of the Rockies. He will turn two in a few weeks. When he grows up, he wants to be a mobility dog, or perhaps an autism dog. 

Rooney should have moved into advanced training a few months ago. However, because of COVID, his training has been delayed a little. He's still hanging out with me.

Or at least most of the time he is hanging out with me. One week a month, Rooney goes on a stay-cation with another puppy raiser. The idea is that he gets used to being handled by other people, and also other living situations. 

Last Saturday, Rooney went to his training class with me, but left with Amy. I cried when I packed his things, and I cried when said goodbye to him. On Wednesday, I went to the CAPR office to return Buck, (he of slumber party fame), and Amy was volunteering. I was more than a little surprised to see my Sweet Roo. I cuddled with him for a few minutes, then left. I cried again. Rooney is my buddy. 

Tonight, I got to pick Rooney up. I thought he would be happy to see me, but he really wasn't. 

He got into the car and laid down in the back. I talked to him all the way home, but he barely responded. Maybe he's mad at me, I thought, for leaving him. 

And then we got home. He went out in the backyard and sniffed around, then came in and ate dinner and tried to go to sleep. Galaxy was very happy to see his buddy, and just wanted to play. Rooney growled and refused. 

And put himself to bed in his kennel. 

He's still there. 

I hope tomorrow Rooney will be ready for a reunion. 

I have missed him. 

Thursday, March 4, 2021

SLICE #4-- So much more...


I hear her voice the second I open the Google Meet

"Ms. Wilcox?'

That's not uncommon. 

She is usually one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave. 

Sometimes she has a question about an assignment. 

More often, she just wants to visit. 

She and her mother moved up from Mexico two years ago, when she was in fourth grade. 

He mother works during the day and I think she's lonely. 

I don't mind. 

She's sweet and sparkly and playful and just a little bit mischievous. 

She makes me laugh every day. 

And she's also brilliant. 

An English language learner who is totally rocking the school thing.

I adore her.

But today she is sobbing. 

"Ms. W, I-I-I might be a little late to class."

"You ok?"

She is still crying hysterically but manages to say, "Something really bad happened."

I immediately wonder if something has happened to her mom or dad, but that's not it. 

It seems she was in the apartment alone, and a maintenance man came in to do some work. 

Totally legitimate, but she didn't know he was coming, and thought someone was breaking into her apartment. 

And she was terrified.

She tells me she doesn't want to be there by herself. 

Her mom is coming to get her. 

The words fall out of my mouth. 

"Do you want to come be with us?" 

She's a remote learner and has never been to the school.

"I can come?" she asks. 

"Sure. Why not?" I say, pretty sure my principal will be ok with putting a kid's mental health in front of COVID rules. 

"I'm going to ask my mom."

A minute later she is back. 

"I can come," she says. 

Fifteen minutes later, she walks into the room.  

She is smiling, but it's not hard to pick out that she has been crying. 

And it's all I can do to keep from giving her a big hug. 

Yes, school is about academics, 

but every year, 

and this year especially, 

it is so, so much more than that.

I only wish people understood....

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

SLICE #3- Too old for slumber parties

I'm tired tonight. 

I think I'm too old for slumber parties. 

And we had one at my house last night. It was a doozy!

But maybe I should back up a little. 

I'm training a service dog, Rooney. And Rooney is at the point in his training where he has to go on staycations. About once a month, he spends a week with another puppy raiser. He's doing that this week. 

A couple of days ago, the service dog trainer asked if I would consider taking one of the other pups to work with me. They wanted him to have some experience in a school. I'm missing Rooney, so I said sure. I didn't know though, that I was agreeing to a puppy slumber party. 

Buck, the puppy I took to school today, lives about 15 miles east of me. I leave for work at 6:30, so I can drop off my son at his job, and still make it to work on time. I didn't think I had time to do a 30 mile round trip to pick up the puppy, drop off my son and make it to school on time and so I invited him to spend the night. 

I met Buck and his puppy mom at CAPR at 7:30. I should have known it was going to be a long night when Buck sat in the driver's seat honking the horn while I was trying to get feeding directions from his mom. 

Somehow I didn't get the message. I brought him home anyway.  My non-service dog puppy, Galaxy, was thrilled to meet him. 

First, they did mud wrestling in the pit in the corner of the backyard. That went on for about two hours. Galaxy must have spent the entire time on the bottom, because every time they came in, Galaxy was covered in another layer of mud, Buck on the other hand, remained pristine. I hosed Galaxy off, the best I could, and added, "take Galaxy for a bath" to my to do list for the weekend. 

Next, they did laps, running a loop that started in the hall by the stairs,  went over the back of a chair in the family room, around the dog crate, over my feet, through the bathroom, and back to the starting point in the hall. That went on for about 45 minutes. By that time, I was feeling a little tired, and a little  grumpy. 

And so I Buck into the crate for the night, hoping he would go to sleep. He complained for an hour, and finally did settle down. I did too, for a couple of hours. But then I had to use the restroom, and when I got up, so did Buck and Galaxy. I thought maybe Buck needed to go outside. And then Galaxy decided he would go with him. And it took another 15 minutes to get everyone back into the house. And then there was more complaining about sleeping in the kennel. 

Two hours later, I got up for the day. I had some work I had to get done before school. My friends decided they would get up too. And I spent the next couple of hours shushing them, before they finally ate breakfast and went back to sleep.

Buck slept through most of the school day too. 

I'm tired tonight. 

I think I'm too old for slumber parties.  

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Slice #2- In Which I Become the Victim of a Vandal

 In the past three or four months, I have been the victim of repeated acts of vandalism. 

The vandal started by severing the cord on the crockpot, which was stored in the pantry under the stairs. And then there was the zipper on my good dress boot. Followed by a badly mangled Apple Computer cord. And then there was my favorite pair of dress boots. And one of the handles on my teacher bag. The corner of my journal. 

Almost every event has resulted in property loss ranging from $25 to $100.

And those are only the large items. There have also been a number of smaller ones. The vandal loves to read, but he doesn’t take very good care of books. He regularly pulls the laces out of my tennis shoes and snow boots. He’ll go to any length to reach a magic marker. Sharpies are his favorite, followed closely by Mr. Sketch, which I special order to make charts for school. He loves cardboard and paper towels. 

I know who the vandal is. I have caught him in the act more than once. He’s spent time behind bars, or at least in a kennel, but nothing seems to deter Galaxy, the newest addition to our family. Galaxy is a five month old collie/German Shepherd mix that joined our family in November, after our 14-year-old lab, Star, passed away. 

He’s cute and cuddly, frisky and funny, sneaky and sharp-toothed,  bouncy, and oh, so very busy. 

I’m hoping he will have me trained pretty soon, because man, oh man, his chew toys are definitely not cheap!

Monday, March 1, 2021

SLICE #1/31- I wasn't going to slice this year

 I wasn't going to slice this year. Life has been a bit much-- hybrid teaching with kids remote and kids in person half day, and coaching teachers the other half day, taking Spanish classes two nights a week so that I can be more effective at my job, parenting two semi-adult/adult sons who are struggling mightily, being the daughter to an 87-year-old mom who had a major health crisis in February, training a service dog puppy-- it just seemed like plenty. And so I decided I wasn't going to slice this year. 

As recently as yesterday, when I read several people's Facebook posts and tweets about getting ready to slice, I wasn't going to slice. Last night, when I went to bed, I wasn't going to slice. This morning, when I woke up, I wasn't going to slice. I really wasn't. I just don't have time or energy to spin one more plate this year. 

Then, somehow, this morning, when I was having my coffee, I wandered over to TWO WRITING TEACHERS. Just to check out some of the slices. Over fifty people had already posted. I recognized some names, but there were lots of newcomers too. I remembered how much I loved reading other people's slices. Following old friends. Making new friends. Getting wrapped up in some people's stories and following their blogs for the entire month. Dipping into other people's stories just one or two times. Marveling at people's creativity and craftsmanship. Trying to steal some of their moves to up my own game.

And then I went back and read a few of my slices, ok, actually most of my slices, from last year. And then a few from previous years. I've been slicing for almost ten years, so I had a lot to choose from. In 2011, when I started slicing, I was administrative assistant at an inner city school, parenting two high school sons, and chasing my two Houdini Labs around the neighborhood. There were lots of single parent posts, and posts about disciplining kids at school (I wasn't very good at it because I always laughed). Rereading some of them, I still laugh. 

And now, in 2021, much has changed, but much has stayed the same. I'm still teaching, one of the last of my friends, I think, that hasn't retired, but I still really, really love the kids; and  I don't want to retire. I'm still doing the single parenting thing, and my sons, who I adopted at 7 and 9, are now 25 and 27, and still struggling to launch. I'm still the mom of two dogs-- but Ramsey, and Maggie, and Jack, and most recently Star have all crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and now there's Rooney, the two-year-old yellow lab that's only kind of mine, and Galaxy, the German Shepherd mix puppy I adopted in November. And there are still stories about trying to figure out my relationships with my mom and sisters...

I wasn't going to slice, but somehow I couldn't imagine not sharing stories. Not being a part of the slicing community. 

And so I clicked on the link to fill out the participation form. Here we go again...

Friday, January 1, 2021

Poetry Friday

 2021! A new year! I don't really make resolutions, but I do spend time thinking about the last year, and about what I want to do differently. This year, I want to get back to writing, and back to blogging more. I want to participate in Poetry Friday, hopefully with some of my own work, but if not, at least something. I think that's going to be my biggest goal for the year, is to let go of perfectionism and just put myself out there somehow. In that spirit, I don't have anything original or new or surprising today, but I do at least have a poem I love. So here is today's offering, a poem prayer for 2021. 

For more poetry, head over to Ruth's Blog, "There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town.

Ring Out Wild Bells

by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.