Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Moon, Soap, a Book, Other Randomness


We had a full moon last night - it was just dark enough to show well, and just light enough to finish our walk with the dogs, when I took this photo.  Not bad for a phone photo, but it would have been nice to capture the real impact of a late September moon behind drifting clouds.

We're enjoying our return to evening walks.  Right around the time the heat became too outrageous to take our furry pals out, I managed to sprain my ankle, so we had a good excuse to lay off for a while.  There's no describing how excited and agitated the dogs get as soon as walking equipment makes an appearance after dinner.  They love their walks; it's still warm enough that we wait till dusk, and we only walk a mile, but we all enjoy it.  The biggest surprise to me?  Mosquitoes!  I feel so cheated!  I thought moving to a dry climate meant no mosquitoes, but those little creeps have eggs that can wait seven years in a dry spot, plotting for the right rain deluge to set them free.


Yesterday I got an email from a woman who wants to buy soaps as client thank-you gifts.  It's been so long since I had a soap client, my inventory is quite low.  I've said it before - I'll never stop making soap, I love it so, but it always surprises me when I get orders.  My family says I'm not allowed to stop making it, but what they really want are lotions and creams.  While I agree my skin care products are outstanding, it's the soap creation that makes my heart sing.


In the Oldtimer and Lily days, I made about 5,000 bars of soap a year, and had this lovely place to display, and a convenient workroom at the back of the store.  There are so many things I miss about having that store, even though the income was lousy to non-existent!

One of the other things I loved about the store was selling books, especially to the high school kids.  I miss the glow of their faces as they realized there was an adult who would talk to them about Harry Potter, or any other favorite book.  I miss the excitement of a grade-schooler, tugging at her mama's sweater and jumping up and down saying "Books!  They have books, mama!"  I miss the pleasure on the face of the high school counselor who realized we brought in a supply of each of the required reading list for each grade, all in affordable format, and we were passing them on at our cost to the students.  I'm just sorry that our small attempts at being good citizens of the community weren't enough to keep us there; you don't pay bills selling things at cost!  (Don't ever ask me to create your business plan.)


Speaking of books, I just finished an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of Jodi Picoult's newest - A Spark of Light.  Picoult never shies away from controversial subjects - in this case a shooting at an abortion clinic in the south - and this book is no exception.  The way she manages to put together a compelling, readable story, that is so clearly well-researched, leaves me in awe.  This one was uniquely told in a reverse timeline fashion that worked surprisingly well. #ASparkofLight

Soon, I'll be traveling for both business and pleasure.  I hope to return to blogging more often (she says for the umpteenth time).


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Education


This morning, I dropped my five year old granddaughter off for Kindergarten, just as I've done (four days a week, mostly) since she began her Kindergarten career last July.

Most mornings are pretty routine, although we get a bit of variety when, say... it's spirit week.  I'm particularly fond of pajama day, when one of the teachers is at the door in her footed puppy pajamas, greeting the children.

Since our ritual began last July, I've been tickled to have these few minutes with my granddaughter each day.  Taking her to the gate of the "Kinder playground" is pure pleasure - teachers and aides greet us with smiles and high fives; 99% of the "kinders" run to the school with anticipation and pleasure.  My granddaughter is always alert, asking if we are arriving in time for her to have plenty of playground time before her day starts.

This morning, she was worried... the Kinder playground was empty.  "Are we early?"  No... we're right on time.  "There's no one on the playground!  Are we late?"  No... we're right on time.  I parked, helped her adjust her backpack, and held her hand as we crossed the lot.  We stepped into crossing guard territory and I asked what was going on.  "Oh... there's a stray puppy who has been greeting all the children, and we've confined him to the Kinder lot until we find the owner."

Sure enough, there was a large pit-bull type, panting happily, and surrounded by staff in red shirts.  Did I miss a memo, was today a spirit day?  As I returned to my car, I saw a mom in a red t-shirt with a Red for Ed logo.  It dawned on me what I'd missed, and I wished I hadn't dressed in lavender.  I spoke up, saying "I just realized what the red shirts are for today!"  She looked a little concerned, but acknowledged me.  I told her the movement had my full support, and we chatted a bit.

She was eager to tell me that she worked in the district office, and it really wasn't about raises, it was about science equipment and other things to benefit the kids.  Raises would be nice, but that wasn't all there was to it.  I mentioned that I was originally from Minnesota, but before I could finish my thought, she said "OH!  Then you get it!  Their budget is double ours!"  We talked a bit more, mostly about the fact that despite what others think, we senior citizens do indeed vote in favor of education bills and bonds, despite our concerns that it might not really be getting to the place it's needed.

It seems like a simple enough conversation, and you are probably wondering why I detail it here, but it triggered so many thoughts.  Since moving to AZ, I've been shocked at how poorly the state's elected officials treat education.  I've been shocked at cuts to education funding, I've recognized poor teacher pay, and more.  And I thought about what I've seen in the few months my granddaughter has been in school - teachers with special outfits for spirit day, or working to protect the children from a stray "puppy" that happens to be a largish, eager, pitbull-type who stands at least waist high on the children; asking if parents could pleases help stock the classroom with much needed items like facial tissue or glue or maybe a snack once in a while; the fact that we are always greeted with a pleasant face; the number of teachers who line the sidewalk for the arriving buses.  They aren't just punching a time clock, and putting in their straight eight - they are involved, committed, and doing extra odd jobs without complaint.

Arizona, you could do so much better.  Educated, well-rounded students make good citizens.  Like all employees, well-recognized teachers would only give more of themselves - and not just use their time here as a notch on the training belt to take their experience elsewhere.  What could possibly be more important than giving a good foundation to our future?