Tuesday, September 17, 2019

In the Trees

At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements. 😉

I ran across this article the other day. In case you don't want to click the link:
By removing carbon dioxide from the air, trees are one of our strongest allies in the fight against climate change. And if we planted a whole lot more of them in just the right places, they could reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere to levels not seen in nearly 100 years, researchers say.
By Stephanie DeMarco, via the L.A. Times, July 4, 2019.

Which sparked this question:

What if we built towns (or cities!?!) in the forests?

Monday, September 16, 2019

I Knit a Hat

This is what I accomplished this week on the knitting front.

Or back.

It's a bulky weight yarn. I used size 13 needles. Cast on 48 stitches. Did a 2 x 2 ribbing for 2 inches. Increased by 2 stitches for 50 stitches total. Worked until the piece measured 7 inches. Then decreased by 5 stitches every row until 5 stitches remained.

(That was for me, in case I ever want to replicate this hat. It's easier to find it online, although my knitting notebooks are fairly organized.)

Friday, September 13, 2019

Process of Elimination

Back to day-to-day subbing, my next assignment was for one of those very special ed. classes. This was one of those classes where the students were ninth and tenth grade aged, but the assignment for first period was a challenge.

First period is "calendar" period. They take time to go over what day it is, what the weather is like outside, what season it is, what tomorrow will be, and what yesterday was. (All these types of classes do this.) Then they had a couple worksheets to complete.

The first worksheet consisted of them tallying all the boys and girls in the room (and tracing the alphabet). The second worksheet required a bit more thinking on my part.

The top half of the second worksheet was all the months with boxes underneath. The bottom half had little pictures. There was one with hearts, one with a leprechaun hat, one with a pumpkin, one with a Christmas tree, with twelve images in all.

Clearly, they were to color in the images, then cut and paste them into the proper months. Easy enough, right?

Only, three images weren't so obvious. They were: a sun, a pencil, and an apple. (If you know exactly what month those images go to, pat yourself on the back.)

These are the sorts of kiddos that needed help figuring out which month the leprechaun hat went into. Of course, the first one that the kiddo that asked for my help grabbed was the sun. I told him to set that one aside until we had pasted the images we knew.

Once the leprechaun hat went into March, the Easter basket obviously belonged in April. The flowers had a tag that said "mother", so that got us May. Once we got the nine obvious months done, we were left with June, August, and September.

Now, it was time for me to make some guesses.

Well, the pencil was obviously for back-to-school. My teen self would have put that in September, but we started school mid-August. Okay, so pencil went to August.

And then the sun made sense. First day of summer, anyone? Because the apple has to go to fall, and that has to be September.

At least, I hope I was right. It makes sense.

I wasn't the only one confused. The instructional aides also questioned those three.

These sorts of classes are a real change of pace. It was pretty opposite of the spectrum from the day before.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Transition

Mr. F, my replacement in the vacant middle school English class, arrived bright and early on that Thursday. I gave him the run down of what he was walking into. (The sub caller gave us an overlap day. We needed it.)

He had done his student teaching last school year. As such, he knew all the teachers in the English department, and he was familiar with the routine. I saw him interact with the classes, with the school staff, and with the other teachers in the department. I could tell that I was leaving the class in good hands.

I expected the students to be happy to finally have a settled teacher. But they're middle schoolers. Even though they knew this was coming, they're not fond of change. Although, I figured the eighth graders, the classes that had been so oppositional to me, would be happy to see the back side of me.

One boy, who had been one of my challenges, had fear in his eyes when he asked me, "Is he..." gulp, "gay...?"

Like that even came up in our conversation...

I don't remember exactly what my response was, but it was along the lines of, "I don't know. It doesn't matter."

I know he's a gamer and likes death metal as he told the kiddos that. Anything else...

However, London in sixth period had a totally different concern. "How old is he? He looks twenty."

Um, he's probably about that. He just finished student teaching. But that wasn't my answer.

"It'll be fine. Don't worry."

And it will be fine. And now I'm free...

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Recent Poem

In all, I spent three weeks covering the vacant English class at the middle school. Luckily, the seventh grade English teachers were all doing the same lesson plan each day. (So were the eighth grade English teachers.) This meant that I didn't have to come up with lessons from scratch. That was a big help.

(I still had to figure out how I was going to present said lessons. And I had to take care of roll and classroom control. I was on my own for grading. It was a lot of work, but figuring out what they were going to do each day at least was something I didn't have to worry about.)

We were discussing figurative language and looking at some poetry. And this was one of the poems we were discussing...

Gotta love seventh grade teachers picking something by Neil Gaiman. I approve of their taste. 

(Last year I caught them teaching The Hunger Games. Imagine that as the novel the whole class was reading.) 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019


At the heart of much speculative fiction (and fiction in general) is a question. What if? On Tuesdays I like to throw one out there and see what you make of it. Do with it as you please. If a for-instance is not specified, feel free to interpret that instance as you wish. And if you find this becomes a novel-length answer, I'd appreciate a thank you in the acknowledgements. 😉

What if the missing character, the one everyone believes is dead because they've been missing for months, turns out to actually be alive? 

Monday, September 9, 2019

Finally Done

And just like that, it's finally done...

It's been that kind of week, really. The subbing gig abruptly ended on Thursday. (Yes, I knew it was coming to a close, but it still snuck up on me and surprised me.) And when I no longer had lesson planning to do every night, I suddenly had time again to work on the windmill bag.

It's been a few weeks since I talked about the windmill bag. It was almost finished the last time, and it totally would have been finished if school hadn't started and I hadn't gotten sucked into that vacant English class. Because all I had to finish were the straps. And I had started the straps that week. (School started on Thursday.)

When I picked them up again, I used the wrong size hook. If I were to show a close up of the straps, you would notice that they suddenly shrink about halfway through. But considering how many mistakes I've made with this thing, I decided to embrace one more and keep going.

So, there it is. The windmill bag is finished.