Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday the 13th

I never did believe in lucky or unlucky numbers, and I am not a superstitious person.  And if anything at all needs to be said about numbers, then I would say that yesterday was a lucky-number day because more students signed up for The Magic Wand Book Club.... there are now 35 students in the Book Club.  I was, and still am, pleasantly surprised.  And now I am sort of hoping that the total number of students does not get any higher because our group is tolerable and manageable just as it is.

I can already tell who the real book-kids are.... they are respectful of the school’s library where we meet, they are careful with the books and bookmarks, and they are following my suggestions for their Book Journals. I think a few of the students may have joined just because their friends did, or because they have nothing else to do after school.  Those students will not be getting their ‘magic’ wands anytime soon, at least until I know for sure that they will stay with the group for the entire term, and make a worthwhile effort with the book selection.

Four of the students got their wands yesterday, based on the books they chose to read last week, and also based on their behavior during the book club hour. The kids were thrilled to be the first four, everyone clapped for them after they chose their wands, and we all said the club’s motto out loud and together—- “The magic is not in the wand... the magic is in me!”  It was a stunning moment, to be sure.

Corey drove up here today to pick up her kitten Sadie.  After a week of kitty-sitting, the TV room seems empty without that four-pound ball of fluff, and I did like having a little cat here who reminded me of my AngelBoy cat of years ago... but Savannah was clearly not happy with having the kitten here.  Sweet Pea was fine with the kitten when the original shock wore off after the first two days, but I do believe that our Sweet Pea prefers to be the one and only cat.

All is back to normal.... Savannah is on her sofa in the TV room and Sweet Pea is on my lap.... and there aren’t seventeen kitten toys scattered on the carpeting.  But.... Corey and Sadie may come back up here for the Halloween party.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Book Club Day

This afternoon was the first meeting of The Magic Wand Book Club at a local elementary school.  I got there an hour before the last class ended and set up the tables in the school library... books and bookmarks, journals and pens, 'I Love Reading' buttons and bookplates.... and a box filled with little chocolate bars for the students.

As I was setting up the book tables, I had a moment of panic and started to wonder how many, if any, students from the 4th, 5th, and 6th grades would show up for my after-school program. I shouldn't have worried... the book-loving students came running into the library and their eyes lit up as if they had been invited to a party. They carefully selected their books, they loved all the bookmarks... they were surprised by the buttons and quickly pinned them on their shirts, and the carved wands just sent them over-the-edge. It felt like a Christmas morning as I watched all those young faces break out into such smiles.

Twenty-six students signed up today for the Book Club.... and that was before I announced that they could keep the books they chose, and before I showed them the carved wood 'magic' wands they would receive as they earned magic points with the books they were choosing to read.  The kids were thrilled with the book journals (colorful notebooks with lined pages) and the pens with different colors of ink to match the designs on their journals.  Most of the students are girls, but seven boys did join and they immediately picked out the books on sports, cars, animals, and Texas.

I could not have been happier with the enthusiasm of the students... everyone who joined the Book Club seemed very interested in reading, and at least half of the students asked if they could pick out two books instead of one.  I have started a notebook listing the students' names and their book choices, and the magic wands will be given out according to the subject matter of the books they choose, and how well they keep up with the book journals.

The principal popped in to see us and seemed pleased with the book selections and the wands. One of the teachers at that school is a neighbor here, and she helped the kids pick out their journals and pens and buttons while I wrote down the students' names and the titles of the books they chose. The hour went by so quickly... and the children seemed very happy with The Magic Wand Book Club.

As for me.... it was a Happy Happy Happy day... and I am looking forward to a good many terms as the Book Club Lady at that school.   I have long ago come to the conclusion that when a person is consciously aware of every moment in their day-to-day life, every day becomes a lesson. Today's lesson was that when you do something nice for someone else, disagreeable or bad moments become an insignificant and minuscule blip in the universe.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Not-so-quiet country life...

We used to have such a serene community here. Every once in a while, one of the neighbors would have target-shooting on their property, but when another neighbor called to ask "Is there a war going on?" the gun-shooting neighbor stopped the target practice. Nice neighbors.

But now we have the ignorant too-rich-with-new-money neighbors across the road. Loud cars and off-road vehicles coming and going day and night. They set up a target-shooting space on their property and at least once a week, there is a war going on, with everything from pistols to semi-automatic weapons.  These particular neighbors also love fireworks... the loudest and biggest ones.... and they don't wait for July 4th.  The fireworks are at random, without warning. Like tonight at 9:30 when everything was so quiet. And like April 27th of last year when they shot off M-80s before dark which sent our Savannah running off into the woods somewhere for a dozen days of heartbreak.

I hate those people over there with an unrelenting and unforgiving passion. And that's saying a lot, because I make it a point not to judge, not to condemn, and not ever to hate. But these people are an exception to my rules, mainly because they are so consistently inconsiderate and unnecessarily neglectful and disrespectful.

I have tried since last year to just ignore everything that goes on over there. It's like that property across the road no longer exists for me, along with the people living there.  It would be my greatest wish to see moving trucks rolling up their driveway to take away all the people in that house and all of their belongings, including the loud cars and the mega-loud fireworks and guns.  Especially the fireworks and the guns.

Heaven help them all if I ever find a genie in a bottle.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

A tiny house guest...

We have Corey's kitten (Sadie) here for the week. Corey had to go out of town and she asked me if I would kitty-sit for her baby cat.  I had truly forgotten just how tiny and fragile a kitten can be. Our own Sweet Pea looks like a cat on steroids next to teeny-tiny Sadie. 

It has been a logistical nightmare trying to keep Sadie safe here, being that our Savannah thinks the kitten is some sort of toy that her 75-pound self can play with at will.  Savannah plays with Sweet Pea as if that cat is a strong little puppy, and Sweet Pea is smart enough to smack Savannah on her nose when she gets too rough. However, with Sadie being so small, she couldn't even reach Savannah's nose if she were standing on a kitten-sized ladder. So the key is to keep Savannah on a short leash when she is in the TV room with Sadie and Sweet Pea.

I've been keeping the two cats in the TV room, with the door closed. Savannah is missing her naps on the sofa in there, and Sweet Pea misses his window-perch in the kitchen and his favorite chair in the breakfast room.  This afternoon, I put Sadie in the TV room with the door closed, and brought Savannah and Sweet Pea into the kitchen and breakfast room. Savannah settled down on her blanket, but within minutes (after looking out the kitchen window to see if anything interesting was happening out on the porch) Sweet Pea was meowing by the TV room door, wanting to go back in there with Sadie.

Corey's allergies are still bothering her, and I've suggested a few solutions... the most important one has already been taken care of. The litter in Sadie's litter-box was horrible... it smelled like an overdose of air-freshener that had gone rancid... and that's just the odor of the clean litter, which was so strong that three-pound Sadie smelled just like the litter.  I dumped all of that out, washed Sadie's litter-box, and re-filled it with the light-weight Tidy Cat litter that I use for Sweet Pea. Now Sadie smells like a kitten, not a box of litter.

In all the years we've known Corey, she has come to our homes and played with the cats we've had... Mickey used to sit on her head and play with her hair, ShadowBaby untied the laces of Corey's sneakers, Rusty sat on her lap and looked at Corey upside-down, and AngelBoy smirked from a distance and Corey and I always thought that my blue-eyed cat was telling Corey that he was the number-one child of the household, not her.

Sadie is the first cat Corey has adopted, and she quickly became Sadie's one and only person... they play together, eat together, sleep together.... maybe just too much togetherness for Corey and her allergies. I am hoping that the change in the brand of litter, and not allowing Sadie to sleep on the same pillow, will somehow alleviate the allergy symptoms when she gets back from her out-of-town trip.

We really don't need a second cat now.... the relationship between Savannah and Sweet Pea is perfect... neither one wants to give up their status here and share the TV room, or be banned from the kitchen and breakfast room so Sadie won't be in solitary confinement behind a closed door.

Sadie will be here for the week... I am hoping that Corey misses this kitten so much that she drives up here as soon as she gets off the plane in Houston.... before I get too attached to this cute little blue-eyed kitten.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Another cat... possibly...

Not exactly a cat... but a young kitten.  A couple of weeks ago, my young friend Corey adopted a 12-week old blue-eyed kitten from one of her friends. Female kitten which looks similar to my blue-eyed AngelBoy of years ago... a beautiful ball of fluff he was, a silver-gray Birman with silver-lilac tips on his ears, paws, and tail. Gorgeous cat, and the love of my cat-life with those blue eyes of his.

When Corey told me she was adopting the kitten from her friend, she called to ask me if I wanted one of the kittens. I told her no, that my heart could not take another blue-eyed fluffy cat.  Well. That was two weeks ago.  This weekend, Corey called to tell me that her childhood allergy to cats has come back with a vengeance. She was sniffling and stuffed-up, she had broken out in hives and she couldn't stop scratching. Oh my.

Corey does not want to give up her kitten, whose name is Sadie. She will go to a doctor this week, to get some sort of antihistamine that will control the allergy. Corey says if she has to take allergy medicine 'forever and ever,' then she will, in order to keep Sadie. I suggested she ask the doctor if having a de-humidifier in her apartment would help. I told Corey that her 800-pound horse Tallahatchie doesn't so much as make her sneeze, but her five-pound kitten is bringing her down.

I told Corey that if worse comes to worst and she has to give up the kitten, she could bring Sadie here rather than giving it back to her friend or trying to find another home for it. This way, Sadie would still be in the family, Corey could see her when she comes to visit, and it would still be 'her' cat. Corey said she was hoping I would say that.

A serendipitous moment if ever there was one.  We have a cat named Sweet Pea and a dog named Savannah... and we may soon have a kitten named Sadie. Another S-name.... coincidence or not?  I am hoping that Corey can keep her little Sadie... she already loves that cat, and if ever there was an animal-lover, Corey takes first place. I would hate for Corey to have to give up the kitten, but I would love Sadie as my own just because Corey chose her. 

Another blue-eyed cat. I am still haunted by AngelBoy's blue eyes... so maybe Sadie's blue eyes will make that go away.  Still... I am hoping beyond all hope and praying to the cat-gods that Corey can keep that kitten.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Another frog?!

Who would have thought.... and how are they getting in?

In the frog-friendly green bathroom upstairs, another frog announced his presence in that mostly-green room.  I have no idea how he got into the house, or into the same bathroom that Frog #1 visited a couple of weeks ago, but friend C found Frog #2 sitting on the seat of the commode. The frog, no doubt, was planning to frog-dive into the water and have himself a little morning swim.

C scooped up Frog #2 in a towel and I opened the door to the balcony so she could set the frog down on the little porch. He sat there in the sun for a few minutes, most likely deciding how he was going to get himself down into the garden from his penthouse retreat.  This second frog was one-third the size of the first frog, but the same color green... actually they both matched the decor in the green bathroom quite nicely.

Surely, this second frog will be the last one.  Hope floats, as my cousin F would say.

And the universe makes adjustments as we all plan our days.....   I was set to start the Magic Wand Book Club on September 21 at one of the local elementary schools, but the principal called today to tell me that all the after-school programs have been set back two weeks... so the Book Club won't be starting till the 5th of October.  I didn't let on, but I was a little disappointed because I've been collecting books all summer and was looking forward to the first meeting next week, but at the moment I have a slight head cold so I figured maybe this was for the best... I don't want to be passing germs around to the students along with all the great books.

Add to that.... my car has been in the shop for a day and a half... turns out there is a problem with the electronics and the computer in the car... which can only be repaired/replaced by the dealer. So the little repair place here is taking my car to the Ford dealer up on the main highway... they will call me on Monday to let me know how many days they will have my Thunderbird.  Too many days and I will have to rent a car from them... can't be out here in the hills without a car... so of course I got to thinking that maybe the change of date for the Book Club was a blessing in disguise.

The 'mom and pop' repair garage here in town did not charge me for any of the work and time they put into my car since yesterday. And they are not charging me for transporting my car from their garage to the service department at the dealership.  I know for a fact that the repair bill from the dealership will not be quite so kind.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

September sun...

The rains have quit here in Texas, but the massive clean-up continues in and around Houston, as well as in so many small towns which surround our busy city.  Thankfully, our home is far inland, away from flooding and the destructive aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  As if Harvey wasn't enough, the southeast coast was hit by Hurricane Irma, and now the state of Florida is cleaning up, along with other states going up that coast.  I haven't heard yet how badly the Florida Keys were hit, but I'm sure those beautiful islands got the brunt of Irma.  I was praying for the city of Savannah, that beautiful and magical place.... I didn't want to see it destroyed by a storm after it has kept its beauty and dignity throughout so much of this country's history.

The summer heat has cooled down a bit here... the high 90s and low 100s are gone, replaced by mid-80s during the day and cool 70s at night. Flowers are still blooming (those that didn't get toppled by Harvey's wind) but I no longer have to water the flowerbeds two and three times a day to keep the flowers from wilting.

I have been busy getting ready to conduct The Magic Wand Book Club for one of the local elementary schools.  The 4th-, 5th-, and 6th-graders will have so many books to choose from... a grand total now of 1,414 books that I have collected since the beginning of the summer.  Posters are hung up in the school hallways, flyers have been sent home with the students, and I have all the supplies I need for the students... they will learn how to keep a Book Journal; they will rate the books they read; and they will (hopefully) realize that reading can not only be fun, but will help them as they go from grade school to middle school, then on to high school and college.  "Make Magic Happen -- READ!"  (as the poster says). The books the students read will be theirs to keep.... my intention being that if they have a private library of their own, they will come to appreciate the significance of book ownership.

As a reward for the books they read, the students will each choose a hand-carved 'magic' wand from a box of wood wands that I ordered from an on-line site based in Connecticut. All the wands are different... not magic at all, but a tactile symbol of the uniqueness of each student, just as all the wands are unique. The motto of the Book Club is "The magic is not in the wand... the magic is in you!"  Borrowing from the 'magic' of Harry Potter, I want these kids to learn that they are all special, they are all one-of-a-kind, they are all filled with their own unique magic.... they just have to learn to believe that.

On the posters and book-club buttons, there is a whimsical drawing of a gray-haired old wizard with flowing blue robes, a pointed wizard hat, and a long gray beard.  Whimsical and magical to the max!  And when I walked into the school library this week to see how the tables and chairs were set up, and to plan how I would arrange them for the book club.... on a high shelf near the windows was a four-foot tall plush wizard, wearing a long blue robe and matching hat, with gray hair and a long gray beard.... I stopped in my tracks and just smiled.  I had not seen that plush wizard before... one of the ladies there told me it had been in the school for 'a very long time,' which explained the faded blue of its robes.

Talk about a serendipitous moment.... 'my' wizard and that plush wizard in the school's library.... I have absolutely no doubt that I picked the correct school for The Magic Wand Book Club.