Flight 2

I didn’t think that I would ever know the end of your story, but I do, and I want to share it.

In the evening dusk, hours after your flight, I looked for you on the steps and in the trees around the driveway. I went to bed, and when I got up in the morning, you were nowhere in sight. I gave you up, and smiled at the thought of you. I imagined you in a green light, glittering like your bright eyes.

The truth is that, huddled flat-footed on the linoleum, you looked up at me with those bright eyes when I found you, even though your wing sagged and your feathers were bent. Perhaps the cat thought he was bringing you back to me, and that’s why he didn’t make your soft, featherweight body into a toy as he’s done with so many birds. I imagine he tried to be gentle, but your beak was broken and you had a deep gash in your breast.

I picked you up from the floor and you relaxed in my palms like you had done so many times before, and your eyes were bright circles. I cleaned and bandaged the wound, and looked for superglue to splint the beak. When you tried to eat with the cockeyed bill, it was comical. You chased seeds across the floor, slapping your feet with each clumsy, sturdy step. I thought surely you’d get better, like you’d done before. I thought of how your will to live astonished me: all that heart in such a little breast. All that desire from a creature that couldn’t have any idea what there was out there to desire.

When I came home tonight, you were collapsed and panting under the light, liquid oozing from your bill. You opened your eyes to look at me when I picked you up, and, as I watched, you blinked matte black eyes and dribbled a clear bubble and my palm was wet. You heaved and gurgled in the tiny world of my hands, a lost cause, and my cheeks were wet.

I asked Sean to put you down, and he did. I trust his hands to kill with compassion. I asked him to leave your body in a tree and he did. Little one, you’re a bigger meal for the woods than you would have been if I’d never picked you up. In the little world of my hands, I said goodbye to your eyes, glad that they had seen what was out there to desire, and goodbye to your wings, glad that they had known what it is to fly. It’s not enough, but it’s something.

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Ultimately, I am responsible for the life and death of the dove. I fed him when he would have died, and when he might have lived, my cat dragged him in. Keeping cats is a small hypocrisy that this event crystallizes: I know that domestic cats are responsible for diminishing songbird populations, yet I keep two indoor-outdoor cats and refuse to declaw or bell them. Coyotes prey on housecats in this area, and I want my pets to have all of their stealth and weaponry intact when they are outside. I let them go outside because I’m too lazy to clean a litterbox and I don’t want to confine a creature that doesn’t like to be confined. They are happy cats.

Stray and feral cats are a problem in our area, and we often find ourselves caring for unwanted kittens that have been dumped out here in the country. My cats are both neutered, but that’s unusual in this region. From now on, I commit to see to it that every kitten that passes through my care, however briefly, is neutered before it leaves me. It’s not enough, but it’s something.

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Labor Day Week Photo Explosion!

According to Levi and Sizzy (who escaped today, to no one's surprise and everyone's exasperation) you haven't known true happiness until you've done this.

According to Levi and Sizzy (who escaped today, to no one’s surprise and everyone’s exasperation) you haven’t known true happiness until you’ve done this.

Mud is bliss.

Mud is bliss.

We spent the weekend in Texas with Sean's family.

We spent the weekend in Texas with Sean’s family.

Sean taught his nephews some porcine wisdom about the joy of getting dirty

Sean taught his nephews some porcine wisdom about the joy of getting dirty

We came home and had a Wednesday cookout at the lake.

We came home and had a Wednesday cookout at the lake.

There was even some paddling, (not the kind we have in schools), and a swim and float with eyes full of the cottonball sky.

There was even some paddling, (not the kind we have in schools), and a swim and float with eyes full of the cottonball sky.

Our meat chicks arrived today, and, after spending the afternoon at school with Mr. P, immediately soaked themselves in their water and began to shiver. We don't have a hair dryer (they're not environmentally friendly or useful to people with little hair) so we toweled them off as best we could and stuck them under the lamp.

Our meat chicks arrived today, and, after spending the day at school with Mr. P, immediately soaked themselves in their water and began to shiver. We don’t have a hair dryer (they’re not environmentally friendly or useful to people with little hair) so we toweled them off as best we could and stuck them under the lamp.

They're all fluffy again, and adorable. No sign of spraddle or gunkybutts yet.

They’re all fluffy again, and adorable. No sign of spraddle or gunkybutts yet. These birds are destined for plates all over the scintillating metropolis of Marianna, AR. We ordered extras so we could sell to our friends, and people seem into it!

Boople and I adored them from afar. Neither of our cats has ever posed a threat to our chicks, but we'll leave the little critters in the spare room with the door shut, just in case.

Boople and I adored them from afar. Neither of our cats has ever posed a threat to our chicks, but we’ll leave the little critters in the spare room with the door shut, just in case.

Who could believe this cutie is a skilled killer?

Really though, who could believe this cutie is a seasoned killer?

Madhouse

School has been a madhouse lately. Baseball and softball regionals were in Palestine starting on Friday and running through today. My ninth grade students were preparing for their big state test, and I had to kick up a fuss to keep them from getting pulled out of class to work on the field. Teachers were assigned to work at the ballgames during school hours, which left the kids feeling, fairly, that they were kept in school for no good reason.

P was playing with sketchup in my classroom during my prep on Friday while everything was crazy because of regionals. He made this awesome tractor!

P was playing with sketchup in my classroom during my prep on Friday while everything was crazy because of regionals. He made this awesome tractor!

I’m cautiously optimistic about the Algebra test. I had been feeling really discouraged after my mock EOC returned disappointing results, but I’ve remediated a lot since then, and I think that, though the percent of students who score proficient might be lower, I’ll have more of my students score advanced. It starts tomorrow. The main obstacle keeping my students from blowing it out of the park is morale, so I plan to write them individualized encouragement cards tonight. I already hung some posters.
I wasn’t this concerned about scores last year, and I haven’t been thinking about them this year until recently. I guess I’m afraid that if my students don’t top the charts again I’ll lose any leverage I may have with the district. On the other hand, my “leverage” hasn’t earned me any favors this year: I first submitted a request for a new projector bulb last May, and when Sean came to observe my class last week he was surprised to find that I haven’t been exaggerating about teaching in the dark all year. On top of that, I found out today that the 8th grade Algebra class I wanted to create next year has been nixed. I’m pretty crushed. I had hoped to leave my mark on the district by kickstarting a group of students who could realistically pass an AP test, but, apparently, 8th grade Algebra would make our scores look bad. There are a lot of things wrong with this rationale, but let me just acknowledge the obvious (scores are more important than educating kids!? WTF?!) and ask the burning question HOW ON EARTH COULD THIS MAKE US LOOK BAD? Our scores for next year are going to be incomprehensible anyway, since we’re switching to common core, so this is a great opportunity to try something new. I’m hoping to have a chat with the Great Naysayer sometime soon to have my concerns heard. I am convinced that I will not be able to make a difference with the GN, since he’s the one who laid down the No Fieldtrips mandate (because they take away from learning time, apparently in contrast to baseball pullouts), approved the purchase of classroom printers but won’t approve ink, referred to sanctioned student murals as “graffiti”, and attacked a colleague’s personal values during a conversation in his office about a school-related conflict. I like my job and I love my kids, but I need to stop being compliant when I feel that people, myself included, are being abused. If this guy makes my life a nightmare, I’ll just take my mad math teacher skillz elsewhere and bite my thumb on the way out the door.

This weekend was rad. We gardened and gardened and gardened.

There was all this lettuce

There was all this lettuce

Sean made a glorious Sunday brunch. Everything was home grown: a fried egg on salad, English peas sautéed in buttah, and pork sausage.

Sean made a glorious Sunday brunch. Everything was home grown: a fried egg on salad, English peas sautéed in buttah, and Pinkie’s pork sausage.

On Saturday, we went to Palestine to help the Spanish Club with their bake sale. I’m planning to accompany them on their trip to Costa Rica next summer, so I like to help out when I can. Here’s a link to the gofundme page if you’re interested in what the kids are up to. If you want to make a donation, do so here so that 100% of your donation goes to the trip. Gofundme takes a cut.

The Spanish Club couldn’t set up at the baseball field, which was a bummer, but they parked themselves at an intersection nearby and did some business. It was hot and sunny, but the kids are always hilarious and people were generous with us. Sean, Roma and I walked down to the field and watched a very little bit of the boys’ game, but missed the girls’ game entirely. As we were walking back to the bake sale, Roma and I and two of our friends stepped right over a baby copperhead without seeing it. What good is a dog that’s oblivious to snakes? Sean had his foot poised over it when he spotted the little bugger and launched himself balletically into the stratosphere, wailing “Weeeaaaah! Snaaake! Snaaaaaaake!” Sean doesn’t care for snakes.

We had dinner in town (mmmm fried pickles) with Mallory and went to the square for Arts in The Park on Saturday night. We sat on the grass listening to the band, visited with friends we don’t see often and shared a lonely waltz.

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Easily the best part of the weekend was visiting our friends Butch and Linda on Sunday evening. Butch helped us slaughter our barbeque hog last spring; he’s an expert on all things critter. Linda is the lady behind Arts in the Park. We chatted for a couple of hours and made plans to get together for dinner and a tour of their farm sometime soon. I can’t wait! One of our summer goals is to spend more time with our neighbors.

a long post about a short weekend

Friday Evening:

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Sean bravely accepted the cold water challenge and took a sunset dip at the confluence. Kathy and I didn't join him, to the disappointment of the guys camping out to spend the weekend fishing.

Sean bravely accepted the cold water challenge and took a sunset dip at the confluence. Kathy and I didn’t join him, to the disappointment of the guys camping out to spend the weekend fishing.

Saturday:

At pro-sat, they started calling my cohort “TFA alums.” It was really weird. Aside from the crappy veggie wraps and the long haul to Jacksonville, the day was a solid. I got a great vocabulary tool from another CM and had some thought-provoking conversation during a session on identity. During that same session, Sean let fly with some feminist discourse that had me swooning.

At pro-sat, you are required to make this face.

At pro-sat, you are required to make this face.

Art teachers lookin' cool.

Art teachers lookin’ cool on a hot day.

Post-pro-sat dinner with friends in Little Rock.

Post-pro-sat dinner with friends in Little Rock.

9:00 a.m. Sunday

Sunday Strawberries: almost there!

Sunday Strawberries: almost there!

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I think this guy likes pigs: note the belt buckle, t-shirt, and hat.

I think this guy likes pigs: note the belt buckle, t-shirt, and hat.

Sunday Afternoon:
We planted sweet potatoes, ate our first broccoli, moved the piggies to greener pastures, and went to a birthday party. While moving the pigs, we discovered that pigs can indeed scale walls and leap high buildings. Pigs are not supposed to be able to jump at all, but Levi somehow scrambled over a waist high wall to freedom when we thought we had her cornered. They are truly astonishing creatures.

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homegrown broccoli!

homegrown broccoli!

Daisy's getting bigger!

Daisy’s getting bigger!

They like to take baths in their water trough. We should start charging for refills.

They like to take baths in their water trough. We should start charging for refills.

4-square at Mel's birthday party!

4-square at Mel’s birthday party!

10:30 p.m. Sunday
We just about hit these little critters on the way home. There was no house nearby, and when we stopped, they marched right up to us. They’re part Siamese, so they have a very elegant bearing and slinky gait. I’ve named the mama Audrey after the Hepburn human she resembles. If you’re in Arkansas and looking for a cat or kitten, let me know. Sabine and Rucifee aren’t interested in new roommates.

Audrey and the babies.

Audrey and the babies.

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1:10 p.m. Monday

C brought in a baby turtle, no larger in diameter than an oreo. K found it in the mud, apparently.

5:30 p.m. Monday

Monday strawberries: ripe, warm, and heavenly.

Monday strawberries: ripe, warm, and heavenly.