Santa stop here

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pi Day

Hello, all! The "Pi" is not a type-o; it is a pun. Alisa's 6th grade math class has been learning about pi (as in 3.14...),and, so, just for fun they had their annual "Pi Day" celebration with an assortment of real honest to goodness pies. There were just about every assortment of pie you can think of, and the students had a fun time.
Now that I've gotten the "pleasantries" out of the way, let me get down to the real deal where this "Pi Day" was concerned! Anyone who knows me or follows this blog should have seen this coming! Each of the 60 sixth-grade students was asked to bring 2 pies to class. A note was sent hom extending an invitation for parents to attend, too, and eat pie with their student. Unfortunately, 12:45 in the afternoon isn't quite conducive to many work schedules. About a dozen parents showed up. Let me be a little more optimistic than that: two dozen parents showed up. Other faculty and staff were also invited to partake of the pie party. As I mentioned, the festivities began at 12:45. Let's just do a little math for a moment, why don't we: 60 students times 2 pies each = 120 pies. Now, let's say we divided each pie into 8 servings: that's 960 slices of pie for how many people?! Less than a hundred. The way it worked out, each participant could have had a pie and a half to themselves! That's one "problem" as I see things: way too much pie and no "back up plan" for what to do with extras! Don't let me get on my "poor starving college student" soapbox about how coming up with money for extra stuff like this is a real sacrifice for some families, and for it to go to waste is wrong on so many levels. At any rate, my second "beef" is that kids brought lots of cream pies (chocolate and coconut seemed to be popular), but they stayed out at room temperature all morning. Talk about a mess! Do you recall me saying there were over 100 pies? Well, guess how many pie serving utensils there were? If you guessed about 5 or 6 then you win. Why not ask the parents who agreed to attend and/or help with Pi Day to bring a labeled utensil or two? Don't some of the grocery stores (like Tom Thumb) give a free plastic cutter/server when you buy from their bakery?
We (the room mom and handful of parents in attendance) tried to organize the pies a little so that there was a method to our madness--fruit pies on that side of the cafeteria, cream pies on this side. Kids were practically sticking their noses in the pies to savor the aroma, servers were licking their fingers. One kid had the nerve to put the can of whipped cream that I brought for Alisa's lemon pies up to his mouth as if he were about to spray it directly into his mouth. I put a swift end to that nonsense. Kids ate pie and more pie until they were green around the gills. Some took their unopened pies back to class with them, and there were still dozens of pies stacked in the teacher's lounge once everything was said and done.
When I asked one of the 6th grade teachers why they didn't just request that each student bring one pie, I was told that sometimes the cream pies are more popular and the fruit pies are usually left. Okay, so why not have students sign up for what they're going to bring? I mean, even if only 25% of the students brought pie (25% of 60 is 15 times 8 slices per pie = 120 slices), everyone could have at least one slice. And, if they cut small slices (now there's a novel idea), people could sample several kinds of pie without wasting so much. I know I'm making it a lot more complicated-the proverbial mountain out of a molehill, but it just seems that there could be a better way than to waste all of those pies (and the time and energy for those of us who actually took the time to make a pie or bake the frozen ones). Okay, I'm stepping down off of my soapbox now. My bed is calling my name. Good night! Until next time...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oh My Ducklings!

Of all of the present chaos in my life, Monday 3/22/10 was a particularly crazy day. It started as I was leaving home to head to campus for my Cardiovascular/Respiratory exam. Yes, we had a exam at 8 a.m. on the Monday following Spring Break! A mother duck and 6-8 of her ducklings were waddling beside and under my minivan. I ran back inside to grab my camera and tell Alisa to come and see since she was already up and getting ready to leave for school. The ducks had all gone under my car so I couldn't really snap a good picture; and, now I was getting concerned about getting them out from under there so I could be on my way. I did not want to be late for the exam. I ran back inside and grabbed a couple slices of bread and tried to lure the water fowl from under my vehicle. It worked but they then got under Mike's car, so I had to warn him that they were there, so back inside I ran (again). At last I was off to school.
When I returned, I saw the mother duck in the dirt under my kitchen window. I could also hear her babies but couldn't see them. There is a large pine branch on the ground up against the house, and I figured the ducklings were hiding out under the pine needles. I didn't want to disturb them or Mama Duck so I went on inside. Later, I was leaving to pick up Alisa & Aaron from school. I noticed Mama Duck pacing around where she had been resting in the dirt. I could still hear the babies but couldn't see them. Then I spotted the PVC pipe sticking up just above ground level where Mama Duck was. I thought to myself, "Surely the ducklings aren't down there!" and went to investigate further. I kept an eye on Mama Duck and approached the drain pipe slowly and cautiously. My heartrate picked up as I heard the magnified voices of the little ducklings coming from inside the pipe. I could see one or two ducklings clambering to get out, but it was too deep and too steep for them to make any progress. I ran back inside for my phone book so I could call City of Arlington Animal Services. They said they would send someone out. Upon my return from playing school yard taxi, I made a bee line for the kitchen where I could watch for the animal services truck and knock out a few dishes at the same time.
Within the hour the Animal Services officer arrived. He checked out the situation and retrieved his "pinchers on a pole" gadget from the truck--you know that thing they always use to hold dogs and snakes a couple of arm's lengths away from themselves. It reminded me of the dinosaur head "pincher" sourvenirs from the zoo where you grip the handle and T-Rex's mouth opens and shuts. Anyway, Officer Robert tried a few times without any luck. He tried dangling a noose which looked like a yellow nylon dog leash down the hole in the hopes that one of the ducklings would pop up from the curve of the pipe long enough to cinch the noose and drag him to safety. Again, no such luck. So, he called for of his fellow officers was going to bring a Shop-Vac and see if we could suction the ducklings out. They planned to use the small attachment on the end of the hose in order to "pick up" the duckling without sucking him into the cansiter. While we awaited the arrival of the other officer, Officer Robert located Mama Duck's nest in my front yard with three eggs still in it. We chatted about the state of Animal Services in Arlington, TX--a pretty dreary situation in light of all of the recent economic set backs and spending cuts. I learned that coyotes are on the prowl gobbling down stray cats and feral pigs are on the loose in North Arlington. Some man was recently prosecuted for having a warehouse near Hwy 360 and Mayfield Rd full of exotic "pets" as in poisonous snakes & spiders, lizards, wallabies, monkeys, etc. Who knew?!
Help arrived and the poor ducklings probably ran/swam for their lives when they heard that scary sounding vacuum amplified by the enclosed PVC pipe. It didn't really work, either, but the back up officer was able to rescue two of the ducklings with the pincher on a pole thing. Mama Duck paced around us and back and forth across the street to my neighbor's flower bed where she had nested the year before. It must have been driving her crazy to hear her babies and not be able to find them. Neighbors I'd never seen before stopped by to see what all the commotion was about. My neighbors from across the street came to join the mayhem as well wanting to know what we'd found. I'm certain they were relieved to hear the word ducklings instead of snake. We could still hear at least one more duckling down the pipe, but try as they might, the officers just couldn't manage to grab him. They placed a call to a lady who rehabilitates wild birds in her home and left with the two ducklings but not Mama Duck whom they said would probably reject the babies since they'd been handled by humans. I wasn't so sure. Mama Duck stood in the street near the Animal Services truck listening to her 2 frightened and cold babies call for her. My heart just about broke for her and her babies, including the ones still down in the drainpipe. Tears threatened as the apologetic officers drove off about 1 1/2 hours after their initial arrival.
At the officers' suggestion I went by Ace Hardware store to buy a cover for that pipe. I could still hear the baby duckling(s) down there and just couldn't think of what else to do to rescue them. Though it was getting darker by the minute, I grabbed Mike's shop light and extension cord and a long pine branch and wrapped it with duct tape (sticky side up) in hopes that the little critter might be able to hop up far enough to stick to the tape so I could pull him out--so what if he lost a patch of his downy feathers in the process. They'd grow back. It didn't work. I stuffed down a pine branch with green pine needles on it thinking that maybe, just maybe it would be enough for the duckling to climb on board and ride out to safety. Negative. I left the stick in the hole overnight just in case.
When I awoke early the next morning to head to my clinical rotation at the hospital, Mama duck was sitting on top of the hole with the pine branch sticking out of it. Bless her heart.
That evening, Mama Duck was gone. I removed the branch and heard nothing. I'm going to imagine that the remaining ducklings managed to paddle their way down the pipe which came out near the pond at California Lane Park where they me an "Auntie Duck" who cleaned and fed them and took them in with her own little brood of ducklings. They're all living happily ever after. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it! Until next time....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Irish blessing

Guess we've all fallen behind in our blogging. Spring Break is just around the corner, and I could use the break! I have a professional paper to complete along with my mid-term self evaluation and paperwork from today's patients before I can officially say my "break" has begun. Then, I have an exam at 8 a.m. on the Monday after Spring Break, so really my break will be spent studying cardiomyopathy and different types of shock, etc. I also need to be activly seeking employment. I am looking forward to balancing out the studying/job search with some fun with "the folks" (my grandmother and parents) and "the kids" (my two plus a niece and nephew) in a condo somewhere near Houston, TX.
In honor of upcoming St. Patrick's Day, I just wanted to share a familiar poem my cousin forwarded to me:

May there always be work for your hands to do,
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine on your windowpane,
May a rainbow be certain to follow the rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you!

Good night for now. Until next time...