Covid Cooking

My friends, M’e the Fashionista in particular, have been sharing recipes to try during the stay-at-home order. Unfortunately, they tend to have unavailable ingredients like flour and cream.

My recent foray into the grocery store consisted of buying eggs and searching the discount meat bin. Finding a package of beer brats for $2.24 means I have something tasty to add to the usual frozen vegetables (zucchini, green beans, and peppers, usually).*

Mostly I make do with whatever is in the cupboard, whether it’s canned salmon or a jar of pickled peppers. My current favorite dessert combines the following ingredients:


First, make the instant oatmeal, and then add pumpkin and chopped nuts to taste. Easy peasy.

* Yes, I’m still following the plan of The Year of Mindful Spending. It’s ironic that I’ve spent more on books since the shutdown – children’s books for The Young Humans, most of whom had never read Treasure Island, Call of the Wild, or other classics.

Gloomy… sunny… snow!

Michigan’s official motto is Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice (If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you). The state, composed of two peninsulas that jut into Great Lakes, has truly beautiful areas around every corner.*

However, the unofficial motto is “If you don’t like the weather in Michigan, wait five minutes.” The photos reflect the hazy coolness,  sunshine… and wind and snow that occurred over just 14 hours in my hometown, where I checked on my aged parents.**

* Its smallest state park is the 22-acre “pocket” around Wagner Falls.

**My official excuse in case I was pulled over while driving to see them last week, when Governor Whitmer tightened her shelter-in-place order.  I wasn’t. Nor were the many out-of-state drivers pulling boats to their cabins.

A Happy Accident

My online classes go live next week, but today I had a little shakedown cruise to see how my 7th graders did. A little assignment (about 20 minutes).

The biggest problem is identifying who’s who. Many members of the Middle School Mafia REFUSE to be themselves, choosing instead usernames like SpazzAttack360. Then there were two unfortunate boys who, using their mothers’ phones, joined under their moms’ names.

A couple hours after the assignment was posted, I received a message from an unknown name, asking, “Did you get mine?” I checked and answered, “I did. But I don’t know who you are, Miss Magic!”

A very long reply followed. It started with – and I quote – “Hi! I am a fourth grader and I was helping my cousin get on and it accidentally signed it on my google account and I got an assignment and I decided just to do it.” It segued to an elaborate apology.

I laughed so hard, imagining a little girl trying to sneak into class with the “big kids,” most of whom find reading and writing a bore.

After I told her she could stay in the class, she messaged me back quickly: “Thank you so much I am so happy” (sic)

I can’t die of Covid-19. I have to stay alive long enough to have this girl as my real student!

Be Concise

The Boss figured out that we need regular “office hours” every day, rather than compulsory check-ins multiple times throughout the day. He also set a class schedule for our young humans, so they know when lessons become available and when they’re due.

I’m grateful.

Too bad we can’t figure out a platform, or how to get me access to my locked Google account (which was locked 6 years ago and I’ve been using another school account). Another day, another vexation.

Last week I started getting blinding headaches, the kind in which water seems to be streaming down in the corners of my eyes and slowly moves forward until my vision blurs completely. Something similar happened a few years ago and I was told it was a migraine.

Why now? I have work to do! Continue reading

Out, but not About

Yesterday I cleaned fallen limbs from the front yard. Last weekend’s windstorm broke dead sections from the treetops; they exploded on impact. It took quite a while to gather all the finger-length pieces (the perfect size for jamming the mower’s belt).

Eight people passed by during that time, including a family on a motley assortment of bikes and foot-operated scooters. Continue reading

School’s out… sort of.

A little while ago, I watched the governor of Michigan’s press conference. Schools are closed until the fall. All classes will be moved online, even though the Michigan Department of Education refuses to count online classes toward the “seat hours” requirement.

This is, as President Obama once said, “above my paygrade.”

I’m going to spend my last days of vacation (official) finding materials that I can retype into Google Classrooms. Teaching another novel is out! So is, unfortunately, the back-and-forth conversations and the eureka! moments when struggling students finally “got” the material.

Well-meaning friends have already forwarded me links to companies that would be only too happy to have my contact information (as well as my students’).*  However, any useful links would be appreciated. I can always sort the chaff.

*My boss sent me a Google Classroom training session (Free!), for which I registered. When the time came to “attend,” it directed me that I wasn’t going to see the video feed but could listen in by calling a number and using the code. Thus, the educational consultant company has my personal cellphone number.

And the “training” was 5 minutes of introduction to the presenter and company, 15 minutes of verbal explanation, and another 15 minutes or so of FAQs interspersed in a salespitch.