Hotter than a black squirrel on asphalt!

Because there are no tin roofs for cats around these parts.

It’s 95 Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) in the shade, plus 57% humidity. The temperature is still climbing.

I was in the backyard a few minutes ago and not a soul is outside except for one plucky Middleschooler on a four-wheeler. He was wearing a helmet and swimwear.  I suspect it may be part of the initiation into the Middle School Mafia.

“You will go out on a heat advisory day….”

“Dude, I got this.”

“…on a four-wheeler that’s been baking in the sun…”

“Okay, dude.”

“…and catch black squirrels…”

“Uh, dude…?”

“…and put them in your swim trunks…”


“…and jump in the river.”

“Aww, dude… Let me grab my helmet.”


Hell on Wheels!

The Middle School Mafia has taken to the roads. Motorbikes and 4-wheelers are flying down the street from mid-morning until dusk. I had to go onto the porch yesterday to evil-eye them as they decided to pull up onto the neighbor’s lawn (strategically, the section with a stand of trees blocking the neighbor’s view).

Several years ago a similar band of mobile middle schoolers ran the blacktop. However, I don’t think this group has the audacity to come up to me and boldly request gasoline when their tanks run dry. (Not a joke; the previous gang had wretched ideas about what complete strangers owed them.)

I suspect the road-running will wane when the summer gas prices rise and parents need to budget for their weekend boating. In the meantime, vroom! Vroom!

April… erm, May Update

It’s been a while. Life at The Young Human Factory has flooded over into el ocio (edit: leisure. My brain is not wanting to English today.) I enjoyed a lovely luncheon on Cinco de Mayo in honor of my aunt’s birthday.

However, when I take a weekend off, I must pay with another. This weekend is devoted to lawncare and catching up at work.

But all is not bleak. Below are highlights from the previous month. Continue reading

Out of the Mouth of Middle School Mafiosi

I have been pleasantly surprised by the members of the Middle School Mafia who are under my control supervision at The Young Human Factory.  I have only twice been subjected to rage and unspoken threats, and one of those came from a parent.

In fact, they show a delightful willingness to throw themselves into the deep end of the pool of knowledge and understanding. The following are first-semester highlights:

  • “I am good at spelling, reading and riting.” (On a very confident self-assessment!)
  • “Do ‘women of color’ come in all colors or just some colors?” (Asked by a student categorized as POC and when the term was explained, said dubiously, “Isn’t that racist?”)
  • A drawing of a girl and a bucket of water. (A response to “What image comes to mind when you think of the protagonist? Write a brief response.”)
  • “Is there a movie of this book?” – pause to hear “no” – “We should read another book.” (This was followed by an explanation of how tech-using kids today need to have audio and visual versions because reading letters on a page is something people did before the invention of cellphones.)

The Factory is not closed for me…

As faithful readers may remember, my job as a Quality Control Inspector at the Young Human Factory underwent a transformation this fall. I was put in charge of teaching English to members – or potential members – of the Middle School Mafia. A daunting task, but I am buoyed by the vision of them communicating without grunts, egg-flinging, and ritualistic doorbell-ringing.

For the same low price, I now deliver eight more hours a week of service AND the daily 53 minutes of preparation time was eliminated. But it has really helped my time management, since I have so little.

Weekends are not my own, nor vacations. Continue reading

A sunny day in the neighborhood

As family members in Washington D.C. and “warm” cities of the south endure the biggest snowstorm in decades, I found myself tra-la-laing outside. It was below freezing most of the day, but the sun was bright and there were almost no clouds in the sky.

The Middle School Mafia took a break from their mayhem to skate and bike on the snow-less roads. Sure, they were wearing wintercoats and heavy gloves, but they were thinking Spring in their tiny misbegotten brains.

Under the sun’s rays, the snow decreased enough in the back yard for the squirrels and birds to rediscover the cache of birdseed and corn kernels. In the front, the grass appeared in patches and the roof lost its white blanket.

Nuggets of Nonsense: Troisième Part

  • My sojourn in Quebec was a wonderful experience but hard to explain in words. I suppose that’s the difference between a vacation trip and a pilgrimage: ineffable souvenirs.


  • I want to learn French better. So many French-speakers approached me – evidently I look like I belong to them – and many knew no English. Yet despite the language barrier, they were so kind and pleasant. One elderly lady wanted to show me that there were better souvenirs than the one I was holding; she pantomimed and even moved her hands like runway guidance torches to show me the way. This desire to learn French was sorely lacking after I returned from Paris – but such is the power of the Quebequois and the Haitians!


  • A good traveling companion is the difference between a good trip with inconveniences and a penitential journey with bright spots. My roommate had the same sense of humor and similar interests. The humor was especially important when we awoke at 2 am to the drunken singing of a young woman in the alley below our window (no AC in the dormitory, either).


  • Music really is the universal language. Notre Dame du-Lac featured a series of musicians and singers on the feast of the Assumption. One of our party was dancing in her wheelchair while listening to a Gospel choir from NYC. The Haitian choir waiting their turn saw her roll past, clapped for her, and started seat-dancing with her. Joyeux!


  • I didn’t miss social media or radio. Everyone’s main concern was weather reports and an up-to-date itinerary (particularly supper time!). But a baseball fan asked me to text my younger brother a single important question: Did the Cubs win? (No, they did not.)


  • Several things changed while I was away – the temperature and the gas prices rose – but the grass scarcely grew at all.

Continue reading