Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday

Last night I was awakened by flashing lightning and the boom of thunder.  And then it rained!  We've so needed this late soaking, as the hillsides are already going dry.

In the morning, wearing my fluffy red bathrobe, holding a coffee mug, and trailed by various dog and cat folk, I took a rather soggy stroll through the gardens.  The air was soft and smelled deliciously of wet leaves, earth and sun-warmed flowers.

Half an hour later, Bruce had a breakfast omelette in the pan and the cribbage board ready. I, with a soaked bathrobe hem, and several cats with wet paws came enthusiastically inside and tucked in.

                  Happy Easter!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Destruction by Shadow Puppets

Earlier in the week, something out on the deck galvanized Arby from a sound sleep on the bed to wide-awake excitement.  He leaped down and scooted underneath the curtains in order to get a closer look.

His little apple-head swiveled back and forth a few times and then he locked in on what the "something" was.

Poom was out there, doing acrobatics up and down the tupelo tree.  I should have known.

Up the tree.  Down the tree. Sideways on a branch. A bit of crash to the deck.  Back up again.

Finally, Arby got so excited that his inner-kitten took over and he leaped against the glass several times in order to, I assume, bring Poom to order.  It's remarkable how brave Arby is when there's a pane of glass between himself and his foe.

Eventually Arby came out from behind the curtain to sit with me and watch the shadow-puppet Poom skitter up and down the tree.

And then it all became too much for staid, 15 year old boy who should have known better.  He made a dash for Poom's shadow and launched himself up the curtain.  His claws dug in the sheer fabric and then I heard a sharp ripping sound.  At that point, he wanted down, but his claws were stuck in the fabric.  So there he hung like a furry ham until I was able to lift him down.

Which I did, and then went to get the camera.  When I returned, Poom was still shooting up and down the tree and Arby was still mesmerized.  All of these pictures were taken after Arby had added his own version of "sheer" to the curtains (If you look below Poom's shadow foot, you'll see the hole).

It doesn't end there: Yesterday evening, Poom followed me into the bedroom and, for the first time, noticed the rip. He marched right up to the curtain, never taking his eyes off that hole 4 feet up.  He froze there, just staring.  I'm sure that anyone reading this would know exactly what was going to happen.  But me, I just stupidly stood wondering what he was going to do next.  Such a surprise when he rocketed upwards and himself hung like a ham from the curtain while I listened to the delicate tearing sound of fabric slowly rending.

I'll be sewing new curtains.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Afternoon of the Duck

This afternoon I rolled up my pant legs and hosed the liberally splatted duck poop off the front porch.  Again.  The Muscovy ducks adore dog food and had so aggressively taken over the dog's feeding bowls by the barn, that Bruce (in a huge moment of stooped) had moved their feeding over to the porch.

The ducks, no dummies, were not far behind.  Since they've discovered that this is where the gourmet eating is, they've taken to spending their days right in front of the door.  Where a duck hangs out, it splats.  I'd hose the porch off, and 45 minutes later it would be decorated again.  We've begun feeding the dogs in the house, but, even without the lure of food, the ducks are right outside the front door.  Biding their time.

This evening, I had the front door open while I carried in groceries.  When I turned to go outside again, a duck was stepping purposefully over the threshold, eying first the kitchen and then the hallway.  Thank God it paused for that moment as it considered which way to go -- I was able to shunt it back outside in short order.

Last week, I was worn down by ducks.  I simply gave up -- stopped hosing and did my best to ignore the crap all over the porch floorboards.  Naturally, it was then that every friend/acquaintance/neighbor I've ever had or known came to visit and everyone was forced to politely step over the duckie mine fields.  We've been reduced to living like hillbillies -- I can almost hear the banjos twanging in the background.

So this afternoon I hosed and swept the floorboards, determined to keep up with it this time.  

As I stood there, broom in one hand and hose in the other, a duck came up to check things out. I squirted her, but she just hunkered down in the spray and glared at me.

Then she sidled up to Seal and demanded to know where the food was.  Seal had no idea, so didn't answer.  A few seconds later, the duck was swept off the porch steps on the end of my broom.  All the dogs cheered.

The ducks, alas, will be back...

               {to be continued}

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Quiet Saturday

Finally, just a quiet Saturday at home.  In the afternoon Bruce sat outside in the sun, took pictures and kept me company while I overhauled the rose bed by the house.  It was weeded, mulched with compost and the rock border was redone.  The roses were fertilized and I transplanted about a dozen dianthus that had escaped into our weedy "lawn."  Finally, I straightened our tilted birdbath by jimmying flat pieces of shale along one edge of its base.  The temperature was mild, the cats were lazy and the dogs relaxed and snoozed as I worked.

Hmmm...once again, I'm looking at a photograph of something that's supposed to be straight and it's leaning.  That birdbath is definitely canting to the left.

Ah, well -- I'll wait a year and give it another go next spring.

My helper, Murphy

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Lock-down

This morning we had our most serious lock-down drill yet.  We were directed to speak with our students after the drill, but I decided that the entire exercise would make more sense if we discussed what was coming up, why we were doing it and what to do before actually going through it.

So we sat in a circle on the carpet and talked.  It was a decidedly bipolar sort of conversation, as I tiptoed the tightrope between impressing upon them the importance of taking this drill seriously while, at the same time, not scaring them unnecessarily.  As it turned out, the drill didn't occur until after morning recess when I had my second period English class in the room, so I had to go through the entire spiel again with the new class.

Fifteen minutes later, when our principal came on the intercom to tell us that we were beginning a maximum lockdown drill,  we moved to action.  The students silently slid into the area behind my rolling cabinets while I locked the door from the inside, turned off the lights, and closed the curtains.  Then I pushed a heavy cart and piled some chairs in front of the door as a barricade of sorts.  When I joined the students behind the cabinets, there they stood, packed together like dutiful little sardines.  We have a counter and small sink back there, so I helped three of my smaller, more squished students up to sit behind me.  One girl sat in the sink itself.  And then we waited for a long five minutes until we got the all clear.

Afterwards, I called them back into a circle and we talked again.  Again, it's so hard to know exactly what to say.  Most of the students seemed to be pretty unfazed by the whole thing.  Some, though, asked questions and made comments.  No matter how many times I repeated in different ways how extremely remote the possibility of anything like this ever happening, the drill made it seem like a very possible - even probable - event to have to deal with.

Student: What would we do if someone shot you?
Me: That's not going to happen, but if it did, another adult would come to take care of you.
Student: I don't want you to get shot.

Student: What if I'm in the bathroom when a lockdown happens?
Me: You run to the nearest room and get in there.
Student: What if the door is locked and the teacher is afraid to open it?
Me: That's a good question.  I don't know the answer to that one -- I'll find out.
(I later found out that other students had asked their teachers this same question.  No one knows the answer.  Yet.)

Student: What would we do if 50 men with guns came to the school at the same time?
Me: I just told you how remote the chance is of even one person coming to hurt us.  Fifty is a bit of stretch, don't you think?
Student (smiling): Yeah, I guess so...

Student: What should I do if my little brother is shot and I can see that he's still breathing?  May I pick him up and carry him to the nearest classroom with me?
Me: (after a long pause in which I try to think of what the best way is to respond to this very disturbing question) You need to run to the nearest classroom like you're supposed to.  Grownups will come to help your brother and you'll be safe.

After this last exchange, our little circle was very quiet.  I don't believe this boy would ever leave his brother if he was injured.  I think he was disappointed in me for even suggesting it.

To lighten the atmosphere, I added, "Yup, I can tell you read a lot of books."  There was a bit of general laughter from the other students, because he's a major bookworm.
Student: Actually, I've read only one book where there's a school shooting.

With that we got back to the business of learning six new vocabulary words and reviewing possessive pronouns before going to lunch.

Yesterday the children raced across the field with kites.  Today, the same children hid behind a cabinet in a darkened room as we practiced what to do if a person with a weapon came to our campus.  I think that "bipolar" is an apt word to describe the last two days.

A Frogpond weekend to the rescue.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kite Day! (A Lesson in Delayed Gratification)

Today was THE day -- Kite Flying Day with my 4th graders.  All week, the kites have been coming in.  By this afternoon, the classroom was so festooned with them that it was a challenge simply maneuvering to the pencil sharpener without stepping on a kite tail or getting tangled in a line.  The new decor delighted the students, but dismayed our custodian (and her vacuum cleaner) no end.
The big day had been set for Tuesday, but when that afternoon rolled around, there was scarcely a breath of wind.  Like true nine-year-olds, the children wanted to try to fly their kites anyway, wind or no wind.  I held firm.  No.

I'm glad I did, because today was the all-time perfect weather for flying a kite -- gusty breezes of 7-12 mph.  The kind of wind that, when you hold a kite aloft, simply picks it up and carries it skyward.  Like magic.  Our principal brought out a speaker system and suddenly "Let's Go Fly A Kite"( from "Mary Poppins") sang out as children ran around the field doing exactly that.

 About 7 parents showed up (including 2 dads) and they did troubleshooting for kids whose kites were not doing what they were told.

So I had nothing left to organize, nothing to monitor, nothing to worry about.  All I did was wander about the field admiring kites as they played in the air.  My heart was happier than it's been in a long time, watching the children racing about as they hauled their dancing assortment of dragons, parrots, frogs and prisms through the sky after them.

I felt suitably vindicated that I chose to wait until we had a suitably windy day for our celebration.  If we'd done it on Tuesday as planned, it would have been a frustrating experience.

As it was, on a day when the air was singing with wind, the kites seemed to fill with a life-force of their own as they swooped and sailed.  Such a difference from the  inanimate jumbles of sticks and plastic that have cluttered my classroom for the past week.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Invalids Update and a Windless Tuesday

It was still dark when I went out to feed Corny this morning, but he heard the door slam and whinnied for me to hurry up with his breakfast.  His appetite is as robust as usual -- always a good sign.  The swelling on his muzzle had gone down a little.  By this afternoon it had gone down markedly so I think that we're safely on the tail-end of that little adventure.
Corny - still looking a bit rough, but on the mend 

Now, if I could just get Bruce to hurry up and heal as quickly as Corny.  Today his leg still hurts quite a bit and he has no appetite.  The doctor has him back on blood thinners and, hopefully, we'll see improvement very soon.

Today at school I'd planned to have a kite flying celebration with the students who'd met (or tried to meet) their reading goals for last trimester.  Before school, excited children hauled in a tangled array of all sorts of kites and now they're festooning every spare inch of classroom space.  Kites on the counters, kites hanging from the ceiling, kites in the windows.  Most of the kites have tails and these are dangling all over too.

 An open invitation had also been sent to parents who might like to join in our kite party.  And then this afternoon rolled around and...there was no wind.  Nary a breath.  Much to the disappointment of the children, I cancelled the festivities -- thirty children huffing across the back field with kites bumping behind them on the ground was not what I had in mind. They tried to talk me out of it, but I stood firm.  I looked up the weather on my laptop and saw that Wednesday will have rain all day.  Thursday is supposed to have sunshine and light winds, so Thursday it is.

I had just explained this to the class when there came a gentle tap on my door.  Outside stood five confused parents, wondering what was holding up the party.  I had no idea that any parents were showing up, so I tried not to look too surprised and then explained to them about the wind problem and putting off the celebration until Thursday.  They took it better than the students and went to the picnic tables under the trees to visit until school was out.

Several minutes later, the school phone rang and our principal was on the line asking why we weren't flying kites.  Once again, trying not to sound impatient, I explained about the need for wind when flying kites.  He said he'd seen the parents sitting outside and thought I'd forgotten about the party.  My room is filled with kites, I'm surrounded by nine-year-olds whose wish to be on one end of a kite string is so strong that they're ready to mutiny and HE THINKS I COULD FORGET???

And then I realized he was laughing at me.

I need to lighten up.  I need to fly a kite.
And I will -- on Thursday (wind or no wind).

Monday, March 18, 2013

It must be spring...

...because the snakes are waking up.

When I went to feed Corny this evening, something didn't seem quite right.  The right side of his face looked like it always does -- big and sort of boofy.  But, when he turned his head, the left side looked like a cross between a tapir and The Elephant Man -- hugely swollen nose and lower lip.  Cornelius, curious as always, has been bitten by a rattlesnake. I'm betting it was slithering across his pasture and it caught his eye and he just had to go take a look.  A real close one.

A number of the cats, dogs and horses here have been bitten by snakes in the past.  Very occasionally one will be bitten twice, but usually they learn to stay away from things that rattle.  I don't think that Corny's ever been bitten, which is surprising, because we've seen him sniffing a skunk and Bruce once had to pull 17 porcupine quills out of his muzzle.  He's that kind of horse.

The vets don't do a lot for snake bite here, so I'll only call if things don't run their normal course.  The bite has his left nostril pretty swollen, but his right one is fine so I'm not worried about his breathing.  He had a good appetite and polished off all his hay.  Then I brought him up to the barn and ran water from the hose on his muzzle to help bring down the swelling.  It helped and also seemed to make him more comfortable.  He was eager to slobber down the apple pieces I brought him, although I didn't give him many because I was afraid he might bite his own lip.

He seems to be OK.  We've found that a bitten animal will be very quiet and swollen for a few days and then quickly recover.  I worry anyway.  I'll check him in the morning and call the vet to come out if I think Corny needs it.  Mary just texted me back that he should be fine, which I already knew he would be, but it's vastly comforting to hear it from her.

On a brighter note, Bruce's leg is feeling a bit better tonight. And that's the latest news from The Frogpond Rest and Recuperation Resort.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Saturday School is Unfortunate, but...

... a Sunday spent in the ER is even more so.

Bruce was taken off his blood thinners before his back surgery and the word from the doctors was that he may not need to be on them anymore.  Oh, so wrong.

His left leg had started aching on Friday, but he thought it might be from overdoing the walking around the place.  By Sunday morning it was really hurting.  When I hopefully asked if he wanted to go to Costco with me, he quietly said that he thought he should go to the ER.  After a call to the Advice Nurse, this is exactly what she told him to do.  Five hours later, we were home again.  Bruce has a blood clot in his left leg and will be giving himself injections to break it up.  It still hurts like hell, but it's a relief to have him home instead of in the hospital.  I was quietly freaking out, thinking that we may be going through something like this again -- and so soon.  But we were sent home.  I'm grateful for that.

I'd just changed into my comfy yoga pants, when horse trainer/friend Mary stopped by with her daughter to pick up eggs, deliver some t-shirts and chat.  Mary always shows up when I need someone to make me smile and kick my butt so I don't feel sorry for myself.  She's sort of like my own personal Mary Poppins that way.

A little later, neighbor Leo and two of his young sons showed up on their bikes, and they brought smiles to me too.  Leo's sons collected eggs and fed carrots to a very happy Cornelius, while Leo unloaded all the sacks of chicken scratch and one huge sack of dog food from the back of the car and hauled it to the barn for me.  That was such a nice thing to do.  And off they peddled.

Then Mama called and I told her the news and she offered to help in any way she could.  That was also appreciated.

And now I've got Bruce tucked into bed, my lesson plans written and will be going out to close in the chickens as soon as I'm done with this.  I'm feeling sort of tired and fragile, but sleep will help with that.  Not exactly the sort of weekend I was looking for or wanted - but sitting here on this Sunday night, I'm about as grateful for my blessings as I've ever been.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday School

The alarm went off at 5:50 this morning and I lay in bed, wishing I could stay in it.  Then I got up, dressed, got ready to go and was out the door with a travel mug of coffee and my laptop.  Off to Cal State University on a Saturday morning.  Life in the fast lane.

The program is part of a nationwide project to improve writing instruction in the classroom.  There we were, twelve tired teachers sitting around a table in a small conference room. As I listened to the conversation and introductions, I was very happy to be a part of group -- this class is going to be quite a challenge and I'm looking forward to it.

Pity about the whole Saturday aspect of it though...

When I got home, it was getting towards evening.  I went out and watered, under the able supervision of Max, Bruce and Poom.

Glad to be part of this group too.

Friday, March 15, 2013


It's been, to put it rather mildly, a rather hellish week in the world of school.  Who knows why.  Spring is in the air?  It hardly matters. One of those weeks where I was longing for Saturday way back on Tuesday.

When Friday finally did arrive, I stayed late in order to get as much grading done as possible in order not to have to bring it home.  Just before shutting down my laptop prior to going home, I checked my mail.  And there was the gentle reminder that tomorrow (Saturday!) I was signed up to be in a class.  I knew that this was coming up, but just didn't realize it would be so soon. It's from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Saturday!).

It's a good class on learning how to be a writing mentor, and I'll be glad I went.  But tonight I'm wishing I had a long day in the garden in front of me instead of sitting in a conference room.

Mindset!  It's a good class, and I'll be glad I went. It's a good class and I'll be glad I went.  It's a good class and I'll be glad I went...

(But it's SATURDAY!!!)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Comet Panstarrs

Here's a diagram of what's supposed to be happening up there

I came dragging home from school this afternoon, tired as can be. Those students just wore me out -- spring's in the air for sure.  All I wanted to do was stretch out on the bed with  the cat and sip tea.

I did this for about 15 minutes, and then Bruce firmly grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and drove us up to Telegraph Road (about 5 whole minutes away) in order to view a comet.  This comet is called Panstarrs and Bruce was eager to take its picture.

Murphy was thrilled to come along.  Me, not so much, but I had to indulge the invalid (the one clutching my neck).

This is what we saw:
Pay no attention to the copyright dates: poor man forgot what year it is!

The clouds were way to thick to see any sign of the comet, but the sunset was glorious.  The mountain is called Mt. Diablo and is straight across the Valley from us, in the Bay Area.  

It would have been nice to see Panstarrs, but I don't see how it could have topped the show we got.

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Potato Sunday

Sunday was spent chicken-proofing our big raised bed, carting in several loads of lovely compost and then planting 15 pounds of potatoes.

Bruce was settled down on a chair so he could supervise me.

Max climbed up on Bruce's walker to supervise him.

Zelda supervised no one at all.

Everything got done...or, at least, done enough.  I love a good Sunday!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Happy Saturday

Today was a good sort of Saturday.  Bruce and I ate breakfast and played cribbage (he won, but I forgive him).  I washed the dishes, swept the kitchen, living room and hall and mopped the kitchen floor.  I scrubbed the stove and the countertops and then did several loads of laundry.

Then Bruce and I went grocery shopping together!!!!  This may not sound worthy of four exclamation marks, but it really is.  This is the first time Bruce has been out since he came home from the hospital.   He loaded his walker into the back of the car himself and off we went down the road together.

Words cannot express how joyful it felt to have just a bit of normalcy back in our lives.  We drove up to Angels Camp to our favorite little market and he and his walker went up and down the aisles with me.  I was so very happy to have him there with me.

It's the little things that are the big things.

The Frog's Speech

My nickname around here is (simply) "Frog", or (more grandly) "The Frog", or (dismissively) as "Froggy."  So now you know.

This is important because if you didn't know this, you wouldn't understand who the Frog was who had to give the speech in the title of this post.  It was me.  I gave it this past Thursday afternoon, and admit that it almost had me beat.

All of our district's administrators (from our superintendent on down) and a handful of teachers (myself included) had attended a five-day conference last month.  The subject was a new nationwide curriculum we'll be adopting in two years called "Common Core."  Common Core will be fabulous for our students (Google it and see!) but it's radically different and much more rigorous than what we've had in place in our public schools up until now.  Most teachers (at least not in our little district) know much about it.  So our administrators thought it would be a wonderful idea for the teachers who'd attended the conference to give a PowerPoint presentation for the rest of the staff.  I've got to hand it to administrators: they're a crafty lot.

The good news is that only two teachers needed to do any speaking (although several principals would say a few words too).  The bad news is that one of them was me (this is what comes of leaving for a bathroom break as this was being decided.  Now I know).  Anyway, the presentation was to be no more than an hour and my bit was the 12 minutes at the end.  That doesn't sound like much, but, for me, speaking in front of adults (especially other teachers) is very, very difficult.  Put me in front of a room of nine-year-olds and I can chat, teach, joke off the top of my head all day (actually, this is exactly what I do).  Put me in front of my peers, and I turn into a frightened rabbit, standing frozen in the middle of the road while a Mack truck bears down on me.  My talk was on "Mindset" and how important it was to have the kind of mindset that is willing to take risks and become stronger through effort and determination.  Ironic, huh?

Actually, I did want to push myself to do this, and exactly because it was such a stretch.  And so I gathered together my conference notes on Mindset, read a book on the subject and began writing the speech.  Then Bruce went into the hospital.  My world was suddenly full of all sorts of immensely more important worries than speechifying in front of other teachers.  I know that my principal would have let me off the hook on the speech if I'd asked, but I decided that continuing on with preparing it would be the best thing to do under the circumstances.

So I sat with my laptop in the hospital waiting room, cafeteria and various corridors and concentrated on composing my presentation.  It was the perfect antidote to wanting to curl up and cry with worry.  "Mindset".  What a great topic (if it had been, say, "Fear", I would have been in trouble).

Over the next week, I wrote it, and rewrote it, and changed it, and edited it and refined it and practiced it and edited it some more.  And I got more and more scared.  By the time Bruce was safely home, I was pretty much a nervous wreck about it.  I was reduced to marching around the house shouting out profanity like poor King George in The King's Speech in hope's that it would help.  All that this did was prove that I know less than six really bad words.

Three days before the Big Day, I read it to my principal (In the office.  With the door shut, so no one else could hear). He liked it, but suggested that I try not to read it and just sort of look at the slides and chat about them with only an occasional glance at my notes (like when I teach).  I gamely tried this. And failed miserably.  I instantly became Rabbit-In-The-Road and was incoherent with fear.  Either mindlessly babbling or utterly silent -- it was awful.

I went home and thought about this.  I finally decided that I had two options -- I could be kind to myself  and simply read the speech or I could kill myself.  Bruce convinced me that reading it would be the better way to go.  My principal agreed.

And a funny thing happened on the Big Day. As I sat down in my seat in the front of the darkened theatre with the rows of teachers stretching in front of me, I was still nervous, but in a good sort of way.  When it was my turn, I brought my speech up to the lectern, picked up the microphone, took a deep breath and began.  I introduced myself and then told them that I'd tried to memorize my speech but that wasn't happening so I would read it instead.  Then I told them not to worry because the good news was that I'm a very good reader.  Everyone laughed.  And then I read my speech in my best "good reader" way and it all turned out well.

I'm not quite ready to quit my day job and take up public speaking (I wasn't that good).  But it was good enough.  It was an awesome feeling for a Frog like myself to take up a sword and slay this particular dragon.  Mindset!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Catnip Banana


One of my 4th graders got Arby (the class mascot) a toy:
                                 A catnip banana.



Drool all over the kitchen counter.  Glazed eyes.  A bad case of the munchies.

                                I think he likes it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More tails

In the bathroom
Poom's tail continues on the mend.  When the bites in it were fresh and he first went to the vet, he couldn't hold his tail up and it drooped in a very sad way.  Now it's back to it's obnoxiously perky upright position and he waves the new puff on the end like a cheerleader waves a pompom.

On the bathroom counter

Poom is not an easy subject to photograph -- he's constantly here, there and everywhere.  He's a guy on the move!  This series of pictures was taken in the space of about five minutes.  I had to snap a lot of them because he was already moving out of the frame for a majority of them.

On the bed

Annoying Arby

Back in the bathroom

Two days after Poom had visited the vet, the doctor called to check up on him and see how he was doing.

Two days after Bruce got home from the hospital after his back surgery...no call from anyone.

An interesting state of affairs.  The good news is that Bruce is starting to hold his metaphorical tail up at a jaunty angle again too.  And that's a good thing!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Corny's New Shoes and Other Stuff

First with the "other stuff":  Bruce is home!  Bruce is home!  Bruce is home!  There had been talk of five days in a nursing home so Bruce could regain mobility, but he was doing so well that it was decided he could skip this and come right home.  So yesterday evening he was wedged into my tiny little Honda Fit and off we went back to Frogpond.  We're all so happy to have him back!  He's got a walker and we are realistic that the recovery will be slow -- but we're on our way.  Today I went back to work and Mama came up to keep an eye on things.  All went well.  We're getting back to "normal."  I'm so grateful I could cry...

Raleigh, the horseshoer, came today while I was away and put shoes on Cornelius's front feet.  Now that he's being ridden on the road his hooves are chipping and Mary said he needed shoes.  His feet had grown so tender that he was limping on the gravel drive.  So shoes he got.  I came home to find a very spunky Corny cantering up the pasture to be fed.  It was very apparent that Corny felt much better.  And such handsome feet!

It also was a relief to find that my 4th grade classes were wonderful for the substitutes.  I'd worried about that, but everyone (pretty much) behaved.  Tomorrow I administer our State Writing Test.  Never a dull moment!