Friday, January 15, 2016

Diamonds and Dust

Twas the best of days turned worst of days, but that's life in general, right???

That's kinda how I look at yesterday. 

With Bill staying home for the morning to watch after doggies, I was out of here by 7:30 a.m. yesterday, bound for the spelling bee at Farmin-Stidwell.  

The minute I entered the school everything went like clockwork as my sister met me and led me down the hallway to the room where the bee would be held.  

After sitting down at the judging/moderating table and feeling like we had to stretch our necks to see over the table (well, that's a little stretch), Pauline, a newly minted retiree from the school, found some taller chairs to enhance our view. 

Lisa, a former student of mine and a Farmin-Stidwell teacher, quickly summarized the basics of what we were supposed to do before rushing off to her classroom.

Pat, the veteran and a retiree, showed up, and that's when we knew we were ready to go with words for fifth graders. 

The general procedure called for practice rounds for each of three grades, followed by an official competition round.  Spelling bee rules are rigid in that saying a letter out of place spells immediate doom.  

And, that doom signals an unwritten rule in the procedure, especially for the all-smiles pronouncer:   cease any eye contact with the contestant the very second "THEY" begin spelling. 

This is essential, for if a letter is out of place, the odds are pretty high that tears will be escaping from their usual place.  I can vouch from experience that nothing is more heart-breaking than the painful expressions of elementary students when they eliminate themselves from the competition. 

Yesterday was no exception, especially because I did mistakenly establish eye contact with a couple of eliminated spellers long after they'd shed their first tears.  

Those tears often last clear through the round.  It's so hard for someone like me to maintain my neutral game face and to remain in place when I really want to rush over and give the poor kid a great big heartfelt, reassuring hug. 

Nonetheless, the spelling bee involved many bright moments among the tears.  I met a couple of new employees at Farmin-Stidwell.  I saw a few familiar faces in the parent section.  

And, the trio of adorable fourth-grade girls who came into the room arm-in-arm and pretty much remained that way throughout their competition round melted my heart. 

When the round had ended, I told them I admired their camaraderie.  

Then, the imp within asked them to spell "camaraderie."  No winners there, not even in the parent section, so I told 'em it was their assignment.  

Leave it to cell phones; one of the little ladies came back, smart phone in hand, and spelled "camaraderie" correctly.  

They (plural spelling bee honchos) don't allow cell phones in spelling bees, and that is probably a good thing for the contestants as they may be eliminated more quickly than without the good ol' auto-correct.

Case in point.  During a break, I went to my cell phone and saw a posting from my friend Susie/Sky who lives in Colorado.  She had her hip replaced Wednesday.  I received a text from her Wednesday telling me surgery had gone well.  I was impressed, not so much that the surgery had gone well but that my longtime friend was clear of mind enough to send me a coherent text right after surgery with no misspellings.

Well, yesterday, just 24 hours after surgery, she had posted a lovely reflective piece about life in general on Facebook.  I was astounded but then thought that the meds were probably enabling her to spew out some thoughtful profundities. 

Our mutual friend Chris posted with amazement about Susie's post "four days post surgery." 

To which, I had time to correct Chris and tell her it was just 24 hours, not four days. Then, I tacked on a phrase suggesting it was probably the meds.

Well, auto-correct did not like my spelling and instantly corrected meds to "mess."  

By that very moment, it was time for the next round of spellers to come into the room.  

Regardless of what time it was, I could not let the "mess" stay there on Facebook for all the world to read and for some of the world who know I'm an English teacher but who fortunately had no clue I was the official pronouncer of words for a spelling bee at almost the same time my cell phone misspelled "meds" on the world wide web-----what would they think AND what wonderful opportunities of humiliating their English teacher would they pounce on while I had left cyberspace and had gone back to pronouncing words.

So, I said to my colleagues, let me finish this!  I quickly retyped "meds," and, at first, it again said "mess," but for some reason, the cell phone changed its mind and finally allowed "meds."  

"Whew!"  I thought and then resumed my important work proper pronunciation with the sixth-grade contestants. 

The Farmin-Stidwell bee all turned out okay 'cept for those disappointed contestants who really needed a hug.

And, speaking of hugs needed, I must send out virtual hugs to all in ZAGland----players, staff and fans-----who may have shed a tear, pronounced a bad word or kicked the foot rest at the end of last night's game.  

To put it all in perspective, this has been a week of big losses for great basketball teams across the country.  

Seems to a lot of us that media-wise the ZAGS get little or no slack in comparison to Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, Maryland, etc. when they lose.  

Indeed, we're all conditioned to high expectations,  but, as true fans, we must remember that we're in it for the long haul with these young people who give back to us in entertainment and expectation than they ever take away. 

Hopefully, they did a group hug last night and vowed to learn from their experience, and hopefully, we'll all stick with them as they move on down the path on this year's journey to the tourney!  

Tomorrow when the ZAGS meet San Diego, my sisters and I will be wearing our ZAG pajama bottoms (compliments of dear Debbie) and we're planning breakfast for dinner as we watch the game.  GO ZAGS!!! 

This morning, I've also included a couple of photos that make me smile, complete with explanations.  Enjoy.

Happy Friday. 

I'm wondering what these two pals were thinking as they surveyed the comings and goings on a rainy day outside their SUV at the Yoke's parking lot earlier this week.

I had pulled up to the post office box to mail a letter when I spotted them.  The scene made me smile.  

Their owner had parked in a prime place for "people watching by dogs."

For me, it was just a nice moment of quiet enjoyment. 

It was pure delight to receive this photo in an email yesterday afternoon.  That's Maddie, and she is Liam's half sister.  

She lives in Western Washington, and she is quite accomplished as a 7-year-old multi-talented competitor, especially as a herding dog.   

Maddie and her owner Missy have developed a close working and loving bond ever since Missy picked her up as a pup from Hunters, Wash.  

I tracked her owner down through some googling and enjoyed a very nice conversation with her yesterday afternoon.  

It's pretty neat to learn the stories associated with our young pups.  Maddie and Missy's saga is a great story, filled with that deep and abounding love that so marks the relationship between humans and their Border Collies. 

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