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Compost Happens is a personal blog: part family, part garden, part crunchy green eco-writer. I'm Daisy, and I'm the groundskeeper here. I take care of family, garden, and coffee, when I'm not teaching and doing laundry.

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  • Monday, April 30, 2012

    Care for Fabric and Life

    It was a thrift store find. $4.99, with a purple tag, which meant it was 50% off. I tried it on in the aisles, and it fit. I read the tag: "Genuine leather shell" and "Over for care". I thought I'd turn over care of my new garment to the dry cleaners. After all, I've wrecked fabrics less valuable than leather. 

    I didn't plan on the dry cleaning place refusing to take it. "We don't have very good luck with leather, so we contract our leather work out to a professional leather cleaner." She quoted me the price, I cringed, and she showed me the car instructions on the tag. Apparently, she thought I could read these and handle the cleaning process myself. 

    So I did, and it survived, and I'm thrilled with my "new" jacket. Pink leather jacket, a good pair of jeans, my snazzy boots, and I'm ready for.... well, I'm ready for a day of meetings and training at school. Oh, well. My thrifty coworkers will love it! 

    But wait - there's more. Did you see it? The second tag in the first picture? My fabulous deal came with its own fortune, sans cookie. 

    I might have phrased it differently so that the singular "everyone" makes a better match, but "their" will do. 

    A new jacket, a fabulous deal, and sage advice as well. For 50% on a $4.99 jacket? Can't be beat. 

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    Friday, April 27, 2012

    Rock Garden Re-do, continued

    Chuck is helping with the rock garden. Sort of. A little. Well, he's helping a bit, and he's doing so only a little grudgingly. He makes fun of it, too. Growl.

    I pulled all the big rocks to the sides of the garden space and then shoveled up most of the small rocks. The smaller rocks came with a lot of soil. I kept thinking I needed a shovel equivalent to a slotted spoon. The rake was too big, and the shovel brought up so much dirt.... well, anyway, I ended up with a wheelbarrow full of stones and soil.

    Meanwhile, I put down the new barriers to (hopefully) keep the mint in its place. I hear you laughing, readers. I think the layer of 20 Mule Team Borax under the barriers will help quite a bit. Oh, and Petunia? The pizza box from the leftovers went to good use as part of the rock garden barrier, so thank you.

    Then I attacked the stones. I pulled up a chair next to the wheelbarrow and started pulling stone out of the dirt and dropping them in a bucket. The trouble was, it took a long time and felt like I was only getting, well, a drop in bucket. I started to ask Chuck's opinion. He interrupted with, "bigger rocks" before he'd even heard the full question.

    So much for advice from the engineer in the house.

    I moved back to the wheelbarrow and got another bucket full of stones. Chuck, full of remorse (not really), came outside and suggested I buy a few bags of decorative stones instead of plugging away at the chore of picking them out and rinsing them off at the rain barrel. I hesitated. It's a point of pride that I created this rock garden last year at no cost - seriously, not a penny. But when reminded that my time investment is worth money, too, I gave in. Chuck dumped the wheelbarrow's load on our soon-to-be berm in the backyard and we bought three bags of rocks from Home Depot.

    The rock bags had some ridiculous marketing on them. Who designs these things? "Will not decay." Sure, but will it erode? "Easy to apply." Um, yeah. Open bag; dump.

    Readers, look at the above photo. Chuck thinks I need at least two more bags. After I spread these, we'll make a decision. Or, I'll make a decision. This time, I think I'll proceed without the engineer's input.

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    Wednesday, April 25, 2012

    I am woman, see me vote.

    It was a dark, dark night in the state capitol. In the dark of the night, a killer did his deadly deed. This was not a crime for attention or a plea for help. A pen scratched across the paper, quickly, in the hopes that no one would hear. Then, there was silence. Silence, until the scene became public.

    Wisconsin Governor Walker had signed a bill the killed women's rights to equal pay for equal work.

    He thought we wouldn't notice. 
    He thought we didn't really care, didn't really mind being set back fifty years in workplace gains. 
    Instead of listening to the real women who stretch every dollar of their paychecks, he listened to a wealthy supporter who said that "...You could argue that money is more important for men."   The same supporter referred to men as the breadwinners for their families. 

    Mr. Walker? Over here, please. I'm the primary breadwinner for my family. I'm female, and I vote. 

    But Mr. Walker, taking his cue from his contributors instead of his constituents, repealed the Equal Pay Law that would guarantee women and men equal pay for equal work. He believes that women are worth less. 

    Gov. Walker thinks we're worth less. The male teacher in the next classroom with the same education and experience can make more than the woman in the room next door - because of a Y chromosome. The male principal can make more than the female principal - regardless of school size, demographics, or (yeah, yeah, yeah) test scores. The male can bring home more bacon than the woman - because she can, and might, bear a child. 

    Gov. Walker and his cohorts think we're worth less. Does his Lieutenant Governor know? Her salary doesn't have to equal that of a male Lt. Gov. She wears pumps with her suit instead of oxfords, and therefore she is worth less. 

    Governor Walker thinks women are worth less. That's frighteningly close to worthless. 

    Governor Walker thinks we're worthless. 

    Well, soon-to-be-former Governor Walker, my influence still equals a man's on one important count. 

    We each have one vote. 

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    Sunday, April 22, 2012

    Mug shots!

    Inspired by my cousin's post of her Obama mug, I decided to post a few oldies but goodies that chronicle my mug collection. My favorite souvenirs are those I will use: coffee mugs, of course, fit the category. Here's one from Lockeport, Nova Scotia.

    I set up my new mug on the picnic table outside the rental cottage with the beach in the background. I wanted to show the little lobster inside the mug as well as the one on the front, so I propped it with a few of the seashells and stones we'd found.

    Then Chuck got into the act. He insisted on including every little piece we'd found on the beach and arranging it "tastefully" around the mug.

    Here it is: Still life with Souvenir Coffee Mug.

    And the back view, too.

    (It says Nova Scotia on the back.)


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    Friday, April 20, 2012

    Keeping Safe at Any Age

    Age 16: eligible to drive
    Age 18: eligible to vote
    Age 21: eligible to drink a beer or two

    Oops, I missed one. Age 20: Leave behind a statistic. What statistic? I'm glad you asked.

    The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines children as anyone aged 0 - 19, and the leading cause of death in children is unintentional injury. Accidents. Car crashes, suffocation, drowning, poisoning, fires, and falls are just a few of the examples.

    Our country is getting safer for children - about 30% safer over the last decade. But even with improvement during decade 2.0, we still have issues. Okay, I'll leave the issues behind, but accidents still happen, and happen to the tune of more than 9,000 deaths a year.

    The CDC asked several bloggers to help share safety tips, and of course I said "Yes." I'll share some of their common sense recommendations, and I'll point you toward a few web sites chock-full of information.

    Common sense isn't as common as it should be, given the - well, common name. For example, under drowning, tips to decrease drowning deaths include this list.
    • Learn to swim.
    • Watch kids closely around water.
    It's a start. Motor Vehicle tips are also common sense, but these take a little more time and effort.
    • Always use seat belts & safety seats.
    • Use booster seats that are correct for a child's age and weight.
    • Use safe-driving agreements or contracts with teens.
    Prevention for falls brings in a few items that aren't necessarily "cool" with kids.
    • Insist on soft landing surfaces on playgrounds (i.e. sand or wood chips).
    • Install protective rails on bunk beds and loft beds.
    • Wear a helmet. Listen up, kiddos, Aaron Rodgers wears one.
    I promised links.

    The CDC has a page they call "Protect the One you Love."
    "Color me Safe" is a coloring book available in English or in Spanish.
    This site offers free e-cards related to the topic.

    Readers, dear readers, I agree to post on these topics for many reasons. Health posts are never paid posts or sponsored. When the CDC calls - well, when the CDC emails - I'm willing to help because I want our world to get better, not worse, for the generations that follow. I'm teaching one of those generations right now. If I can make a difference, if I can make a suggestion that prevents a child from getting hurt, it's more than worth the blog space.

    I'm serious about the disclaimer. This is not a paid post. I'm also serious about making a difference. The U.S. has a higher death rate from preventable injury than Sweden, Norway, the U.K., France, Canada, Australia.... isn't it sad that the list goes on? Let's change it, folks. Add a safety suggestion in the comments or post one on Twitter. Be sure you copy it to @CDCgov so the CDC folk see it, too.

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    Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Rock Garden Re-do

    While I wait for the planting season, I'm still playing in the dirt. Chuck turned the soil, and then I took the large rake to it, chopped up the larger clumps, and spread it a bit more evenly. Next on the fill-the-time list: the rock garden.

    I usually forget to take the "before" picture that makes a Before and After interesting. Oops, I did it again. In its place I will share two "during" photos. The top shot shows the stones still covering the ground, but most of the larger rocks have been moved, relocated until I'm done with the work.

    The next point of view is the long shot, taken lower in order to better share the overview. There's still a little soil in the foreground. I expect that will eventually fill with the ever-spreading mums. Next to the porch are a few bulbs: daffodils, a tulip or two, and a few Asian lilies. The blank spaces in between are temporarily hosting a few of the big rocks.
    The plan:
    • Take the entire collection out.
    • Place new barriers (corrugated cardboard and/or newspaper) on the mint-filled and weed-filled soil.
    • Dump stones back on top of barriers.
    • Artistically place the larger rocks.
    • Hope for the best.

    Readers, I'm sure I'll have an After shot for you when it's done. While you wait, tell me: what kind of projects are keeping you busy while you wait for planting season?

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    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

    Respect and Politics: can they coexist?

    Once upon a time, about two weeks ago, on a very busy Tuesday, a friend and former colleague ran for local office: County Board Supervisor for her district. After the April 3rd election, she had lost by 19 votes. Careful examination of the absentee ballots found two more votes in her favor.

    She (we'll call her Ann) asked for a recount. She didn't see the recount in terms of who won or lost, even though she was eager to serve. She saw the process as necessary to assure voters of accuracy - assure each and every voter that his/her vote did indeed count.

    The recount, a tedious 11-hour process, ended with her opponent at 642 and her own tally 625. With 17 votes in between, she had lost. She conceded, congratulated her opponent, and moved on. I'm disappointed, like many of her supporters, but I'm so, so proud. Her statement contained no bitterness: only appreciation for the recount workers, thanks for her supporters, and the pride that comes with a record voter turnout in her district. She told us, "I am feeling very satisfied with the process and the outcome, as we all can be sure of the accuracy of the voting results."

    Meanwhile, back in in Walkerville, Wisconsin's Governor Walker again demonstrated that he considered himself above all others and immune to suggestions and requests. That is, he's immune to requests from anyone who doesn't donate millions to his campaign. Gov. Walker campaigned recently on a six-city swing through our fair cheese filled state. At each rally, he warmed up the crowds by entering to the song, "Small Town" by John Mellencamp. Great, right? A musician from the Midwest (Indiana), a song with a title that acknowledges Wisconsin's rural roots - what could be wrong with this scene?

    Plenty is wrong with this scene. Mellencamp doesn't support Walker. In fact, his publicist contacted the Governor's campaign to state firmly that he is pro-union, pro-collective bargaining, and he supports the fight for workers to earn a living wage. Add to that Mellencamp's performance of "Small Town" at a rally for President Barack Obama in 2008, and Walker's use of the song sounds even more out of tune.

    John Mellencamp's representatives asked John McCain not to use the musician's "Our Country" in 2008. McCain complied. So far, Gov. Walker has ignored the request to stop playing "Small Town" during his campaign.

    Which candidate has more class, shows more respect for the voters? Ann, the local county board candidate, or the one who (temporarily) carries the title Governor? Soon-to-be-Former Governor Walker doesn't respect the famous musician John Mellencamp; I certainly can't expect him to respect me, an ordinary citizen. As for classy, in tune with constituents, and worthy of my respect, I vote for Ann.

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    Monday, April 16, 2012

    Random Leftovers, thoughts, and reactions

    For lunch I reheated leftover Chinese take-out from last night. The fortune cookie said "Your dearest wish will come true." I'm still waiting for one that says, "Be careful what you wish for. You might get it."

    Heard on Twitter: "Just because it's stormy doesn't mean you're not headed for sunshine."
    This might just be a new variation on the old --
    "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you."
    Either way, the grammar leaves a lot to be desired.

    Speaking of errors, yesterday I saw a classic example of poorly used spell-check.
    The student meant to say ridiculous. Instead, his answer used the word reticules.

    I had a strange dream last night, too. I dreamed I lost my wallet - it was stolen. When I got it back, the lovely embroidery and needlework was in bad shape. Threads of many colors were hanging loosely all over. In my dream, I found most of my money still inside the wallet. That which was missing had been replaced by (are you ready for this?) lottery tickets.

    I suggested the loose threads are a metaphor; I have too many loose ends hanging that need to be tied up and secured. Chuck nodded and then added, "The lottery tickets were just a reference to last week's big jackpot." I suggested, "Maybe it means I should take more risks." He shook his head vehemently and replied, "No."

    Okay. I'll refrain from Megabucks for a while.


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    Saturday, April 14, 2012

    Zero Water Pitcher Review - How's your TDS?

    I live in the Great Lakes basin where water is plentiful. In the Great Lakes basin, municipal water goes through mandatory primary, secondary, and tertiary treatment stages. Look it up. It's fascinating.

    Even in the Great Lakes basin, unfortunately, water can contain particles that slip through the water treatment plant. People in the know refer to these as Total Dissolved Solids, or TDS. TDS can contain lead & chromium, among other metals; pharmaceuticals (unneeded medications flushed into the water supply), and more. These particles are tiny; they're measured in PPM, or parts per million. It's a wee bit scary, isn't it, to think of these microscopic dangers in our drinking water.

    Enter the solution: the Zero Water Bottle for filtering water.

    I have a water pitcher with a filter already, but I have no idea how much it filters out of my tap water. I offered to test the Zero Water brand filter because my current pitcher is an awkward shape for the refrigerator and because the Zero Water pitcher comes with its own water meter for measuring TDS. Before taking a sip, Chuck and I read the directions.

    Chuck: This has more instructions than a broadcast camera!
    Me: No problem. Clear instructions are good.
    Chuck (reading enclosed pamphlet): Actually, it's not that bad. What is TDS? It's measured in PPM, parts per million.
    Me: Total Dissolved Solids. See above for explanation of TDS.
    Chuck: Why should I care?
    Me: Those dissolved solids can be lead, chromium, medications... you name it.
    Chuck: Ah. I get it.
    Me: This will be fun. I don't get enough hands-on science any more. Hand me that meter.

    Getting started using the TDS meter was indeed fun for me. I looked up the directions, made sure the meter started on zero, and then filled my new Zero Water pitcher. Meanwhile, I measured my tap water at 117 ppm.

    You can find an estimate of your own TDS by entering your zip code at the Zero Water site. According to the site, my reading should have been higher: 275 ppm. I sent my own reading to the webmaster to help correct their data, something you can do if your reading is not the same as the one they have on record.

    Now back to the pitcher. After going through the ion exchange filter in my new Zero Water pitcher, the TDS reading was an impressive 000. This process only took a few minutes.

    So far, I'm impressed by the Zero Water pitcher. It fits nicely on my refrigerator shelf. It has a spout for pouring and a dispenser button at the bottom. In addition to these practical aspects, the filtration met, no, exceeded my expectations. I'm very pleased with this product.

    Would you like to win a Zero Water filter pitcher of your own? You can, courtesy of MomCentral and ZeroWater. They're giving two readers a chance to own their own pitchers just like mine. Readers, leave a comment to be entered into the pitcher drawing. That's pitcher drawing, not picture drawing. Ahem. To make this even more interesting, leave your TDS reading from the Zero Water web site. It'll be fascinating to compare the data.

    Make sure I have your email in your comment profile or already in my address book so I can contact you if you're a lucky winner. The drawing closes at midnight on Wednesday, April 25. It'll be worth your while. Limit yourself to one entry, please, despite my enthusiasm.

    While you're waiting for the contest to close, you might want to visit the Zero Water web site and their Facebook page. If you don't win, or if you want to buy one for someone else, you can use MC30 for 30% off on a 10 cup pitcher at this site.

    I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of ZeroWater and received a water pitcher to facilitate my review, two pitchers to giveaway, and extra filters to thank me for taking the time to participate. Participation was fascinating and fun.

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    Thursday, April 12, 2012

    Matchless Match or Does the Shoe Fit?

    I enjoy walking to work. I pack my school shoes in my schoolbag, tuck my lunch in on top of them, put on my walking shoes and jacket (if needed) and walk out the door. I can do this routine almost in my sleep, without even looking.

    Maybe I should look more closely. I got to work one recent day, took off my walking shoes, and realized that I'd worn a unique pair. Oops.

    Note to self: no more sleep walking through morning routine.


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    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Teacher Profiling - hearing aid compatible version

    Ah, readers. You've come through for me in the past. I'm working on a post describing what it's like to be a hearing impaired person teaching in a virtual school. Here's my draft. Let me know what you think. Since I hit copy and paste, I've already made three changes. Five. Now I've lost count.

    I entered the teaching field armed with a music degree, two teaching licenses, and two powerful hearing aids. The degree and teaching licenses got me hired; the hearing aids helped me thrive. My condition is a progressive loss, one that has worsened with time and will continue to change as I grow older. This loss is due to nerve damage, and hearing aids are the correct and only treatment. As my hearing loss worsened, I looked for an alternative to a traditional classroom setting, and Wisconsin Connections Academy attracted my attention. I was fascinated by the variety of families enrolled, the unique program, and the commitment to learning, and the enthusiasm for technology in education.

    My hearing loss is only one part of who I am as a teacher. Sometimes I need small modifications, or reasonable accommodations as the law calls them. This was easy for WCA; all of the headsets are hearing aid compatible. My students and my coworkers take my hearing loss in stride.

    At one time I taught students with hearing impairments – not as a specialist, but as their regular classroom teacher. The presence of a role model, a professional with the same disability they had, motivated these children more than any lesson I could teach. I hope that my current students see my disability, when they think of it at all, as an example that they, too, can succeed, no matter what challenges lie ahead.

    Well, readers? I feel like it's still rather stiff, rather bland. Help me out, please?

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    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    Next election: we're ready

    One election down, another coming up in one month. In one month, Wisconsinites will decide who will challenge current Governor Scott Walker in a recall election. At least one young voter is ready.

    Amigo uses an adaptive voting machine called an Auto Mark. It scans the ballot, reads it aloud (with headphones to preserve the voter's privacy), and at the push of a button, marks his vote.

    When he was finished, he proudly wore his sticker.

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    Monday, April 09, 2012

    Making the Cubicle Home

    You've met Fluffy and the gang.

    Another part of the Cubicle Survival Kit is another type of cube - the Rubic's Cube.

    And decor that reminds me of why I'm really here, the purpose of the work I do each day in my little cloth cube:


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    Saturday, April 07, 2012

    Hoppy Easter!

    For those of you who celebrate, I offer you the following greetings from La Petite's bunnies.

    "Hello, world. Look at my cuteness."

    "Oh, fine. I'll get in the basket. But I won't pose!"

    Anyway, readers, enjoy your day.
    Hop. Hop.

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    Friday, April 06, 2012

    Dear Pharmacy; your carbon footprint stinks.

    Dear Pharmacy that shall not be Named;

    If just 25% of U.S. families used 10 fewer plastic bags a month, we would save over 2.5 billion bags a year.* So tell me; why do you have such a problem with my bringing my own bag? Last time I had to tell the clerk twice, loudly and clearly, before she looked at me with a confused expression and then set the plastic bag down. I guess I'll take the confused expression over the eye roll I've gotten several other times.

    Well, dear Pharmacy, let's look at another wasteful habit. Every single time a clerk hands out a (stupid little plastic) bag, it contains advertising. Flu shots, diabetes supplies, the smart phone app for refills - I don't need these. Really. And when I hand back the paper with a "Thanks, but I've already had my flu shot," the paper doesn't go to another customer; it goes in the recycling. What the heck? Your carbon footprint approaches Paul Bunyan's print in size.

    Pharmacy, dear, oh Ye Who Shall Not be Named, I just moved the bulk of my maintenance medications to another provider. I no longer plan to make multiple trips per month, tolerate the attitude, or accept the outrageous amount of waste generated.

    Got it? Oh. I didn't think so. Never mind.



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    Thursday, April 05, 2012

    How to Adjust to a New Sleep Medication

    Disclaimer: Adjustment Daisy style does not replace or even supplement real medical advice. This adjustment addresses the woozy feeling in the morning, sometimes called the Hangover Effect.
    • Have coffee with a friend. The coffee will infuse caffeine; the conversation will be enlightening.
    • Snuggle a blanket. This acknowledges the desire to sleep again while not giving in completely to the call of the pillows.
    • Put pots and trays of seedlings outside. Between the sun and the cool temperatures, nature helps wake up the soul.
    • Blog. But be careful; proofread later when feeling less loopy.
    • Feed and pet a rabbit. This is a valid strategy for almost any condition. Rabbits are magical.
    • Watch the weather channel or CNN, depending on the mood.
    • Avoid game shows on TV. The over-animated applause and the bells & whistles are annoying and all too often generate headaches.
    • Contemplate changing timing of taking medication at night to allow for successful awakening in the morning.

    Readers, can you add to the list?

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    Wednesday, April 04, 2012


    Two bad nights in a row. That's unusual. Most of the time one bad night will leave me tired enough to sleep the second. Not this time.

    So far:
    • no naps
    • keeping busy outside (re-potted tomato seedlings)
    • half-caff coffee, none after noon
    • keeping busy inside (laundry, a necessary evil)
    • keeping mind busy - this is the toughest element in the list.
    My brain has been linking memories and concerns with connections that just don't make sense. Round and round, circular motion, or is it a spiral? If it's a spiral, I wish it would spiral out of my mind and let me sleep.

    Social networking is coming in handy. Online friends have recommended:
    • melatonin, in small doses
    • meditation
    • notebook next to the bed for writing concerns, even poems
    • Music: when I'm obsessing over regrets from the past, remember "Let it be."
    • Music: "Morning has Broken" to ease me out of bed whether I've slept or not
    One major decision: Do I call the doctor? And if so, the family doctor or the psychiatric NP with the several-month long waiting list? I'm not eager to start Ambien or any other sleep aid. I fear the addiction that I developed last time Ambien was part of my routine.

    Well, dear readers, I'll take any advice you have for me. If I could just shut off the part of my brain that keeps replaying regrets and mistakes and -- that's it, just and.

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    Tuesday, April 03, 2012

    Tools of the gardening trade

    Tools! I've been pulling my gardening supplies and tools out of the garage more and more often. Let's see: a trowel or two, several pairs of gloves (each fits a particular task - all are dirt covered), blue basket of seeds, tongue depressors --

    Tongue depressors?

    Teachers use tongue depressors in all sorts of ways. This box came from a retired teacher's garage sale and served my fourth graders for four years. When I left my classroom behind for a cubicle, I brought the remaining sticks home. They're biodegradable, easy to use, and a perfect size on which to write. Good thing I had a lot left - look at these tomato seedlings!

    And if you had any doubt about the effectiveness of my little wooden supplies, take a closer look.

    They'll go into the garden soil near each plant so I know what's there until the plant grows up and shows its true colors, er, fruits.

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    Monday, April 02, 2012

    Home Sweet Cubicle - the sequel

    Readers, you saw the mess before I unpacked all the boxes of teachers' manuals and other important resources. You could have followed up with the eventual "after" shot. Still later, Flat Stanley made a visit to my cubicle.

    It's still my cube, and it's evolved a bit. Typical of me, everything important is within reach. It's hard to do otherwise in a space this small! In this small shot, you can get a glimpse of teachers' manuals, see the files trays that hold my plans for the week, and browse the cubicle survival kit that includes my tissue box (Packers cover, a perfect gift for the Green Bay Packers stockholder in your life), coffee cup (Teaching Wisconsin to Read), and animals.


    Of course I have animals in my cubicle. Doesn't everybody?
    I hope Paddington, Snoopy, and Fluffy don't get lonely while I'm on spring break.
    Or maybe I should hope they're not hosting a wild cubicle party.

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    Search & Win

    About 1 in 5 child deaths is due to injury. CDC Vital Signs


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    Copyright, 2003-2008 by OkayByMe. All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval without written permission from Daisy, the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review. In other words, stealing is bad, and if you take what doesn't belong to you, it's YOUR karma and my lawyers you might deal with.