Now we are in November.
The hours of daylight have shrunk to ten hours and 23 minutes. By 5 pm there is a smudge of orange on the ridge to the west. By 6 the upper bands of sky are velvety blue. I’m on my porch peering through the trees, tracking the last of the light. Soon Venus will come wobbling into view as she chases the sun over the horizon.
On Saturday I’ll be on the porch of the house above eating bacon, date, and arugula sandwiches with Sharron. My week by the seashore will have begun.
But first, I’m finishing up with parent conferences and report cards.
Every week I post my favorite spelling stories on the bulletin board. It’s one of the homework assignments they have to do with their spelling words. It’s fascinating to see the words used in such a different assortment of tales. Any Jungian would have a field day with these stories.
On Monday everyone looks to see whose story I’ve posted and “liked”.
To avoid work, kids try to tempt me to read the stories, dramatically.
“Please, Ms. Moss.”
They know good and well the penchant I have for dramatic reading. Lately though, I give them a microphone and have them read them themselves. I can’t have all the fun.
Over the river and through the hills, Moss Cottage patiently waits for me to arrive home.
I found these iron on patches on Etsy. I made them into badges and wear a different one to school every day.
The black one is for Friday when HW is due. That’s what my face will look like if kids don’t bring their assignments.
Here is one of my student’s class journals. Thank you to the person who sent a pile of books, journals, and prizes for the treasure box. There was no QR code receipt so I couldn’t send you a thank you note. I hid the books in the classroom library and didn’t say anything. By day’s end they were all discovered and borrowed! You better believe that everything you’ve sent us is cherished.
This child is on her 2nd journal and I wish I could share the pages, but I have been sworn to secrecy.
It rained for the first time this season, but now it’s 90 degrees outside and I’m getting ready to go out this evening and hand water everything that’s thirsty. I wonder at times what life will be like in a few hundred years for the residents of planet earth. How many trees will be left by the year 4021? There’s an apocalyptic novel in me somewhere, but I don’t have the heart to write it.
The native oaks that dot old neighborhoods like mine are adapted to life without rain for most of the year, but even they can’t survive endless years of drought.
Halloween came and went in the classroom!
Everything under the sun is blazing with autumn color.
I’m off to a slow start for drawtober/inktober or whatever it’s called. Sometimes this working stiff simply has no energy left at the end of the day beyond what it takes to sit on the porch and stare into space. Scribble in my journal.
A few scratches here and there are all I’ve managed. Intensely pleasure-filled moments of looking. I will try to have more of them.
Leaving the house in the morning and scooting back over the hills and across the LA river, a tamed torrent of water in its concrete channel. I look at the sky and clouds. Try and forecast the day based on the flight patterns of urban pigeons that gather on the bridges and overpasses.
This morning in Math a giant, furry, jumping spider climbed on Samuel’s water bottle. He screeched and ran across the room. Chaos broke out. His steadfast, silent desk partner, from Kazakhstan (who speaks very little English) didn’t move a muscle. He studied the spider thoughtfully and helped me catch him. It was a vvv involved process. 30 kids + 1 fuzzy spider. I barked out orders for everyone to keep their traps shut and let me concentrate on the job at hand.
Boys and girls alike gasped and screamed as the 1″ spider jumped off the desk and headed across the floor straight for a cluster of children. Then dead silence as my trapping skills were put to the test.
I first noticed missus spider on Friday on the window after school. I swear she was watching me while I graded papers. I observed her carefully, taking note of her 4 eyes. I hoped she would find her way back out of the class, but no, she decided instead to navigate across the sea of backpacks, shoes, legs, desks, and chairs. Finally on Wednesday she chose the child with the highest pitch scream, scaled his desk, and jumped onto his water bottle.
After Spidey’s safe capture I had my helper take him outside and release him by some plants.
above image found on internet
On my bookshelf
This is what I’ve been reading. I don’t necessarily recommend Ottessa Moshfegh unless you can handle young female characters in the throes of self-pity, vomit, drunkenness, sad stories, and disturbed behavior. Eileen was nevertheless, unputtdownable and I’m not sorry I read it. I can’t say the same for My Year… If you’re sensitive, you may wish to avoid them both. I enjoyed Klara, but it too is bleak. As usual, you can believe almost none of the glowing blurbs you’ll read on the covers. Once There Were… had it’s moments, but the ending felt a bit tidy and sappy. It reads a bit like a thriller, which I enjoyed.
I just finished reading this in the classroom.
On the very last page my voice cracked and before I could say, “Be quiet and sit down while I catch this spider!” a single tear made it’s journey out of my eye, down my cheek, and slipped under the top of my mask. Then another. And another.
“Are you okay?”
Give me a minute. I will be.
One kid said, “That’s the best story I ever heard.”
You make my heart sing.
You make my heart sing.
Whenever I read your accounts of classroom adventures I wish I could have become a teacher. I’m not afraid of spiders (the ones we share our spaces with here in Cornwall anyway). Not sure about the four-eyed one though! Lovely stories from you – every time – and beautiful images.
I remember you once told us that you prefer messages here, rather than by email. I thought I’d share a little story of my own with you. Would you please look out for it, even though it’s on email? It’s only a few lines long and reminds me of the way you dealt with that spider.
Happy holiday xxx
Susan Sewell says
I’ve been thinking about you! So glad I came here to catch up with you and yours. I always love to read about your students and the little world that is your classroom. I’m going on 6 years retired and though I wouldn’t trade, I admit to still missing my little fiefdom. 2021 has been another time warp for me, I’ve had two heart surgeries and because deductible, I opted to have my granny claw toes straightened last week. Owie! was not prepared for the pain. So Julia, my precious dog sitter is on her way to take Kinito for an abenture while I sit here iced and elevated. I hope you have a delicious few days of porch sitting, see you when you get back.
Jane B. says
Glad to read the smoke signal from you – somehow the spider ambassador in the photo (loved your comment ‘photo from internet’ – chortle) seems to have a resigned and wise demeanor. Perhaps she too has spent many an hour with small children! We’re at barely eight hours of daylight here – even the resident herring gulls have abandoned ship and headed to (I assume) Malaga, Spain where they no doubt are sitting in loungers, squawking for their fish and chips, “wi’ extra chippy sauce, hen!” Chippy sauce is quite unique to Edinburgh; it’s probably some mix of what is called (mysteriously) ‘brown sauce’ and vinegar, and the local fish and chip shops pour it on their wares. Nobody outside the EH postcodes (city of Edinburgh) has ever heard of it – which is why our local gulls will be insisting loudly that they need it, of course. This would make quite an amusing children’s book that you’d be able to illustrate so well! Keep well over there xo
So good to hear from you with such delightful illustrated tales…especially the Brave Spider Rescue Team.
I thank you for your honest book reviews and totally agree…”As usual, you can believe almost none of the glowing blurbs you’ll read on the covers.”
Enjoy your holiday and well deserved time away with more art journal time for your creative soul.
I look forward to more warm weather posts from CA dropping by here in snowy MI. XO
Pennie Hardwick says
Aaaah, thanks for sharing.
Holly Hudson says
Your last book, YA is one written by one of my favorite YA authors. I have about 6 of her books on my i-Pad.
Enjoy your holiday & Thanksgiving.
That spider story is terrific…sounds like one of my many my kindergarten memories . A blazing fast gerbil escaped his cage prior to school starting. One unusually tall boy, (I was tiny at @ 4) freaked out & puked all over the room. Poor gerbil probably did his share of pooping for the day.
We stayed out on the playground for hours. I bet it was only 30 minutes, it was blissful. And it felt like complete freedom from learning struggles, @ 1961, Silver Spring, Maryland. So glad by 1980’s my children started Kindergarten @ 6.
Mary Ann Moss says
Oh Holly, I love this story so much. A blissful 30 minutes free from the classroom and out into the wild world of the playground. I see your gerbil and I raise you a spider xo
susan engleman says
I love it when I see a new post from you!!! I hope you have a fabulous holiday in your favorite place…
You already have of your students close each time you write it. Retirement is wonderful since you can look back on the good, the funny, the sad, and the tragic kids of your memories. I wish I had kept some sort of journal or a diary through my years of teaching and being a principal in a high school setting. What a wonderful gift for yourself.
Mary Ann Moss says
You’re right. Sometimes when I journal I think, ‘Not school again,’ but my life IS school. one day it will be wildly funny and tender.
Kristi Wilson-Bovee says
Oh, my, Mary Ann! I would probably not have been as brave as you with the spider. Four eyes . . . yikes!!!!! I love seeing your classroom and the kids as I am missing mine right now. I love Kate DiCamillo books and had the pleasure of meeting her at a book signing for Raymie Nightingale (another great book). She is lovely. Thank you for your musings and beautiful photos. I look forward to them. Wishing you a relaxing vacation near the sea!
Beth B. says
Hi Mary Ann! It’s so wonderful to get your posts. I know you talk about retirement and long for those days, as do I… I am wondering why you would leave Moss Cottage, as it seems such an ideal place for an abode. This working stiff in FL is jealous and wishes she could afford to live in CA! Be well, and thank you for everything you do for us and me. Sending lots of love.
Mary Ann Moss says
Beth, I wonder the same thing myself. I don’t know if I’ll be able to leave. Yet, I long for a quieter, less urban life.
Kim Bates says
Lovely pictures and I so enjoy the way you notice things. I have the Wolf book in my pile, too! I love the spider story and if you don’t already I recommend following #thedailyjames on Instagram…they occasionally have posts about a spider just like the one you caught and much more- all in their wonderful backyard – right in the city of Los Angeles. I think your students would love it, too!
Mary Ann Moss says
The Daily James! I haven’t visited him (via IG) in so long. I will go there soon and hope to catch a glimpse of his spider. He’s not far from me, in Mt. Washington.
Dear Ms Mam! Consider this a smoke signal from a very waterlogged Vancouver Island!
I’m sure you have seen the news so won’t bore you with details.
So on to the Spider! You may have found Lucas’ cousin! As your blogs are always a pleasure to read, I thought to return the favor and send you this video of Lucas the Spider. (He even has his own plushie!)
Waving from Across the Salish Sea
Clare Davison says
Beautiful as ever. Thank you. Love the Halloween photos of the children in your class! Have a lovely time away and enjoy your bacon, date and arugula sandwich, it sounds intriguing!
I guess I have to read Edward Tulane! That jumping spider with four eyes is fabulous! Maybe not if I were the one who had to catch it, but great picture and story! You’re the students’ hero! Wonderful post, as always. Have a wonderful break from school.
Kristin Leary-Silber says
Thank you, Mary Ann, for this beautiful post. It has soothed a restless, insomniatic mind. How fortunate your students are to have you in their lives. Enjoy your time by the sea!
Violet Cadburry says
But how did you catch the spider? Inquiring bunnies need to know.
Mary Ann Moss says
quickly deposit the twistable crayons on the floor, grab the lid to the eraser container, carefully and quickly place the clear container to the twistables over the top of spider as she’s on the run across the floor. she crawls up the cup, i lift it and put the lid on. VOILA!
violet cadburry says
You could go on the road with that act:)
Dede Warren says
I hang on every word here… you’re a beautiful writer! Enjoy your time by the sea.
Mary Ann Moss says
Hi Dede – Happy Thanksgiving to you too. Thank you xo
Linda Bailey Zimmerman says
You my dear are a fabulous storyteller!!!
I love Edward Tulane♥️
OMG I loved “Eileen”! Relentless!
Sandra L. says
Giant, furry, jumping spiders? No thank you! I guess you’re not afraid of them…or maybe you can’t be while you’re on duty.
Just those illustrations from the bunny book made me start crying. I cry easily. I have two bunnies and I’m having a weepy day.
I too am looking forward to next week. I will have five days off. I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!
Susan Gallitto says
I was so excited to see a new blog post from you in my email box! I have been a long time follower and student of many of your courses. I love your perspective and quirky sense of humor! I could spend hours looking at your beautiful sketchbook pages and photographs. Hope you have a wonderful Holiday Season Mary Ann!!!