May 19th, 2015

Today is Field Trip Day. I brought the camp chairs.


It’s nice in the shade.

Three more days to go, y’all.

May 19th, 2015

Field Day was moved from last Friday to yesterday (the weather was supposed to be bad). So that’s done at last. I’ve got no photographic evidence since I sold snacks the entire time.

Today is Ellie’s class’s End of the Year Field Trip to the park. I’m hot and tired just thinking about it.

3.5 days left of school, y’all.

May 8th, 2015

It was Teacher Appreciation Week at school and there was a lot of cuteness.


Cute stuff every day. Ramping up to personalized drink cozies.

Today we finished the week with a Coffee Shop (us with a bunch of Krups machines) and donuts. It was really spectacular and I can’t take credit for any of it – my Vice President (and next year’s President) handled the plans for this week while I was stressing about the book fair. Now it’s just Field Day and I can close out my PTO year. YAY.

In other school news, after an email where I copied the superintendent, I finally managed a phone conversation with the Facilities and Maintenance Coordinator. I hung up the phone with more questions and worries than when I said, “Hello.” He did, however, commit to getting me all the fire inspection reports and five years worth of work orders for Bay Minette Elementary. This was…Wednesday maybe? I’ll let you know if I ever see them.

The unfortunate phone call resulted in another letter to the superintendent (I also copied the two people he referred me to originally – one has been responsive one has not) re-asking all my main questions since I didn’t receive any actual answers to them. This resulted in a meeting with the Director of Safety – his real title is actually longer than that – who I had talked to a couple times on the phone about how neither one of us had time for a meeting and met at the school when he was up there one day. He is really nice. And ex-military. So he has a comforting “How Do We Get This Fixed” attitude. He took my complaints and suggestions seriously, and while he has a great poker face, I think he was surprised by some of the things I mentioned. I honestly think they had no idea what was going on in that school. Which honestly gives me the wiggins. I still left that meeting feeling more positive than I had in weeks.

I’m pretty sure the vast majority of the Board of Education has absolutely no idea why I (we really) am still upset and hassling them since everything is getting fixed now, but I think the Director of Safety may get it. It’s awesome that’s everything is getting fixed now. It’s awesome that you didn’t give my kid cancer. It’s not awesome that it got this way. It’s not awesome that it was this way while my child was in school for more than a year and a half. I need the Board of Education to figure out how it got this way, own the severity of the problem and work for lasting change.

May 5th, 2015

Long time Pine Haven resident, Mama Armadillo, was seen in the pre-dawn hours yesterday morning leading this year’s four babies in a parade across the front porch. This afternoon the babies were spotted near the drive way snuffling and rustling in the pine straw at the edge of the woods.


Y’all are almost cute.

Babies are completely fearless and took time out from serious armadillo business to watch this reporter take pictures of them. Mama was nowhere to be seen.

Current thinking is that they left the burrow without asking.

May 3rd, 2015

She (torties are girls) wouldn’t get in the teensy trap we found at Lowe’s this afternoon, but she did manage to make it into the garage. We’ve been leaving the garage door cracked for Tyler, resident mostly-feral, but right now he is asleep on the back porch and didn’t notice her.


Four-Five weeks do you guess?

We cornered her, gave her kitten milk and now we’re all besties. She’s all situated in the office bathroom sleeping in a kitty cube.

Tomorrow I’ll start making kitten food mush. Blech.

Edited to Add: Teensy Kitty was FIV positive. She likely got it from her mother. FIV and FeLV don’t have to be death sentences for cats. Kittens may show positive on their tests and have only gotten antibodies from their mamas not the actual virus (like a vaccinated cat will show positive). But kittens need to be isolated for 8-12 months to determine if they really are infected. We have no infrastructure in our area to provide infected cats with isolated care. So we have no more teensy kitty and I am very sad. I’m also worried: Teensy Kitty is the first infected cat to show up in our yard in the 12 years we’ve lived here and I hope it’s not a trend. Spay/Neuter and Vaccinate. You’ll save lives.

May 3rd, 2015

Like my new doormats?


It was time for a change.

It’s impossible not to smile out the way out the door!

Washington (I’m sure he’ll get a new name) is over at a good friend’s house auditioning for the role of Family Cat. He is the most laid back cat I have ever met and was doing splendidly when we left him yesterday. They’ve got two little girls who were over the moon that a kitty was coming.

As soon as we got home from dropping Washington off, we heard an itty bitty kitty on the back porch*. He ran off into the woods and we can’t get near him. I’ve never seen a kitten move so fast, usually I can just bend down and pick them up. I’ve ordered a teensy trap so that we’ll be prepared for next time (chasing kittens through the woods is a terrible idea for everyone involved) and we’ll call the shelter when they open to see if they’ve got one we can borrow in the meantime.

I’m trying to convince the humans in the house that we need to watch a movie today so I can work on this sheep.

I think this must be what people mean when they say, “Never a dull moment.”

*Michael: “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

May 2nd, 2015

It was Book Fair Week at school. I’m worn out. But it does mean that the end of the school year is near – just two more events and then summer!


I’m ashamed to tell you how many books we came home with. We were already low on shelf space…

The mold results (air quality tests – they didn’t grow anything just counted spores) arrived on Monday. Eleven rooms in the facility were tested randomly – it should be noted that none of the tested classrooms are the ones that flood regularly. Let me preface the rest of the discussion with: none of the majorly toxic types showed up in the samples. That way you can skip the next bit if if bores you. Google and I spent a couple hours together (that’s all I had time for during Book Fair Week) learning about mold types. I’m still not an expert, but I learned enough to make me feel like something is hinky. That and the way the company that analyzed the mold results hedged their bets with comments like, “Although a reasonable attempt has been made to locate suspect microbes (mold) in the areas identified, the inspection techniques used are inherently limited in the sense that only full demolition procedures will reveal all building materials of a structure and, therefore, all areas of potential microbial growth.”

The problem with mold testing is that there’s no set standard for “acceptable” amounts. So the testing companies set their own. This particular company decided that as long as there are more mold spores outside than inside, everything is fine. Regardless of type. Now, according to the letter from our Superintendent, “The environmental testing company reports that the numbers of detected mold spores was LESS inside than outside, as should be the case.” And that is accurate based on the total spores counted in the report. What isn’t taken into consideration is that there are two types of mold spores that are much higher in the outdoor sample: Basidiospores (released during periods of high humidity or rain and often found in forests and woodlands – radically higher concentration since it’d rained every day for more than a week) and Ascospores (grows well under a variety of conditions and found everywhere outside). There are several types (4-6 in eight of the rooms tested) found indoors in percentages greater than outside. Two of them – Cladiosporium (grows inside where the relative humidity is 50% or higher) and Pennicillium (often found growing in water damaged indoor areas) – have percentages that are higher in every room tested. Penicillium concentrations are triple or more in every room: 3% concentration outdoors compared to 8%-47% indoors. Since only one of those classrooms is near the ones that flood when it rains, I’ve got to wonder where all the other water damage is coming from. Super leaky ill-repaired roof perhaps? They finished putting new shingles on the roof (although they called it “getting a new roof”) when Ellie started kindergarten. Before that, the leak solution was to put big trashcans in the attic to catch the drips. I did not know that when Ellie started school there. Malaria anyone? Also, filled with water those would be really really heavy. I wonder if they ever came through the antique ceilings. Let me say just one more time (in the fine tradition of whoever wrote the opinion letter about the mold test), there’s a real good chance I just can’t read a mold report and I’ve got this all wrong.

However. They “relocated” three classrooms (Ellie’s, the one near the flooding and the one next door to that one) even though everything is FINE. Ellie’s teacher requested a new sink and countertop over a year ago. Mold grows (well, grew, since they took the sink out) up out of the sink in her classroom, she kills it with Clorox and it grows again. The facilities people came, measured the counter and were never heard from again. They recommendations from the mold people were that the countertop, back splash and cabinets underneath be replaced. They’ve only replaced the countertop – not the water damaged cabinets underneath. Which means that they have yet to treat the mold that’s growing back of the cabinets. I’ve got pictures. They are supposedly remediating (that means spraying some stuff while wearing haz-mat suits) in the other two classrooms and testing the classrooms that do actually flood when it rains.

My requests for meetings and documents* have been deferred, ignored and shuffled from person to person for the past two weeks. I let the superintendent know that the people he referred me to will not meet with me or answer my questions. This time, he referred me to the guy I’m pretty sure is responsible for the neglect of the building. We’ll just see how that goes. Everybody (including my new contact) that I’ve sent emails or that I have had short “I haven’t got time to meet with you” conversations with has until Monday afternoon to get back to me. Then I’m going to start calling them each and every day until I get my answers. I’m out of patience and I’m out of trust. Somebody is responsible for the neglect of the building. Somebody chose to neglect EPA requirements. Somebody chose to ignore basic fire safety. Somebody put my kid (and a whole bunch of others) in unsafe and unsavory conditions. I want to know who.

*anything that has anything to do with the fire safety system before it’s stunningly quick replacement in February (date of installation and service record particularly), the past 10 years of work orders for the school (date submitted and date addressed particularly) and the “regular asbestos and mold tests” that the PR guy is absolutely convinced they perform.

April 27th, 2015

Ellie is out in the office visiting Washington with her mini. She keeps texting me videos.

Washington was up in a tree by the mailbox Saturday before last. I talked him into coming down but he ran away before I could pick him up. Two days later, he was in another tree out in the woods and refused to come down. The day after that, I found him way way up high in a live oak and got him to come down to where Michael could reach him with a ladder. Washington is out in the office with Michael and refuses to leave the indoors. He must have been someone’s best pet: he is extra affectionate, neutered (no chip), well-behaved and super soft. He’s going to need a home if we can’t locate his people. We already checked with the shelter, animal control and all the vets but no one is looking.

Related: if you come across a fat grey cat with a bad eye and a flea allergy, please send her home. Big Grey Kitty went walkabout (as Out Meows sometimes do) about a week ago and we really miss her.