Second Grade Memories and Patches, The Beloved Classroom Pet

Recently, the elementary school I attended had their 60th anniversary celebration which was open to the public.  I have very happy memories of elementary school, my teachers, my principal, the classrooms, etc.  So it was such a treat to walk the halls of that school after so many years, walk into my old classrooms, and see my beloved and adored principal who opened the school as a teaching principal back in 1956 and who was honored at the event. He is 91.  The thing that struck me the most was how certain smells came back to me and those smells opened a floodgate of memories for me.

I can’t think of anything that I didn’t like about that school.  I guess we all have a favorite year in school and in elementary school, I think I would have to say my favorite was my 2nd grade year.  I loved my teacher and everything about the way she taught.  Mrs. Andrews was a very hands-on teacher.


My second grade class (I’m on the bottom row 6th from the left in the pastel pink outfit with the white anklet socks). 1966

I remember one corner of her room was set up like a kitchen with cardboard appliances where we could play house….a pink refrigerator, stove, and sink. I still remember our reading hour and the second grade readers.

$(KGrHqZ,!iYFDqmcsderBRE0NhWFn!~~60_1   2nd grade readers

By far my favorite memory of 2nd grade was our classroom pet, Patches.  Patches was a chubby and docile little Syrian (or Golden) Hamster.  His hamster cage was set up in the corner of the room to the right of the doorway into the classroom.  I can visualize that cage sitting there like it was yesterday.


Photo Credit:

We all got to take turns feeding and watering Patches and we also got to take turns taking Patches home for the weekend.  As a veterinarian, I’m all for classroom pets, but only if education and adult supervision plays an integral role.  With Patches, parental permission to take him home for the weekend was a must.  There were papers to sign and instructions to read.  I remember my mother taking me to the library right before it was my turn to take Patches home and how we checked out books on hamster care.  I can still remember sitting on our green couch in the den and my mother reading those books aloud to me.  I took my responsibility for Patches’ care very seriously as did my mother.

When the weekend to bring Patches home finally came,  my mother set up a card table in our den and set the cage on the table.  We read all the instructions together and essentially spent the weekend learning all about hamsters. Without a doubt, Patches was the center of attention in our household that weekend.  Patches taught me some invaluable lessons about pet responsibility and hamster care.  I remember how we laughed as we watched Patches stuff his cheek pouches full of food.  And how we stood around the card table watching him shred paper towels, toilet paper rolls, and other bedding material into a soft fluffy nest. And how he grasped the test tube water bottle spout with his little hands and lapped the water out with his little tongue.  How we oohed and awed over how cute he was all curled up asleep.  And how he ran and ran and ran in the exercise wheel.  I fell in love with that sweet cute little hamster and I didn’t stray far from that cage all weekend.


photo credit:

Several weeks after my weekend home with Patches, he escaped his classroom cage and disappeared (a very common problem with hamsters).  We had no way of knowing whether Patches was still in the classroom somewhere or whether he had escaped under the door and into the hall where he would have full run of the school.  I remember an entire classroom of 2nd graders searching high and low for days for that beloved classroom hamster.  We wondered if we would ever see him again.  I still recall the hollow sadness I felt at the loss of that hamster.  About a week later, the custodian found a barely responsive Patches in our cloak room in the back of the classroom.  There was a large bag of hamster seed stored back there and little gluttonous Patches had chewed his way through the bag and eaten to his heart’s desire.  It was his demise and I recall that he died within hours of being found.  Oh how I mourned that little guy.

Did you ever have a classroom pet?  Was it a positive experience for you?  I would love to hear your comments.

Gail ♥

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Today’s daily one word prompt is Curve.

I was recently looking at some old photos of my mother.  The first thing that came to mind when looking at these photos (besides how stunningly beautiful she was) was how women back in my mother’s day were just so glamorous.  I’m not sure if it was the hairstyles, the red lipstick they often wore, the clothes, the shoes (oh the shoes they wore!) or just the fact that it was not a sin to be curvy and voluptuous back then.


My mother- 1940s


My mother- 1940s


My mother-circa 1943


My mother-circa 1943

Women were not judged as they are today for having some “meat on their bones.” Women back in my mother’s day were so beautiful and real.  They were not full of silicone and Botox.  There was no photo-shopping so what you saw in the photos was for the most part real (yes, I know they could touch-up photos back then).  I wish we could go back to those times.  I wish women could feel comfortable in their own bodies– comfortable having curves.  I wish the media and society wouldn’t send the message that women have to be skeletal thin to be glamorous.  How did it get to this?

Gail ♥

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Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.  Fog.

Two things came to mind when I read the one word prompt for today.  The first was a time I had driven in the thickest fog ever when I was in my 20s.  I had left my parent’s home from a weekend visit, to drive the three-hour drive back to veterinary school.   Just a little over an hour into my drive, I had to climb a plateau and I noticed the fog was forming fast.  Soon, I would find myself creeping along in fog so thick that visibility was only about 5 feet in front of me.  Talk about scary!!!  Using headlights even on low beam made it much worse.  Let me tell you, it was scary driving and it was very disorienting.  I gripped the steering wheel so hard that my knuckles shined white and my hands were actually sore the following day.  A drive that normally took only 3 hours took almost 5.  I decided from that day forward that it would be perfectly fine with me if I never had to drive in fog again.  But this last December, I found myself making that old familiar drive again.  This time it was raining and I mean raining hard.  Torrential downpours.  The further east I drove, the harder it rained.   Then, around the same plateau, the fog crept in.  Though I had planned to arrive to my destination with plenty of daylight to spare, the decreased speeds I was having to travel due to the weather changed those plans and I drove the last leg of my journey in darkness.  Have you ever driven at night, in heavy downpour, while in the fog?  Hope your never have to!  I think I can honestly say that the trip I made  that cold day in December was one of the scariest I have ever made.  I prayed the entire way and many times thought of pulling off somewhere to try to find a hotel but something just kept telling me to push on.  I stopped once for a restroom break and to try to calm my frayed nerves and to get a soft drink.

I was told at the seminar the following day that many of the registrants didn’t make it due to the weather and that part of the interstate I had been travelling on had actually  been closed down due to an accident involving a semi.   I made it safely to my destination only by the grace of God.


photo credit: By Ian Furst – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The other thing that came to mind after reading the prompt for today is a time ten years ago right after my mother passed away.  She had been sick with multiple cancers for two years.  During that two years, I took her for doctor visits, for surgical biopsies, oncology visits, for chemotherapy treatments, to the hospital for what seemed like never-ending tests, and to the grocery store and drugstore.  When she was nearing the end of her cancer journey, she was admitted to the hospital for hospice care, and then to a nursing home for a short period while we were waiting to get her admitted into a hospice residence where she would spend the last two months of her life.  I’ve always said that the weeks after her death left me feeling like I was walking around in a fog.  Suddenly, there were no more visits to the hospice residence.  There were no doctors to visit, no hospitals to go to, no chemo treatments, no blood tests, or X-rays, or CT scans, or trips to specialists, and no grocery store trips.   Only a lonely cemetery to visit.  I felt lost and disoriented…. much like I felt the times I drove in the heavy dense fog.

Gail ♥


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Charlie the Crow

This afternoon, I heard the cawing of a crow from my backyard, and it brought back vivid memories of a certain very popular black crow that was a part of my childhood. He was known as “Charlie” and he periodically visited both my kindergarten and neighborhood in the 1960s.  Charlie was a very friendly crow and he seemed to be attracted to children. He often visited my kindergarten class when we were outside playing on the playground and would land on the swing-set during our recess time.   I still remember how happy the kids would be to see him and how children would run from all directions to greet Charlie once he was spotted.  And I think Charlie was just as happy to see us as we were to see him.  The neighborhood I grew up in which was about a mile away from the kindergarten I attended, was full of children and so it seemed Charlie flocked to wherever children were. He showed up often during our backyard games of kickball or while we were swinging on a play-set or out riding bicycles.

American Crow

American Crow- photo credit- Wikipedia

Charlie was very special and my sisters and I remember him well because  Charlie talked (which was a pretty cool thing to a five-year old girl).  I remember Charlie could say “Hello” and he could say “Charlie.”  I used to inquire often where Charlie came from but no one seemed to know.  We often wondered if he was someone’s pet. Charlie used to steal our elderly (but spry) next door neighbor’s clothespins right off her clothesline and he was also known to fly off with an article of her clothing from time to time.  I still can envision dear old Mrs. B. shooing Charlie off with her broom as she tried to hang her laundry out to dry and my mother and I used to laugh at their games of tug-of-war with a brightly colored sock.

Crows are thought to be highly intelligent animals with very high IQs.  They have a lifespan of about 20 years and in captivity can live much longer than that.  According to Wikipedia, the oldest known American crow in the wild was almost 30 years old.  The oldest captive crow documented died at age 59!

After years of visits to our neighborhood, Charlie’s visits just abruptly seemed to stop. We never knew what happened to him.  I think of Charlie often and wish I knew more about his history– where he came from, how old he was, and why he stopped coming. He was loved by our neighborhood and greatly missed.

Gail ♥

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Those Strange Recurring Dreams


I have a good friend who I grew up with in the same neighborhood and have known since childhood.  We went to kindergarten, elementary school, junior high and high school together.  We get together with our husbands every once in a while for dinner and a visit.  This friend and I always share a good laugh or two when we do get together. Once we got on the subject of recurring dreams and discovered we both have the same recurring dreams.  And we can’t figure out their meaning or why we keep having these odd dreams.


In one recurring dream, I’m usually out somewhere in a public place and I’m trying to find a restroom.  When I finally do– it’s, well, let’s just say it’s not desirable in the least. It’s not usable.  The commodes are often overflown with feces and urine pooling on the floor.  I need boots to walk in the stalls.  There’s rarely any toilet paper.  Or if there IS toilet paper, it’s usually soaked with some stranger’s urine.  In the dream, I go from stall to stall to stall, and it’s all the same.  I usually end up disgusted and I leave.  I’ve had this dream for years.


The other night I had a different version of the dream.  I think my friend was with me in this dream as well as one of my sisters and we were somewhere in Europe.  We stopped at this very large public bathroom that seemed to go on for miles with different rooms and to my surprise, it wasn’t dirty or nasty.  It was very upscale and clean with beautiful peach stalls and peach and cream-colored tile all throughout, bronze sink fixtures, and huge fancy white marble light fixtures.  I timidly pushed open the stall door thinking it would be dirty and unusable, but it was sparkling clean–clean commodes and, shiny clean floors.  And there was toilet paper.  Yay!  But when I went to use the toilet paper, I couldn’t tear it.  It had these strong strands in it running perpendicular to each other that would not tear.  Hard as I tried and as long as I stood in the stall and fought this odd toilet paper, it wouldn’t tear.  Again, I went from stall to stall to stall, and it was all the same.  I remember being very frustrated in the dream because I finally had this very clean restroom to use but for the life of me, I couldn’t tear the darn toilet paper.  I woke up thinking what a very strange dream that was.

Another dream my friend and I have is that we’ve got chewing gum in our mouth and when we decide it’s time to get rid of the gum, we can’t get it out of our mouth.  We pull and pull and it keeps coming, but we can’t get it out.  In this dream, I’m usually getting ready to give a speech or am in a situation where I need to talk clearly, but I can’t because of this gum.  The gum keeps me from speaking clearly and often breathing good.  So I step away and try my hardest to get the gum out of my mouth but I never can.  How very odd.

When my friend and I were in high school, we were both in the marching band.  We often dream that we’re back in high school and the band is on the field lined  up just ready to begin their performance, but we’re late.  And we’re running (or trying to run) but we can’t make it.  And we fear the wrath of the band director if we don’t make it.  I also dream that I’ve forgotten something– usually my shoes, my baton, socks, etc.  I’m not sure why I dream this dream because I was never late to a practice while in high school and never forgot items like in the dream.  It’s very odd that both my friend and I both have the same dream (or sometimes slightly different versions but the gist is always the same).


Do you ever have strange recurring dreams?  Do you often wonder the meaning behind these dreams?

Gail ♥

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Sunday Glory

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

                                                                                                                                 ~Philippians 4:6-7


Gail ♥

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Things I’m Loving These Days

1.   Feline Behavioral Health and Welfare– by Ilona Rodan and Sarah Heath.


This book.  Oh, this book.  I had the pleasure of attending a day of feline lectures given by  one of the author’s of this book, Ilona Rodan, at a recent veterinary conference I attended and learned so much from her.  She was a great speaker, had a great presentation and was humorous too (I guess you have to be when lecturing about cats)! I could have without a doubt listened to this woman talk about cats all. day. long.  So when I walked into the exhibit hall during one of our breaks and saw her book at one of the book seller’s tables, well, I may have even let out a tiny little squeal and I just had to buy it.  I was not sorry.  It’s full of great information and all the color photos are a plus. Because of Dr. Rodan and this book, I am becoming a better cat owner and learning a lot. I haven’t been able to put this book down.

2.  Journals

I’m drawn to journals like flies to honey and usually get them when they’re on sale somewhere.  The journal with the peacock was a gift from my sweet mother-in-law.  Isn’t it lovely?   I use them for many things– journaling all my jumbled up thoughts because sometimes it just helps to get all those thoughts written down on paper.  I use them for lists.  I’ve started a prayer journal and the orange journal with the red owl is my gratitude journal.  I also use them to take notes during my bible studies and to jot down ideas for blog posts.

journals  045

048  049

3.  Prayer: The Ultimate Conversation by Charles Stanley


Reading this book is part of my Lenten Discipline this year and oh I’m eating and digesting this book ever. so. slowly.  I’m underlining, highlighting and taking notes on this book like there’s no tomorrow.  It’s very thought-provoking.  Definitely one to ponder slowly, read, reread, and study.

4.  Ann Voskamp’s blog– A Holy Experience

I started reading Ann’s blog from the beginning quite some time ago.  I’ll confess, I’ve stayed up WAY, WAY too late reading her beautiful and poetic words long into the wee hours of the morning and just not wanting to stop.  I’m just now up to April of 2012.  Her writing draws me in and is so captivating.   God is using this woman in wondrous ways.   I love Ann Voskamp and her blog.  She has an adorable family, is a caring mother and seems to be such a kind and humble person. She’s brutally honest and I like that.  She is so inspirational as is her book, One Thousand Gifts, (which I’m rereading a second time and it’s blessing me all over again!).  She is someone I would love to meet.

5.  Purse pads

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029  036

I think there might be a bit of a paper addiction here, ya think?  All of these have been gifts (and I have some Christmas purse pads not shown) from my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and sister and friends.  I love them all!

Gail ♥ 

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