Archive for June, 2015

It’s getting better

The state of the world.

I admit, there is a lot about today that is downright terrible.  So many shootings.  So much terrible news.  The entire conspiracy to destroy public education.  But…

Things are getting better.  I really think they are.

1. You can breathe in elevators and airplanes and schools now that there are no-smoking laws.

2.  I no longer need white gloves, a hat, hose and a girdle to leave the house.  While I don’t go to Walmart in my pajamas, I just pull on pants and a shirt and I’m ready to go.

3. As a child, I was very afraid we were all going to die, and soon, from an atomic bomb.  We practiced hiding under our desks.  I was pulled inside when there were lots of contrails in the air just in case it was the attack.  I wanted a fallout shelter like the ones advertised in the Sunday paper.   Now, death by atomic weapons no longer seems imminent.

4.  The Berlin Wall came down.  Germany reunited.  I remember when it went up.  I was a German teacher; I knew the history and it felt like a permanent condition.  Then we had a miracle.  When I visited Berlin after reunification I just cried because it was so unreal that the Wall was just gone.

5. Humans walked on the moon.  I stayed up late that night to watch the grainy picture on the small black and white TV and, when it was over, I went outside to look at the moon.  It looked no different, but everything had changed.

The most important change, though, was the expansion of ‘peoplehood.’  When I was a child, to my parents, I don’t think the immigrants from Japan and Mexico were quite people, and I’m pretty sure African-Americans weren’t. They sure weren’t ‘us.’  Now…we’re us.  We’re white and black and multi-racial and we’re all people. We’re neuro-typical and on the spectrum and we’re all people. Today, especially,  as the Supreme Court rules for marriage equality, we’re heterosexual and LBGQT and we’re all people.

I’m not Pollyanna.  America has a race problem.  We have too few people controlling far too much of the money.  We have terrible poverty and hunger.  But…it’s better than it was.  We have a long, long way to go, but, today, it’s getting better.

Happy Firefly Day

It’s kind of scary how quickly families develop traditions.  It really only takes once.

For me, Christmas is Christmas Eve, and Christmas Eve dinner is ham, cheesy potatoes, broccoli casserole, potato chips, five cup salad and the only night of the year you can drink soda.  Oh, baked beans are served, too, but I don’t eat them. So, when I had a family, every year, even though we celebrated on Christmas morning, I served the Christmas Eve dinner I remembered.  Finally Mom told me why that was Christmas Eve dinner–you can throw it all in the oven while bathing kids, dressing kids, sending kids out to look at Christmas tree lights while Santa came and opening presents.  No standing over anything.  What was convenience for my Mom meant Christmas to me.

The year we moved into our house I had a cookies and punch open house.  I’d made some frozen concoction that was sort of orange.  When I added lemon-lime soda to it, it became a punch.  I had some extra taking up room in the freezer.  So, that June, when I first noticed the fireflies, I told the kids it was Firefly Day and I made them drinks to use up the left over punch ingredients and called it Firefly Juice.  They caught some fireflies, we let them go, and that was that.  Or so I thought.  A year later, one of them came running into the house to tell me he (or was it she?) had seen the first firefly.  It was Firefly Day!  So off to the store I went to buy orange sherbet and lemon-lime soda.  We had a family holiday. Do it once and you have a tradition.

The kids are gone now.  Well, Chris is gone.  My other son is getting married and has moved into a house.  My daughter moved to another state.  I was outside, watching the cyclists riding past and there was a firefly.  Then another.

The charity bike ride would make it difficult to get to the store.  I don’t keep soda or sherbet in the house.  But today still is Firefly Day. I wouldn’t be at all surprised that, when they notice a firefly, they make Firefly Juice to celebrate Firefly Day.

I won’t tell them they are really just commemorating using up left overs.  Fireflies deserve the holiday.  Happy Firefly Day!

Oh, the Wells Fargo Wagon…

It’s going to be hard on my budget,  being home with Internet access.

It all started when I refilled my maintenance meds online.  While I was on line, I ordered some coffee pods.  We’d just tried to buy some new drip trays  at the big box hardware store, but they didn’t fit our range.  So I went to the manufacturer’s website and found a picture that looked right, and ordered a large one.  They didn’t have the small one in stock, so I wrote down the part number and went to another site and ordered that. Then I clicked a link and discovered that another site had a sale and no shipping and handling on a new patio rug, and while I was there I ordered cushions.

After a few days the orders started coming, one or so a day.  A clunk and then a box at the door.  A clunk and a rolled up carpet.  Just long enough after I’d ordered them that the pain of paying was forgotten. This could become a bad habit.

All I can say is, “Oh thithter, thithter!  Ithn’t that the motht marvelouth thilver thomething you’ve ever theen?”

Evaluating my skill set

I’m coming at this the long way, so be patient!

This morning, at 6 AM, the alarm on my husband’s phone rang.  We hadn’t set it last night, so we both hit at clocks, scrambled for the landline and he finally found his phone.  A minor technophobe, he handed it to me to turn off, and I saw that the alarm was named for me.  First Monday of summer break…first Monday of my real retirement, and an alarm that I did not set goes off at six.  Is the universe trying to tell me something?

So I got up and got to thinking–six weeks ago I would have turned it off and tried to sleep for another ten minutes, but now I just got up…because I didn’t have to go anywhere!  What other aspects of my teaching skill set will I now  no longer use and which will continue to be useful?  Or are they dinosaur skills, gone the way of writing cursive with a freshly sharpened quill? The teaching skills that are never taught in ed classes:

Let’s see…

I can stuff 36 large ‘math-top’ student desks into a room clearly meant for 25, working around the permanent desk for the obsolete language lab and the bump out for the storage room, and still walk around.  Of no use, unless I acquire a lot more furniture.

I can find the paper I want from the paper sludge that is my desk in under a minute.  Useful…my organisational style is not ‘give it a home’, but ‘remember which stack it’s in.’

I can spend upwards of 20 minutes a day to unjam a copier, opening and closing doors and looking for that wayward scrap of paper, and never once hitting or screaming the recalcitrant machine.  Of no use.

I can estimate the amount of bulletin board paper I need, carry it back to my room without wrinkling it and create a winning display.  Of course it got changed maybe once a year.  Of some use for wrapping presents and finally redoing the living room.

I can dress in the dark, grab food from the fridge and be out of the house in less than 15 minutes.  Well, if there’s an emergency somewhere, otherwise a useless skill.

I can explain to a parent why little Coriander is a pain in the neck, all the while using only the most positive of terms and convincing her that Coriander needs a little tough love.  Maybe if I go into politics.

I can hang up on a parent in mid-word as they’re cussing at me.  Yep, useful with telemarketers.

I can refrain from that clever, witty, sarcastic remark that is straining at the leash.  Very useful, assuming I want to stay married.

I can inhale a lunch in 20 minutes and still have time to make copies, grade 30 notebooks and use the restroom. Of no use, now I get to chew my food.

I can create content-free prose for satisfying obscure requirements. Again, maybe if I go into politics.

I can watch 35 kids for engagement and behavior, all while speaking a foreign language, writing on the board and walking over to stand next to darling Coriander, simultaneously reaching over to confiscate Alphonso’s phone. Nope, multitasking is no longer the order of the day.

I can make those 35 kids behave and pay attention and like it.  Nope, unless I want to take on a similar task of turning the squirrels in the yard to a drum and bugle corps.

It’s time to make my summer break skill set, the one where I get up, dress leisurely, shower leisurely, brew coffee, sip coffee, eat breakfast and decide what to do on my own terms…it’s time to make it my permanent skill set.  And hang up on telemarketers.

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