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Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Everything's Coming up Rosie's!"

Rosalie Rae Myers of California, MD. Rumor has it she has hairy little ears. Ohhhhh.... Welcome Rosie! We're organizing tea parties! On a different note, we here woke up to a bed of snow. Our furry philosophers (Aristotle, Thoreau, and Emerson) were kooshed down in it out in the field. I'm headed off for the European leg of my summer. See you in a few!

Friday, May 27, 2011


Such a final sounding word. The chorus swells, the orchestra crescendoes, the curtain falls, and the applause begins. If you're lucky you get an encore, but even as that plays you know the end has come Again. Today was the last day of school--better than Christmas, you say? Well, I'd say! This spring has been so very bitterly cold; today was no exception. Spoils some of the fun. Water balloons and shaving cream were noticably absent. Not that many kids rode their bikes to school--a long-standing last day tradition. I have a couple of beefs (beeves?) with the last days of school. The most obvious is that once the academic routine is broken, adolescent kids become nonrecognizable. In short, non likeable. Due to their developmental immaturity, they don't have the skills to navigate the delirium of the festivities. I just figured this out a couple of years ago. I couldn't understand why the aura I had worked so hard to achieve in my classroom (the comraderie, the intimacy etc.) didn't extend to the class fieldtrip to Lava Hot Springs, or why the good behavior we had worked on all year erupted into jungle fever during the less-structured last days! But now I get it. And I came up with an antidote. Three days before the end I seat my classes in desks in a large circle. We pass a paper with our name on it around the circle. Each student writes something positive and personal about that person, signs his name, and then passes it to the next person. At the end of the activity ALL have a personal affirmation of their worth and merit in the eyes of their teacher and classmates. They grab on to these papers like rare war bonds; their intensity is palpable. "I'm going to keep mine forever." "You thought THAT about me?" I keep mine to read long after the last bus pulls away. It seems trivial. It isn't a bonus check. It doesn't shine well in a trophy case. But it's very very personal to me and eases some of the pain of each year's ending.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Two Plus One

A baby sister is about to rock this boat--in two days. She's Rosie.

I was completely unaware how much I would love these little people.
They bend my heart.
And make me tingle.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Festive? Hmmm....Not Overly, but Classic? Oh yeah, Baby"

Happy Birthday Paco!! You drug yourself up from whatever made you barf on the side of the road walking Mugsy yesterday and celebrated the big SIX OH hunkered down under a blanket reading yet another manual designed to catapult you into teaching history next month!! When most people your age might be fixating on retirement, you are gearing up for adventures the likes of which would put hair on the chests of 20 somethings!!! My hat is off to you today! Your birthday gifts could have been golf clubs, cruise brochures, polyester pants, or Grecian Formula! Oh no--your gift mound was a collection of the dandiest teacher accoutrements! Let's hear it for THAT!! No talk of 401K's around OUR kitchen table, no sir!!! Tonight we talked about Teach For America chemistry teachers in Rocky Mt., NC who start class by saying, "God help you if you're not in class because you'll need it!" Thank you for raising the level of MY teaching. Teach For America is assuredly influencing our lives. May you begin this new decade with the vim, vip, and vigor you've exhibited today! Carpe Diem, love of my life...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I've had a perilous last couple of days--non-performing students seemingly destined to never rise above a failing grade and the resultant parental response. Fortunately I can count my "parent encounters" on four fingers. Once in NJ my job teetered (not really) on the fact that I'd shown a Reading Rainbow video entitled "On the Day You Were Born" to a group of kindergarten kids--we'd been focusing for a couple of weeks on birthdays which as you know is probably THE biggest thing in a kid's life. I was called to the office to encounter a mother who was somewhat fraught over her wee daughter's reaction to the birth depicted in the video. "I'M NEVER GOING TO DO THAT!" ba-dump-dump You can imagine the mileage my fellow teachers got out of that episode. Losing a job over Reading Rainbow? Really?... another time a man stormed into my classroom and made vile threats directed to the school board, superintendant, and myself--once again prompted by his low-performing daughter. And then this week...a couple of parents, accusations, true confessions I really DIDN'T need to hear ("I told ______'s dad that his new wife must be carrying his male parts around in her purse!" "I've been having depression.") These sessions obviously call upon my fine-tuned (yeah, right) counseling skills I offer tissues and feeble advice. Simple solution: kid hands in homework; kid passes class; everybody skips off into the sunset.
Then yesterday I had what might be termed my first "Meltdown". Some of the kids wanted to sneakily study for their social studies test. Silly me wanted to discuss "Dead Poets Society". So I stomped back to my desk and granted them that time. "Obviously THAT is more important than ANYTHING I would ever teach!!!!!!!" I was ticked. We sat in silence. Then a sweet little girl walks back and hands me a note: Could some of us go out in the hall and discuss "Dead Poets Society"? So we did--about 12 of us--on the floor. They're awesome. Later I found a teeny little piece of paper on the floor which said: If we keep talking about the movie it might make Mrs. Hadd feel better. Aren't they cute? Some of them, some of the time.
This time of year becomes a badly-run marathon. Low tolerance levels. Poor poor work ethic. I'm rising Phoenix-like above it all today and flying away to Denver to tweak cheeks. A coward's way out you ask? Ah...most assuredly...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Remnants of the Week--Obama Gone-a

"Well, Obama Llama, you're gone. We saw them chase you around the corral like the villain that you are. They pushed you into that trailer, and I said to myself, 'That's one push I'd like to have a part in!' You're going to Utah! Sucka!!! And those little boys you drove off with--Sage Safari? Is that even a name for a kid????? Llama rescue, they say. Hmmph. I'd like to see you spit on THEM--chase THEM around--corner THEM in their living room--bite THEM in parts better left alone. All's I can say is you live by the sword; you die by the sword..."
Sounds like Aristotle had a lot to get off his chest. He's lived under llama tyranny for several weeks now. I, for one, will miss Obama and the girls. I found Obama always pleasantly curious. He had a spring in his step and a look of folly in his eye. Dalai was the typical wife of the 50's--not prone to complain about the antics of her mate, unable to go it on her own, so she put up with a lot. MaryJane was the baby born here at Heave-Ho-And-Out-You-Go Acres--grew up unshackled by memories of Peru, wild and free. She put up an hour fight getting into the horse trailer. Paco and the llama picker upper and his son ran and ran and ran and tried to lasso and ran and ran and ran. I admire that in a woman. Was it my imagination or did she purposely lead them through dung heap after dung heap?

I found this in the cellar when I was cleaning last week. Does it look like a bucket of maggots to you too??? As it turned out it was sauerkraut of the most supreme variety. Paco canned it right away for a rainy day!Mugsy made a new friend last week during the guest visits.
Using our electric car to do yardwork!

And last but not least. I couldn't find this picture on May 5th, but here it is now--a stunning 5 year old Shelly in Austin, TX celebrating Cinco de Mayo in all her Scandinavian/Scottish/Welsh glory for all she's worth!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Name That Movie!!

I've shown Dead Poet's Society to an estimated 600 students over the years--probably viewed the movie well over 2 dozen times. It NEVER fails to touch me on a very deep level. This particular class had the most amazing discussion at the conclusion today and then couldn't resist hopping up on desktops. I don't flatter myself that they were paying me the homage Mr. Keating's students were paying him. They just wanted the novelty of doing something "forbidden". Carpe Diem! In other news, we bring you haircuts!
And Visitors! My annual Tour de Biblioteque (home library). We usually do that in the autumn when temperatures are balmy and perfect. This year's tour featured much shivering.

And on a more somber note--Into each life some bully must fall...Here's Obama caught in the act of terrorizing Emerson. Obama spends a good portion of his day chasing, nipping, and menacingly confining the alpacas to a corner of the corral. As a result he is covered in much warranted green spit polka dots, but a bully is what he remains.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spring??? Yeah, right...

I realized today that in just less than a month I'll be within whistling distance of Wallace and Gromit's home! That put me immediately on the path to my friend Karen for locating some merchandise stores. She has a kid living there. I just got an email direct from that kid in London informing me that the stuff is scarce. Come again???? And that I'd have a better chance on Ebay. Not really. Really??? Remind me to report on that in case I forget. I'd just as soon have had this day pass by me. I spent it cleaning out the garage--something I dislike worse than even cleaning out the cellar WHICH I ALSO DID. This day, therefore, had almost no redeeming merits at all. The highlight I guess was taking a tour of Tulip Acres (NOT) and seeing what survived the winter. It's always iff-y every spring. We don't take ANYTHING coming up out of the ground here for granted! On the camelid scene, "Houston, we have a bully." Obama has taken to tackling the alpacas, herding them all into a corner of the field, and snapping at their... ahem...male parts! I KNOW!!! A heck of a lot of noise coming from out there! I need to post some pictures of everyone in their skivvies, but I don't think my numb cold fingers could actually navigate the button on the camera! Paco has morphed from homemaker extraordinaire to diligent nose-in-a-book teacher in training. We've been focusing our reading on poverty, failed schools turning around, and best teaching practices. What an adventure!! And this guy's turning 60 in a matter of days!!! Don't you think he's just sooooooo brave!????? Teach For America has been very forthcoming with all manner of bumper stickers, pep talk emails, boxes of books to read, and phone conversations! I-M-P-R-E-S-S-I-V-E...I'm going to make sure he writes a blog. I found an extra laminator in the garage--you mean you don't have spares in YOUR garage? He glomped right onto it. Don't tell anyone but I'm putting together a dandy teacher box for his birthday--"TEACHER" pencils, a cool finger pointer, a kitchen timer, and a very nifty device with about thirty buttons that emit belches, bedsprings, screaming, car crashes etc. Can you think of anything else I should put in the box? Maybe a lunchbox???

How do you tell a girl chromosome from a boy chromosome?

Pull down their GENES!!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Urge to Purge

All of a sudden I'm stifled here. So much I want to post about, but in the back of my head I wonder, "What if someone is lurking here and is just waiting for the moment to grind my bones in a limb shredder?" You're thinking, "Outlandish, Mad. No one even reads your blog let alone has stalking tendences." But just what if a looney drops randomly into this blog one night--say some twisted knitter who gets directed here by typing in, say, "purl two"-- puts a few of my "puzzle pieces" together, buys a plane ticket,dons a trench coat, and turns me into a CSI statistic? IT COULD HAPPEN! I'd feel awfully sheepish with all my pieces blowing in the wind and wish I'd been more discrete. Time to go private, so I can show journalistic integrity? Time to batten down the hatches and draw the shades? Any opinions on this? In other news--Paco was asked to head an educational task force of sorts in our school district. This necessitates attendance at the board meetings/circuses, and last night he was at the computer until nearly 2 A.M. carrying on "committee business." According to eyewitness accounts today at lunch he was "impressive and did a great Richard Nixon imitation!" I'm hoping to get the lowdown on that at dinner. I just held a three week old cocker spaniel puppy at a home visit earlier tonight. His eyes were open and he cuddled right in and went to sleep. Ohhh... It was so cold this morning that I did one of those backward-facing-way-from-the-wind walks that we did as kids. See! Every part of me wants to write about stuff on this blog, but I daresn't!!! Any ideas?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Dayton's Legs

Getting a jump on Mother's Day

This doesn't just Ring of truth, it is a Big Ben out and out KNOLL...

Favorite books

  • Me 'n Steve
  • Thundering Sneakers
  • James Herriott's vet books
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Travels with Charley
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Peace Like a River
  • The Egg and I
  • Mary Poppins
  • Extremly Loud Incredibly Close
  • How Green Was my Valley