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Saturday, March 31, 2012

7th Inning Stretch

One of my classroom traditions is a 7th Inning Stretch--usually held in March sometime which is the 7th month of the school year. Most stretches over the years have included perhaps breakfast, a movie, board games, crepes, a chocolate fountain or sundaes. One class a few years back got creative and cooked hamburgers out in a snowy corner of the schoolyard on individual "stoves" which we made from those big industrial cafeteria cans that tomato sauce or fruit come in. I think I've opened a can of worms this year,however. One of my classes wanted to do "nightgames and a bonfire at the farm!!". It came off smashingly, so here you go!
This rope swing could have kept us all entertained for several more hours. I'm not sure who had more fun--the swingers or the "judges". Some dismounts included a foot lodged in the loop which was just too too hysterically funny.
The potluck food was long on Starbursts, donuts, marshmallows etc. and short on anything one might call supper.
Paco took us on a great hayride--slow enough that kids could hop off and on, jog alongside, run up and down the sides of the road and down into empty ditches.
Bonfires and log chairs. Yes, Becca is about to roast some red licorice.
I've been peeling this kid off the top of my couch at school all year. I think I've found a place where he can truly embrace his inner monkey!
In a moment of madness we brought out the electric car. All 24 got a turn to take a spin around the silo! Huge hit!!
Long after nightgames had ended and most parents had come, still swinging...Thanks Kids for a novel Friday night. You keep me young.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Daily Dribble and Trends

Hey! Look who's in DC sniffing her up some sakura blossoms!! Nice hat, Rosalie.

So much of the good stuff of life gets lost in the everyday distractions. I know that good good material marches by me on a daily basis. Sometimes I catch it, but most of the time I'm looking past it--down the road for something that might be better. Lest you brand me "VAGUE", let me give an example or two. Yesterday a kid walks into my classroom with his arm in a sling. Crutches, leg braces, elastic bandages, stitches, bruises, and walking boots are the norm--to say nothing of the gargantuan amounts of mouth metal that the light flashes off each day. I usually inquire about the injuries--common courtesy--and they SOOOOOO want to talk about all this drama. Mr. Arm Sling wears a cravat 95% of the time and cowboy boots. The books he totes around usually have a cow or two on the cover. Many many of these cowboys have graced me with their oh so charming presence over the years. Today's story took me to a bull ring in Wyoming somewhere. It wound down through a vivid description of a "mini" (yeah, I'll bet) bull and drew me in as I got a first person account of the subsequent ride and rider ejection. To come flying off a bucking bull through the air and to only get a broken bone out of it seems nothing short of a miracle. Did I detect some pride in the whole story and getting to wear a sling now? Oh, my testosterone imploded goodness YES! This isn't the first bull encounter injury to take out one of my students. It's fairly regular in spring/rodeo season. Paco and I drove to a kid rodeo a couple of hours away to see a student of mine a couple of years ago, so I know firsthand the treachery of it all! I watched one bull-induced injury go through a complete amazing metamorphosis a few years ago. It started out very very carefully wrapped and babied for a few days. Then as the cowboy "cowboyed up", the bandages came off to reveal something HUGE, RED, STITCHED LIKE FRANKENSTEIN, and...oozy. We all watched with interest each morning as that wound took centerstage. Our morbid fascination turned to slight interest and then to complete nonchalance as said cowboy put that incident behind him. Now, here's my point. Putting a kid on a bull? What do ya think? Yeah, me too.
A new trend reared its head today. No less than 8 kids were dared to remain mute during the entire day. I was more than happy to supply them with lap whiteboards and markers. Boy howdy was I... In fact I'm thinking I could PAY them to mute out! Better still let's take a semester and teach them all sign language! We'll see if this trend lasts out the week.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Up on Downton!

Lucky for me, Paco and I dined in Minneapolis over Christmas with an enlightened hostess who gushed over Downton Abbey. Ever on the ready to rise above Bumpkin status, I immediately took possession (amazon-forgive-me-for-I-have-sinned) of the British PBS versions of Seasons one and two and entered Abbeyworld. Oh my goodness. It was intoxicating--deliriously mind numbing--and fed every Anglophile bone in my body. When Paco returned he took up residency in the abbey as well. In fact, one snow day we did SEVEN nonstop hours! "Shall we watch another?" (repeat six times more in 60 minute intervals)

Now, these are the sisters. It took me several hours to even appreciate Mary, the eldest. She was uber snobby, self-centered, and just a little too snitty with her sisters. And how she treated Matthew!!!! Well, I'm just saying. Cybil seems to be the crowd favorite, but Edythe was forever endeared to me when her mother (Elizabeth McGovern from two of my ALL-time favorites--Ordinary People and She's Having a Baby) said, "Perhaps Edythe will take care of us in our declining years" (or something as condescending signifying that that was ALL Edythe should aspire to). These sisters..Oh, and the surprise Turk! And the surprise pregnancy! And then the war comes.

But my heart is reserved for these two. Ahhh...the downstairs folks. Anna and Bates--loyalty personified and just as good and genuine as all get out, darn it. I love them. Excuse the interruption, but Paco just brought me strawberry shortcake AT 8:13 A.M.!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He takes to the servant role so well.
Now, I haven't even mentioned the Dowager Countess or Sinister Thomas or scoops of others mmmmmmm....shortcake....Let me just say next season is--HOLD THE PHONE!! I JUST FOUND A NAIL IN MY SHORTCAKE!!! I confronted my chef, and he nonchalantly says, "Yeah, I found 3." COME AGAIN????? As I was saying, next-- AND YET ANOTHER!!!! All of a sudden shortcake for breakfast has lost some appeal. So next season the American grandmother (Shirley MacLaine--now THAT'S some zingy casting!) will show up, and I can just imagine the grandmother shrapnel will fly. I, for one, will be perched on the edge of my rocking chair in anticipation. In the meantime, perhaps I should consider hiring food testers to preview what leaves the kitchen...the nails (I'm up to 5) seem to be centered in the biscuit. They're those tiny ones you use to hang pictures. A mystery. But then, as I recal, Daisy let some dangerous stuff leave the kitchen as well! And the chauffeur too!! I'm in good company.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This One's For You, Season!

We had a robust discussion about 14 months ago when the family had gathered. I innocently asked if anyone had ever heard of using school buses to store food underground in the event of a disaster. I was met with blank stares, then a few giggles, then out and out knee-slapping guffaws. Assuring them I DIDN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP, they nevertheless discounted it all as delusional on my part. The gauntlet was tossed, and I swore I WOULD track down the source of my information! You can imagine my delight last September on my rafting trip down the San Juan when the topic came up AGAIN! Is anyone really surprised that Bruce was my source?? I thought not. Here are the rest of the details as I jotted them down in my travel journal as we floated down the river: Someone in the valley here (I'm respecting their anonymity) has several buses packed and buried; enough accomodations exist bus-wise to take an entire ward (because heaven forbid civilization be forced to restart without nursery leaders, homemaking counselors, and choristers!) all the way to Evanston where they would join others who have made similar preparations (WHO KNEW??????); buses are covered with roofing made of inflated tires; an escape hatch allows air to enter; the buses are buried into a sloped hill, but the rear door is not buried but is covered with sand bags; one must tunnel into the bus from another entry; the buses are filled with a 3 month supply of food in case of a disease pandemic, but in the case of a nuclear blast only 15 days of food would be needed after which food in houses could be consumed when the survivalists exited the buses. And lest you find this hard to swallow, I submit the following video of a Canadian version. Feel free to watch the whole thing, but do NOT miss the FREAKING Underground BUS TRAIN!!!!!!

There. Now that I've redeemed my name in my immediate family, I have just one final word--C-L-A-U-S-T-R-O-P-H-O-B-I-A...
Wait. There's more. Down Salisbury way (There's a Salisbury in NC--perhaps this is it)
Survivalist’s stash found in buried bus

Hidden from sight: Landscaping and a secret door conceal the entrance to a buried school bus that housed weapons that authorities said Ralph Eugene Christie Jr. was holding for an end-of-times scenario.

Authorities seized heavy artillery and military equipment Tuesday from a school bus that a man kept buried behind his mobile home, less than a half-mile from West Rowan Middle School.

Ralph Eugene Christie Jr., 40, 600 Barringer Road, is charged with eight felonies — six counts of possessing weapons of mass destruction, one count of manufacturing marijuana and one count of maintaining a dwelling to keep drugs.

He is in the Rowan County Detention Center under $15,000 bond.

Behind Christie’s mobile home, two large fish ponds conceal the entrance to the homemade bunker. The bus is entirely buried.

A tunnel leading to the bus is hidden by a large wooden door that lifts up from a raised, landscaped area surrounded by railroad ties.

The door is concealed behind azalea bushes and a sun dial. The only giveaways are metal hinges and a piece of chain link that serves as a handle.

A metal ladder is bolted to the side of the tunnel, which is about 5 feet in diameter and at least 10 feet deep.

The ladder leads down to cinder block steps and a small area scattered with debris, including a gas mask aerator, gun holster and empty shell casings.

In the school bus, a couch and chair create a sitting area surrounded by filing cabinets, food rations and debris. Railroad ties stand upright along the center, supporting the roof.

An old electric Army lantern apparently provided light, and a Citizens Band radio was hooked to a battery.

Damp and hot, the bus smelled of mold and mildew this morning. A three-ring binder held government-issue instructions for mortar shells. Booklets described how to make knives and mines.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Department had heard rumors for years about a makeshift bunker, Sheriff George Wilhelm said.

Only recently, officers were able to obtain information to get probable cause to get a search warrant, he said. “We notified the (U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency) and had an ATF agent with us.”

Authorities seized a sawed-off shotgun, seven hand grenades, 300 feet of detonation cord, two kenny-pacs (chemical dynamite), a flame thrower, grenade launcher, and four marijuana plants.

“He took a lot of prescription drugs that we also took possession of,” Wilhelm said. “He has been ill for several years and on lots of pain medication.”

Wilhelm said there was no evidence of ties to an organized militia.

“It appears that he’s a survivalist,” he said. “We didn’t uncover any great plan to destroy Rowan County.”

It appeared Christie was preparing for the end of the world, Wilhelm said.

“If end-time comes, he was ready for it,” he said.

“But the danger in that is a person who has hand grenades and det-cord and all those things may not have criminal intent to wreak havoc, but if someone else were to find his bunker, they may have.”

Christie apparently didn’t intend to hurt anyone, Wilhelm said.

“But that possibility is always there,” he said. “And even if that person claims he had those items for self-protection, another person can get ahold of that.”

But at the bunker this morning, a neighbor said Christie is dangerous to himself and others.

“They need to keep him in jail,” the neighbor said. “If they don’t, he’ll hurt somebody. ... He’s obsessed with weapons.”

Two people have died on Christie’s property in the past year.

Sherry Rumple, Christie’s girlfriend, died of a drug overdose a few months ago, said Sgt. Terry Agner said. She was in her 40s, he said.

Another man died there about a year ago from a heart attack, Agner said. His name was not immediately available.

Wilhelm said Christie may have bought the materials at legitimate military supply shows. The gear likely was disarmed when he bought it, and then he armed it, Wilhelm said.

Christie is not connected to other cases where law enforcement has confiscated illegal military weapons.

“People just need to be aware that survivalists are around,” Wilhelm said.

This morning, a German shepherd puppy sat on the steps to Christie’s mobile home and barked a greeting. The fountain bubbled in the fish pond.

Nearby stood an old Army jeep with a disarmed machine gun mounted on top.

An old car was parked across the driveway, blocking it. Two other buses were on the property.

One was filled with debris. The other, a newer bus, was parked behind the home.

I rest my case. MH

Friday, March 9, 2012

One More Cat Shout Out!

I only put out one lonely gingerbread man Christmas pillow as my entire Christmas decorating here. I refrained from my annual Cat in the Hat imitation. Go ahead. Take a puck shot at me; I deserve it. I feel lower than bug spit. Every iota of whimsy I ever claimed to harbor...ignored and repressed. I will rise phoenix-like yet another year. For now, I'm basking in rumors of celebrations back Maryland way.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Up Early in the Morning to Become...

Oh, how this book makes me giggle, snort, guffaw, titter, snicker, and squeek with pure delight. This guy inspires me to want to tackle a set of encyclopedias too! Letter by letter, subject by subject, he's hacking away at the vast labyrinthian mountain of human knowledge and history. Fortunately for me the reader, he synthesizes it down into page bites of some pretty funny funny stuff. Did you know a dragonfly can eat its own weight in 30 minutes? Or a Pueblo woman need only leave her husband's moccasin in the doorstep and she's immediately divorced?? Or Disney's FIRST animated character was a rabbit?? Now, THAT alone would have been a cultural showstopper...the world without Mickey Mouse and left, instead, with rabbits--everywhere--propagating like...well, rabbits!
And on the political front, here's my frater ego posing with the current presidential wannabe whose Big Big day is just dawning. I shall not prepare to meet voting hopefuls today. However, I have a standing Tuesday with 80 plus amygdala-challenged 12 year olds. Eat your heart out, Mitt. Oh, did you know that Mitt and I BOTH have sons named Tag? And that alone ought to warrant me a humble seat in his cabinet...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"I Left My Brain In San Francisco..."

and actually came home with a new one!!!
An opportunity afforded itself (HECK YEAH!) to attend a 3 day Learning and the Brain Conference at the Fairmont Hotel atop Nob Hill in the city by the bay! Leading experts on the latest brain research from all over the world presented, and IT WAS OVER THE TOP PHENOMENOL!!!!!! I have a 3 inch thick manual into which I also crammed pages and pages of notes. I'll be digesting it for some time and then hope to synthesize it if anyone's interested in reading. I bought 4 books as well and am going to begin teaching my students all about their brains!! Go figure. Nobody ever taught me about MY brain before!!! You??? I know!!! The whole thing smacked of eternal progression! And we thought we had a corner on that...These guys in Chinatown certainly redefined Happy Pants for me!! I was traveling alone, so all my adventures involved whatever I could cook up myself. One day at lunch I hopped on a cable car and did some exploring. Chinatown yielded a fist-sized bean-filled sweet bun and a bit of a parade featuring these guys. .When I wasn't embracing my "inner mountain goat"--huff puff huff--I leaped onto cable cars to get to and fro. That Bay Bridge off in the distance was closed for a few days while I was there. They've been building a parallel bridge which will replace the part of the old bridge that the most recent earthquake damagedI passed this little neighborhood garden squeezed between two buildings on one of my trips UP Nob Hill one morning. What's not to love about a little urban oasis?
A hearty Shout Out THANK YOU to my nephew Nathan and his wife Nikole who along with their 5 kids are spending a year as San Franciscans as part of his responsibilities as a pediatric cardiologist at the Mayo. This photo is their deck view on their south San Fran house where I stayed! I kept the wrong hours to see much of the kiddoes. Dang...I opted for the train. 36 hours coming and going on the AMTRAK was a beautiful thing and costs about the same as a flight. I loved the little old men volunteers that hopped on in Sacramento and gave a running historical commentary all the the way through the Sierras to Reno!!! I befriended 4 Amish boys out on a bit of what appeared to be a walkabout. I can't imagine their moms' cooking resembled the Sunny Delight and cheese in a can they were subsisting on. I didn't come right out and ask them, but I think they were wife hunting in Amish communities between Canada and their home in upstate NY. Encounted many other sorts of folks as well with LOTS of time to chat. The only one I Wasn't ennamored with was the Arkansas dude across from me coming home who spent the entire trip calling every human he'd ever encountered in his LIFE on his cell phone. In the middle of the night his cell kept ringing UNSUCCESSFULY awakening him! I had to raise myself out of my sleeping stupor and poke him in the ribs. "COULD YOU TURN OFF YOUR PHONE?????" And I did it without the least little bit of remorse. Sheesh... Oh, and one night I ventured on the BART over to Berkeley to hear the guru of "mindfulness" (google it) speak. That was an adventure in navigating. Groovy trip. Traveling shakes you up--rattles your chains--shines up your perspective. A treat indeed...

Saturday, March 3, 2012


A trail shot from our autumnal jaunt through the Ozarks in Arkansas mid October
This little doll baby is Clara. She talks in sentences now, and I'm sure makes as much or more sense than the presidential debaters on TV. Nicht wahr???? We met in Park City and celebrated Christmas a little early. Clara's BIG NEWS is that she's going to be a sister this summer!!
Rosie came west for a few days as well and poses here with Clara and Aunt Season.and her mom.

I'm on a random roll here. I'll try and post a healthy mix of pictures and just a few bullet points to cover a few things and answer any questions about me and mine's whereabouts as of late. Consider this pretty stream of counsciousness which may or may not bore you to Nancy Drew novels. Picture you and me sitting down to steaming hot chocolate whereupon YOU say, "So, Mad. What have you been up to?" Actually that should be rephrased "Up to what have you been?" because only the truly barbaric end sentences with a preposition...
--Paco is home! All the bad habits I picked up during his 8 month absence are being slowly weeded out. Among those I miss (even though I'm quivery happy he's home) are watching an old movie on TV at 5 A.M. before I went to school every day, knitting entire days away in bed, eating Chinese in bed, doing the dishes semi-annually, and languishing long winter nights away in my classroom. I may blog about Paco's adventures; or I may not. Here's proof that he's home. Doesn't Mugsy look dapper? We snowshoed in the Tetons this morning--Snake River in background

And a moose at Moose, WY. I wanted to straddle him but thought better of it. I think he's new there at the visitor's center.
My friend Virtue (whatever happened to THOSE good old names????) celebrated her 96th birthday! Anything I could ever report doing pales in comparison to that, but I DID take the AMTRAK to San Francisco for THIS It was sehr interessant indeed!!!! I will give it its own post manana.
Every man and his ratcatcher must be downloading pictures on blogger because this is taking way too much time. Chew on this, and I'll post again tomorrow.--

Friday, March 2, 2012

Hey Howdy Happy Birthday!

Just dropping in like a negligent relative to give a shout out to my favorite non doctor on his special day--even though he's decomposing underground in La Jolla, CA. I have sooooooo much to write about and soooooooo many pictures to post, but that's not going to happen today. This is the first March 2nd in several decades that I haven't slithered into my Cat in the Hat suit. Our 4 day school week ended before the birthday rolled around today. I'm half sad about it--I do so enjoy a tail every now and then. But I also may be reaching the point where nonacceptability reigns for aging women in cat suits. Perhaps I've sold out. Or worse still, grown up.

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