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Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Muffs

Photo Credit:  Dean Paul, circa 1987


Indoor recess can get to me sometimes.  I want to support the fun, but the noise level just about gives me shingles.  I don't feel like bugging the Thirdlanders because they should get to enjoy their recess time, but the noise level can get fairly high.  As I walked by the cubbies during indoor recess yesterday, I noticed  ear cancelling headphones in a Thirdlander's cubby.  He uses them only occasionally.  I tried them on.  This was a life changing moment.  I could barely hear the Thirdlanders at all.  I could see them enjoying their card games, their Lego creations, and their role playing dramas, but I could not hear them.  After recess, I asked the Thirdlander who owned the muffs, "Why don't you wear these all the time? They're amazing." He just shrugged and said I could use them whenever I want.  The kid's a gem.

At dismissal time a few hours later, I walked over and tried them on again.  As I led the Thirdlanders down the hall, full of hundreds of boisterous kids, I could barely hear a sound.  It was a miracle.  

I've been reading reviews for noise cancelling ear muffs this afternoon.  Some of them can significantly cut down noise at a firing range, which could be an added benefit if I ever want to take up marksmanship as a hobby. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Course


I'm a Stanford student now.  KC is taking a YouCube math course, so I decided to take one as well.  I haven't started yet, but I'm excited.  It's for teachers of math.  I work hard at teaching math but because I job shared for 12 years, I feel more confident about the language arts.  I'm married to a mathematician, so it's time for me to up my math game.  Maybe after this class, I'll enroll in more math classes and eventually get a doctorate in math.  That's the game plan, anyway.  We'll deal with our mathematical two body employment problems later.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Bones

All good things must come to an end, and that goes for the NCTE proposal as well.  Judith, KC and I are hoping to talk about some publishing projects.  The proposal has been submitted. Let's see what happens.  As a friend at school says sometimes, "Jesus, take the wheel."  I always think it's very funny when she says that.

Lots more snow today and I did a bit of shoveling, but the glamor of it has worn off, not going to lie. I quit after a short time and Husbandman finished up.  Husbandman's heading out to the northland.  Things tend to go to hell in a hand basket when he leaves, so I wish he wouldn't go.

The roads are bad out there, people.  I've heard rumors of a 2 hour delay tomorrow.  If I don't show up at work, I'm trapped here at home.  I could be laying on my icy driveway, broken bones akimbo.  Or maybe I forgot to set my alarm. Anything could have happened, with me isolated and alone in the midst of this dangerous winter storm. Send out a team of sled dogs to get me if you think of it.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Post

The Post is quite a good movie.  You should see it if you want to.  I'm surprised
that this is the first movie Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep have ever appeared in together.  How'd that happen?  I wonder if they're friends now. I wonder if Tom Hanks gave Meryl one of his typewriters from his collection. Probably.

I ended up reading all about the people in the movie on Wikipedia last night.  Ben Bradlee's sister in law is not in the movie, but my wikisearching brought me to her sad story.  Affair with John F. Kennedy.  Murdered while on her daily walk.  Shot twice at close range.  Murderer never identified. Sad stuff.

One thing we've learned from that tumultuous time is that journalists and politicians shouldn't be best friends.  They need to keep their distance.  Otherwise, they're put into a wide range of tricky situations. Better to steer clear and focus on doing your best, forgetting the rest.

Side note: For some reason, I opened up a bag of gummy bears about 15 minutes ago, and I've eaten about 82 of them. I now hate gummy bears more than I can say.  I blame this travesty on the NCTE proposal. Whenever I have a deadline, I start eating ridiculous things. Don't be like me.  Avoid the gummies.  Get your work done efficiently. You've got this.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Driveway

I'm working on an NCTE proposal that's due Tuesday.  It's slow going, writing stuff, but the good news is the ideas are all there, just percolating away.  Magically it will all come together in the end.

The other good news is we're heading out to see The Post with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.  Did you know that Meryl's husband is a sculptor and we have several of his sculptures on our beautiful campus?  Whenever we drive by one, I think, "There's Meryl's husband's sculpture."  I should probably look up his name.

Okay, I just did.  It's Don Gummer.

I love Meryl Streep, so when I pass by Don Gummer's work, I like to think about what she might be doing at that moment. When we passed earlier today, I figured she was probably shoveling her driveway. Meryl's just a normal gal like the rest of us.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Voices

Snow Day today.  I'm not sure why I needed one so soon after winter break, but I was pretty thrilled to hear that school was cancelled today due to a "wintry mix." I so appreciate the easy re-entry into the 2018 portion of our school year.

The Thirdlanders got right back into gear.  I was happy to see all of them.  At morning meeting, I jotted down some of their "relevant topics."  We have different ideas sometimes about the meaning of relevant, but morning meeting continues to be a great way to start our day.  Some of the comments shared this week included:


  • We have 3 bats in our chimney.
  • I got a pretty bad rug burn yesterday.
  • I brought a pamphlet in about the Fishes of Texas.  You can borrow it if you want to learn more about the Fishes of Texas.
  • A bird got into my house and it broke a lot of our glass stuff.  
  • I got a really cool haircut that I really like. 
  • I read a book called Molly's Story.  It's sad, but good.

I met with the Indian School literature circle on Wednesday.  They had read their chapter and finished their post its before winter break, so we took the first few minutes to browse the chapter and read over our post its.  I added a VOICE post it this time, where the Thirdlanders write down an idea in the voice of one of the characters.  I suggested that we improvise and conduct our literature circle by adopting the roles of the characters as we chat.  The Thirdlanders are natural actors and so they cheerfully hopped on board with this idea. Aunt Emma was portrayed fairly harshly as you can imagine if you're familiar with the book, but even as they used her bossy tone, they included reasons for her actions. "I care about you, but you need to learn to do things the right way!" It was fun to see the Thirdlanders smiling as they acted out these impromptu character conversations.

We always write a paragraph after literature circle, reflecting on the chapters we've read and our connections to them. I extended the assignment by having them write their paragraphs "in role."  Looking forward to reading those next week.

This weekend is going to be NCTE proposal weekend.  I've put it off long enough.  I always get keyed up when I have to write a conference proposal, so I'm hoping I can lighten up and aim for the wu wei ideal of effortless action.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The Meanings

Japanese White Eyed Bird / Photo Cred:  Mitzker in Hawaii
We are in between publishing projects in Writing Workshop right now, so the Thirdlanders are working on their own D-I-Y publications.

For the mini-lesson today, we used the 4 Reads Template to discuss the different meanings or ideas that came through to us as readers when we read The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist

The green meanings we came up with were: "There were laws that segregated people in Alabama."  And "Young people were brave and thousands went to jail during the Children's March" and "Laws were changed."

We'll use the writing template to talk more about craft and social issues in this book later in the week.

During their time to write, most Thirdlanders are using small blue books, the kind you take tests in when you're in college, to make their own books. Lots of variety in the stories being written today.

At the end of Writer's Workshop, we met for Circle Check Out.  I asked everyone to tell us one meaning that a reader might take away from the book they're working on now.  I made a list as they shared ideas.  This was hurried, but it was fun to see the different meanings being generated by the Thirdlanders.  Everyone gets a sense of the topics their classmates are exploring right now.

We're back in action.  Gearing up for some zine writing this month.  I'm mulling this over right now.  I'll keep you posted.


Friday, January 05, 2018

The Reviews

Photo Credit:  Judith, on vacation in Wyoming
I was so thrilled that KC chose Back and Forth to be one of her top nonfiction reads of the year.  Excited as all get out, I instantly shared her status and my happiness on Facebook.   Many friends congratulated me heartily. I didn't mention that KC and I have been close friends for well over a decade because 90% of the people I know are well acquainted with KC.  Still, I started worrying about the whole thing and my initial glee turned into a bit of a quandary.

I wondered if I should edit to include a full disclosure comment about knowing KC?  #1 Son said not to worry about it.  Husbandman asked, "How do you always seem to get yourself into these situations?"

In the end, I decided to leave well enough alone.  KC read a lot of books last year and she liked mine a lot and I am absolutely thrilled that she liked Back and Forth so much.  So even though I felt slightly uncomfortable about people perhaps thinking Back and Forth received an honor akin to being selected as a NYT Best Book of the Year, I've decided to keep the Facebook status as is and just hang on to my true feeling of happiness about being mentioned by KC on her amazing blog.  Kudos, Back and Forth!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

The Tartar

Marsden Hartley
Found out some facts about tartar today at my dental appointment that I'd like to share with both of you.


  • Most people, including me, get tartar buildup right behind their front teeth.  
  • We have a salivary gland near the bottom of our tongue so saliva pools there.
  • If you have a goodly amount of saliva, you get more tartar build up.
  • If you don't have goodly amounts of saliva, you tend to have more tooth decay. 
  • Most medications today have the negative side effect of drying people's mouths out, so that has resulted in problems with increased tooth decay for many people.  
  • We fight this problem with fluoride, but it's still an issue for many. 

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

The Beginning (Fiction)

Disaster in the driveway.  All 4 tires slashed.  The Civic looked so sad and old, like a piece of junk really.  It seemed weird to her that flat tires could make such a difference in a car's overall affect.

It wasn't a surprise really.  Report cards went out yesterday. She had thought about passing the 2 punks in 5th period just to be done with them, but they hadn't turned in any assignments at all.  And they were smug about it.  It was her own fault.  She passed some punks last semester who pulled the same nonsense and now others obviously expected similar treatment.  Fletcher had told her that word gets around fast about teachers who don't take grading seriously, and as usual she was right. Well, live and learn. They could slash her tires all they wanted.  They were taking biology again.

2 miles to school. She would walk and deal with the car later. She planned to start a fitness routine this year. It might as well be today.  She would miss the 7:15 faculty meeting entirely.  Not a bad start after all.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The Sights

All the Money in the World is a movie you should see if you feel like it.  It's about the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty III when he was a teenager.  He lived in Rome.  His super rich grandfather didn't want to pay the ransom.  Interesting side note, I tweeted about enjoying the movie and the screenwriter David Scarpa liked my tweet.  WIN WIN.

As we drove home, we saw the bright Wolf Moon. It's named after the howling wolves of yore.  Just once, I'd like to see a howling wolf in my backyard on a clear night with a brilliant Wolf Moon overhead.  Is that asking too much?

I watched the season premier of the Bachelor.  Husbandman deserted me so I had to view solo, which I didn't find very supportive.  I read all the tweets about the show, but I didn't tweet much.  One tweeter tweeted something about how the gowns seemed way more low key this season and she was glad about that. I could not understand that sentiment to save my life because believe you me, those gowns were fancy as all get out.  I am rooting for one gal who played the ukulele and sang a song to The Bachelor.  Love her creativity.

This morning, a hawk sat perched in a tree in our neighbor's backyard.  I used binoculars to get a better look and come to find out, that hawk was staring right at me.  It's gone now but there are plenty of birds out back flitting about and fluffing up on this 12 degree day, questioning the lack of birdseed in our yard.  I feel badly, but remember how a few years ago, we had a rodent running around back there?  I had to make a hard decision at that time. Sorry, birds.


Monday, January 01, 2018

The Newness

This is a Mose Tolliver painting called Magician Lady.  We saw it at the High Museum.  Mose Tolliver was self taught and usually painted with house paint on old boards.  After a leg injury, he couldn't walk well, so he decided to paint to deal with his pain.  I love his title for one of his paintings:  Jick Jack Suzy Satisfying Her Own Self.

Yesterday I had to watch some videos about having a colonoscopy because I'm having a colonoscopy this week.  The video format for medical preparedness gets on my last nerve.  The computer kept telling me about risks.  Every time it would describe a risk, I had to click on a button so that someone somewhere would have evidence that I've acknowledged that I could lose an eye or be paralyzed in both feet.  I found the whole thing annoying.  It was hard to believe that the computer video gal cares about me and my well being. Think it through, medical community.

Today I read about bullet journals.  I may make my new moleskin calendar into a bullet journal this year.  It's a creative endeavor that also promotes productivity.

Everyone's saying that resolutions are dumb, but I kind of like them.  I am already thinking about my sankalpa for 2018.  It may be something like I do whatever I want.  Or ... I stay true to my whole self.  Or possibly... I am a magician lady.  Any of these sankalpas could do the trick.  I'll play around with them this month.  Happy New Year, Good Friends.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Year

 Well, here we are at the final day of the year.  The year had some good elements, but let's not ignore the elephant in the room. We have a bad president and he's messing up our lives bigly.

Husbandman and I just zipped through the blog for 2017.  We did a lot of cool things.  So what can we learn from this?  Even if you have a hideous president, you can have a good life and do fun things.