Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Final Day of the Decade


We're back from our sojourn to New Orleans, Louisiana and McDonough, Georgia.  In New Orleans, we visited the Ogden Museum of Southern Art where we flipped over the art of William Christenberry.  On our drive to Georgia, we stopped in Montgomery, Alabama to see the extraordinarily powerful National Memorial for Peace and Justice. In Georgia, we all celebrated to see my dad doing so well.  I'm grateful to my siblings who help him every day.  

Our drive home yesterday was relaxed and easy. We listened to the Talking Heads and I read a book by Richard Sullivan aloud to Husbandman. We crossed over rivers and stopped at some of our nation's finest rest areas. We arrived home at dusk and proceeded to lounge around listlessly. I finished Ann Patchett's excellent Commonwealth.  It was the kind of book where I found myself muttering, "Slow it down, slow it down. You're reading too fast," but I couldn't.  I zipped through the second half of that book like there was no tomorrow. Now we're home again, home again, jiggity jig. Husbandman is going to make fondue for dinner. Then we're heading to Comedy Attic. Hoorah.  Happy New Year, my friends. 

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Chips

 I'm down here with my family in McDonough, GA.  It's a crazy old time with family dynamics just running wild hither thither and yon.  I talked to my dad tonight about some genealogy research he had done a few decades ago.  Come to find out, one of my ancestors died at age 71, from "softening of the brain."  It's right there on his death certificate.  Sometime in the year 1886, my ancestor's brain softened, and he died. Another ancestor died of "arsenic poisoning during an episode of temporary insanity." Another ancestor was killed by Native Americans. This is my past, my friends.  I can't escape it.  Bottom line?  Let the chips fall where they may.

Friday, December 20, 2019

The Read In

Yesterday was probably the grandest end of semester day on record.  We had a Read In, with a buffet of breakfast foods --- bagels, yogurts, fruit, juice, cheese.  We read and snacked most of the morning.  Free access to the snacks really helped keep everyone engaged.  One Thirdlander finished 3 books.  Another told me, "I loved the quiet."  I jostled between several books and a New Yorker.  And now we're all on winter break.  Life is good. The moral of this tale is:  More Snacks for All.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Line



 When I was at the post office this week, there were 30 people in line.  No one was talking except for one person on her cell phone sharing information about some unpleasantries with her ex husband, but all the other people were just standing there quietly and patiently.

No one touched anyone else.  No one cut in front of anyone else.

If I were a postal worker, I'd feel some satisfaction looking out at the silent people waiting in the line. I'd appreciate the calm order that required nothing of me and allowed me to focus on individual transactions in my own time.

My job's quite different.








Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Dentists


Today I took the morning off to go to the dentists.  First the periodontist, then the regular dentist.    Both appointments were on time and, hopefully, successful. The injections of novocaine hurt a bit, but not overly so.  The periodontist used a technique that involved wiggling my lip back and forth as he inserted the needle into the gums near my back molar, repeatedly.  I was curious if he had read about that in a journal somewhere, or perhaps made it up on his own. Later, I got the opportunity to look at x-rays of my mouth and could see that the bone graft I had this summer worked out, for the most part.  The periodontist actually thinks I might need an additional gum graft in that area, but that's down the line. On the back burner, so to speak.  His niece is currently studying to be a periodontist. I met her during my appointment and was able to listen in on periodontal knowledge being passed from elder to younger. One of the assistants talked to me about her son, who is procrastinating at school and not earning his prize points.  I encouraged her to go easy on him. Thought about recommending Kohn's Punished By Rewards, but decided against it.  The periodontist took a screw out of my implant and gave it to me to keep in case anything else goes wrong with my tooth in the future.  It's in the junk drawer now.  Let's not forget that.  The morning went well, and included some interesting and unique experiences I'll not soon forget.  Now I'm heading in to the school site to educate the Thirdlanders about measurement again. 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Kilograms



The Thirdlanders are super excited about the holidays, as evidenced by a bouncy inattentiveness and a pervasive NO CAN DO attitude.  We have four more days together and I'm hellbent on teaching measurement like it's going out of style.  I'm heading in to the compound to hammer out extra-engaging, creative lesson plans on MEASUREMENT like nobody's business.

Yesterday I joined shoppers in our downtown square and bought a few items for dispersal.  In short, gifts.  To get these wrapped and mailed off today should be my Sunday goal. And yet, our youth need to learn how to measure.  And how to line plot.  So a very few of you who probably don't even read this blog won't be getting your gifts on time for the big day.  If our box is late to you, just think of the Thirdlanders in Indiana mastering the essential standards 3.M.1, 3.M.2 and 3.M.3.  You might wonder how all that can be mastered in four days.  Stand back and watch, my friends.  Stand back and watch. And feel joyful.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Spirit

It's the holiday time of year, but you'd never know it if you followed me around.  No tree.  No haystack cookies.  No festive music of Michael Bolton.  Just the same old kind of stuff.

Today I have the afternoon off because I have to drop in on our local periodontist.  I've taken time off every few weeks for dental appointments this school year and everyone including me is getting sick of it. A kid asked me today if I have a problem with cavities. I just answered, "No, but I don't want talk about my dental situation."  Who wants to really hear about cadaverized bone grafts and lasering off gum tissue?

Time away from the school house grind gave me some extra time at home this afternoon, so I decided to climb out of my rut and crank up the holiday spirit. In short, I ventured up to the attic to release the Santas. I was cheered to reunite with Frogman Santa, Ghost Santa, Serial Killer Santa, Wee Little Santa, etc. I bought a new Santa this year from Global Gifts.  He's from Kenya and made from solid ROCK so I'll call him The Rock Santa.  Welcome, The Rock Santa.  Soon, I'll be listening to a holiday CD on my way to my dental care visit.


Saturday, December 07, 2019

The Walker

My dad has been in and out of poor health the last few months. He had a fall, a hospital stay and now he has to use a walker to get around.  Honestly, I don't think using a walker is a negative.   I frequently search on the internets for different kinds of walkers that I plan on buying as soon as I can reasonably walk around using a walker. I also like to go look at the walkers when I'm at the drug store.

Dad sounds better this week and we've had some good chats lately.  Yesterday I told him that Husbandman and I plan on going out to eat this weekend.  Dad said, "I wish I could go out to eat."
I replied, "You can.  What are you talking about?" 
Dad yelled into the phone, "I'm a cripple for God's sakes!"
This sent me into hysterics. Could not stop laughing.  Dad said he was happy that I found the situation amusing.
  Dad's not a cripple.  He's getting around fine and has lots of great help down at 90Cab. I heart my dad.  He's a good guy.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

The Return

Reporting to you all from basecamp.  Husbandman is not here.  He has flown to Vienna for a math conference.  Basecamp is quiet. Holiday festivities have come to an end.  On my To Do list today is writing a review about our rental site.  When I first saw the site, I was super disappointed.  The living room furniture was badly stained and falling apart. We also became aware of an ant problem in the kitchen area. Upon entry, I was royally PO'd  and I let it be known by complaining vociferously to all within earshot.

Over time, I came to appreciate some pros of the site.  We watched Harry Potter on a big screen, crafted hand turkeys on a large table, cooked several awesome meals and played a new board game with plenty of space for setting up our European train routes.  Everyone had a fairly comfortable bed and the showers, while lacking basics like soap, were well functioning. Come to find out, we were able to enjoy the holy heck out of each other in that space. I'll therefore probably give a good review.  The owners may be doing their best and forgetting the rest.  I suppose I can do the same.  If you read my review and end up staying there in the future, I apologize, but just try to relax about what you see around you when you first enter.  Focus on what's important in life.  Fun family free time.  Also, know that there are a ton of cool things to do outside in that neck of woods.  Get outside as much as you can.

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Hand Turkeys 2019

The Hand Turkey Armada sailed off, waiting to take up the fight for causes big and small.  Important and/or some may say irrelevant.

Husbandman --- Equality
Leeway --- Free time
Eve --- Welcoming Country
Bill --- Expand the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (Write your senator).
20 Something ---- Creative Expression
Kyle --- Epstein?
Laura --- Youth Voices
Jay --- Making Meaning
Eli --- Transgender Non Binary Awareness
#1 Son --- Keanu Reeves should be cast in all Ben Affleck roles


Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Course

This is ALITTLELEEWAY reporting from a cold AirBnB in the great city of Oakland.  I'm wearing my jammies and my winter coat as I write this blog.
We believe we have figured out the thermostat and will soon have warmth, along with coffee, which is presently a brewin'.

The whole crew is now together.  Many have traveled from distant lands.  We walked the streets of North Beach yesterday, learned more about the Beats, checked out the awesomest book store in the land.  I bought a picture book by Elise Gravel called What Is a Refugee?

Today we do Thanksgiving. It's already getting started.  People are going for jogs.  Foods have been peeled. Here I am a bloggin'.  It's freaking bedlam over here and it's not even 9am.  I need to develop a plan.  Next right thought, next right action.  Keep the course steady.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Purse Hooks

This is ALittleLeeway reporting from an Airbnb somewhere in the great city of Oakland.  #1 Son has arrived, but I've not seen him yet.  We arrived to bedlam at Oakland Airport last night, where a power outage stranded thousands of passengers in darkened terminals, standing in long lines that never moved. TV cameras were there, recording the misery of the holiday travelers who weren't going anywhere.  #1 posted a screenshot of his plane route, which was nearly to Oakland, u-turning to Las Vegas.  We left and headed out for pizza with 20 Something.  Later, Husbandman returned to OAK and got him.  He's in another room sleeping.  I'm re-experiencing that little kid xmas morning feeling when you have to wait to open the presents.  So close, and yet, so far.

Here's something I learned yesterday.  We met 20Something and College Chums at a bar in Berkeley before our Airport Debacle. This place had small hooks installed below the bar where purses, umbrellas and coats could be hung, close by yet out of the way.  College Chums report that all bars have these purse hooks. I wonder why no one thought to tell me about this convenience.  Happy for the new information.  Yet somewhat dolorous about the years of comfort lost.  I plan to pass the word to everyone I know and I suggest you do the same. Let's help others.

Signing off from rainy California.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Coast Live Oak

This is ALITTLELEEWAY, reporting from the western coast of the great state of California.  Here's what's going on.  20 Something and KHL? We saw them and they were delightful as all get out.  We're going to see them more, in the future.  Quinn?  Arriving tonight.  Seattle kin?  They're at the top of their game. Laura, Jay, Eli?  Update on the Terrific Trio tomorrow.  So far, this first day of break can be marked as one of the Glory Days of 2019.

The weather here is now rainy and chilly, but we smartly scheduled our hike to Sibley Volcanic Preserve for the morning hours. The Sibley Volcanic Preserve is one of the best places you can visit.  Every time you turn around, you're learning something new up at Sibley.  Case in point:

 Ten million years ago, there was a volcano over in this neck of the woods.  Volcanic debris surrounds you on this hike, including knobs and rubbly tuffs.  Wooly mammoths walked around long ago, and also camels. Come to find out, camels actually originated in North America, about 45 million years ago.  Then about 4 million years ago, camels up and left our land.  Walked over the Bering Straight and headed south to the Middle East and Africa.  CRAZY!

I'm dedicated to learning new things this week, and sharing my findings here on ALittleLeeway. We have no theme for the Hand Turkeys yet.  I'm thinking Turkey Armada might have potential.

This is ALITTLELEEWAY signing off from California.  Concentrate, friends, on doing your best and forgetting the rest.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Measuring

You've all heard of miles, kilometers and of course furlongs, but what about nails, chains and links?  Nails, chains and links are types of measurements, too.  Nail is a term used to measure cloth. A nail is a little over 2 inches long. A chain is 66 feet long and was used for surveying land.  A link, about 8 inches, was also used in surveying. I was helping my favorite 7th grader with some math homework today and we had to use proportions to compare miles with nails, chains and links.  My favorite 7th grader kept her eyes on the prize, but I was intrigued, and somewhat distracted, by the terms and their origins.  As I scanned the internets, I'd share comments like, "Let me tell you why it's called a nail.  Super interesting," or, "Did you know a link can also be called a Gunter's Link?"  My favorite 7th grader has a truly unique blank stare that really gets you back on track after you've strayed from the task at hand. We got the assignment done and we were able to play mancala and make some cool bookmarks.
     And by the way did you know that "jiffy" was originally a measurement used to indicate the time it takes light to travel one centimeter in a vacuum?  When you say, "Be back in a jiffy," you're basically saying you'll return in approximately 33 picoseconds.  And think about this, my friends.  A picosecond is one trillionth of a second.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Walnuts

Kay Sage
There are a few Thirdlanders who don't play with a posse of others at recess time.  I grouped three outliers together this week for a walnut game I'm developing.  It has no name yet.  Basically, we have 20 seconds to pick up all the walnuts we can find.  Then we fling the walnuts through a chain link backstop.  This is how the scoring works.

SCORING
  • One point for getting the walnut through the chains.  
  • Two points for making NO SOUND as it goes through.  Nothing but net, so to speak.
  • Three points for hitting the tree on the other side of the backstop.  


One of the Thirdlanders is obsessed with the Ice Age. Ice Ages to be precise, because we've learned there were more than one.  He wasn't in to the walnut game at all until I introduced the concept of beaning saber tooth tigers with the walnuts.  No additional points for this, but it really adds to the drama.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Creativity Thursday: Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes




I was thrilled to receive the ARC of Word Savvy's new book.  ARC stands for Advanced Reader Copy.  It's a special copy that special people can read before a book is published and available to the other readers.

You know those times where you sit down to read for 15 minutes and then don't look up for four hours?  That's what happens with this book.  It's happened to me twice.  Once when I read a much earlier draft awhile back. Then again last Saturday.

I love this book.  Kirkus Reviews also loves this book.  KIRKUS REVIEWS!!!!!!!

I think you should read this book if you want to, but you'll probably have to wait until February or if you want my ARC, I can pass it to you after Nancy and Judy are done with it, but you have to give it back to me because KC wrote something nice inside Minor Dramas and also added a unicorn sticker.  Like I said, a special copy for special people. KUDOS, KC!

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Oceans



We've been reading about a device built by The Ocean Cleanup group to collect some of the trillion plus pieces of plastic floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Dump.  It seems like a fine device, but so far it hasn't been super successful collecting the plastic.  The group has gotten some criticism.  It's hard to tell if they're on the up and up.  I'm still reading articles.

The Thirdlanders want to know why people litter in the first place.  One gal offered, "I think it's basically because people don't make good choices about where to put their trash."

Another retorted, "But why?  Why don't they make good choices?"

It was hard not to point at the debris all over our classroom floor---- the wasted glue sticks drying up with no caps in sight, the snack wrappers, the slips of paper from our pictograph project that were scissored, dropped and forgotten. Left behind as it were.  I'm not much better.  My desk is always a disaster and if the recycling bin's full, my paper trash goes right in the trash bin.

Going to work on slowing down the agenda this week, building in some tidying time.  I need it.  They need it.  The planet needs it.  We can do better in Thirdland.


Saturday, November 09, 2019

Mind Beach


Have you listened to Mind Beach yet?  Every song is fantastic.  I should know because I listen to Mind Beach many times every day.  The Thirdlanders love Mind Beach as well.  Sometimes, though, they get a little too hyper while it's playing --- dancing when they should be writing. Still, the point is, we love it. 

 FYI:  When #1 Son was in second grade, his piano teacher had him compose a piece of music.  She entered his composition into a competition.  His song, The Giant Flib Monster, was a winner. He's been music making ever since.

Now #1 has released his second album. Mind Beach is delightful. Every song pulls me in and then surprises me and every song feels like it's part of a story.  I'm not great at writing about music, but geez louise, I love Mind Beach and I'm so proud of #1 Son, Quinn Sternberg.   I'm inspired by his creative cast of characters as well.  Until we can all make it to New Orleans together to hear these songs live, I'm highly recommending you get your hands, and ears, on Mind Beach for some jazzy fall listening. 

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Creativity Thursday

I'm bringing back Creativity Thursday.

Today I looked at some images of pottery from the Mound Builder people.  The pottery is functional, but also creative, containing carved images of birds and people.  Tomorrow we'll learn about the Mound Builders in Indiana and try our hand at some play dough pottery in honor of the Mound Builders.

I also read more about the poem In Flanders Fields. It was written by a Canadian doctor who tended to some wounded soldiers in World War One.  The land where the battles took place was decimated, but poppies continued to grow there so he wrote a poem about that.  People seemed to like the poem and now 100 years later, we're still reciting it across the land.  People wear poppies on Memorial Day.  And sometimes on Veterans Day.  My mom used to recite this poem.  She knew a lot of poems by heart.  I don't know any poems by heart, but I like to read poems and that's good too.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The Question



Why haven't I blogged lately? It's the question on everyone's mind right now.  Life got busy with parent teacher conferences and report cards and finishing up a paper and having a gum tissue graft. And I started wondering... do I really have anything to say that's readable?  So in addition to all the busy tasks, I've been a bit plagued by self doubt to tell you the honest truth.  But now things are slowing down and I'm pulling my act together.  I have today off to recover from the aforesaid gum tissue graft. Not exactly feeling up to snuff, but so far I haven't experienced what friends have endured with this procedure, which involved days of staunching blood flows with gauze and wet teabags. So please everyone cross their fingers that the blood stays in my veins where it belongs and my gums continue to mend.

I'm happy today because a Democrat won the governor gig in Kentucky.  I love when DT comes into town to rally the base and people say, No thanks. It brings me a lot of glee, to tell you the truth.  

I also want to tell you about a movie we saw called Honeyland.  It's about the last beekeeper in Macedonia.  It's sad because she lives with her dying mom in a deserted village.  Then a family moves in and causes chaos, disrespecting the land and the bees.  So I won't tell you how it ends, but I will tell you I wept silently all the way to the parking lot and throughout the drive home. Husbandman didn't cry at all and was somewhat surprised by my reaction, but did find the movie, "desolate" so in a way he agreed with me.  If you feel like seeing it you should. Especially if you care about the earth and elderly people.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Favorite Flowers

I went on a walkabout yesterday.  Starting at the Courthouse Square, turning around at Showalter Fountain, then back to the square.

I listened to a Dateline podcast about this woman who had her ex husband killed.  She was kind of a putz, so the crime wasn't hard to solve.  She got 28 years.  The shooter got life.

The mums on campus right now are splendid.  I took pictures of mums in a range of colors. Also took some pictures of Painted Ladies.  They   look a little like monarchs, but they're not monarchs.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Favorite House Plant

I have 2 house plants that have lived for 30 years.  When I received these house plants as gifts, I didn't know I'd be taking care of them for decades.  It seems weird to just kill them now because I'm tired of watering them and they're not super attractive.  I appreciate the extra oxygen, but a home oxygen concentrator could work just as well and I'm thinking of getting one of those.  No watering required.  People say they always kill their plants.  I should be so lucky.

My favorite house plant is the bonsai that I got for Mother's Day in 2018. Did you know that a bonsai needs to be watered EVERY SINGLE DAY?  It's true, and if I can't water that bonsai, I recruit others to do the job for me. Thank you to all the bonsai sitters who have helped out. You know who you are.

 The problem with the bonsai is that I'm pretty sure it needs to be repotted.  Based on my research, re-potting a bonsai is a tough job. A job for professionals. I won't even attempt it.  Is there someone in this godforsaken town that can repot my favorite house plant, for cash or barter?  I've done the googling, so don't even go there.  There has to be a way to get my favorite house plant into a new home.  SAVE MY BONSAI. It's my favorite house plant.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Two Favorites in One Day

Fall Break is my favorite holiday right now.
I have 4 days with no alarm clock. I have my report cards to do, but I'll get them done without too much agony, maybe. I have the paper to work on, and I am looking forward to that.

I have a bit of birthday shopping to do as well.  Mr. You Know Who is turning the big 6-0 next week.  Plus some good friends are Libras, just like us, so I want to recognize their Libra awesomeness.

Libra is my favorite zodiac sign.  Libras are charming, caring, and love to learn.  We like balancing things out.  I am not super good on the balancing things out part of my Libra identity.  As we know, my scale tips way off to one side, but I do enjoy my natural charisma and I also like justice.

I'll fool around with balance on this fall break.  There will be school work and writing work, but there will also be dinners at fine restaurants, movies, photography and a walk in a natural setting.  Plus a bridge game.

Ahoy to all of you on the Fall Break Bus Tour.  Remember to stay balanced, but also try to get everything done that's been hanging over your heads for awhile.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

The Favorite Day

Wednesday is my favorite week day.  I have a 55 minute prep and a 55 minute lunch.  Two days each week, I have a 25 minute prep and a 25 minute lunch.  Those days are tough stuff, but I always do my best and forget the rest.

Today I cleaned my hideous desk during my prep.  And I got materials ready for an excellent math lesson.

During my lunch break, I ate my entire lunch, in a leisurely fashion, and then got another excellent lesson set up about comparing viewpoints in texts.  WHICH I LATER ROCKED.

The bottom line is I need more breaks during the day in order to achieve my full potential.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

My Favorite Movie

Even though the weather outside was delightful yesterday, Husbandman and I decided to watch movies all afternoon.  I also worked on a hat I'm making using a knitting loom. I'm thinking of giving it to Husbandman who is turning 60 in a few weeks, but I might keep it for myself.

We saw two movies.  One was called Hello Privilege, It's Me.  Chelsea. It's a documentary about white privilege and was interesting, if a little depressing. You should see it if you want to. My least favorite part of that movie was when Chelsea talked to a group of Republican women in LA.  Those gals need to up their game.

My favorite movie I saw yesterday was Stories We Tell,  a documentary about Sarah Polley's family and some surprises that turn up as she's researching her patrilineage.  I found Polley's tale captivating every step of the way. After I watched it, I crammed for the Sarah Polley Pop Quiz, which someone could spring on me at any time. I read various web pages for an hour or two.  I know quite a bit now. You should definitely watch this movie if you feel like it.  Sarah Polley did a fine job.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

The New Blog Challenge Is Here


It's all about favorite things.

Read details here and start joining in, if you want to.   Thanks to One Woman for getting this going.

Favorite thing right now. This cup of coffee I'm drinking.  It's probably the best cup of coffee I've ever had.

My other favorite thing right now is the knitting loom project.  A few kids sobbed yesterday but 2 kids made cute hats.  I tweeted pix of them because their new hats brought me joy.  I hated the knitting yesterday, love it today.  I'm mercurial.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

The Loomacy

I started pulling out the knitting looms and the yarn.  The beginning is always a fiasco.  I don't know why I do it.

Yesterday a Thirdlander asked for help and I told him to roll up his yarn because there was a strand of about 4 feet tangled in his loom.  5 minutes later he returned to me with about 30 feet of yarn stretched across the classroom, in various knots and tangles.  We put it on my desk and I fixed it after school.

Several Thirdlanders were desperate to bring their looms home yesterday.  I relented because I'm a sap.  Who knows how many will come back today? Every year, several kids lose looms. I just give them new looms, new yarn.

The good part of this loom project is that some kids learn how to make hats with the looms. Also, some kids seem happy and calm when they're using the knitting looms. We're far away from the hat stage, but the calm happiness has descended over a few of the Thirdlander Knitters. So, there's that.


Tuesday, October 01, 2019

The Sightings


Lotus Festival was a blast with a capital B.  Great bands, great friends.  Dancing in the streets.  You get the picture.

We had bonus victories that involved celebrity sightings.  On Saturday night we saw Jonathan Banks at our restaurant. He was charming.  On Sunday evening, we had dinner with ROSS GAY!  He was sitting nearby at our other restaurant.  He enjoyed being there with us very much.

We made some bots.  We also went to a very old movie called Working Girls at IU Cinema and learned about a new favorite person called Dorothy Arzner.




Thursday, September 26, 2019

One thing, and another.

Tomorrow night we'll be listening to music and dancing in the streets.  Cynthia will be here with us.  She arrives tonight on a jet from the westernmost point of the continental U.S., Berkeley, California. We go way back.  We met Cynthia 40 years ago today.  And that's another thing that's happening constantly. I'm getting old and everyone feels like commenting about it.  720 times this week people asked me when I was retiring.  I don't really like to talk about the ending of my career and my eventual enfeeblement and probable death so I wish people would stop bringing it up and just focus on friendships old and new and world music festivals and dancing to Kokoko. And One for the Foxes.  I've got to finish the bot project with the Thirdlanders today. Time keeps slipping every which way.  I also must type the last 2 Poem Partner drafts.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Autumnal Greetings


Fall is here.  Maybe we'll make some cards today to celebrate.  Maybe we'll make some #FallBots.

Last night we saw the movie Mike Wallace Is Here.  Pretty good.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Anecdotes


Enjoying the Thirdlanders.  Two fun anecdotes:

Anecdote 1:

I was blowing tunelessly on my harmonica as we walked up to the cafeteria on Friday. I stopped playing the song I was spontaneously creating and said to a kid near me, "Don't you think the harmonica has a fabulous sound?"

He nodded and said, "Usually people play it in their jail cells."

Anecdote 2:

A quiet Thirdlander surprised me by signing up to share at morning meeting. When his turn came, he told us, "2 days ago I started using deodorant."

This led to a discussion of deodorant, which was interesting.

Those are the anecdotes of the week.


Saturday, September 07, 2019

The Bugs

We released the monarchs. We were excited to watch them flutter up and away.  One of the Thirdlanders shouted, "Goodbye Kitsy!  Goodbye Bitsy!"  Turns out she had named them without telling anyone.

We read about ants yesterday. Some ants farm root aphids in special milking chambers, keeping them alive in order to milk them for their liquidy honeydew and nutritious protein.  I disagree with scientists that call this a form of mutualism. Let's face it, the aphids are getting a raw deal.  Ants known as slavemakers overpower foreign ant colonies, taking them as slaves and forcing them to work. Also, if an individual ant decides to reproduce, the other workers hold her down for a few days so that her eggs don't hatch.  Then she goes back to work.  The queen is the only reproducer, so the workers have to just deal with it.

Ants are industrious, but they do have character flaws.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

The Monarch

One of the monarchs came out of its chrysalis today, right after the morning bell rang.

It really created an uproar. Thirdland was happy to see it emerge.

I wasn't too jazzed about the comments shouted out randomly all day long about the other chrysalis possibly emerging right at the moment.  It got super annoying.

The other chrysalis stayed in its stage all day and the Thirdlanders hope that it will wait until tomorrow to emerge.

Friends, if there's any justice in this universe, that other chrysalis will emerge tonight, suck on the orange slice I left in the habitat and both butterflies will be ready for release into the wild on the morrow. Enough is enough already.




Monday, September 02, 2019

The Three Midways

We are about midway through our unit on wellness.  I like this unit.  It's the third time I've taught it and I keep changing it up. We've learned about the brain, about physical exercise, about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  This week we'll learn about the importance of public services like the new Switchyard Park and about how some animals live in groups in order to survive.  After the whole group lessons, the Thirdlanders will be working on six wellness inquiry centers in small groups. We need to finish this unit in the next 2 weeks.  Right now, that seems unlikely.

I'm writing a paper about a project in my classroom.  I'm about midway through it and it's coming along well.  The second half is going to be a challenge, but this afternoon, Husbandman and I are going to head out to a coffee shop for some work, after a brisk thirty minute walk.

When my dad was visiting, we took him to see the Tarantino movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  About midway through the film, which I was enjoying, Dad decided he didn't want to be seeing it any longer and walked out, with my assistance, since he can't walk very well, especially in dark spaces, because of his macular degeneration and shuffling gait. Dad's a man who follows his whims, which I support for the most part.  Still, Husbandman and I want to see the ending of this film.  I'm reluctant, however, to pay to sit through the first hour all over again, so I guess we'll be waiting for the future streaming.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Action and Adventure in August #15: The Search for Ross Gay


August comes to an end.  I didn't succeed at the blog challenge of 20 entries this month, but 15 is passable.  75%. A solid C.  I'll take it.  Thanks to everyone who blogged their actions and adventures. Kudos to us.

On this final day of the eighth month, I ventured out in search of the internationally famous poet, Ross Gay, who lives in our town. Husbandman didn't know that he was on this particular adventure, but he was indeed a passenger on my escapade. We started out at the community garden and orchard.  The garden is impressive, full of flowers and foods and finches.  The orchard less so.  Scrubby trees and rotting fruit.  I've heard tell that Ross Gay is an orchard organizer, so I had a hope that he might be there, pruning a pear tree or two.  No luck.

Next we headed to the Garlic Festival and the Fourth Street Festival. At the Fourth Street Festival, I saw a tall African American man at a booth representing a local arts organization. He didn't look too much like the photo of Ross Gay on his book jacket, but I walked closer anyway. I heard the guy introducing himself to someone and found out he was not Ross Gay.  I was embarrassed but decided to cut myself some slack.  This guy was tall, African American and an arts organizer, so I had at least some slim, barebones evidence for my brief stereotypical generalizing assumption.

There was a poetry stage set up at the festival, so I zipped over to check out the schedule of poets.  Ross Gay's name wasn't there.  I was embarrassed again because for Pete's sake, would a famous poet be standing in the middle of Fourth Street reading his poems to people wandering through a craft fair?  I think not.

This whole Ross Gay obsession is turning into another Meg Ryan wild goose chase.  I need to let it go and get on with my life.  It's pulling me into dashed hopes and embarrassment time and again.  Case in point.  We shared our Delights books with parents at Open House.  A dad asked me, "Did you read Ross Gay's book?"

"Yes!" I exclaimed.  "Do you know him?"

The dad said, "Yes."

I got fairly hyped at this point, "What's he like?  Is he nice?"  Come to find out, the dad did not actually know Ross Gay but he had heard him read his poetry a few times and admired his work as do I.

Maybe Ross Gay will be at The Comedy Attic watching Esther Povitsky.  I'll keep my eyes peeled. If you see Ross Gay, please let him know that I'm looking for him. Or, better yet, please don't mention me at all.  Let's just leave our eventual meeting to chance.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Action and Adventure in August #14: La Mujer

Yesterday, I was teaching away, really putting my heart into it, when a woman entered the classroom.  I had never seen her before in my life.  She started speaking in a foreign tongue, making remarks like "Hola Clase," and "Buenos Dias."

The Thirdlanders were going along with it, keeping her calm, responding with tentative "Holas" or "Graciases." They glanced over toward me with seemingly "For the Love of Pete Do Something" looks.

I walked out of the room in search of help.   I ended up using the copier, which was another grand adventure I won't go in to here.

I found a friend and told her about the crazy situation with the immigrant.  My pal reminded me that the woman was our beloved Spanish teacher and nothing was amiss.

I gathered my wits about me and returned to Room 200.  As Maestra wrapped up her lesson, I took over the class.  Everything turned out okay.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Action and Adventure in August #13: The Upcoming Molt




 As you know, a tarantula by the name of Harriet lives in my classroom.  Harriet's a great pet.  She doesn't do anything at all, and she's fascinating to look at because she's a tarantula.  Every once in awhile she walks up the walls of her tank, delighting all of us. That's a rare occurrence, so she's never much of a distraction to our learning.

A pal at work loves Harriet.  She even reaches in and pets her gently from time to time. She supplies water for her whenever I forget to check on the water supply and she talks to her every afternoon.

The other day, this pal said, "Have you noticed that Harriet is losing hair on her back?"

Of course I had not.  I barely look at Harriet except for a quick glance each morning as I walk into the classroom and call out, "Hi Harriet" as I schlep my 80 pound bag over to my desk.

"Rats," I said.  "I hope she's not dying.  I can't handle that right now."  I walked over to check her out and sure enough, she had a bald spot on her abdomen.

I finally got a chance to google this tarantula hair loss condition today and come to find out, Harriet's going to be molting soon.  Not sure if you've ever seen a tarantula molt, but it's quite a dramatic adventure.  I've seen it twice and it does not get old, my friends.  Between the monarchs and the tarantulas, Room 200 is turning into a Wild Kingdom with Marlin Perkins episode.

Action and Adventure in August #12: The Killing Fields

A red tailed hawk flew down into my backyard about 15 minutes ago.  His back was turned toward me, but he seemed to be pecking at a small creature which he held beneath his fierce talons. I'm hoping it was a chipmunk.  He's gone now, but I'm pretty sure he'll be back soon and the killing will continue.

Action and Adventure in August of Long Ago #11: The Goodyear Blimp

Last night I had a dream that the Goodyear blimp  crashed into our house during a torrential rain storm.

I'm not sure I've told you this before, but I rode in the Goodyear blimp when I was a young child.

It was quite an adventure.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Action and Adventure in August #10: The Tracker


Here's a harrowing adventure that I'm on right now that I do not recommend.

Husbandman's out of town, so I ordered some food using a web based food delivery service. I once again foolishly chose the option to track the food being delivered.

The restaurant is 8 minutes away from my house, but for the past 30 minutes, I've watched as "Sonny" drives all over town on a little adventure of his own, careening north and south of my home, NOT delivering my food.

Okay, Sonny just arrived.  He seemed friendly enough.

Action and Adventure in August #9: The Monarchs


I've never raised monarchs before, but everyone's doing it at school, so why not?  Let me tell you something about monarch caterpillars.  They eat constantly.  I had to replace the milkweed leaves sometimes twice a day. They also poop out small round balls called FRASS, which must be removed from the habitat for health reasons.  After a couple of weeks of constant gorging on milkweed, they stop eating, climb to the top of their habitat, walk around for a day or so and when they've found their sweet spot, they hang into a J shape.  This happened towards the end of the week, so when I go back to Thirdland on Monday, I'm prepared to see my two buddies in chrysalis form. In two weeks, they'll emerge as butterflies.  Somehow I'll get them out of the habitat at that point and they'll begin their winged adventure, probably heading to Mexico.  Unless they die in the chrysalis, which happens sometimes.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Action and Adventure in August #8: The Good Bye Party



There are a few Thirdlanders that like to tag around with me at recess.  Some are in my class, some aren't. Yesterday they wanted to pretend that recess was a good bye party for one of the crew because she was moving away after school.

A suggestion was made that we share memories of our friendship at our goodbye party.  "You can add your own memories," one told me.

I've only known some of these kids for a couple of weeks, but whatever. They chatted as I scanned the horizon for walnut throwers, swing jumpers, monkey bar trapeze artists and injured soccer players.

"Remember when we met in Kindergarten and we talked about being friends?" one asked.  They chatted about that good memory until I broke in.  "Remember the time we were in Paris and we went to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night?  The city lights were so beautiful."

They stared at me for awhile until one gal said, "That never happened, Dr. H."

"Oh come on.  You couldn't have forgotten about that," I countered.  "What about that Hawaii trip where we saw that pod of humpback whales and they were jumping out of the water right next to our boat?"

They just went back to their memories about playing at Bryan Park Pool and sleepover arguments.  Honestly, it was as if I wasn't even at the party the way they chattered about their own private adventures.  Finally the whistle blew and the party ended.  That one kid has left town and is probably in her new state by now.  We miss her already.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Action and Adventure in August #7: The Pontoon


I took a half day off work on Friday. This is a rarity for me.

We headed to Lake Monroe and walked the plank onto our very own rented pontoon boat.

Brother Dan captained the ship.  As first mate, I provided direction and refreshments.

Father Dan regaled us with stories of his 80 foot dives into the quarries of the Northeast.

Husbandman attended to the standing rigging, including the halyards, vangs, shrouds and stays.

After a time, we drifted into a hidden cove and swam with the rare freshwater stingrays of Indiana. It was fun to leap out of the water while clinging to the back of a friendly freshwater stingray. It felt like flying.

Then we sailed the pontoon into a hidden cave and fed caterpillars to the sheath-tailed bats roosting there.  I had to wake a few up because they normally feed at night.  They were disgruntled at first, but then seemed to settle down as they feasted on the insects.

We said farewell to the sheath-tailed bats and headed the boat back to the open seas. As the wind blew through my hair, I thought about the importance of skipping work every now and again in order to enjoy a maritime adventure. Highly recommend.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Action and Adventure in August #6: The Octopus on the Face

You probably heard already about the gal who put an octopus on her face in order to take a photograph which she hoped would win a prize in a famous contest.

Come to find out, she got bitten several times by the octopus and ended up hospitalized with a quite nasty infection.

I admire this gal and talked about her adventure with some Thirdlanders at recess today.  I even showed them the famous photo.  The three girls were unimpressed and made remarks like,

"That wasn't a good idea."
"Everyone makes mistakes sometimes."
"Some people eat octopus. I've heard of that."

I felt they were missing the whole point of the adventure. Putting an octopus on your face in pursuit of artistic excellence is a cool, yet risky, thing to do.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Action and Adventure in August #5: The Tiny

There's a woman I know who spent 4th of July weekend in a tiny house.  Before I left for Toronto, she and I talked about her upcoming tiny adventure.  She knew everything about tinies. I saw her on Saturday and asked how it all went.  FYI:  She was in a 275 square foot tiny, which isn't super tiny in the world of tinies, but still, it's tiny.

"I'm not too hooked on living in a tiny anymore," she told me.  "It was fine, but there's no place to store anything. No place for a vacuum cleaner.  No place for a broom, even.  I got to see some workers emptying the septic tank, so that was interesting.  Also, another tiny arrived so I got to see it being placed on the foundation, and I enjoyed that.  There was some trouble with the lights, so that was unfortunate.  My dog enjoyed getting away for the weekend, but I've decided tinies aren't for me.  I kind of felt like a college student living in a dorm room."

I was disappointed in her report.  I'd been hoping for a more gung ho debriefing.  Some adventures don't pan out, let's face it, and yet, I still would like to try the tiny for myself sometime. I think this gal needed to think bigger where tiny living is concerned.  Watching the septic tank workers and the loading of a tiny onto a foundation?  I would do it all differently and I hope some day to get the chance.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Action and Adventure in August #4: The Mission Possible

I read in Ross Gay's The Book of Delights that there are some pawpaw trees on the IU campus.  The Ross Man highly recommends the pawpaw as a fruity delight.  I've given Husbandman an adventure mission.  He must find the pawpaw tree and return home with its fruit.  Husbandman might do it, but he's not sure.  He actually didn't seem super enthused. Not sure why he can't get this done.  He works on the IU campus Monday through Friday.

FYI:  The pawpaw is sometimes called the Indiana banana.  It's weird that I've never eaten a pawpaw.  I've lived in Indiana for over three decades.  Eating a pawpaw will be a new adventure. If Husbandman gets the job done.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Water Snake and the Tin Whistle

Okay, everyone, huddle up.  I can still pull off 20 blog entries about action and adventure in August.  It's going to require a herculean effort on my part, but let's face it, I've done harder things.  At this moment in time, I can't recall anything I've done that might be considered harder than 19 entries in the next 21 days, while working full time in Thirdland, but whatever.  I'm pretty sure I can do it. And if I can't, who really cares?

The first 3 days of school are behind us. Great crew of Thirdlanders this year and we've already had an adventure or two.  I'll share one thusly.

Let's set the scene first.  Recess.  Thursday afternoon.  I'm carrying my tin whistle because I'm experimenting with using a tin whistle to call Thirdlanders to line, rather than blowing on the hideous playground whistle I abhor and deplore.  I'm getting to be an expert at making creative sounds on instruments I don't know how to play, such as the harmonica as well as the tin whistle. Thinking of getting a bodhran, which I've already mentioned in a previous post, and a cowbell and a zither.  

Anyway, that's neither here nor there.  As we crossed the bridge, the thirdlanders pointed out a small water snake in the creek, completely submerged, biding its time.  That small snake was still as a "sheltered space when winds blow loud."  We stood and watched it for awhile. A Thirdlander said, "See if you can make it move with your whistle."  With little confidence, I began to make sounds with the whistle by blowing air through its fipple and metallic barrel, popping my fingers up and down on the finger holes in a random fashion.  Sure enough, the snake began slithering and gliding toward the bridge, even lifting its head above the water. Thirdlanders were pretty darned impressed for awhile.  Then the snake swam under the bridge and we moved on to some playground playing.

 Add snake charming to my repertoire of skills, please.




The Astronauts

 From a Lynda Barry book, I've used the idea to have the Thirdlanders draw self portraits on occasion.  Draw yourself as Batman, a monst...