Friday, June 26, 2009

wrap-up and rambles

Well, it's the end of another school year. If I look back, I see all the many ups and downs, the highs and lows. And there were a lot. If I had to summarize, I'd say that I loved my students and had a lot of frustration with school politics. I suppose it's not so odd that when working in a high school, some of the teachers begin to act like high schoolers, complete with cliques and gossip. That happens everywhere, I know. I think because as a kid I was excluded, I try my hardest not to do that and still find myself surprised when others do it. I just don't see any purpose in it. Of course, not everyone will like everyone; I'm not naive enough to think otherwise. I just still get surprised sometimes by the lack of collegiality. But I plan to continue my own friendships and try to include everyone, even if it's just asking how someone's weekend went. Not to sound sanctimonious, but I think life in general would be a lot better if more folks did that, stopped being so selective and afraid and reached out a little more.

Next year I'll be at the same school, thankfully. After that, it all depends on a lot of factors that I don't have control over and a few major ones that I do. I'm going to continue to improve my teaching, utilizing what I'm learning in my special ed classes to improve my methods of getting as many kids as possible to learn as much as possible. One of my students used the word pugnacious in his essay and I felt like giving him an automatic 100%, I felt so proud. I've got ninth graders next year, the first time I've taught ninth grade boys. I just have to remember they're all bravado and still very sweet to an extent, and they're all scared out of their minds to come out of their comfort zone of eighth grade and into the big high school, surrounded by large, cool upperclasspeople. I plan to work a little harder and a little smarter, and focus on my strengths rather than my weaknesses. Actually, I'm trying to work on that as a general life mantra.

On the off-for-summer note, I'm currently sitting on the couch watching early-round Wimbledon and switching occasionally to CNN to watch footage about Michael Jackson. What a strange, amazing, sad life he had. What a musical talent who seemed to have gotten tangled up too tightly in his own fame. Thriller was the first real record I ever owned, and I listened to it incessantly, though at age five or six the video terrified me. (I had an overactive imagination: For a long time, I convinced myself that E.T. moved in his poster on my wall, which also frightened me.) Anyway, Penny is lying on the adjacent couch, asleep on her back with her feet in the air. It ranks as one of my favorite sights. Ohp, looks like a dream coming on: I see the toes twitching. Love it.

Speaking of sights (wow, this post really has rambled), I came home last evening to find this:

Part of a dead tree collapsed in our backyard. I don't know if it was wind or hit by lightning or what. Mercifully, it didn't hit anything but the other tree. Yesterday we had thunderstorms of epic proportions that came and went for hours. We lost power briefly, and I almost hydroplaned on the highway while going 50 mph (where the usual speed is about 65, mind you--you could barely see in the torrential downpour). Thunder crashed so loudly, you would have thought Industrial Light and Magic created it. I kind of loved it, actually. I don't think I would have minded if the power had gone out.

So anyway, when I look back on all this introspection of teaching and dogs and storms, what it all comes down to is that I need to relax and take more stock in myself. I can't promise anything, but I'll try.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Response to Ouiser

This is a response to Ouiser's latest post. Here, SNL hits it on the head. Why didn't more people think of doing this sooner?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why I love Sesame Street

Just watch.

Only Sesame Street would put in "disenchanted". I love it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Odds and Ends

First of all, I learned today at a bridal shower for my good friend J. that Macy's packing peanuts are made of starch, so you can put them in the sink and they'll dissolve, so no leftover toxic styrofoam mess. Isn't that cool?

Next, dear sister C, I finally thinned my garden. A ton of rain has brought out the slugs, so I got a bit more beer and I now have lots of radishes, a few skinny little turnips, and a lot of radish and turnip greens. Why waste them? C, they're totally OK to eat, right? I also hung up the Irish Spring soap to ward off the deer. I'll let you know how that one works. C, why isn't my lettuce growing? The arugula's awesome but the regular lettuce is weak at best. Suggestions?

Thirdly, doesn't this cartoon pretty much sum up...a lot of relationships, high school or otherwise?

Whoops, I just killed a mosquito. Perhaps PETA will issue a statement.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Allentown Art Festival

Buffalo has such fun events in the summer, and so many are a time when everyone's trying to save, it feels nice to have so many options. This past weekend we went to the annual Allentown Art Festival, which is always a great mixture of quality work, chintzy and kitschy stuff, great food, and great people watching. We usually get one or two fun things, and this year we spotted a fun find: This man makes all sorts of statues and gizmos out of metal. If you saw the Pixar movie Robots, they look a lot like that. We found a key holder (with hooks--I don't know what to call it) that looked...familiar:

Pretty fun, huh? We've needed somewhere to put our keys for a while and this seems perfect to me. Here's a slideshow of the festival, in case you want to see some interesting folks and fun art. Better pictures of this one man's metalwork are at about 2:45 if you just want to scroll ahead. Another note: The guy blowing bubbles does so as soon as the weather gets warm, from his second floor apartment. It's one of my favorite signs of spring.

The Allentown Art Festival from Dan Fisher on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Brief garden update

Beer v. slugs: Beer won. I won't take a picture of it, unless you ask me to post one. I'm guessing you won't. The death toll so far is 3, I think.

C, I haven't had time to prune my radishes yet, but I will this afternoon or tomorrow. Tonight we're going to a crew potluck and I'm making a double batch of the Jicama Apple Slaw I mentioned a few posts ago so we can keep some for ourselves. Yum....

Now I just have to figure out what to wear. Ladies, do you ever have this problem, where your S.O. takes you to a function of some kind and doesn't tell you how formal it is? Honey, I love you, but unless it's Ladies' Night for lodge, you rarely know. Thus I've begun calling other wives who've been to these things before, or I wear something that can be easily dressed up or down with a necklace so I just keep the necklace on or off as needed. It's all about flexibility.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


So my last post was my 250th. Should I celebrate? Have a montage of the "best of previous posts"? Put together a string of Penny photos from first day home to now? Thank all previous posters for making all of this possible? Put together a slo-mo of snippets from previous posts to music?

How does my garden grow?

I promised pictures of my garden, and here they are:

From left to right, I have arugula (which I picked a lot of, so it looks a little mangy), turnips, radishes, and lettuce.

Here's the arugula--It tastes really peppery and is great in a salad. There's something incredibly satisfying about eating it.

Above and below: Close-up of the fava beans and the whole "crop"



Peas! See how they're beginning to use the trellis (below)?

Annnd...slugs. Does anyone know how to get rid of slugs? I know about using Irish Spring to get rid of deer. We bought some yesterday; I'll let you know how that turns out. Now I just have to add basil and maybe tomatoes.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Yet another quick, funny entry

I'm finishing up the last stacks of papers, so I'm not able to write a ton. C, I PROMISE I'll put garden pics up soon.

Anyway, my friend D sent this to me. If you are a person of the 80s or enjoyed Bonnie Tyler's 1983 classic "Total Eclipse of the Heart", you might have fun with this:

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I can't get this to post on the blog, but go to this site to see a 30-second cartoon version of done with bunnies. There are other movies as well. Innspecter, I know Saw is on there. I found this while searching for media to use with Night of the Living Dead and it's pretty amusing and surprisingly complete.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Is it June already?

Well, this past weekend I had a glorious time with my Colgate buddies at our 10th reunion--good lord, how did that happen? We had such fun (though some of you were very missed! You know who you are) hanging out, seeing the changes on campus (lots), buying Colgate gear, chatting with people we hadn't even begun to talk to ten years ago, and just enjoying time when not one of us was occupied with anything but being together. We looked at ourselves and where we'd gone in ten years...and we realized we were glad we'd changed and become more confident in who we were as people. We also commented that we felt we looked better than some of our classmates because we were happy and had made good decisions. I think stress, anger, and meanness truly does take a physical toll. So it was great to gather in the place which made us friends and see how much those friendships influenced our lives and will continue to do so. The conversation went from refinancing our houses to dirty jokes in under five minutes--we're adults but still keep the silly. I like that, and I loved my time there.

I'm glad I had that, because May seemed very long in a lot of ways. It's the end of the school year, so grading piles up and I have to get kids ready for the exam and make sure my seniors pass. I finished up my one certification class and another starts THIS AFTERNOON. I waited for two anxious weeks to find out about a permanent position for next year...and got another long-term sub job, which I am happy to have in these troubled economic times, especially at a place I like, but I obviously would have loved the permanent job. My midsection has decided to grow at a rate that my pants do not like.

But...I had dinner last night using arugula from my very own garden, and my beets are coming up as well. Oh, and throwing the beet greens in the salad was also very tasty. My husband, family, and friends have been endlessly supportive through my job anxiousness. It's warm enough to lie in the hammock. Burn Notice is starting a new season tonight. Penny is the sweetest little dog ever. I just got to see almost all of my very best friends all in the same place for an extended amount of time. My 94 year-old grandmother is still razor-sharp and had me laughing so hard this past weekend I almost spit out my drink. My sister's coming in this weekend, and T and I are going to the retirement celebration of our third grade teacher. So things are good.

Last night at a retirement dinner for teachers in my district, my one friend C gave a great speech about saying "Yes"; "yes" to needing help, to helping others, to working on committees, to trying new things, to things you would usually say "no" to. She suggested that every day we do the latter, and it will eventually become easier to say "yes" instead of "no". I am going to take her advice as much as possible and I urge you to do the same.

Meantime, happy Wednesday, folks!