Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sharon Jones and Augusta

Some months ago, before Thanksgiving,  I was down in Augusta at a memorial for Sharon Jones, a soul singer who passed away after struggling with cancer.  The memorial was held in a beautiful old theater downtown, and was quite moving as Ms. Jones' long-time friends and church people shared their stories about her. I saw her perform only twice, and found her energy infectious and inspiring.

Students from the James Brown Academy of Music performed.  Trust that their work was loads better than my poor photo!  These kids rocked it! (My  pictures of the horn section were so bad I am not even putting them up.)

We wandered around the small downtown, soaking up the sun that fell warmly against the walls, admiring quirky old buildings and signs.

Look!  Palm trees!

My favorite.  We could've got run over taking this one.  We had to stand in the road real quick.

Many hats for men and women displayed. Clearly a town where people dress for church.

We window shopped mostly, though I did buy a vintage coat, a dark, full and swingy thing with a round collar.  In it, I feel like an early 1960's secretarial girl--either that or an old lady! Haha.

I liked the fixtures in the shops--old shelving and display cases like I haven't seen since I was a child. In one place a tailor consulted with a customer while I moseyed around his sewing machine and tape measures and ironing board.  Nice to be in a place that keeps things old and a little jumbled.

Sharon Jones had two memorials.  One in New York, you know, with all the show biz people.  But, I liked this one.  So many people talking about how she liked to fish, videos showing her digging worms, and neighbors saying how she was when she was "home."  And it felt like a person could get near a real soul somehow, or the essence of a person, breathing in that little town and those people. In the shop where I bought the coat, when the proprietress heard we had been up at the theater for the service, she asked if we'd heard a certain man (I forget his name) sing.  We said we had.

"Oh, and doesn't he have just a wonderful voice?" she exclaimed.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Seems that in the past two weeks a lot of marching has been going on!

March for Healthcare at the Atlanta capital

Last weekend was the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.  I attended a march for healthcare.  The girl who arranged it said she had only announced it less than a week before, and I would say more than 100 people showed up.  People are upset about health costs.  I am concerned about health and medicine costs.  But Obama is not to blame for that.

Many people just do not know that the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare are the same thing. Some people want to get rid of Obamacare because it has his name on it, not realizing that many of the benefits they now have are part of the Affordable Care Act which, unfortunately was nicknamed "Obamacare" in attempt to vilify it.  Many people do not realize that much of the Affordable Care Act was put together by Republicans before the Obama administration.

My son's are both cancer survivors, who therefore have a pre-existing conditions and could be denied healthcare coverage if not for the ACA.

They are both eligible now to be covered by my work insurance while they are in their 20's, which is good because healthcare premiums would eat up their whole paycheck otherwise. This benefit is part of the Affordable Care Act.

Relatives of mine depend on medicare and medicaid.  People who were not able to hold steady jobs because of their health problems.  They need to continue to get that assistance.

There are so many other reasons I support the Affordable Care Act--I am not going to list them all here.  It is just that people need to be aware of what they can lose by casting out "Obamacare," (which, by the way, was still under construction and not a finished product) and politicians need to hear the voice of people so that we can get what we need--whatever the powers that be name the thing.

And so, I marched.

 On MLK day, there was a march.  Although I did not, I wanted to attend, especially as our president-elect at that time, insulted our senator John Lewis and referred to his district--the neighborhood which adjoins mine and in which my son lives--in a totally false and derogatory way.

John Lewis was part of the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King Jr.  He is a hero by anyone's standards.  To insult and degrade him is unconscionable.  That this happened on the MLK weekend is inconceivable.

That is John Lewis on the far right. Martin Luther King Jr. is third from the right next to his wife Coretta.

And then yesterday, I took part in the Women's March.  I took part for so many reasons.
I cannot support a president that is so hateful.  And I cannot support a president--or any man--who could so brusquely refer to grabbing women in their private parts, or belittle women and refer to their menstrual cycle in a public meeting.  This reminds me of those crass boys in high school who sat trash talking girls and snickering.  I will not support that.

I was so happy to see the overwhelming participation in this event.  There were about 63 thousand people there!  I think about 15 thousand were anticipated.
When we got to the metro station, we knew we were in for something big because we couldn't find a place to park.  And then, when we were finally able to ditch our car, the trains were jammed.

I am usually fairly politically active.  I vote in all small elections.  I stay informed.  I put up signs.  But, I've never done anything like this before.  I have never had to.  But now I do.  I have to speak up and speak out.  So much that is going on--or could go on--is NOT okay.  I am so proud to stand with so many in my city.

Saturday, January 7, 2017


It is an icy cold day here, quite literally.  Yesterday, the school day was cut short for inclement weather.  Everyone was hoping for real snow.  But, it's the south.  So we got rain and then freezing temperatures, which adds up to ice.

Today is quite glorious really, sun and ice making everything sparkle.  At times I have been reminded of those Christmas tree icicles made of foil that I never see anymore except in old movies. (They must be a choking hazard or something!)  What wonderful shimmering light!

A few minutes ago I watched a family of squirrels hoping up a frozen tree trunk and walking along the brittle limbs.  Out for dinner, I thought, and then--flash! Swoop!  A pair of hawks landed on the fence.  Also out for dinner, I guess.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year

The new year has started gray and foggy and wet.  I love this kind of weather!  It's the sit indoors under a cozy blanket and read a book kind of weather.  At night I love to listen to the rain--real rain, not the "sounds of rain" I sometimes play on my phone.


This was once a wren house, but squirrels chewed the hole wider.  It has provided shelter for many little critters over the years.  Some of the scratches on the outside were made by talons once upon a time too.

One of my "Happy December" camellias
 I've been glad for these days off work--lots and lots of days!  It's given me time to clean up and rest and finally finish my summer crochet project (more on that later).

Last year, I did several things I wanted to do--learn to knit cables, take a tai chi class, read more books, and start on a memoir about some of my traveling days.

This year, I'd like to continue on with those things.  Specifically with the memoir which I really only started and then put down again.  I think I am afraid of it.  Sometimes writing pulls me down into it so forcefully that it affects my non-writing hours.  And the fog this writing may throw me into is what I fear.  But the fact that it is so emotionally charged is, of course, why I have to write it.

But enough of that.

I also want to use up some yarn I have sitting around before I buy yarn for another project.  This isn't all that much.  Enough I think to make a sweater and a hat.  I have discovered that I am not one for excess yarn hanging around.  Right now I am making a dog sweater.  It's for my son's dog, Nancy. As I sit and knit, I feel myself chuckling a little about knitting a sweater for a dog--like a grandchild! My son is not near having a child (I hope!!)--but there are some weird parallels here I think.

I'd also like to try to keep my blog more active.
And keep bees--or learn about keeping bees! I certainly have the outdoor space for it.
And be active for causes I believe in.
And be a loving, caring teacher who puts in my best each day.

For now, the rain continues.  Here's a little tea cup and saucer I bought on this day in the Czech Republic in 1993, the year Czech and Slovakia split.  --Ah, but that's a story for the memoir!

Monday, December 26, 2016

This is holiday

This sparkle-y little bit of Christmas tree may have belonged to my grandmother or maybe even my great grandmother.  My mom gave it to me a long time ago.  I don't think it has any monetary value, but it is hugely sentimental to me.  When I look at it, I remember a holiday party that took place a very long time ago.

I think maybe someone wore this at a party I went to when I was a very small child.

It was a party at the VFW--a place my grandmother went, or at least talked about--which wasn't too far from her house. This party was the only time I went into this building.  I remember walking carefully up a wet, perhaps slightly snowy, metal stairway on the side, having on boots maybe and holding someone's hand. Inside, it was darkish, though lit with maybe a Christmas tree and lights, a grown-up party.  Everyone was very dressed up--including me, and people remarked on that.  The perfumed ladies had red lipstick mouths and everyone was talking, laughing. Someone made a joke about a Christmas tie. Maybe an uncle?  There was a punch bowl, the now old-fashioned kind with a ladle and glass teacups, and maybe snacks like Spanish peanuts, the ones that are a little oily and the red skins slide off and litter the serving dish.  We didn't stay too long.  It was a grown-up party after all.  The impression I have of the whole affair comes to me through a filter the colors of the rhinestones in this Christmas tree brooch.  That's why I think I saw it there.

Which, of course, may be totally false.

This experience, so slight, so small, was nonetheless, one of those definitive moments we absorb when we are very, very small.  This is holiday.  This is a party.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

And This is Why I Teach

Some thoughts--
This week was difficult.  First, on a personal level.  My husband has been having various health complications involving hospital stays which reached a pitch this week with an investigation of his heart. In the end, all came out well, but balancing work and health is always extra difficult when you are a teacher with some 180+ students to occupy with substantive material while you are gone. Teaching is not a call in sick and get back in bed kind of job.

And then, of course, there were these election results.
When I got to school on Wednesday, the anxiety in the students bristled.  "My dad will be deported," a student told me.  "He hasn't passed the citizen test yet.  Will they still let him take it?"
"How can this happen?" I heard.  "How can a candidate who was supposed to be a joke win?"
"How can someone win the popular vote, but not become the president?"
"Are you disappointed in our country?" I was asked.
"Who did you vote for?" I heard again and again and again from children with apprehension in their eyes.
"I'm not supposed to say, " I responded, hoping my tone would be enough of a clue. And then, "But my candidate did not win."
My students are the children of hopeful immigrants whose parents are often cleaners, construction workers, yard men or gas station attendants.  Their parents left unstable or hostile governments in Eritrea or Bosnia or Nigeria.  They are also from Egypt and Vietnam and Colombia, from Taiwan and Nepal and Ethiopia. Some of them are the children who were rounded up at the borders of Mexico and detained.

Sometimes people ask why I do this job. Sometimes I ask myself.  At least once year or more, I find myself exhausted, trolling through Linkedin looking for a different kind of job--one that pays better, one where you can, on occasion, shut your office door, or put your head down on your desk if you have a headache, or at least go to the bathroom when you need to; a job where you don't have to spend your weekends and evenings working even more, a job where you aren't always always always a role model, a job where people don't call you a saint for doing it.

And then comes a week like this and I know why I do it.  I teach because I have to walk the walk.  I have to put my money where my mouth is.  If I want to see change in the world, I have to work to make it so.  I have to immerse myself in the hope of tomorrow--these wily, hormonal, exuberant youths who sometimes can barely read on a third or fourth grade level, who know little of the world and fail standardized tests that are written for those whose parents had time or knew to--or could-- converse with them, read to them, or take them to the zoo or museums or the woods.  I have to embrace these kids, meet them on their level and pull them up so they will not fall into the fatal social morass of gangs or drugs or cyclical welfare.

Youth is inherently optimistic.  Young people believe they can change the world.  And I believe they can too. But they need support--especially kids like I have.  Kids with very thin safety nets.
So, I can't go to work helping people who are selling soft drinks, or running an airline or a television station.  I would never be happy doing that.  I have to help society in my small way, by teaching kids to read and write and be decent human beings.  To be decent human beings.  To add to the world, not detract from it.  To be decent in spite of it all.

Monday, October 31, 2016


Fall has always been my favorite time of year.  I love the way the light shifts and becomes hazy and gentle.  I love how the leaves crunch under foot and float down from the sky or skitter over the ground with the breeze.
Fall is like a big sigh.  Like the world has been holding in or building up as the August temperature gauges push over 90 degrees day after day--then comes that first little sneak of a cool morning, and I know the sigh of relief is on its way.

Yes, it was 85 yesterday, and today too.  But autumn is here.  The pine straw is everywhere!  My roof and yard are starting to pile up with straw and pinecones and leaves.  No use raking it yet though.  There's still plenty more to come.

The heart shaped leaves of these camellias always make me smile when I see them in the driveway.

I have been able to work some on the Convergence Top and it is sweet reunion with my old friend the crochet hook! I got the yarn for this two summers ago.  I didn't feel like crocheting a summer top in the middle of winter when I finally got around to finishing longer projects, and then I lost my mojo and didn't feel like making it at all for awhile.  But oh!  I am glad I am making it now!  It is easy and fun to watch the yarn stripe itself.

Well--I'm off!  Busy as always, and here come the trick-or-treaters!