Saturday, January 7, 2017

Ice


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.



Holly

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

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!


Saturday, September 10, 2016

Work and Play

I really think I have never had a busier school year.  I get to work earlier than ever before--usually by about 6:20.  The principal is on making reminders announcements about then, and then the kids enter at 6:50.  I am on all day. Most days the 90 minutes I have for "planning" is taken by a meeting.  No kidding--I'd say three out of the five days really there is a meeting.  Lunch is 20 minutes, and I work like a crazy woman during every minute of it.  I push myself to leave the building by 3:30, but a couple of days a week I stay until 4 or nearly 5.  Of course I take work home, though I don't always do it, except on the weekend; I have to get everything caught up and ready for the race of the next week.
I don't think people realize what high school teachers really do.  I have fewer students this year than last.  Only 170 or so ('or so' because each week some move in and some move out). Last year I had 200!
But that's how it is.  I am not complaining, just saying.  Really, it's amazing what we are asked to do.
So, I've been doing SCHOOL mostly--All caps this year, and an exclamation point too. SCHOOL!

Last weekend, I really slowed down--and this one too.  Lying around a lot.  Knitting some. Browsing catalogues or watching knitting tutorials, activities I find strangely relaxing.

We also cleared out our sadly neglected garden.  Worms devastated our green beans, so we picked the beans and pulled out the depressing remains of the plants.  We still have some cowpeas growing, but worms pretty much got to them too.  Next week or the next, I think we will build up the planter boxes and try to put in some beets and radishes maybe.  Not too many plants.

A handful of determined little beans!


We've had fair harvest on tomatoes, and really productive poblanos.

The cucumbers and eggplants did not produce well, and I wondered if it was for lack of bees.  Our bee keeping neighbor moved away.  And really, there have been fewer bees.  I wonder what it would take to keep some hives myself?  I am a friend of bees and try to plant bee friendly flowers.  I'll have to look into it.


Aside from work and garden, I have managed to get out and about a little. A friend has an art exhibit downtown.  I love the animalness of her artwork, and these are not too grotesque (as I find some of her work--you know like, interesting but too much to look at every day in your house kind of work--seems a lot of artists I like fall into that realm, now that I think about it!).

Exhibit by Linda Hall at Eyedrum, ATL



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Chicago!

And why have I been neglecting this blog?  Because I started school--which zaps up a lot of my time, and because I have been preparing for a long weekend in Chicago.

It isn't easy as a teacher, to take a few days away from the classroom.  But this was one of those essential trips.








Essential because I had to take my son off to school.  One of the things that made us laugh was the package of tissues in the parent orientation bag.  (I managed not to cry until I was on the plane home by myself.)  

Oh!  I will miss this boy.  But I am so proud of him and wouldn't hold him back for anything.

Chicago is a most excellent city--vibrant and moving and beautiful.  I had never been there before. Funny how I have been to cities all around the world, but never really visit US cities as a tourist. I usually go to wilderness places in the US. And I have missed out!  

I know it gets cold there in winter--all those revolving doors and ante-room entrances are not just for the fun of twirling around or shaking out your umbrella.  I think that idea of cold has put me off Chicago in the past--the idea of Chicago.  The "Windy City."  I don't like wind.  As a rule.  But, I fell in a sort of love with this place, even though my phone camera photos aren't so good here, and I can't wait to go back.