Friday, October 10, 2008

This and That

Little Luie had another eye doctor appointment this week. These specialists are very, VERY expensive and this is his fifth appointment so far. It's $100 just to walk in the door and from there, every second the doctor spends peering in Luie's eyes costs more big bucks. We've never gotten away for less than $150. Anyhow, Luie's eyes are showing improvement -- and they are deteriorating at the same time. The corneal abrasions look much better and the redness has abated -- not disappeared but his eyes have a more normal appearance. His cataracts, though, are getting worse every month and the pressure in his eyes is going up. Removing the cataracts is not an option right now because the doctor is afraid that glaucoma will set in. We may have several months or several years where Luie is still able to detect light and some shapes but eventual prognosis is complete blindness. And if we continue to have the growing cataract problem we will have to do surgery at some point.

Otherwise, Luie is healthy and happy and going through the wonders of puppyhood. He still chews everything he can find, especially his housemates beard. I laugh with wonder every time I find Luie pulling Gus through the house by his beard. Gus gets his own back on Luie though -- eventually he will upend Luie and straddle him and nip his nose. Luie laughs with delight!

This weekend is the church's 120th anniversary. Instead of a Homecoming we are having a "Turning Over a New Leaf" celebration. Says to me that everything old must be thrown out and we need to celebrate starting over. Except (and I got a huge laugh out of this) the literature for this new leaf campaign all shows beautiful autumn leaves falling from their branches. Pretty much is symbolic of my whole reaction to this new church we are becoming -- the new leaf is dying on the vine as we speak. Hubby was asked to head up a concert to be given from 2 to 3 p.m. outside on "new leaf" Sunday. We have no portable piano (the lovely one we had has disappeared), no sound system, no stage. Field events are supposed to be going in the same yard where we are singing -- as well as the final stages of a barbecue. Hubby asked to move the concert inside as a consideration to the singers and the accompanist but was soundly and roundly rejected. Just one more thorn in my side concerning this new leaf we're turning over. I'm really frustrated that everything, even if it makes no sense, must be done the new pastor's way. I think I've decided to drive myself to church this Sunday, sing with hubby during the service, stay for the barbecue and pot-luck (I love tuna casserole) and then go home. Hubby has decided just to have a hymn sing outside and not have our ensemble sing, so I really don't need to be in attendance.

Our weather is still warm. We have the air on at school and I usually turn it on at home during the late afternoons when we're in the low 80's. I still haven't gotten out the winter clothing but I'm slowly collecting the really summery shirts for storing in the basement.

We made Thanksgiving reservations for Branson. I'm thrilled and Hubby is accepting. It's only a three hour plus hour drive from our house on 4-lane highways. There is shopping and shows to see and scenic drives to the lake. Eating is cheap and we have a hotel that likes little dogs and will give us a king size bed on the ground floor. I'm looking forward to an easy holiday.

Tomorrow evening we are spending time at the local nature center for their annual presentation of the "Magic Woods." In 2006 Mother Nature sprinkled us with her magic dust in the woods so we could hear the animals speak. In the car, patiently waiting for us were Wolfie and Fritzie. The next day Wolfie, my heart dog, suffered a massive bleed into his gut and I had to put him down. I never really recovered from his loss. By the time my father died in the early 1980's we were so estranged that I had already suffered his loss and accepted it. Wolfie, however, tore my heart into pieces. But this year little Luie will be going to Magic Woods. Maybe some of that magic dust can save just a little of his eyesight. But even if that is too much to ask for, the magic of Luie's determined cheer and good nature continues to bring healing to my heart. Wolfie must be doing a little jig in heaven.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Coasting Along

It's hard to update here because I'm tired so much of the time. A lot of writing is required in my grad class -- writing that I'm not doing very well, actually. Co-teaching a world history class, teaching English 3 / 4 and a reading study skills class, and acting as case manager for 13 kids takes a heap out of me every day.

At my little small rural Kansas college (which calls itself a university) I'm taking an Internet course, studying the characteristics of functional students. I don't teach functional classes -- that requires far more skill and patience than I currently possess or probably ever will. Internet courses are notoriously awful for requiring tons and tons of work and this one is not different. The worst assignment involved rewriting a portion of my school crisis plan to meet the needs of functional students. I hate fire and tornado drills and every other kind of crisis drill. I always have. These are merely interruptions in my day and the elevator is shut down and I have to hike down six flights of concrete stairs and then hike back up, once the drill is over and the kids have become sufficiently hyper. But I gamely tried to rewrite the plan to meet the challenges of my school -- which has few functional students because it was not designed to provide assistance to multiply handicapped students. The paper was worth 100 points - and I got a grand total of 44 of them. In other words, I failed the paper miserably. Goodbye 4.0. I thought I'd care more than I do, actually . . . but the prof gave me a small time frame to rewrite the thing and today I gave it a shot. I probably got no more than a C on the paper, but I'm hoping I did bring up the F. Jeez!

Church is very frustrating for me right now. My church has decided to become evangelical but I was brought up old line Methodist -- sing a hymn, sit in your pew on Sunday, sing another hymn, listen to a sermon, go home and eat pot roast for dinner. Testimony is as foreign to me as having the service in Latin would be. The minister wrote the mission of the church and then asked us to approve it. She appointed the leaders of the church and we didn't have any say in their selection. With every decision made unilaterally by the minister I find my frustration level increasing. When the praise singers want to play canned music and sing with it, I cringe in horror. This is not the Methodist church I grew up enjoying. Change may be good, but radical change, without my consent, is difficult to swallow.

The physical toll taken by school is much harder this year because of the number of classes I'm actually teaching. The kids are okay. I had a bad week with my junior / senior English class three weeks ago and wondered if I'd lost my touch. The class was hostile for the entire 110 minute period, challenged my authority repeatedly, and acted out. However, the next day I lit into them like a steam-roller and I adapted writing assignments to address their continued complaining about everything we did. Within thirty minutes the class had turned themselves back around and were humming along quite productively. I also enlisted all the help I could find to work with me on the worst girl in the class and this week there has been a noticeable improvement. This is a class with very low reading skills and in some instances they have been accommodated through their IEP's into believing they needn't do any work requiring thinking. We're turning that around, slowly but surely.

The new dog, Luie, has eaten his way through our house and car. Two pairs of Hubby's glasses have been destroyed -- at $400 a pop. The new leather seats Hubby had installed in the old Lincoln only lasted a week before Luie realized that tearing apart the leather would unearth piles of foam that could be shaken and heaved all over the car. The seats are now held together with duct tape. When Luie started on our shoes, pricey numbers that they are, we had a "come to Jesus meeting" with him. He got the tabs off my $110 shoes and started on Hubby's $250 sneakers -- and then the little boy found out that a thoroughly angry Hubby was not something he wanted to meet again. He now carries off a shoe once in a while, but he doesn't destroy them. Hubby had learned to put his glasses up high so Luie can't reach them. We've found that a little blind dog has to put things in his mouth to discover what they are -- and if they bend, snap, crack, and can be chewed -- he's delighted to destroy them for us.

My week's accomplishments have included taking an on-line test for grad school, rewriting the crisis management paper, writing up a teacher interview (six pages) to prove that I understood what is required of functional instructor, getting my hair cut, putting out the church's newsletter using the new software on the MAC (which is no longer intuitive for me -- you get colors in the color palate by actually grabbing the color and putting in an empty box on the palate -- what a concept! -- it took only 35 minutes for me to figure that one out!), getting the Internet connection repaired after sweet Luie had chewed through the connection (we were down four horrible days!), and cooking up a mess of Swiss steak in the crock pot for our dinners. And this is only Monday.