Friday, December 31, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
This morning I had metal detector duty. The social hall, where the detectors are located, was strung with lighted garlands. The marble fireplaces were blazing with aromatic logs on both ends of the hall. The jazz band was playing carols next to the huge decorated tree in the middle of hall.
Standing there lit up like the Christmas tree, every kid I knew came by and gave me a big hug.
It was a happy morning. I came upstairs wreathed in smiles, humming Christmas tunes, with a little extra lilt in my step. There's nothing like a little holiday cheer.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Sunday, December 05, 2010
Friday, December 03, 2010
We saw two shows; both were excellent. On Wednesday night we took in Yakov's Russian Family Circus (dinner) show and we both loved it. Great acts with an amusing dinner served, not at tables, but in your seat in the auditorium.
On Thursday we went to the Welk Family Resort for Thanksgiving dinner -- the only bad meal we had in Branson (pressed turkey should not cost $28 a person). The show was Tony Orlando and the Lenon Sisters -- with a very superior live band. The performances were professional and we enjoyed them -- not as nearly as much as the circus. Still a good evening and as I had grown up with the Lenon Sisters I was glad to catch their acts. Only three of the sisters perform now -- two have retired -- and the third sister was the youngest and was never part of the original act.
Of course, we did some shopping. We took in the I-Max theater and saw a show on Alaska. We ate out at all the cheap restaurants and buffets. Usually we'd have breakfast about 9 or 10 -- and then an early bird dinner around 4. We took naps when we felt like it. We loaded the trunk with Christmas presents. Mostly we laughed and relaxed and de-stressed ourselves.
We came home early Saturday morning, arriving back in KC around 1 p.m. and we just laid around the house until time for work on Monday, watching TV, reading books, and playing computer games.
Tuesday night we attended the season's second performance of the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra. It was a wonderful concert -- Schumann and Chopin music -- featuring a married couple of Russian pianists. The music was both approachable, lushly romantic, and buoyant. The orchestra played at full strength -- 32 professional musicians who live in this area -- and the soloists were beyond exceptional.
Thursday night we attended a performance by Leon Fleisher, and again we were simply carried away by the music -- and the story of Mr. Fleisher. During the 1960's, Fleisher was probably one of the top three pianists in the world. After losing the use of his right hand -- for no apparent reason -- he also lost his family and career and became suicidal. It was a hard road back but, after discovering a selection of music created after WWI for a maimed soldier who had lost his right hand, he staged a miraculous come-back -- playing only with his left hand. Eventually he was diagnosed with a brain disorder that caused his right hand to curl under into a ball -- and he found a love of teaching and conducting. Through the use of botox injections and massage he regained the use of right hand -- but at our concert, because of recent surgery on this thumb, he was once again only playing with his left hand. The concert opened by showing the HBO Emmy nominated movie about his life, then he played, and finally he answered questions for the audience. Now at 82 years old, he has learned that his disability was a blessing, rather than a curse -- and he wowed us all with his talent, his humor, and his grasp of music.
So . . . in the last two weeks, we have heard some spectacular music, met / seen some music legends, and prepared our souls for a holiday of wide-ranging surprises, romance and joy, and the harmony of spiritual delights. Thank heavens for the music in our lives.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
12. I'm beginning to think just a little bit about writing the Christmas letter and addressing the Christmas cards.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Monday, October 04, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
It's not that the two weeks were awful -- they actually were really good in terms of students and productivity. It's that they were so very, very exhausting. Every afternoon, the only thing I could manage on arriving home from school, was throwing off my clothes and going to bed. Eating wasn't an option. Reading was out. No TV. It was sleep. By 5:30 every single evening last week, I was sound asleep.
The collaborative / co-teaching model is going far better than I could ever have imagined, both in junior English and world history. My work with the junior English teacher cohort to develop a new curriculum to meet the new standards is going even better. Everybody is very complimentary of my lesson plans and ideas. And they have started contributing really great ideas of their own. My caseload kids are just wonderful -- smiling, friendly, happy to be back in school. They make every day a joy in the classroom.
The meeting schedule, however, is extremely arduous. I meet with the junior English teachers on Monday morning at 6:30 to 7, on Tuesday evening from 2:30 to 3, on Wednesday from 1:50 to 3, and sometimes on Thursday from 2:30 to 3. I meet with my co-teacher in English from 7:00 to 7:20 every morning. I meet with my co-teacher in social studies from 1:45 until 2:20 every afternoon and on Friday from 1:45 to 3:00. I meet with the SPED community from 2:30 to 3:00 every Monday afternoon.
The only morning without a meeting is Friday -- when I do metal detector duty from 7:00 until 7:20 checking student ID's.
I write the weekly lesson plans for all the English 3 (junior English) teachers in our building and also post them on-line for the district teachers. I write the world history lesson plans only for my co-teacher but he offers them up to anyone who wants them.
In the classroom, we are actually doing co-teaching in world history and English 3. Our world history class of 32 started the year with a text book "investigation" and map of the world review and now we are completing the artistic revolution of the Renaissance. I'm the disciplinarian in that room. I keep the kids on task -- and I teach the "basic" stuff (like vocabulary) and rewrite the lessons (especially the primary resource material) to make them more kid-approachable. I have worked with the social studies teacher now for three years but this is the first time we have actually co-taught the lessons.
In our English class of 31, I'm less the disciplinarian and more the equal partner, partly because the English teacher, a young woman, already has a firm grip on her classroom and because I'm a much better in English than in history. Though, so far, I've developed the entire lesson plans for our first unit, it's clear that eventually we will be sharing more and more the responsibilities of that job. So far, in both classes, I've also done all the grading of assignments -- because I believe that letting kids know exactly where they stand in class (and that you KNOW what they are doing) is extremely important.
Both teachers have opened up their usual processes in the classroom to accommodate my needs -- and this isn't easy. I can no longer stand for long periods of time and in my own space, I arrange students so I'm in the middle of them, sitting -- either in a rolling chair or on top of a desk. Both teachers have gone away from straight rows into group seating to accommodate my needs. This is huge!
Both teachers have pulled back on their own egos to allow me to interject into lessons, to dialogue with them and with their students -- and to find ways to give me equal "billing" with the kids. To teachers who have been "king" or "queen" in their silo-typed classrooms, this a decided and complicated change.
So the first week with kids has been fantastic. I believe we are improving the educational process -- and I think we are forming a pattern that can be copied by other teachers. But -- this is HARD work on all of us. The meetings, the sharing of space by very different personalities, the changing of methods that we have always found comfortable . . . this is real work.
Lastly, as to the title of this little piece -- this IS my 300th blog entry.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
You really don't want to know what I thought of the movie -- and it was too loud to sleep through, darn it.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Saturday, July 31, 2010
School starts for me on Monday -- a three day workshop to look at the new curriculum for this year in the high schools. We have workshops all the following week -- and the students show up two weeks from Monday.
Summer is over, at least for me.
I sure wish that somewhere in there Hubby and I had managed a little vacation, a little time away from home, a little time away from the mice that invaded the kitchen, the dogs on the diet, and the never-ending wash always in the basement.
Here's looking forward to Thanksgiving . . .
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
"That which you manifest is before you."
and "In racing (as in life), they say your car goes where your eyes go."
Friday, July 16, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
Monday, July 05, 2010
Friday, July 02, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
On the plus side, this week we found out that little sweet Schnauzer Gus does not have Cushing's disease. That leaves us with another expensive test that has given us no conclusive results. The vet has decided to treat him for a thyroid condition for the next 30 days and then test again. I thought we were buying the vet clinic a speed boat for the summer -- now we find out they actually need a yacht.
Little Luie, Gus's boon companion, needed his six month checkup at the eye clinic. Walking in the door there requires a hundred dollar bill. If they open the door to the exam room, you can count on another hundred. And if they give you the drops his eyes need for the next six months . . . well, you get the picture. Still, Luie's eyes are doing great. He has a new cataract forming on the blind eye but that is not a problem at the moment. The eye that sees some light looks as good as it did six months ago -- that is the aim for us, keep that eye healthy as it can be. Plus the eye pressure is still good and there is no ulceration.
The diagnostics on the 1995 Lincoln are much like the tests for Gus. Unless and until the car won't start they can't diagnose the problem. All the tests they ran turned up negative and the car continued to start just fine. So we bit the bullet and rented a car for the weekend, leaving the Lincoln with the mechanic which is when the Lincoln said, "What? You think you can replace me! Well, okay. I'll just refuse to run!" and the mechanics began to find some of the old car's problems. Currently, Hubby is out driving it to see if, finally, the correct repairs have been made.
I did the annual doctor's visitation to get the meds renewed. Except that I was advised to "not go on a diet but you really must lose some weight," I got a clean bill of health. Plus, she substituted a light tranquilizer for the sleep meds which I would NOT take because they made me groggy in the early morning hours. I took one last night at 2:30 a.m. and managed to get up by 9 this morning. That's six hours of uninterrupted sleep. That's a little bit of heaven, frankly.
On Saturday we attended our friend Bruce's funeral. It was a mighty impressive affair held in the main Episcopal cathedral downtown. The diocesan bishop led the high mass (it was the official Easter mass according to the program). I had not been in a place with 300 white men in suits or sports coats with ties in a very long time. Even the mayor of Kansas City came. Bruce had been a political force for preservation of historic landmarks in this city for many years, as well as a respected Episcopal priest and teacher. Consequently, those in power turned up to pay respects -- and probably rub shoulders with others in power. I hadn't realized that the wealthy and powerful still thought the navy blazer, beige slacks, and penny loafers were the uniform of those kind of men. Or that on a summer day where the temps reached a heat index of 103 men still thought they needed to wear suits and ties. Clearly, I am not part of the power elite.
Mostly, the pomp of the funeral felt foreign to me and I couldn't find a way to say goodbye to Bruce in that atmosphere. But then his younger son got up and provided me with a wonderful, clear image: evidently, when Bruce was found in the lake he was on his back, still holding his fishing pole. His son said he would always think that Bruce, always a fisherman of souls and fresh bass, had simply found that he had two fish on the line and so he put his hand over his heart -- and as he had done with so many souls before, simply laid back into the final, ultimate baptism in the arms of God. What a beautiful, comforting image.
To start our week out in a better mode, today we met our dearest friends, Lou and Debby, for a long, leisurely brunch at the neighborhood bar and grill. Over corned beef harsh and eggs, we shared and reminisced and eased our souls. We agreed to take in our favorite concert series in the fall -- and add a new one into the mix. We remembered our individual wedding celebrations. We caught up on health issues and discussed new dentists. Two hours flew by and we left revived to face the joys and sorrows of the coming week.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Bruce's body was found today in the lake where he had been fishing. The news reports have made a ridiculous amount of noise over the fact he was fishing in the lake that belonged to a nudist camp. Bruce and his wife, liberal to the core, were NOT nudists but did not find fault with alternative life styles and the lake was a wonderful place to catch bass, I'm told. Bruce's body was found with his fishing pole still in his hands and two fish on the line. Even in death, he was still a fisherman of souls and refused to let the good ones get away.
One of the smartest men I'll even know, Bruce was a decent, caring, gentleman. He came to a dying church as the part-time pastor and gave his all to the project for seven years. He kept the church alive and he brought in new members. With his wonderful wife, JoAnn, he was the HEART and SOUL of the beautiful, historic church he agreed to help in the northeast corner of our city.
I heard some wonderful advice from Bruce during the time he served as my pastor. I found peace in his presence. Dr. Bruce added a great deal to my life. I'm grateful I got to know him. His presence in our city will be greatly missed. It's hard to say farewell to the very best people in your life.
Added on Wednesday, a clip from the local news:
Monday, June 21, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
The Lincoln broke down with me in it -- and no phone. I had made a quick run to the grocery and only had my wallet with me -- driver's license and debit card. The grocery let me call Hubby who sounded highly annoyed and told me to just sit in the car for 30 minutes before trying to start it again. We knew we were having sensor problems but thought they were all fixed. It was 95 degrees in the parking lot and I was sitting in the sun. Thirty minutes went by. The car would not start. My underwear got damp from sweat. Another 30 minutes went by. Now my outer clothes were sweat logged. The car still would not start. Twenty minutes went by and I was considering whether I was going to break down in tears when Hubby and the mechanic showed up, loaded the groceries and me in the mechanics truck and took me home. Hubby never looked so good!
Hubby had the old van repaired so the air conditioning in it would run. He also had it detailed at the same time. The van is so much nicer now that the years of smoker residue has been removed (previous owner). However, the van was still at the mechanics when the Lincoln quit on me yesterday. We have it back now, so things are much brighter on the car front. Plus, the mechanic thinks he has a fix for the Lincoln.
Little Gus and Crazy Luie had their wellness exams and cost us a fortune at the vet. Luie is fine. Gus continues to gain weight and gets inordinate amounts of tarter on his teeth. Today we had them cleaned and he lost yet another molar. Plus, because he's still gaining weight after being on a diet for a year, he's now had a complete blood panel drawn to check his thyroid. We spend nearly a $1000 on vet bills in the last seven days. The vet will be sure to have her vacation this year.
I downloaded Microsoft LIVE on the advice of Microsoft. It blew out Outlook Mail. After a chat with Earthlink I found that lots of people are having problems with LIVE. So I uninstalled it -- and voila! problem fixed.
My instructor for my July grad class e-mailed out the first assignment -- five chapters to be read before the first class in a $110 text book. I ordered the book from Amazon and got the international edition that was only to be sold in Asia from a second distributor. The book came today and the print is so small I may need a magnifying class to read it.
Also I found the syllabus for the course on-line. It's going to be a very long, trying July.