Monday, October 30, 2006

Haunty Halloween

When I was 17 my friend Alene and I dressed up as gruesome witches and terrified children (we were supposed to be passing out candy at Alene's house). Alene would open the door and simultaneously snap off the porchlight. I would jump out of the darkness wearing a black turtleneck sweater, long black skirt and a black cape, my hair a ratted mess, my face green, my lips blue and my finger nails filed to a point and painted shiny, blood red. Muhahahahahahaha! Children would scream, throw their candy into the air and run for their lives. It was quite fun.

The Confession

Hello, my name is Quilldancer and I am an idiot. I have been an idiot all my life, but am usually able to bluff my way through most things and convince people otherwise. Unfortunately this morning events conspired against me. I finally came up against something that I could not bluff my way through. It all started two months ago when I bought my new cell phone. The service rep handed it to me turned on and ready to go. In all the time I have had it, I have never turned it off. Well, last evening I grabbed it to make a call and discovered the battery had gone dead. I plugged it in to recharge and made my call on a land line. This morning I tried to turn my phone on. None of the buttons I poked seemed to have the desired effect. I went to get the instruction book. The first page of the instruction book reads: First turn your phone on. Duh. How? That it doesn't say. Lovely. I realized immediately that that could only mean one thing: I was the only person in the entire world who didn't know how to operate my cell phone. I went to church and walked up to a lovely 15 year-old friend of mine. "Hey, Nic," I said. "Turn my phone on, and then tell me how you did it." She looked at me with that smirk that only 15 year-old female faces can form, and took my phone. She pressed her finger down on a button I had already pushed. Ha! I knew that one wouldn't work. "Already tried that," I said as I smirked back at her and reached for my phone. Keeping her finger on the button, she evaded my reach. I heard the phone sound a lovely little chime. The view screens lit up. "I'd already tried that one," I repeated lamely. Nic thrust the phone at me, rolled her eyes, turned to her little sister and said, "Grown-ups are so impatient." I went to my favorite pew and sat down next to my 78 year-old friend, Irene. "Nic is making fun of me just because I didn't know how to turn my cell phone on," I said, knowing this sweet, ancient little-old-lady would have no idea either. Irene laughed. "Just hold down the hang-up button for 15 seconds," she said. "That's how you turn it on and off." That's how my status as an idiot became offical. Little old ladies have more technological skills than I.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Welcome to another day in my life. As a rule I trip through the blogosphere laughing and poking fun at myself and/or anything else that tickles my fancy. I do that because I live a charmed life and I know it. I am loved. I have more friends than I can count on my hands and toes together. There is a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator -- and in my belly. My house has running water and electricity. There is a semi-new car in my driveway. For me, life is good, and full of fun and games. For some people, none of life is fun and games. On November 7th, 2006 a call for peace will rise from the blogosphere. The goal is to get as many blog owners as possible blogging about world peace ON THE SAME DAY and displaying their signed globes from all parts of the world. On November 7th I plan to show my gratitude for my life and the priviledges I deem common place, by asking that those priviledges become common place the world over. Please join me. If you are interested in participating in this endeavor, you may gather further details and pick up your own Peace Globe from Mimi Lennox, the initiator of this movement.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Absent Without Leave

Friday afternoon grocery shopping just outside the main gate of the air force base: I stopped to look at a product. An very tall, very wide airman dressed in fatigues said, "Excuse me." I took a step to the left. He grabbed something from the shelf, dropped it in the cart and pushed it away. Only problem is, it was my cart -- and my purse was in it. "Hey! That's my cart!" I said, hustling after the fellow. He turned into the dairy isle. I was forced to give way for an elderly shopper who took far too long walking around the gigantic airman and the shopping cart. The airman added milk to the cart and moved to the eggs. I caught up to him. "Wait!" I said. He added eggs to my cart as I grabbed the side of the basket. He looked at me in stern disapproval and then glanced down at my hand -- which was lifting my purse from the cart. I smiled and quipped, "It really doesn't match your outfit." The airman responded, "Ulp." Still smiling I looked way up, up, up at him and said, "I was afraid for a minute I was going to have to tackle your ankle." His face flushed bright red. He turned on the heel of his spit-shined boot and stalked away. Poor man. If he's going to wander around in public while his brain is absent without leave, he really should grow a sense of humor.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Daddy's False Teeth

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting My father suffered many years with bad teeth. The day he finally came home with his perfectly straight, perfectly white store bought choppers he was bursting with pride. He grinned big and wide, snapped his teeth together for all of us to see, and exclaimed -- repeatedly -- how wonderful they were. Within the hour of his return home, dad announced that he was hungry. Judy, my step-brother's wife, and I were preparing lunch. I was slicing tomatoes. Judy was mixing a bowl of tuna. Dad approached us. "What's for lunch, Jude?" He asked while looking over Judy's shoulder. His teeth slipped from his mouth and landed in the tuna bowl. Without missing a beat Judy poked him in the solar plexus with the bowl and said, "Well, Pops, you're having this, but I think we'll all be eating something else."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

In the Mail

Cindra said, "the apron is in the mail," and of course I believed her. She is my beloved niece. Except for biting me when she was two years old she has always been quite wonderful. So, when the apron never arrived at my home, I began to suspect one of my neighbors stole it. I began to look at them differently. Was it her? Was it him? Then Cindra sends me this*: My neighbors have been cleared. Apparently duct tape and Sharpie conspired to steal my package. Shame on them. *Picture edited to remove return address. _________ Sorry this post was late! I was without my HSI for 95 minutes tonight. A Cox Cable minion worked with me in a bored and barely civil manner. Despite the fact that I still could not access the internet he assured me all my Cox equipment was working and I needed to buy a new computer. Since this is a brand new IBM Pentium 4, and since my Cox HSI was the only non-functioning program, I chose not to embrace his diagnosis. Instead I tried the one thing he did NOT suggest I do. I unhooked and reconnected the cables and - ta da! -- connectivity.

Running Late

I woke at twenty minutes to eight this morning. That is not good since I am usually up by five-thirty and at work by seven. Luckily, I don't have to be at work until eight, at which time I am to be standing in front of my class line, saluting the flag with my students. I flew out of bed and raced through the house doing all of my essential morning things. I ran through the shower, brushed two of my teeth, jumped into whatever clothes were handy, ran around in circles looking first for my shoes, then for my keys -- and finally dove into my car and shot for school. At school the parkinglot was full. As I circled looking for a spot, I saw my class standing on the playground in their regulation stright line -- too straight. I looked again. The principal was with them -- probably asking where their teacher was. None of the other classes remained on the playground. I parked in the furtherest parking space from the school and ran for my classroom. Of course the gate was locked. I had to dig through my purse for the keys. As I ran through the hall -- clearly forbidden -- the bell rang and I woke. Yep. Woke. It was my alarm. The time was five-thrity a.m., and I was so exhausted from all the hurry, worry and stress I could barely bring myself to leave my bed. Worst of all -- I had to get ready for work all over again. Bleh. _______ Some Blogger News: My sister, Jackie, has been found alive and well in Iowa. Check out her post at Jackie's Garden. And Tom, of Tom's Rhetoric, known to many as Just Tom, master of creativilty and eloquence, is making his guest appearance at Belle of the Brawl today. He's got some very interesting things to say. Go by Sentational Sar's place and check them out.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wordless Wednesday -- part 2

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Quilldancer found buried treasure

Inside the hearts of every man
'What will your Headline be?' at

Monday, October 23, 2006

Testing Patience

Last Friday my reading class finished the big nasty quarter final reading placement test. I teach 5th graders who are reading at a 3rd grade level and I am supposed to be helping them catch up to grade level toot-sweet. This is something I have a history of doing well. So, imagine my surprise this weekend as I graded the tests and found my kids -- all most everyone of them -- testing at a pre-K reading level. What the F--! See, this is what teachers know -- some kids will fail. Most kids will not. If the whole class fails then the flaw is either in the test, or the teacher. We use a national test with years of research behind it. Not only that -- I have used this test successfully in the past. Rationally, that means the fault has to be mine. I worried that "fault" bone off and on all weekend. What did I do wrong? Why did I fail? Maybe it's time for me to find another line of work ... This morning I went into work an hour early. Once again I sat down with the test. I regraded several of them -- the results did not change. Then I studied the answer sheet -- standard scantron. No surprises there. I looked at the test. I have given it several times, so I was looking to see if it had changed. All was the same. That was when I decided to check Ilsa's answers and try to get some idea of what she must have been thinking. I had expected her to get the highest grade in the class, but she scored lowest. When I compared her scantron sheet to the questions, I found that for the most part, Ilsa had chosen the same answers I would have -- that means that I just scored at a pre-K reading level, too. I found those results highly suspect. That was when I finally picked up my scoring mask and looked at it. I had given the 5th grade, 1st quarter test, but was provided the 5th grade, 4th quarter scoring mask to check it with -- little wonder we all failed. I went in search of the Reading Coordinator, obtained the necessary correction mask and many apologies, and re-scored all the tests. Phew! My students aren't coming along quite as quickly as I'd hoped, but neither are they regressing -- better yet, I am not reading at pre-K level.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Picnic Hide-n-Go-Seek

Church Picnic Update: Well, I called a friend for directions to this park I'd never heard of, because I have been driving past it's supposed location for ten years and have never seen it. My friend says, "Do you know where Freedom Park is?" Excited, I say, "Yes!" Friend responds. "Well, that's not where they're having it, but I really think they should, because everyone already knows where that is." Moving right along -- the next person I ask tells me it is in plain sight and he doesn't know why I've never seen it before. He confidently tells me exactly where it is. I drive there and it isn't. No park. Nada. There is a gymnastics studio, a parkinglot and a community center. No park. I drove around the block to the South -- very scary neighborhood, gutted, burned out cars and listing, windowless houses. No park -- and I wouldn't have stopped had there been one. So, I drove around the block to the North. The neighborhood was a tiny bit better, these listing houses had windows, and although ancient, none of the cars were gutted or smoldering. [Blocks in Las Vegas are a mile square, I did not venture off the main roads and into these neighborhoods.] I drove several blocks to a better neighborhood, pulled into the parkinglot of a 7-11 and used my cell phone to call yet another friend. She said that at the rear of the parkinglot between the gymnastics building and the community center I would find a lovely park, and that I should drive to the cluster of helium balloons, for there I would find the church picnic. She was quite right. I did find the church picnic and the park was truly gorgeous. I had no idea those huge buildings were hiding such a glorious green wonder in the midst of this concrete city. Oh, the other friend who told me the park was in plain sight? He came in about a half-hour after I did -- delivering the grills for our meal. He was sorry to be so late, but he couldn't find the park. Despite the confusion it really was a lovely day. The temperature made it to 76 degrees. The chicken wings, hamburgers and teriyaki beef kabobs were all yummy. Oh! So was the salmon and the mediterranean salad, the potato salad, the fresh watermelon, and about 6 different deserts I didn't sample -- not even my own brownies -- which the youth group made very short work of. All-in-all we nibbled and chomped and tasted for almost 2 hours! My next meal will be breakfast -- maybe.

Beautiful Sunday

The sun is shining. The sky is blue. It is currently 66 degrees outside and a high of 74 is predicted. I am off to the park for the Pastor Appreciation picnic. Burgers and hot dogs will be grilled. Volleyball and Frisbee will be played, and fun will be had.


The Fright Feast was wonderful, but Saturday found me scratchy voiced and suffering a sore throat. All that cackling and screaming took it's toll. The black fingernail polish came right off my nails, but it has stained my cuticles, so my fingernails look filthy. The black hairspray proved to be a bit more permanent than the can implied. It took forever to wash it out of my hair and ears. I finally gave up on soap and water for my ears, and used a couple of alcohol swabs from the first aid kit. That finally did the trick. Now, if only my hair didn't look so dingy. I don't want to use alcohol on it, so my blonde is a dull shade of gray.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Autumn Fest Fright Feast

I just got home from Autumn Fest, and the question has been answered. If you recall, I was wondering if I was a creepy storyteller, or a storyteller who told creepy stories -- and the answer is a resounding YES! I spray painted my hair black, drenched myself in white pancake makeup, drew red-rimmed black circles around my eyes, applied black lipstick and a generous amount of red cherry syrup blood to my chin, neck and throat; then lead a rather macabre dinner party. On the menu was fresh beating heart, finger sandwiches containing fingers (of course), eyeball salad, fresh bread with spiced blood sauce, and boiled brain. As my guests sat at this feast I introduced my various children: Julia Child-Eater, our chef; Headless Nick, my clumsy son who accidently decapitated himself, yet still managed to help capture dinner; Rachill Raybidous who choked to death on an ankle bone (I always told her she should tear the feet off the babies before eating their legs, but that girl never did listen to her mother. She isn't here tonight and I hope for your sake [shine penlight on smallest girl-child in the room] she doesn't show up); and my youngest son, Jaws, who hunts with a chainsaw and can catch any two legged prey [shine penlight on some boy in the audience] and have it on your plate before it's heart stops beating [shine penlight on the beating heart on the meat platter]. As my monologue comes to a close I tell my guests the feast is about to begin, then suggest they sit back in their chairs and prepare -- to be eaten! Muhahahahahaha! I jump out of my chair cackling like a demented witch, Julia comes charging in with a huge, bloody meat cleaver, two black robed figures sneak up on people in the dark and grab them, and Jaws appears with a roaring chainsaw and starts chasing screaming children. We performed the show 10 times in just under three hours. My throat hurts. My demented witch cackle now sounds more like a croaking frog with laryngitis, and I am pleasantly exhausted. There were some memorable terrified child moments -- like the kid who tried to climb his dad's face and used Dad's top lip for a hand grip. The child that left screaming when the stobelight hit me and I breathed, "Welcome to my dinner party ..." and followed with a maniacal laugh. And the kid -- one of my students last year -- who, when I towered over him while laughing like a fiend, stood up, put his arms around me in a hug and said, "Hi, Ms. A., I've missed you." I think my all time favorite moment was when "Julia's" second grade daughter freaked out. Following her mother's instinct "Julia" went to comfort her -- only problem was, she had a 12 inch machete gleaming in blood, wore clothes splattered in blood, and had on a hideous grey pancake makeup. Her daughter was less than comforted when that "mommy" reached for her. All in all the night was a resounding $ucce$$.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Squirrel in a Cage

7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday, work 4:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Friday afternoon, Autumn Fest [school carnival] 9 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning, Sidewalk Sunday School's season opener 1:00 p.m. until ?, Saturday afternoon, 5th grade teacher's planning conference Sunday 9:15 a.m. church Sunday 1:00 p.m. church, Pastor Appreciation potluck picnic Blogtime -- hit and miss

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Thick Air

I was standing in front of my class today talking to them about rounding numbers. I stepped backward to use the whiteboard and fell. One second I was standing. The next I was staring at the cealing. The only explanation I have for this is thick air. Somebody dropped a chunk of it on the floor and I fell over it.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Being God

All fifth grade students at our school keep check registers. They earn "credits" for good behavior and are assessed "debits" for bad behavior. Today as we came in from lunch I asked the class to get ready for Science. Most of them were so excited about the idea (not) that they continued their recess chatter and generally got ready for nothing. Four students did get their science materials out. I called their names and told them to add $5.00 to their checkbook registers. I said their reason for transaction column should read "ready to learn." Mo raised his hand. "Ms. A.," he said. "I don't know how to spell ready. Can I just write, 'being good?'" I went to the board and wrote r-e-a-d-y. Mo got a funny look on his face. "What?" I asked. He held out his paper. "I already wrote the other in ink. I didn't know how to spell ready." I looked down at his paper and couldn't help laughing. He had written, "Beeing god, paidment $5.00." Either Mo is seriously spelling challenged, or God is in the fifth grade this year and failing language arts.

Kentucky Fried Afternoon

Some days you're the windshield; Some days you're the bug. I went to work this morning without my lunch. That wouldn't have been too bad, but I'd elected to skip breakfast and was rather hungry by lunch time. I decided that my forgetfulness deserved rewarding, so I hopped in the car for the three block commute to KFC. Since I rarely eat anything fried these days, I decided to treat myself to extra crispy chicken strips and a diet Pepsi. This is the good part -- the lady gave me twice as much food as she was supposed to, but only charged me for the amount I ordered. She gave me 6 chicken strips instead of three, and she gave me twice as much pop. Now, the two containers of chicken strips made my lunch mates happy, because I, of course, shared. The twice as much diet Pepsi thing was a problem though, because she only gave me the one cup. It went like this: "Here's your pop, Ma'am," said the teller as she thrust her arm out the window. She pressed into my hand a medium soda cup trying to hold a large serving of pop. The wonderfully cold and sticky stuff ran down my arm and soaked into my shirt cuff. "Urrrrgh!" I explained eloquently to the teller. "Oh! I'm so sorry!" She exclaimed, then pressed a -- a -- as in one -- napkin into my hand. "Have a nice day, Ma'am!" Uhm, have a nice day? She'd pressed the napkin into my hand that was still suspended out the window -- the one holding the soda -- and in doing so launched another wave of cold syrup down my arm. The good news is, my shirt cuff was already soaked. The bad news is, the soda rolled right past it and on down to my elbow, where it drip, drip, dripped into my lap. I tripped the pop cup the slightest bit to pour some of the pop out, while fishing in the food sack for another napkin. There was one, barely postage stamp sized. I used it to wipe off the cup. I pulled the cup into my car and placed it gently in the cup holder. Then I put my car in gear and eased onto Las Vegas Blvd. I had to make a 45 degree turn to get back onto the street to my school. The turn launched a wave of pop down my left leg. By that point, the cup should have been pretty well empty, but when I got to school and put the straw into the cup, it launched another wave -- but I was standing over the sink, so it mattered not. The most joyous part of the experience was pealing my clothes back off my body every few minutes for the rest of the day. Oh, and being asked over and over and over again, "Do you know you have a stain on your shirt?" Since it ran from the cuff of my left sleeve to the waistband of my pants, the answer should have been obvious. For that reason my most frequent response was, "No! Where?" A couple of people actually found it necessary to point it out to me.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I'm Mean, & I Tattle, Too.

I have 20 kids in my reading class. Everyday I try to read one-on-one with 4 or 5 of them. While I am listening to their peers read, the remainder of the class has assignments to complete. They should be busy and productive, but it doesn't always happen. There was a considerable amount of off task behavior in one of my reading quartets today. After a while I grew tired of reprimanding them. Me: Okay, gentlemen, since you've had recess all thorugh reading class, you can come back and finish your work at lunch time. Rico: Yes, Miss. Vincent: Yes, Miss. Richard: Yes, Miss. Kurt: I don't want to. Me: Tough. Kurt: Give me another chance. Me: You've already had six. Kurt: But I want recess. Me: You just had it. Kurt: I'm not coming. Me [shrugging]: I can't make you, but what are you going to say to Mr. F. when he asks why you didn't show up?" Kurt [bugged eyed]: Who's telling him? Me: Me. Kurt [slumping in his seat and mumbling]: Tattler. Me: Did you say something? Kurt [sitting up straight and smiling]: I want to apologize for playing in class. Me: Thank you, I appreciate that. Kurt: Can I go to recess? Me: Nice try. Kurt [slumped in his chair and mumbling again]: Mean tattler.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Precious Memories

After reading my, Cruella, story on, The Grownups Wanted Us Dead, my sister Caryl commented that the Cruella head worked fine during the day, but it didn't keep the kids from coming into my room at night to sleep with me. Actually, the only kid that came into my room at night to sleep with me was Lenny, and he was escaping something much worse than a disembodied head -- a wet bed. I am, and have always been, a very sound sleeper. That's the excuse I am giving for replaying this scene too many times: Little baby Lenny would enter my room in the middle of the night and pat my face with his tiny, baby hand, then he would say, "Auntie Charwene, Auntie Charwene, can I sweep wif you?" I always whipped the covers back and helped him crawl into the bed, where he would flop down and slap a cold, wet diaper on my thigh. An automatic flex of my leg would immediately send him flying back out onto the floor. He landed wailing pitifully, "Why'd you poosh me?" That would finally wake me. His tear stained face and sad little eyes always broke my heart. I'd pick him up, apologize, clean him up, and we'd both go back to bed all dry and comfy. And cuddly -- kind of like this memory.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


For those that do not know: my sister, Caryl, has "rules." One of her rules is, If I call you, you don't say 'what?' or 'coming.' You show up -- now. She also, always, had a house full of kids -- her own, the neighbor's, and a whole twittering Blue Bird Troop flapping around -- usually all at once. The only teenager in the house, all I wanted was a little privacy.
I present my latest story, Cruella, in honor of my beloved sister, Caryl and her three adorable children Kellie Lynn, Kennth, Jr. and Leonard. You may read it on, The Grownups Wanted Us Dead.

Odds and Ends

To those who envy my patience: I earned mine the hard way. Get your own. To those who marvel at my ability to out think the kids: They're only ten .... I have several years worth of experience on them (though not necessarily maturity, and that is the true secret to my success). It is a rainy weekend here in Las Vegas. Although my heart isn't broken, I've been singing: Rhythm of the Rain Transport your ears to 1963 and listen to The Cascades, while your eyes suffer here reading this 5x5 Meme Melli made me make .... Five Minutes to yourself. How would you spend them ideally? - reading Brooke's blog - reading Cindra's blog - reading in Jackie's Garden - at Doug's or Tom's or Rob's or Charlie's - sneaking chocolate Five Dollars to spend right now. How or where would you spend it? - Starbucks mocha latte - a good book - another good book - yet another good book - tacos del carbon Five Items in your house you could part with right now? - an ancient computer* - shower stall** - my oven** - cupboards** - carpets** Five Items in your house you absolutely, positively could never part with? - my pets - my CPAP - my photographs - my computer - my prayer table Five Words (or phrases) you love? - "I love you!" - "You have mail, Madame." - "Oh, I get it!" - "God Rocks!" - "Meow" ____ *not the one I'm using **providing they were replaced with better

Friday, October 13, 2006

Silent Sustained Reading

Silent Sustained Reading is supposed to be silent, and everyone in the classroom, including the teacher, is supposed to be reading his or her book of choice. Patrick is struggling with the concept. Me: Patrick, please be quiet. Patrick: Yes, Miss. Me [several minutes later]: Patrick -- please be quiet! Patrick: Yes, Miss. Me [several minutes later]: Patrick! Please be quiet! Patrick: Yes, Miss. Me [several minutes later]: Patrick! Patrick: Yes, Miss? Me: What part of "please be quiet" don't you understand? Patrick [grinning]: Well, I've always had trouble with Q's. Me [shaking my head]: Well, then I guess this is your lucky day. [I picked up a dictionary and dropped it on his desk] Pick ten Q words for your spelling test next Friday. Patrick: Oh, no Miss. Never mind. [holds the dictionary out toward me] I'm fine with Q. Me [smiling, hand extended as though I'm really going to take the dictionary]: I see. You want me to pick ten for you? Patrick [jerks dictionary back to his chest]: No Miss! I'll pick. Me: Have the list on my desk in ten minutes. Silence for about three minutes, then Patrick starts talking again. Me: Patrick, have you brought me that list of twenty words yet? Several snickers echo through the classroom, but Patrick remains very, very quiet.

Classroom Management

In my classroom kids always have choices. For instance: they can stop taping their pencils or I can throw their fingers away. Every year the first time I offer these choices to a child some fool always asks, "How are you going to throw my fingers away?" I stop, focus all my attention on that child, stare at him (it is always a him) in silence for ten seconds, then softly ask, "Are you volunteering to be the first person to find out?" It is a very effective question. Every year my students leave my classroom with the same number of fingers they entered with, and I don't have to listen to tapping pencils. When the kids have some silly sort of accident -- the oops kind, not the "you could have killed somebody" kind -- I generally greet their confession with the question, "Do you want me to beat you now or later?" Fifth graders are always quick to choose later. I then respond, "Okay, but I'll forget, so be sure to remind me later." Yeah, right lady. Well, because of my sarcasm I work best with older kids. For some reason little kids tend to cry when someone threatens to cut off their fingers. Go figure. Despite that fact, a couple of years ago some brilliant soul gave me a third grade reading class. Some third graders are evolved enough to get sarcasm. Most aren't. As I gathered the papers from their first homework assignment one little boy walked up to me obviously trembling. He said, "Ms. A., I didn't understand question 2, but I did all the rest of the paper." I treated him the same way I would have treated a 5th grader. I smiled at him -- I smiled -- then I asked, "Okay, Sweety, do you want me to beat you now or later?" His eyes widened. His trembling increased and I saw him swallow. Then, in a tiny wobbling voice he said, "Now I guess. It's worse when you have to wait." That kid is in my 5th grade class this year. We went through the "do you want me to beat you exchange" yesterday without a hitch. This morning he arrived and asked if I had time to beat him now. He stood staring at me with a smirk on his face. The whole class was quiet as they waited for my reaction. I stared back at him with a smirk on my face (thinking frantically). Finally I shook my head. "Too much trouble," I said. "And way too messy." Then I picked his smart self up and put him in the garbage can. "That was easier. Marcel, take the garbage out." I think this is going to be an interesting year.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Behind ....

Help! I'm running and I can't catch up!
Time to stop trying. Carry on without me. See you tomorrow! Z Z Z Z Z Z Z

I'm Hired ....

More late nights at school. We are gearing up for our big money maker, the Autumn Fest. We have fall carnival type thing with mid-way games and lots of food. Last year I worked the fish pond and pulled in tons of bucks from my former students who could all do the math much better than they could toss the ball. Glad I'm not a P.E. Teacher .... (sorry Mr. R. & Mr. T.). We had our first Autumn Fest planning session last night and someone suggested I be given the "Creepy Storyteller" job. There was a ripple of excitement in the room and several choruses of, "Oh! She'd be perfect." Now I am left to wonder if my storytelling fame has grown to epic proportions, or of they just think I'm creepy ....

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More Potty Posting

Here's something very few people know about teachers -- our bladders punch a time clock. We are not allowed to go to the bathroom whenever the urge hits. How could we be? We are alone for the most part of the day in a room full of children. Leaving the children unattendind is not an option. Despite what all parents seem to think, the little darlings don't behave if we take our eyes off of them -- and many don't behave even when we're looking right at them. If I forget to go to the bathroom before the 8 a.m. bell, I have to wait until 10:10 a.m. when my reading class leaves. At that time I have approximately 2 minutes to use the bathroom and get back to my door before the kids lining up there realize they are unsupervised. There are 56 other teachers in the school running for that same bathroom at the same time. My next offical break is 11:20 a.m., lunchtime. My daily prep period follows lunch, so I am without students until 12:40 p.m. I pick my students up then and don't get another break until 2:45 p.m. when I take them to music and go to my daily professional development class. After my class I pick them up from music and walk them to the gate for dismissal. At 3:35 p.m. the final bell rings. I wave good-bye to the darlings. At that point my bladder is off the clock and can once again resume setting it's own schedule.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Swing Shift

There I was sitting at the red light minding my own business -- mostly. I did look over at the SUV in the emergency lane. It was an Escalade. Stepping out of the driver's side was one scruffy looking dude. A stylin' brunette came around the front of the vehicle. She had a flat brown, something, in her hands. She kissed scruffy lookin' dude, got in the driver's seat and closed the door. Scruffy-Lookin'-Dude was left with the brown "something." He walked to the top of the exit ramp and held up the "something." Only then did I realize that he was reporting for "work." As the light changed and I drove away I caught the word "hungry" on the sign. I work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., yet a beggar manages to drive a car with monthly payments equavilent to my rent payments. What is wrong with this picture?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Imperical Evidence

Transcript of a conversation I had with a child this morning whose brother, Jaime, was in my class two years ago: Me: Isreal, where's your homework? Isreal: At home. Me: Why? Isreal [with a shrug and a grin]: Because it's homework? Me [nodding]: I see the problem. Let's call it recess work then. I'll give you another paper and you can stay in and finish it. Isreal [bug-eyed]: I'll bring it tomorrow! Me [shaking my head]: Sorry, kid, too late. Isreal [slumping into seat and mumbling]: Jaime told me it wouldn't work.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I Will Never Learn

It happened again. I spoke to a stranger at the store. When am I going to learn to keep my mouth shut? I shared a ten second polite exchange with a slovenly stranger in the electronics department, and he followed me through the next three isles telling me about his personal life. This is what I learned: He is single dad who home schools because there are no decent public school teachers. His job is internet related and he works from home. He was purchasing a VCR deck and a third TV because on Wednesday night there are three different shows on three different channels at the same time and he needs to be able to record the two he's not watching. He watches his recorded programs during the day while he's working and his three kids are doing their lessons. In a nutshell (nut being the operative word): neither his business, his children, nor the TV rate his undivided attention, but I do. Sigh.

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This week's excerpt from: The Grownups Wanted Us Dead: The Library I wanted to go to the library. That didn't seem like too much to ask, but [sic] in an unusual stroke of bad luck, Gram didn't give in to my whining. She ordered me to go outside and find something to do. Walking to the library is something to do, right? I grabbed my books and my little plastic library card and away I went.
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I have also posted a new poem on: Bits of Me in Poetry

Post 201

I started my very first blog on Thursday, June 1. My first two comments came from my long-time friend, Tina, and Doug the Dawg. Now I visit Doug's site daily. Back then I was too intimidated to even thank him for his comment. I mean, I popped over to do so, but he had close to 70 witty comments. What did he need with poor green me? By Tuesday, June 27th, I'd picked up a few commenters -- most of whom are still hanging around today. In July my blog was pretty much taken over by my cats, and readership blossomed (if you missed them and want to read those Cat tales, see the link in the lefthand sidebar). I also shared my first, Wordless Wednesday. In August I introduced poetry, and held the Liar's Contest. The contest was bold and shameless -- which only goes to figure since they were liars. Cheating was highly encouraged and wildly embraced. August also brought me my own winning fame when I participated in my first, Caption Contest, at Sar's, Belle of the Brawl. August also brought the beginning of school and the sharing of my Three #1 Rules. My readers had some problem with the concept of three #1's, but 5th graders seldom do. September brought my family to blogging: my niece, Cindra Jo, followed rapidly by her sister (also my niece), Brooke, Cindra's husband, Tom, and Cindra's and Brooke's mother (one of my sisters), Jackie. So far October has brought me to post 201 and all of you. Thank you for making me welcome here and fitting me into your time. You are -- each and every one of you -- a blessing and a joy.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

7 Songs

I ordered my niece, Brooke, to tag me, and being an obedient child, she did. 7 of My Fav Songs, and why I like them: #1 The Old Rugged Cross I love this song not just for the memories of standing next to Gram in church and singing, but because when I was six or so years old my teenaged brother and I would sit together near the heat vent from Gram's wood furnace and Harold would sing this song. I remember leaning against his chest and listening to his voice rumble and knowing that God was good and the world was safe. [This version sung by Andy Griffith] #2 Julie, Do You Love Me?, Bobby Sherman I was 11 and he was, sigh, wonderful. (I was afraid if I didn't include it Cindra Jo would tell you all anyway.) #3 Monster Mash, Bobby "Boris" Pickett It appeals to my silly. I teach this to my students every year. #4 Nights in White Satin, Moody Blues First serous love -- need I say more? #5 Heartache Tonight, The Eagles Life was good, out dancing every night, more dates than I knew what to do with -- I was going to live forever. #6 Could I Have This Dance, Anne Murray One of the good memories from my marriage. Michael proposed to me while this song was playing. After that everytime it came on, no matter where we were, we danced to it; even if it meant pulling over and dancing by the side of the road. Some memories stay precious. #7 Here I Am, Lord, Dan Shutte This song and an incredible speaker, with a bit of help from God, pretty much changed my life. [See: Sidewalk Sunday School] Post 200

Friday, October 06, 2006

Rico's Riot

My reading class is comprised of second language learners who are all 5th graders currently reading at a 3rd grade level. It is my job to bring them up to speed as quickly as possible. To do that I facilitate small group and whole group vocabulary discussions. This week we've been reading a story about a Russian immigrant. At the word chuzpah all reading came to a screeching halt. Twenty hands flew into the air. As a group we reread the paragraph and talked about what was happening, how the characters felt, and what kind of words we might use to describe someone who had just done something similar. The kids used words like brave, courageous, daring, dangerous, and even silly. I told them that the word chuzpah pretty much covered all those things, at which point Rico, excited, piped up with, "Oh! I get it! Cahones!" There was a collective gasp. Rico froze, his mouth and eyes open wide. Briza slapped both hands over her mouth, her eyes even wider than Rico's as she fell from her chair laughing. Except for Rico, the rest of the class followed suit. I stared at Rico. He stared at me. Slowly, I nodded my head. I said, "I think cahones just about covers it, Kid." Then Rico fell out laughing, too. I may have even grinned a bit myself. It's a sure bet they are never going to forget the meaning of the word chuzpah.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Return to Routine

It's raining it's pouring! And the desert is wet! Yay! myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics Today I returned to the gym. I haven't gone since school started. The first week of school I was too exhausted at the end of the day. Then I re-injured my knee and could barely walk, let alone exercise. By the time my knee healed I was liking my new lazy routine. Shame on me. I probably wouldn't have returned to the gym today, but on Tuesday one of the teachers on my team mentioned the gym. I asked her what time she went -- right after school -- and I suggested we go together. Since I was scheduled to lead the Wednesday night prayer and praise service at church, tonight was the first night we attended together. I weighed in to see how much damage I'd done during my month and a half absence. I actually lost 1.5 pounds. Okay, maybe it isn't a major accomplishment, but hey, it is better than gaining. I didn't do the tape measure thing. The scales were traumatic enough. I stretched in, made three trips around the circuit -- talking all the while -- and stretched out. I didn't raise my heart beat more than 21/10, but I still think I did pretty well for my first day back. Now, let's see how I feel about tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What I Teach

To set this scene I need to tell you, there are six large tables in my room. I do not teach with desks. That said: Monday in my classroom I modeled test taking strategies whole group. Tuesday in my classroom I modeled them again and had the kids work in groups of four or five. Today I modeled them again and instructed the students to work in pairs. They had a science passage to read and ten questions to answer. I told them that before they marked their answer sheet they had to highlight their support for that answer in the reading passage. They went to work and I moved from pair to pair listening, prompting and/or redirecting. I had to repeat the directions in the first three groups I visited. Finally I asked for the class' attention and snapped, "I am repeating the directions one more time. Pay attention. This is the same assignment we did yesterday and the day before. All of my teaching is just waisted breath if you aren't going to listen." Then I repeated the directions, sent them back to work and continued monitoring partners. I stopped at one team where there seemed to be some tension. "What's wrong?" I asked. Jake replied, "Izzy says the answer is A and I say the answer is B." "Well," I asked, "Can either of you prove your answer is true?" "I can," Jake said. "He pointed to a section in paragraph five which he had highlighted. "Right here it says that rain, hail and snow are forms of precipitation. That means the answer has to be B." I asked Izzy to defend his answer. Izzy mumbled that he couldn't find his answer anywhere on the paper. I reminded them that they needed to check all the possible answers, directed them to continue and said I'd be right back. I circled the room and checked on a few other groups, then returned to Jake and Izzy. "What did you decide?" I asked. "Jake is right," mumbled Izzy. "Is that what you marked on your paper?" I asked because Izzy hadn't marked anything at all. "No," he said. "I can't remember where Jake said the answer was and he won't tell me again." I tapped on Jake's paper. "You two are partners. You help Izzy. Remember, you are both sharing the same grade." Jake grumbled okay, and scooted his paper over near Izzy's. He pointed, said, "Right here in paragraph five it says ...." He started to read aloud and I turned toward the pair of students at the other end of the table. No sooner was my back turned then Jake, very peeved, said, "If you're not going to highlight this, why am I wasting my breath?" I had already made eye contact with Mona and we both heard Jake loud and clear. I know my face looked very startled. Apparently Mona read my thoughts because, with the tiniest smile on her face, she nodded her head ever so slightly and said, "He sounds just like you." Didn't he, though? Sigh

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Well Greased Wit

I stopped on the way home last night to pay my rent. The office has been redone: new beige carpet; fancy pink and beige chairs -- very nice. The manager was on the phone so I sat in one of the chairs to await my receipt. A man walked in. He looked more like a mechanic's grease rag than a mechanic. He said he'd come straight from work to sign his lease. The manager, craddling the phone on her shoulder and writing on a note pad with her right hand, waved a stack of papers at the fellow with her left. "I've been expecting you," she said. "Read the papers. Initial wherever you see yellow highlighting." She swiveled her chair to hang up the phone. "You can just have a seat at the table." She looked up at the guy for the first time, took in his greasy attire and added in a squeak, "But don't touch anything!" The fellow looked at the pink and beige chair. He looked at the table. He winked at me, then he turned to the manager. "Since I haven't learned to levitate yet," he said. "Is it okay if I just stand?"

Monday, October 02, 2006

After Midnight Contemplations

I didn't sleep well last night. The weather is cooling, so I had the air conditioner off and once again I heard the world beyond the whir. Last night it was a pack of barking dogs, screeching tires from the boulevard, and the neighbor's rumbling pick up. Most of the sounds only caused a brief break in my sleep, but one of them took me back to another time. About 2:30 a.m. a rumbling pick up pulled up outside and backed into the driveway next door. That sound made me instantly nervous and nauseous. It is kind of funny in a sad sort of way, because I haven't had reason to fear that sound for over 15 years. My exhusband used to drive a rumbling pick up, and on the nights he drank -- most nights as our marriage neared it's end -- he didn't come home until about 2:00 a.m., and he always came home drunk, loud and obnoxious. When I woke to last night's rumbling pick up, I saw the time and instantly became a different person, living in a different state, enduring a different life. I tensed, waiting for the sound of a key in the lock; waiting for the lights to blaze on, waiting for the yelling to start. Of course it didn't happen. In truth I probably only spent a few seconds expecting it. I spent a much longer time contemplating who I am now, and how much better my life is. But still I wonder how I ever ended up in that other life in the first place, and whether I will ever trust my own judgement again. Just a couple of years ago, after realizing I had made yet another poor choice in men, I told a friend of mine, "This is what my life has taught me: any man I am interested in is obviously not good mate material. I need to find someone I can't stand. He would probably treat me right."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Well House

For those of you who follow, The Grownups Wanted Us Dead, a new post is up. Oh, and even though there's water there, you'll definately want to have a drink before heading to: The Well House. Excerpt:

The well on my Uncle's farm was not the standard rock-walled, shake-roofed, cute-little-bucket type well. It was a hole in the ground. A very deep hole filled to the brim with shimmering water and adorable little frogs .....