We just finished the third full week of school It was a good week, filled with the usual laughs, praises, productivity and exhaustion, lol.
I find that I prefer a regular schedule. I do not mind doing the same thing over and over, each day, and in the same way. It gives me comfort. This week I went to a movie after school with a friend and then went out to dinner. We had a great time. But I still prefer to go home after school each day. I enjoy my Saturday routine of cleaning and then writing, and Sunday's routine of worship at church then cooking in the afternoon, interspersed with a nap. I don't know why I adhere to a routine so strongly, but it works for me and I'm going with it.
I'm watching the Outer Banks beach cam and the surf is pretty high. The camera is plastered with salt and rain and rocking back and forth in the wind, so the picture is blurry but the general state of things is clear enough. Hurricane. I hope the people along the Eastern seaboard heed the officials' warnings. Hurricanes are nothing to fool with. And parsing the Category 1 or Category 2 is nothing to fool with either. People say, 'Oh it's 'only' a category 1 so I'll just stay right here in my beachhouse on stilts and ride it out...' That is a foolish thing to do.
Category One Hurricane Barbara in 1953 left one dead and damages over $1 million in 1953 U.S. dollars. Hurricane Stan in 2005 was a Category One storm but the heavy rains it produced resulted in a deadly toll. Unofficially, as of this time, there have been up to 1,500 deaths in Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica from that Category One storm. Officially, there have been 796 deaths. Hurricane Katrina came ashore in Florida as a Category One hurricane and we all know what happened after that. She strengthened to become one of the worst hurricanes on record in terms of deaths and damage. Officials are worried about Hurricane Irene's rains and flooding capabilities, so please be careful out there and heed the warnings.
I put some more Maine photos on my Facebook photo albums and some friends with whom I work complimented me on them. It is fun to see Maine through their eyes. Maine IS a beautiful state, with many things to recommend it. I particularly love the wildness of the foggy coast, and I do miss seeing it quite a bit. I think I'll put up some more photos later, and re-visit my old state via pictures.
The weekend is here and I am thinking of what to cook for my workweek lunches. I think this week's main dish will be corn chowder, along with corn muffins, and granola bars. I've made casseroles three weeks in a row and now it is time for some soup!
I don't know why I like these, I just do. I've posted the egg pic on this blog before but I pot it again because it intrigues me. Maybe the notion of the spilled out egg, no longer of use, and the different heather flowers at various stages of their life have a synchronicity. Maybe the synchronicity is only in my head. But that's OK. I see it.
Today I made a kid with a skinned knee laugh. I got to relieve a kid's fear of a test and help them relax. I got to give a hug to a lonely kid. I got to say 'I love you' to a troubled one. I got to encourage a struggling child and praise a successful one. I tied shoes, opened milk, passed back papers. I zipped backpacks, issued reminders to wash hands and plucked tissues for runny noses.
I did not solve the global economic crisis. I did not earn fame for a stunning new novel nor cause waves in the celebrity world just for being me. I had no paparazzi follow me nor did I star on a billboard. I had no calls to speak at a conference, nor did I balance a budget or quell a riot.
My labors today were mundane, anonymous, and wonderfully satisfying.
I had a great day. The kids made me laugh so hard. In one small group I was hosting, they got done with their math and for the last 3 minutes I said they could play with their manipulatives. We had been counting with little plastic puppies. One boy set them all in a good sized circle, and put one puppy in the middle, and two others were chasing each other around the outside of the circle. I said, "What are you playing?" He said "Duck Dick Goose!"
I get annoyed at the adults of the world. I watch Judge Judy sometimes when I get home. I see adult after adult live off of welfare, tell the Judge that they don't have work, never worked, don't want to work... They lay around their parents' home watching tv...or doing much of nothing. I see this kind of attitude reflected in quotes from people in the newspaper, I see adults in real life being lazy. It's a problem, these adults who slack. It's annoying. Even of the many who do work (and are blessed these days to have a job), they don't have a lot of 'go get um' attitude. Slacking is an art form these days.
I watch these kids, though. They are five years old, entering school for the first time. School is a huge building populated with really tall adults, lots of walking by them really fast. There are tons of kids they don't know. There are dozens of routines, and hundreds of tasks they must accomplish each day. They miss their mommies. They miss their daddies. But most of them, you know, try hard. They work. And most of them are cheerful about it.
I so respect these kids. It really would be similar to an adult's 18 hour day, what we ask them to absorb, and obediently too. For the ones who struggle, they smile and giggle with me as we count the dots over and over and over, or say the alphabet over and over and over. They work. And I respect them all for it.
And on top of the privilege I have to help kids, they make me laugh too.
I had a quiet Sunday. I made my usual meals for the week, this time, pressing and marinating tofu for later grilling, fig compote, a marinated tomato salad for putting on crusty bruschetta tomorrow, and a hearty vegetable soup. Strangely, after all that, I'm not hungry and I'm just sipping a large mug of green tea now.
It was relaxing and nice day with the cats. The cats have had a hard time adjusting this week to my absence, with school resuming and me gone now all day. I was glad to spend a little cuddle time with them on the bed or on the couch.
It sure was a tiring week. Getting back to school hits like a ton of bricks. The kindergarteners are great though. On Friday morning as I was walking the line of them down the hall from the gym to their classrooms, one little guy turned and looked up at me and looked at my summer short sleeved sweater. He had questions.
Is that a sweater you have on?
Yes Are you wearing anything under it?
Pause. How best to answer that one. ... This sweater IS the shirt. Oh.
Pause. Then: Why do you have to walk us down the hall? I can go by myself.
I laughed inside. The little one asking me this is exactly the one who should NEVER be allowed to go anywhere down the hall by himself, being so active and curious. I could just see him going into the custodian's closet and turning on all the faucets just to see what would happen.
Because it is important an adult go with all the little kids. But I know my way.
I'm proud of you for knowing that already, but grownups still need to be around. Why?
Because I love you and I like seeing you. Oh! OK.
I really admire the curious ones, and I like the ones who stand up for themselves and insist on good answers to good questions (without being disrespectful). I also like simply talking with kids. They are interesting.
Well, my weekend is almost over and I get to talk with a bunch more of the little kids tomorrow. I can't wait to see what they have to say!
I'm still learning cool things about the south. Though I've lived here just about five years now, there is still so much to learn about this interesting section of the country. I was at a friend's house Sunday night and as we arrived for fun he handed out a bag of maypops to us all, some toothpicks, markers, and thumbtacks, and said to make something with them. I was told that they are called maypops. I had to learn more about maypops.
"Passiflora incarnata, commonly known as Maypop, Purple passionflower, True passionflower, Wild apricot, and Wild passion vine, is a fast growing perennial vine with climbing or trailing stems. A member of the passionflower genus Passiflora, the Maypop has large, intricate flowers with prominent styles and stamens. One of the hardiest species of passionflower, it is a common wildflower in the southern United States."
The flower is so pretty! I'll have to keep a lookout for them. I was told that when you stomp on the fruit of the passionflower, it pops, hence its name. In the innocent, Andy Griffith Mayberry days, kids would gather them and pop them all day long. Kind of like we do with bubble wrap now. But it's not the same.
You can eat them, though reportedly the maypop fruits are seedy. The leaves are edible too.
We had fun making insects and mini statues with our maypops. Some were lopsided, some were cute. Mine was deemed "interesting." LOL, I'm always the odd one. So I was glad to have learned more about the varied flora and fauna here in Georgia and to have participated in an old-timey fun thing with the natural fruit around here.
In another cute southern thing, at school the next day, I was talking with a couple of friends, and they mentioned the Chicken Express 'Happy Hour.' I was surprised to hear this, because there are a lot of Baptists around here (including me!) who don't drink alcohol (including me!) Turns out, 'Happy Hour' at Chicken Express is half priced sweet tea. Now, don't let anything come between a southerner and his sweet tea!
We started school Friday. Today was the second day with the kids. The kiddos are great! I really like my crew this year. Ha ha, like I don't love them every year. But it's hard to let go of the ones I'd worked with all last year and I miss them, feeling that little pang when I pass them in the hall. Soon enough, though they will be used to their new teacher and their new para-pro and I will have settled in to a routine with my current ones. The educational wheel of life turns.
Someone really nice gave me a huge bag of figs today. My fig tree is not bearing for the second year in a row. Unless I'm just really slow to get out there and pick, and other people are coming along and stripping it clean without me noticing...in any case I never get any figs from it like I did the first year I lived here. So I was thrilled for her to give me the bag. They are plump and great. I really like figs. I just ate a bunch :)
We had our small group faith group Sunday night. These are bible studies held in a home instead of a larger group at church on Sunday evenings. It is the 6th time we've met of our monthly meetings and I'm leading the group in a study. It was very sweet last night. Then as I left the very rural and beautiful home in which we'd met, this sunset greeted me:
Life is pretty good right now. I'm very grateful for my job, my friends, the children I work with, rural sunsets, and for fresh food.