Saturday, August 25, 2012

I hate spider webs

It's not so much the spiders, although I'm not a fan, it's the sticky webs that get me. I don't care if I brush up against one and it only attaches to my shirt and not my skin, I'll still do a dance where I'll look like I'm being electrocuted.

The other day I walked out from my front door to the car and as I got under the tree I saw that my nose was an inch away from making contact with an enormous brown spider, and that my right shoulder had dislodged the anchor strand which extended to the grass underneath. I backed away slowly, distancing myself from the horror of a sticky web, and did the dance to get it off my shirt.

The next day I wisely walked around the tree. However, I had underestimated the anchor strand, and grossly underestimated his tireless nocturnal endeavors, because the web extended beyond the tree and grass underneath it over the walkway thirty feet away! I walked snoot first into a sticky strand, and because it was SO unexpected, I did the dance in double time. By now I'm wondering what the neighbors think.

The next day I left for work in a hurry and shot out the front door at full speed. I remembered the web situation in time, and stopped short. I had a bag of used kitty litter in my hand which was destined for the trash can way over in the spider-free zone, so I started swinging it wildly all around. In front of me, above me, spastically. I hoped that the bag would hold and I wouldn't have ended up spraying kitty litter everywhere. But the web situation was at a higher Def-Con level, so I proceeded with the crazy bag swinging until I got to the car.

The next morning I was prepared. I brought the BROOM out with me. As I walked to the car, swinging the broom in great arcs and sweeps above me and around me like a pinwheel, I looked either like a crazy woman losing her mind, or a taut Warrior Princess swinging my sabre. I rather like to think it was the latter.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Small things can be great things

What a great day. I'm excited about tomorrow. It will be great too. Today I got to comfort a 5-year-old crying from a skinned knee, explain what callouses were to a boy who lives on the monkey bars, offer an ice cream cone to a child who lives a life where 50 cents will always be out of range, teach three alphabet letters and sounds to kids who can't read yet, and explain to a beautiful young girl wearing a feather in her hair why the Native Americans used them while hunting.

You might think that comforting a crying skinned knee child is not much, but to be able to bring a person from pain and tears to laughter inside of three minutes is wonderful. I like seeing the tears dry up and I like knowing I helped someone not be in anguish anymore. Everyone would be satisfied with something great like that.

Teaching the letter "H" to a child may not sound like much, but knowing letters A through H so far means they are on track to unlock the alphabet, which unlocks literacy, which unlocks the world.

Explaining to the boy who had blisters turning to callouses on his fingers what they were and why they were there, not only reduced his heretofore unexpressed anxiety about what was happening to his fingers, (he didn't know and was worried) but he may be an Olympian someday on the gymnastic rings, and I can say I knew him when.

The girl with the feather told me she was going to be an Indian Princess for Halloween. Including the fact about the feather was fun and while I was at it I got to tell her she is beautiful, no small thing for kids these days who are regularly mocked, bullied, ignored, neglected and all manner of things that they may be going through which I don't know about. We practiced walking down the hall regally, waving our hand in a queen-like manner. (And I got to explain the word "regal," heh. An expanded vocabulary is always good thing).

Whether they are for children or adults, small things are big things. Small things don't cost very much and everyone appreciates them. I know I do when my friends do a small, thoughtful thing for me. Imagine the effect on a child.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My starter is a non-starter

I had an all-day meeting in the other building, so none of the kindergartners saw me today until we were lining up for buses. One little guy spotted me. He raised his finger and pointed at me, asking,

Where were you all day yesterday?
I think you mean today.
Today we did math.
Yesterday is the day before today.
Yesterday I played with trains.
OK, well, good to see you too.
Thank you. Can I go to the bathroom?

My car died. It was resurrected with lots of money. Apparently that is all it takes to resurrect a car. What happened was, I drove to school yesterday and all was well. When I left at 3:15 it wouldn't start. I called AAA for a jump. The guy had gotten lost and was given wrong address so it was quite late when he did arrive. Improbably, he arrived in a small Z28 red sports car and even more improbably, he unfolded his wheezing, 6'4" 300 lb frame out of his car and then limped over to my car, explaining his truck was broke and his ankle was sprained. I said, "Oh." He had me try to start my car, and it clicked but didn't turn over, apparently the major clue it was the starter and not the battery. I said "Oh." After fooling around with the car it was 5:00. I took a friend up on her offer of a ride home and left my 1993 Ford Explorer hulk sitting in the school parking lot, to think over his evil, non-starting ways.

Today I got a ride in to school with a friend and went to the training session I'd been scheduled for. At lunch time I called AAA again, this time for a tow. The guy arrived pretty quickly (in 58 minutes) and he backed his truck up to mine to get in position, got out to chain my car up, and that's when his truck stalled. He mumbled something like "not this again", dropped to the ground in what was obviously a well-practiced move, rolled his string bean, jean-clad body under the front wheel-well, jiggled something, and the truck started up again. He returned to chaining up my car. The stop-drop and roll move was performed two more times as his truck stalled and was re-started in this entertaining and unique way.

I watched my car be towed off into the sunset, admiring my frugality in wringing out as many miles as possible from it (215,345 and counting) but wondering if the old dear will now be my albatross money pit. It also occurred to me as my woes were added to the sprained ankle broke truck guy's and the string bean jiggle the truck guy's, that times are so tough we are all really hanging on with dental floss and duct tape.

Be kind to one another. We never know the other guy's troubles. We're in tough times, so we know he's got 'em. Jesus said the Golden Rule is, "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Life with cats

Today is wash the bedspreads and heavy linens day. I took the quilt off the foot of the bed that Bert likes to lay on when he looks out the window. I took away the sham that he likes to lay on by the pillows when he naps. I substituted two temporary towels so the clean bedspread wouldn't get cat hair on it while the other stuff is washing. So naturally he lays down in between the towels ON MY CLEAN BEDSPREAD.

The week is done, let the weekend begin

It has been a fun week. We started school on August 6, but the kids came on August 10. The week just past was the first full, five-day week with the kids. Needless to say, kids AND teachers were exhausted on Friday afternoon. But it was a great opening. And the kids are wonderfully cute and interesting and their personalities sparkle like many facets in a diamond.

I look forward to Friday nights. Saturdays are for catching up on errands and laundry and household tasks and "must do" lists, and Sunday is for the Lord, so Friday night is truly the only "down time" I have. I'm physically and mentally exhausted so I look forward to laying on the couch in the evening and watching something innocuous or harmless on tv. And every week I get aggravated at the dearth of anything watchable on television. Here is something someone said about TV:

"When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better."

"But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland."

"You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you'll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it."

The 'TV is a vast wasteland' quote is quite famous now. It was uttered in a speech "given by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Newton N. Minow to the convention of the National Association of Broadcasters on May 9, 1961." (source)

I have about 70 channels on my cable and there is literally nothing to watch. I don't like anything too mentally taxing but the available choices go between silliness and horror/blood/crime. Even the Food Channel is ridiculous with Friday evening repeats of Diners Drive-Ins and Dives for several hours. I can't stand Guy Fieri. He is too loud and too high-energy for me. By Friday night I need a Mr Rogers, not a boxing announcer shouting LET'S GET READY TO RUUUUUUUUUUUMBLE for three hours, or in Guy's case, LET'S GET READY TO EEEEEEEEEAT. Even HGTV features shows with entitled yuppies looking for the perfect house with the perfect number of bathrooms and the perfect color marble countertops. Ick.

If TV was a vast wasteland in 1961, fifty-one years ago, what is television now? It hasn't improved, let me tell you that. So why do I keep watching? I don't know. I'm an idiot, I guess. :) And I sound like quite the curmudgeon, lol. 

OK enough complaining. I woke up early this morning from a great night's sleep. In the cool, pre-dawn, I heard a warbling rooster from somewhere nearby. Then the geese flew over. It's geese time! I read in the local paper covering my former hometown in southern Maine that the public beach at Crystal Lake was once again hosting the migrating geese. They are on their way. This morning in the dark and stillness I heard a few honks. So the advance team was making their way to us here in Georgia. Fall in GA is simply glorious.

Today my plan is to do the dishes that have piled up in the sink, wash all the bedspreads, quilts, and couch coverlets and pillows, deal with the water level in my car radiator, steam a pile of potatoes (for bit-by-bit use in various dishes this week) cut up a cantaloupe, write another blog entry, and listen to two sermons.

So, I better get to it!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

A world within a drop of water

Goofing around with some photos.

We had a few moments of sprinkling rain this morning. I went out and took a photo of the red spider flowers and the drops on them. I admire those photographers who can take a close-up photo of a drop and capture the drop in the drop. I don't have a finely tuned camera like that but I did my best.

The summer season is passing and the fall season will be here in a few weeks (maybe 6?). "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Friday, August 03, 2012

Corner View: Flora

Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. If you'd like to join in, please leave a link to your Corner View post in the comments at the Corner View link, and be sure to visit other participants you'll find there too. Today's theme is "flora".

Comer Georgia: My yard has a ton of tiger lilies. They're bright, tall, and the first thing I see when I pull in the driveway. I hate to see them go. This guy is starting to turn a bit, and fade out. The lily season is always so short.

Comer Georgia: Morning glories growing up the fence next to the hayfield. They're so vivid! He looks like he is glowing.

Poppies stretching for the sun. This photo was taken in Lubec Maine, a place far north in the US and where the sun is up for a short time of day. Their vivid color against the New England clapboard amid the fog and slate grey Atlantic across the street made for a colorful pop.
 Thanks for visiting my (late) Corner View!

Kids will surprise you, all the time

I'm headed back to school Monday. This is officially my last weekday to lounge around. So I am putting it to good use. I'm listening to 80's favorites on YouTube while lurking in tv forum chat rooms to see if I can get a clue as to who The Closer's leak on the police squad is. So productive.

I've already started to turn my brain back to "school thinking." I cooked several things to be ready for Monday's easy prep lunch bag. I am collecting the things I'll need for school to put in the car Monday, like my mug, my thermos, my toiletries for the locker. I am mentally rearranging my "nook" to accommodate the changes in my tasks this year. Hhmmm, one table, or 6 desks...?"

I may grumble and moan about the summer being over but I am exaggerating. When August comes, I'm ready to go back. It is just the SHOCK to my system that I don't look forward to. I go from complete sitting and sedentary to complete 8 hours of constant movement. Being a para-pro is harder on the body than one thinks. I know the Cafeteria staff and custodians of course have a tough time re-accommodating their body to the physical work, and mine isn't close to theirs, but it is demanding. I really am up and down, here and there, lifting or reaching, moving or walking for 8 straight hours.

I am looking forward to meeting the kids next Friday. That's when the kids come back. I really really really love the kids.

In 1986 I was working in the largest elementary school at that time in the entire state of Maine. There were almost 1000 kids from K-6. If I remember correctly, my grade alone (second) had 6 classrooms. The Disney film An American Tale had been released, and for some reason, perhaps it was the last day of school or the last hours before Christmas break, we took all the 1st and 2nd grades to the massive cafeteria to watch the movie. It was quite a popular movie. But I was an adult and not interested in animated films, I didn't know how popular. Remember, this was before the internet, DVR, even VCRs. You saw a film in the movies when it came out and if you missed it, you missed it.

As with most Disney animated films, there were scenes of singing and evocative emotion from the main character. In An American Tale the famous scene came when the tiny mouse named Fieval was lonely and singing for his lost love in the song "Somewhere Out There." It is a hard song to sing, with lots of high soprano notes. It is a slow song to sing, being a very slow ballad. It is not a song you would expect kids to enjoy, and all the adult monitors in the room prepared for the inevitable moment when 250 kids got restless.

Instead, we were shocked into tears when the kids...sang.

One little tremulous voice, then another then another, rising as a chorus until 250 kids were sweetly singing the poignant words that unveiled the secret fear of every person: that separations will end and that somewhere out there, someone we love and miss is thinking of us.

I remember we looked at each other, shocked that all the kids knew the words, and that this spontaneous expression of joy that seemed to fall from angel's lips were echoing around that big room. We all cried, discreetly wiping tears from our own eyes. It was a moment I'll never forget..far from being restless little ones we had to discipline, they were sweet angels who sang from their own little hearts. Indeed, it has been almost thirty years and it seems like yesterday I heard those first little voices surprise us with their power:

Somewhere out there beneath the pale moonlight
Someone's thinking of me and loving me tonight

Somewhere out there someone's saying a prayer
That we'll find one another in that big somewhere out there

And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star...

So yes, I am looking forward to returning to school. Children are from God, and their blessings to me are never ending. I hope I can be such a blessing to them.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

New lunch box

I got my new lunch box today! And this completes my back to school shopping.

I am excited about my new lunch-cooler. The one I bought last year was a mistake and aggravated me every day. It was really the only logical selection at the Dollar Store, all the others were family sized. But the one I got, seen below, was too big, too tall, too unattractive and too ungainly. I just take a bowl of soup or a sandwich, and maybe a piece of fruit or a granola bar. I didn't need all that height. It was a quarter inch too tall for the fridge and I had to mash it in there every day. And at the end of the day, every day, it got caught in the fridge rack as I pulled it out. The side pouch for a jug or drink was useless to me. I always drink hot tea at lunch, running the hot water thru the coffee machine in the room I share. The side pouch was in the way.

Old lunch cooler. Bad, bad cooler!

By May, the interior lining had torn up pretty good, and despite weekly washing, had accumulated crumbs and grunge in the seams. I think the $8 spent over the 180 days' use yielded a good return on investment. On the last day of school I happily chucked it.

Today I was pleased to see that there were different styles at the store. The one I ended up buying has fewer gee-gaws. No long strap to get caught on my center console in the car, like, every day! No foolish lace-up only thick enough to hold a spoon. No side pouch for a jug I ended up using in my locker in the bathroom for mouthwash, anyway.

Here it is. It's purple! As everyone knows for the back to school preparations, colors are everything.

The interior lining seems thicker and more insulated. I can fold it flat. The old one was bulky no matter what. It's simple, attractive, and three dollars less expensive than my old one.

So why care so much? I bring my lunch to school every single day. I have an appreciation for the simple and utilitarian. If I am going to use something every day and depend on it, I want it to be a pleasure to look at, handle, and use. My old lunchbox wasn't! It's like the perfect coffee thermos for the car or the perfect comb or brush. If it works we don't think about it how it enhances our day, if it doesn't work it is a constant aggravation because we handle it so much. So I'm happy to get a new lunch box and try this thing all over again!

And that is the story of my back-to-school adventure.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Closer is ending, and summer is coming to a close, too

I think my favorite tv show of all time is TNT's The Closer. Starring Kyra Sedgewick as a Deputy Chief of Police in LA, she is known for her ability to get a confession and thus 'close' a case. The show began in 2005 and I saw the first episode and loved it right away.

The acting is incredible, the writing is phenomenal, and the stories are absorbing and endlessly varied, though always around a murder, finding the perp, and bringing him or her on for the confession. I particularly enjoyed the first season where the Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh began working in a male-dominated hostile squad, and how she won over her men through strength and extreme ability. It was up from there and only got better as the years went on. It was an intelligent, well-done show and I'll miss it.

I say 'was' because the show is ending. Kyra is moving on. You can't have the show The Closer without the closer. There are only two more episodes left, and that makes me sad. However, most of the same cast will roll right over, even as the concluding credits roll on The Closer, into their new show Major Crimes which follows the finale of The Closer that same night.

The next episode will feature the long awaited moment the audience gets to find out the identify of the leak that has caused Brenda Leigh so much pain, and then the last show will wrap things up. I am already way too invested in the show, skulking chat forums to read discussions of who the mole could be, and looking for early release promos of the next episode to see if I can get a clue. Summers, nice to have all this time to waste!

That will all come to a crashing end Monday. I go back to school. Mon-Thu are pre-planning days and Friday the kids come back. I know the schedule is done so I'll be anxious to see how and where the higher ups will use me this year. I'll look forward to reading up on the new little guys I'll be helping with. All I've done is sit around all summer so the first few weeks are a real shock to the system, physically.

The school always looks SO GREAT when I get back. The crews in the kitchen and the custodial crews do such a great job. The HVAC guys were in over the summer installing new units, I understand, so our heat and AC will be pretty spiffy.

I remember I packed up pretty fast. "Pack" [snicker] ...more like dump everything I had in the desk into a box, seal it up and left without looking back... I will untangle all that when I arrive on Monday.

The only hard part for me is all the people coming back saying hello and all the small talk chit chat. I have spent my summer in seclusion almost, except for church and one or two social outings. When the people return to school they want to get caught up on all the chitchat. I am not good at chitchat. I do not understand chitchat or how to do it. Tom Ranier of Lifeway Resources wrote about introverts. I AM each one of these--

"Over a year ago, I wrote an article on introverted leadership. Much to my surprise, many people wrote and affirmed the sentiments I expressed. Many of them were introverts who felt misunderstood and often relegated to lesser opportunities because of their reticent personalities. I  understand. I am an introvert.

In the article, I offered some suggestions to introverted leaders to help us navigate what we perceive to be a noisy and energy-draining world. Now I want to address those who are not introverts. You are the people who have to work with us, live with us, and interact with us. Perhaps you even get frustrated with us. And while we introverts can certainly do more on our part, I hope these eight statements will help you understand us a little bit better.
  1. Our aversion to small talk can make us appear rude. Okay, maybe we are rude. When someone asks us how we are doing, we really don’t believe most people want to know how we are doing. If someone tells us that they are so glad to see us, we have our doubts. As a result, our responses are often not warm or chatty.
  2. We value close friendships. We may do poorly connecting to tons of people, but we connect well to those we consider close friends. Indeed we tend to be extremely loyal. We introverts often process relationships mentally and emotionally. If we find a loyal friend, we treasure the relationship as a precious gift. If we perceive someone uses us or is disloyal to us, we struggle greatly with that person. Indeed some would say we have an “off switch” for those persons.
  3. We like to have a reason to talk. Some people are surprised to discover certain people are introverts because they have witnessed the introvert engaged in a lively conversation. When an introvert is truly engaged, he or she is talking about something that evokes his or her passion. It is a fallacy to say introverts don’t like to talk. We just like to have a meaningful purpose to our conversations.
  4. Meetings and public interaction don’t really bother us; long meetings and long public interaction do. Think of an introvert as an automobile with a tank of fuel. The longer we are in meetings or similar settings, the more fuel is depleted. At some point we run out of fuel and become almost non-functional. We can only get refueled and refreshed by moving to a more private setting.
  5. Don’t assume we introverts don’t like to have fun. Most of us do have fun. We typically enjoy cutting up with people we know and trust. And our idea of a fun place for relaxation or vacation is typically a quiet and out-of-the-way spot. I must admit that my love for college football is an exception to this pattern.
  6. We are not always quick to speak. Sometimes our reticence can make us look thoughtful; at other times we may appear to be clueless. We are often processing information and the environment of the moment. We tend to be especially aware of the feelings of others who may be present.
  7. We like written communication. We often tune out long-winded explanations and reports. Countless times in my life I have said, “Let me see that in writing.” That gives me the time to process the information and reflect upon it. By the way, we introverts really do like written affirmation in cards, letters, and emails. That tends to be one of our love languages.
  8. You can’t fix us introverts. Our introversion is not a disease that needs a cure. For the most part, we like our personalities and have no desire to be like the extrovert. Spouses who try to change introverts into extroverts have an uphill battle and a likely conflicted marriage.
Of course, all of this information is the perspective of an introvert to the rest of the world. I do not mean to imply that everyone should adjust to us. We have to make our own adjustments to communicate and function in this world.

So that's why I take my lunch alone, cut to the chase in a conversation, and really appreciate my boss's penchant for short meetings!!!