Sunday, October 27, 2013

FIfties fashion

We have been in school fifty student days. Wow, that went fast. It's all going fast. Anyway, to celebrate on Friday we dressed up like we were in the 50s. I wore a long cardigan, jeans, my hair back in a headband, a chiffon scarf and large hoop earrings.

I have never worn that cardigan before, I never wear earrings to school, and I never have worn a headband.

Those are the facts. Kids are brutally honest, that is also a fact.

I got two comments on my getup.

#1: I like your new fashion, Mrs Prata!

And just in case I settle too deeply into a comfortable self-esteem,

#2: You look SILLY!


Monday, October 21, 2013

And Johnny, how was *your* weekend?

On Mondays I enjoy sitting my students around the table and we talk about our weekend. In that exercise I am subtly teaching them to listen to each other, take turns, and be patient. As I went around to each of the kids, I realized that they were all describing a better weekend than I'd had, lol. They went to a haunted house (crying ensued), a movie, played football with brother, went to an auction, caught chickens (and showed the injury that proved it), played golf with brother, goofed around on the iPhone gaming apps, and in a hilarious turn of events,

"My turtle was chasing me."

Well, they are five years old.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I'm wearing socks. Fall is here

I've had a difficult week but it all turned out all right. Last night I enjoyed a wonderful evening. After a quick trip to the Dollar Store for kitty litter, (thanks, Mom, said the kittens), I came home to eat spinach quiche, chunky mashed russet potato and baby asparagus with lemon butter. I listened to a good sermon and then laid on the couch to watch Master Chef Junior.

LOL, I dozed during the last 15 minutes, awakening at the end to see the two losing child contestants walking off stage. Those kids can sure cook (and bake). Given a box full of gross things like snails, kidneys and liver, they made wonderful food out of them. One young boy tentatively tested the kidney he'd cooked, and says "Hey! It's good!" I am not even that mature. If I see anything gross I avoid it like the plague. And I sure cannot cook anything deletable looking and apparently great tasting things like snail chowder with fried eggplant skin chips.

After a warm beginning of the month, it has now turned cool here in the blessed United States south. It's rainy this morning, and I love it. It's Fall. How do I know? I put away my table fan and put on socks. One thing I love about Georgia is the long, gentle fall. Fall comes overnight in Maine. It happens on the Sunday of Columbus Day. The foliage bursts on the scene suddenly for a couple of weeks, and almost always, on the long holiday weekend the second weekend of October, we'd get rain and wind and all the leaves fell down. It turned gloomy and stayed that way until May.

However, the New England foliage could not be beat. It was bright and vivid. This was a scene in one October at my old house in Maine. We lived on a lake. Notice the sky behind the brightly sunlit trees- so blue and gray.

Fall berry in Comer GA

Fall foliage on a sunny day in Toccoa GA

Boy choosing pumpkin at Thompson's Orchard, New Gloucester Maine

 Harvested pumpkins, Intervale Farm, New Gloucester Maine

I love Macintosh apples, which are too hard to find in GA. These are pecks of Macs at a farm stand in North Yarmouth ME. In this photo, I liked the bags of apples, the harvest corn decoration, and the New England colonial home behind.

Today's weather might be a little drab and colorless, but it's Fall at home!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Flat tires and Secret Santas

Last week as I was tootling down the road, my tire exploded. I didn't know what it was, of course, only that a HUGE noise had occurred and my car wobbled, swerved, and there was now a larger noise happening and some sort of disaster was in the making.

Driving down the road I always used to wonder when I saw pieces of a tire and how they came to be there. I used to worry for the drivers of those tire-pieces ... those ex-tires. Now I know.

I've always been afraid of explosions. It's the Asperger's and the fear and hatred of loud noises and the fear and hatred of sudden noises. Sudden, loud noises are the worst. Phones ringing. (I turn mine off). Jiffy Pop (I use microwave popcorn). Balloons bursting. (I leave any room that has balloons in them, immediately.) Once while I was in high school, I used a tire pump to inflate my bicycle tire, and it exploded. It was many years before I'd ride a bike again. I do Lamaze breathing exercises before a planned school fire drill. Not really. But almost.

So this explosion under my seat was startling to say the least. And I was in a remote and rural part of the county and the only driveway in sight had three faded NO TRESPASSING! signs. The owner of the property turned out to be very nice and so was his wife, and they got my spare on there and I was on my way again. They'd put the signs up because of thieves stealing their tools from the shed and copper wire from the chicken houses.

As I went to the mechanic the next day to inflate the spare a bit, he informed me it was full of dry cracks from being under the chassis for 20 years and it would eventually go flat. The mechanic's idea of 'eventually' and my idea of 'eventually' apparently differed. I thought it would eventually go flat after October 29 when I got paid. However, the tire didn't wait for payday and Wednesday night I tried to go to church it was thump-thump-thump dead flat. Eventually had arrived.

So I did what any self-respecting, adult woman, living alone would do. I stared at the tire a while, I went into my apartment, cried for 10 minutes and then went to bed. It was 7:30 pm.

I thought, hey, maybe it would magically re-inflate overnight. Yes, I do think like that. Sometimes it is very helpful to mentally insist on a fantasy world where the laws of physics do not apply. It makes life less stressful and a lot more interesting. At the very least the intervening 8 hours would give me some lead time on thinking about how to solve the problem.

And that is what I do best, think. And what I do second best is problem-solve. First I thought about having AAA come and re-inflating the tire and driving like mad to the mechanic (who is near my school) and leaving it with him and walk to school. But that is dangerous for me and other drivers, so I dispensed with that idea quickly. Plus, I had morning duty and I didn't want to be late. So I decided the prudent thing would be to leave the car with its woeful flat tire in the driveway, ask for a ride on Facebook which is the public village of the new millennium, and purchase a new tire by phone.

And I'm not living alone. Of course my friends know that I know Jesus is with me. And my friends are with me. Several of them gave me rides to and from school these two days. That is SO nice. And the tire is coming in tonight and after school I'll pick it up and my friend will take me and the new tire home. I'll call someone and he will come and fix my flat. I should be good to go by this evening and all set for the weekend.

Most amazing of all, someone helped me with a surprise Secret Santa envelope they left on my desk at school, so the tire is paid for. I was blown away by that.

I can't say enough about my life here and how wonderful it is. The friendliness and helpfulness and generosity of my friends is absolutely amazing. I hope I am as good a friend to them as they are to me. I know I fail in that sometimes, but I can keep trying. I have many good examples of how to be a friend all around me.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Shelob lives

Shelob was the huge spider that lived in fictional Middle Earth. Wikipedia: "Shelob is a fictional giant spider from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. She appears at the end of the fourth book, second volume (The Two Towers), of The Lord of the Rings. Her lair lay in Cirith Ungol ("the pass of the spider") leading into Mordor. Gollum deliberately led Frodo Baggins there in hopes of recovering the One Ring when Shelob attacked Frodo. The plan was foiled when Samwise Gamgee defeated Shelob with Frodo's elvish light and sword. ... Gollum led the Hobbits into her lair so that he could get the One Ring after she consumed them, as she had no use for it. After losing track of Gollum, the Hobbits realized that the tunnel was blocked by her webs."

My yard is blocked by the children of Shelob's webs.

With all the rain this summer, folks say they have never seen so many spiders. In my 7 years here I've never seen so many spiders either. The legend of Shelob ends this way:

"Shelob fled into her lair, significantly wounded. Her final fate, according to the text, will remain unknown to the people of Middle-earth."

I know what happened to her. She survived and bore generations of evil spawn who continue to build large webs in my yard. Reason #2,347 not to go outside. Inside is better.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ingenuity and working with what you have

I have a small kitchen and not a lot of convenient places to put stove mitts. And I need them close because I am ridiculously stupid when it comes to cooking and I'm wont to open the oven and grab the pan with my hands. I had them on the stove fan hood for a long time but was frustrated with them sliding off into my pot of soup or pan of eggs. I'm live a lifestyle of "working with what ya got" so I looked around for a fast and free solution. This was it. Magnets placed just so and voila, pot-holder no more drop into pot.

The one on the left was a hand-print of a kindergarten student that her mom made and shrunk onto a magnet and given to me for a Christmas gift. The one in the middle was one I'd made because it was how I was feeling during that era. And the one on the right was made for me and it says "Attenti Al Gato" meaning beware of the cat. I had a bad cat at the time, lol. Abby The Psycho Kitty, RIP.

Bountiful Basket Day

My Bountiful Basket today: a dozen small green apples, 5 red pears, 2 Asian pears, huge bunch bananas, ruby red grapefruit. Veggies: 3 large green peppers, two bunches celery, three bunches scallions, packet cherry tomatoes, bag russet potatoes, large Romaine lettuce, and a large bundle of baby asparagus!! The produce LOOKS great, and TASTES great (I already ate some celery). Cost benefit analysis: in looking at today's weekly ads from my 2 local supermarkets, plus estimating closely where produce is not featured in the ad, the cost for what I received today would have been $32.20. The total cost to me at BB was 21.50, saving me over $10. Thank you BB!

The green apples will become apple crumble for church Homecoming tomorrow. I will grill the scallions on the George Foreman grill, or roast them in the oven. They are very sweet that way. The cherry tomatoes will be used in salads and also cooked in a ratatouille with the green peppers and onions. Celery will be cream of celery soup. The rest of the fruit will be eaten raw with my lunch every day. The potatoes are usually turned into home fries and also will be used in black bean soup in a week after the celery soup gets eaten.

I love produce day. It only takes me ten minutes to drive there and ten minutes picking it up. The produce is already put together for me so it saves me time lingering and shopping in the grocery store. I hate stores. The produce is very good.

TV before computers

I am watching television shows from the 1970s. Mary Tyler Moore, Rockford Files, Columbo, and now, Lou Grant.

I loved Lou Grant when it was broadcast between 1977 and 1982. The show won 13 Emmy Awards during its run. Now that I'm watching it as an older person, I can absolutely see why.

It's so well written, the characters are distinct, the players are good actors, and the themes are relevant today thirty years later.

That it deals with newspaper publication is a bonus, as I used to be a newspaper publisher and grappled with all the issues presented on the show. News gathering is a wonderful thing- when done right.

I published a weekly paper in the internet era. Lou Grant gathered (fictional) news before computers. On the 70s shows, there are no computers! Mary Tyler Moore's broadcast news desk has manila folders and a typewriter. Jim Rockford has the latest new machine all right: a telephone answering machine (for which he makes monthly payments). Even City Editor Lou Grant's desk has only a phone and Rolodex. The reporters clack away on typewriters. They all run to the phone when on the beat, clamoring to be the first one to phone in the story to the waiting reporters who have their fingers poised over the keys.

Several Lou Grant episodes have talked about phone tricks. If the reporters were in a house or business, the first reporters arriving at the scene hide phones so they know which one to run to when the story breaks. Joe Rossi gave his aunt a pocket full of dimes when they were at the airport so she could call the news room and keep the line open for when he needed to retell the story over the phone wires to the typist.

On his first day on the job, Lou Grant passes by a VDT, video display terminal, and asks what it is. His boss explained, but I don't get it. It displays text only, and it doesn't save when turned off. Something of a primitive word processor connected to a bigger computer somewhere. It doesn't generate text, only displays it. And it's huge. To me it looks clunky and ancient (as I type this on my slim laptop with high resolution, graphics and mega-memory) but to 1978 eyes it looks newfangled.

You know, even though I LOVE computers, and I LOVE the internet, there is something appealing about a desk without the hulking, looming, slightly insidious monitor squatting like Jabba the Hut on my table. Everything looks simpler, streamlined, and cleaner. Was that era really simpler? Maybe, maybe not. Has the internet been a boon to this generation? Maybe, maybe not.

Sue Grafton is the author of the Alphabet detective series, you know, "A is for Alibi", etc. She said in an interview once that she deliberately set the novels in an era prior to the computer era (70's and early 80s) because she wanted her detective to solve mysteries on the beat like the old gumshoes, with wit and intelligence and cunning. I like that.

You see the tv ad of Paul Revere playing charades by firelight with friends, and he sees the light come on in the old North Church, and he takes a cell phone out of his pocket to say "The British are coming". He pops it back into his pocket and continues with the game. There's something compelling and daring about being in the world doing exploits, riding a foamy horse through the darkling night, shouting THE BRITISH ARE COMING" that texting on a cell phone just doesn't have. 

Aw, snap, I've turned into an old lady, musing about "the way it was."

I can have it both ways, though. I can listen live stream to a sermon in CA, watch a Syrian conflict unfold as it happens, see the dust still flying during an earthquake in New Zealand, attend Khan Academy to learn physics, and still have my old fictional friends Mary, Lou, Columbo and Rockford running around gathering news and solving crimes the old fashioned way. And that seems pretty good to me.