Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Personal Paradigms

I've been lost in thoughts of personal paradigms of late thanks to a class on Collaboration. I found this video: of Sir Ken Robinson who challenges public education policies and procedures. This Ted Talk challenges us to consider the impact of our factory system of education on the identification of children with ADHD or other learning differences as well as our standard testing, standard start dates, and standard curriculum.....

Sir Ken certainly has given me fuel to challenge some of my personal paradigms.....

Based on research and my own experiences, I'm still confident that some children benefit from small doses of medication to help them focus and learn in school (at times during their educational careers) and after every thing else has been tried.  For some of my students, it was the factor that allowed them to read, write and feel good about school - important and life changing changes.

Based on research and my own experiences, I'm still confident that high expectations for ALL learners is important. While the Common Core is not perfect, it is a framework of common aspiration that encourages all schools to teach all students. Empowering all students to learn and challenging them to think outside as well as inside the box means that we will have more voices thinking deeply and critically about the future.

Based on my own paradigm, I'm pretty sure life is better when you:
listen more and talk less
respect more and judge less
expect more and put-down less
love more and hate less


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Celebrating Life

The sun came out on this sad day,
After endless gray skies.
At first, I thought it ironic
Then, I decided it was a sign
Of this new chapter,
Without pain and suffering.

As I dug for my sunglasses,
I thought that he might have requested
The sunshine, a light, so to speak,
A reminder of his journey
Towards a new chapter.

As I listened to a his family,
Remember their dad,
I thought of the power of love
To transcend unfathomable hardship,
And the power of angels
To shape the future.  

As I watched his family
I remembered this journey
Can have mile-high speed bumps,
With countless trials
Unfathomable challenges.
Heartache and heartbreak.
Sometimes, the journey is derailed
Yet, we are called
To persevere.

As I left the church
I caught sight of a babbling brook
Under an overpass,
And I remembered the Biblical verse
Peace is like a river
Ebbing, flowing, persevering, 
And I offered a prayer
For a peaceful journey
As the sun set
After a celebration of life
This sad day

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

#sol18 A September Day

I thought about the date as I nestled into my spot (leaning against a door) on the already crowded train. 
I thought about the whispered announcement so many years ago about planes and the World Trade Center as I listened to the announcement about shortened and crowded trains.
I thought about the lives changed in classrooms just feet from me as I watched a seasoned passenger whip out her knitting and knit on the steps of the train.
I thought of my colleague teaching in an adjacent classroom who lost the love of her life and wondered how many loves were lost that day.
I thought about the shock and sadness that descended on the city (and the nation) as I wondered how many of these people were on trains on that morning.
I thought about riding the bus home with students that day to make sure everyone had someone at home and wondered how many fellow riders lost someone that day.

I remembered that some lost all and some lost greatly; however, we all lost something that day.
I smiled as I watched the standing-knitter and all those who have persevered in spite of adversity as I geared for a September Day in a resilient city

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

#sol 2018 Happy New Year

Stopped by Staples,
Knowing the crowd would be there,
Just for old times sake.
Circled by DSW
Knowing I didn't need shoes,
Out of habit.
Said a prayer for first day jitters
Knowing teachers and kiddos will be stressed
Like always.

 The many first days,
The smiles, tears, laughter, fears,
The smell of new pencils and notebooks,
Fresh new faces, ideas, optimism,
The promise of fall despite the hear,
The magic of a fresh start
Happy New Year

Sunday, August 26, 2018


Walked in ever-present mist,
 Amidst thatched-roofed, stone cottages, 
Between brightly painted buildings,
Beneath aged stained glass windows,
Bundled against the biting wind,
Along steep cliffs,
Around sheep, cows, 
Watched the white capped waves,
Listened to Molly Malone,
Thought of Maeve Binchy,
Wondered about ancestors, decisions, emigration,
Reflected on family, culture, loss,
Pondered the future,
Not quite ready, yet ready,
To return to real life,
To go home.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Moated Castle High On the Hill

Amazing to think...
Long, long time ago....
I do not remember when.....
In the age of knights and princesses....
Moated castles high on hilltops.....
Some family called this drafty castle,
Made of rock....
Without heat, running water...
Perched on a rocky cliff....
With windy steps to its turret....
Amazing to think....

#sol18 This Old House

I've been out of the writing routine this summer, so two posts in two days may overwhelm my 10s of readers....but like exercise, once I start writing, it gets easier.....

After decades of This Old House viewing and after embracing Chip and Joanna Gaines ship-lapped miracles in Texas, I know you can take an old house and make it "new" again.   I also know that sometimes, when you open a wall/floor/vent/ might find that parts of the house were held together with old gum/baseball cards/rusted bolts......

So it was when the plumbers came to repair a leaky toilet tank.....I was optimistic it was not a huge job....and it wasn't...but the partner asked casually, "Is there any other job you need us to look at?"

I hesitated, fully aware of the Pandora Box I might be opening.  Yet they seemed nice enough and had come out as soon as I called in about my emergency leak!  So, I mentioned the tub drain that was SLOWWWW at best even with regular visits from the likes of Draino.  And, I mentioned the kitchen sink that was also SLOWWWW at best even with regular visits from the gallon jug of Draino.

And they moved it seemed....for two hours they kept bringing in supplies.....I was thinking I would need to serve up a meal!  They went up and down the stairs....."Check this out, Mam.  It looks like someone put screws in to hold this pipe together.....It's really soft....that's not good..."

I knew it wasn't good because I recognized the handiwork of a former owner who also used screws to hold the heating pipe together.  Holes filled with screws and bolts eventually blow...

I knew it wasn't good because I recognized the tone and hidden grin.  My dentist has the same look when he looks at a broken crown and says, "That's really soft.  That's not good."

I suspect at lease one of the trips to the truck was to ask his secretary/partner to order a new Beemer or to book the trip to Aruba.  He might have also called my dentist to share the good news.....

Then, he presented me with a bill and the "news" that we would need another appointment to finish the job.  It was clearly reminiscent of the dentist office...and their hourly rate is about the same....

Monday, August 20, 2018

Purple Soup

I bought purple carrots at the local farmer's market. They looked and tasted like carrots, but their rich purple color was more powerful as food coloring!

I started a soup base in the usual way with a whole chicken that simmered for a few hours.  Then, in a pot next door, I sauteed a leek or two, a pepper or two, a stalk of celery or two, and a bunch of now infamous purple carrots.  As I added the kale, a few minutes later, I saw a sight I never expected to see: the carrots turned EVERYTHING purple!
I wondered if the purple color would impact my enjoyment of the chicken soup even if it didn't impact the taste?  Looks are powerful and can influence how we think things taste/are.

I thought about the power of "one" small ingredient (or one small person) to change the course of events!

My mind wandered to a long ago memorized poem....
I never saw a Purple Cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you anyhow
I'd rather see than be one!

and thought of its next stanza

I did not plan Purple Soup
But at first I thought it fun.
But that purple threw my soup for a loop
I'd rather see than eat one!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

New Year! New Car!

The back to school ads filled last week's papers and filled my soul with smiles and dread and thoughts and questions and fears and and wonders and concerns and promise and reminded me that this new chapter of life was real. I don't need to make a pilgrimage to Lake Shore nor to Staples. I don't need to buy 10 marble notebooks with sassy covers - one for each of my reading groups. I don't to buy new shoes and a back-to-school dress. This year.

However, in this new chapter I do need to either fix up my still-young-but-high-mileage-Mazda and figure out what that current whine indicates (calipers!?!?) or splurge on a new-to-me-car as I prepare for this chapter as teacher of teachers and mentor to many! I do not have the skill-set to maintain an aging (mileage-wise) car.  I do not have a back-up car when this one decides to deal with the ravages of high mileage. So, "get a newer car" was high on my summer "to-do" list.

I'd looked at new and gently used cars....Mazdas, Hondas, Fords, Toyotas, Volkswagons... I'd been to dealers where I felt gentle put downs and one where I could not find the exit door fast enough. I actually had one dealership where they asked me if my "husband"  knew I was buying a car?  I politely headed to the door and did not look back!

Buying a car  is not for the faint of heart nor is it a task for those of us who tend to over-think and over-analyse! Plus, gender-age-bias is alive and well in America!

So, today, when deep inside I knew I wanted to be celebrating with someone who "really likes cars," I ventured into a car dealership because I had noticed many local license plate holders with the name emblazoned on them and because it was raining too hard to do much else!!  The sales-person was fresh out of college, but spewed facts and comparisons about his cars that lined up precisely with those I had found through internet research. He volunteered tidbits and comparisons between models without pressuring me to buy anything,

Then, in the warehouse - literally- I sat in her.  Gray-like-me-yet-brand-new and waiting for someone to adopt her to have adventures.  It took a bit of negotiations and it took a few phone  calls to make the deal a reality....but it happened as the storm raged outside and the rain poured onto the dealership's roof and caused flooding on local roads.

I still had some concerns/worries/anxiety after leaving a deposit and arranging for a trade time as I found my old faithful car - literally buried behind many other shoppers in the parking lot as the rain continued to pour from the sky. But as I recalled those three-point-turn strategies it emerged,,,,a double rainbow just as my phone died.....

I'm not yet sure of her name....but I am sure she is part of my back-to-school-shopping experience this year. I am sure she cost more than those 10 marble notebooks at Walmart!  

If only I had bought shares in Tesla? If only I was buying a Tesla?,,,,,,this would have been an an easier purchase! sigh.....perhaps?.......

Friday, July 6, 2018

To keep or to give away...

That is the question as I go through box after box. I look at each book, cup, picture...I envision this project would be so much easier for Marie Kondo, but I ask myself, "Will this bring me joy," as I decide which pile. At times, the sentimental part of me emerges and the "things" I touch bring back memories.
I've certainly kept some things that will never bring me joy and I have given away things I already regret! Yet, as we cleaned out a box of old treasures the other day, I was reminded that some "things" bridge generations by providing near instantaneous joy.
"What's this?" the little one asked.
"It's an old harmonica," I responded cleaning the dirty old harmonica on my shirt and realizing it needed a bit more cleaning before I would be willing to show how it worked!
"What does it do?" she asked.
So, I showed her how to breath out and make music.
"It's a music maker,"she said excitedly as she made it make music.
Th old harmonica had been around the block a more than a few times; however, it still is decidedly in the keep pile as it still has the power to bring joy, especially inside a "secret" fort.