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Showing posts from September, 2011

Blog Your Blessings: Cookies

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On Thursday after work, my daughter and I made cookies for a bake-off in her French class. How baking cookies has anything to do with learning French, I neither know nor care. All I know is we had fun with this recipe she found online to make apple spice cookies while the rains poured out of the heavens and the dog begged the afternoon away.
In my inner-city, Title I world hammered day after day by the demands of meeting levels of achievement on multiple-choice tests that come around every spring, the idea of taking time in September to make cookies for friends is delightfully liberating. It's nice to think there's a school in the world in which teachers understand that kids are kids, and achievement and progress and success depend as much on nurturing as they do on hammering them with academic activities.
Kids are kids. Letting that be and loving it for what it is can do more to help children succeed than driving them forward, worksheet after worksheet, like lemings into …

Skywatch Friday: Morning Magic

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From August 7, 2011
Happiness arises in a state of peace, not of tumult.
(Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, 1764)

Skywatch Friday

Header Challenge: Moving Pictures

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From Jul 6, 2011
From Jul 6, 2011

In the summer when I head south, I set for myself a photographic challenge.  Usually, this challenge has something to do with birds--and everything else.  I struggle to either freeze or capture the movement. Which of course brings to my mind sandpipers and sunset and how everything is moving at the beach--the air, the light, the water, the birds, the sand, the grasses....No wonder this Sagitarrian loves it so. Anyway, here is one of my beach buddies coming and going.

Wordless Wednesday: Head First

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Book Review: 'A Child Called It'

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A Child Called "It" by Dave Pelzer

I just finished reading A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer on the recommendation of several students who are reading it with another teacher. They are impatient to read beyond what is possible in a class period and resent the advantage I have by owning my own copy on my Kindle.
Like me, they are fascinated by what young David Pelzer went through during his early childhood years, when his mother turned from being June Cleaver to Joan Crawford. How a kind and diligent, loving and giving, Mother could become the Bitch who deprived one of her three (and later five) sons of food for days at a time, could beat him severely, and could devise countless other forms and rituals of humiliation year after year is a question the text raises but does not answer.
Nor does the book answer the question of how this matriarch could dominate her sons and her husband so that they did nothing to rescue this child from the special hell Mother created but lived th…

My World Tuesday: Welcome, Autumn

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I started Sunday in the company of a dear friend whom I haven't seen in a while. We shared breakfast and spent some time walking around Woodbury taking photos. Afterwards, we sat down to ice-cold birch beers and compared photographic notes. Here are some of my images:




From September 25, 2011
From September 25, 2011





From September 25, 2011




Around lunchtime, it was off to March Farms in Bethlehem, Connecticut, for some apples.  The farm had come under attack by two hail storms, so the fruit was pretty banged up--pocked or bruised or discolored.  There will be plenty of cider to go around this year!  Adella managed to find a good one amid the wreckage, though.



From September 25, 2011
From September 25, 2011
From September 25, 2011
Farm life includes goats and sheep happy to pose for the camera as well as geese.  This debonair chap caught my eye.    So did the fellow below, though he was making eyes at us for our sugar-coated cider doughnuts and was off when a better opportunity came alon…

Today's Flowers: Lily

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From August 18, 2011
The lilies at the New Hanover County Arboretum were just gorgeous. Their beautiful colors and textures stood out especially on a gray day that would eventually bring a good, drenching storm. Before then, though, their orange velvet petals stretched out like an invitation.
Today's Flowers

One Single Impression: Amusing

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From September 10, 2011


Amusing me Is easy (As I am easy) Simply wrap me In the damp darkness of (Where are we?) Autumn Turn on the colored lights Turn me around and upside down And inside out And backwards Most definitely. Do it all: amuse me.

Blog Your Blessings: Not What I Learned in School

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From August 31, 2011
From August 31, 2011

Before the school building principal who hired me moved on to become a high school principal, I stopped into his office and thanked him for hiring me and affording me the many opportunties that had come my way as a teacher in his school. I told him I was especially grateful to him for hiring me because I knew I had botched the interview (which botch I had tried to correct by supplying the correct answers to the questions in my thank you letter, which was hand delivered the next day).
He smiled and said he hired me because "you're enthusiastic, you don't complain, and you like the kids."
I thanked him again and told him I'd walk through the fires of hell for him if he said the word. I have not done that (or perhaps I have) as I have continued to teach English to some seriously reluctant learners and students who have had some seriously lousy teachers.
On many a day, that conversation with my principal comes back to me. It …

Skywatch Friday: Poof

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From July 27, 2011If we are to learn to improve the quality of the decisions we make, we need to accept the mysterious nature of our snap judgments. (Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, 2005)

Header Challenge: Flags

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Discerning the language of flags
From July 27, 2011
can be a helpful thing

From July 27, 2011
when this big boy is heading your way.
From July 27, 2011
I took these photos of the flags on the USS North Carolina when I made a solo pilgrimage to this paragon on wartime ingenuity on July 27.
Please check out the other head bangers who participate in this little weekly challenge. Their links are below the banner.

Wordless Wednesday: Ancient Magic, Dreams of the Future, Now

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Our World Tuesday: Like Flight, the Freedom of the Road

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From September 18, 2011
From September 18, 2011
From September 18, 2011
From September 18, 2011
From September 18, 2011
From September 18, 2011
Although I've lived only a few miles of the Southbury Training School campus and I've driven through the Roaring 20s Antique and Classic Car Show year after year, I never attended until this year. What a great event. Car folks don't mind people with cameras ogling their works of automotive art, so it's a pleasure to glimpse our history as it was experienced by ordinary Americans on the parkways, turnpikes, highways, and back roads of our growing nation. The hood ornaments for me evoked at once the figureheads of old ships as well as the promise of faster and faster flight. To take to the road is to take flight.
The car club donates the nominal admission fee to the Training School.  The entire effort is a labor of love that is well-run, relaxing, beautiful, and fun.
Our World Tuesday

Today's Flowers: Change

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From Late Summer Wildflowers, Connecticut
From September 17, 2011
From September 17, 2011

On Thursday evening, Della, Clyde and I took a walk and literally watched the autumn displace summer as the wind grew strong, yellowing leaves fell, trees swayed, wind roared, and grey skies tumbled in like a drum roll. On Saturday, Clyde and I took a little walk and felt the change in season take a firm hold in the wildflowers. Here are a few.
Today's Flowers

Blog Your Blessings: Clyde

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From September 10, 2011
Clyde is this week's blessing. Adella and I adopted him in July, 2010, after he had been passed over by three women and gone on the SPCA road show from here to Jersey and back again. Nobody wanted him. That was because he was waiting for Adella. This otherwise skittish, neurotic, insecure Dachshund mix who doesn't much like many--any--other people, is as gentle and pliable as can be with her. After we had brought him home, I took him outside for a walk. When we got back, I had taken the leash off his collar at the door. Bad idea, that. He flipped his lid, growled at me, yapped, did a few laps around the house, and found his way to the back door, where he cowered in a corner until Adella came. That was the end of him and me for a while. A little at a time, he has come to trust me. It's been a slow go, but Friday night he let me cuddle with him and stuck around long enough to fall asleep with me on the couch. This morning, he took a long walk w…

Book Review: 'The Red Shoes Artists Book Project'

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Annell Livingston is a visual artist and writer living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, whose creative output in her studio, on her blog, and in her books seems boundless.  Her works in these media are vibrant, strong, embracing, and challenging.  

Last year she invited me to participate in her The Red Shoes Artists Book Project project in which she has gathered the poetry of 16 women writers whom she selected because she likes their work.  Our creative challenge:  to write about red shoes, those symbols of female independence and creativity in literature and other arts throughout time.  
The woman with the red shoes stands free and alone, the inheritor of a freedom wrested through time from a culture that once cast creative, independent woman as lunatics, aberrations, suspect citizens.  
Annell says:  "I conceived the idea of a Red Shoe artist book project, while reading the Madwoman in the Attic by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar. They explain that the women of the nineteenth-century ha…

One Single Impression: Betrayal

At night, the betrayal:
The breeze gives way to wind,
The music of insects, to the patter of falling leaves,
The shower, to cold rain.

We call it the fall.

One Single Impression

Skywatch Friday: Magic

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From July 29, 2011“Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”
— Roald Dahl
[My Topsail photos are hard for me to look at right now.  Leaving broke my heart.  I had the opportunity to stay, but it would have been at the expense of being without my daughter for a while and of making very little money.  More and better might have been around the corner (and, as it turns out, they were), but I couldn't risk losing my favorite person and my ability to support her for my own shot at paradise.  Perhaps I could have had both if only I had taken the leap--as I would have years ago, before another life (lives; we can't forget Clyde) depended on me.  Life is full of hard decisions.  I wonder if a second chance will ever come my way.  I live in hope.  It's all I have.]
Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: Walking the Girls

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Header Challenge: Delicious

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From Jun 25, 2011
Here's the suburbanized fox who frequents my parents' North Carolina neighbor's bird feeders for the seeds and the various leftovers he leaves out for the big birds who frequent his back yard. I came upon this fellow on the way back from the beach one afternoon. The fox wasn't the least bit bothered by me--the buffet was just too good. He didn't budge while I put down my things and fumbled around for my camera and shot a little video.

Our World Tuesday: Bethlehem Fair

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From September 10, 2011 $ The annual Bethlehem Fair in Bethlehem, Connecticut, always offers a blend of local agriculture and farm produce, kids' art, crafts, bazaar tents, wonderfully greasy food, and rides. The rides and the animals are about all we need. And the lights! From September 10, 2011 This guy I could live without the Pharaoh of that horrid boat ride through the air, the Pharaoh's Revenge, stops my heart because my daughter must get on it, and on it she gets and away they go. I am just glad she didn't do what her friend did, which was stand up in the back of the boat in mid-air. We work so hard to keep them alive.... From September 10, 2011 This grand lady seemed bored with all of us. The cows seemed to be all about bodily functions when we were there. When two little girls climbed into one of the stalls and grabbed a little cow by her ominously raised tail.....We did not watch. Couldn't. From September 10, 2011 And then of course there's the stuff.…

Blog Your Blessings on September 11

There used to be a meme called Blog Your Blessings that ran every Sunday, and I was a regular participant. It wasn't a big blogging event in the way of Wordless Wednesday or of Skywatch Friday--perhaps because it was not a photo meme but a writing one. When the meme host gave up on it, I stopped posting blessings on a weekly basis.
However, on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 massacre, I think it's time to resurrect that meme in some form. I can't change a single thing in this world today any more than I can change the past, though I would sorely love to. Embracing here and now is about all I can do. It seems to me that doing so would honor those who died on 9/11 and those whose lives were torn apart by that massacre.
Blog Your Blessings. A resurrected meme? Perhaps. Join me if you will make a habit of insisting on what is beautiful. My post:
Last week, my nephews downloaded free text with voice to their ipod touches and began texting each other, their father, a…

Today's Flowers: Remembering the September 11 Massacre

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From August 24, 2011 On the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 massacre, I offer here two representations of the concept durable. The flag speaks for itself, I think. The begonia has a different story.
From September 10, 2011 This flower has been reaching in every direction since Della and I planted it in the late spring. When we (reluctantly) came back from North Carolina in late August, it was an ungainly, straggling thing. Still, that it was alive at all was pretty amazing considering how neglected it was. Then, before Hurricane Irene, I thought I'd tuck it amid the boxwoods to get some good rain. However, clumsy me, I snapped the stem when I picked it up. I thought better of throwing it away when I saw some threads of root at the base of the stem, so I stuck it back in the soil and surrended it to Irene. It survived. And then a squirrel came along that dug it out of its pot and left it on the front step in a naked, undignified heap. I stuck it back in the earth, and Del…

One Single Impression: Notebook

A text message came in the middle of the night
In Portugese
From a stranger:
se vc adivinhar quem e te dou um presente...
(Guess who you are and give you a gift)

A little later, another invitation:
tomorrow good game at New Haven 
7 pm YALE vs QUINNIPIAC 
if u want to come

Before morning:
Que o que?
(What?)

I replied:
Wrong number.

What's ur name?

What's yours?

I asked first.  

Minutes passed, and then:
Are you DIEGO,,

No.

??

Nor am I Estaban,
who had this number before me.

Ok, Sorry.

Guess who you are and give you a gift....

Note:  This is a found poem based on some errant text messages that came my way from two different Connecticut phone numbers the other day.  I felt like an unintentional voyeur as I read mail intended for someone else.  I thought I would just ignore them, but then, they seemed like such nice invitations that it would be a same if the sender thought the intended recipient were ignorming him or her.  So I sent the "wrong number" message.  I was surprised wh…

Skywatch Friday: NTB, ILY

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From August 17, 2011 Love flies, runs, and rejoices; it is free and nothing can hold it back. (Thomas a Kempis)

Skywatch Friday

Wordless Wednesday: We Bear the World....

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From September 3, 2011 "We bear the world and we make it..." Olive Schreiner
Wordless Wednesday

Header Challenge: Big Bird

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Topsail is a marvel not only for its natural wonders, as in the osprey featured in this week's banners, but also in its constructed ones, as in this little old helicopter whose presence up and down the beach is a reminder of that key feature of the Carolina economy:  the military.  I see these big guys above working hard and cruising the beach as often as I see these little guys below, scratching, preening, watching the day roll by.  Life is good if you're a big bird--or a little one!
Please check out the bloggers listed above for their takes on the big bird challenge!

Our World Tuesday: Patch Pockets, Mickey Mouse, Turtles

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It was a big day for me and my daughter at the mall on Sunday. Actually, it was a big day for me. That's because, as we ascended to the first floor of Sears, that bastion of fashion foresightedness and enduring style (keyword: enduring), my eyes fell on a stadium coat, which could be loosely defined, because of its loose styling, as a parka, with patch pockets. Not so many months ago at a slightly (well, considerably) trendier mall here in the Nutmeg State, where we are all about style, I told my daughter that what appeared to be my lack of style was really a measure of my patience and understanding of that Newtonian principal of fashion and social dynamics as well as physics that what goes around comes around. I assured my child that when (there was no if in the conversation) patch pockets on plumb parkas come back in style, I will be right there on the cutting edge of fashion for the second time in let's just say a few decades. Coming up that escalator, my first thoug…