Monday, May 30, 2005

E-Bay Buddie, Me, Betsy-Tacy Friend Posted by Hello

Cyber Friends

Over the years I've meet a number of on-line friends up close and personal. The Betsy Tacy list is widespread and we've a long tradition of meeting up with each other while traveling. One member turned out to live not 2 miles from me and we've become close friends and E-bay book partners.

I've only been blogging for a year, and have had one blog encounter, that proved to be most, most enjoyable. It too, was someone who only lived a few miles from me, proving that the Internet is as intimate a neighborhood as any small town.

Yesterday a Betsy Tacy friend was in town, so my E-bay buddy and I headed out to the wilds of suburbia. And we had the best time though we'd only meet once before in the briefest of circumstances. It was as if we'd been friends since childhood, known each other forever. No strangeness, no awkwardness, no shyness.

Odd isn't it, how hard it can be to make small talk at a party but how easy it is to connect with someone who is technically a stranger?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

First Anniversary

I started this blog a year ago, in an attempt to document our once in a lifetime motorcycle trip and tour of Europe.

Much to my amazement I've kept it up. I've tried keeping journals and diaries all my life (all the best book characters kept journals) but never been able to sustain the effort. Didn't matter if I used a battered spiral or crisp, leatherbound journal. Perhaps it was because journaling is a such a solitary activity. One writes, but there is never any feedback, and if one's handwriting is as indecipherable as mine is, reading past entries is impossible.

Writing, if you think about it, really is a 2 way process. You write for yourself, but human nature being what it is, you also crave an audience, you crave comments, you want to know that you connected with another human being.

Thanks to some Blog Explosion and some of the other blog traffic sites it's possible to add a little human interaction to the journal keeping. Knowing that someone else might be reading my prose keeps me on my toes. I try to watch my spelling and grammar and give thought to judicious word choice. I read other blogs and just as on my Betsy Tacy List Serv, there are now people whose blogs I read frequently whom I count as friends.

So, here's to the first year and looking forward to the next.

Can I Do it Till I Need Glasses?

Seems there might be a link between Viagra and blindness. See, your mother was right after all!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Another Year Bites the Dust

Another School Year Down! This one had a surreal quality to it, what with 50% of the staff down with the plague in varying forms. All of us were so focused on just trying to get through each day that we didn't realize how few days we had left.

Normally I celebrate with a couple of Margaritas and Chili Con Queso. Not this year, it's weak tea and saltines.

Here's to feeling some summer excitement - and a steady tummy.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Got Pills?

Lots of drug pushing going on at my school this week. Nope, it's not the kids, it's not their parents, it's not crack, PCP, LSD or anything illegal, it's Lomotil, a magic little white pill that keeps bathroom trips down to a minimum.

The plague that food poisoning wrought is still with us. Teachers are calling in sick the last week of school when grades are due and the checklist has to be completed. Calling in sick when they know that if a sub shows the sub will sub par to the extreme. Missing awards assemblies, end of the year parties and graduations. Getting docked because they are out of sick days.

Both the Principal and the Assistant Principal were out 3 days running. The district sent over a spare AP - seems there is a rule that a campus can't be principalless for more than 2 days. She did nothing but check her e-mail and suspend some kids for fighting.

The fire drill was canceled today. The reason - we have no porta potties on campus!

Never has a last day of school (tomorrow) been more eagerly anticipated!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The First and for Some the Last ...Graduation

Today was 5th grade graduation, done as everything in our school with an almost nonexistent PTA on a shoe string. One of the teachers raids her magnolia tree for greenery, PTA buys a cake and the last of the ice cream is transformed into punch.

So Proud! Posted by Hello

The girls get all dressed up. We see Confirmation dresses, dresses from Quinceras past, and dress from Big Lots (the more the frills the better). Some coming looking like the little girls they are and some, well some quite frankly look like little tarts. The Brittany Spears school of fashion mis-design is not very flattering. Most of the boys are reluctantly stuffed into white shirts and pressed pants, a few are turned out in their best Sunday suits.

So Proud! Posted by Hello

A bit more wide awake than at the SleepOver Posted by Hello

The saddest children are the ones where nobody at home bothered to make a fuss over them. One little girl showed up in her everyday sweats with unwashed hair, a boy in a grimy once white t-shirt 4 sizes to big, another in his usual baggy shorts and t-shirt.

We see the same wide variety of dress in the parents - everything from tight stretch pants, oversize t-shirts and flip flops to Sunday best to adult tart. The ones who do attend are all so proud - the video cameras roll (almost every Hispanic family seems to have one), they come bearing bouquets of flowers and festive balloons.

The tattoos alone are worth the price of admission. One father was covered in them, most gang related. He was a big guy - easily over 300 pounds, wearing Baggy shorts, chains from his belt loops and Doc Martins. Not someone I would want to encounter in a dark alley. He was holding the hand of his daughter, a brown eyed, black haired little doll, dressed all in ruffles and fluffles. And he was beaming.

Little Doll Posted by Hello
We tell the kids that they can graduated middle school, high school and go on to college. But deep in our hearts we know otherwise. The Houston Indpendent School District only graduates 1/4 of the minority children who enter high school as freshman. Our district success rates aren't much better. I've been at my school for 14 years and I'm already encountering the children of children I have taught.

Do I have to pose? Posted by Hello

Proud sister! Posted by Hello

And that's why for some of our kids, it is not only their first graduation, it is
their last

Monday, May 23, 2005

Goin' Down Like Ninepins

Last Thursday there was a wing ding to celebrate our Assistant Principal's promotion to Principal. Don't get all excited, a teacher wing ding at Title I school means potluck, with the
"Sunshine Committee" springing for a ham. Go check out A Series of Inconsequential Events if you want to see what constitutes a wing ding on the other side of the school tracks.

And on Sunday I started having "symptoms" and spending way to much time in the bathroom. Being the stoical type I chalked it up to a stomach bug and soldiered on. But it was still with me on Monday. It took a long time to get dressed. Thought about not going in, but remembered that my assistant who walks on water wouldn't be in today. She got tapped to help write "The Campus Improvement Plan". Teacher speak for "what are we going to do next year to ensure our science scores get out of the cellar".

Assistant was also feeling very queasy and had spent way more time than she normally does in her bathroom too. The look for the day was slightly green around the gills and the nurse saw steady traffic - and it wasn't from kids. 12% of the staff called in sick. Add in those stalwarts who came in anyway and the figure would be closer to 20%.

Subs were called but many didn't show. No sensible sub works the last week of school - they value their sanity. Only the desperate for money or lacking in common sense and foresight will accept a job. We caught one holed up in a classroom reading a book while her kids ran wild outside without any supervision at all. When asked where her kids were she looked up and said "outside playing".

And of top of everything else the air conditioning was out. The temperature reached a record 95 degrees.

Food poisoning + no air conditioning + 600 wild and crazy kids does not make for a happy and harmonious campus.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Library Nirvana

Most of the time the library shelves look like this:

Before Posted by Hello

However thanks to some very hard work by my diligent assistant who walks on water they now look like this:

After! Posted by Hello

This is a once a year occurrence, ranking right up there with the return of the swallows to Capistrano.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wild in the Halls

6 more days to go but who's counting - actually everyone is counting and anyone who says they aren't is lying.

The kids are wild, especially the 5th grade who are feeling their oats. Tomorrow the 5th grade goes on the long anticipated trip to Austin. For many, other than trips to Mexico it's their first trip outside of the city. Most of our kids live in a world bounded by school, their apartment complex, Wal-Mart and the homes of their relatives.

587 = the number of times a 5th grade teacher has snapped "If your behavior doesn't stop you won't be going to Austin".

Come Monday that's a hollow threat. I'm at a total loss what they will use to instill order and discipline for the last week. It's gonna be a long one.......

As for me, I just got my new Bas Bleu catalog and I'm happily making a summer reading list.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Daugher #2 Posted by Hello

My Mother, Daugher #1 & Me Posted by Hello

Mission Accomplished!

This weekend we had not one, but two college graduations. Daughter #1 graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio, daughter #2 from The University of Miami. 1 day and 1,500 miles apart. The timing left a tad to be desired.

We flipped a coin, my beloved and I headed for San Antonio, their father and stepmother won a no expenses paid trip to Miami.

My beloved graduated from Trinity herself - never thought she'd be sending them a legacy. I went to Junior High right across from the University of Miami. The world is indeed a small and compact planet.

It's the oddest feeling. I didn't have empty nest syndrome when they graduated from high school or left for college. Nothing was finished, there was still 4 more years of college to finance. But now they are really and truly "done".

Motherhood is never really over but I can definitely close volume one. I wonder how volume two will read ?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Overheard.... Starbucks this morning:
Coffee Maker A (young, female, assorted piercings and heavy rimmed glasses): "I went to the library to see about starting my community service".

Coffee Maker B (young man, not quite as many piercings); in an amzaed tone "you mean you haven't started yet?"

Coffee Maker A "No, I'm to busy, I don't even have time for a pedicure, much less do community service"

Leave, non fat latte in hand with a mental picture of a young woman committing petty crimes with perfectly painted toenails. And who has her priorities somewhat askew.

I wonder if she shoplifted nail polish?

I think I'll start to patronize another Starbucks. This morning's conversation was way to much TMI for 6:30 in the morning.

Monday, May 09, 2005

6am and still going Posted by Hello

Locked in the Library

Last Friday I held my 4th Annual Library Lock In. It's a highly coveted and difficult to attain Accelerated Goal - the price of admittance is 300 AR points. Given that most simple chapter books, such a Junie B. Jones are worth only 1 point each, that's a lot of reading. Great big honking chaper books such as the 5th Harry Potter are worth 32 points which is still a lot of reading. The children who attend are the motivated, goal orientated, bright and inhale books. Just the kind of kids to make a librarians heart go pitter-patter.

Pizza and Friends Posted by Hello

I set the goal high on purpose- if I'm going to be locked in the library with kids, they had better be well behaved kids whom I know and know well! This year 7 children earned their way in - new record. We were the poster child for diversity. The group included 1 Vietnamese, 1 Albanian, a brother sister duo from Shri Lanka, 2 Mexican Americans and one Anglo. Oh yes, and one alternative lifestyle though that wasn't trumpeted. And one straight lifestyle, invited as a CYA precaution by the alternative lifestyle.

4 in a row Posted by Hello

Slumber parties are very middle class phenomena so most of the children had never been to one. "Can we really stay up all night" one of them asked me and was amazed when I said "Sure". 2 of them actually took me up on it!

6am and still going Posted by Hello
We ate pizza, hauled out the laptops, took a flashlight tour of the school, explored my puppet collection and played on the playground in the dark. Someone forgot to tell the district police and they paid us a midnight visit. Nice to know they were doing their job.

Online at all times Posted by Hello
A good time was had by all, but I really am getting to old to sleep on the floor!

All In! Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Week that Wasn't

I've had posts rolling around my brain all week but LIFE has conspired to keep them from flowing from my head, to fingers, to the keyboard and to my blog.

To wit:
Wednesday: Computer had a 100% meltdown. Hello, India, what now? 4 hours later, the only conclusion was to wipe it clean and do a clean reinstall.

Thursday: The backup drive wasn't working as it was supposed to. It took the folders, the data in the folders is corrupt. Say bye-bye to my Quicken records, my Outlook contacts, saved e-mail and my entire book selling database on Sellers Assistant. Say hello to hours and hours of work re-creating everything. I now know what I'm going to be doing during my summer vacation.

Friday: I host the annual "Library Lock-In" at school. This is the ultimate Accelerated Reader achievement - the requirement for admittance is 300 points. Accelerated Reader is this computerized program that encourages reading. Children read books and take a short comprehension quiz and accumulate points. The program is very controversial but it's done wonders for our reading test scores. These days reading is all about the scores. This year 7 children made it. They had a great time, 2 never slept all night. Needless to say what little sleep I did get was not of the quality REM type.

Saturday: I send my sleepy guests home, tidy up the library and head out to a booksale. Come home and spend the rest of the day in a fuzzy fog.

Sunday: Spend most the day attempting to learn a new Auction Management Program - Auction Wizard. The program has a steep learning curve and a help section that isn't at all helpful. A storm blows through and we loose all electricity for 2 hours.

And here comes Monday heading down the pike whether I want it or not!