Tuesday, August 30, 2005

But It's Twilight on the City of New Orleans

But it's twilight on the city of New Orleans,
talk about a pocket full of friends.
Halfway home and we'll be there by morning.
With no tomorrow waiting 'round the bend.

Singing good night, America, I love you.
Saying, don't you know me, I'm your native son?
I'm the train they call "The City of New Orleans".
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done

City of New Orleans by Steven Goodman

People are dying, people are stranded and people are looting. The Governor has asked everyone to evacuate the city. The city that so many have loved, lived in, visited and written about is drowning. The city that has inspired some of America's greatest literature, music and dance is no more. The city which preserved it's history has no future.

I am heartsick and the only thing I have lost is memories. The people of New Orleans have lost everything.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


The internet commuity is second to none. It's brought people together in ways we never thought possible. My friend "Pie" is a active member of a Question and Answer board on E-bay. When she became ill they rallied round as her personal support group. Cards, cakes, flowers, stuffed animals, phone calls and visits are pouring in - all from people who have known her for years but have never meet her in person.

Last night, with the assistance of some local members her yard was flocked- 30 plastic Flamingos, all adorned with the names of the donors arrived - complete with giant greeting card.

30 plastic pink Flamingos - $150. 1 heart full of joy - Priceless.

Pink Flamingo Kind of Love - Howard Rebecca Lynn c2002

Life is great without the clutter
Pass the apple butter
I can't believe this heat
Ain't it simple,ain't it clever
How good we go together
Like june bugs on a string
If our yard was an ocean
And we were sitting' in our lawn chairs
I wouldn't feel any more emotion
Then I do now,
all I want's a
Sprinkler on the garden hose and
Aim it at the patio
Iced tea,you and me
Pink flamingo (kind of love)
Let the clothesline be our fortress
Gas up the tiki torches
Sun up,sun down,
big dreams,small town
Pink flamingo kind of love

Pink Flamingo Kind of Love - Howard Rebecca Lynn c2002

The Circle Game

There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

The Circle Game by Joni Mitchell

This song seems to summing my life at the moment. My friend "Pie" who is ill is really, really ill. In fact she's dying. At the same time our next door neighbors just welcomed their first child into the world - a healthy, longed for baby boy.

Thursday night I went to her house to help her with some odds and ends. Then I came home and cuddled a 2 day old baby.

The ending of a life and the beginning of one - all in one night.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

They Just Don't Get It

They just don’t get it.

Hospitals are very strange places. They are supposed to be set up to accommodate people who are in pain, immobile, handicapped and not in the best of heath. The elevators are all hung with signs proudly proclaiming their mission. The walls are adorned with pictures of happy, healthy ex-patients. But somehow they always manage to miss the boat.

My friend who is ill was admitted to the emergency room of one of the premier cancer hospitals in the nation. We arrived at 11am and she was not admitted to her room till after 7pm , giving us 8 hours to observe the wheels turning, creaking and frequently stalling.

To set the stage – she has a broken leg, a broken arm and her other arm is very weak and her hand has no strength due to complications from a cancerous tumor. She’s not exactly an ideal candidate for the Susan Koman Race for the Cure.

They plop her a room, drape one of those gowns over her clothing , hook her up to an IV with multiple tubes and then hand her a specimen cup and point her toward the bathroom.
The cup has a lid, she’s tethered to an IV and has extra layers of clothing to contend with.

We decide modesty be dammed and I go in to help her. We get the gown tangled in the IV tubes, I who have 2 good hands can’t get the cap off the wretched cup and there is no pee forthcoming. Time for the old camp trick of sticking your hand into warm water. It works. We break into gales of laughter and make so much noise we alarm the staff. I guess they don’t hear many hysterical giggling fits.

That taken care of she gets back into bed and tries to nap and I read. Hours crawl by. Dinner time arrives. Dinner, which is delivered consists of a turkey wrap, a carton of juice and a bag of baked chips, everything wrapped and sealed in plastic containers. And just how is she supposed to open it, much less eat it? I’d pilfered a couple of straws from the cafeteria so the juice is manageable. I chop the wrap into pieces with the oh so helpful (also hermetically sealed in cellophane) plastic knife and we manage somehow.

Half way through dinner the phone rings. It’s on a table, against the wall, a good 5 feet from the bed. Not only can she not answer it, but I can barely stretch the cord far enough so she can talk. It’s transportation. They will be “right down” to take her to her room. “Right Down” is hospital speak for 2 hours.

Helping someone who is coping with cancer is definitely a reality check in just how inaccessible many “handicapped” facilities really are.

And that no matter how grim it gets there is always something to laugh about.

Even if it’s just a urine specimen cup.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Writing in a Stupor...

Such a 10 days it's been....to wit:

  • Our Assistant Principal quit and we got a new one - all within the first week of school.
  • School is still in session and summer vacation seems oh so far away.
  • My car developed some odd and interesting problems
  • My computer keyboard gave up the ghost entirely. Even 3 hours on the phone to India (and all the kings men) couldn't put it together again.
  • The school district tech wizards decided everyone needed to change their password to a "strong" password. Which unleashed total chaos.
  • My friend who is ill ended up back in the hospital. Emergency rooms are not fun places to while away a Sunday.

Never has a Friday been so eagerly anticipated!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

1 Down, 179 to Go...

Today was the first day of school. One thing I like about teaching is that every year really is a new beginning. New kids, new teachers, new lessons, new inititives, new projects. Every 365 days you really do have a chance to experience "the first day of the rest of your life". I think that's one reason many teachers are optimists (you have to be to stay in the biz) - we really do have more opportunities than most people to write on the clean slate of life.

Many of my favorite kids came back (and a few that aren't). All teachers play favorites, anyone who tells you they don't is lying. Hugs and smiles all around. Our students pretty much like school. They get 2 good meals, routines and well expressed expectations. No matter what one reads about the spontaneity of childhood, children are creatures of habit. They like knowing what's going to happen and thrive on routine.

The library opened up first thing, we had full slate of classes and checked out 270 books. After many renditions of Alistar in Outer Space I have a sore throat and a sore back.

I think a hot bath is in order.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Why Teachers Dread In-Services

For parents, the school year begins with a trip to the mall for clothes and school supplies, for teachers it begins with a round of in-services. Sometimes they are very, very good, but when they are bad they are horrid.

I suffered through one today and I now have the perfect recipe for "a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad in-service".

Neglect to inform point people at the site what will be required in terms of equipment and logistics.

Stuff 100+ people into a small room. Do not add the presenters who are running late.

Require the 100+ people stand in a long line to sign in because you haven't enough sign in sheets.

Waste 50 minutes while the presenters try and figure which groups need to move to another room because there aren't enough chairs or tables.

Sort out the groups and discover you haven't enough handouts, journals and other essential supplies. Some people will have to do without. Which makes it impossible for them to participate.

Finally begin presentation. Pretend your audience is 7 years old, the same age as their students.

Assume your audience knows nothing about the topic. Do not change your assumption, even when it becomes very apparent that this is an incorrect assumption.

End the presentation early but inform the audience they must stay for another 45 minutes because it's supposed to be 4 hours long.

At that point all the teachers in the room got up to go to the bathroom and forget to return.

It was a total waste of a morning.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Feet hurt.
Knees hurt.
Back hurts.
Shoulders hurt.
Throat hurts.
Head hurts.
Brain hurts.

9 hours on your feet teaching an in-service will do that to a body!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Galloping Through the Day

Up at 5:30,dress, feed cats, tend to cat litter boxes, zip through Starbucks, at work by 7am. Hang flags, unpack stuffed animals and puppets (I have hundreds), set up new books, tinker with Accelerated Reader, catalog Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, try to help new teachers feel less confused, shuffle 2 months worth of mail and muse on math manipulatives, schedule classes, answer questions, questions and more questions. Lesson plans still await me. Set Outlook profiles, fiddle other teacher's computers - it's amazing what happens when you plug the thing in!

Leave work, duck in and out of the rain drops and zip in and out of the post office, office supply store, grocery store and dollar store.

Home to unload, opt for bread, cheese and fruit for dinner. Answer e-mails, list books, tend to auctions.

Head upstairs - I have books to pack before I sleep.

Can you tell summer break is OVER?

I expect to spend the next week in an exhausted stupor.