Showing posts from July, 2011

Save Our Schools

I found the link for this speech as I was reading through my Twitter feed last night. Matt Damon spoke at the Save Our Schools march in Washington.  It is uplifting and will make you feel good about being a teacher.  Just thought I would share the text of it here. We all need to feel good about our profession at the time of year!

Saturday Morning Parade

It's Saturday morning at the lake--check out day for those who rent cabins . As I sit here reading and writing this post, the parade of cars and boats has been constant. They look tired, these vacationers. They cram a lot of fun into seven days. Late nights, early mornings, hot weather, swimming boating, trips to Arnold's Park .  Lots of vacation in seven days.  And (to me), they also look sad as they see me sitting under my umbrella with a mug of coffee in my hand. Oh, if we only had a trailer like that I hear them think as they pass by. In a couple of hours, there will be a parade of a different kind. The new renters. Full of excitement, they will unload what they believe they will need for a week of fun in the sun. Much too much stuff, but for now, it seems essential. The floaties will appear on the beach. Towels will be flung over the deck railings, wood piled beside the fire pit, coolers close at hand. And they will cram a summer's worth of fun into seven days.

Writing Workshop

The changes I want to make in Creative Writing classes this year aren't for the students who come in already wanting to write. What I do works for them. The changes I want to make are for the students who are taking the class solely for the English credit. The ones who are shocked that we will write EVERY DAY in Creative Writing.  The ones who mistakenly think this is a sluff class. So, here I sit staring at the lake, with a pile of books and notes sitting in front of me, thinking about changes I want to make.  I know I want to do more procedural mini-lessons at the beginning of the year.  Get those routines established, you know.  I want to create a space that is comfortable for writing--and a safe one too.  Sharing needs to become more prevalent this year and does celebrating our writing. So, I'm back to the pile. First book up is Writing Workshop: The Ess ential Guide by Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi.  Although focused on elementary writing workshops, it is easily a

But First....

My summer mind is fighting for survival and before I can let the school mind take over completely there are a few things that need to be accomplished... I need to Watch more sunsets Swing more golf clubs Drink more Sangria I want to Ride the roller coaster Swim in the lake Play with the grandkids. I know I should Plan a few lessons. Read professional books, Ready my classroom. But I will Take sunset boat cruises, Visit with dear friends, Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Mind Flip

It happened this morning. My mind flipped. There had been little flashes of it throughout the summer. I went into the building twice. I opened up professional reading books. I wrote a couple of things down in my notebook. But this morning, it happened for real. My school mind came back! How do I know it came back for real?  Well, I woke up at 6:30am for the first time in a long time. And I "needed" to get up. The first thought I had as I opened my eyes this morning was, "I wonder where the writing workshop book is?". As I looked for it (yes, I looked for it at 6:30am). I found another book that I had scavenged from the local area education agency and had never had time to look through. It's sitting waiting for me right now. Trouble is, I still don't know what I am teaching for sure. Evidently, it's not important for high school teachers to know before workshop what classes they will be teaching during the coming school year! I am planning on Creativ

"It's a Girl Boat!"

Captain Robin, driving her "girl boat" It was a special summer night, that started with a text, "Going on boat ride! U want 2 join?" "Sure!  I'll be down."  It's been 110+ degrees all week. It was like winter. No one really left their trailers. We hibernated. So today was for fun! I took a bottle of wine and walked down the road.  There were four of us to start, a fifth we picked up later. Three women and two men (that will be important later). Just a nice sunset cruise around the lake. Perfect. And it was. No bugs. No heat, No stress.  An ideal summer day.  Until the boat "died". Really. It quit. Hundreds of yards from shore. And we laughed. A lot. Giggled out loud like little kids. "You're out of gas!" "No. We put a lot of gas in--we've only been out four times!" There had been an "incident" a week ago.  The boat wouldn't start. Men were called. They fixed it and the questi

Love, Grandma

Dear Grandsons, Grandma here.  I've been spending a lot of time with you boys this summer and got to thinking about all the things I want for you. The things Grandma thinks are important for boys to know.  I know about boys, you know. I raised your dads...I took them fishing, taught them how to throw a ball and how to catch one, hid some things from grandpa and made grandpa deal with others. I know about boys.  1. Don't assume your mom can't do something just because she's a girl.  Moms are tougher than you know. So are grandmas. 2. Be nice to your sisters. This is how you will learn to be nice to your future girlfriends. 3. Learn to cook. You shouldn't have to depend on the women in your life to feed you. Pay attention to your grandpa, dad and uncle. They are pretty good at it! 4. Learn basic car maintenance.  The women in your life will expect you to know something about this. 5. Pick up your clothes, do your own laundry, figure out the iron. E

The Art of Doing Nothing

I think I'm going to write a how to book. It will be called "The Art of Doing Nothing: A Guide for Adults". Most adults feel like they have to be accomplishing something, but it's not always necessary. It's hard work doing nothing.  Really. It's difficult shutting down those voices in my head ordering me to: do the dishes, make my bed, pick up Chloe's toys, read, write, walk, dust, vacuum.... Instead, I will just breathe and:  feel the wind in my face, put up my feet, and let my mind roll with the waves. The I will watch the birds fly, Chloe sleep, the flags fly, the boats bob, the buoy dance, and wonder if the pink tube will blow away. Lastly, I will watch the shade move around table. Some would call this avoidance. I call it, the art of doing nothing....

Lake Morning

You know when you get those silly emails from friends that ask you to answer questions like "What are you wearing right now?" or "What's your favorite--beer or milk?". One of the questions is often, "What's your favorite smell?"  I always answer "the lake". I wish I had the words to describe the smell in the air and the feel of the breeze this morning. I've been sitting here enjoying it for over an hour and thinking of all the words I could use to describe them. But nothing would do them justice. Here in Iowa, we have been under an excessive heat warning since Saturday. It is supposed to last until Wednesday night or Thursday. That means while the temperature is in the upper 90's, the added humidity makes it feel MUCH warmer--like around 110-115 degrees. That's hot. And there's only two places to be when it's this hot. In the air conditioning or in the lake.  Saturday I spent in the lake. Sunday I spent in the air co

Just For Today

Just for Today I will Pretend Bite my tongue 'til it bleeds Smile Act like nothing is wrong Just for Today I will Be the bigger person Enjoy the sun and waves Practice serenity Breathe Just for Today I will Laugh Enjoy Talk Smile Just for Today

The Lady in Pink

photo © 2009 Manu | more info (via: Wylio ) She has been in my head for two days--ever since I saw her across the restaurant. At first, from the back, I thought she was a teenager, but when she sat at the table next to us, I saw she was much older. Probably in her late 70's, although she could have been younger. Her face was so kindly, it was hard to determine her age. I think it was the way she had her hair pulled back that gave the impression of a teenager. There was a little pink scarf wrapped around the bun she had put up on the back of her head. A slight woman, she pulled off the head to toe pink outfit very well. One of friends thought she looked very Southern, and I'd have to agree, although we never heard her speak. She was very proper looking in her pink flower-print skirt that flared out as it hit just below her knees.  A pink knit top with a coordinating pink sweater buttoned over her shoulders, gave her an old time librarian look. But the best part for us were

Early Morning Musings

Bleary eyed, I look at the clock. 3:39am.  Crap!  The alarm didn't go off. I meant to get up at 3:00am to give myself a little time for coffee and something to eat. Now I'll have to rush to get going on time. Quick shower while the coffee perks, a quickly dashed off Slice of Life, and I am out the door. It's 4:20am. My mind is on a dear friend facing a lumpectomy this morning. She checks in at 5:45am and I want to be there with her. Because of A LOT going on with other family members, she is facing this without any of them there. So it is important that as many of her "other family" are there with her and two have traveled with her from western Iowa to Rochester.  She doesn't know I am coming. I drive down the street and notice a house with all it's lights on and many cars in the driveway. My mind races---what could be going on?  Are they up because they work an early shift somewhere?  Or maybe someone works the night shift and just hasn't settled

Morning Hugs

Sleeping soundly, until I feel someone watching me.  I turn over and open my eyes. There stands Tony with a tired grin on his face. I pull back the sheet and in he crawls, snuggling next to me. "Gramma..." "What Tony?" "I love you." "I love you too." We cuddle a bit more and I just enjoy the morning. Tony, who asks a million questions a day, starts in (I'm sure so he can make his quota of questions). "Gramma, can I play golf?" "Gramma, can we go swimming today?" "Gramma, where are your glasses?" "Gramma, what's that noise?" It's Chloe, shaking herself awake. I open the bedroom door and in she flies, jumping on top of Tony and I, devouring us with her kisses. Giggles ensue. And then we all settle down for a few more minutes of morning hugs.

6 Adults, 6 Grandkids, 3 Dogs and a Cat

Can six adults, six kids, three dogs and a cat live together in small confines for five days and live to tell about it?  You bet! (To be honest, two adults and a dog left after two days, so that eased things a bit). Our sons and their families both came to the lake to visit over the fourth. I had spent the weekend before trying to organize the trailer to maximize space and have a place to put everyone's belongings. (You have to understand that the trailer was a camper in a previous life--maybe 25-30 feet long with an addition the same length and width)  I rearranged  the cupboards and the fridge so we had more space for the food needed to feed everyone. I cleaned coolers so we had a place for beverages (the fridge is just too small to hold food AND beverages). I found the kid DVD's and had them ready to go. I brought extra towels from home---you never have too many towels at the lake.  I was as ready as I was going to be! Also in the mix were my mom, sisters, nieces and

Pool Party

The first job I ever had was running the pool shack at the country club in my hometown. My best friend, a friend from church and I were in charge of keeping the concession stand open, stocked with supplies and clean the summer after my sophomore year of high school. We made what seemed like a fortune--$1.25 an hour. Now,  considering that the girls at the local A and W made a whole 75 cents an hour, we were rolling in dough. The funny thing about this job was after an initial meeting to explain what we were to do, no other adult ever checked on us the rest of the summer. It was teenage heaven. No one told us what to do. We decided the work schedule. We ordered the candy and ice cream. We cleaned the french fryer and grills when need be.  Some of my favorite summer memories revolve around my sixteenth summer. We flirted with the lifeguards,  caddies, and members. We listened to the Watergate trial on the radio (spurred on by one of the lifeguards--a college boy!), sang along wit

Summer Memories

The smell of suntan lotion brings back one memory every time I smell it--summer at the pool. photo © 2008 havenholidays | more info (via: Wylio ) When I was a kid, summer was spent at the pool. Mom bought a family season pass every year for my sisters, brother and I and we walked or biked the half mile there every day. It opened at noon and we were almost always one of the first ones in line. We'd swim and play until five, when it closed for the dinner hour. It reopened at six, and many days, we went back until it closed at nine.  What a life. When I was in eighth grade, the pool became more than a place to cool off on a hot summer day. It was our social paradise! It was such an important place to be--how else would you learn to flirt, make important high school connections or find out the latest gossip? Finding exactly the right spot to lay your towel was essential. You couldn't be too close to the kiddie end. You would look like a little kid and ran the risk of ge

Wicked Witch of the East

Both Ruth at and my chapters in  Spilling Ink talked today about noticing the every day around you and writing it down. Ruth wrote about noticing idiosyncrasies and writing them in your writer's notebook. As I was reading, Chloe began barking non-stop. I knew it had to be at the neighbor lady. She creeps Chloe  out--and me too. So, here she is... photo © 2008 Ed Yourdon | more info (via: Wylio ) She skulks around her yard, bent slightly at the waist, mouth pursed into a perpetual grimace, scanning the area around her for trespassers of any kind. Dandelions, litter, a neighborhood dog or cat. a neighbor... anything that dares to enter her realm. Dressed in her uniform of jean capris, knit shirt and white Keds with white ankle socks, she checks the surveillance cameras installed around the perimeter of her small green bungalow daily, making sure they work correctly when nothing shows up on video. She slowly creeps around the side of the garage, peek