Sunday, August 14, 2016

It's a Masterpiece

Sunday night is THE night for any real television in our household and PBS is solely to blame. Their show Masterpiece Theater and Masterpiece Mystery have utterly and completely consumed my viewing time for as long as I can remember.

Tonight is the official "last Sunday night" of summer. I am ready (if wistfully so) for school to begin on Tuesday. But for tonight there is Masterpiece.... oh, and also Chinese takeout because that's the best thing to eat while watching PBS on Sunday night, right?

What's your favorite TV addiction? 'Fess up - you know you want to tell! Have a great fall, dear readers!

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Books of Summer

I don't know about you, but during my professional life summer has become the time when I can fully enjoy recreational reading. Each summer I look for a series or two that I can dive into and enjoy. Some year's it's a romance series, others a mystery series. I have discovered some wonderful authors that I go on to revisit in following years.

This summer I have "discovered" Sue Jaffarian. She is the author of the Odelia Grey novels. Odelia is a delightful "accidental sleuth" who is fully employed as a paralegal (an occupation her author shares in real life!) Odelia is a forty-something, size 20, single gal with a love of all thing chocolate and ice cream. She doesn't take herself too seriously and is quite witty as well. I found her so likable and the books, nine in all, quite entertaining. So I would recommend them highly if you are looking for a contemporary mystery series with compelling plot lines and a delightful crew of recurring characters.

Speaking of books, if any of you are users of Goodreads, I am on it as CStaude and would love to connect. For those of you unfamiliar with Goodreads, it's a social website for booklovers! It's a great place to discover new authors and read about upcoming new books. This isn't how I stumbled on Ms. Jaffarian's books, however, I found her the old fashioned way by browsing about the library. I am blessed to have an excellent library less than a mile from my home.

This is my last night of totally unstructured "summertime" - and I am planning to spend it reading! Back to work tomorrow.... all good summers must come to an end! Till next time, keep reading!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Last week of Freedom, Conventions, and Assorted Odds and Ends

Hello readers,
Am back after a hiatus spent with grandchildren and what we now officially call "Grandcamp". Four of the five were here for just about a week along with our youngest daughter, and we did have "grand" time. Running about looking at sites, making crafts and cooking for 3.5 times your usual table crowd makes for a busy week. It was fun.

So now it's time to get serious about the impending school year. And I am finding that a challenge. I really don't want to think about another year just yet. What's more, I find myself dreaming of grabbing a discount ticket to London and just jetting away! This is nothing new... it happens every summer during this time. I love my work, really enjoy the students and the variety, however about this time it feels a bit like a cage that soon I will be forced to crawl back into. I think the images I have of the work others do is part of the problem. I imagine other people at jobs where they can choose to spend more than 3 minutes in the bathroom or take a coffee break or lunch with friends and not be ''watching the room" and I inwardly fantasize about it. That's the sticking point for me about where I work and what I do - absolutely NO discretionary time. Your life is locked into 80 min. segments with 5 minute passing times and somewhere in the day you get "prep time" but you must use it while on campus. It's like being in a prison and it is not any surprise to me at all why all the inmates, both teachers and students, can't wait to rush out the doors each May! Is normal "work" like this too? Or do all you readers with "normal" (i.e. non-teaching) jobs get to call some of the shots about your use of time? So I start fretting about it a couple weeks out. The meetings get onto the calendar first.... I think to "break us all in" to the idea of having to be back in our routine.

For evening entertainment the past week I have been dipping between Netflix and the Republican Convention. Between the two, I will take Netflix. However, there was sort of train wreck quality to the RNC gathering that one couldn't help but watch. So tonight begins the Dems and it's kicking off with a bang that involves firing a woman who heads their national committee. If social media had anything to say about it, which it does but who cares, Senator Sanders should consider rising from the ashes and stealing the show, but that won't happen. However, given the list of speakers that will appear at this one, I will most likely find myself tuning in. I have at least found that conventions make it easier to knit or crochet while watching than do Midsommer Murder episodes on Netflix.
Are any of you less than excited about November's elections? I know I am NOT looking forward to all the ads on mainstream media... which is why I intend to avoid it as much as possible in the next 3 months. Most of you know that my husband is into all things political, although more on an international scale than a national one, so the days ahead are a bit like a big sports season are to other folks. Must admit, it's fun to be a spectator at times like these.

Movie review time: haven't seen many this summer and all of them so far have been kid flicks. Caught Spielberg's BFG based on the book of the same name by Rhoald Dahl. It was delightful and dark and well-executed. Mark Rylance was brilliant as the giant. Second film, The Secret Lives of Pets just about put both me and my 3yr old grandchild to sleep. I would suggest saving it as a rental for some night when you have little people you want to nod off around... and then quietly tuck them in. I will say this, cat lovers will not appreciate that all the cats in the film are either a) ridiculously overweight or b)viciously mean. It kept 3 out 4 grandkids mildly entertained and then they rated it only a 3 starts out of 5. My grandkids have serious movie critic chops, folks.

Still enjoying my bike, although I must admit that one week of 100 degree heat here in Misery-(oops) Missouri put the damper on my plans to ride daily. Some things are just not worth heat exhaustion.
Our pool seemed a safer option for the past 5 days of scorcher temps. I hope you all survive your final week of July with coolness!

Till next time - all the best.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Back again, so soon?

What is it about blogging that keeps me coming back for more? Even after an almost 2 year hiatus, I found myself with a few free moments today and thought about this blog. So here I am - back again. Even though I know that many of my dear readers are long gone and not reading anymore! Who, after all, follows a silent blog.

So in that gap, I celebrated TWO birthdays - a landmark one and an anti-climactic one. I turned sixty which I expected to be a much bigger deal than it actually felt. Yes, my family made a wonderful fuss about it, everyone coming to town to help me celebrate etc. but overall it passed fairly calmly. I am not sure what the next 20-30 years hold, and how many of them I will get to enjoy, but the first 60 have been good and very satisfying, each in their own way.

At sixty, I expected to be more set in my ways than I am. Ironically, I find myself becoming a lot more relaxed about "big issues". I am more likely to say, "So what?" or "Does it really matter?" than I used to be. Not sure what that means in the long haul, and am also not sure if this will be how I go from here on out, but right now it feels right.

This past spring, that second birthday came and went. And so now I am 61. Biggest thing I have done thus far in my 61st year is buy a new bicycle. Yeah, a bicycle. Not just any bike either. I got an electric bike. It arrived in June and has provided me with a great deal of fun and freedom since its coming. It has enabled me to go up hills that were denied to me by my physical limits using my conventional bike. I can pedal to the library and the market and I feel that no matter what else happens, as long as I have the ability to ride off on it, I am not truly "old". That sounds weird, I know, but in my head it feels good.

So here's to grandma on wheels! Will hopefully make this NOT my only post in 2016!




Monday, October 13, 2014

When it rains, it POURS!

Today we experienced a deluge! No, seriously, a flat out deluge! It happened over the noon hour. Kids were heading here and there to eat their lunches. Some of our junior and senior students get to go to the neighboring rec center for a sort of "off campus" lunch hour.  In the span of 20 minutes it became so dark that some of the street lights came on. Then the biggest downpour I have seen in many years came pouring out of the sky. Sheets of rain were blowing in every direction. The rainwater was actually flowing UPHILL out of our parking lot as it was being pushed by the winds at the surface. It was awesome, and scary!

In the middle of this, the bell rang, signaling the end of lunch; and like lemmings marching to the sea, our kids began crossing the 200 yards between buildings to return to class. All as this enormous storm was dumping water on them. They looked like they had taken a shower as they entered the school!

And here is my point. What are we teaching kids when they fear getting a tardy more than they fear being struck by lightning or doused by incredible amounts of rain? I could scarcely believe my eyes as each kid obediently crossed the lot and returned to school, while utterly failing to consider just sitting tight, safe and warm in the building, until the rain eased up. Nope! Onward they came and soaked to the bone they became!

Guess some folks are not wise enough to stay out of the rain in the first place -  much less to come in out of it! Time for some lessons in plain ol' common sense.


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Adjusting to the Emptier Nest- Part Deux

It has been over a year since I last posted. Seems life and circumstances found ways to always keep me just one step behind my to-do list and teaching demands, and I simply let my writing go to pot. However SO much has changed since May of 2013 that I scarcely know where to start!

First, in August of 2013, we got the news that Concordia University Wisconsin had sighted Gretchen in their "headhunter radar" and that a move could be in the works. We held our breath, hoping against all hope that nothing would come of it, but it did.... And in February of 2014 she began working as a Vice-President of  something there... Her complete title is something I never have memorized, but she found the chance of this opportunity something irresistible. At the same time Leon was called to serve as a pastor at Hale's Corners Lutheran church just outside of Milwaukee.  All the stars conjoined to make this all happen with almost eerie perfection. Their house sold, within 2 weeks... They found a place to live there that they both love and are going to build a gorgeous new home that will be finished by fall. Everything worked out perfectly.... Except that we had to say goodbye on May 18th and watch them drive away with pieces of our hearts in the backseat- Sydney and Rielle.

To say that I am "handling" all this change would be hyperbole. I have never felt so blue as I have these last five months. The one bright spot is that we consoled ourselves by taking Gabriel, our oldest  grandchild to Italy with us for two weeks in early June. Oh what a joy that was! Kate and Nate very generously entrusted us with him and off we went. Seeing the wonders of Rome with a 12 year old to share it with was amazing! I will never forget his face as he sat in his airplane seat on our very first take-off of the trip!

So life has its ups and downs, small compensations replace huge losses, and we go on. We work longer than we should these days, largely to keep ourselves busy, and we have a more open calendar. Ed goes to the vineyard more, and I do more reading. We have seen Syd and Ree three times since the big move- once we went there and they have been here for visits twice. Ree is changing so fast and Syd has become a first grader. I miss them so much.... All five grandchildren are such precious people to us.

And now it is October. The leaves are starting to turn, the grapes are harvested, and the year is winding down. I find myself feeling very introspective these days and a bit anxious about what the future holds for us old timers left in MO. In a little over six months I will turn 60, so I guess it's as good a time as any to be reflective. I don't see the path ahead clearly right now, but I am willing to explore where it leads once it is revealed. It feels like a new chapter in our life is just beginning, and though it is late in the novel, the Author of it all is keeping us in tight suspense. We will just have to read on to find out where it goes next.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Teacher Prays

Today my mind is reeling from the events of yesterday in Moore, OK. As a teacher, my heart shudders at the thought of a tornado ripping through a building full of students. Seeing it plastered on the news over and over is giving me many reasons to pray.

It is the final week of classes here at my high school. Generally that is a cause for great rejoicing and always that is a cause for heartfelt prayer as well. I don't know as we teachers discuss our prayers for our students much. I am sure that all teachers of faith do it, however. There are several kinds of prayers that we send up to the higher power keeping watch over our students as the travel through their years in our school.

Most often, we pray for those who are struggling for various reasons... personal, academic, and socially. These prayers are the obvious ones. The less obvious are the ones that involve where a student  might go but has not yet gone... choices we know they are wrestling with, futures they have yet to decide, and sometimes decisions we know they must make but are avoiding.

But today, I am praying for the students in a place I have never been. I am praying that many more of them will be found safely tucked away in spots in their schools that perhaps sheltered them. I am praying for the parents of those who will not be found among the survivors. I am praying for the rescue and recovery workers; a more paradoxically heroic and onerous task than I can even imagine. I am praying that the families who have lost all they own will be cared for and loved and reassured that they have those around them who will help.

And I am praying that my students will be spared from ever experiencing such horrible events of nature. Even as the storm clouds build outside on what could prove to be a severe weather day here in Missouri. I do not call such events acts of God... God does not act in this way. God was in those schools helping the teachers protect the little ones who hid beneath them in the storms. God is with the rescue workers digging with hope. God is acting through all of us sending money, blood donations, and whatever we can to aid them. Those are acts of God. We are acts of His love in the world. And He tells us, "Be still and know that I am God" - so today, I will be still and pray to Him.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Morning of Regrouping

The sun is shining beautifully in my window this afternoon as I sit and write. I love winter days like this, clear and cool, not brutally cold. With just enough deceptive sunshine to make you believe that February will, in fact, give way to Spring and possibly sooner than one hopes.

Had the day off classes today in honor of President's day - one week early, so as to give the kids a midwinter breather of 5 days while we go to the METC (Midwest Educational Technology Conference) tomorrow and Wednesday.

So I have had a "breather day" - never a bad thing. Often such days are provided by the weather as snow days, but we have remained virtually snow free this winter. Nemo missed us (mercifully) and now the buds on my forsythia bush are actually starting to swell in the sunshine.

The best thing that happened today was that I discovered my mentor, Hamilton Salsich, is alive and well. Ham is an educator of 45 years who lives up in CT and is still teaching at age 71! He is a brilliant guy who reads widely and thinks deeply about a variety of things that inspire his classroom and life. I have been following his blogs for almost 3 years now, and today I discovered that he hadn't posted about his classroom since last Oct. I immediately became concerned... wondering if in my absence, Hamilton had packed his bags and headed for the heavenly classroom... but he appeared online in response to my brief and somewhat fearful query about him. Seems he's been writing on a different angle than just English and didn't think he should post it on the Ning where I usually read him. I felt relief and then became more thoughtful.

In this crazy digital age we are in, how easy it would be to lose a dear friend and not discover it for quite some time! We are bombarded by emails, status updates, blogs, tweets, and news bytes. It seems like the stream of words, words, and more words is never-ending. And for a moment I felt quite small. Then I realized that Ham's voice was one that sounded clearly to me in all the cacaphony of cyberspace... and THAT made me realize that I need to think more and write more than I have been. The beauty of this thing called the internet, is that our thoughts can have an almost endless shelf-life, if we BOTHER to put them out here. There is something wonderful about that. Something I will need to think a lot more about in the weeks to come.


Wednesday, January 02, 2013

And A Happy New Year

Wow, what a difference a month makes! When I last wrote we were getting into the Holiday season and so much has happened in the month of December.

First, and sadly the worst, we had to say goodbye to our "fur kid" Chas on the first Sunday in December. He was just a little past 12 years old which everyone tells us is quite old for a greyhound. His heart and health were getting progressively worse and he developed a tumor on his head that could not be treated. It broke our hearts to say goodbye... I held him tightly as he went to sleep. I still cry when I think about him (and as I write this) but can't bring myself to think about another dog just yet. Chas was one of a kind... and our first "empty nest" dog... one that just Ed and I got to spoil. The holidays without him around were quite different and very quiet. No first snow walks or having him at the door all wet and snowy and ready for a treat.

The family kept us quite busy the rest of the month. December included stalking Santa with Sydney who sat and chatted with him not just once, but THREE times! (Great fun!) She had no problem with him asking her repeatedly what she wanted for Christmas and we got some great photos of her each time. You have to enjoy these moments while you can since they don't stay little "Santa lovers" all that long!

School went on hiatus as of Dec. 20th and we looked forward to the long break of 17 days. Ed spent 12 of them run over by some sort of respiratory bug (flu? don't know) that came on within 48 hrs of him getting his flu shot - so of course, we blame that for it. But he pressed on and enjoyed all the holidays and the kids - just tried not to breathe on us all.

First EVERYONE arrived, all the kids, grandkids, Ed's sister, Leon's folks - EVERYONE. The houses filled up, and we got set to celebrate.

Dec. 23rd was the first big day. Leon was ordained as a Lutheran Minister at Immanuel Lutheran Church. Such a wonderful day for all of us. Followed closely by Christmas Eve and Day celebrations. We had SO many happy moments and loads of laughter together.

When everyone left on the 27th and 28th, the house seemed way too quiet. We spent a quiet New Years Eve - which is pretty typical for us. And here we are - it's a new year and 363 days lie ahead that seem filled with possibility. Wishing you and yours all God's blessings as we embark on it together.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Of Lincoln, Elections, and a hectic life

It has been a crazy 6 months or so since my last post. Started a new school year at LHS... keeps me very busy and time seems to fly ever more quickly as I plow through the weeks with my students.

It is our second year on this new (now not so new) 4x4 schedule and things are going along swimmingly well. We are still into iPads at our place although not so new anymore as many other schools are doing 1:1 with this remarkable tool as well.

Thanksgiving break was this past weekend and we had a quiet one. It was nice, restful, and probably about a day too short for me, personally. I am really finding it takes my batteries a bit longer to recharge than it has in recent years.

A highlight of the past weekend was a visit to the movies to see Spielberg's newest film, "Lincoln". A deeply moving account of our 16th President and all the valleys he trudged through in order to get the 13th amendment passed abolishing slavery. It struck me then as ever it does that this particular piece of our history is not all that far in the past. 160 years is not all that long a time in the grand scheme of things.... and certainly not in the lifetime of a nation. Seeing this chilling fact played out on the big screen was intense and made me come home and do some reading about the men on both sides of the issue.

Having just completed an election here in which there was much polarizing talk on both sides of the experience, I was struck by how it has ever been so to varying degrees in our nation. Democracy is an incredibly messy and boisterous way to run a country. It takes people of strong fiber to pull it off. We have never been a nation of weaklings in that regard and it is worth remembering leaders like Lincoln who had the courage to make uncomfortable choices that may not have been politically beneficial to them at the moment they made them. Interesting.... and a lot to think about.

Hope to be back soon.....