About Me

My photo
Tennessee, United States
Retired teacher living in East Tennessee, adjusting to life in the land of round door knobs. Photographer for our local animal shelter and foster of many dogs and kitties. Don't ask me how many dogs I have, but my son got me one of those "I'm the crazy dog lady" sweatshirts.

Follow me on Twitter


Monday, December 28, 2009

Wild Child

Late this afternoon hubby and I drove down to the new mall at RAB for an early dinner at the Macaroni Grill, which we had not tried out yet, and a movie I had been wanting to see, Where the Wild Things Are. I didn't realize I was going to get a live preview of the movie at dinner, from a boy who even resembled the protagonist. A youngster was sitting at the table next to us, with a man and woman, who I believe were probably his grandparents. Either way, a child borne late in life or a much-loved grandchild, this one had clearly been coddled and told he was special from day one and the results were on display for all of us to see.

The boy was not loud or argumentative. He didn't throw food or run around. In fact, he and his grandpa seemed to be having a jolly good time, drawing on the tablecloth with the crayons and horsing around. But, what made me frown and even seemed to make the grandma twitch was that the boy repeatedly hit his grandfather. Not a poke, not a tickle, but wham-bam pummeling with his fists. The grandpa's response was to laugh and dodge the punches, but that was about it. What really horrified me was that at least twice, as the man pulled his arm out of harm's way, the boy opened his mouth and lunged out trying to bite the hand that was clearly feeding him that evening.

This was not a toddler. This boy was at least 7 or 8 years old.

I could not help but think about The Dog Whisperer. I've only seen a couple of episodes, but I understand from raising my own dogs and two children, that you have to let them know you are the boss. They have to know that YOU are in charge. But in too many families, the children are in charge. The parents and grandparents have given up their role as mentors, choosing instead to try to be their children's pals. These kids are overindulged, catered to in every way, in a misguided attempt to bolster their self-esteem. Along the way, they lose their empathy for others and may even, like this brat, become bullies at an early age.

And, speaking as a teacher, I know from experience, that when these children have trouble in school, the parents come to their defense, finding fault with the teachers for failing to appreciate how darling their little darling truly is.

The parallel between the boy in the restaurant and the boy in the movie, who bites his mother in anger before running off to the island where he becomes king of he Wild Things, could not be missed. I did not see the trio in the movie theater. Too bad. The one thing the Wild Things wanted most of all was someone to take charge and tell them what to do, how to behave, how to be happy. At one point the boy tells his alter ego that what they really need is a mother.

On the plus side, my Parmesan Crusted Chicken Salad was delish, and I will be ordering it again, but thanks to the unappetizing behavior of my dinner companions, I left the restaurant with a bad taste in my mouth.

Crayon photo from applelogue.blogspot.com

Thursday, December 24, 2009

2009 Christmas Greetings

Warm wishes for a safe, healthy and happy
Christmas and New Year.

I am grateful this year for the well-being of my family. There are some who are unemployed and have suffered financially during this recession through no fault of their own, but everyone is well. Everyone has a roof over his or her head and hope for a better future.

We all know that sometimes bad things happen to good people, and that is out of our control. But, we who are able are all responsible for supporting those in need, whether family, friends or strangers.

It is the goodness of most people that I find to be the most reliable constant in the universe. Trust in that. Look for it. Be a part of it, and we will all get through the hard times together.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Changing Spaces

After two years of renovations that have transformed this old house into something I'd really like stay in, we are getting ready to say good-bye and move to new digs. We were fortunate to find a house we like on our second outing, literally the second place we looked at. If you're a friend on Facebook, you've seen the pics, but some of you aren't there, so I'll post a few here, too, so you can see where we are going.

Changing houses is changing spaces and things that fit in one space, don't work the same way in the new space, if at all. My mind has been spinning trying to decide what will earn space in the new place, and what will go into storage or go away altogether.

Things I'm going to miss in this old place:
  • the beautiful new windows and French doors
  • the terrace we had put in last year
  • the balcony we had rebuilt, both sitting out on it upstairs and under it on the terrace
  • the rocks in my garden that have been gathered over many years and used for edging and steps
  • the plants, bushes and trees I planted on the slope next to the terrace
  • watching the neighbors stop to pet Gidget and slip her little doggie treats
  • the built-in kitchen
  • the pantry at the foot of the stairs (now that we have it painted and organized!)

What I'm NOT going to miss:
  • carrying dirty clothes two flights downstairs to the basement to do laundry
  • the bathrooms - decent, but need to be updated, and that purple tile!
  • sweeping up the cedar cones that drop all over the sidewalk a couple of times a year
  • shoveling snow off the long sidewalks on two sides
  • the traffic noise and occasional artillery booms from the training range

What I'm going to LOVE about the new house:

  • the den with its flagstone floor, corner fireplace and lights that look like old-time hanging lanterns
  • the laundry room next to the kitchen
  • the little pantry next to the kitchen
  • the big yellow tub in the bathroom
  • having phone jacks and satellite feeds in multiple rooms of the house
  • the peace and quiet
  • the occasional fresh veggies from the landlord's garden

    What I'm NOT going to love about the new house:
    • the kitchen - very basic, cheap cabinets and NO dishwasher
    • the steep hillside yard
    • inadequate parking on the street for guests
    • the old metal or wood windows that only open one way.
    • no overhang over the balcony for sitting outside without getting rained on

    Well, no place is perfect, and I've certainly done a lot of complaining about this one over the years. Perhaps it's just the moving I object to. It's a heck of a lot of work, and I don't really feel like doing it. Still, a couple of months from now, it will be done and I'll be sitting on the couch in front a cozy fire with sleeping doggies at my feet typing on my laptop, telling you how glad I am I made the move.

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    Music from the Birds

    Change your point of view, change how you look at the world and you may serendipitously discover something totally new. This one gives a new meaning to the two word phrase: bird song.

    Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

    Saturday, August 29, 2009

    Advice to Newlyweds

    It's been a busy summer. I haven't had time to post more photos of all the work we've done on the house . . . may still do that, but the best news is my daughter got married this week, a civil service with a couple of witnesses, and since they didn't have the big wedding, I went around and asked my co-workers, plus a few innocent bystanders, if they had any advice for the newlyweds. This video is the result. I think it is funny, touching and true. There's some good advice here.

    Saturday, July 25, 2009

    Mystery from Our Attic

    Our house was built in 1965, and a single family lived in it, raised their children, and we purchased it after the death of the original owner, who was quite elderly. This summer we have been not only painting and doing other house improvements, but also trying to go through our possessions in preparation to moving this Fall. Yesterday Jim was going through the attic, moving, sorting, finding out the toilet up there has a leak (fun, fun), when he got quite a surprise.

    At the top of the stairs there is a small door that leads to storage space under the roof eaves. In that space, over the years, we have stored old suitcases, computer boxes and pet carriers. To Jim's surprise, when he opened the door yesterday, he saw straight ahead of him sitting on top of one of the pet carriers a cardboard tray containing what appeared to be a child's project, now fallen apart.
    He brought it to me and we marveled, not just at the project, but at how it came to be sitting on top of a pet carrier in our attic. That space in the attic is not one we access frequently, but we have been in and out of it many times over the years to put things in and get things out and neither of us had ever seen this object, let alone place it on top of the pet carrier.

    He suggested tossing it, but, of course, I said, no, put it downstairs and I'll look at it later.

    So, after several hours stripping wallpaper and painting the upstairs hall, in the evening, I sat down to watch television and take a look at our mysterious object. I was amazed at the number of small items I saw and how much work someone had at one time put into the creation of what I now saw was a model of a church, what church where, I still don't know. Perhaps a reader will know.

    I sorted through the pieces and tried to make sense of them, taking pictures as I went. I was particularly taken with the church steeple with its clock and the angel perched on top of the little oriel window (a small bay window that projects from a wall). Regluing the oriel to the steeple was the first act of restoration I did.

    At first I thought the little round pieces might represent people, but as I looked at the roofs of the building, I saw little white squares where it looked like the bases had once been glued, and I decided out that they belonged on the roof like those onion shapes on the top of Russian churches.

    I found stairs going nowhere, although on one side, there was a platform and around it what I decided were columns that might hold up a roof, and I also found a four-sided pyramid roof to fit on top. One metal rail was in place and I was able to replace its twin. But, the stairs on the other side, still lead nowhere. Whatever object was there, is lost.

    I worked my way through the mess, replacing what I could, discarding small pieces whose purpose I could not determine and finding that the little trees and bushes crumbled into dust if I tried to pick them up and put them back in place.To my delight, I found small images of people, perhaps drawn, perhaps cut out and mounted. I love the image of the men standing there looking at the church. Aren't they delightful?

    I also found along one wall an image, that when I turned it over, turned out to be a couple of lovers, sneaking a snuggle outside the walls.
    There is also a woman on a bench that I had trouble getting to sit up, but I also found amusing.

    In the end, I was left with some extra pieces, and I'm sure not all is as it was, but I hope that the spirit of the person who created this or placed this in our way (because how else do you explain it's mysterious appearance?) is happy to see it somewhat restored and not lost altogether.

    I've put it together, now what? I can't say I really want to move it and take it with me, or leave it permanently on my sofa table so I'm open to suggestion. It's not a museum piece, just a child's project once saved, then lost, now found again by a stranger. Placing it here on the Internet may be as close as it will come to immortality.

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Summer 2009: A Work in Progress

    Summer 2009 has consisted mainly of painting, a task which sounds much simpler than it is. Don't get me started! If only the furniture, knick knacks and old wallpaper didn't have to be dealt with before the paint could go on!

    There has also been some gardening, some cement mixed and poured, along with many rocks put in place to create an easy way to get from the terrace to the yard. Yesterday Jim pulled up almost all of the stone tiles that currently make up our driveway, which has really become a sad site, and we are waiting for a local guy to come by and give us an estimate on finishing the job. This, after Jim looked at the mess and concluded that this was a job for professionals!

    There's still a mountain of tasks to complete to get our house ready to put on the market and get ourselves ready to move to a new domicile in late fall, early winter.

    As for the lovely before and after view of the hall, that's only the front half of it and it took two days to complete. I still have the other half to do (behind the camera). Once that is done, the ground floor will be finished. Also, that brown-looking stuff on the walls, is some of that old wallpaper I was earlier growsing about having to remove.

    Too bad there's also an upstairs, a basement and an attic to which much still needs to be done.

    Sunday, June 28, 2009

    Burg Lichtenberg Medieval Summer Market

    We finally made it to one of the medieval markets at our local castle, Burg Lichtenburg, which overlooks both the village Thallictenberg and the larger town of Kusel, Germany on Saturday with our friend, Mary. The crowd was a mix of Germans and local Americans.

    After the usual speeches, it opened with an unexpected bang, three blunderbusses going off with a defeaning roar, and featured minstrels, a beggar, knights in combat, a great many people in medieval dress, some wearing shoes because of the weather, others barefoot because of it. The blunderbusses were much louder than you will hear in the video. One fellow promised us we'd get our sense of hearing back before we left. He was right (whew).

    We bought wine from a young man wearing a cape, kilt and no shoes, who explained to us it was easier to deal with wet feet than wet shoes. We tasted his wine, and it was good.

    There were wonderful craftsmen demonstrating their crafts and selling their wares, priced in thaler, a silver coin used throughout Europe for almost four hundred years, although Euros were accepted everywhere.

    Fortunate for us, since we had brought no thaler!

    One young boy took his role as a squire in earnest, parading up and down the area valiantly, once challenging the beggar, whom he refused passage until the beggar begged the father for help.

    The musicians played regularly, juggled and stuck a sword down the throat of a young maiden, who apparently suffered no harm. There were games for the kids, the most popular of which was using crossbows to shoot at the soldiers on a castle facade. Few parents left without purchasing a wooden sword.

    Although it rained heavily just before the event was scheduled to begin, I only had to put up my umbrella twice, and that for very light rain. The re-enactors, who stay in a multitude of tents, travel from market to market throughout the summer. Even their children get in on the act, and I appreciated the family atmosphere and many opportunities for children to play.

    For lunch we bought a large waffle, which was not a dessert, but a meal. It tasted like there was potato in the mix, plus herbs and tiny bits of diced ham. We also split among the three of us a slice of German bread with melted goat cheese, also topped with herbs.

    If you find one these medieval markets (mittelaltlicher markts) near you, I recommend the trip. It will be great fun for the family, plus fine shopping, too. I left with a cutting board for the kitchen, a bottle of peach liqueur, 3 bars of homemade scented soap, and a fresh loaf of bread, baked in an oven there at the market.

    Friday, June 19, 2009

    Saying Goodbye to Frank

    Today we drove to Zwingenberg an der Neckar for Frank Heidingfelder's memorial service. The weather was chancy, not cold, but a mix of clouds and sun with a chance of rain. Overall, it was a pretty day.

    Yahoo told us the trip of 125.81 miles would take 2 hours 8 minutes, so we allowed 3 hours, and with construction and one closed road, we pulled up to the cemetery 2 hours 40 minutes after leaving Baumholder and 20 minutes before the service was scheduled to begin. Zwingenberg is on the Neckar river with a large castle overlooking the town, and a ferry that runs to the campground on the other side of the river, a beautiful setting just a few miles from Eberbach, Frank's birthplace. I know his birthplace, because I took the "How well do you know Frank Heidingsfelder" quiz. Don't ask my score.

    We turned onto Bahnhoffstrasse and then wound our way up a steep hill on Im Hohen Gartenstr. When I saw a group of people dressed in black, I realized we had reached our destination. We parked and walked through a small cemetery up to a chapel. We didn't know anyone there, but overheard conversations in both German and English.

    We found seats and watched as people arrived and greeted the family. Frank's urn and a framed photo of him were set on a table. The cloth on the table continued out onto the floor in front where yellow roses lay scattered among candles laid out in the shape of a cross. Pots of blooming plants and flowers, wreaths and the vase of white flowers we had sent flanked the table. But, that's just decoration.

    You could tell when someone was thinking about Frank, because the tears would flow and the lips would quiver. I plead guilty to several instances of this.

    The minister had a cheerful face and reassuring manner, and even though the sermon was in German, I could make out enough to know that his sermon was mix of comfort and celebration of Frank's life. He mentioned that Frank had made many friends all over the world. Twice at the beginning and again at the end of his talk, he referred to the scripture from Isaiah
    Be not afraid, for I have redeemed thee, I have called on thy name -- thou [art] Mine.

    Remember, this was all in German. I got that because of the last line:
    Du bist mein (Thou art mine).

    As we entered the chapel and I was signing the guest book, I noticed a small CD player was quietly playing, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, from Monty Python's, Life of Brian. How very appropriate, I thought. Frank would like that. The song was played again during the service, along with Bob Marley's, Three Birds.
    Rise up this mornin,
    Smiled with the risin sun,
    Three little birds
    Pitch by my doorstep
    Singin sweet songs
    Of melodies pure and true,
    Sayin, (this is my message to you-ou-ou:)

    Singin: don't worry bout a thing,
    cause every little thing gonna be all right.
    Singin: don't worry (don't worry) bout a thing,
    cause every little thing gonna be all right!
    After the service, a man wearing white gloves picked up Frank's urn and carried it outside and down the hill to his grandparents' gravesite, where his urn was to be placed alongside them. As we exited the chapel, it began to sprinkle and as the minister talked, the wind came up a bit. The hardest part for me was watching the man with the white gloves very slowly lowering that urn into the ground accompanied by some really heavy music. That tugged on the heartstrings. And watching his mother watch the remains of her only child being lowered into the earth was painful, although she handled this, like everything else that day, with loving grace.

    Frank's father and mother were the first to step forward and using a little shovel, take sand from a bucket and drop it into the grave. His mother also dropped a small bouquet of yellow roses. Next came his stepfather, and then the other close relatives present. Each mourner approached, often in twos dropping either the symbolic dirt or rose petals from a container or flowers they had brought. One young man dropped in a rolled up note.

    When our turn came, Jim took the shovel and I took rose petals and as I dropped them in, I said to Frank "These are also from Megan and Eric and Sarah and Chris." We turned to shake hands with the family, first the stepfather, offering condolences, next Frank's mother,  Corina. To her I said, "I'm Judy Graham from Baumholder." She said, "The teacher!" and pulled me close in a big hug. I don't remember exactly what we said, but she thanked me for coming and I told her that there were many of his friends that could not be there that wanted her to know how much they loved him. It was hard to get out the words, but ya'll asked me to tell her, so I did.

    After that we needed umbrellas. We walked around and took some more photos of the area and the mourners to share with those who could not be there. We also went back into the chapel and I took one of the yellow roses. I have hung it upside down to dry out, my little memento.

    When we drove away, we went to the bottom of the hill,  turned right and almost immediately saw a big gasthaus and pulled in. It took three tries for Jim to find a parking place that wasn't a. private or b. in front of a garage, but we did get parked eventually. We planned to have a late lunch before heading back home. When we walked in, we saw some people from the funeral going into a room off to the right, but thought they might be having a private gathering of the family. So, we headed out onto the covered balcony, but a woman found us (I think it was Frank's great aunt) and told us we were welcome to join everyone in the big room for kaffee und kuchen (eat your hearts out).

    I was glad we had stumbled on the gathering, because it is after the funeral that people are able to lighten up and talk and smile remembering the good times. These gatherings are important for families and friends to share. We met Frank's stepbrother, Rick. I shared some of my thoughts on how funny and clever Frank was, and he said that Frank was always that way. He also said that he thought that Frank had really enjoyed his high school years, that he had started to come into his own in high school.

    Frank's mother, Corina, said that she was amazed at how quickly the word had gotten out via Facebook and something about MySpace, too. She was aware and gratified by how many friends Frank had and how much love they had expressed for him.

    I pointed out that Frank had been the one who reached out and reestablished or maintained contact with his friends, and would occasionally show up at the school after several years absence, just to say hello to his teachers, never letting loose of the bonds he had with the people he cared about. I told her that my own children hadn't known Frank well when he was at Baumholder, but that after friending me on Facebook, he had gone on to friend my children, and to become good friends with my daughter, who so appreciated his wit, which was much like her own, and that she had taken the loss hard.

    I'm sure other people had great things to say, but since they said them in German . . . they went right past me. I'm only reporting on my conversations and observations.

    When we were ready to leave, Frank's mother walked us out. She told us that they had been using this gasthaus for many years for family gatherings, birthdays, weddings, funerals. She shared with us that shortly before his death, Frank had been helping her make spaghetti in the kitchen and she had teased him about how thin he was and asked him when she was going to get a grandchild.

    I wish I had the words to express what a wonderful, warm, caring woman she is.

    Sunday, June 14, 2009

    Baumholder Rock'n'Roll

    When I went to the final show of the high school drama class, I took my digital camera, but when I saw them dancing, I filmed some of it using the video function from the second row, not the best quality, but you get the idea. They had a lot of fun and so did the audience.

    Tuesday, June 09, 2009

    Born Anew

    I read recently that one way to overcome the fear of death is to recognize that our life did not begin when we were born, that it began long before, perhaps eons ago . . . our birth just being our entrance into this reality in a new body . . . and our death just passing from this reality to another, leaving our "remains" behind.

    Still when you hold a newborn, it feels like something new has been created. If he is as old as the universe, he doesn't seem to remember that, and whether brand new or starting over, a brand new baby is a remarkable thing.

    Welcome to the world, little one.

    Saturday, May 23, 2009

    Smartboard Infomercial

    Some of the Baumholder Middle/High School faculty members participated in making this tongue-in-cheek infomercial for the Smartboard recently. I think it's funny, and I don't think it's just because I know all of these people! And now everyone can see it on YouTube.

    I don't have a Smartboard yet, although they did install an Infocus projector from the ceiling of the classroom and I am using it to project stuff from my laptop more and more, instead using of the chalkboard. The overhead is sitting on the floor in the back of the room. The last lightbulb went out and asking the supply man or admin for a replacement was an act of futility. 

    Side note on the nature of paradigm shifts. Once the technological shift starts, there is NO support for old technology. Fewer than half the classrooms have a Smartboard or an Infocus machine, yet supply and admin don't seem to comprehend that those still relying on overhead projectors (poor sods) still need light bulbs for their projectors. Arg.

    It was a tough adjustment, and I'm not fully adjusted. Some of my summer will be spent creating presentations on the computer that I used to do on the overhead. But I'm comforted knowing that while if the lightbulb in the Infocus projector goes out, I will have no projector and will have to pick up a piece of chalk and use the chalkboard. However, if the piece of chalk breaks, I will have two pieces instead of one! Math is weird that way.

    Saturday, May 16, 2009

    B-Town Boys Are Back

    What does a sea of buses and cars in the Wagon Wheel parking lot signify? It means the troops are back, or a big chunk of them, anyway. There was excitement in the air all week as family members anticipated their arrival, and many happy faces as the soldiers returned from a long and dangerous deployment to Iraq. When we went on post last weekend, we were lucky enough to see the long line of soldiers in the street waiting to parade into the post gym, where their families were waiting to be reunited with them. We also saw a group of delighted young women, still wearing their gear, having a group photo taken. Their joy reached out and touched us in the car as we drove by. So, despite the many signs declaring that the boys are back, a gentle reminder than our women in uniform are back, too, and all are welcome home.

    Thursday, May 14, 2009

    Progress on the Home Front

    Here's how the balcony, terrace and landscaping look this Spring. I hope a comparison photo this Fall will show filling in of the bare spots on the hill. Most of the plants we put in last Fall died due to the unusually frigid Winter temperatures, and this is the sheltered side of the house. My Pampas grass didn't make it. I've waited patiently for it to show signs of life, but am accepting that it isn't going to happen. Geez. It's grass. You'd think it would survive just about anything.  I was glad to see the Japanese willow (small tree) and the lilac bush made it, as we had transplanted them from other parts of the yard, but everything else is new.

    Tuesday, May 05, 2009

    Blue-hearted Daisies

    My new favorite flowers in the garden, these blue-hearted daisies.

    I don't know their real names, but I like their clean look.

    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    Cheery Blossoms

    The cherry tree just exploded with blooms this year. Since Spring has sprung, we've gone quickly from relentless cold to beautiful sunshine, with just enough rain to keep things growing well.

    The magnolia tree is starting to bloom now.

    Happy Spring, everyone.

    Sunday, April 19, 2009

    Sticky Poetry

    I recently got out my Magnetic Poetry board in the class room and the kids and I got busy. Funny how you can pick up words at random and they seem to go together. Totally random? Or a way for our subconscious to reach out and speak to us?
    Click on the image to get a larger one (easier on the eyes!).  

    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    Through the Lens

    I finally got around to organizing my Flickr account and uploading my favorite shots. I enjoy looking at the photography of others and appreciate their willingness to share with everyone the beauty of the world that they have captured through their camera lens. The Internet makes it possible for all of us to share with each other in ways we never dreamed possible. I'm always amazed at the creativity of ordinary people.

    Saturday, April 11, 2009

    Easter Greetings

    We picked up a nice bunch of lilies just in time for Easter.

    Have a good one.
    Love each other in honor of the one who loves us all.
    We can agree to disagree as long as we agree that
    the heart of the message is love.

    Wednesday, April 01, 2009

    Happy April Fools Day!

    I was only 6 when this happened, so am not surprised I don't remember this great April Fools Day joke. Go, BBC!

    Saturday, March 28, 2009

    My New Quilt

    I ordered a quilt from the Quilt Haus a couple of weeks ago. I love it. I saw this quilt at Shirley's home last summer, or one of two that she and her daughter made from the same materials, and loved it then, but couldn't give myself a good enough reason to buy it.

    It has sat in a corner in the back of my mind like an itch for half a year. When I saw it again on the website she set up to sell online, I decided to go for it. I'm glad I did. It's a beautiful quilt. The "minkee" back, whatever that is, is very soft, and I love the brown with dots. Very fun.

    I'm not sure what it's ultimate use will be. I still hope to have a grandchild some day, and this would be great for a grandson's room, but there are no guarantees of that.

    Whatever its ultimate use, it's beautiful and suits my personal sense of style. You can check out Shirley's other quilts by clicking on the link. If you do buy a quilt from the Quilt Haus, it will be a high quality item made by a gifted quilter who cares about the craft.

    Friday, March 27, 2009


    They had some temptingly cute and yummy-looking Easter Bunny breads at the PX bakery today, so I took a photo, although I purchased only rolls and cheesecake. I don't know which I like better, the smiling bunny heads with the whiskers and floppy ears on the right or the running bunnies on the left. There are some more bunnies at the top with chocolate bottoms, but I cut out their heads when I took the photo, just a bit too much to fit in the frame. Enjoy the photo and try not to drool. If you've lived here and left, you know you miss it; if you're still here, it's never a bad idea to stop by a German Bäkerei on the way home and pick up some Osterbrot, a Pretzel, or my favorites, Brötchen and Käsekuchen.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2009

    Arrested Development

    As they read Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes, my reading students write poems about themselves which they will eventually read in a poetry slam for another class. Two years ago I promised to write and perform a rap about them. Here I am two years later,  with a new group of kids, but the poem still applies. I read it to them today. They liked it. They got it. 

    It's interesting watching them struggle with this. Some get started right away. Others drag their metaphorical heels, saying, "I don't know what to write about." (If I only had a nickel for every time I've heard THAT one!) You can tell when they have found their angle, that thing they want to say about themselves, the thing that maybe they can say, because suddenly they are in a world of words and ideas, and what comes out can be surprisingly good.

    It's a journey.

    Arrested Development

    Slouchin’ in your seat
    wearin’ droopy drawers
    with your raggedy edges and
    caramelchocolatevanilla skin

    Your mind is at rest
    while you’re failin’ the test
    tryin’ to look your best,
    but ain’t it a shame.

    You got boldness and shyness
    fightin’ for control.
    You got hope and anxiety 
    messin’ with your soul.

    Can you get it together?
    Will you find your best self?
    Will you crash and burn
    or stay in school and learn?

    You got lots of potential
    and that’s an essential,
    but will your life be bent
    by arrested development?

    Keep on choosin to stay movin’
    And your life can still be groovin’
    Just don’t get in your own way.
    That’s all I got to say.

    by Judy Graham, 2007

    Sunday, March 08, 2009

    Time to Get Moving

    I tend to sedentariness during the cold twilight months. But, the sun is spending more time above the horizon and the temperatures, while still brisk are warming. It is time to get moving, get on the wii exercise board, get out, and get the blood circulating again.

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    Love me tender

    Sing along or just sit back and enjoy. It's still a great song.

    Words & music by Vera Matson
    Sung by Elvis Presley

    Love me tender,
    Love me sweet,
    Never let me go.
    You have made my life complete,
    And I love you so.

    Love me tender,
    Love me long,
    Take me to your heart.
    For it's there that I belong,
    And we'll never part.

    Love me tender,
    Love me dear,
    Tell me you are mine.
    I'll be yours through all the years,
    Till the end of time.

    Love me tender,
    Love me true,
    All my dreams fulfilled.
    For my darling, I love you,
    And I always will.

    Saturday, February 07, 2009

    Great TV Moment: I love Jesus but I drink a little

    This lady is so humorous, and I don't believe it is unconscious. She's a smart old dame, and I'm going to name my next pet after her. I don't know when or where, but the next one up will be named, Gladys, in her honor.

    Wednesday, February 04, 2009

    The Two Dumbest Things I Read Today

    #1  Joe The Plumber: "I Don't Know If The American Public Deserves Me"

    Granted, Rod Blagojevich seems to have an ego as big as his hair. He may have ended up making a fool of himself and gotten himself chucked unceremoniously out of office, but at least he can say he got elected.

    What has Joe the Plumber ever done that he thinks he should be giving advice to Congress or the American people? While he recently said, with false humility, "I don't know if the American public deserve me, but my son definitely deserves my time now," he continues to give us his time, whether we want it or not. Please, Joe, you are right, for once. We don't deserve you.

    In a final example of his mediocre IQ, he added this comment: "I don't believe there's two sides to every story. It's black and white. There's right and wrong." Hmm, black and white (2), right and wrong (2)? What the heck? Unless this is a misquote, there appears to be a deficit in his ability to add. And he wants to give us advice on the stimulus plan? Wouldn't that involve adding numbers higher than 1 + 1, which he seems to be having trouble handling now?


    #2   Dimon Says ‘Not Every Company’ Responsible for Wall Street Pay

    Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JP Morgan Chase said today that Barack Obama and Congress are “unfair” for criticizing Wall Street pay and planning to cap  the  pay of top executives at businesses receiving taxpayer bailout money at $500,000 a year. The President of the United States earns $400,000 a year.

    “It’s unfair to talk about us as one,” said Dimon, who was paid $1 million last year. “Not every company was responsible.”

    Here's a newsflash for Mr. Dimon and all the other executives and board members who lost billions of their stockholders' dollars: that taxpayer bailout fund is NOT your money! It's not a gift so you and your families can continue to live pampered lifestyles while the rest of the country suffers and more families become homeless. Do you really think you should not feel any pain as a result of your bad business practices? Do you really feel so ENTITLED? So, you might have to give up your second vacation home or buy your 16-year-old a Toyota Prius instead of a Mercedes roadster.

    UNFAIR? Mr. Dimon, you are welcome to set your salary at anything your stockholders will allow AFTER you REPAY EVERY CENT PLUS INTEREST that I and my fellow taxpayers have thrown your way. Hopefully, by then there will be new rules in place to keep you from raping and pillaging the accounts of your depositors to satisfy your personal fiscal lust. Look up the word fiduciary, sir. Your company may not have lost as much as Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, but 29.5 BILLION DOLLARS is not chump change.

    You are right, Mr. Dimon. Not every company is responsible for this situation, but yours is one that is, so take responsibility. Stop whining. Do your job.  As long as you keep fretting about your salary, the rest of us will be fretting that you seem more concerned with padding your own bank account than you are about losing other peoples' retirement funds. And if you can't take the heat, to quote Harry Truman, get out of the kitchen. I bet there's an unemployed executive somewhere who'd gladly to take over your job for the $500,000.

    Saturday, January 31, 2009

    Hallelujah Song

    This is a favorite song of mine. I used it at the the high school awards assembly last spring.

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Goodbye, good luck, good riddance

    Not my favorite president; proof that it is not enough to mean well, or be a nice guy, or have a good heart, or be someone you'd feel comfortable hanging out with. To be president of the most powerful nation on earth, you need to know what you are about. Here's hoping President Obama will possess the wisdom and know-how to get the job done. I'm not sure how this time we managed to elect a capable man who got where he is by his own ability, not his mommy and daddy's money or influence. Every now and then Americans surprise me in a good way.