Monday, May 31, 2010

Late Arrival

Returning home after a weekend get-away means gearing up for the coming week. The need to regroup and get ready for the next week has always been my reason for wanting to get home early in the afternoon after time away from home.

This weekend's return home was late. I was supposed to return Sunday night, but my friend and I couldn't think of a reason not to delay departure for another 12 hours. There was still food in the fridge, movies to watch and one more sunset to enjoy. Staying seemed to be the reasonable thing to do. With a Monday holiday extending the weekend it was the right kind of late.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Tonight I'm sitting on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay enjoying the view. My location is a small fishing village, Fishing Creek, on Hoopers Island. The bluish-gray waters of the Chesapeake glisten in the bright sun. Across the way I see the silhouettes of trees, standing tall on a small island in the bay. Like my backyard in Alexandria, it's quiet, but it's a different kind of quiet. There's the occasional passing car, more traffic than I would have figured on, there's the humming of a a/c unit, but mostly the sounds I hear are of birds.

The cardinals are the loudest, as they sit perched in a nearby tree trying to draw the attention of their own kind. Herons soar through the skies above without a sound as newborn rabbits scurry about in the late afternoon sun. The sun is setting, slowly at first and then with purpose as the daylight hours draw to a close.

It is peaceful. I am content.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Good Day for Raptor Sightings

Up until today I have seen two Bald Eagles in the wild. My first sighting was on Flathead Lake in Montana, the second sighting was on a small pond near Camden, Maine.

Today I was kayaking around Blackwater Wildlife Refugee near Cambridge, Maryland. In the span of an hour I saw three eagles perched on various tree branches. Being on the water was treat enough, but seeing three of these monster raptors was even more special. I saw a fourth one standing in a newly plowed field as I drove by... that was icing on the cake.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I Read a Poem Yesterday...

I read a poem yesterday and it stuck with me. I suppose that's what makes it a good poem--the words stayed with me and I pondered them throughout the day, trying to find a personal connection.

Things I didn't know I loved:

I always knew I loved the rain.
I always knew I loved spending time with friends.

But... I didn't know how much I loved sitting underneath the shelter of an old porch, on weathered Adirondack chairs with my best friend, talking about nothing in particular as the clock struck 2:00 AM.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cyber Greetings

Yes, Betty White was correct when she weighed in on Facebook a few weeks ago on Saturday Night Live. It was a push from Facebook users that had her hosting SNL that night and since she didn't know much about the social network she gave it a look-see. "It's a complete waste of time." She smiled as she delivered her punch line.

Today a whole lot of my friends were spending time on Facebook, but I don't think they were wasting time. They were sending me birthday greetings. I received more birthday good wishes today than I have in years, simply because people I've lost touch with are now in my cyber social circle.

Messages came in throughout the day, and each time they did I smiled.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Long Time Ago

It's been almost 18 years since I stood in front of my first class of students, and in those 18 years I don't think I've worked with a more challenging group than I did that first year. It would be easy to say that the challenges were due to my own inexperience, and although I agree that may have been a part of it, I also think that they would have been a tough class for any teacher no matter what his or her experience level was.

Sarah was the girl that had been picked on throughout her elementary school years. By fifth grade it had become so bad that her mother decided to enroll her in private school.

Jason was the boy who seemed determined to challenge me everyday. In a moment of exasperation I sent him into the hallway for a time-out. The punishment did not deter his behavior; he mooned the class.

Tommy was a tough one as well. I can't recall any specific behavior, only that he always seemed to be in trouble. He was the first, and last, elementary school student I knew who was given an out of school suspension. He was a good friend of Jason and the two of them kept me on my toes the entire year.

Tommy came by to see me the next year. He had moved to DC and stopped in to say hi when he was in the neighborhood. He apologized for being so bad. A year later it was hard to recall the specifics of his poor behavior. I never saw him after that and often wonder what became of that fiery redhead.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Two days of state testing has me exhausted. I would much rather be standing in front of my class talking about the book we're reading than watching a group of students click their way through on-line testing.

Many students see the tests as a sign that the year is over. It really isn't over at all. In fact, we have 4 more weeks of school. The challenge is getting the kids to realize this. Behavior problems have been constant over the last few days. I can only hope that after our last test next week we can settle in for the last 15 days of school and still come out happy in the end.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Looking Back...Part V

There have been a few downers this year as well, but it seems easier to look back and take note of the good stuff. Isn’t that how it should be? I know I spend a lot of time thinking about the low points of the year while I’m wading through them. Sometimes the energy I spend in those down moments can leave me physically and emotionally exhausted, so why deplete more energy by rehashing it now?

It’s been a good year.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Part IV...of V

Spring arrived just about the time everyone was sick of looking at the dirty snow piled everywhere. The flowers started blooming again and the days grew longer. My bike came out of hibernation and I took my kayak out for the first paddle of the new year. I was thrilled to get back out on the canal path with camera in hand to see and record the first signs of spring.

Other memories of the year come to mind but they’re more like flashes of fun; watching the smile on my nephew’s face grow as he recounted the positive feedback he received on his sketchbook during his interview for acceptance to the New Hampshire Institute of Art. His younger sister had the same sort of glow as she looked up at the lights in Time Square last December. She was awestruck to be in the city that she hopes to call home in the next ten years.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Part III

The start of the new school year came about quickly. So did the painful symptoms of Achilles tendonitis and Plantar Fasciitis. The fall was about getting settled into the school year and fitting in twice-weekly physical therapy appointments to mend my aching peds. I also audited a class so between that and therapy there was always someplace else to be after work. I welcomed a return to relative normalcy in January but was then quickly thrown for a loop with an irregular mammogram.

In the end it was nothing, but I don’t have any desire to see one of those long biopsy needles ever again. The bright side to the entire experience was that the biopsy fell on the day before a major snow event. Since I didn’t go to work that day and was done with my appointment by about 10:30 I was able to beat the crowds to the grocery store and stock up on all the needed snow supplies. The storm came as predicted and I enjoyed an unscheduled weeklong vacation at home. It was fabulous.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Looking Back...Part II

The summer started off with a bang. The fourth of July found me driving north with my sister and her three children. We enjoyed whatever fireworks we happened upon as we made our way from Maryland to my brother’s house in Upstate New York for a few hours of sleep. Seven hours later we were back in the car to our second destination, The New Hampshire Institute of Art. My 17 year old nephew was going to be spending two weeks there as part of a pre-college summer semester. We dropped him and his suitcase off and continued on to Maine for a little gal time.

Our time in Maine was delightful. I was with my sister and her two daughters. We enjoyed, among other things, a 16-mile bike ride through Acadia National Park and a great lobster dinner with a good friend. We walked along the rocky coast and I shared my interest in sea glass with Megan and Mary. By the end of the week we had all amassed our own little collections of blue, brown and green glass.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Looking Back...Part 1

On the TV show, “Mad About You,” one of the main characters had a tradition of taking a solitary walk on his birthday to spend some time processing the events of the previous year. I guess birthdays are as good as any other day to take some time out to dissect the events of the three hundred sixty five days that have gone by. Well, maybe dissect isn’t the best word. I have no interest in ripping apart my memories of the year and processing them until they are nothing but a haphazard group of over-analyzed thoughts. Whatever- it might be fun to take a look back

The year started off with a bang when I was completely surprised by an impromptu gathering of friends who somehow stole away from their busy lives on a Wednesday night to take me to dinner. Really, isn’t a birthday just about saying to someone, “Hey, I’m glad you’re here?” I definitely felt the love that night; it was a super way to start off the year way.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Damn Bird

The Blue Jays continue to avoid me. I've been told they're mean, nasty birds so I shouldn't be so surprised, but the thing is, I am fascinated with their coloring and their size! In the almost four years that I've been taking pictures on a regular basis I've managed to get one half-decent shot of a Blue Jay. The odds of that just don't seem right.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Scary Kids

As a kid I roamed pretty freely throughout the neighborhood. It was the 70s so parenting was much more laid back than it is today. I would walk barefoot a mile up a two lane highway to 7-11 to buy junk food. I went ice-skating on ponds without adult supervision and rode my bike pretty much wherever I wanted.

I was reminded of those days as I cruised up and down the aisle at the local drug store in search of a few items. There was a group of four teenage boys in the school supply aisle. I'm not sure what they were looking for but they were huddled around one item and exchanging ideas about who would use it. I could sort of hear what they were saying from the next aisle, but didn't think much of it.

By the time I made it to the end of the aisle to grab some milk before heading to the cashier I could see the manager casing the school supply aisle. He was bothered by the four boys and was determined to keep them in eyesight. As far as I could tell the boys weren't doing anything wrong, anything other than being teenagers without an adult in a store.

I noticed them walking out as I stood in line waiting for a free cashier. The manager was tailing them.
"And you do know what I mean." He scolded.

As the boys kept heading for the door, the fourth one in the exit line responded, "Actually, I don't know what you mean."

The encounter reminded me of a day many summers ago when friends and I rode our bikes to a local nature center. There were three of us together that day. We parked our bikes near a fence line and started to walk toward one of the nature trails. There was a group of elementary age students at a summer camp nearby. One of the kids spotted us and pointed.

"Look! Teenagers!"

The other kids looked in a mixture of awe and fear. Much like the boys in the store today we had already been labeled as trouble. We didn't understand why, so we just shrugged our shoulders and kept on walking.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Mondays are usually quiet days in the classroom. However, given the gorgeous weather we had this weekend it wasn't surprising that today the students were nearly comatose. That worked out well for me since I was pretty tired myself.

The kids have started counting down the days to the end of the year. Someone in my homeroom was asking how many more days we have left and 27 was the immediate response from the other side of the classroom. One of my homeroom students is leaving on June 4 to spend the summer with family in his home country of Egypt, so he has his own countdown going.

I've been counting down Mondays...with today taken care of and the Memorial Day holiday thrown in I'm left with four more Mondays that I have to listen to the sound of an alarm clock at 5:15 AM. That sounds just dandy to me.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Please Pick Up

I'm a big fan of caller ID which means I don't always answer my phone. My rule is no answering of unavailable numbers or names or numbers I don't recognize. So when the phone rang late yesterday afternoon I scrambled to find my reading glasses so I could read the number flashing on the screen. It was a 510 area code identified as a wireless caller.

Wireless caller is a tough one but since it was an area code that I didn't recognize I started to put the phone down and head back out to the patio. Then I stopped. I considered the possibility that it was my brother, who lives in New York. My dad is staying up there this week so I thought they might be calling to fill me in on my mother's trip to Ireland.

Well, it wasn't them, but I'm glad I answered because on the other end of the line was a good friend from high school. Ed and I don't get to see too much of one another these days. He lives on the west coast so we have a whole lot of states and a few time zones between us. It's great that a phone call can so easily erase all that space and time.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lazy Saturday

I moved into my present home ten years ago. It is a small brick townhouse condominium in a community of houses built in the 1940s. My backdoor opens to a small patio, beyond that is a natural courtyard created by my building and three others. The boundary lines between each patio are natural ones, created by shrubbery.

My windows are open today and as the soft breeze blows through I can hear the sound of a saw in the distance. A few unidentifiable bird chirps clash with the bark of a neighbor's dog. The bird feeder is getting a steady flow of fly-by customers.

My cat is stretched out on the window seat with his eyes half open. He enjoys the comfort of a soft blanket, and even though a part of him would likely enjoy a catnap, there's also a part of him that can't keep his eyes off the backyard show.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Great Friday Night

I arrived in this town twenty-three years ago as a new employee of the Smithsonian Institution. I was not dusting dinosaurs, as I liked to tell everyone, I was just another cog in the wheel of the personnel office. It was an easy job, one that didn't take too much brainpower.

There were a few of us recent college grads working in personnel those days and we bonded pretty quickly. We enjoyed lunchtime naps under the trees on the mall and lunches that often lasted much longer than our allotted sixty minutes. We were new to DC and enjoying life on our own for the first time.

Tonight I met up with two gals that I worked with at the time. We had dinner at a local music club and listened to some bluegrass while we caught up with each other. The three of us haven't worked together in twenty years. The Smithsonian was just the first stop in three very different career, education and federal employee.

The conversation and laughter included the requisite reminiscing about life in "the castle." It also included an update on recent life events, an update that included a breast cancer diagnosis, the need for reading glasses and the latest tales from the world of motherhood.

Our time together passed quickly. We exchanged good-byes in the parking lot and acknowledged how great it was to spend time together on a rainy Friday night. I climbed in the car and smiled.

Great. That's precisely what it was.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's All Good

And now for the last word on the literature circle project...

A great day for all five classes, there was exciting chatter in the room as the small groups worked together to make sense of the thoughts and actions of the novel's characters. There was some disagreement but for the most part it was respectful in nature. It was one of those days where everything went as planned.

And that's all I've got to say about that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Round 1

Well, day one of the Literature Circle Challenge was pretty successful...until I got to my last class of the day. Certainly, one of the key aspects for success is student preparation. If the students don't come in with the reading done it's hard for the small groups to work. The homework completion rate in my last class was a mere 58%...quite frustrating. I tried my best to contain my frustration and spoke with the class about the importance of being prepared for the group. I'll have to wait until 12:00 pm Thursday to see if the message was taken to heart. Hopefully it was, but if not I'll look for another solution.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

End of the Year Challenge

I began the last unit of the year today, a novel study that will have the students working in literature circles. We worked in literature circles earlier in the year and I remember thinking of it as only a mediocre success. Apparently the students felt the same way because when I told them we were going back to literature circles there was a negative murmur throughout the room.

So it looks like I've got a bit of the challenge for the end of the year. Can I turn those negative murmurs into smiles of appreciation for the opportunity to talk about books? I certainly hope so.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Feet Up and Watching

The sights I see in my own backyard often surprise me. I spent ten or fifteen minutes sitting on my patio this afternoon and was once again thoroughly entertained by the sounds and sights I took in. The afternoon patio break has almost become a daily ritual of late. Whenever the weather permits I take a seat on my red Adirondack chair, put my feet up and sit with my camera in hand to see what pictures come my way.

Today I was treated to a bird quarrel, a few squirrels scurrying through the trees showing off their acrobatic talents and one bright redheaded woodpecker. I'm always impressed with the woodpeckers; their imposing size and bright red tops are always startling when compared to the smaller sparrows that are frequent flyers through the backyard.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Lessons from Mom

Thanks to my mom I’ve learned a variety of things…important things. When thinking about the different lessons that have been passed down from mother to daughter I’m able to come up with five solid, enduring understandings. I think of them as The Principles of Pie.

Think Outside the Box

It had been about twenty years since my family had taken a vacation together. We were together one more time in Ocean City; the same place we spent a week every summer growing up. We were sitting around playing a game of Pictionary when my mom showed her partner a picture of a golf club. As time ran out my mother was unable to provide any other illustrative clue. She could only continue to point at her original drawing. When time expired she was frustrated. “It’s a golf club…an iron.” We all laughed. Only my mother would see the word iron and think of something in her golf bag. The rest of us would have gone for the domestic triangular thing we use to get rid of wrinkles.

Have Fun

One winter day after a good three hours of sledding on the local hill my brother Joe ran in the door with his friend Eric. They were clearly boys on a mission. Their mission: locating my brother Mark’s canoe. The one he had “found.”

“What do you want with the canoe?” my mom asked.

“We’re taking it down the hill!”

“I’m in!” I yelled.

My friend Phyllis and I ran out the door behind Joe and Eric followed by my mother. We climbed up the hill across the street with the canoe in tow and somehow managed to squeeze us all in. With a final push from Joe as he hopped in we were off.

We screamed and laughed as the canoe sped down the hill at twice the speed of any Flexible Flyer. What a ride it was.

It was also the only ride we ever had in that canoe. As the yellow piece of fiberglass neared the bottom it hit a bump. The canoe went airborne, the bodies went flying. When it came down in a crash the fiberglass split right along the bottom seam. The pile of bodies rose slowly, shaking…with laughter. We still talk about that great ride. We’re just don’t talk about it in front of Mark. Twenty years later he’s not quite over the loss of his canoe.

Simplify When Possible

My mom taught me early on that when it comes to volunteering to bring items for a class party sign up for napkins, paper plates or anything else that can be easily bought.

Protect Your Home

In the early 70s Halloween was big. Just as big was the mischief that went along with it. I was never an egg thrower or a pumpkin smasher. I stuck to window soaping and some occasional toilet papering. My mom didn’t seem to mind being the victim of a window soaping here or there. However, pumpkin smashing was an entirely different thing.

One year my mom got wind of a bunch of kids who were ready to go out on Halloween and smash up some pumpkins.

Her response to the tip was something to the effect of “well they’re not smashing my pumpkins. Just let them try.”

That Halloween when most mothers would have been stationed near the front door handing out candy my mother was holed up in the laundry room. Conveniently the windows were on the ground level, hidden by the bushes that lined the sidewalk to the front door. She stayed by that window, with hose in hand, her grip sure and steady on the sprayer nozzle. With the window cracked she sat and listened as kids scampered up the sidewalk toward the door. It took only one comment for her to spring into action.

“These are some nice pumpkins….”

The poor girl didn’t know what hit her. To her the spray of water came from nowhere. “What the?...did I step on a sprinkler?” she screamed in confusion.

It only took that one spray. Our home and the pumpkins were safe and in tact the next day.

Use Your Resources

There are two things that I keep in stock at my own house at all times; Q-tips and Band Aids. My mother never seemed to have either one. I’m not sure what happened when we were bleeding but I have no trouble remembering my mother’s own version of the Q-Tip. It involved a bobby pin with a piece of toilet paper twirled around the top. It wasn’t a very soft tool, but it did the trick. Although the painful memories of the hard metal curve of the bobby pin in my ear keep me from using the same trick today I am not afraid of improvising when needed.

The shag carpets of the 70s provided many frustrations for someone that aspired to have a clean, orderly house. The fibers would stand up tall, like soldiers at attention, when vacuumed correctly. Unfortunately, once a bunch of kids ran through the house it looked like the recent sight of an alligator wrestling match. Undoubtedly, this dilemma caused my mother some frustration. She’s a woman who likes things clean and orderly.

It didn’t take her long to ease her frustration. Her cure? The garden rake. Raking the shag would return all soldiers to attention in seconds without needing to haul the vacuum cleaner out of the overstuffed closet.

Care for Those You Love

That seems like kind of a no-brainer. Any mother would care for her loved ones. It’s just that my mom took this principle quite seriously.

When I was about 7 my grandmother, my mom’s mother-in-law, suffered a serious stroke that paralyzed her from the waist down. Before the stroke Mom Mom had lived in a two bedroom apartment with her sister, and my namesake, Mary. She never returned to that apartment again. Instead we moved to yet one more rental property, one that had a basement apartment big enough for my grandmother and great aunt.

While my mother was caring for four children under the age of 12 she was also caring for her 70 year old mother-in-law. She did what she could to prevent bed sores and to make her comfortable while she kept up with her family.

Some twenty years later she stepped up again when it came time to care for her own mother. She helped her mother move into a trailer on her brother’s property when it became apparent that it was time to give up the big house that my mother had been born and raised in. As time wore on and got the best of my grandmother’s health and mind she made the agonizing decision to put her in a nursing home. She visited her twice a week, logging many miles between her home north of Baltimore and the nursing home in Centreville some 90 miles away. My mother would take Granny out for a drive whenever she visited. It was the same one every time. The first stop was Hardees for a sandwich and a shake, and then they were off to the cemetery to visit with relatives and former neighbors. From there they drove down the same roads my mom had driven as a kid. The last stop was the wharf where they could see how many boats were out on the water and find out who caught what.

Mom made that same trip many times of the span of more than three years. When her mother’s health took a turn for the worse she sat by her side for three days comforting Granny in her final hours.

Parents often try to force advice on their children. My mom never did that. She just lived her life and I watched.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Tonight I found myself back at the Bel Loc Diner for the first time in probably 24 years. The Bel Loc was legendary as the last place you go before you go home on a Friday or Saturday night, in fact, I think today was only the second time I've been there before 2:00 AM. I'm pretty nostalgic so I was happy to stop in for a milkshake after my niece's lacrosse game.

A few things were different, most notably the 11:00 PM closing time. The stainless steel counter was right where it belonged, but the booth that we usually sat in was missing. The wall it sat against was gone thanks to renovation and the addition of another dining room.

The old ladies were still there, ready and waiting to take orders and bring food. They still wore the signature white pants and top, looking more like nurses than waitresses. Our waitress had an odd demeanor, she seemed nervous and reminded me more of Adrian, Rocky's girlfriend, then Flo from Mel's Diner.

There were still burgers and fries, and of course, milkshakes. It was a nice step back in time.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Great Day

It was a good day at school. My classes have been working on a final essay for a book we just read and today some of the kids shared what they had in hopes of getting some pointers from their peers. I was proud of the way the kids listened to each other and shared solid suggestions and compliments. It was the kind of day that I shook my head and thought, wow, maybe I did accomplish something this year.

When I arrived home I was surprised to find a small dog wandering around in front of my house. He looked up at me as I walked down the sidewalk and trotted over to see me like we run into each other every day. I've never seen him, but noticed his tag and decided to help him find his way home. It took about ten minutes to locate the owner. I tried the number on the tag first and wasn't too surprised to get an answering machine. Little Pili, wasn't very thirsty when I brought him in the house so I figured he hadn't been gone too long. I decided to try and make a home delivery.

He settled in nicely to the passenger seat of my car and as I looked over at him in his curled up ball self I considered the possibility that the owner would never be found and I would get to keep this adorable little canine. That, of course, didn't happen. As soon as I neared the address on his tag I saw a young mother and her son with heads turning to and fro. I rolled down the window.

"Are you looking for your dog?" I asked.


"I got him right here." Pili lifted his head and stood up to look out the window, his tail wagged in delight as he saw his missing people.

The smiles said it all, but Mother replied, "Thanks, you made my day."

It was a great day.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Birthday Dinners

A student and I were talking about her birthday, which had occurred earlier in the week, after school. I was interested to find out how she celebrated the event.

"It wasn't a big deal, ya know, since it was a school night, but we did have spaghetti and then later after my brother's practice we opened presents and had cake and ice cream."

"Did you get to choose the dinner?" I asked.

She smiled and nodded her head.

I returned the smile. "I used to always pick lasagna."

She was gone in a minute, off to catch up with her brother for the walk home, leaving me to reminisce about lasagna birthday dinners at my great aunt's apartment. Dinner was followed by cake, my favorite is devil's food with vanilla icing, and then finally presents. They were simple celebrations, but ones I still remember today.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

And the Winner Is...

We had our last formal Professional Learning Community meeting of the year today. It's been worthwhile to get together with other middle school teachers to talk about writing in the classroom and in our lives. The PLC model is a little different than what the county has done in the past, when we met once a month to discuss items relevant and non-relevant to the population of middle and high school English/Language Arts teachers. Since it's a new professional development approach we'll reconvene in the larger group in June to report on the PLC experience of each small group.

I often find it surprising that when you get a group of teachers together and ask someone to volunteer to speak the room goes silent. Heads are cast down, eyes avert, and pens or pencils are dropped and slowly retrieved, all in hopes of avoiding being chosen to speak. Are there really that many introverts in the teaching world? Count me in as one.

Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately for some, our PLC facilitator knew it was unlikely anyone would nominate themselves speaker for the group. The names of all were put in a box and the decision was made by the luck of the draw. It was one day I was happy to be a loser.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Just Missed

Go figure...I sat patiently at the back door for about thirty minutes this evening, hoping to snap some pictures of birds checking out the new bird feeder. I got one squirrel who shimmied up the pole and made himself at home in the flat feeder I have. He sat in there for about 15 minutes, happily chomping away on a mixture of nuts and sunflower seeds. A few small birds stopped in, but I think seeing the huge squirrel freaked them out a bit and they moved on. I noticed a bright red cardinal in the trees above and hoped he might check out the new feeder and give me a nice shot. No luck. He waited until the back door was closed and the camera was put away to perch himself atop the feeder for the perfect photograph that would not be taken.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Test Time!

If April showers bring May flowers, what does May bring? Pollen and sneezing and sinus headaches as well as runny noses and itchy eyes, yes, but in Virginia May also brings the spring testing season. We begin the season tomorrow with the Degrees of Reading Power test, known more commonly as the DRP. I'm sure the students aren't too thrilled with taking the different standardized tests; I never liked them as a kid. I found things like the Iowa Test of Basic Skills to be mundane and tiring. I find proctoring tests like the DRP to be mundane and tiring. I guess things haven't changed much.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fly By

I suppose the birds think I've forgotten all about them. The feeders out back have been empty for at least a month so the regulars have surely found another food source.
Today I finally got around to restocking the empty bird feeders and waited for the avian appreciation to begin. No luck so far...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Way With Words

My grandmother had a way with words; in fact there are some things that she's said that are legend in the family. We refer to them as Grannyisms. One of my favorites occurred as we drove through the cemetery to see my grandfather's grave. The surrounding graves were familiar family names as well, but there were two names that Granny didn't recognize.

"Who are those people, there?" she asked.

My mother replied, "Remember their family didn't have enough money for a plot so you gave them two of yours."

My grandmother shook her head a bit, "Hmmph, guess I wasn't such a tight-ass after all."

Now, that's what we call a Grannyism.