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That was some good soup.

Creamy, red and rich, and with no added sugar. The level of sugar in commercial tomato soup, even the gourmet stuff, makes it not taste good to me. Same with most Asian restaurant food, Halloween candy, and ice cream. Making my own stuff for many years, I got to like the taste underneath the sweetness, and only add a little or none added to most recipes.

A few months ago, I was informed that my blood sugar in on the low borderline of pre-diabetic. Though I’m pretty lean, I’m not too surprised, as I had gestational diabetes for one of my pregnancies, and my mother, uncle, and grandfather, all got Type II diabetes. Still, their diet was pretty heavy on the bread, pie, and apple juice, and low on vigorous exercise, so I hope to stave off any need for treatment for many years.

What I think I need to cut down on next is caffeine. I use two to three times a day. It’s my only drug of any kind (no prescriptions yet), so I’m fortunate, but I’d like to be less dependent, and have room for more healthy drinks like turmeric (which I need for inflammation)  or mint tea. I or so. ‘m starting by delaying my first cup an hour or so. But for energy, I’ll have to figure out how to get more exercise, since the pool is packed in the morning, and I wrenched my bad arm last time I tried to swim laps; I want to run, but not too much on asphalt. I guess I can bring myself to drive to the trail now that I have an electric car–it always seemed not quite the thing to burn gas so I could get fit. The bike issue is not yet settled–I have one picked out–a tour bike in steel for carrying loads–but still nowhere to store it, and work is too far away to bike to. Which also seems wrong, to live a few blocks away from two schools and have to commute to another district for work.

This is all warmup, and I’m getting nearer what I think I need to write, But also, I’m falling asleep. To be continued.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

I drugged my dog last night, got new glasses today, and tomorrow I will make soup.

I got a good night’s sleep because I dosed my anxious rescue dog with a light sedative. I was woken up by a pre-dawn downpour that left slushy sleet coating the ground and vehicles, but I always find the sound of rain relaxing and so I slept another good half hour after that.

For breakfast I stirred up some eggs with broccoli (picked yesterday), and strong cheese, pressed some coffee for the portable mug and a jarful for later in the day, and piled my teacher bags and craft supplies into the chilly car. I unplugged the charger, pressed the On switch, and whirred out for my half hour commute.

This week I’m listening to another audiobook from the mysteries section of the library, involving a stabbing of an upper crust millionaire in his castle while all the greedy, strange backbiting relatives are visiting and wishing here was better cell phone coverage and internet. It passes the time, and is better written and read that the last one. That one had lines like: “She fell and her head struck the cement. She had hurt herself.” Plus the reader’s attempts to “do” the male voices turned them all into irritating dweebs, even the ones the reader is meant to like. The story was okay, though–I considered rewriting it to make it bearable and hiring a different reader, but decided to stick with my own work.

I got new glasses today. The last ones were sturdy brown plastic, but growing brittle, and with a substantial scratch where they saved my eye socket from worse injury when an iron patio chair unfolded suddenly into my face. I think I’ll make a Christmas tree ornament out of them in honor of that role, along with my old mouth guard, which has been protecting my molars from grinding wear at night. I’ve also been meaning to make a multi color wreath out of my children’s swimming competition ribbons.  It’s also time I got the recipe for my neighbor’s fruit cake, the only one I’ve ever liked, even without sauce. Fruitcake is one of those things that tastes better as one ages in any case, and it’s been about ten years since I first had it, so I can hardly wait.

Something I worry about is, as I get older, into my mid-fifties and sixties, am I going to start smelling funny and not realize it, along with my house? The young people I teach would surely notice, with their more sensitive noses. It might be a good idea to start wearing scented lotions.

Nothing so strong as what that man in the grocery store the other day was wearing, though. I knew he was nearby, because the sharp, chemical odor of a certain cosmetic ingredient to which I am sensitive started wafting over me from behind while I was scanning the dairy case for coconut yogurt that my daughter had requested for a recipe. I considered telling him, as a stranger, where a colleague or friend might not. I don’t know, do men do that for one another? (“Dude, easy on the perfume next time!”) It was worse than walking down the detergent aisle.

My daughter never did make her recipe, wasn’t even home when I got there. When I tried to put all the ingredients away in the fridge, I found that the load my husband had just brought home from Costco (Lord preserve us from husbands who do the Costco runs!) was piled on top of the previous ingredients and leftovers so that an avalanche threatened. The table and counters were similarly overloaded. I put two items into my car for return the next day (he hadn’t realized we already had them), exhorted him to eat the store-bought broccoli quickly, s it was likely a few weeks old already, and we had a good crop in the garden. One of the ingredients I stashed in the car was tomato soup. I have been pleading with everyone to eat up the bounty that’s been flowing out of the greenhouse and planning to cook and can the extra.

Today in How to Not Starve, I taught a lesson on food waste. We got into a lively discussion during and after the videos showing how 40% of food produced in the U.S. never reaches any table, and much of what does later ends up in the trash. I hope some of the students will work with me to assess our waste at school and try to educate the community toward better habits. Still, one of the points of the video was that our food system depends on that waste to keep the money flowing, and the poor depend on diverted food that would otherwise be wasted (wrong size or shape, past best buy date, etc.) to feed them at low cost through food banks and soup kitchens.

I’ll make the tomato soup tomorrow, with the past due carrots, runt onions, and a little orange juice. It will be good with the romaine that’s sweetening up in the cool night garden.

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Cell analogy poem, verse one

The cell membrane is like my skin
which helps to keep my liquids in.
It has some pores, and so do I
Such as valves that open when I cry
and lips that take in food and drink
Much like channel proteins, I think.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

A very short poem which I would not like read at my funeral, as that would be mean.

Epilogue

I forgive you for not appreciating me enough when I was alive.
You know who you are.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: ,

Featured

Enter title here. There is an easier way to create. Add media, add poll, ADD CONTACT FORM! And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Publicize: Not Connected. Show image, video, quote.  All categories (most) used.

Thank you for creating.

Word count: 49
saved at 8:53:11 pm.:)

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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What will it be–teach from the heart, or teach to the standards?

AU* dropped in this morning, and we got to talking, as he looked around at my science posters and paraphernalia, about how wonderful it is to learn, along with the students, what’s being discovered in genetics, subatomic physics, archaeology, history, and all.  How amazing, and cool, and ever changing in a way. Love this guy–I hear him wondering and thinking fresh thoughts every time we chat, hear him singing along with his first graders songs he’s written about historical figures and events, see him suffering through health problems that cause him a lot of pain regularly. Thankful I am to have no problems but a sore bunion and some unmentionable minor battles.

For my part, I’m thrown back into “my field,” biology, but there’s so much to it that I’m always learning something new (and recalling stuff I hadn’t thought about for decades, like the amazing work of nephrons, and the evolution of parasites to symbionts–take those and add them to your MS Word dictionary). Feels like I still only know the basics, but the students know even less, so what I get to teach them is very fresh and interesting to all of us. For example, the 9th and 10 graders started out being completely mystified (and making various guesses) about how we get energy from in food into our cells to do work. I pretended I was a smart 5th grader and asked them all kinds of questions to see what they could work out, and in the end, they saw (with some major hints), that chemical bonds store energy in them, and it can be got at by cells’ mitochondria. So many things happening inside ourselves that we don’t understand, let alone out there in the rest of life, time, and space. I told them–you think this is cool, imagine what more there is to know that biology majors get to study!

Not everyone is on fire to learn it, though, whether archaeology or biology, or even business math. Later LM stopped by to let me know that one of our students had left the school to go back to his old one–no warning or anything. He drifted in on the advice of a friend that this was a “better school” than the regular high school he’d started at, and was getting a lot of our attention due to not doing a stick of work or showing and ability to learn or understand or respond to questions, except in a way that deferred the issue. And for spending lost of time with that friend,  who had been caught cheating on several tests, and also did almost no work. I thought we were ready to actually help this second one, having seen through his apparent unwillingness, to a serious need for academic support, and, poof, he was gone. I’m sure that won’t go any better–he’ll slip through the cracks, probably. LM wasn’t sorry to see him go, nor are any of us, I guess. Doesn’t make the school look good, for sure. Still, what now for him? And why am I again wanting to edge back into that other kind of teaching job where feeling like a “good teacher” couldn’t be one of your goals at all, that it was all about pouring out the best love you had in you, a soft heart under a thick skin, and every student coming in with heavy baggage of uncertain content and origin?

I heard some of my colleagues talking and laughing a few doors away, and went over–it was a Friday with no students, no meetings, early release, and a coming spring break, a good time to connect. Everyone was tired, especially SF, the SpEd teacher, who had a load of paperwork still to do, and AU, 1st/7th teacher, who was fighting a bacterial infection. But there was a delight shared among us to be doing what we do. The 5th grade teacher CML passed on something that had lodged in his as he was reading, that it was important to let every student take center stage when it was their turn to speak, show 100% attention, make them feel listened to fully, and teachers needed to model that to students so they’d to do that for each other. He and LM talked about the applause battle that had started up between their two classes, 4th and 5th, LM having everyone applaud after each student presentation, which got louder, and of course CML had to add foot stomping and shouting, and the next thing he knew the pastor was at the door looking really annoyed, to remind him that his office was downstairs and he was trying to work. The pastor who had said that our being there (renting the space) was an answer to prayer had got more than he bargained for. Which, by the way he described it, was pretty much the story of CML’s life–the one who, as I said in a previous post, went back and apologized to all his teachers after he got involved in coaching and teaching. So he understands that need to be attended to, and feel important for the right reasons. “CML” stands for “changed my life.”–what teaching did for him.

As we talked about this and that, it came out that we were all feeling pushed and hurried an our teaching, with no time to go deep, or help the students pull together a cool project for the Share Fair in a few weeks. Always pressure to cover all the things someone has decided are most important, in less time than usual, since we only see the students twice a week. Now in our district, it’s shifting to a focus on “skills,” more than content knowledge, and to identify the “ten most important things,” or even five.. In a way I agree, if the word “skill,” can be replaced with “understanding.” “Skill” smacks of being marketable, which to my liberal-arts-loving (though mine was a science degree) mind means everyone being a cog in the machine and leaving the complex understandings to…what or who–the market?

CML noted that there would always be some tension on that between teachers and administrators (“creative tension,” I added, despite feeling that from my side it’s a force of evil to be creatively resisted and subverted; but as I biology teacher I know full well that it truly does take all kinds to make an ecosystem, and so, a society). I said it seems to me it’s better to go deep through 60% of what’s on the test, but at a meaningful level (which can’t be tested,) than to gloss over 100% for a pass on the test and then forget it all. In this I think we were in agreement.

Recently the principal told me that the administration of the regular high school wished it had someone who could teach AP Environmental Science. He perked up his ears at that, since they were discussing ways the two schools could work together, and here I was, a new environmental science teacher. He wondered if I might be interested. Puts me in a dilemma, because environmental science is my top pick course in terms of importance today, and I’m eager to teach it every year here, in this conservative farming community. Yet as I had told the principal before, AP style is not my idea of a good way to teach ES, because it was so difficult to go deep when you were teaching to that test, that projects and community expertise and field trips and student-organized forums had to take a back seat to taking notes from the text and getting through all the units at breakneck speed. But I told him I was open, very interested in teaching environmental science for sure. Besides (I thought), I could be wrong. AP classes do tend to attract high achievers, and so maybe the energy usually devoted to keeping motivation up really could be channeled into teaching for depth of understanding. At least I’d learn some new things, and I hope the students would, too.

There are a standardized tests in the spring, for which I am expected to prepare my students. I think I’ll just assume they were made by smart people about important concepts, and I’ll teach what I think is important, and the two will necessarily line up. A little help with managing the format and buttons and pitfalls of the data collection machines, some reassurance that tests aren’t worth stressing over, and that’s the limit of my “teaching to the test.” But don’t tell anyone this–no sense stressing out the principal either. He really means well, after all.

*made-up initials to represent my colleagues

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Poem #3

Grampy Robbie was a journalist,
With an Underwood typewriter on a roll-top oak desk
And a beige reel-to-reel in the back parlor.

When he interviewed there,
I could hear manly voices through the door
From my perch on the stairs.

Sitting on his lap, facing out
I could rap my knuckles against the wood above the knee.
He said it had been shot off by a cannon.

“Give us a smooch,” he’d say
and lay a grizzled kiss on my cheek.
Ever after, for me a smooch implies scratchy warmth.

He smelled of apple juice
Which Grammy told me to bring him
that if I did, he’d give me all his money when he died.

Then one time when I visited,
He was laid out in a coffin in the back parlor
Not far from Grammy’s unbelievably fancy satin pillows
in rose and black.

Do you wonder whether I expected to inherit?
No, that was just Grammy’s way of saying
She didn’t believe in true love.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2017 in Uncategorized