Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What do you do when....?

OK, so we're in this abandoned (but nice) office building. The Command Center has ONE, just ONE key that is presumed to be a master key to all doors. One of the doors accidentally got locked. Oooops. Now what? There were three women who had their stuff inside that office. One of them was so tired, she just broke down crying. Her ID, credit card, sleeping items and her change of clothing was inside that locked room. A call went out and the "master" key was tried. No luck.

It was time to think outside of the box a bit. There was a ladder in the big room. So.......... a "security" fellow came up with an idea. He went and found the smallest, most lithsome female crew member he could -- she literally is a gymnist. With great stealth, he held the ladder for her, and showed her how to pop up the ceiling tiles in the false ceiling. She tried to climb up into the ceiling to drop down into the locked room on the other side, but the wall was very flimsy and there were some electrical wires in the way (and they had no way to know if they were live wires or not), so more thinking, outside the box was required.

The gymnist, said, "If I had a broom I could push the handle." Mr. Security went around this building (which was nice and clean and very modern) and finally found a piece of metal pole. He came back and Ms. Gymnist was able to push the door handle down and open the door. Ms. Crying Walker was trying valiently to cheer herself up and not be so upset, but it was harrd for her. When that door opened, she was so relieved! Word quickly traveled around the building, "Don't let any of the doors close because they can accidentally lock and you're screwed!"

Yup, that's the gymnist's leg, the rest of her is up in the ceiling.

I was one of the few people who slept really well this eveing. Sort of a mix of dry building, indoor flush, and the miracle of modern chemistry. The next morning was dry. I was up at 4 to pack and get to the camp. It was mucky at camp!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 1 and Emergency Relocation

Day 1 of the walk was cold, rain came down ALL day, and miraculously 3,700 walkers turned out to slog through all that. It was awful. People had to slog through puddles, and rivers of cold water. Most people really wern't prepared for it because after all, we're in a DRAUGHT! My bus was dispatched to pit stop one. At pit stop one, there were already folks who were directed by the medical team to get on the bus and get warm and dry. We were giving out ponchos to those who could continue, and mylar blankets to those who were hypothermic or just plain cold. People were almost universally gracious. We invited them into the bus to warm up and change socks, and some even changed clothing! I have to tell you the best trained person should have no qualms about giving up on day one, because it was brutal out there as the first really cool day, and for it to be wet at the same time. People ate lunch sitting on the wet ground. By the way, the food was great! I ran out and invited people on the bus. Made sure everyone had something to eat and drink. I got it for them if they didn't and generally most people could not be cheered up on Friday. I put a movie on the DVD on the bus but most people just lay back and were miserable. Bus F might be the fun bus, but on Friday, there was a definite lack of spirit in the group. And I don't blame anyone for any lack of enthusiam!

These are NOT happy people. They trained in pretty weather. They are now wet. Their clothing is not adequate. The wet socks and shoes have made blisters. YOU try and cheer these people up!

It was clear at lunchtime that trying to go to camp was not a viable option. The staff knew that if the forced the issue the trucks would get stuck in the mud and that the tents would leak like sieves. So we were sent to an abandoned office park building to settle in for the night. I thought it was great. Lots of other folks didn't. I was dry. There was access to real toilets. And I had saved back some peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches for dinner. In order to have the spaghetti dinner that was planned you had to bus over to camp to the big tent. I was TIRED so I ate my sandwiches and hit the hay. I heard later it took over 3 hours to get people back from camp with the limited buses available. People got back to the office covered in mud up to their ankles.

This is the unloading area for our luggage. All the luggage sat outside in the rain for several hours. I was SO thankful that when I opened my stuff up, nothing was wet. What kind of miracle is that!

I found my bag and sleeping bag and I was so tired I really couldn't carry them. A man with one leg carried it for me (a walker with a prosthetic leg) into the building. I looked at him and went, "Man, I only lost my boobs. That's a LOT easier than losing a leg!" He never let on like he was having any discomfort or problem. He was just a guy. Not a guy with one leg. I was so grateful for the help.

More than a thousand people spent the night on the floor of this building. I was comfy and can highly recommend the Eddie Bauer self-inflatable camping mattress. Worked well.

There was some excitement that night. I'll write about it, but maybe not tomorrrow night. I have art class tomorrow night. Stay tuned for further installments.

Monday, October 27, 2008

3-Day Training Day

Before reporting for the 3-Day training for Crew members, I ran into Decatur to a special clinic that Emory runs. I waited in a waiting room with lots of little kids, some looking very normal; talking normal. Other kids definitely had some kind of medical issue that was visible. One family left the clinic to return to a Holiday In next door. In other words, they had come a long distance to come to this strange place to find answers to questions that could not be answered in their hometown. Their child was about five, but being wheeled in a stroller with a pacifier in his mouth. He was lovingly dressed in the best clothing any child could ever have, with a warm, cuddly sand-colored sweater on to shield against the sudden cold and wind outside. I watched with an ache in my heart for them as they left this place I was sitting in, and was struck by their love and sadness.

When it was my turn up, I had an interview with a genetic counselor. Interestingly because of the lack of cancer history in my family, they are only going to screen for the BRACA-1 and BRACA-2 genes. While these genes are more common in the ethnic Jewish community, they also appear randomly in the general population. There are other mutations that occur, but they are not testing for those. If I had had more relatives with ovarian or breast cancer, they would have gone for the broader screening. Go figure.

Giving blood for the test was easy because a pediatric phlebotimist took the blood. Often it's a problem for me with my small veins. Everything else may be large, but the veins are small.

It was quick and easy for me. They will send me a letter and phone me with test interpretations in a couple weeks. Why is this important now? I mean, they can't PREDICT cancer at this point! They can tell me if there is a genetic component though. THAT is important because if it is a genetic cause, as opposed to a random mutation, there are implications for my future treatment. Should I have a BRACA gene, I might have to have further surgery to be safe. If there doesn't appear to be a genetic component, then my ovaries can stay right where they are.

Right after I left this scientific world, where I walked through hallways full of equipment and windowed doors leading into laboratories, I left to go to the 3-Day training. It was in a world a long way away in more ways than one. The start of the walk was at North Point Mall in Alpharetta. Alpharetta is probably 70 miles from my home, and about 7 light years from RURAL to ultra-upscale-conspicuous-consumption URBAN. Stores everywhere for anything. One store was a Dick's Sporting goods and I zipped in and bought a pair of waterproof slacks in anticipation of a rainy Friday. Boy was that a smart move on my part! I finally found the training location and went to several meetings. We were trained on how to use cheap, NEXTEL piece-of-crap phones. We were trained on how to be gracious to walkers. We were trained on the ladder of authority for the 3-Day. We were let loose to go to our hotels (we had to be back at 5AM so no one was going far).

My socks had hurt my feet with a seam across my toes, so ran out looking for a Target or Walmart. I stumbled upon a Walmart and got some "diabetic socks" that were seamless. Driving around this area just stunned me with the density of stores. Upscale stores. Everywhere. Where do the people live that shop in these stores? Specialty stores. Stationary stores (not fixed in one place, I mean stores that focus on the artful and personalized paper needs of the upscale writer); maternity stores, every big-box store you ever thought of, and many I never thought about.

Sure enough, it was raining Friday morning. And raw. That wet kind of of cold that grips you and makes you know all the way down to your inner core that you too are cold. The water running down my new waterproof jacket and new waterproof slacks, and across my hiking boots that were not waterproof but were close enough.

Yes, that's me on the far left. This is a picture of the Bus Liaison crew who showed up ON TIME. Our crew captain finally showed up about 20 minutes late, which left us standing around in the rain wondering what in the heck we'd volunteered to do! I know it's dark in the picture. It's 5 frippin' AM! The flowers that I'm carrying, ended up being a last minute purchase to decorate a tent I'd never move into. They were instead used as if they were a queenly scepter. I'd use them to wave to walkers, direct traffic with pink panache, and shower walkers with "blessings." I carried them with me the entire 3 days and came to enjoy them very much. A piece of impromptu chicanery that turned into something useful and frivolous.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


OK, tonight is packing night for me for much of what I will be taking on the 3-Day. I have art class tomorrow night so not much time for packing. Anyone that is interested in the route of the 3-Day can peek HERE. If you are interested in being supportive in some way (beyond sending your money -- which we're all very, very thankful for) go HERE to see what the 3-Day suggests. Jenny will be the walker. I'll be on a bus and will not know where I will be assigned at any specific time. I'm not supposed to answer my cell phone while crewing, so if you want to leave a message, I'll get back with you later, but I think when I'm not crewing I'll be horizontal and resting or sleeping -- so don't be offended if I don't return your call until next week sometime. Heh, I just checked and my tent assignment is Z-11. That means I'm definitely going to be hiking some to just get to my tent!! I hope I don't have to hike out 26 rows of tents to get to the potty! My 56 year old bladder doesn't have much endurance anymore!

I hope you and those you love are well this evening.

Yipes! Z-11

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Getting Closer

I borrowed a really GREAT duffle bag for my stuff for the 3-Day. It goes in the floor of the living room tomorrow so I can start packing it and getting my clothing figured out for each day.

I'm still looking for Trivial Pursuit cards to go with me. I need to go to a thrift store or something and see if I can find some. I have some other items to keep folks busy.

Liam wants to be Obi Wan Kenobi for Halloween. He's totally fixated on it. I want to get him some brown fabric and make him a costume. It can't be that hard. Maybe after the walk, if I'm not half dead I can do it.

I'm working on figuring out how to make flash cards with Word. I have it 90% figured out. I'm going to see if I can encourage my students to work with flash cards and see if that improves their recollection. They used to help me a LOT in college. I am betting that won't even help. But I'm going to try it out this next chapter.

We celebrated Eric's birthday today. His parents and grandfather put on the most wonderful dinner for him. It was awesome. I wish there was some way I could really show him the deep appreciation I have for him and all he does.

Right now my world revolves around the 3-Day and that's all, really. I'm focused on that and pretty much just that.

Posting could get pretty slim for the next week. Just know I'm doing everything I can to finish up work for the week and do what I need to do for the 3-Day.

Im really frustrated about one thing. In the last three weeks or so, I've gotten all my appetite back and then some. There are still things I don't want, but I'm hungry with such ferociousness lately, that I'm gaining back the weight I lost this summer. How can you eat a big meal and 30 minutes later, I feel hungry again? I don't get that. I just don't get that. I was hoping the chemo killed this almost unreal hunger. It had for a while. But now I'm back to "normal" and when I get hungry I'd eat a doorknob if there wasn't food around.

Friday, October 17, 2008

0.6 of an inch of rain

Amazing, but just 6/10ths of an inch of rain and the place goes nuts. I have posts up for my picket fence. I need to go buy some white paint for that fence and get ready to paint it. The lumber has to dry out enough for the fencing to be nailed to the uprights though. It'll be one day next week when that can happen -- when things are dry.

I am so glad that I can rest some tonight. It has been a long, taxing week. I love learning. I love teaching. But I don't like struggling to get the attention of reluctant and rude students. A colleague also did an astonishingly stupid thing this week that made me look really stupid in front of a parent and that has peeved me. The poo is getting pretty deep around me. Another teacher and I were talking about teaching in Japan and how it would be different than here. Some student asked her how she would teach him differently there. Her reply, "You wouldn't be my student there. You'd have been dismissed from school long ago. Japan does not have the same compulsion to teach students who misbehave as American schools do!" I suspect there is a lot of truth in that. I also suspect that Japan can do disciplinary actions beyond what we can. That could be an interesting internet search. Are school teachers anywhere happy? Ultimately we teach because learning was fun for us. We want to share that fun. It's really disappointing when we can't.

I have to find a duffle bag and start some fabric decorating. The weather may be turning off cooler. I looked ahead and next week it will be down in the 40's in the early AM. I'll want my jacket in the AM but it'll be in the 70's by the PM. All logistics.

I looked for a copy of The Sound of Music today at Walmart. Nada. I posted on Freecycle in case anyone has a copy. If you have a DVD copy of The Sound of Muisc, let me know. I think Jenn's idea of having fun on the bus by having everyone sing the songs with the tape would be funny!

I want to get some embroidery floss tomorrow or Sunday maybe. I have an idea for an activity that my bus people can do but will have to pack the supplies in my bag.

I'm treating a plantar wart with vinegar and duct tape. So if you smell pickles around me, it's really just the vinegar. Supposedly it works. We'll see.

I have an appointment to see a genetic counselor next week too. That whole process should be interesting. And long. I read about it and it looks like they draw it out about as long as possible.

I hope you and those you love are not in ISS (In School Suspension) and that you have food, shelter and love this night.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Excitement and Anxiety

One week from tonight, I'll have been "trained" to be a "bus liaison" person and will be spending a night up in North Atlanta somewhere in preparation for starting to crew the Atlanta 3-Day beginning at 4am the next morning!

MY bus will be the fun bus. I went shopping for goodies last night and have some ideas about activities, fun things to do, and maybe even some special keepsakes.

I need to start packing my bags! I need to see if I can fit all my stuff in one duffle or what! ?

Last night I started an art class with a teacher I've taken a class from before. It was very satisfying and with new students, and I got to do some interesting things, and he's going to cast the mold of my "girls." He's kind of excited about casting a part of someone's body (especially THAT part) and I'm excited about a very nice gentleman doing this piece of art on my behalf. I have to be patient while he fits doing the "girls" into his schedule (he's doing a lot of commissions right now), but he's doing it for me for free. What a sweetie!

On top of all that, a friend came and put up the posts for my white picket fence that can be nailed up tomorrow. I'm happy that the fence materials that I've had for about three or four months are all finally going up! YEAH!!! Double YEAH!!! What a great gift this person is doing for me. Thanks, thanks, thanks Jeff.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


OK, I'm over it. The worst thing about being around teens is that they have galloping angst. It just oozes out of their pores and envelopes the room, the building and all people anywhere nearby. Immersing myself in a sea of teens daily leads to a serious overdose of hormonal angst.

So, get this, Jenn and I and Eric's mom are all going to Cedartown on Saturday to see The Blind Boys of Alabama. I like good harmony and enjoy good gospel music, so while it's a little different, I'm looking forward to it.

Tomorrow will be a busy day. PSAT in the AM and meetings all PM. BUT in the evening, I start my new art class. It's with a fellow I've taken a class with before and enjoy his "joy of life." I would say "zhaw de vie" but I have no clue how to spell it! And that's OK.

I have 120 lbs of Quickcrete on top of my artist's paper, so I'm hoping that somehow, someway that gets taken care of tomorrow too. We'll see. The cleaning lady was awesome today. It's such a pleasure to come home to the place after she's been by and taken care of me. It's like having a mother to clean up behind you, but without the yelling. I love it! When the Quickcrete gets installed, I'll put up a picture of what it's holding in place. Progress is slow, but it's taking place in the quest for a nicer looking yard.

Now if I can just not get too much of a whiff of that adolescent angst tomorrow, thus provoking a relapse, I'll be fine!

Peace to you and those you love this night.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Oprah had a program on "Forgiveness." It's an idea I've struggled with all my adult life. I've been honest about the difficulty I have had over the years with my mom, even now when she is literally dust of the earth. I struggle with the idea of forgiveness. I felt for a long, long time that if I just turned my struggle over to God, and let God sort it out on my behalf, that was all I could manage in this earthly journey. I believed that could be adequate.

But holding on to that last shred of anger, and not letting it go has caused pain for someone dear to me, and that makes me sad. While my anger is what I call, "righteous," in the sense that it was caused by a genuine event, not just hurt feelings, or a simple disagreement, not everyone perceives my situation similarly or as even true. I think two ways, one is that if I were able to forgive my mother for the things that caused us to be estranged, maybe I could talk about her with less fierce feelings and that fierceness wouldn't have offended. The other side of me, however, regards the situation, and feels that I'm entitled to my feelings, and they are entitled to theirs and we don't have to agree to still be respectful to one another.

I can't go back in time and suck the words of my truth back into my mouth and to be honest, I can't say that I want to do so. What bothers me is that pain passed to my mother has been passed to me, and keeps moving down the generational line. Pain has been a thread through my family for several generations, and apparently it's the "gift" that keeps on giving, generationally.

What I can say is that three years ago as I feared I was slipping to the other side of the veil when my pancreas crapped out on me, I had an epiphany that it is very, very easy to slide away and that so much of what we struggle with on this side -- is petty. Do I always remember that and practice it in an honorable way? Heck no! Last time I looked, I'm human. I've made promises to "Seek and serve Christ in all people," and I've also promised to "Work for Justice, Freedom and Peace." Those are big, BIG promises that I want to honor, but find that in this human skin, I can't always live up to those lofty goals. I think the people that do live up to those big expectations, are called saints, like Mother Theresa. That kind of selflessness is truly extraordinary. I know I'm not genuinely capable of that kind of sacrifice. Yet, I need to aspire as high as I can, and clearly have failed to reach high enough in at least one instance -- heck, probably hundreds of instances. I'm flawed. I know it.

While I am profoundly sorry for any pain I may have caused anyone, there is also a part of me that wants to say that as much as I struggle and continue to struggle with forgiveness, I find that few people focus on it as much as I do. Most people (in MY experience) don't dwell on it the way I do, and those that do think about issues of betrayal and trust and family cohesion seem to seldom be willing to extend the idea of forgiveness to others. The Calvinist thread runs strong in our Colonial roots, and even in this day and time we want an "eye for an eye" and to hold people accountable for "Judgement Day." It is truly the extraordinary person who can be selfless enough to consider forgiveness and work toward it.

Forgiveness gets a lot of books written about it. People who feel they have been the subject of some wrong seem to worry about it a lot more than others around them. I've been told through a couple of decades that I should be working toward forgiveness of what I perceive to have been a great, big offense. Yet, in this time and this place when I am faulty, and frail, and unkind, and don't measure up to being the best person I should be, who forgives me?

I've lost some people in my life in the last couple years because of my own limitations and my own inadequacies. I have to believe that some who have been wronged, are right: I've been a jerk. At the same time, I hope they can someday come around to the idea that I admit to being faulty, and weak, and imperfect as a friend, as a family member and as a human being. You are dear to my heart -- even if it doesn't seem like it all the time.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hands and Feet

I am officially NOT a heathen. I finally made it to church this morning for the first time in a while. It was good to see folks and feel....normal. I haven't done "normal" in a long time.

I went over to the pottery place and worked on the little imprints of hands and feet that we made for Jewel and at his insistance, Liam. I got several sets glazed. In another week or two I can go back and see what comes of it. Not everything that goes in, comes out as you might hope.

Yesterday I took a picture of Jenn holding Jewel, and Liam at the feet of his daddy as they stood next to their straw look-alikes. The scarecrow family this year is a reflection of the real family. I like it. :)

My church sells pumkins for a fund raiser. So I got a couple today to put by the back door which is really my main door. I called the yard lady today, and she's coming Wednesday.

Now, I wonder if I can negotiate to get my fence put up before she comes. Hummmmm.

I am doing laundry today, because the cleaning diva comes on Tuesday and I want the place to look decent enough that she is certain I am not a Tasmanian Devil living in my own filth. I strive to make things look adequate before the cleaning diva comes. How sad is that?!

While I'm preparing for cold and wet on the 3-Day, I'm really more concerned about heat and humidity. What will the weather really be like in 3 short weeks?

I hope wherever you are this day, you are happy, loved and full.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Morning in C'ton

We went to the MECCA festival in Carrollton this morning. I got a nice little image of Michael the Archangel. Someone special introduced me to him as a defender when I was frightened and I've rather adopted Michael as a spiritual guardian.

I rather feel like he is my help in the middle of surgeries and losses and fearful procedures that have happened this year.

When I knew I would be losing my breasts, Jenn helped me do two casts of my breasts to somehow save them. I'm not sure if it's a memorial, or a way to tangibly have a memory of my mammories or what, but I talked to an artist today that will help me mold the casts. I've tried to figure it out on my own, and I can't figure out how to do it. I even tried contacting someone that does sculptures but it's evidentally MY want, and not what anyone else wants. This fellow has taught me an art class and is a bit of a a colorful local character, but his big heart offered to cast my breasts for free and he's an artist that does big jobs on big commisions. It will make me happy to somehow have a representation of my breasts back in my possession. I don't know why, but it will. It wouldn't have mattered if they cut off my leg or my arm or my ass, I would have wanted a representation of it. It just happens to be my breasts. I hope this option works out. There is no going back -- once the molds are used, there isn't a way to go back and re-do the work if it somehow fails. He has two tries. There are two molds. My son-in-law is happy they will be leaving his bonus room. I suspect it's weird for him to have the casts of my breasts up in a room they use a good bit. Hadn't thought about that. Jenn and I just put them up there to dry and be out of the way.

Rested this afternoon. I get tired on the weekends and seem to need to rest more. I don't know how Jenn and Eric have the energy, but they were scheduled to go to Kennesaw this afternoon to let Liam see a reinactment that was going on up there. Liam is a nut about guns and will have enjoyed seeing the cannons and replica guns and such. I'm sure I'll hear about it.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I got to zip up to the courthouse yesterday and do my vote. It was nice to go just up the road, and get it over and done with before the day of the big crush. I fully realize that my vote will get canceled out many times over, but I think it's really important to vote, and so I did.

I was glad to see gas prices go down today. It's really scary with this stock market thing though. Jenn makes fun of me saying, "Mom's ready to stuff money in jars and bury them in the back yard." Well, I don't really have a back yard, and that wouldn't be my first choice of locations, but I'm really beginning to wonder.....should I withdraw some money to just ensure that if my bank got into difficulties, I'd have some real greenbacks on hand? I don't know what to think.

We had a day today at work without the kids, but the servers went down so much of the work I wanted to do, I couldn't because I didn't have access to a working computer. Very frustrating.

I bought some tarps and hand warmers, and some other odds and ends in preparation for the 3-day. It's only about 3 weeks away! I went on to see if anyone had any trivia game cards they'd donate. I've heard that is a way that folks like to pass the time. I have some puzzles I think I'm going to copy and bring with me. I am open to non-bulky fun activities that I can have bus waiting people do while passing time on the bus. That's my job to keep people entertained. Tired, grumpy people too, is my guess.

My prize find for the walk today was an inflatable pillow. I really am used to a lot of pillows to sleep. Two is an absolute minimum. I figure I can use folded up clothing for one pillow, but I can't find my old inflatable pillow. So when I saw a new inflatable travel pillow at Wallyworld, I grabbed it. And some foot/hand warmers. Gradually, I'm getting the list of items down to a shorter list of things "to get" and instead a longer list of "I've gots."

Life sends you some big puzzles sometimes and there are sometimes no ways to really untangle them. I've really had a rough several months trying to figure out some family relationship concerns. Unfortunately an estrangement has resulted and that's sad. What you gonna do? Sometimes you just have accept things and keep on keepin' on. I don't understand it, but it IS what it is, and so I'm accepting it.

Hope you and those you love are safe, happy and enjoying life this day.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


For us average, maybe even sub-par, Joes and Janes out here, it's tough to figure out if we should be canning like mad, and stuffing silver dollars in the mattress or if this is just an economic blip on the radar screen. The more people talk and the news reports, the more Jenn, Eric and I have been worried about trying to steward Betty's nest egg. We met with her financial planner tonight. I feel like I was a child talking about finance with a PhD. I have seldom felt so naive.

We are doing our best to reduce her financial risk, and yet make her financial profile if not gain, at least not lose value. It was interesting to talk to the financial fellow and see some of his perspectives about the current financial situation in America and the world. He feels that things are about to bottom out. I hope he is right. It's very hard for someone not educated about the intricacies of finance to understand what is wise or unwise. Together, with Betty's participation, and under advisement of her financial advisor, we came up with a plan.

I hope that time will prove we have been good stewards. We've certainly tried.

Another piece of news is that both Jenn and I have met our minimum fund raising goals for the 3-day walk. I'm so appreciative to all who have made that accomplishment possible!

I was asked, what do I teach and how could we be already at mid-terms. Well, we started back to school on August 8th and a semester is 89 to 90 days. Someone somewhere counts the actual amount of time a kid's butt is in a seat, presumably learning. There are requirements about what that has to be at a minimum. Our goal is to meet our 90th day before the holiday break. So you count backwards from when we take off for the holidays and that is why you get us starting back to school about a month before the whole rest of America. So, count forward from August 8th and you've got us at the half-way point: mid-terms. As for what I teach -- well I'm a special education teacher and I help students that are "mainstreamed" into a regular education classroom. I can be sent to either Science classrooms or Social Studies classes. For the last three years I've been doing World Geography. Which is sort of interesting because I never got to take it myself. I enjoy teaching it and sharing my excitment about travel with the students. We just finished chapter 10 on Mexico so right now I know interesting factoids like, Mexico has 31 states, and it's 3 major mountain ranges are the Sierra Madre del Sur, the Sierra Madre Oriental and the the Sierra Madre Occidental. I know about details like the intermarriage of Indians and Europeans results in Mestizo's and the Isthmus of Mexico leads to the flat plains of the Yucatan. And so forth, and so forth. I also have a caseload of about 17 students that I have to keep all the governmental paperwork up-to-date on, and generally try to hound those 17 into passing their classes and contining to take their high school graduation tests until they pass, and graduating with a regular education diploma. Some of my students can do those things, and some are not. The No Child Left Behind laws say that we WILL graduate more and more special education students with regular education diplomas, despite the fact that many of our students can't be healed, are dealing with a variety of mental and physiological issues. By LAW only 2 percent of the students can be exempted from Graduation Testing becuase of severe (really severe) disabilities. So the rest of our students we work very hard trying to help them pass the Georgia High School Graduation tests, accumulate 24 Carnegie Units and meet a variety of other graduation requirements. For some, the frustration gets to be too much and they drop out. Others age out of the system and turn 21/22 before they can get the units they need. They can keep taking the tests in perpetuity. Most give up after they take the tests three or four times. But NCLB says we have to meet increasing quotas of disabled students getting regular ed diplomas so we try. And try. And try.

Lots of presure on the job. There is violence, threats of violence, and generally way too many teens cooped up in the same place at the same time for the public good. In return for all this fun, we get cursed, loved, defied, complied with, hugs, temper tantrums, and the list goes on. Every day is a new day with new opportunities to try and share knowledge and on an exceptional day, wisdom. Many students have issues with women, and therefore it can be tougher in many ways to just simply be a woman. Men get more respect. At least that's my observation. Big, young, testesterone-driven teen boys want to feel powerful and they often do it by intimidating women teachers. You gotta have metal ovaries to work in this profession these days. Probably more than you ever wanted to know.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


No yard diva today. Dunno why.

Midterms tomorrow. I'm tired tonight so I'm going to get up early and finish making up the test.

My jacket for the 3-day came today from L. L. Bean, and I like it! (It's not pink either!) It has a windbreaker / rainslicker outer layer. The inner layer is soft and some kind of fleece. They can be worn together or separate and they fit. It's a littler more heavy (pound-wise) than I'd prefer, but given all the logistics, I'm happy to have something!

Sleepy now, so I'm signing off to catch some zzzzzz's. Peace.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Yard Diva

The yard diva comes tomorrow and so I went by Wallyworld to get some supplies. There is just nothing but pansies and lots and lots and lots of chrysanthumums and that's it. I've planted about all the pansies and crysanthumums I want to plant. I want to find some of those cute little cabbages that look cute through the winter, and some other plants that can withstand our winter. I don't know what, but there has to be something out there.

My poor dogwood trees have lost their leaves and look pretty shocked. I hope in the spring they can come back. The lady they had the fundraiser for, from which I bought the trees, died. They were raising funds to allow her to go to Switzerland for a last ditch cancer treatment. Two weeks after she died, her son who also had some kind of cancer died! How sad is that! I'm not sure the dogwood trees aren't following behind them. :( I'll only know this coming spring.

I had a terrible problem with mosquitos this summer, and couldn't figure out where they were coming from. Everyone thought it was the new little fountain I put out. I finally figured it out the other day. The BIG pots have semi-enclosed pans underneath them and made into the pot. Those pans were evidentally mosquito manufacturing facilities. I hope as the weather cools off the mosquitos and flies die off.

Sleepy after a full day at work. Must feed the fish and hit the hay.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Obama "Fell Down"

I noticed today that my Obama sign "fell down." So I moved it to a new location in my yard and hammered it way in to the dirt. I don't know if it was pushed or fell accidentally, but if it goes down again, it won't be an accident.

I know how to find presents for my daughter becuase I generally know some of the things she likes, and occasionally, I know something she wants. The kids are easy. Her in-laws, not so easy, and Betty -- impossible. But an important person comes up later this month and I confess I don't know all the secrets of what he likes in art, reading, gadgets, and he's three times smarter than me about the geek world. If he wanted it he bought it. How do you find just the right gift for that person!? It'd be easy if it was Liam. Anything pirate-oriented would be the ticket. But it's his dad and I think Eric is way over pirate-oriented interests. There's a double whammy because he's a guy and I'm clearly not equipped to understand much about guy-stuff. I was married to a guy that wanted camouflage and guns and hunting equipment. A turkey call would have made him happy. That doesn't work here. Guns, knives, and camo just don't work in this situation. Is there art he likes that doesn't require a grant from the National Council for the Humanities? Is there a clever gizmo he wants that doesn't require a 2nd mortgage? I just don't know. I believe there is a kid inside of all of us that wants a present and a fuss for our birthday. I have to wonder what his kid wants?

Some of friends of mine went on an annual camping trip this past weeken, and I wish I could have gone, but it was just too far, too expensive (gas) and would have taken too much energy that I just don't have yet. I hope they had as good a time this year as I had the last time I went with them on this event.

I've decided that the old pair of walking shoes that I'm going to wear for the 3-day need decoration on them. I'm going to get some paint and make a statement with them.

I still have some plastic to get for my tent, and then, because it's less than 20 days until the 3-day, I'll start collecting and beginning to pack, because I'm just made that way. I need to get some trivia cards, as I've heard that's a popular way to entertain folks on the bus. I also have some other ideas of things for people to do. Got a few packs of cards yesterday. I have another idea for a way to make the ride one the bus a better experience. It was something taught to me by a guy at Yale summer befor last.

My sole positive effort today was doing Betty's considerable grocery shopping. She's good to go for a while. I had my prosthetics on today. Two weeks ago I was there and forgot to put them on, and she didn't appear to notice. She doesn't have enough neurons left to be polite, so she just didn't notice.

My exema is still driving me nuts. I think I must, must, must see the dermatologist. Must sleep now though. Night all.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Little Boys and Big Boys with Badges

I couldn't get the camera out fast enough to get a picture of it, but I saw one of the sweetest things today. We were at a parade in Cedartown and as is the custom here in western Georgia, when the floats and candidates go by, they throw out candy. I haven't seen that until I got here. Anyway, Liam has to be guided NOT to go into the path of the parade. He's pretty good about it. Today a sheriff deputy went out into the road and would pick up the candy that was out of the reach of the kids and throw it to the curb so they could get it. This sheriff deputy, quite literally stopped the parade so that he could get the candy up for the kids, BEFORE the horses went by with their horsey issues. It was so sweet to see this three year old fellow with blonde hair and blue eyes at the feet of this big deputy, by invitation, and with about 20 big horses all stopped to wait for the big man in the uniform and the little tow-headed fellow to pick up candy. It was a special moment in time.

I got an Obama sign and put it out in my front yard today. The office in Cedartown had signs (Carrollton was out.) and I got one. I think there are about 4 Democrats in all of Bremen, so I'ma little worried that I'll end up with eggs on the front stoop. But I've bravely put it up. I'm sure it'll generate controversy with the neighbors if nothing else.

What was heartening was that in Cedartown lots of people were getting Obama signs. Apparently there ARE some Democrats in Georgia! I thought I was in the most Republican state of all time, even if FDR did come here and die in Georgia at Warm Springs. I bet he felt like an alien in a strange land if it was as Republican then as it is now. I don't think it was, but it sure is now. By the way, my dad is officially having a dust storm in his grave (he was cremated so he can't roll over). He was a HARD core Republican. I respected his and everyone else's right to be or or against whoever. That IS the American way -- fredom of choice. I respect your choice to be for (or against) whoever you support. It's going to be an interesting election, and electoral college this year. I have to say that I listned to an NPR piece the other day about how McCain has people in Israel and Europe getting expatriates to send in absentee ballots. I think it's a great strategy on his part. I'd really like to see more clever ideas like that being employed by Obama. I honestly think he's being too low-key.

I've been doing a little outside stuff with flowers and bricks and stuff. I think I want to get a few more when I'm in Carrollton tomorrow. I keep putting a little bit of something into the flower/outdoor decoration department each month. I kind of wish I was more creative. It doesn't seem like I know quite what to do to make it look decorated. I need advice on what to do with the yard. I feel like the things I do just make it look more kitchy, not elegant. The lady next door does throws some bricks together and puts some flowers out and it looks elegant. I end up making dead flowers and concrete islands. I am not Martha Stewart of the outdoor decoration world. I wish I were a little smarter though.

I think I'm going to surf the web for some DIY ideas for outdoor plantings. I'm sure not smart enough to think of things on my own. Off to search the web! I hope you and those you love are well tonight.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Most of the Way There

Jenn has reached her goal. While this is our first year doing this, we have found out a lot of things while soliciting for the 3-Day. The minimum amount required to do the walk, was a hard goal for us. But, the people who have generously given, have warmed my heart so much. There are so many of you that have joined us in this effort. I'm so thankful that in this struggle, so many of you have been gracious enough to do something to help me and others.

Soon the page that will pop up will be mine. I have a modest goal to reach. Jenn's was the one that seemed so impossible. I'm astounded though by a woman who set her goal to raise $30,000 and instead raised $43,000. Clearly I'm not good at this fund raising thing, because I can't imagine how you do that. How in the world do you do that?! Obviously she is a woman who knows how to do this! Everyone that gives even one dollar is my hero(ine) because each dollar is important in finding and preventing cancer. THANK YOU, ALL OF YOU. Each one of you was precious to me before this, but now you're even more precious.

I don't recommend getting cancer as a way to find out who your friends are, but it's been very affirming for me, especially as many of you helped with the fund raising. I think most people never get to know how many people care about them, because it's only demonstrated at their funeral. I got to find out by living. How cool is that!?