The One About My Favorite Public School Teacher

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{ tweet by @ericweiskott }
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So which public school teacher inspired and encouraged me the most?  Who had, and still has, the greatest influence on who I am today?

{ drum roll please }

My answer would be: Mrs. L——-, my high school sophomore English teacher.

She was the first teacher to ever tell me I knew how to write.  All the other teachers before her, many good women and men, assumed we kids didn’t know what we were doing.  But not Mrs. L——-, whose first + middle name was Clover May.

By the time I had Clover May she was nearing retirement– and didn’t give a rat’s tutu about what she was supposed to teach or how to teach it.  She’d done this teaching gig for so long that she intuitively knew how to get kids to write.

So instead of closely following any textbooks or lesson plans, Clover May would tell us funny little stories from her own life*, then have us tell a similar story from our lives… in writing.

She believed anyone could write.  It wasn’t a big deal.  All you had to do was talk about what happened & BE SPECIFIC.  Details like grammar and spelling could always be adjusted after you wrote down what happened specifically.

Yes, Clover May believed in all of us and our ability, perhaps yet untapped, to write a good story… as long as you were specific.

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* One of Mrs. L——-‘s funniest stories had to do with her given name.  From day one she insisted that we kids know her full name.  While decorum dictated that we call her Mrs. L——-, she believed we should know her first + middle name because this was an example of how to BE SPECIFIC.

So when Mrs. L——- discovered that one of her less-than-enthusiastic students could not remember her name correctly, she was ready to be perturbed.  However, she couldn’t be upset with this kid, who apparently lived on a farm, because the way he confused her name was so clever that she had to laugh.

You see, this kid, who had been sort of listening to what she said, thought that Clover May’s name was… Alfalfa June.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

If you went to public schools, who was your favorite teacher? And why?

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On St. Valentine’s Day: A Slightly Risqué Conversation Between The Old Married People

screen-shot-2017-02-14-at-7-32-22-amZen-Den and I were sitting in our living room the other evening.

I was playing Farm Heroes Super Saga on my iPad.

It’s a free game in which you collect brightly colored produce, flowers, rain drops, wheat sheaves, and acorns.  You accomplish this by moving pieces around the board while dealing with Darwin the Goat who eats wheat sheaves and Fidget the Squirrel who thunks acorns with his tail.

What’s not to love?

screen-shot-2017-02-14-at-7-40-43-amZen-Den, on the other hand, was reading a copy of Smithsonian magazine, but he looked up to ask me how my game was going.

I told him I was on a particularly fun, but difficult, level where in order to win I needed to get Fidget the Squirrel to whack all the acorns on the screen.

To which Zen-Den commented: “Sure, any game in which nuts get a little tail is a good one. Enjoy.”

Image Sources: |1| |2|

~ Happy Valentine’s Day, Everyone ~

A Mid-Winter Walk In The Nature Preserve

On Saturday the sun was finally shining, so Zen-Den and I went to the Nature Preserve for a walk. We enjoyed the opportunity to be outside in the fresh air on a brisk winter afternoon when there was no snow around. Here are a few photos I took along the way.

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path

We decided to take the flat, relatively mud-free trail. It was less than a mile, and interesting to wander along. Having never been on it before, we were pleasantly surprised by what we saw.

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rowena

Near the beginning of the trail we noticed this little cutie pie squirrel munching on a seed. I immediately named her Rowena.

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bench

A little farther along the trail we saw this bench that had an inscribed plaque on it. The plaque said: “Relax, Don’t Worry, Have Fun.”

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pond

We walked beside this partially frozen pond that was reflecting light into the darker forest just beyond it. The scene looked like something out of an animated Disney movie.

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cabin

Soon thereafter we walked across a field and came upon this relocated 200-year-old cabin. Much of the cabin’s wood is original.

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cabin-door

Entering the cabin through this door, we discovered a table and two benches + a fireplace. Nothing else in there. Very rustic.

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pond-2

Then, near the end of the trail we walked beside this small pond surrounded by tall grasses under the blue winter sky, making for a picture perfect photo at the end of our walk.

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What To Do When The Gift Of Your Attention Is Thrown Away

[Subtitled: When Expectations & Reality Do Not Align In Interpersonal Communication Exchanges]

[Sub-subtitled: People Suck, Don’t Take It Personally]

A CONVERSATION WITH a genuinely nice friend who is snitified about, of all things, Christmas cards.  Sending of said. Receipt of said. Subsequent action taken [or not taken] as result of receipt of said.

The conversation covered the following points:

  1. sending a card is optional;
  2. sending a card is giving the recipient the gift of your attention;
  3. sending a card does not obligate the recipient to send one back to you, but it’s delightful if they do;
  4. discovering that recipient has sent cards to other people, but not you, is your cue to ______ ?

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-1-37-41-pmWHILE THE SPECIFICS of this conversation were about Christmas cards, as we talked I realized that this gift of attention scenario plays out in other areas of our lives.

For instance, what do you make of someone, a friend &/or family member, who you send friendly texts to, but they never include you in the texting and photo sharing that they do with everyone else in your group?

Or to put it in blogging terms, how do you deal with someone who allows your comments to show up on their blog, then never bothers to respond to you, while publicly talking with all the other commenters on their blog?

To be fair, I truly don’t know if these people who throw away the gift of your attention are even aware that they are doing so.  They could be clueless.  They could be crazy.  Who know?

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-1-38-27-pmBUT THE THING is, people like my friend notice this sneaky ungrateful behavior, and it hurts them.

She’s a person who sincerely believes that you need to model the behavior you want to see in others, so that they may learn from your example.  This means that for her, when someone ignores her, she is flummoxed about how to react.

That is, in this specific case, should she continue to send the card because she is remaining true to her values by showing the recipient the way to live?

Or should she acknowledge that the recipient doesn’t care about their relationship, as shown by the recipient’s behavior– and give up on this person altogether?

I know what my answer is, but for some people this is a difficult decision to make.

Make No Assumptions. It’s Greenery For The Win.

AS A WAY OF adding some color into our lives during this mid-winter gray time of year, I went to Lowes this week where I bought some little houseplants in little plastic pots.

I’m not a full on hippy dippy plant lady yet, so fear not. But I could be headed that way.  [And really, would that be such a terrible thing?]

While transplanting each plant into a proper terra-cotta pot, it drifted into my addled mind that Pantone’s Color of the Year 2017 is Greenery.

I also remembered that when I first saw this color in early December I wasn’t taken with it, thinking that this particular shade of yellowish-green was almost garish.  A color I’d never want to see in my house. 

Was. not. a. fan. and. said. so.

But you know what?  I was wrong in my snap judgement.

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“Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew.” via Pantone

I HAD TO ADMIT this to myself as I placed the new houseplants around the house– and realized that they were exactly Greenery green.  And as such, they blended beautifully with our neutral color scheme of khaki golds + creamy whites + warm grays.

In fact, the new houseplants added much-needed splashes of spring-y color everywhere, proving to be an amazingly easy, cost-effective way of lifting my winter spirits.

So the moral of this little story is that when it comes to unfamiliar colors reserve your judgment until you’ve given the new color a chance to dazzle you.

For all you know the new color might be the perfect thing ever to grace your life… on a gray winter day.

When One Doth Use The Snot Out Of Something

I love when the absurd intersects with the ridiculous, and everything suddenly makes sense. 

 { Classic TV: Catch the toast. Kiss the grapefruit. }

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I.  Years ago Zen-Den and I were walking around a discount mall complex.  It was crowded, we were walking slowly, and we chanced to overhear part of a serious conversation between two people who we didn’t know.

What we heard was: “We used the snot out of those oven mitts.”

We started laughing because neither one of us could imagine a scenario where you’d say this sentence with such earnestness.  Of course Z-D and I, being who we are, immediately adopted this sentence as our favorite inside joke that means absolutely nothing, but it’s darned funny to say.

Don’t judge.

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II.  I’ve been cooking and baking more this winter than usual. We didn’t decorate the house for the holidays, but instead I decided to be festive and make some foods that we especially like: stews, soups, casseroles, breads, biscuits.

Even though the holidays are over now, I’ve just kept on cooking.

All was going well in my happy little cooking world until our last oven mitt ripped in two.  This left me with one square potholder and a dish towel to use when getting food out of the oven, and off the top of the stove.

I adapt. No big deal, right?

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III.  It didn’t concern me to not have any oven mitts because I was making do with what I had.  It was only when Zen-Den walked into the kitchen and asked me what I was doing that I began to realize that this conversation was going to go somewhere funny.

I got the giggles but was able to explain the situation to him, and for the first time ever I was able to say in all truthfulness: “We used the snot out of those oven mitts, didn’t we?”

Thereby using our favorite absurd overheard sentence in a non-ironic way to describe the present ridiculous situation– and to finally understand why anyone would say that sentence to begin with.

Life is good.

Links I Love For Clever Beans, Badass Turtles + Other Goofs

… because information is FUN dammit.

 Sometimes you need to remember How To Begin Again.

 Inspiration like the 5 Tips to Trim Down for Trump is why I love the blogosphere.

  Reminding you again How Being Bored Out Of Your Mind Makes You More Creative.

 Taking the What’s Your Closet Personality quiz, learning that I’m a Clothing Economist.

  What say we all try to be a Warrior Not Worrier.

 Knowing How to Enjoy Tea Throughout the Day seems like a good idea.

  Wondering about being a “54” after taking the Do You Live In A Bubble? quiz.

  So The Secret Is Not To Care, huh?

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New goal: Be as badass as this turtle.

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