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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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.

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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Aging Gracefully: A Query, A Quandary, A Questionable Answer

“Explain the phenomenon of aging gracefully.”

  • You just never know, do you?

Looking at recent search queries that brought readers to this blog, the one written above caught my eye.  It amazed me.

Usually people find The Spectacled Bean when they’re looking for answers to garden problems [deer eating pansies], self-awareness [Quaker questions], or vanity [V-beam procedure].

I know it’s odd, but it’s true;  those are the three most popular posts on this blog.  Not exactly what I’d consider to be my focus or my best-written stuff, but Google’s algorithm does what Google’s algorithm does.

All Hail Google!

  • My first thought upon seeing this query was to feel a little insulted.  

Aging? Moi?! Pish posh, I say!

But then I remembered that one of my blog tags is Aging Gracefully so I had to lighten up on being insulted, and I shifted my thinking to “isn’t this wonderful?”

I was being asked to impart the wisdom of my many years so that others could learn from my depth of experience, keen observations about human nature, and buoyant spirit. 

So I sat down at my computer ready to compose a post in which I’d answer that query in such a way as to goose Google’s algorithm.  I’d write something so profound and pithy that anyone who asked a similar query, for years to come, would be directed here.

The dream, so close.

  • But here’s the thing, and it’s significant, I have no real answer to this query.

I mean, I dunno.  Maybe the answer is to never stop exercising?  Or maybe it’s to commit to being a lifelong learner?  Or to attempt to let go of any person, idea, or thing that no longer serves you?

None of these? Some of these? All of these?

Or maybe, just maybe, the real essence of the phenomenon of aging gracefully can be summarized in one crotchety remark: “DON’T BOTHER YOUR ELDERS WITH SILLY QUESTIONS!”

You got that, you nosy little whippersnapper?

What Was This Week All About? Anxiety, Awareness, Acrimony, And Adjustments

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This has been a ridiculous week.  MY MIND AND SPIRIT ARE WHACKED, ON EDGE.  In fact, so much so that I’m going to write a listicle instead of a proper post To Remember It all. 

• • •

In no particular order…

√  ANXIETY:  Our normal temperature for this time of year would be 39ºF.  However, on Monday morning it was 7ºF here with a wind chill close to 0ºF, a light dusting of snow everywhere.  By Thursday morning, after 65 mph winds on Wednesday night that took down many tree limbs, our temp was 65ºF.  Right now on Saturday morning it’s 35ºF outside with gray skies.

These extreme temperature fluctuations make me nervous– and put a wrinkle [pun intended] in my early morning “what to wear?” decision-making process. 

√  AWARENESS:  I’ve always said that I believe that education is everything.  I was naively referring to learning about language and history and math and science and critical thinking and how to get along with people.  I was not thinking about learning new terms for sexual deviancy, but thanks to our PEOTUS I now know more about said topic.  Unless you’ve been visiting Mars this week you do too, right?  

Perhaps we should change the aforementioned acronym to mean Pervert Elect Of The United States.    

√  ACRIMONY:  I’m disappointed to know that one member of the board at LL Bean, a woman who is a descendent of the founder, has used her vast wealth to fund The Donald’s campaign.  I agree in part with the current LL Bean Executive Chairman’s FB message [instead of a proper press release?] reminding us that this woman is free to do whatever she chooses with her money, but I disagree with him about how her behavior does not reflect upon the company.  

A company’s board of directors, chosen for their acumen, is the brains behind a company, and as such whatever a director values will influence [obviously] his or her input into how the company operates.  Thus any connection to anything or anyone dodgy [Hello Donald] casts doubt on the way the whole company is run. 

Not saying I won’t shop there in the future, but it’ll no longer be the first place I go to when I need clothes, bedding, sporting equipment, outdoor furniture.   

√  ADJUSTMENTS:  My iPad, which by techie standards would be a great-great-grandma, is doing wonky things.  It has taken to tweeting not what I write, but a link to the last article that I read.  Fortunately I’m not ashamed of anything that research and read, so that aspect of this problem isn’t what worries me.  No, it’s the fact that great-great-grandma seems to be on a tweeting bender.  The poor dear just can’t help herself.  Nor can I.

So I deleted my Twitter app from my iPad and this week have lived a life in which I only see Twitter when I’m using my desktop computer, which means not so often.  

• • •

Meandering Thoughts About Reading Books & The Nature Of Failure

WOULDN’T IT BE WONDERFUL IF I COULD tell you that I succeeded in doing Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 reading challenge?  The one I talked about here.

And wouldn’t it be equally wonderful if I were to write brief reviews of the 12 books I read, as I planned to do last January, vis-à-vis this annual challenge?

WELL, I DIDN’T READ ALL THE BOOKS that I thought I would because I got caught up in reading about politics online and in the newspapers, as one does when “fascism,” Merriam-Webster’s presumed word of the year, is knocking on the door.

So yes, I HAVE FAILED in my stated goal. But in the whole scheme of things I AM BETTER INFORMED about what matters now. So have I failed, or have I adapted?  

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

AND IT’S NOT LIKE I DIDN’T READ any books at all, meaning that I can still share with you, my gentle readers, a few books, written by new-to-me authors, whose thoughts and style made for interesting reading.

Thus, without further ado, moving beyond the foregoing flapdoodle and twaddle, what I want to tell you is: here are three books I read in 2016 and enjoyed.

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#1

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

This is a story about identity, the shifting nature of it, and the implications of learning someone is not who they say they are.  The story moves seamlessly among three different eras: present day England, 1960s England, and WWII London.  I found the characters compelling, the plot fascinating, and the settings atmospheric.

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#2

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge

This is a story, that is more charming than it sounds on the surface, about a rich older woman with Alzheimer’s who lives in a small town.  One day she decides to sell her stuff and the town goes bonkers as she unloads her possessions, each of which has a story of its own to tell.  There is drama and familial tension, of course, but the real subject of this novel is: do we own our stuff or does it own us?

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#3

Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan

This is a delightful memoir that I couldn’t put down.  In it the author, a lawyer practicing in DC, talks candidly and hilariously about her experiences as a temporary receptionist for her father’s medical practice in rural Tennessee.  She does this to help her family through a difficult time, spending a year working for her father, and in the process learns about true heroes, batshit crazy small town people, and what is important in life.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Have you, like me, failed to read all the books that you thought you would read this year? If so, how do you feel about it? If not, please tell us how you accomplished your reading goals. No doubt we all could benefit from your wisdom.

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Well It Goes Like This, I Shredded My Past. Hallelujah!

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Bifocal glasses, not mine, left on a picnic table in the park. Someone is not reading the fine print today.

• • •

SO LAST WEEK while stuck at home because of this, I decided to go through all the writing ditherage I’ve kept over the years.

Much of it was in boxes in the basement.

Lots of it was spiral notebooks from the late 90s to mid-2003 filled with my handwritten Morning Pages a la The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

I was diligent about my daily 3 page writing practice for a while there.

Just about all the notebooks contained a repetitive selection of whiny, self-absorbed, humdrum scribblings that suggest to me now I was stuck and unhappy during those years.

My inner muse had not caught my attention yet.  

• • •

AFTER SAVING THE few good or funny thoughts I’d captured years ago in these notebooks, I had an epiphany.  I thanked the writing practice for guiding me to today, then as a way of making my life lighter I shredded these notebooks.

Every last one of them gone.

Thus I’ve freed myself, literally and spiritually, from a bunch of heavy negativity that I’d been saving in boxes in the basement for over a decade.

I tell ‘ya, if you’re feeling burdened by life I recommend shredding outdated thoughts.  It may sound corny, but doing so has lifted a weight from me.  And I feel free to get on with that which needs to be written now.

Muse, lead the way.

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