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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One Word 2017: When The Words Don’t Seem Right, What Do You Do?

{ File this under: NEVER TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY }

me

 A FEW WEEKS AGO WHEN I began to think about what my One Word for this year would be I was sure it’d be SMART.  My egotistical little brain that craves attention told me that this word was a good one.  But after The Orange One made reference to Putin being smart I could not, in good conscience, use the now tainted word “smart” as my one word.

 THEN WHILE READING A CHRISTMAS GIFT, a wonderful book of essays called I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi, the word BETTER seemed like it’d be my One Word.  But the more I thought about this word the less applicable it seemed to my overall mind-set right now.

It’s not that I don’t want to strive to be a better version of me, I do;  it’s just that I feel that “better” could be anxiety-producing for me, a reformed semi-perfectionist who has finally become comfortable with the concept of good enough.

 WELL, ON NEW YEAR’S EVE I still had not decided on a word for 2017.  In a last-ditch effort to discern what my One Word would be, I approached the problem in a less cerebral, more spiritual way.  That is, as I drifted off to sleep I intentionally put the question into my mind, so that when I awakened the next morning the first thing I thought about would be my answer.

And my spirit didn’t let me down.  No, thanks to it I had a word for 2017 that allows me to creatively incorporate the essence of smartness with the desire for betterment.  Yes, my whole being told me in no uncertain terms to: RELAX.

So I think I will.  😉

Question of the Day

DO YOU PICK ONE WORD TO BE YOUR THEME FOR EACH YEAR?  

If so, what’s this year’s word and how did you come by it?  

If not, what do you do instead? Resolutions? Goals? Nothing?

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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Holiday Conversations With An Orange Elephant In The Room

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{ source }

I don’t know what to say.

And even though it’s awkward to say something, remaining quiet, somehow, seems wrong considering how not normal all of this is.

For me, an introvert, this holiday season is quickly morphing into, if not the worst one ever, high up there on the list.

I admit that it’s not like I adore this time of year to begin with, but I am, at least, trying to be social. Talking sense + spirit. Attempting to meet people halfway.

Not ranting about politics.

But after this presidential election, there’s an orange elephant named Donald in the room, and people are getting completely whacked, saying goofy things that do not put them in a good light.

ARE YOU FINDING THIS, TOO?

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So far I’ve heard…

  1. Well, we couldn’t have a girl running the country, now could we? I had to vote for Trump.
  2. I finally got a gun so with Trump in office I’ll be prepared to shoot anyone [Nazis?] at the door.
  3. If you’ll only empathize with the Trumpsters and talk with them about the true meaning of democracy, I’m sure they’ll come around to a more moderate point of view.
  4. I’m glad Obama is out of office. He made me buy health insurance, that I was going to do anyhow, but I don’t want him [a black man?] telling me to do it.
  5. I hate, hate, hate to the nth degree anyone who voted for Trump. I can’t talk with them anymore. I just cannot.

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EACH ONE OF THESE PEOPLE IS NUTS IN A DIFFERENT WAY.

But the thing is that I’m not their therapist, so I can state an opinion.  I’m not their confessor, so I’m not required to forgive them.  And in many cases, I’m merely an acquaintance, so you’d think they’d keep their attitude to themselves.

But sadly they don’t.

I mean, on the one hand I don’t care how delusional people are as long as they’re no danger to me or society;  but I can’t help wondering if I don’t figure out a way to speak up consistently against politically based crazy, am I not contributing to the problem?

An orange problem named Donald Trump, that is.

When Home Isn’t There Anymore This Is What You’ll See

This is what curiosity, based on nostalgia, will get you.

On a whim, while using Google street view to see what my doctor’s new office building looks like, I entered the address of where I grew up as a young child.

I was only thinking about my early childhood home because my dad’s modest medical office was on the first floor of the building, and we lived in the apartment above the office.

[Different times, eh?]

When I found the photo of where the building used to be I started laughing.  I mean, I haven’t been back to my hometown in over a decade, maybe longer, but when they say you can’t go home again, who knew it’d be literal for me, an English major educated to think figuratively?

However, be that as it may, getting to my point here, as the photo below proves, there is no house to go to anymore.  Of course, considering my family is long gone the loss of the building seems insignificant to me. Funny, even.

No doubt they’d laugh, too, if they saw this photo.

I’m sure that this just goes to show you something, but I’ll be darned if I know what that something is.

All I can tell you is this photo made me smile thinking about how everyone else shares lovely pics of the house they grew up in, but me?  I have a photo of a blank space.

Uh huh.

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Question Of The Day:

Have you ever searched online for a photo of where you used to live? If so, what did you find? If you’ve never tried searching, why not?  

Charmed By Last Night’s Super-duper Supermoon

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“May peace and love from the moon above flow through your heart on the wings of a dove.”

~ Grandma Penny Halliwell, Charmed

 

Zen-Den and I went out last night chasing the moon.

We drove around the area hoping to find a spot where I could photograph the super-duper supermoon juxtaposed against something on earth.

I thought it’d be cool to have a bit of perspective to show how huge the moon appeared to be to us human beings below.

We had no such luck finding a spot like that here in suburbia.  However, I did get this “Hey! Look up at the moon in the sky, isn’t it big?” photo.

Which seems like a pretty darned nice reward for our efforts.

Anyone else go chasing the moon last night?
Or perhaps, you, my gentle readers, decided to stay home and howl at it instead!