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 ~

Let’s Decide Now: Which Nickname Do You Prefer For Our 45th President?

screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-5-47-56-amI have no love for The Donald.  I imagine the feeling is mutual.

We have nothing in common, or so I thought until I remembered that during the campaign The Donald made a point of telling us that he was good at making up nicknames for his enemies.

Remember “Crooked Hillary” for HRC and “Pocahontas” for Elizabeth Warren?  Such clever [?] zingers from that man.

screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-5-56-54-amThinking on these nicknames I realized that The Donald and I do have something in common.  We’re both good at finding what we believe to be the perfect way to describe another person who we do not care for.

So today in honor of his inauguration, and as a way of showing respect for his leadership regarding the use of nicknames, I’ve created a poll using nicknames that we might call The Donald during the next four years.

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After reading the list, compiled from nicknames I found all over the place, please indicate your choice of what to call The Donald. You may choose up to 3 nicknames.

[Please note: Suggestions for nicknames not on this poll may be added in the comment section of this post. Remember, this is a PG-13 blog, so use discretion when adding nicknames. Thank you.]

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[Images via Join The Uproar. Many more available. All for free.]

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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On The Cusp Of The Holidays, I Give You Links I Love

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the United States.  

Much hustle and bustle. Much family related stress. Much TV watching for the non-shoppers, much discount shopping for the wackos people who like to do that sort of thing.

I thought a few fun links might be appreciated this week while you, my gentle readers, eye-rolled at familial lunacy OR made like a potato on the couch OR foraged in over-heated junked-up stores.

Whatever you decide to do makes no difference to me, but please…

Be safe. Be happy. Be.

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A cheery anthem from an unlikely source that gets us where we’re going.

Details about wishbone karma just in time for Thanksgiving.

An easy way to make people more social. Count me in.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Spend some quality time with old friends.

Feeling anxious? Relax with these neuroscience-approved songs.

Here are the 200 happiest words. Use them often this holiday season.

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How To Turn A Bully Into A Fool [Part 2 of 2]

[Part 1 of this childhood story is here.]

The next time Karl started hassling me was in class a few days later.

He sat a row in front of me and turned around to torment me, the quiet girl named Alice, by mocking my name in a sing-song fashion: “Alice in Wonderland, Alice in Wonderland.”

I was mad.

Following my father’s advice I turned to Karl and said loudly: “So who are you? The March Hare?”

As fate would have it, our teacher, Miss Thomas, a maiden lady [as they used to say to describe unmarried women over 50], was standing at the end of my row.

She was a known disciplinarian, seemingly devoid of whimsy.

However, my adult putdown of a kid who she knew was going to be trouble for years to come caught her off guard, and she burst out laughing.  At which point the rest of my class joined her in laughing at red-faced Karl, former bully turned class buffoon, thanks to a few well said words at the right time.

Thank you, Daddy.

From this experience I learned three valuable lessons that have stayed with me to this day:

  1. Words have power;
  2. If you can make people laugh, you can make a point;  and
  3. Bullies are weaklings who you can take down, one way or another, if you just apply yourself to making them look like fools in front of their peers.

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