A Student by Any Other Name

Dear students; I understand you feel you are the center of the universe. I can tell you feel like everything you do is so unique and stellar that there could be no confusion whatsoever. But when you submit your work offline and multiple other students do, too, please PLEASE write your name on your work.

Why, you ask. Why? Take one look at my desktop, and I don’t mean my drop box.

To-do pile, soon to be "Ta-da!"

To-do pile, soon to be “Ta-da!”

It’s like the guy’s desk in the book Revolutionary Road. He had an inbox, an outbox, and a pile he couldn’t face. Well, I don’t have room to spare for that third pile, so I must face a stack like this and deal with it. Read it, grade it, record the grades, and mail it all home to its owners.

Write your name on it, people. Claim your work. Really.

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Dear World; election day?

Dear candidates: remember what you learned in grammar school? A double negative isn’t effective in American English. Well, politicians, when I hear negative from both sides of a race, I tend to discount both reports.

Special interest groups ans PACs, this means you, too. The negative ads ain’t got no purpose or meaning to them, ya know what I mean?

Dear clerks and poll folks; we appreciate you. I don’t think you hear that enough. I know that many, many voters are stopping by at the city clerk’s office to vote early. You are crazy busy, and that’s a good sign. This is what democracy looks like.

Dear bake sale donors; I might arrive later in the day this time. Please save some goodies for me! I hear cookies calling my name.

Dear voters: A woman voting for Scott Walker is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders. Or maybe it’s a frog voting for Doc Hopper. Remember Kermit the frog feeling devastated at the thought of all those little frogs on crutches? Never mind.

Dear 24/7 news outlets (you know who you are); doing a special all about Ebola Panic increases the panic. Got that? Stick to the facts, people, just the facts.

Dear farmers; do you really support the governor enough to put up several huge signs? It’s rather misleading. Drivers going down the rural highways may think the gov has a lot of supporters, when it’s really just one farmer with one vote.

Dear lawmakers; the concealed carry law actually made it harder for police officers to wear their weapons in a school, even if they are liaison officers there. Local school districts had to renegotiate with law enforcement to allow their police school liaisons to do their job.

Dear candidates; stay classy. I mean, get up and take the high road. This negativity hurts everyone. Let’s get Wisconsin out of the mud and make it a great state again.

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October comes to a close

The last outdoor market

The last outdoor market!

We didn’t do much stocking up this time. Today’s market, the final outdoor market of the downtown season, was more about watching little kids in their Halloween costumes trick-or-treating at the various vendors, picking up a few things for tonight’s supper, and just enjoying the fresh air one more time.

I did buy apples for my lunches, lettuce for several days of salads, and kettle corn just for fun. We picked up a little cheese and honey just because we could, and Chuck picked out Moroccan squash soup and curried chicken salad from the little deli we like so much.

But on the way home, we stopped at the corner meat market, where the head butcher has joined the Eating the Opponent project. He looked at the Packers schedule (at New Orleans on Sunday Night Football) and decided to put Andouille sausage on sale. We had gumbo for supper tonight. Look out, Drew Brees, we’ve got the neighborhood butcher on our side!

So on we go – out of the summer, and into the fall, and eventually, on to the cruel world we call Wisconsin Winter. Our family, at least, will be well fed.

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She’s baaack – an encore from Grandma Daisy

She couldn’t stay quiet for long. Grandma Daisy is back, just a few weeks before election day. This is an encore, but it didn’t need much modification to be current.

Fiddle-dee-dee. Tomorrow will be another day.

As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly!

Big Brother is watching.  

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Wilbur didn’t want food, he wanted love.

I have created a monster!

 

Well, grandkids, all of these are lines from classic books. Let’s see how many you or your mother can identify. What? So few? What are they teaching these days — never mind.

Let’s look at the last one. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,  of course. Truth be told, though, young ones, this particular quote isn’t a direct quote from the novel. It’s kind of like crediting  Buzz Lightyear with “To infinity and beyond!” when he only said it twice in the first Toy Story movie.

The truth is that Shelley’s work inspired the phrase.  An English teacher I knew (they’re always handy when you need a good literature quote) mentioned that there is no exact quote in which Dr. Frankenstein says or another character says that he/you have created a monster–it’s more of a thematic draw from the overall text. Frankenstein warns the man who meets him at the end of his life how “dangerous is the acquisition of knowledge,” as a way of saying, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!” in keeping with the “created a monster” idea.

So, young ones, back to the upcoming election issues – like the state budget. Governor Talks-a-lot claimed to have innovative changes for our fair state’s education system. His changes consisted of a straining-at-the-seams budget for public schools and a significant increase in a program called Vouchers. Vouchers were grants, money, scholarships paid by the state for students to attend private schools. Private. Not public charters, not home-schooling, but private schools. Governor Walk-on-by ignored the evidence that current voucher schools in Milwaukee were not doing any better then their public counterparts down the road. In fact, if they measured success by the standardized tests of the day, voucher schools did a poorer job of educating their students.

Governor Walk-all-over-you decided that his “innovative education reform” would expand the voucher program into other middling to large-ish cities. Make it bigger. Spread the money around. Around the state, that is. One city, one school district at a time.

The Governor, despite his lack of scientific or educational background, had created a monster. He wanted to open up the private vouchers, damage the state’s education budget, and further gut public schools.

Governor Walkerstein was ready to create his monster. He didn’t have the wisdom of my English teacher friend to tell him that just because he could, didn’t mean he should.

Oh, young ones, it was a tough time to be a teacher. In fact, I could use a cup of coffee. Let’s take a break and talk about classic television. Have you ever seen WKRP in Cincinnati?

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Green Tomatoes

Folks, this was a week ago. I hope to slip out at halftime (of the Packer game, need you ask?) and pick what’s left outside. We’ve had unseasonably warm weather, so I have a few tomato plants and several pepper plants bearing fruit.

I have a few choices. One: wait until enough tomatoes turn red to make a sauce or soup. They’re sitting in the sun; this plan has possibilities..

Tomatoes in the sun!

Tomatoes in the sun!

Or – there are two things that money can’t buy:

True love and fried green tomatoes.

True love and fried green tomatoes.

As the end of the harvest season approaches, we’re still eating good tomatoes.

Tomatoes - and herbs.

Tomatoes – and herbs. 

It’s shaping up to be a delicious autumn. Winter? We won’t talk about that yet.

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Pink and more meaningless Pink

My coworker had a great word on the back of her pink t-shirt: Survivor. She is one year out from finishing her radiation therapy for her own breast cancer. We all wore matching pink shirts to show her what she already knew: we cared. We cared a lot.

The NFL’s breast cancer awareness month scatters random pink all over the field. I just can’t quite buy it, though. Something doesn’t feel right. I have questions, and I haven’t found the answers.

How much did all this pink gear cost? All for awareness? Come on, people, awareness is the lowest form of knowledge. Awareness is saying, “Look! Over here! Pay attention to me! Me! Me! Me!” Awareness is knowing it’s raining, but not caring because you’re inside a dry, warm home. Awareness is realizing the game on television is tied, but not really needing to know because you’re busy updating your Facebook status about what you just had for lunch. Awareness on its own, folks, isn’t worth much.

How much is the NFL donating, and where? To whom? I’m having a hard time finding a real answer to this. I’m finding statements like “Auction Proceeds!” and “Net Profit!” I’m not finding a true commitment to providing mammograms for diagnosis or payment for expensive anti-cancer drugs. I’m not finding real information in the form of names (organizations) or numbers (amount of actual donations, even donation goals).

As I’m watching Aaron Rodgers drape a bright pink towel around his neck, something doesn’t feel right. My coworkers t-shirt was much more meaningful.

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Multi-tasking is Real Life

I had started a load of laundry and was sitting in the bedroom recliner watching the Packers play the Dolphins – and stain treating a few of Chuck’s t-shirts. You see, Chuck is the ultimate jeans and t-shirt guy, even at work. He wears his tees until they  fall to pieces or become stained and untreatable. I tear his old ones to strips to use in the garden. But we were discussing multi-tasking.

I had a stack of four or five t-shirts, mainly Chucks, with stains on them. While the jeans tossed and tumbled in the washer, I used my last bottle of Grandma’s Stain Remover to treat a variety of stains. As the Packers marched down the field, I dripped stain remover on Chuck’s wardrobe.

And I thought of an old post, one that explained what a multi-tasking weekend looks like in my household – from the perspective of the Daisy Reality Show.

The Daisy Reality Show Goes Passive Productive

You read that correctly. It’s not passive aggressive, it’s not passive vs. active. It’s the Daisy Reality Show, starting the composter mom herself, recorded live at the O.K. Chorale. The show’s director has replaced her bumbling assistant with a new, highly motivated, almost hyperactive intern.

Scene: Daisy’s bedroom. Daisy sits quietly in the recliner with her laptop computer,uploading pictures and blogging.

Intern: Daisy, you’re not doing anything! This makes for dull television!

Daisy: Not doing anything? I’ll have you know I’m over achieving right now.

Director laughs and leaves the room.

Daisy: I am multi-tasking, dear intern, a concept dear to the hearts of moms and teachers everywhere. See that cord? I’m charging my laptop. I’m downloading pictures for future blog posts. I’m blogging! And at the same time, the laundry is sorted and the third load – third load, mind you – is in the washer. That’s four tasks at once. Good enough for you?

Intern: Um…but it doesn’t look like you’re doing anything! How can I show this visually? It doesn’t work!

Daisy: I admit, it’s a challenge. But it’s your challenge, not mine. All I do is act like myself. And right now, that self is multi-tasking and resting my weary body at the same time. I feel rather proud of my productivity at the moment.

Intern (stammers)Oh-oh- okay for now, Daisy. (turns to camera operator) Let’s illustrate the various tasks she’s doing right now. Laundry. Charging computer. Can you do that?

Folks, it’s the normal life for so many adults. Get the passive chores started, like the laundry and plugging in the laptop, and then while those items are in progress, work on something else. And so it goes, at the O.K. Chorale.

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Not my Typical Autumn Saturday

I didn’t go to the downtown market today. It may have been the last one, too. I was tired, stiff, sore, and just didn’t feel up to it. I have a good supply of squash, apples, and any other goodies I might have bought, so it’s okay.

I got my annual flu shot last night. I’m stiff and sore and feeling a little under the weather. Is there a cold virus attempting a takeover? I hope not. I have an extra long week next week, and it includes the first virtual classes for elementary music. I need to be strong and healthy.

Meanwhile, the garden wants to be put to bed for the winter. I “harvested” parsley seeds today in an effort to be ready for spring. Garlic I planted in a basket next to the rhubarb. If I can spot a few bulbs for my walking onions, I’ll find a new home for those, too. The onion patch will be turned into a corner of the new garage next spring. If I want the green walking onions to be part of my pantry for a few more years, they’ll need a new home just like the garlic did.

The plan for today: settle in on the couch with hot apple cider. Watch the Wisconsin Badgers dominate the football field. Take care of a few outside tasks and rest or nap in between. Keep drinking liquids.

Got it? I think it’ll be effective. Later, folks. I need to refill my cider mug.

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Eating the Opponent – Miami

We made Cuban sandwiches a few seasons back. We joked about buying tuna not certified “dolphin safe.” I was ready to go with the Cuban again, but then I found something else.

And I have a staff meeting on Thursday after school.

How do these two go together? You might be surprised – or not. If I have supper in the crock pot on a staff meeting day, we’ll have something better than pizza delivery for supper. And this week, my friends, our Miami recipe works very well in a slow cooker.

Ropa Vieja, it’s called, and that translates literally as “Old Clothes.” When it’s done simmering for hours and hours, the end result resembles threads of old cloth. It’s much more descriptive than “beef simmered until it shreds.” Some recipes suggested serving on tortillas, but at least one said that it would not be authentic Cuban or Miami style on tortillas. Rice is the preferred side.

And so it goes – eating the opponent plus a staff meeting yields a good meal.

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