Teacher Shortage? Ya think?

It was just a paragraph, and it was buried within a much larger article about career education in area middle and high schools. It was just a short statement, but I stopped and read it and reread it.

Wisconsin has a particularly strong need for teachers.

Salute Captain Obvious on this one. The rationale for the strong need is as follows.

Political turmoil has made it less and less popular, and the retirement rate is currently outpacing the rate of new teachers graduating.

Less and less popular. Political turmoil. Is anyone surprised? We teachers would like to say, “Told you so,” but we’re much too professional and polite to thumb our noses at the state legislature that made this possible.

That’s part of the problem. We are professional. We are willing to stand strong, and we are willing to be advocates for the young people we teach. It’s much harder to stand up for ourselves. Getting smashed to bits by our state leadership when we attempted to speak up – well, let’s just say it didn’t make our chosen field look very attractive.

Meanwhile, fewer young people choose to become teachers in Wisconsin. We, the teachers, are not surprised.

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It’s amazing. And random.

We’ve decided not to call it “leftovers” when I empty the fridge of various foodstuffs and we have it for supper. It’s “tapas.”

I’m pleasantly surprised at how an hour or two outdoors can change my mood. I’m smiling, relaxing, taking a break, and I’m smiling. Spontaneously. For no reason other than I feel happy and content.

I’ve joked (sort of) that I should take my blood pressure before and after working outside or gardening. Maybe this is the weekend for that experiment.

Gardening and outside are not always the same thing, at least in Wisconsin’s early spring season. I have started a lot of seeds indoors – tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, zucchini, broccoli, a few herbs…something about the smell of dirt makes it a rather Zen experience, even indoors.

April is a challenging month – a survival month, much like January. April, however, has the advantage of outdoor time. Planting a garden, be it flowers or fruits or vegetables, is an investment in hope. Planting illustrates faith that the future looks good. Be quiet; I’m not in a survivalist prepper mood today. 

 

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Signs of Spring – they’re all around!

Seedlings catching some sun!

Seedlings catching some sun!

The seedlings get to go outside on a field trip! They soak up some real sun, as opposed to the grow lights, and strengthen their stems in the breeze.

I’m not sure if I like these little starter pots or not. They’re a good size for exactly one seed each, but they really dry out fast. I’ll reserve judgement until planting time comes around.

Since I took this picture, the temperatures have gone colder. The little pots might not get another field trip until Saturday or Sunday – or later.

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Bias in the Political World

It’s no surprise when a poll is skewed to one side. Left or right, many pollsters are hired to do just that – make the poll turn out for the candidate, no matter what.

It was a “suggested post” because I don’t follow the guy. Senator Ron Johnson’s headline said, “Wisconsin Values; take the survey.” His comment added, “We want to know what you think!”

Really, RonJohn? I don’t think you truly want to know what this ecology-minded, frugal, progressive blogger and public school teacher actually thinks.

What the heck, I clicked on the link. I was not surprised.  Here’s an example, along with my answers – and my reactions.

  1. What do you think is the biggest issue facing Wisconsinites today? I responded: Education – K-12 and post high school. Budget cutting is devastating to students at all levels. Invest in education; it pays in the long run.
  2. What should be Ron’s priority in 2016? This question offered me several choices, none of which appealed to me. I attempted to click “Other” and type in “Address Climate Change.” My answer disappeared when I tried to submit. I guess he only wanted to hear one of the following.
    • Creating Jobs
    • Other
  3. How important is securing our borders to you? Important, Unimportant, Undecided – what kind of a choice is that? Give me a chance to click Other, and I’ll tell you that “securing” the border is a myth and a misleading statement because immigration is a complicated issue.
  4. Has President Obama done enough to improve Veterans’ care and services? Again, Yes, No, Undecided. Work with me here, Ronny. How about giving me a blank where I can ask “Has the Senate cooperated with President Obama to improve Veterans’ care and services?” Hah. Answer that honestly, if you dare.
  5. How can you help Ron spread his conservative message across Wisconsin? Oh, readers, the nerve of the man. Wisconsin values survey, indeed. He just wants to recruit donors and volunteers. Look at these choices. 
    • Door Knocking
    • Phone Banking
    • Write a Letter to the Editor
    • Host an event for Ron
    • Invite Ron to Your Community
    • Display a Yard Sign
  6. And last, the survey asks for (required) email, name, and zip code. The zip code would verify that I live in Wisconsin. My name – I don’t want my name on any kind of list connected to this science denying, stubborn, narrow minded politician.
  7. Let’s see now. Based on this survey, the Senator doesn’t really want to know what I think and which Wisconsin progressive values I favor. Fortunately, my personal policy is to avoid online petitions and the like. Next time I communicate with the tall blonde guy from Oshkosh, it’ll either be a phone call regarding my progressive point of view or it’ll be my vote. And that, my friends, will show MY Wisconsin values.

As seen on Jeopardy:

Who is Russ Feingold, of course.

Who is Russ Feingold, of course. Campaign finance reform – now that’s a reflection of Wisconsin values.

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Random Thoughts at the Grocery Store

Years ago, when I successfully canned my first batches of jams, I was warned. “Jam is the gateway drug for canning. You’ll never be able to stop.”

It’s true. My home-canned inventory grows every year. Part of the joy of canning is getting downstairs to bring up a jar of cherry-rhubarb jam or home-grown salsa instead of writing it on the list and shopping for it. Another pleasure in the canning world is walking down the grocery store aisle and thinking, “I don’t need to buy that. I make my own.”

Let’s see. I had that thought as I walked past…

  • jams and jellies
  • pickles
  • salsa (but we still buy the chips)
  • applesauce (and pear sauce! yum!)
  • tomato sauces
  • herbs (I don’t can them, but I grow and dry them)
  • soup stocks (not canned, but homemade and frozen)
  • frozen vegetables (I grow them or buy them at the farmers’ market, then freeze them)
  • “fresh” strawberries and other berries (again, I freeze them in season)

Meanwhile, I kept distracting myself from the actual shopping trip by thinking about spring and summer. Organic more expensive? I’ll grow it in the backyard. No problem. Chuck getting picky about breads? I’ll make some in the bread machine. He’ll eat it. What kind of ice cream should I make? Well, I still have a few strawberries in the freezer and a small amount of cherry concentrate. This could be delicious.

On further review, the rhubarb is already coming up, and I have quite a bit in the freezer. I must find a way to barter this rhubarb for something I don’t have. Ideas, readers? What do you do with too much rhubarb? And furthermore, was jam the gateway drug for you?

 

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Random Thoughts on a Rainy Sunday Afternoon

Questions. I have questions.

Where’s the NFL? If I’m stuck inside on a Sunday afternoon, I want football.

NASCAR! Amigo likes NASCAR. The announcers just said, “This isn’t Richmond, this is I-95!” Oh, there are times the track looks a lot like I-94 around Milwaukee.

Why does the remote control continually fall into the couch behind Amigo? No, don’t answer that.

Trent, the last American Idol, really rocked the National Anthem. He wowed the crowd – and he wowed us. That’s a statement, not a question.

Which Mountain Dew is better: Baja Blast or Pitch Black? And truly, who cares?

How are the Milwaukee Brewers doing this afternoon? Is the roof open?

How many school days are left until summer?

Can I start a few more seeds indoors? Maybe peas or beans?

Why are so few of the marigold seeds coming up?

Should I consider raising monarch butterflies?

Most of these questions have no answers. Some have answers that don’t really matter. With that in mind, I think I’ll hit “Post” and watch the race with Amigo. Boogity Boogity Boogity!

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Signs of Spring – more in a series

Similar to the mini mums and tulips, each spring the daffodils come up next to the old roses. I plan to dig up the daffodils after they’re done blooming. We have other plans for that area, including moving the roses. The stones will join their friends in the rock garden on the other side of the house.

See the markers? I'll find the bulbs this time, I will.

See the markers? I’ll find the bulbs this time, I will.

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Signs of Spring – the series continues

Not everything is pretty in the springtime. A typical sign of spring in the O.K. Chorale is this: the mini mums I didn’t cut back last fall, and the tulips poking their little greens through the mess.

Every year. Every stinkin' year.

Every year. Every stinkin’ year.

If (when) I cut off the dead pieces, you’ll be able to see the new growth of the mini mums, too.

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