The Awareness Series: let’s move on, already.

From fall of 2012 — I still feel this way. The first in a three- day series, Awareness Encores.

Breast Cancer Awareness is all over the networks – at least it’s all over ESPN, NFL Network, NBC, CBS, and Fox Sports. Guess it yet? The NFL is blowing the horn to the tune of Pink – massive pinkness in the most macho of arenas.

Pink Gatorade towels. Pink shoe covers. Pink wristbands. Pink cleats, chin straps, and ribbon decals. Pink whistles for the (real) referees, for heaven’s sake. And why?

The purpose of all this pink on the turf is supposed to make all NFL football fans think about breast cancer. Be Aware. Know it’s there.

I can’t help it. My inner cynic is screaming “Enough with the pinky dances already!” My inner cynic, for those who don’t know, is very tuned in to breast cancer in the realm of early detection through mammograms. I’m more than aware of radiation studies, chemo, reconstruction – you name it, friends and family in real life have lived it. Yes, Mom, my latest mammogram was once again normal.

Before readers denounce me as a Bah Humbug, my inner cynic must look into its own wardrobe for two (at least two) pink t-shirts designed by an art teacher who was raising money for the Avon Walk in Chicago. I also own a pink polo shirt with the Green Bay Packers logo on it and the famous pink Packers baseball cap pioneered by Deanna Favre. Both of these items sold out quickly, and not just for Deanna. We still liked Brett back then, but we who bought pink knew a significant portion of our purchase money would go toward breast cancer research.

Well, readers, you might recognize my tone already. I have contributed to breast cancer research through purchases of t-shirts, baseball caps, and just simply by donating to sponsor my amazing friends who walked the walks. So why, why would I complain about the wealthy NFL putting its pink on parade to bring attention to breast cancer for Breast Cancer Awareness?

I complain because awareness is the lowest form of knowledge. Awareness means we know it exists. Awareness means, hey, look at that guy, he’s man enough to put on pink wristbands. This pink thing must be important. What does the pink stand for again?

Awareness doesn’t mean understanding, public support, private support, or personal support. The biggest anticlimax is that all that pink doesn’t mean financial support.

I’ll pose a few questions.

The NFL plans to auction off pink gear to raise money. How much will they raise? How much do they hope to sell? What percentage of the proceeds will actually become donations? And to whom will those donations go?

How much did Gatorade spend on those towels? I’d venture a guess that it could have funded many mammograms for women who don’t have medical coverage. Those dollars might have made up for some of the bucks that Susan B. Komen foundation tried to pull from Planned Parenthood – money that funded just that.

How about those pink whistles? Cute, huh? Cute, however, doesn’t pay the bills when a woman is recuperating from reconstructive surgery. Putting the bucks directly into a fund for follow-up care would go much further than the whistle-stop campaign.

The hot pink shoes, wow, they really show up well on TV hoofin’ their way toward the end zone or during a dramatic kickoff or punt return. But again, at what cost? How much good could that money do if it were used for research toward saving lives?

Okay, NFL, you know I’m a fan. I’m a true blue green and gold cheesehead shareholder type. I’ll keep watching games, pink or no pink. The token pink, though, still irritates me.

Let’s see the teams and their officials and their coaching staff wear the regular colors and have the organization instead make a more-than-token donation to breast cancer research. Maybe when public groups like football teams move beyond the pink ribbons and towels we as a society can admit that research and treatment will gain more from a sizable infusion of cash than from muscular young men sporting hot pink shoelaces.

Until then, maybe I’ll stick to listening to my beloved Packers on the radio for the rest of October.

Read Across America

Malala books are powerful

(as seen on Facebook)

In my life, I’d use a different turn of phrase. I’d most likely substitute tools for weapons. But in Malala’s life, the act of seeking an education was radical and law breaking. She saw books and learning as tools, but also as weapons: weapons to fight the good fight, tools to achieve great things.

The pen is mightier than the sword- and so is the desktop publisher. What remains is the reader. If the reader is taught to think and analyze, to seek understanding, then the book itself can be powerful.


Academic Vocabulary – the Language of How To

I meant this draft to look into academic language. Most of the post survived, but the title became a more generic focus on  vocabulary and one of my favorite references was deleted. The writer in charge of revisions saw my quote from Colonel Potter in M*A*S*H (Pentagon: four wall and one to spare!) and crossed it out, claiming that no one today knew the show. Despite my reminder that M*A*S*H airs twice each weekday on MeTV, Colonel Potter’s quip didn’t see the light of day. Readers will have to remember Pentagon = five sides all by themselves.

It’s still a good post. You can enjoy it here. 



And on we go, into 2014

Yesterday I described a few highlights and lowlights to what I’m now calling the Year of Survival, 2013. To follow up, I’ll address the other part of the challenge: What word reflects my intentions for 2014?

Many of my ongoing projects got set aside in the mess that was 2013. The manuscript for the book Educating Amigo is still in limbo, and sending out submission packages became less of a goal than learning to walk well and handle stairs without a cane. The book project is back on a front burner now, and I hope to reach out to a another potential writer/editor for guidance.

I wrote a few short grants at work, none successful. I don’t mind losing the grants; I learn a little every time I do the research involved in any project funding request. Looking ahead, my grant applications will still focus on our goals of increasing family involvement and improving reading skills. I might reach out to more grantors who have the same mission, rather than more general resources.

In a post on my employer’s national blog, I suggested setting goals in the form of a 3-2-1 summary. 3 good habits to keep in place; 2 bad habits to break or leave behind; and finally, 1 positive change. Let’s see how that looks in my own life.

3 good habits:

  1. Put my health first. Reach out to health professionals as necessary.
  2. Eat local, cook from scratch, and preserve (can and freeze) to keep the family’s menu healthy and delicious. 
  3. Rest. Make sleep a priority.  

2 bad habits to leave behind:

  1. Stop putting my health at risk by putting off routine care – this is a dangerous route to follow.
  2. Don’t sweat the small stuff; keep the big priorities on top of the to-do list. 

And in conclusion, 1 positive change to put into place:

Get my home office in shape and use it – for book work, possibly for summer school, and also for privacy, peace, and quiet.

Back to the first question: What word reflects my intentions for 2014?

Reach. Reach out to those who can help keep me healthy and keep my brain and body functioning properly; reach for resources that can help with grants for my work and help with the publishing process; reach for the sky, but keep at least one foot on the ground for balance.

Readers, how about you?

Act 10 Craziness continues

Remember Wisconsin Act 10? It started as a budget “repair” bill, and when our governor’s followers couldn’t pull together a quorum, they changed the bill enough to pass it — oh, I’m sorry, I can’t summarize this quickly. It’s the law commonly known as the Union Buster. It’s featured along with a few other political topics on my Voter’s Voice page. That’s Voter, as in singular, as in me. One voter’s voice. Recently, a different sort of vote surfaced, one that requires voters, plural, to raise their voices.

According to Good Ole Act Ten, public sector unions like the one to which I belong must vote to recertify their associations in order to bargain what little they still can. Our local met last night to vote on whether or not to pursue the recertification process. Why not? Well, the whole process is still tied up in court and may be unnecessary if the related part of the law is found to be unconstitutional. Get it? Uh-huh. I hear you.

Meanwhile, all potential eligible possible members must be part of the recertification. To keep on as a bargaining entity, my local needs to get 51% of all the actual members AND the call-me-maybes. We set goals last night at our meeting; each member present at the meeting was to recruit and be personally responsible for three votes in addition to our own. If that happens, we will successfully get at least the 51% that we need.

The phone call vote is not easy, though. The Powers That Be designed the automated call process to make callers jump through a few hoops. If a caller hangs up one hoop shy of completion, the vote gets recorded as NO.

The Powers That Be underestimated us. Seriously, most definitely underestimated us. We are teachers! Giving complete directions is what we do! The leaders of our local made up a handout with two sides: One with written directions for the verbal linguistic word-person types, and one with a flow chart for the more visual learners.

Wait! I forgot a detail about the automated voting system. Anyone who doesn’t call at all is recorded as a NO. That’s right, folks, no vote at all counts as a vote towards the Governor’s union busters. All potential members who fail to call are counted in the negative column just as though they had thumbed their collective noses at collective bargaining.

Well, readers, I recruited two on my own and checked on a third potential voter. I do plan to quietly chat with a couple of my nonmember colleagues and ask them to do the democratic thing and be counted. Yes or no, pro or con, our nonmembers need to make their preferences known.

When it’s over, maybe I’ll jump back into the future and ask Grandma Daisy to reminisce a little. I’ll get back to you, folks.

Feeding Our Neighbors

Please visit my friend Kelly Wickham, known on the blogosphere as Mocha Momma, known to me as Simply Amazing. She speaks the truth as she talks about hunger and poverty, food “insecurity” and responsibility.

Look here for her speech, transcribed into a post for all to read.

Meanwhile, keep donating to your local food bank, and get on our lawmakers to set their priorities in order. You know what I mean.

The To-Do List never goes away.

Subtitled: One thing leads to another.

So far:

  • Labeled and put away jam from last night’s canning session
  • Discovered I’m nearly out of 1/2 pint jars
  • Started a shopping list for a trip to Fleet Farm
  • Had breakfast (cereal with blueberries) and made sure Amigo ate, too.
  • Put more blueberries in the refrigerator (from 10 lb. box we bought Sunday)
  • Reheated coffee from yesterday
  • Realized coffeemaker could use cleaning
  • Threw swim towels over shower curtain rod
  • Knocked down shower curtain rod
  • Replaced shower curtain rod AND swim towels
  • took Internet break and realized the rug in the den need vacuuming

Now the world was looking a little more complicated. It was time to multi-task.

  • Started the coffeemaker with water-vinegar mix, and then vacuumed the den.
  • Brought frozen blueberries downstairs to the freezer, and then laid out more blueberries for freezing.
  • Sampled a few blueberries; quality control is part of my job.
  • Used vinegar water from coffeemaker to attack a slow drain in the bathroom. Success!

And so on, and so on, and so on.


I’ll take Composting for 1000, Alex.

Imagine the scene. Daisy, the compostermom, guardian of all things family, school, garden, and coffee, passes the Jeopardy test and gets on the show. A leap of faith, maybe. I do very well in the privacy of my own den, I’ll have you know. 

The first commercial break is over, and Alex comes over to talk to the contestants.

“Daisy, it says on my card that you feed your family dandelions.”

“Yes, Alex, but only in season.”

Alex turns his patented reaction face toward the camera, which cues the audience to laugh.

“In season, Daisy? When are dandelions in season, and how do you serve them?”

“They’re in season in spring and early summer, and they’re good in salads, pesto, soups, stews, herb mixes…”

And Alex moves on.


It’s true, readers. Dandelion greens are edible and delicious. I had leftover pasta with dandelion pesto for my lunch at work today, and my coworkers were suitably curious. I was eating veggie today purely by accident (I wasn’t enthused about any of our leftover meat), with my pasta + pesto + leftover green beans. It was delicious.

As the dandelions fade away, there ought to be fresh lettuce and spinach in the garden.

Meanwhile, I’ll take Eating in the Wild, Alex, and I’ll make it a true daily double.

Save the Trees! Not.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but I don’t think our dear city council members would like the words my tree would say. Remember the Save the Trees movement? The Lorax reincarnated as my powerful neighbor panicked at the thought of losing the trees closest to the road. The alternative was narrowing the street and “saving” the trees.

People, you know I’m as green as green can be. I know the benefits of trees from both the aesthetic and scientific perspectives. I see my rain barrels as half full, not half empty. I make my own compost, for heaven’s sake! In addition:

  • I recognize that trees have a finite lifespan.
  • I know from my own classes and research that trees close to a street or (gulp) in a median strip live a severely shortened lifetime.
  • I know, and I told the Council, that the road work itself will damage the tree roots beyond repair. “Saving” is all rhetorical here. Hypothetical? Figurative? It’s sure not literal.

Off soapbox now. I’ll share the photo evidence with all who wish to see it. I must warn you; it’s not pretty. Do not let any baby trees see this.

This is what saving looks like?

This is what saving looks like?

a little closer, perhaps

a little closer, perhaps

Completely disconnected from the root system

Completely disconnected from the root syste

Sidewalk replacement starts later this week.

Guess what: that’s not sidewalk art by the neighborhood kids.

Sidewalks get repaired later this week.





Boston Stays Strong – Honors the Resilient

Boston Strong. It’s the new tagline, but it’s much more than a slogan. Prior to the Red Sox – Royals game, the first at Fenway Park since Monday’s Marathon attack, MLB took time to remember the horrific event and praise those who contributed and helped.

The best part of the ceremony was – the whole thing. Those honored were marathon staff, those who were suddenly pressed into service at a level of first aid they’d never imagined. The FBI and supporting intelligence sources, who used both high tech and old-fashioned teamwork to catch those responsible. Police forces in and near Watertown, Massachusetts, who showed their dedication to protecting their citizens.

The announcer then listed the hospitals by name to recognize their contributions the day of the explosions and the high level of ongoing medical care as the severely injured continue to recover.

Fred Rogers used to remind the nation to “Look for the helpers.” Mr. Rogers would have looked toward those honored with throwing the first ceremonial pitch since the attack. He would have respected Steve Byrne, who shielded his friend’s sisters from the first blast and then was thrown over a fence and wounded by the second. Mr. Rogers would have appreciated firefighter Matt Patterson’s rescue of a young boy. Those at the game also recognized doctor/spectators along the race route, civilians who became heroes, and volunteers who lifted and pulled away a fence to speed access to the wounded. The list goes on, showing the strength and courage of those nearby.

“Boston Strong” indeed. I’ll go a step further and call the natives and visitors to the entire area resilient. They are survivors. They’ve been to hell and back, and with each other’s support, they’ll make it all the way back to everyday life.