Thursday, September 29, 2005

I Snapped at My Students Today

I know. It's really bad. Teachers aren't supposed to snap at students. Particularly when the students really haven't done anything to warrant being snapped at. I apologized later in the class. Explained that I was frustrated about something not related to their class, and that I had taken it out on them, and that it was wrong, and that I was sorry. I really did feel bad; I have two favorite classes, and this one was one of them.

I just seem to have too much going on. One of the school's employees goes to my church, and we were talking this morning. As I was telling her things that needed praying for, it just seemed like I wouldn't stop ... Katrina-evacuee family members, Rita-evacuee family members, loved ones with fatal illnesses, serious (and very upsetting) discord among other loved ones, and general frustration with lots of other things.

School is wonderful because it gets my mind off these things. Even if kids act up, they are still a distraction from "real-life" stuff, and the distraction is welcome. Of course, students are much more than a "distraction"; they are the reason I am at this school, and it's my job and my joy to help them learn.

So I really felt bad about snapping at my students. If I've had a bad day and am feeling down, this afternoon class always brings me back up. If I've had a good day, they're typically the proverbial icing on the (yummy) cake. But they also meet when my patience is most worn, and when I'm not at my best.

I hope tomorrow will be better.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Carnival of Music is Up

Just noticed the Carnival of Music #16 is up at Musical Perceptions. Blogger and music theory expert Scott Spiegelberg has worked it all out as a poem ... pretty fun idea. So go check it out!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Random Bloglike Thoughts

This post has no real purpose. I link to nothing. I write of nothing of interest to anyone but myself, and maybe my mom.

I just wanted to share with the world that I had a good day at school today. I've come up with a new method of lesson planning that seems to help.

Basically, I sit down on Sunday and write a big honkin' technical proposal.

Yes, a technical proposal.

I've written so many technical proposals in my life that I could write 'em with my eyes closed. When I'm thinking or talking, my thoughts tend to be unorganized. When I'm writing, I'm a lot more organized. If I'm writing a technical proposal, it forces me to be organized, to have foresight, and to get all those handouts and worksheets written and ready to go before the week even starts.

The only reason I was able to save money for and plan my AT thru-hike was because ... yes, I wrote a technical proposal.

Last night, I did no prep work for school, none, other than cutting out construction-paper organelles for Life Science. Tonight I need to write a study guide and finish grading papers, but that's it. I'm going to have the leisure to watch "Law and Order: SVU" and cook dinner and practice piano and spoil the Hubster when he gets home (and blog, as you can see ...).

According to my technical proposal, tomorrow should be a fun day. We're looking at stuff in the microscope in Life Science, and we're discussing the Nun's Priest's Tale from The Canterbury Tales (that's the one about Chanticleer and Pertelote). And composition has writing workshop tomorrow--which means I don't have to plan anything!

So, if you're having trouble getting things organized ... try writing a technical proposal. Works for me every time.

Two Years

Two years ago today, the Hubster and I said "I do." I never could have dreamed of the happiness and fulfillment that would come from being married to an old hiker like him.

Happy Anniversary, Hubster!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Cousin Stacey's Meme

I'm just meme-happy tonight. It's so much more fun than lesson planning. I got this one from Cousin Stacey.

7 things I plan to do before I die:

1. Have an off-white Ford Econoline van of my very own.
2. Thru-hike the Appalachian Trail again.
3. Be happily married to Hubster for many, many years.
4. Be in a play.
5. Write and publish a novel.
6. Make a positive difference in the life of someone who is not related to me, and to whom I owe nothing.
7. Live in Virginia.

7 things I can do:

1. Write music.
2. Balance a tennis racket on my nose.
3. Say "no."
4. Make people laugh.
5. Remember long lists of random numbers.
6. Find my husband's keys (but never my own).
7. Bake.

7 things I cannot do:

1. Hear.
2. Stand roaches.
3. Jobs for which I have no passion.
4. Take huge, multi-day road trips if I'm only going to be at the destination for a day or two.
5. Complete anything I start!!
6. Slow down (well, I can, but only if I absolutely have to).
7. Iron.

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex:

1. Intelligence.
2. Facial hair. Lots of it.
3. Sense of humor.
4. Spiritual depth.
5. Probing mind.
6. Beautiful calves.
7. A head so shiny it attracts bugs at night.

(Yes, I have just described the Hubster.)

7 things I say most often:

1. What?
2. Repeat that, please?
3. I'm soooo tired.
4. Just follow the directions!! (I've picked up this little "saying" since becoming a teacher.)
5. Well, hello there, Hubbie!
6. Hootie Hoo!
7. Hideawaaaay, I'm sorry. Come baaaaack! (She always runs if you make a sudden move.)

7 Celebrity Crushes

1. Harrison Ford
2. Elliott Stabler on "Law and Order: SVU"
3. Benjamin Bratt
4. Dick Cheney
5. Is Hubster a celebrity? Since he's written a book and all?
6. That guy who played Pippin in LOTR
7. George W. Bush

7 people I want to do this:

Whoever wants to!

Music Meme

I found this over at Marla Swoffer's blog, which I miss terribly now that I'm not able to blog-surf nearly as much as I used to.

Here's how it works:

Go to

Enter the year you graduated from high school in the search function and get the list of 100 most popular songs of that year.

Bold the songs you like, strike through the ones you hate and underline your favorite. Do nothing to the ones you don't remember (or don't care about).

Class of 1988

I'd kind of stopped listening to "popular music" by the time I was a senior in high school. When I wasn't grooving to the 60s folky stuff, I listened to classical music. Yes, I was a big dork in high school. I do remember that I couldn't stand techno-dance stuff and strongly disliked anything by Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine. I underlined two songs because they tied for my favorite.

As I read through these, I had to laugh at how there were some songs that I hated, truly hated. I thought "Get Outta My Dreams (and Into My Car)" was the dumbest song title I'd ever heard. I simply could not stand anything by the Pet Shop Boys. And I loved, loved, loved Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror." And anything by INXS.

Anyway, here goes ...

1. Faith, George Michael
2. Need You Tonight, INXS
3. Got My Mind Set On You, George Harrison
4. Never Gonna Give You Up, Rick Astley
5. Sweet Child O' Mine, Guns N' Roses
6. So Emotional, Whitney Houston
7. Heaven Is A Place On Earth, Belinda Carlisle
8. Could've Been, Tiffany
9. Hands To Heaven, Breathe
10. Roll With It, Steve Winwood
11. One More Try, George Michael
12. Wishing Well, Terence Trent d'Arby
13. Anything For You, Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine
14. The Flame, Cheap Trick
15. Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car, Billy Ocean
16. Seasons Change, Expose
17. Is This Love, Whitesnake
18. Wild, Wild West, Escape Club
19. Pour Some Sugar On Me, Def Leppard
20. I'll Always Love You, Taylor Dayne
21. Man In The Mirror, Michael Jackson
22. Shake Your Love, Debbie Gibson
23. Simply Irresistible, Robert Palmer
24. Hold On To The Nights, Richard Marx
25. Hungry Eyes, Eric Carnen
26. Shattered Dreams, Johnny Hates Jazz
27. Father Figure, George Michael
28. Naughty Girls (Need Love Too), Samantha Fox
29. A Groovy Kind Of Love, Phil Collins
30. Love Bites, Def Leppard
31. Endless Summer Nights, Richard Marx
32. Foolish Beat, Debbie Gibson
33. Where Do Broken Hearts Go, Whitney Houston
34. Angel, Aerosmith
35. Hazy Shade Of Winter, Bangles
36. The Way You Make Me Feel, Michael Jackson
37. Don't Worry, Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin
38. Make Me Lose Control, Eric Carmnen
39. Red Red Wine, UB40
40. She's Like The Wind, Patric Swayze
41. Bad Medicine, Bon Jovi
42. Kokomo, Beach Boys
43. I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That, Elton John
44. Together Forever, Rick Astley
45. Monkey, George Michael
46. Devil Inside, INXS
47. Should've Known Better, Richard Marx
48. I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love, Chicago
49. The Loco-Motion, Kylie Minogue
50. What Have I Done To Deserve This?, Pet Shop Boys and Dusty Springfield
51. Make It Real, Jets
52. What's On Your Mind, Information Society
53. Tell It To My Heart, Taylor Dayne
54. Out Of The Blue, Debbie Gibson
55. Don't You Want Me, Jody Watley
56. Desire, U2
57. I Get Weak, Belinda Carlisle
58. Sign Your Name, Terence Trent d'Arby
59. I Want To Be Your Man, Roger
60. Girlfriend, Pebbles
61. Dirty Diana, Michael Jackson
62. 1-2-3, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine
63. Mercedes Boy, Pebbles
64. Perfect World, Huey Lewis and the News
65. New Sensation, INXS
66. Catch Me (I'm Falling), Pretty Poison
67. If It Isn't Love, New Edition
68. Rocket 2 U, Jets
69. One Good Woman, Peter Cetera
70. Don't Be Cruel, Cheap Trick
71. Candle In The Wind, Elton John
72. Everything Your Heart Desires, Daryl Hall and John Oates
73. Say You Will , Foreigner
74. I Want Her, Keith Sweat
75. Pink Cadillac, Natalie Cole
76. Fast Car, Tracy Chapman
77. Electric Blue, Icehouse
78. The Valley Road, Bruce Hornsby and The Range
79. Don't Be Cruel, Bobby Brown
80. Always On My Mind, Pet Shop Boys
81. Piano In The Dark, Brenda Russell Featuring Joe Esposito
82. When It's Love, Van Halen
83. Don't Shed A Tear, Paul Carrack
84. We'll Be Together, Sting
85. I Hate Myself For Loving You, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
86. I Don't Want To Live Without You, Foreigner
87. Nite And Day, Al B. Sure
88. Don't You Know What The Night Can Do, Steve Winwood
89. One Moment In Time, Whitney Houston
90. Can't Stay Away From You, Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine
91. Kissing A Fool, George Michael
92. Cherry Bomb, John Cougar Mellancamp
93. I Still Believe, Brenda K. Starr
94. I Found Someone, Cher
95. Never Tear Us Apart, INXS
96. Valerie, Steve Windwood
97. Just Like Paradise, David Lee Roth
98. Nothin' But A Good Time, Poison
99. Wait, White Lion
100. Prove Your Love, Taylor Dayne

Teacher Pet Peeve O' Day

When students don't turn their essays in on the required date, then act utterly shocked the next day to learn that their completed essay didn't magically materialize in my stack of turned-in essays overnight.


Happily, several of my students have earned A's, A-minuses, and B-pluses on their revisions. I'm proud of them; it's clear that they took the assignment seriously and worked hard.

Woo hoo!

I love writing stuff like "A" and "B+" in my grade book!

Feels Like Fall

It's finally begun to feel like fall in western North Carolina. Fall is my favorite season, particularly here in the Appalachians. I love the cool breeze and the turning leaves. I love the drop in humidity. I love pumpkins and scarecrows. I love hiking in fall.

I also love "To Autumn," which is my favorite poem by Keats, and one of my favorite poems in the English language. A favorite poem about a favorite season. Enjoy!

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o'erbrimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

You Know You're an English Teacher When ...

You yell to your husband, "Get the phone!" and automatically think to yourself, "The implied subject of that imperative sentence is 'you.'"


Friday, September 23, 2005

Poor Louisiana

Looks like Rita's making her way inland. She's headed straight for Lake Charles. My Aunt Ruby and cousins Debra and Steve have evacuated from Sulphur (just outside of Lake Charles) and are staying with my parents near Baton Rouge. Please keep them in your prayers.

Some of my favorite places in Louisiana are Sabine NWR and Lacassine NWR, which are the huge marshes south of Lake Charles.

Roseate spoonbill at Lacassine NWR

The marsh at Sabine NWR

They are some of the most beautiful places in the state, and they are getting slammed.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

A Favorite Blog

Today I visited a blog I had not read in a while, one of my favorites: Outer Life. As always, the quality of his writing, thoughts, and observations just leaves me wondering with admiration. I wish I could write like this guy.

So, if you're like me and haven't visited Mr. Life in a while, go read him. His latest post is on fitting into the crowd ... or not.

Latch-Key Piano

It was a long day at school. I was tired and cranky all day long, I'm sad to report. I guess we all have those days. Anyway, when school ended, I was ready to go home and sleep for an hour or so ... but there was a volleyball game scheduled for 4:30. Sigh. I love going to the volleyball games, but I just felt beat today.

It was only 3:45, so I had 45 minutes to kill. I thought about finding a stack of homework to grade and started down the hall toward my car for my portable file cabinet. I was walking past the cafeteria when I got another idea.

See, after school each day, the cafeteria is home to the "latch-key" program for little kids whose parents work. Also in the cafeteria is the most god-awful out-of-tune piano with sticky keys and no bench. I've plinked and plunked a few notes on it (couldn't resist!), but the sound quality wasn't quite enough to keep me coming back for more.

But today ... today I saw that rickety old piano pushed up against the wall and thought, "That's was I need. A good, loud piano-banging session."

"Mind if I play that piano?" I asked the harried-looking latch-key lady.

"Sure, go ahead," she said as she frantically blocked a hyperactive five-year-old from impaling himself on another kid's pencil.

So I walked over to the piano and drug up a cafeteria chair. The chair was too low, so I stacked another chair on top of it and sat down. I grimaced and started to play.

Funny how even a bad piano can sound good when you really need it to. I played a few lines of some simple, soothing songs, then looked up to notice about six first-graders crowded around me. I stopped, and they ... clapped.

Well, ye olde Waterfall loves an audience, so when they asked me to "play something fast," I couldn't help but oblige. I launched into "Maple Leaf Rag" and could hear the kids squealing behind me. There's a mirror behind the piano and I could see them dancing all kinds of crazy jigs. When I finished that one, they yelled, "Play another one, play another one!" So I played a fun, ragtimey version of "You Are My Sunshine," and then "They All Ax For You."

"Play another one, play another one!"

Do these kids ever run out of energy? They jumped and danced, and I played and played. My hands were aching. (Those of you who play piano: imagine playing "Maple Leaf Rag" through, three times, at a "fast" tempo, after not seriously practicing for several months ...)

Hm, what other "fast songs" do I know? Oh, why not ...

So I played "Juba Dance" (the Dett), faster than I'm supposed to, but probably not as fast as it's supposed to be played. It was sloppy, but on that piano, and with that audience ... who cared? It was fun and lively and the kids loved it. I think I played it for them three times.

If you're familar with "Juba Dance," then you know that three times of this piece on a poor, out-of-tune piano is no symphony to the ears. Cacophony would be the more accurate term, I believe.

But it was fun. My spirits were lifted. The kids had a blast. The latch-key lady later thanked me and said it was the least stressful latch-key day she'd had.

Before I left, I played through a few verses of "Alleluia," another easy, slow piece that we sometimes play at church. It was a fitting way to end my piano session. That piano wasn't such a disappointment after all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Good Day ... Finally

Last week I was wondering when the honeymoon period ended. The past Thursday, Friday, and Monday have defintely been non-honeymoon days. Fatigue has been a problem, as I've mentioned elsewhere on this blog.

But today was good. Nothing special ... just good. I love my seventh graders. They are the highlight of my morning. I played Bob Dylan tunes in English Lit (the topic o' day was ballads and ballad styles). Composition was good--we talked about thesis statements. Not that thesis statements are all that exciting, but the class itself has a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere that I really like. And I think they find my passion for semicolons amusing. In English 9, we talked about good ol' Edgar Allan Poe. It was just a good day.

When I got to school yesterday, I mentioned to another teacher, "I think my teacher approval rating is going to plummet today."

"Why is that?" she asked.

"I'm handing back papers. And they ain't all 'A's.'" (Of course I didn't say "ain't." Good English teachers don't say "ain't." In public, at least.)

The other teacher just raised her eyebrows knowingly.

But guess what? No one has attacked me with their binders. No one has thrown a forbidden cell phone at me. In fact, several students met with me today so we could go over their drafts and they could get further pointers for their revisions.

On top of that, several parents contacted me and told me today how much they appreciate the feedback I've provided on their kids' papers. One parent said she took one look at her daughter's graded draft and thought to herself, "Now that's a teacher who really knows what she's doing."

Yes, I do know what I'm doing. It's a ton of work, but at least I'm comfortable with my subject(s). It's nice to feel appreciated. I'm so thankful to be at this school.


Remember how I used to be such a good little comment answerer? Those days sure are gone! But I managed to read through my comments this morning and answer a few. So, if you're really bored and have time to read through them (and have commented on this blog within the past week), you'll be delighted to find responses, however brief, from me.

Things are good, though fatigue and overwork have been a problem. I miss my novel and my piano.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Ah, So Now I Begin to Understand ...

Teachers work the same number of hours per year as corporate, cubicle-dwelling types who put in their eight, ten, or twelve hours each day and then go home.

Teachers just stuff all those hours into nine measly months.

(This enlightening thought miraculously dawned on me after yet another 16-hour work day ...)

So Now I'm an Edu-Blog, Too!

I checked Sitemeter a little while ago and found that Teacher Magazine's blog has cited me in a post. I also saw that a few education-related blogs have linked me as well--thanks! I'll be updating my blogroll later this week and plan to add some of the education blogs to it.

Meanwhile, it's back to lesson planning!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Farewell, Old English. Hello, Middle English!

My English Lit students are turning in their papers on Anglo-Saxon literature on Monday, God willing. That's their last requirement for our "unit" on Old English lit until the mid-term. They're pretty familiar with the story of Caedmon, with a few big chunks of Beowulf, and with the elegy The Wanderer. They can't read Old English (neither can I), but they can look at it and point out the alliteration and the caesurae in the lines. They're familiar with the main themes of Anglo-Saxon literature, and a few could probably even tell you what ubi sunt and comitatus mean in Latin, and what wyrd and wergild mean in Old English.

Most of them know more about the Bible than I do, and a number of them are comparing biblical themes to the themes they've encountered in English Lit. Those papers should make for good reading.

Pretty cool, huh?

Well, on Monday, the gears shift and the era changes. We'll say good-bye to Old English and greet Middle English as it takes over our classroom for the next couple of weeks.

We're going to read a few snatches of The Canterbury Tales, a bit of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and some of Morte d'Arthur. Oh, and we're going to spend some time on English and Scottish ballads of the Middle Ages. On Thursday, a real, live balladeer of Scottish decent, who sings and plays music and is very involved in folk festivals across the south, is going to perform for the class. She's also going to share how our western North Carolina folk music style is descended from the styles of these old ballads.

How cool is that?

We're just studying the typical literature that English Lit students study when in high school. Nothing special. But it's all so profoundly special, isn't it?

I'll try to post cool stuff relating to Middle English literature over the next couple of weeks. I can't make any promises, of course. But I'll start you off with a reading of familiar Prologue from The Canterbury Tales.

Hiking Article

I recently came across an article that appeared in the New Orleans Times Picayune that discusses hiking in Louisiana and quotes both Joe Self (a Louisiana hiking club member) and me.

Of course this article is pre-Katrina, and I doubt that many in New Orleans are thinking about hiking right now. Even if they were, I'm sure that many of the New-Orleans-area trails I wrote about in 50 Hikes in Louisiana are unhikeable--if they're even there anymore.

Still, it's a nice article, written by Jack Curry of the Times-Picayune for a mid-August issue.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

How Long is the Honeymoon Phase Supposed to Last?

OK, I've been a teacher for two weeks and four days, and I still love it. I felt awful yesterday, but I still love teaching. I wasn't prepared (lesson-plan-wise) for school when I woke up this morning, but I still just couldn't wait to get to school. I just love it.

Why? I love the atmosphere of the place. I love the energy. I love my co-workers. I love my students. I'm having my seventh-graders "invent" an organism, and it has to have all of the characteristics of living things--they need to tell about its life span, its food, how it gets around, etc. And draw a picture of it. And assign a scientific name to it. They got so excited about it. All I could do was grin at how enthusiastic they were. I think I may pull an English-teacher trick on 'em and offer extra credit if they write a story about their "organism."

Then we had writing workshop for my English Lit classes today, and it was just so fulfilling to be able to sit with each student, one on one, for a few minutes, and try to help them work out and organize their ideas.

And in composition, we talked about one of my favorite writing-subjects: eliminating wordiness. Saying "now" instead of "at this point in time." Saying "promptly" instead of "in a timely manner." Saying "blue" instead of "blue in color." Stuff like that. And I got to talk about how we should use just as many words as we need to express what we want to say--no more, no less. If it's a long sentence, fine. If it's a short sentence, fine. I'm really making the point that "good writing" doesn't mean writing huge, unwieldy sentences full of two-dollar words.

I just love school. I know this is the honeymoon phase, and that eventually I'll get frustrated or angry or burned out, but I'm not worried about that right now. All I'm worried about it getting the comp papers graded and back to the students tomorrow so they can begin working on their revisions. Ta-ta!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Another Teaching "Plus"

On days like today, when I'm really tired and my sinuses are acting up and my patience is short, I tend to shuffle off into my own little dark corner of the world and feel sorry for myself. In Cubicle Land, it was easy to do this. I would wallow in my depressing little stew for days on end, feeling miserable and hating my life.

When you're teaching school, it's next to impossible to behave in such a self-absorbed way.

This is a good thing.

Oh, and the seventh-graders liked their gold stars. I love my seventh graders.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I'm Giving Gold Stars

I can't help it. I know it's a kindergarten thing. But when a kids aces her science test and gets the bonus question right, an "Excellent!" and a smiley face just don't cut it.

Know what I mean?

So, the gold stars are in.

God Bless Seamus Heaney

We're finishing Beowulf today. Actually we finished it yesterday; today, we're moving on to The Wanderer and comparing it a little bit to excerpts from The Seafarer and Beowulf. But my point is this: we've spent an entire week on Beowulf. The students have not risen up in rebellion me, or against boring, difficult-to-read texts about people with names like Hrothgar and Wiglaf.

As much as I would love to attribute this to my brilliant teaching style, I know better. (We've done a lot of close readings in this poem--which makes for classes that are interesting to some, but not to all.) But if we weren't reading the Heaney translation, I'd certainly have a class full of utterly bored, hopelessly lost English Lit students--which could pretty much describe Yours Truly when reading it in high school nearly twenty years ago.

Instead, some of them actually seem to have enjoyed Beowulf. This is a miracle. Thank you, Mr. Heaney.

I think they also had fun comparing our hero to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin yesterday. :)

Monday, September 12, 2005

My Only Complaint

There is only one thing so far that I don't like about school.

All this homework wears me out!

Other than that, I'm happy as a clam. How can I not be? I got to lecture on "using descriptive words" today. Sure beats writing things like "Click Exit to exit the program" for a living!

Browning Elopement Anniversary

On this date in 1846, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning eloped. Elizabeth was a virtual recluse who communicated with very few people, but she did send some poems to the poet Robert Browning. He replied via telegram:

"I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett. I do, as I say, love these books with all my heart - and I love you too."

Robert and Elizabeth met a few months later and fell in love. They wrote many letters to each other as their love grew.

So, 159 years ago today, they eloped. Two years ago this month, the Hubster and I tied the knot, and we can't seem to get it untied, so I guess we're stuck. We had this poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning read at our wedding:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Ye olde Hubster and I have a few sweet poems and letters we've written to each other, but, seeing as most of them contain the term "Hootie Hoo!", I think it best that I not re-print any of them here.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

And a Very Happy Birthday to Mrs. Gwen

Today is my mommy's birthday. I would post a picture of her, but "Hello!" doesn't seem to be working today.

So, a simple Happy Birthday, Mrs. Gwen!! will have to suffice!

Good News for Louisiana! (finally!)

My beloved Tigers won last night!

Let's have some good music to celebrate!

French Quarter Pictures: Before and After

A New Orleans resident named Alvaro R. Morales Villa has posted a whole slew of pictures that he took of the French Quarter. He starts with the boarded-up buildings before the storm, goes out and gets more pictures when the eye is passing over, than takes the heart-sickening post-hurricane pictures of wind damage and flooding.

I got this link from the Louisiana Hiking Club e-mail list, where an LHC member posted it.

Note: The link no longer seems to be working. Lots of people have linked to it, so it's probably overloaded.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

I'm Still Alive

... I'm just very, very occupied with non-online things. My birthmother, Sherry, and my sister, Rebecca are doing as well as can be expected (still evacuated, with futures fraught with uncertainty, but both in good spirits nonetheless), so thanks to all for your prayers.

My new job as a teacher is infinitely more fulfilling (not to mention interesting and challenging) than Cubicle Land ever was. One reason I've spent so little time online is that, when I'm not at school, I'm mostly at my desk working on lesson plans for the following day. I still have some kinks to work out (detailed plans are anathema to this non-Judging Perceiver!). Here are some of my biggest challenges:

1) Planning for my English Lit class. I'll be looking over Beowulf and think, "Hmm, here's an interesting idea." Next thing I know, I'm digging through literary criticism books I have, surfing the net for information and photos, and outlining ideas for ... what? A paper? I'm supposed to be assigning papers, not writing them! Then I remember ... "Oh yeah, the lesson plan. Back to work, Waterfall."

2) Planning for my Composition class. There is just so much important information to share. It's overwhelming because I want to present it all at once--which is ridiculous. I need to remember to pace myself and to limit lessons to a managable scope. Learning to write is a slow, sometimes difficult process, and I need to respect my students' needs there. Sometimes I remember the saying, "Slow me down, Lord!" ... at the end of the composition class. I need to remember it before class--and not try to fit in too much stuff too quickly.

3) Trying to find a home. I don't have a classroom, so I've adopted a table in the school's foyer as my "office" during planning periods. It's been difficult anyway because I have so many books to carry (heavy books, too), plus my portable file cabinet. I don't have a cart, and I'm reluctant to purchase one because the new classrooms are supposed to be ready within a couple of weeks. Not having a classroom is also hard because there are only three minutes between classes--three minutes to address students' after-class questions, pack up, get to the next class, unpack, and get in the mindset to start a new subject. And there's only one overhead projector, so I usually end up making two trips to find it and bring it to whatever classroom I'm supposed to be in.

4) Picking up homework. I am the world's worst. My mind just gets focused elsewhere and I completely forget to take up homework. Not cool, because I assign the work and the kids take the time to do it. And I need to look over it and make comments, because those comments (particularly in composition) are a major tool for me in teaching, guiding, and directing. Bad Waterfall. Bad Waterfall.

5) Um ... that's about it for challenges. Not bad, huh? Truthfully, I couldn't be happier at this job. I'm never, ever bored, I'm making a difference, and I've lost five pounds in less than two weeks because I'm not nibbling on chocolate all day out of boredom. This is the door God has opened for me, and I'm so glad I was able to quit the silent desperation security of Cubicle Land in order to walk through this new door. The teaching life definitely has its challenges, but they are far outweighed by the rewards.

OK, time to go write a quiz on commas, a worksheet on sentence variation, and an English lit essay assignment!

(It still just tickles me to death that I get to talk about metaphor and foreshadowing for a living ... and that I'm actually getting paid to discuss stuff from The Norton Anthology of English Literature.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Another Childhood Treasure Passes Away

Sorry for the somber tone of this blog, but the death of Bob Denver is another occasion for mourning. When I was three years old, if you'd asked me who my best friend was, I'd have answered, "Gilligan."

So when folks called me today to tell me Bob Denver had died, I felt like I'd lost a friend.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Lack of Online Time

I know I usually respond to comments others have left, but I've had very little online time in the past week. When I am online, it's usually to look something up related to school. And I try very hard to avoid looking at Katrina pictures for too long.

I'm also behind on my e-mails (as usual), so if you've e-mailed me and haven't heard back from me in several days, that's why. Many apologies!!

Things should slow down soon. I honestly don't miss the internet, but I do hate the thought of becoming a once-in-a-blue-moon blogger.

Tarheel Tavern is Up

The North Carolina bloggers' carnival for the week is up at Slowly She Turned. Laurie's done a great job of reviewing the posts for this week--even though a few of them (like mine) were kinda sad.

Friday, September 2, 2005

In Case You Were Wondering ...

I really, really, really love teaching so far. I love my school, and I love my co-workers. My students seem like good, intelligent kids who want to learn.

And I feel infinitely more useful than I ever did in Cubicle Land.

In addition to teaching English and Composition (writing, not music), I'm teaching 7th grade science (just like Mr. Marvin!) and am going to help coach the volleyball team. (Yes, Janie, you may laugh now!)

As sad as I am about Louisiana, I am really happy about this new teaching job.

Yup. Quitting the tech-writing career was definitely the right thing to do.


For those of you who don't follow Sojourner's blog, you are missing something.

My heart is broken over all of this New Orleans stuff. I just talked to my birthmom for the first time since before the hurricane hit. When I talked to her before, she was packing up to evacuate from her home in Kenner, La. (just west of New Orleans). I hadn't been able to get in touch with her since, with phone lines being down and cell phones not working.

So I finally got to talk to her today. She and my sister Rebecca are safe and sound, and her apartment in Kenner seems to be okay. But, as she said, "New Orleans is dead." New Orleans. A place that she's called home for her entire life. It's dead. It's so surreal ... I keep thinking I'll wake up and none of this will have happened. I just can't get rid of this sick feeling in my stomach. And I can't stop crying if I let myself think about ... so I haven't let myself think about it. And I haven't looked at the television for several days because it is too painful.

I'm thankful that we had school this week. School has been a godsend, literally. I have been so focused on the challenges of the first week; even if I'd wanted to think about all the destruction, I wouldn't have had time. Had I been at Cubicle Job, I would have been glued to the internet, looking at pictures, reading news, and getting more and more depressed. Instead, I was in a positive atmosphere, getting to know my students, settling into what will soon be my routine for the year.

School was a needed distraction from all the horror and the sadness. But now that I'm home for the weekend, it all seems to be washing back over me.

Hubster and I are going to take a walk, then spend a quiet weekend together.

I am clearly rambling and not in the best state of mind for blogging, so I'll sign off for now.

From the Louisiana Hiking Club List ...

This notice is from Stacey Scarce, a friend of mine in Lafayette, LA. They are looking after the pets.

If you are in or know anyone who is in Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Oklahoma, Arkansas or anywhere else that is reasonably close to the disaster area, and can help with fostering, transporting, or anything else please email me at I am working with Denise Olsen with P.E.T.S . They are leaving for the area and are taking and needing food, leashes, crates, water, litter, and anything else. I am the contact that can get your information to her if you need me to help with that. Also, if you KNOW that there are animals still at a location and they need help please send me the name, address, a detailed description of the animal(s), last location known, and contact information if we find them and any other important information we may need. This is for animals that were left behind or for people who are trapped with their animals with no food, water, electricity and cannot get help. OR for people who still have their animals, but cannot properly help them since most everything has been destroyed.

Blogging Elsewhere

Hi, Strangers! I've been blogging with my friend Anh over at Then a Gentle Whisper . Check it out!