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Showing posts from October, 2007

Me and my laptop~

I was reading Mridu Khullar's blog
yesterday when I saw that I'd been tagged. That means I have to write a meme (which I assume is pronounced mee mee) about my strengths as a writer.

I will do it, but my natural tendency is to chronicle my weaknesses. I am built that way, very hard on myself.

I stay out of the spotlight; if it finds me, I smile and bow, squinting into the glare, and shrug with that palms up gesture. Nice, thank you, but I really don't belong here.

So to document my strengths-- as I see them-- makes me uncomfortable. But I will do it, and I will not add any disclaimers, another of my tendencies.

I write from the heart. My essays, I've been told, resonate with readers who identify with the experience I've put on the page. My daughter tells me I have "no filter," meaning I share too much. I am comfortable sharing a fair amount, but what I don't share would make for some damn good reading-- a "steamah," as we say in Boston.

I have l…

Welcome to my world~

My alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. and I pulled my black pants from the dryer. They looked weird, crumply and misshapen. The lining was hanging below the cuff. A peek at the tag-- "dry clean only." Oh, well. A little creative ironing and they were wearable thank goodness, because they were necessary for my Secret Service look.

Today was "Harvest Fest" at Hanover Middle School, an annual event that goes back probably as long as my career. It combines a Halloween theme with special activities for the kids to choose from. Each activity, be it face painting, shooting hockey puck at a goal, or throwing darts at pictures of teachers has a small fee. The proceeds go to the Visiting Nurse.

Students wear costumes, and so do teachers. This year the fifth grade teachers had a Secret Service theme. Miss McKenna was the first woman President. Of course all the kids thought her First Man was president; he didn't go out of his way to dispel the mistake.

It's not easy to…

Tug of war~

Right now I'm living with one foot in the working world and one foot in retirement, caught in a tug of war. I'm the rope of course, feeling pretty stretched.

To use another metaphor, I feel like a butterfly that's nearly grown, but still compressed in its chrysalis-- cramped and squeezed. I want to fly, but it's not quite time.

I love my class the way a mother loves the baby she knows will be her last. This school year is one to cherish. And I'm not missing a beat when it comes to teaching-- powers and exponents right now.

But I also love writing, and photography and the other little irons I have in the fire, and I have several. (See below)

Doing what I must, and doing what I want make a hearty meal on my plate. It gives me heartburn, but I want to have my cake and eat it too.

I began writing for a local paper more than a year ago. Right now, I'm listening to the Town Fathers talk about Town Meeting warrant articles: zoning bylaws, 40-B housing requirements, busin…

Just a spot~

Yesterday was an A+ glowing autumn day. Instead of crashing on the couch after school, I decided to take my camera for a walk. But I wanted someplace different, so I hopped in the truck and headed for the nature trails at the college. Instead I followed the sunlight, and drove from one photo-op to another.

A sign caught my eye--Stiles and Hart Brick Company-- and I did one of those break-slamming, squealing, last minute right turns.

In the early 1900's, Stiles and Hart mined clay and produced bricks. Brick production stopped in 1938 when a hurricane damaged the buildings, but clay was mined until after WWII. That site is now a park. This sign led me to the new location of the business.

The building was in beautiful spot on the Taunton River, perfect for picture taking, but it had signs: No trespassing. Stop at this point.

I entered the office, camera hanging from my shoulder, and asked a man behind a desk if he'd allow me to take pictures on the property.

"For who?" h…

Fall frenzy~

When the people in the car next to me at the gas station asked me if I knew how to get to Smith Farm I said, "Yes. You go out the driveway and turn . . .," I pause and tap my right thigh, " . . . right."

I squint my eyes as I try to think beyond the right turn out of the gas station.

I stare at them blankly. They look expectant. "You know what? Follow me," I say. "I can get you there, but I can't explain how." The woman in the back seat nods understandingly.

I had my camera and was planning to take some fall photos. Smith Farm would be perfect.

Once there, I found myself in a throng of parents and grandparents lugging pumpkins and toddlers.

Unencumbered, I'm alone in the crowd, not part of the fall frenzy. I wander, mostly unobserved, like the hen that's scratching amidst the fading perennials for sale.

I used to bring my kids here. We'd spend an afternoon picking out perfect pumpkins to take home and carve. Things look different n…

Today is my someday~

Some days I get tired of myself, my thoughts. I just want to turn them off and drift in an empty headed haze, lie down with a book and get lost in someone else's thoughts for a change. Lately between writing and taking pictures, I've been living too closely to my own thoughts, too intensely involved.

I take a walk, and I see pictures everywhere-- in a wide-open scene of trees and sky, or a small spot of sunlit color in a hidden berries. I stop and snap and move on always seeing more, more, more.

I used to walk with no other purpose than to exercise-- fast-paced, sweaty and cathartic-- but I can't do that anymore for some reason. There is beauty everywhere. I want to capture it. Need to.

I used to go to bed with a book. I wandered in another world until I fell asleep, and the book slipped aside. Now I stay up later than I should, focused on my own inner world, writing down my thoughts and observations. For some reason, I need to do this, and I want to, but I miss the time awa…

Monarch magic~

If it weren't for the unseasonable warmth, I wouldn't have eaten my lunch on the patio. I wouldn't have spotted a monarch at the marigolds. I wouldn't have put down my sandwich and gone for my camera.

The monarch flew, but as I sat again, I saw that there were several fluttering around the yard: one at the butterfly bush, one on the nasturtiums, and others fluttering with no special destination that I could tell-- just following the whim of the wind.

Toward evening I walked on the college campus, camera in tow, waiting for the sun to point out pictures for me.

I don't ever remember ever seeing monarchs in October, but they were everywhere. They crossed my path, zigzagged high, fluttered low. They were harder to photograph than falling leaves. They flew high beside two swallows and a dragonfly. I didn't have the patience to sit and try for a shot so I walked on just happy to have seen them.

I rounded a corner and stopped short. There were monarchs at a nectar bar-…

More questions than answers~

What sets teaching apart from most jobs, besides motherhood, is the amount of questions teachers get asked during the day. I can think of few jobs designed to be so question oriented. Kids are supposed to ask questions. Teachers encourage this.

"Are there any questions?" we prompt.

We tell students that there is no such thing as a stupid question.

"How are you going to learn if you don't ask?" we say.

And I love questions--both asking and answering them.

I encourage my students to be curious. "I hope you always have more questions, than answers," I say. "Being inquisitive is what leads to new discoveries."

Today after reading about natural resources, we discussed wind power. One boy asked about the turbines. How heavy were they? Did they have to be light so the wind would turn them?

This brought on a discussion of aerodynamics and force and airborne things. I ended up demonstrating Bernoulli's principle. Later the boy who posed the questi…