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Showing posts from February, 2008

Nation building 101~

I'm expected to "teach" the time span between early civilizations in the New World-- the Aztecs, Mayans, Incas-- to the Civil War. In 180 days. This is mandated by the Massachusetts Department of Education.

So . . . sigh!

The presidential primary elections make the perfect springboard for looking back to understand why we have the form of government we do today. So I jumped ahead in the curriculum a couple hundred years to just after the Revolutionary War when the Constitution was written, the Bill of Rights argued over, the issue of slavery brushed aside to assure ratification, and of course, George Washington's acceptance of the presidency.

Two girls asked to put on a skit, something they'd prepared privately in the big supply closet during recess. Each pretended to be a candidate for president, and took turns reading their campaign promises.

At the end of class, one of my fifth graders stood at my desk, arms loaded with books ready to go to lunch.

"What's …

I feel his pain~

Jesse called in a reflective mood, a good mood really, one that's been lacking of late. It was late
afternoon, I'd just laid down on the couch with my book, but my eyes were heavy, a nap was waiting.
Because so many times on the days when he calls four or five times with nothing much to say, I rush him off impatiently, and because this time he was upbeat and chatty for a change, I stayed on the line and let him talk.

I listened, eyes closed. He talked. I umm hmmed.

"Emotions," he said. "What are they, really? I mean are they related to nerves? Or brain chemistry?"

I opened my eyes. The roses I got for Valentine's Day were beginning to wilt.

Emotions. Me, the one in the family who is all for feeling them, expressing them, discussing them. What were they, really?

"Brain chemistry, mostly, I think-- the rush of endorphins, serotonin, dopamine . . . all that. Why?"

"Well, I was thinking, " he said hesitantly, "and I know you d…

A picture perfect day in Back Bay~

Walking down Boston's Commonwealth Avenue with my camera around my neck, I was in my own world, a place I enjoy. It was school vacation week and I decided to ignore the cold, take advantage of the sunny day to get some pictures of the city.

I'll skip all comments about driving in from my small town. Suffice it to say, Boston is a fast-paced, visually stimulating city, and I drive better on quiet two-lane streets where the visual stimulation is mostly grazing cows.

But I made it.

This section of Boston-- the Back Bay-- one of the finer neighborhoods, is a combination of residences, offices and retailers held together visually by brownstone buildings that open through wrought iron gates onto the sidewalk. It's a well-heeled section of the city where old and new are juxtaposed.

There's no trash, no graffiti, things are decidedly upscale: Boston Common, the State House on Beacon Hill, Trinity Church, MIT . . . the list of historical sites is long. This is the part of the city …

Marketing love~

Ah, Valentine's Day!

What better way to show love than to rush onto a store on the way home from work to choose from thousands of cards, one that expresses just the right sentiment. Sign it in the car if you can find a pen in the glove compartment, or hide it under your coat until you get in the house where you hastily scrawl your name before presenting it with candy and a kiss.

The parking lot at the local CVS store in Bridgewater was jammed this evening. There was a mob in front of the Valentine cards. The registers had long lines.

We like to think we are independent, nobody tells us how to think. Yet, like Stepford wives-- and husbands-- we heed the Hallmark message and follow the stream of people to the card rack to choose from thousands, the one card that expresses just the right sentiment. We earnestly read the messages of cards mass produced to send the same sentiment to thousands until we find the one that matches the mood of the relationship.

Long married couples have it down…

Happy blog-iversary to me~

Happy blog-iversary to me!

Forgive me if I pat myself on the back.

One year ago to day, I sat in front of my laptop wrapped in Harry Potter's invisibility cloak, and pushed "publish." No one-- well, only one-- knew I had "gone public."

And it was quite a tentative start, like dipping a toe in ice water, and yanking it out immediately. The name I chose-- Upstream and Down-- an acknowledgement of my Pisces nature, felt safe. I could wander, twist and turn through topics, and not need to follow a linear path.

In fact, I had no path in mind at all, no reason to write a blog, but I wanted one. It was that simple.

What emerged from 115 posts to date is a series of "snapshots," snippets of life-- more questions than answers-- filtered through my eyes.

That those of you who started with me have stayed in my stream pleases me. That others have come along for the journey is even better. You've encouraged me with your comments, your understanding, and your sharing…

Touch down~

I was leaving the house on-time-for-work, but last-minute-not-quite-time-to-stop-for-a-coffee-time. But I WOULD stop anyway.

Admiring the frosting of snow on the branches and fences, I drove, past a cornfield in its winter mode: stubble poking up through the dusting of snow.

I looked for my geese; they touch down daily in this field. There they were.

But something was wrong. Three men walked among them. And a dog. My geese remained relaxed, calm, docile. Beyond docile. They were statue-like. Motionless.

Dead? No, some were standing.

I had my camera, and impulsively-- on time for work, be damned-- I pulled over and walked across the field toward the men. I could see the men were picking up my geese and moving them.

Something was wrong. The geese seemed stunned, or drugged. It was an eerie scene from a distance.

"Hello," one of the men walked toward me, raising his voice to be heard. "Can I help you?"

"I write for a paper," I shouted back. "What's…

Killing time~

I'd woken feeling stuffy headed, slightly allergy-ish, puffy-eyed, and a tad grumpy. Lots to do, little time in which to do it, school issues keeping me in a state of angst, I considered not going to David's game.

But it was Saturday, the game fairly close to home-- Salem State College-- an hour or so north through Boston to the town of Salem, famous for the 1692 witch trials that saw 19 suspected witches, many of them social outcasts, hang on Gallows Hill.

A change of pace was what I needed whether I wanted it or not, so I went.

I squeezed in a walk around the block that enclosed Salem State's O'Keefe Center while waiting for the game to begin. Just to kill time. I get so few chances to do that.

Others walking, too, passed with no eye contact, no greetings, just sharing the same planet. Two were coming toward me.

Still unfocused in the distance . . . one was tall, the other short . . . two men . . . loose clothing . . . like army clothes, camouflage . . . beard and long h…