Saturday, October 31, 2015

What To Do With the Pumpkin Now That Halloween Is Over

The pumpkins are drying out and the candy is almost all gone so now is the month to be thankful.I propose we spend part of our thankful money on being kind to the earth. Whether or not you believe the notion of climate change, you can still have gratitude for this gorgeous planet.  Here are a few ways we can pay back some of the stunning sunsets, sparkly rivers, fir trees swaying in the breeze, calm oceans, interesting rocks we find and every other little bit of beauty we freely enjoy in our earthly home:

1.  Stop buying water in bottles!  People, it's WATER.  You have the very same thing in your taps at home. The water manufacturers are simply using their taps to fill plastic that costs an amazing amount of money to make and is difficult to dispose of.  Buy yourself an attractive bottle that's safe for both you and the earth and fill it with water from home.  If you think your own water is not that good, then buy a big container of distilled water and use that in your attractive bottle. (Remember to recycle the big plastic jug of distilled water.)

2.  Pick up litter. If you like, you can curse whoever left it and then feel smug as you recycle it.

3.  Speaking of recycling, DO it.  If it seems awkward or hard to get used to, choose just one thing to learn on.  Try chucking junk mail into a special container and then recycle it at the most convenient place.  That might be in your very own RECYCLING BIN that you can put out with the garbage. Or maybe you could sneak it into your office and use the bin there.  Once you get used to one type of recycling, add another type and so on until you can declare your title of RECYCLER.

4.  Drive the speed limit.  This is a tough one. Lots of us feel entitled to travel at least five and maybe ten or more miles faster than the posted limit.  And people do give you nasty looks when you are in the right lane and they are zipping past you. Remember, the rule is that you're supposed to use the left lane only for passing.  I challenge you to just try this. It's not easy. But notice as you're chugging lawfully along that the red car that zoomed past you a few minutes ago is only waiting at the light longer than you are.

5.  This is a small one and is easy for women to do but men don't usually touch tissue paper so they're off the hook here. Save that colorful tissue and the cool bags that your gifts come in.  Use them again. If the tissue is all smushy and wrinkled, press it with a coolish iron.  And don't worry if you give a nice gift bag back to the original giver.  They loved it first and will be glad to see it again.

And so on.  You can pat yourself on the back every time you do something kind to the earth.  And if you teach kids to do the same thing, you get double pats.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Donald Trump

Really? Donald Trump for President? It's still early days for the 2016 election but Trump continues to raise interest in one way or another. What happens next year at this time is still mostly a guess but we should all probably admit that this man has raised our personal interest in his candidacy whether we like him or not. I confess that I just simply fail when it comes to figuring him out.

Take his hair for example. Does he really think it looks good? My guess is that he doesn't have time for a stylist to see to his coif so he takes care of it himself late at night in the privacy of his own super expensive and over luxurious hotel room.  He uses the top brand of hair cutting scissors to trim his obviously thinning locks and then applies his favorite home coloring solution which was delivered to his bathroom by a trusted and well-paid staff member. He finishes by using a secret comb-out method that he himself invented and is in the process of being patented.  He doesn't want your stylist to copy it sort of like the idea that you can be heavily fined if you copy video tapes.  I'm just guessing, but my theory regarding the Trumpster's hair works as well as any other.

His hair not withstanding, Trump is a "looks funny" candidate, as my teaching partner Sheila used to wonder about anyone who subbed for her. Our private theory was that a sub who "looks funny" probably accounted at least in part for poor student behavior in our rare absences. And Trump "looks funny."  Once you tear your study away from his hair, you discover that his suit doesn't do anything for him.  It should if he paid $1000.00 for it and had it carefully tailored to fit, but again I think he's just too busy flying from Manhattan to Texas to share  his innovative ideas about how to manage the influx of all those people who want the jobs that none of us want. Hence, his wearing of suits brought to him by the staff member in charge of Wal-Mart purchases.

Consider his face. Focus on his mouth as he speaks.  It shapes itself into a replica of an over-oxygenated fish. . .gulp, gulp, gulp. In only a short time, I find myself becoming fascinated by how his mouth moves and I lapse into forgetfulness about his hair let alone what he's saying. With all the money that he has, why doesn't he hire himself a special coach to help him more attractively present his pronunciating?

I cannot imagine Trump making a Presidential trip to, say, a developing country in the eastern hemisphere. We'd need to send out an unbelievable amount of disclaimers to convince the host country to take him seriously.

Can he really do all the things he says he can do?  Can he really convince the not so dumb voters that he will?  I'm just saying.  And the days are early.  I wonder what our thoughts will be a year from now?  Maybe I will have changed my mind altogether. But for now, I'm not disrespecting him. I'm just sharing my personal observations.

Monday, August 31, 2015

How To Start The School Year

1.  Wear something you really like on the first day even if it's not new.
2.  Listen better the first week than you ever have before.  It's the key to success in the new classroom.
3.  Know that you can learn from your teacher even if you don't like her.
4.  Figure out where your friends are even if they're not in your class.  Then make at least one new friend per class and try to do so the first week.
5.  Learn where the nearest bathroom is.  Pay attention to your teacher's bathroom rules but know that you can always go if you need to.
6.  Be nice to the lunchroom ladies no matter how much you hate the food.
7.  Keep your i-pod or cell phone OFF and IN YOUR BACKPACK.  Your teacher should never see or hear it.
8.  On your way home, think of a couple of things to tell your parents when they ask how your day was.
9.  Wash your hands really well as soon as you get home.
10. Have a special place to put your backpack. Empty it as soon as you set it down.

1.  Make sure your kids have an edible breakfast before they leave.  This is not the time to have them try guava jelly.
2.  Do a quick inspection to make sure there's no toilet paper sticking to their shoes or anything else that might look funny.
3.  Assure them that they'll have a good day even if they think they won't.  That doesn't mean that the whole day has to be good, just some of it.
4.  Remind them to smile at the teacher even if that teacher has whips hanging on the walls.
5.  Tell them not to talk to strangers even if they're seniors in high school.
6.  Ask them if they are carrying any money. If they are, ask how much and what it's for.
7.  Caution them about appropriate use of their i-pods or cell phones at school.
8.  Tell them to be good listeners.
9.  Remind them that going to school is their job.
10. Say "I love you" in a special way every morning.


1.  Make sure your classroom looks good.
2.  Erase and/or obliterate any and every form of the f-word from desks and walls.
3.  Be ready to hear the f-word in the hallway and even in the classroom.
4.  Have an Expectation (rules) handout for every student.  Post one on the wall and go over it soon after class starts.
5.  Word your expectations positively.  For example, say something like, "Save your gum chewing for break and lunch" rather than, "No gum chewing allowed."  Clearly let them know what happens if a rule is broken and follow up on that consequence without fail.
6.  Don't eat in front of students.
7.  Be really, REALLY strict the first week.  You can lighten up later.
8.  Display a seating chart and let the students find their own places first thing.
9.  Have meaningful first day activities.  Do something academic right away rather than play too many ice-breaking games.
10. Remember:  Every day has a 3 o'clock; every week has a Friday; and every school year has a June.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Dead Wrong

    Our bald coach friend, Ed, and our almost bald coach friend, Greg, have spent years and years on various ball fields and in countless classrooms in Oregon.  Their network of former players and students extends to the point that no matter where we all go together, they are approached by someone who used to play for them or was a former student or both.  And, on the rare occasion when no one approaches, they introduce themselves and make instant friends with the people around us whether we are sharing a bus ride, a plane seat, a meal at a restaurant or just hanging at the beach.  That beach could be on either coast or even in another country.  They have friends everywhere.
     One of their friends was Flying Biff Childers who coached football and baseball with them for a number of years.  They never found out why he was called Flying Biff but they've had lots of fun trying to imagine why.  Maybe the reason they never found out was because Biff was one of those guys who kept his personal life away from the practice field. He didn't really say anything revealing even when the coaches had their after game celebrations at the local bar.  Here they reviewed every play of the game two or three times and pledged eternal  allegiance to one another in the traditional male way of raising glasses and pounding each other on the back harder and harder as the night wore on.
     So they were especially saddened to read the short obituary of their old coaching pal, Biff, in the paper not too many weeks ago. Typical of Biff, there was little personal information other than his birth and death date and the announcement of the funeral day and time. Elbows on the kitchen counter, Ed and Greg reminisced about ol' Biff and traded stories about good plays and good games they'd shared with him. Finally, they decided to attend his funeral and would bring along a decent supply of beer which  could be poured onto or maybe even into the casket and the rest could be consumed with an appropriate audience. They'd decide who that audience was once they'd had the opportunity to study the response to their impromptu funeral remarks about what a good ol' boy Biff was.
     They set out in Ed's pick-up early on the day of the funeral.  The 18 cans of assorted brands of beer was handily stashed in the back where they could get to it easily or throw a blue tarp over it if the funeral attendees seemed a little sketchy about drinking with strangers. It would take several hours to get far enough up the Gorge to get even sort of close to the funeral site.  Even at that, they'd need to wheel south several miles before they got to the actual cemetery. So they pleasantly entertained each other with yet more reviews of past games, a few loudly sung renditions of some favorite country songs, and the re-telling of some of their favorite jokes.
     Ed suddenly grew seriously silent and pulled the pick-up onto the dusty side of the now Eastern Oregon road.
     "Greg,"  he started, " what if there's more than one Biff Childers in Oregon? "
     "Why didn't we think of that?  I don't get it.  We're smarter than that, aren't we?" responded Greg.
     Several quiet moments passed.  Ed decided to call his wife and Greg decided to call his daughter. When they compared notes, they discovered that Biff Childers was, in fact, one of two residents in Oregon.  Oh hell, they'd come this far, they'd go to the funeral anyway. There was still a 50/50 chance that this funeral was for Flying Biff.  They stopped one more time at a Les Schwab in a town only a little smaller than Mayberry to ask for directions.  The attendant wasn't very friendly.  Greg didn't like that.  Les Schwab's employees were supposed to be running out to them with energetic smiles on their faces.  He might turn this guy in even if he did give good directions.
     Once they found the right place, they spotted the tent covered casket on the side of a hot, wind-blown hill. They wondered where everybody was until they spotted a group of black clad folks gathered down the hill a little ways.  They parked the pick-up and got out to join the group. They were greeted with an awkward silence.  Then a scowling woman walked slowly up to Ed staring at him intently.
     "Coach Ed?  Aren't you Coach Ed? You are! Remember the time when the English teacher died and you took over our class for the rest of the term?  Sure you do.  And just WHY did you give me an F for the quarter?! she wanted to know.
     Another woman walked up to Greg holding out her hand and grasping his firmly when she got to him.
     "And you're Coach Greg! I never got a chance to thank you for the help you gave my son in your reading class.  You have no idea how much that helped!  I finally have a chance to give you a proper thanks!"
     And so it went. They made friendly connections with the two women and were introduced to other folks who knew them by reputation as fans in the stadium. They told their stories about their own Biff Childers, poured some beer into the hole of the casket with permission, then asked the group to join them at the back of the pick-up where they cracked open the Olys, Pabsts, and Hamms that they'd assembled earlier in the day. Toasts were made to both Biffs and the two coaches had yet another chance to tell some of their game stories to a  group of  new friends who'd never heard any of them. The life of Flying Biff was appropriately celebrated and he would become a star character in future stories about players and coaches in the not too distant past. After declining the invitation to continue the celebration at the local bar, Ed and Greg drove back home going over the unforgettable events of the day and rehearsing the story they'd tell about it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Random Thoughts and A Few Questions

  • This would be a good year  NOT to have fireworks!
  • Some people say they can't eat as much when it's hot; not a problem for me.
  • I don't like the look of dogs with clothes on.  They should be naked.
  • Summer menus should include at least one serving of marshmallows in some form or another.
  • It takes at least the first five minutes of any family gathering to figure out who's fighting with whom.
  • It takes another five  minutes to figure out if I should get involved.
  • I can still hear my mother's recitation of her "Life Rules" even though she's been gone for nine years
  • The young clerk at the airport book store has never heard of housewife porn.
  • LeBron James really  is the King of Basketball.
  • Why do recipe magazines at the store cost $10.00?
  • Ask your doctor how his day is going.  You might get some interesting answers.
  • Don't ask him what he thinks about the Confederate flag.  You might not like his answer and that could affect your level of confidence in him.
  • My friend Ed thanks every veteran for his or her service.  Try it even if you were hands down against the war in Vietnam. You don't have to be in favor of war to appreciate military service.
  • Stop saying "Me and her."  Reference to yourself should come last, e.g., "Pat, Mary, and I." It's not just a matter of standard usage, it's just good manners. 
  • Why can't I understand the plot of this year's "True Detective?"  
  • I read in the paper that taking statins can affect memory.  So THAT'S it.
  • What's the deal with tattoos and why were they only popular with soldiers and sailors in time past?
  • It's July 1.  The days are getting shorter and Harper Lee's new book will be out soon. 
  • Use a fingernail to emboss an X on a mosquito bite and then put spit on it.
  • Memorize a hot summer day with all your senses so you can recall it next January.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Pharmacy Game

Let me tell you how to play The Pharmacy Game, an adult board game that may soon be available at a Rite Aid near you.  You already know something about how to play. All you need are four players, a game board, tokens for moving around the board and two stacks of  special cards and a die.

The four players are you and three close friends. Make sure your fellow gamers are people you can trust with your medical needs.  It's also to your advantage if you are a senior citizen player because you are the one who navigates the medical world with the most ease. Be careful, though, not to get too bogged down in the swapping of doctor stories or you won't finish the game.

The board looks something like a monopoly board and if you're at all clever, you can create your own.  The tokens are thumb-sized prescription bottles in different colors. The two stacks of cards are the Dr. Best pile and the Pharmacist's pile. Place these in the middle of the board.  The object is to be the first person to get your prescription filled. You do this by placing all the tokens on the "Feeling Sick" starting square.  Roll the die to see who's first, then proceed from square by square by rolling the die. Whoever is the first to land on the square labelled "Drive-Up Window" where your prescription is filled is the winner.

But it's not as simple as it sounds.  There are obstacles that will impede your progress.  The squares can present different challenges as well as a few advantages.  For example, you might land on a square that says, "It's Friday and the Pharmacy is closed.  Lose a turn." Or you might be instructed to take a card from the Dr. Best pile that says something like, "Dr. Best's medical assistant needs to talk to you about your prescription. Lose a turn while you wait for her to call back."  You might be lucky enough to land on the square that says, "Your prescription cost of $1200 for 30 days of pills will be picked up by your insurance company and is ready now. Move ahead two spaces."  One you'll want to miss is the one that reads, "We must receive authorization from your insurance company before we can refill this prescription. Go back three spaces."  And, of course, there's the ever dreaded, "We are still waiting for confirmation from Dr. Best although Dr. Better's office called in the prescription. Go back five spaces." This is probably the worst Pharmacist card of all because it means you are going to have to negotiate between the two doctors with some extra calls to the Pharmacy thrown in. You can escape this fate only after rolling a six.  Thank goodness there's only one square like this.  But you for sure would love to land on "The Pharmacy is having a sale on Vitamin E today. It's BOGO and jump ahead three squares."

See?  You do know how to play this game.  Sometimes you play it a lot as my sister and I have both been doing for last few months.  The trouble with this game is that there aren't enough advantage cards or squares. If you create your own board, you might want to add more fun cards to increase your chances of winning. But don't hope for many breaks in the real world of Walgreen's.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Needle Here and There and Dr. Crackback

I've been dealing with back pain ever since I awkwardly hoisted my one year old granddaughter out of the big girl bath tub. That was almost 13 years ago.  Since then the back pain has worsened, eyesight and hearing are beginning to dim, I can't really straighten out my right arm and my left foot cramps up when I walk even a very short distance.  I could tell lots more about the alarming changes in my aging body ; for instance, certain areas of my skin have taken on odd colored markings in various neutral shades and so on but I'll leave these details to your own future imagination.  I'll just give you a little hint:  The act of sitting down on the toilet will some day be nothing you will ever again take for granted.

It was fairly easy to deal with the back pain for many years.  A little while on the heating pad and maybe a Tylenol or two and I would be good to go.  That is no longer the case.  And you  might recall that I got up every morning at 5:00 am and quick-walked two miles before school if I wasn't at the pool swimming laps for 30 minutes.  Those activities are in the distant past.

Now I am in the middle of what I'm choosing to call "functional exercising" which means I move around in ways that will keep me simply mobile for the longest possible time left to me.  I go to my personal trainer once a week, work out on my own once a week and attend a flex class every Saturday morning.  Now that my heart has been tuned up again, I'm gradually incorporating some cardio work back into my routine.

In the last year, I have visited my general practitioner, a neurologist, a podiatrist and a physical therapist.  I have chosen to work on my back pain and foot cramping but have experienced little to no relief.  So I decided to try alternative medicine. I've also proclaimed April and May to be months of  alternative wellness.  April was devoted to the chiropractor. I had several sessions and have had my back manipulated many times.  One of those times I was able to cruise the mall right after the appointment with no foot cramping or back pain.  The rest of the time I figured out how really smart Dr. Brad is and grew familiar with his patient table that can SNAP my pelvis back into alignment.  I also downed a whole bottle of his special elixir of fish oil.  

This week I received my first treatment of acupuncture and had the second of two sessions with my hypnotherapist.  I had the needles stuck into lots of places on the left side of my body and a few on the right side.  I reclined peacefully for an hour in a darkened room listening to white noise while the needles did their thing.  I felt an occasional warm swirl of some kind of energy here and there in the approximate places of the needles. I left refreshed and I can just say " reactivated" as I left what I can only describe as a place from my past somewhere in the 1960's.

Hypnotherapy caused mild yet positive shocks to my thinking skills.  I uncovered and verbalized some surprises from my past, was "under" for 40 minutes, and brought home a CD of my session so that I can go to my happy place any time I want to.  I know it all sounds pretty iffy, but I have to say that I am getting some benefit from these centuries old ways of caring for the body. When I get weirded out by anything in these treatments, I just let myself be amused and try to keep an open mind.  May will consist of more acupuncture and at least two visits to my massage therapist.  Go ahead and be skeptical, I'm only just saying. (And I will continue to try to get that last phrase out of my vocabulary since we have no way of knowing what it really means.)