Monthly Archives: October 2012

Happy All Hallows’ Eve!

A little different from your usual Halloween offerings.

The Scottish border ballad “Tam Lin,” as performed by Fairport Convention:

You’ll find different versions of the lyrics here:

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Tuesday musings – 10/30/12

“Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,

. . .

He gain’d from Heav’n (’twas all he wish’d) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,

Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,

(There they alike in trembling hope repose)

The bosom of his Father and his God.”

— Thomas Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”

“He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.”

— W. H. Auden, “Funeral Blues”
You are not forgotten, my friend. While I live, you shall not die.


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Plan B

If Mitt Romney gets elected, is joining the Peace Corps or teaching English overseas a better contingency plan for me?


Filed under Life, the Universe and Everything, Politics, Service

Sappy Cat Blogging

Combining two of my great loves – cats and classic rock. Shout out to Cat Addicts Anony-mouse.

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Good people

Love of My Life So Far introduced me to these guys. The song just seemed to fit my mood today. Between a great guest teaching assignment and a good conversation with my boss at my home care job, I’m feeling very positive.

Great Big Sea, “Good People”


Filed under Life, the Universe and Everything, Popular Culture

Tuesday musings – 10/23/12

Hearing any of the following s0ngs on your commute to a substitute teaching assignment is an inauspicious omen:

  • P.O.D., “Youth of the Nation”
  • Guns ‘n Roses, “Welcome to the Jungle”
  • AC/DC, “Highway to Hell”
  • Linkin Park, “One Step Closer”


Filed under Life, the Universe and Everything, Teaching


You know your life is busy when you take a day off to clean. My plan for today was to sleep in a little (as in 7:30 a.m. instead of 6:00 a.m.), turn in paperwork for my home care job, then catch up on housework and laundry until early evening, when I would go to see one of my clients. I’m great at taking care of other people’s houses, but when I get home, I can think of a million things I’d rather do than housework.

Instead, I’ll be spending the afternoon with my oldest client, who passed her 100th birthday several years ago. I was privileged to attend her birthday party this summer and heard so many stories about the things she’s done in her long life. She’s left a mark on the world and is surrounded by people who love and respect her.

Sometimes I feel like I should “know better” or “be smarter” by now. Other times, I look at the students I teach and realize that I could be their mother, without having been a teenager myself when they were born. Then, I spend time with someone like my client, who reminds me how much time I still have left.

Sometimes I hear people say, “Life is too short to ___________.” This is sometimes true. I also believe, “Life is too long to live it without joy or purpose.”

What are we doing with the time we have?

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In which my vegan BFF is somewhat vindicated

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m an ovo-lacto-vegetarian 90 percent of the time. My parents – particularly my father, a salt-of-the-earth, meat-and-potatoes man – willingly accommodate my desire not to eat red meat or poultry, so when they prepare fish, I eat it, in the interest of being a filial daughter and a good guest. I have on occasion flirted with being vegan, but I’m too fond of cheese and butter, and I have yet to master the art of baking without eggs.

Whatever my food choices on any given day, I am not militant about being vegetarian. I will happily educate people who ask why I don’t eat meat. I also offer friends, family, and acquaintances the chance to try good vegetarian food, whether my cooking or someone else’s. But generally, my thinking toward other people’s diets is “Live and let live.”

That said, I do wonder if my associates who hold the Western diet accountable for many of society’s ills might well be on to something. Case in point: I had three different fifth-grade classes in my room yesterday. Before lunch, they were challenging, but mostly exhibiting age-appropriate misbehavior – talking excessively, having trouble staying on task. After lunch – a turkey hot dog, baked beans, and apple slices – they were suddenly insane. One girl pushed a boy she said was annoying her. A boy accused one of his male classmates of calling another girl “a stripper.” (They’re in FIFTH grade. They don’t even know who a stripper IS, or they shouldn’t.) I began to wonder if maybe one of my close friends – a very outspoken vegan – might be right about eating meat.

School lunches often revolve around meat: hamburgers, sloppy Joes, hot dogs, chicken fingers or nuggets, pepperoni pizza, etc. Many schools offer a meatless option on Fridays, and some will offer one every day. Typically, those options are limited, though: peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, cheese pizza, tomato soup, macaroni and cheese.

My thoughts, for what they’re worth:

  1. The reason many kids claim not to like vegetables is not because of the vegetables themselves but because of the preparation. If you offer a seven-year-old canned Veg-All that’s still floating in God-knows-what or mushy, overcooked broccoli that smells like dirty laundry, can you blame the child for turning up his or her nose? Offer the same child cut-up raw broccoli and cauliflower with a dip, or steamed baby carrots and sugar snap peas, and he or she just might polish it off and ask for more.
  2. Try breakfast for lunch. Many breakfast foods – eggs, French toast, yogurt, fruit – are healthy and kid-friendly.
  3. If a child had a role in picking or possibly even growing the vegetables, he or she will probably be more interested in eating them. When I took Big Sister, Little One, and a friend of theirs to my cousins’ farm this summer, they enjoyed helping pick the broccoli, kale, garlic, and other goodies we took home, and they were even willing to try them when I prepared them the next day. (This from kids who typically pass on vegetables prepared in the Western way.)
  4. Don’t get me wrong. I love cheese and peanut butter. Love, love, love them. But that’s only the start of eating vegetarian. Don’t overlook beans, whole grains, and even (gasp!) tofu. The girls enjoyed the bean tacos I prepared a few times during the summer. Messy, but delicious.

I realize that with limited budgets, institutional kitchens, and multiple 20-30 minute lunch shifts, these present challenges. But I think the cafeteria staffs I have encountered can rise to the occasion.

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Filed under Caregiving, Cooking, Teaching

Games Without Frontiers

I often think how lucky I am to have my jobs. How many people can get paid to watch the Disney Channel or TV Land; hang out on the playground; tell stories or listen to them; pet dogs, cats, guinea pigs and rabbits; or play games?

The last is one where I’m always learning something new. I’m aces at any game involving trivia or any sort of memory, and I rock at any game that requires you to be a judge of character. (Scruples, anyone?) As for games that involve luck and/or strategy? Let’s just say that I lack the “10% luck, 20% skill” and have to rely upon the “15% concentrated power of will.”

When I took care of Big Sister and Little One, their mother encouraged me to play games with them, and I was more than happy to do so. I finally learned Apples to Apples and gleefully took money from them while playing Monopoly. I also regularly got thrashed; in a chess game, Big Sister once checkmated me within five minutes, and Little One regularly beat me at checkers. This was not a case of “letting the child win.” Those girls legitimately cleaned my clock.

I’m always looking for new ways to interact with my home care clients, and games offer me that opportunity with them, too. One of my clients, an elderly couple, isn’t always interested in television due to the husband’s hearing and vision loss. I came up with the idea of bringing over my checkerboard and my Uno cards (I have an old-school set with the plastic cardholder and the scorepads). The husband usually doesn’t care to play, but the wife regularly beats me at both games. I generally “let” her win at Uno; she has dementia and doesn’t always remember the rules. But like Little One, she beats me at checkers fair and square. No matter who wins, she has fun and so do I.

Today, I worked with a client who is relatively new to me, and I decided to try some new activities with her. I brought in Table Talk, a deck of cards with conversation starter questions. I originally bought it to use in the classroom in case I finished early or a teacher didn’t leave lesson plans, but I thought it might be enjoyable to use with clients. My client didn’t talk much, but she was amused by my answers to the questions, and I got her to smile.

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Sappy Cat Blogging

Yay – cat jewelry that doesn’t scream “Mad cat lady ahead!” 

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