Busy week

Here are all of my excuses for not blogging this week:

1. Kempo. I had a lesson Tuesday night, and I was pretty wiped out when I got home.
2. School. I have 200 students. Need I say more?
3. Exhaustion. I went to bed immediately after dinner Wednesday night … and stayed there for 12 hours.
4. Tom Petty. He was at the BOk Center on Thursday night. I’ve never really been a big Tom Petty fan, but he puts on a pretty great show.
5. Exhaustion, part two. I thought about going to the ballgame Friday night, but instead, I went out for an after-school snack with several colleagues (something a few of the younger teachers started the first week of school to foster a much-needed sense of collegiality among the faculty) and then came home to take a nap at 6:30 p.m. I woke up 12 hours later.
6. Jogging. I went for a run with my friend Jackie on Saturday morning. We were planning to run eight miles, but one thing led to another, and we wound up going 10.
7. Baseball cards. After a quick shower and some carbo-loading at Waffle House, I headed out baseball-card shopping with Ron. I came home with 284 baseball cards (including 14 Rynos, two Hawks, a Lee Smith, a Big Z, and a complete set of 1992 Topps Kids cards), a Mark Grace candy dispenser for my little sister, a 1994 issue of Beckett’s Baseball Card Monthly with mah-boy on the cover, and a vicious migraine.
8. Exhaustion, part three. I could have done without the headache, but if there’s a silver lining, it’s the fact that I wound up going back to bed and staying there for 18 hours. For those of you playing along at home, yes, that does add up to 30 hours of sleep in a 36-hour span of time. The beauty of this is that I am pretty sure I have finally caught up the sleep deficit I’ve been running since 1992. I got up this morning and made a quiche, cleaned Hedwig’s cage, planned all of next week’s lessons, took a shower, ate breakfast, and still managed to make it to church with ten minutes to spare.

In the interest of finding out what Monday morning looks like to a person who isn’t exhausted, I think I’m going to go to bed now. Hope your weekend was good.


Dear Cubs …

… I am getting very tired of this abuse. You couldn’t be bothered to win when it actually counted for something. You couldn’t even be bothered to give a living legend a decent sendoff before he headed home to take care of his sick mama.

You went out of your way to stink it up all season, but now that you are out of contention, you are bending over backwards to play .700 ball for a guy most Cubs fans couldn’t even have picked out of a lineup a month ago.


I wasn’t terribly concerned when Mike Quade was promoted to interim manager after Sweet Lou retired. After all, Ryno’s boys in Iowa were in a pennant race, and it wouldn’t have been fair to pull him away from them for a few meaningless weeks at the helm of a team that had performed abysmally all season. But because he was doing a great job in Iowa, he didn’t get a chance to “audition” for the job he wanted — and now, thanks to your pointless last-minute heroics, it looks increasingly likely that Quade is going to become Hendry’s golden boy, and Ryno is actually going to end up being punished for a job well done.

This shouldn’t bother me. After all, Ryne Sandberg is enshrined in Cooperstown. He spent a decade and a half being paid obscene amounts of money to play baseball. He has a beautiful wife, hordes of adoring fans, and more money than God — not to mention a movie-star smile and the body of a 25-year-old.

If there is one man on earth who absolutely does not need to be pitied, it’s Ryne Sandberg. So why does it bother me so much to think that the Cubs might pass him over in favor of a smart baseball man who is making the most of an unexpected opportunity?

Well, first, I know how it feels to be penalized for being good at what you do, and it righteously sucks. Sandberg deserves better than that.

Second, it bothers me because I am terrified that if Chicago snubs him, some other team will snap him up, and once he leaves the Friendly Confines, he may not come home again. Give him a little taste of success, fit him for a World Series ring or two, and he’s liable to start running with the wrong crowd.

I’ve put up with a lot out of you jerks over the years. But if I have to look at Ryne Sandberg in Cardinal red or — God forbid — Yankee pinstripes someday, you and I are OVER. Capisce?


Ridiculously busy week

OK … since my adventures on Route 66 last weekend, I’ve been pretty going pretty much hell-for-leather every single day: ballgame after school Monday, kempo on Tuesday, boatloads of grading on Wednesday, homework night on Thursday, ballgame Friday, honey harvest and a neighborhood block party today.

Thursday was our first homework night of the year. I’ve done this since I started teaching, and it’s probably the best thing I’ve come up with. About once a month, I’ll look at my calendar and the kids’ grades and call a “homework night,” which is really more of a catching-up session for the kids whose grades are suffering because of missing assignments. I provide after-school snacks and stay late — usually until 6 p.m. — helping kids catch up on their missing work. Anything they turn in at that time is graded and recorded on the spot so they can see how it affects their grade. I also do some tutoring in other subjects if time allows and the kids need it.

We set a record for homework night attendance on Thursday: 30 kids signed in, and I think I had two or three others who forgot to sign the sheet. I wound up staying until 7 p.m. Four kids were still working on things at 6:30, and two girls stuck around to shoot the bull and help me clean up the classroom. It was great.

I spent most of today harvesting honey, extracting it, and rendering beeswax. We ended up with about 35 pounds of honey, which wasn’t quite as much as I’d hoped, but probably more than I had any right to expect after the heat wave and monthlong drought we had this summer.

Hope your week was good.


More sign photos

Doug supervises as McJerry and I start to loosen up the old paint from the sign.

This turned out to be a bigger job than we’d anticipated. Evidently the last person to work on this sign considered latex house paint an appropriate finish for a metal surface. (Can you hear me rolling my eyes?)

Fortunately, the Lincoln has new owners who are willing to put some time, money and effort into their property, so I think we’re going to be seeing great things out there in the very near future.

All done

We finished the Lincoln Motel project and had everything packed up and put away by 6:30 this evening. I have lessons to plan and papers to grade, so today’s batch of photos will have to wait until I get a hand free, but despite some unforeseen obstacles, we had a pretty good day.

I ended today with tired feet and a sunburn across my nose and cheeks, which is the mark of a weekend well spent. 🙂


Newly refurbished

There are few ways I’d rather spend a weekend than up a ladder, a bucket lift, or a scaffold, paintbrush in hand, at some historic site on Route 66.

We rolled into Chandler at 7:30 this morning to begin a historic preservation project with the Oklahoma Route 66 Association at the beautiful and historic Lincoln Motel.

Here’s a “before” shot:

Our awesome friend Doug — who is a contractor and has a lot of experience with scaffolds — organized the assembly of our rented scaffold and helped keep me from going into full-on meltdown mode or falling off and killing myself when I had to get on and off of it.

I was the only member of our merry band with much experience handling neon, so once the scaffold was all set up, I reluctantly — and awkwardly — clambered to the top and stripped all the tubing off the front of the sign.

With the neon down, Route 66 artist Jerry McClanahan, who lives in Chandler, joined me atop the scaffold to scrape and paint the sign.

We made a rather intriguing discovery while we were scraping the lower part of the sign: Before it said “CABLE TV,” “MICROFRIDGES,” and “PHONES,” the bottom of the sign apparently said “REFRIGERATED AIR.” If you look closely, you can see the ghost image of the letters below:

The lettering style and the trapezoidal shape of the lower parts of the sign led us to suspect that it was designed by the same company that created the historic neon sign at the Rock Cafe in Stroud.

Here, we put the finishing touches on the top part of the sign.

Doug, Ron, McJerry, and our friend Brad were responsible for taking down the scaffold and moving it around to give us access to various parts of the sign.

I think the finished product looks pretty good. We’ll be back out there in the morning, giving the same treatment to the east side of the sign. If you’re out that direction, we’d love to have more volunteers. If you’re not comfortable with heights or paintbrushes, you can always stand on the ground and hand us tools and paint; take pictures; run errands; or just entertain us with wiseacre comments while we work.

Just be advised: Historic preservation is addictive. I’ve been at it since John and Lenore Weiss gave me my first hit at a Meramec Caverns barn in Hamel, Ill., in 2001, and I have no intention of quitting if I can help it.


Photo credit

Remember when I put up a password-protected post a few weeks ago? I had spent an afternoon running around Tulsa to shoot some photos for my friend Brad, who was being featured in a Christian Science Journal article. The photo editor had asked him to send a picture or two of Tulsa, so we scrambled all over the city, looking for just the right angle of downtown, before returning to his office and finding the perfect shot right outside the window.

I took several pictures of the sort Brad thought the editors would want, and then I coaxed him into a quick environmental portrait, which he assured me was not what they were looking for.

The Journal came out this week. This is the photo they ran:

I’d really love to get a portrait where you can see more of Brad’s face, but based on his description of the article and similar features I’d seen the magazine do with other CS teachers in the past, I decided I probably needed to focus less on Brad himself and more on the city and his connection to it. I was pretty sure this was going to be The Shot as soon as I saw it. The fact that the editor agreed is kind of reassuring: I consider it a validation of my page-design instincts, which haven’t had much exercise in the past couple of years.

Here are a few of the other images I shot that afternoon:

I think any of these would have worked just fine, but I’m glad they chose the one with Brad in it. At some point, I’d really like to photograph him with the Holga. The Rebel does nice work, but the Holga is my portrait camera; it seems to have a knack for picking up whatever it is I love about the person I’m photographing. There’s something about the soft focus and the vignetting that manages to capture a subject’s identity better than the crisp, controlled shots I get with the Rebel.

I haven’t read the entire article yet, but I glanced over it briefly yesterday, and it looks pretty good. It’s not online yet, but I’m hoping it will be posted sooner or later so I can link to it.

— Emily

Out of the mouths of babes

When I was a teenager, my friends and I spent many summers helping out with Vacation Bible School programs at each other’s churches.

I’ll never forget the year my friend Amy and I tried to teach a first-grade class to love their enemies.

“Do you know what you’re supposed to do with your enemies?” I asked our innocent young charges.

“Kick ’em in the balls?” suggested a little boy named Stephen.

I told Stephen that wasn’t a very nice word.

“Oh. Well, can I say, ‘Kick ’em in the crotch?'” he asked brightly.

While Amy literally crawled under the table to keep the kids from seeing her dissolve into paroxysms of laughter, I told Stephen that it was mean to kick people.

“Jesus says you’re supposed to love your enemies,” I explained.

Stephen — who obviously relished being the center of attention — wasn’t particularly interested in what Jesus had to say on the subject, and he interrupted the lesson several more times to assure us that a kick to the crotch “hurts really bad,” but that “it doesn’t hurt girls.”

I thought of Stephen today as I was reading about Pastor Terry Jones of Florida, who is planning to hold a Koran-burning rally on Sept. 11 in the name of Christianity.

Jesus was very clear about how he expected his followers to treat others:

“As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”
Luke 6:31

“Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Matt. 22:39

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
Matt. 5:44

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Like little Stephen, Pastor Jones seems to think it’s OK to kick people if you don’t like them. Like little Stephen, he seems to enjoy using shock value to win attention from his peers. And like little Stephen, he doesn’t seem terribly concerned about Jesus’ opinion on the subject.

Little Stephen eventually grew up. Perhaps Pastor Jones should do the same.