Category Archives: Love

Slow progress

I have tons of work to do tonight: lesson plans to rewrite (we’ve got state evaluators coming in tomorrow, and somehow those lesson plans I wrote this weekend through a cloud of heartbreak just don’t seem dynamic), a fourth-quarter unit plan to write, a test to design, a form to generate for third hour, and a handful of forms to fill out for the federal magnet grant people. I’ve got dishes that have been piled on the stove and in the sink since Thursday, and I honestly don’t remember the last time I cleaned the bathroom.

I’d rather spend my evening watching Song wrestle with Riggy (who is not at all reluctant to tell me exactly how he feels about being stuck in his crate at the moment), but despite my workload, I can’t complain. This is the first time since Friday that I’ve felt good enough to clean the house or work up a decent lesson plan. It’s the longest I’ve gone without tears, and it’s the longest I’ve gone without feeling as if I’m going to collapse from sheer exhaustion.

I’m almost OK tonight. I can’t decide how I feel about that.


UPDATE: Ron did the dishes for me, and I got everything done for school. I’m a little behind on grading, but I’m giving a test tomorrow, so I should have time to catch up while the kids are working on that. Once I get through tomorrow, I should be able to breathe just a little bit.

Bee therapy

Bees are remarkably therapeutic. We went out to check our backyard hive this morning. Ron got all inspired by Queen Latifah in The Secret Life of Bees and decided to work barehanded. I went him one better and went without gloves or suit — just my hooded jacket with built-in veil that we bought from Dadant a few weeks ago. He got stung once; I escaped unscathed.

Aside from a minor hive beetle infestation, the hive looked pretty healthy. The population is down a bit, but this early in the season, it probably should be. We put a Feed Bee patty between the broodchambers to encourage the queen to build up her numbers a bit. I expect they’ll be strong and sassy in short order.

It felt good to be out there with my girls. When you’re handling bees, you just forget everything else. You have to. They leave you no choice.

It’s good to be a beekeeper.




This afternoon, I lost the best friend I’ve ever had.

In June of 1998, I walked into my parents’ living room with what my dad referred to as “a little ol’ double-handful of dog.”

That little ol’ double-handful of dog grew into a hilarious, exasperating, adorable, maddening, willful, clever, disobedient, and utterly brilliant rat terrier who would spend the next 10 years and nine months by my side (or, more often, somewhere behind or ahead of me, sniffing something interesting or barking at a stranger).

During that time, Scout had her own business card …


… discovered the magic that is Ted Drewes’ Frozen Custard …


… stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona …


… ate dead chicken and cheeseburgers with cheese at the Snow-Cap …


… and, through her Web site, became a kind of unofficial four-legged ambassador for Route 66.


Scout drove me crazy. She could be hard-headed beyond belief, and she went through about a three-year phase in which she solved all her problems with her teeth. My standard line, when anyone asked about her, was, “I wouldn’t wish her on my worst enemy, but I wouldn’t trade her for anything, either.”

And I wouldn’t.

The common belief is that Scout was a dog. This is a misconception. In point of fact, Scout was a very short person in a fur coat.

She is the only dog I have ever known who had sense enough to use her paw to extract peanut butter from the bottom of a jar. She’s the only dog I’ve ever seen watch a greyhound run and then copy his movements in an attempt to improve her own technique. And she’s the only dog I’ve ever known who recognized the sound of the ice-cream truck (and wouldn’t look at me all afternoon if I let it go by without dashing out to buy something nice for her).

Last November, Scout went to the vet to have her teeth cleaned. She came home with a scary diagnosis. She — and we — spent the next three and a half months fighting it, but she slipped away from us this afternoon.

On a bright morning not many days from now, we will take her on one final road trip down Route 66. At the end of our journey, we will climb a certain mesa overlooking a certain town, and we will let the high desert wind carry her ashes out into the New Mexico sky and over the road where we had so many adventures together.

Travel well, little Monster. Stay out of the cockleburs. And be careful with my heart. You’re carrying most of it with you. Try not to make a chew toy out of it, hey?


Peace and love

“Love for God and man is the true incentive in both healing and teaching. Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way.”
— Mary Baker Eddy 

I have spent today learning about the nature of peace and love. 

I went to bed last night worried about all the things I hadn’t finished over break and all the things I needed to get done this semester. I was in a state of near-panic when I finally managed to get to sleep, and I wondered how I would get through the day, much less the next five months.

I got up just before dawn this morning and spent 15 minutes in the Fortress of Solitude, listening to the darkness and communing silently with God to calm my fears.

I was still apprehensive about the day and still unsure of how I would juggle all my responsibilities when one of my students wandered in just before first hour. We had a really interesting conversation about constitutional law, and by the time he left, all my fear was gone — swept away in a wave of love and gratitude for my students and the joy they bring into my life. A great sense of peace settled over me and carried me through a day filled with laughter and insight.

It’s going to be a good semester.



Sorry for the long delay between posts. Things have been nuts around here. I trust you’ll find these awesome baby pictures worth the wait:


Are you sure this is Aunt Emily? She’s weirder than I expected.


(In very best Mr. Bill voice): “Oh, no! She’s gonna be mean to me!”


Maybe she’ll back down if I stick out my tongue and show her my fist. You want a piece of me? Heh. 



Safe in Daddy’s arms.


Calmly ignoring Jamie, who hasn’t yet figured out that little girls are fun to pester.

And just in case Hazel didn’t fulfill your recommended daily allowance of cute, here is a little something I call “The Many Faces of Jamie”: 


Happy couch potato …


… busy executive …


… Incredible Hulk (no, really — he’s been doing this since he was, like, two months old or something: We say, “Jamie, where’s that Hulk?” and he clenches his fists and shakes) …


… Kung Fu Panda (this is his impression of the title character from the movie … I think I made him do this about 30 times ‘cos it was so funny to watch) …


… and my personal favorite: indisputable proof that Jamie and Hazel would win all the costume contests if they dressed up as Calvin and Hobbes for Halloween.

Here’s a closer look:


I have no idea why he was making this face, but I’m glad I caught it with the camera, because it’s absolutely hilarious. 

Hope your week is hilarious….


Small success

I wish I’d had the camera with me in class yesterday.

I wasn’t in the mood to grade papers this weekend, so instead of a writing assignment, the kids’ bell work for yesterday was to take the giant magnetic poetry kit we’ve been developing and work together to write an original poem. I was prepared for the whole thing to degenerate into insane, pointless chaos, but the kids surprised me. Highlights from one class:

Five or six kids immediately grabbed the kit and gathered around the big tables in the center of the room to create a poem.

One boy — who usually doesn’t participate much — wasn’t keen on the idea of poetry-by-committee, so he and another kid took some of the cards and began making their own poem. His friend eventually lost interest and went to see what everybody else was doing, but this boy kept working diligently on his own.

Another boy got sidetracked by the new bulletin board I’d put up, which features an enlarged-and-laminated version of that Calvin and Hobbes comic strip where the food recites a soliloquy from Hamlet. This boy stood looking at the board for a long time. You know I wasn’t about to stop him. If I had more time on my hands, I’d turn the whole freakin’ play into a comic book. Maybe this summer….

A girl wasn’t interested in the poetry project, but she was completely engrossed in a novel she was reading. I didn’t have the heart to tell her she couldn’t read a novel in English class, so I just let her keep going.

Three kids were just straight-up goofing off, but that’s actually lower than the usual goof-off rate for that group.

I am learning again. I’ve always been leery of group work, because it seems like the kids spend a lot of time dinking around instead of working, but on those few occasions when I’ve let the kids work on their own, they’ve surprised me. The classroom feels chaotic, but when I call time, I’m always vaguely shocked by the amount of work the kids have managed to produce. I have to remember that this is not about what’s comfortable for me. It’s about what reaches the kids. If organized chaos works for them, how can I say no to it?

On an unrelated note, I went to see the kids play basketball last night. I am pleased to report that the JV girls, JV boys, varsity girls, and varsity boys all won their games handily. Go Warriors!

Next up: Rustle up some breakfast, spend the morning hanging Christmas lights at the Chamber of Commerce office with Ron and Zaphod and some of my National Honor Society kids, and then devote the afternoon to planning the details of my Hamlet unit, which starts after Thanksgiving.

Hope your weekend is good.




Mom sent me pictures of Hazel today. I like this one best.

Grace has more on her blog.

I’ll get to meet her (and shoot a ridiculous number of photos of her) over Thanksgiving break. I can’t wait to see Jamie’s reaction to his new cousin. The gap between him and Hazel is just a little bit longer than the gap between Grace and Oliver. Somewhere, Mom has a great photo of a very excited Grace, age 20 months, getting to hold her baby brother. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that those tiny kids are old enough to have kids of their own. It doesn’t seem like it’s been long enough.

In other news, during a faculty meeting this morning, we saw a couple of videos about how kids process information today and why they have absolutely no interest in most of what we do in class. I came out of the meeting with a couple of ideas to make things more relevant for them, one of which involved buying a Webcam so I can Podcast my lessons from time to time. We’ll see how that goes….


Extra helping

On the phone tonight, Mom mentioned that today is John Lennon’s birthday. This calls, of course, for an extra helping of Folk Thursday:

“As soon as you’re born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all….”

— John Lennon

The first verse of this song really resonates with me this week.

Some of my students have begun sharing their backgrounds with me. They break my heart. If I could, I swear I would adopt every one of them, and God help anyone who tried to hurt them.