Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Fox Within

Red Fox Face wallpaper
www.tianxinqi.com
Nicholas was an unusual student, one that no one could ever forget or want to remember.  Clever, he was a fox and just as devious. Nicholas had a "history" and would create more in his future, of that all were certain.

When he walked by with his mother as she pushed a stroller, Nicholas was normal compared to his mother and brother.
  
Mother was a ragged woman, worn out, face drawn and gray, a face that drooped.  Tattoos laced up and down her bone thin arms, even onto her brown stained fingers.  Little brother looked straight ahead with dim eyes, no sound or smile, with a flat face like a paper plate.


Red Fox Face
source
Nicholas was as canny as a fox, eyes dashing from side to side, up and down, casing sidewalks and trees.  He focused on people and their eyes, and they immediately looked away. Something about his eyes pierced them as his next prey.

School Principal escorted Nicholas to his second grade classroom and handed him off to his teacher. He spoke a few words, almost in a whisper.  They both led Nicholas to his seat, in front row to the far right.  His desk was placed two feet away from students to his left and behind him.

First day, second day passed quietly.  Third day, all hell broke loose.  

It was hard to describe a whirlwind in a classroom where desks flew and students ran to back of classroom.  

Principal came running, scooping Nicholas up in a grip, while the boy screamed maniacally, biting and scratching.  The principal ran with the boy to the nurse's office, phoning his mother and psychiatrist.

Mother had forgotten Nicholas' medications that morning. Psychiatrist raced down to this school and administered meds himself.  What were they?  This, then that, and that, and more of this.  Finally, there was Lithium.

Fourth day, fifth day, weekend.  On the sixth day, Principal walked through second grade classrooms with a fourth grade girl, blonde and clearly shaken.  She gazed around the room and shook her head.  Principal saw Nicholas' seat was empty and caught Teacher's eyes.  She shrugged her shoulders as he nodded, understanding.

He was late, about eight minutes late, and when Nicholas swung open the door, he ran to his seat, hugging his backpack to his chest.  Fox eyes, darting side to side, a gleeful smile cut across his face.

Principal made another round with the girl, who pointed to Nicholas , nodding.  Yes that's him that's him!

Principal sauntered up to Nicholas, "Hey, how are you doing?" Just as casually, Principal opened the backpack and retrieved a steak knife. Replacing knife into backpack, he said, "Let's go talk about this..."

Apparently, Nicholas walked to and from school, following this girl and her friends.  Each day, he hissed, "I'm gonna kill you..." And this one day he ambushed her from his hiding place in a bush.  
Natural born killer
Natural born killer
Straddling over her, he stabbed on one side and then the other of her face with a knife stolen from home. He laughed and howled "I'm gonna kill you..."

Friends ran to her, Nicholas stuffed the knife into his backpack, raced away.  

Cumulative folder and information shared that Nicholas' father was incarcerated in Astascadero Prison for the Violent and Criminally insane, and Mother had just been released from Los Angeles County Jail Division of Mentally Ill.  Nicholas had been diagnosed as bi-polar before he was seven.

What happened to Nicholas the Fox in the years that followed?

I don't know, sure wish I did. It has been 25 years since that time with Nicholas in my classroom.  If I saw him again, I would cross the street and hide.


Red Fox Face wallpaper
source

Monday, June 27, 2016

I will read ashes for you, if you ask me.


I will read ashes for you, if you ask me. 
I will look on the fire and tell you from the gray lashes 
And out of the red and black tongues and stripes, 
I will tell how fire comes 
And how fire runs far as the sea.
By Carl Sandburg


Fire all throughout the Southwest--it is burning, eating and consuming every single thing in its way.

from a distance
Residents are looking back at the fire, as they drive away with just clothes and photos.

From YouTube site

Dry dry air, heavy and suffocating.  Sun scorching burnt earth, 100 degrees or more. Tinder dry vegetation, ready to burn.

Oh, God!  Please protect the firefighters!  

Oh, God! Bless families whose homes are burned to the ground!

Every summer, I post about wildfires.  Last year, we could see the flames from our house. One year at a school where I taught, ashes covered playground and swings.

Friday, June 24, 2016

w.words...Explosions!


After Garth's latest beer brewing, the bottles exploded with such a force that nearly all of Lucy's latest canned ginger peaches had broken into soggy mess in the cold room.  Everything was soaked and pitted with broken glass, even the smoked-ham hanging from rafters.
Year-old hams
How it is done.
"I may be an old fool, short on common sense, prone to sipping one too many, but I ain't reckless"...Garth mumbled, settling down in a broken rocker.  Lucy had sent him flying to the basement, throwing  pillows, blankets, an old crossword puzzle from 1976, and a flashlight.  

Lucy was a God-fearing woman, but she painted him from head to toe with profanity.  It was appropriate, and he knew it.

His old boxer, Leonard, trotted down to join the exile and that old basement door slammed shut.  Lucy was still cursing, of that he was certain. His stay in the damp basement would be long. He could die of hunger before Lucy opened the damn door.

Crossword Puzzle, no. 284, June, 1976.  He grumbled.  Pages were brown around the edges, tobacco juice spotted randomly. He pulled a nub of a pencil from his coverall pocket, to pick up where he left off.


source
"36 across, 9 letters...eager to fight, hostile, aggressive...starts with the letter B."  Tap, tap went pencil, throat cleared and spit tossed, and then "Ah...bellicose."

Garth filled in the boxes, and moved onto 36 down. "7 letters, letter b...asphalt found in nature.." His eyebrows burrowed, then eyes lit up. "Bitumen...wretched stuff, nasty." 

"I'm may be a sonofabitch, but I ain't dumb."

The basement door opened.  Lucy called, "Here's your supper!" She threw a plate down the steps, where the food rolled and landed on steps and floor.

"Boy, Leonard, she sure is mad, ain't she?"  Leonard licked stairs and floor clean, while Garth found bags of potatoes to settle in for a night, or maybe more.

The italicized underlined words above are provided by River, in a weekly Wednesday Words, where 6, 12 words are thrown at us, challenging bloggers to stretch their writing a bit.  River will provide these words for the month of June, and then another bold and brave blogger will challenge bloggers once again.

You may post your take on these words in the comment section at River's blog, OR post them at your own site.  Link it back to River, enabling others to visit you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sex and Lust

Let's Let Teachers Teach Every Student Based on Needs and Interests
Joy!
Teaching elementary grades was delightful.  When a student conquered what had been a challenge, his joy and confidence filled his face. Every subject moved seamlessly into the next, connecting and connecting and connecting. 

 I loved it.  Well, nearly every moment of it.

An injury to my right elbow took me out of public school.  Long story, painful and sad.

A private Christian school associated with my church asked for help in improving everything. In many ways, it was similar to cleaning out a closet and replacing every single thing with new items.

But that isn't what I discovered head on: Middle School. I taught fifth through eighth English and Science.  Fifth/Sixth comprised 12 students, maybe 10 at times.  Seventh/Eighth was much the same.  Something was wrong, something was different.  What had been so fun now was a struggle, theirs and mine.

What was wrong?  Why?  Then the answer popped up right in front of me: Sex. That was all that seemed to occupy their little lustful minds.

symbolism
When a girl once--and only one time, as her parents were called--wore thong underpants, the boys turned into cartoon figures of lust.  When a boy smiled and kinda flirted, girls giggled and huddled together.

...did you hear what he said?...He likes me...

Since classes were small and never changed, sex moved from one subject to another.

There was absolutely no way to change this.  None.  Never.

Maybe that was the way it was supposed to be.


First day of school
This is what it looks like.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Big and Little of it all: Gulliver's Travels


Gullivers travels.jpg
Gulliver's Travels original title
The 18th century was one of massive changes worldwide, where borders were moved, countries established, and discoveries in sciences abounded. In that period, social boundaries, particularly in England, also became strongly established, dividing rich from poor and poorer.
  
During such upheaval, Rev. Jonathon Swift wrote and published Gulliver's Travels, which satires existing societies, laws, royalty, parliaments, churches, and just about anything else in England.  Gulliver's Travels stirred up great outcry when it was published in England in 1726, of course, by guilty members of the governing body.

Gulliver's Travels is long, with several sections, and requires a strong attention span to retain Swift's views. His view of society effectively slashes and burns, being a master of satire, to the point where he had to write under pseudonyms.

Rev. Swift excelled at writing cleverly painted parallels, pairing Lilliput with England, each mirroring the other. His skill is comparable to that of putting a pin through two termites on an entomology display board and examining them with a magnifying glass. 

Part one is the only one with which I was familiar.  Gulliver is a normal sized Englishman, but appears to be a giant, having been washed up on the island of Lilliput, where Lilliputians are six inches high. This arrival disrupts the nation in so many ways.
Gulliver scares the Lilliputians, severely
  
Gulliver is amused the Emperor and his court, amazed and amused. How members of the court chosen was a source of delight for Gulliver.

One way is to watch "rope dancers" compete by jumping on silk threads. The one who jumps the highest wins, which granting him a high position of solving problems for the Emperor. 

Another is in appointing a treasurer by requiring  competitors to juggle items. Winner is one who can keep the most items juggling in the air, without any falling.


Rules and laws of Lilliput are long, its disputes longer.  But perhaps most interesting of all is a war between Lilliput and Blefuscu, which readers accurately interpreted as the King of England and King of France. One is the "big-endians" and the other "small-endians". 

The Big. E. believe that one should eat a soft-boiled egg from the big end.  The Small E. believe that one should eat the egg from the small end. 

This dispute is very serious and long lived. Thousands of people of both islands had been killed in these wars. This senseless slaughter over eggs is also a veiled comparison to Catholics to Protestants.

This book examines society down to its minutia and is written by a brilliant man. How was it received? By the Governing body or by the common man? Oh boy howdy, it created an uproar in both for different reasons, but no retributions could be made.

Read it instead of watching presidential commercials. The children's version is easier and I shared it with my students. This might put this election, and indeed government, in perspective.

Jonathon Swift.

Perhaps the best movie about Gulliver's Travels is a TV version with Ted Danson.

Friday, June 17, 2016

W.Words: Can You Help Me? Please?

There's an Orange Apron!

Upon marriage, it is assumed that each partner knows their station in life:  Husband carries the load, seizing opportunities to improve and provide for his family. Wife is released to do everything else, all to cover all bases and support as far as possible and using common sense, her Husband's decisions.

For example, couple heads to Home Depot to purchase stuff for home project.  Husband has written in a notebook: screws, nails, bug killer, and a lot of other items.

When Husband walks into Home Depot, he walks aimlessly looking for tools and plumbing.  Where is that... you know, those screws I wanted...He mutters to Wife, who rolls her eyes to heavens above in supplication.

A customer walks inside at a Home Depot store in Peoria, Illinois.
Husband searching aimlessly
Wife steams inside.  She heads over to a stranger in an orange apron.  She pleads the Orange apron woman, Help me!  Please!  Orange apron woman sees Husband, and recognizes that look of frustration, and hurries to help Him.

Husband is embarrassed---he doesn't need help. The woman in the Orange apron tries to help Husband, but he did not write down the size of the screw or the nail. He could remember those damn sizes! Thank you very much!

Meanwhile, Wife has gone ahead to toss those "other items" into the cart, including several rolls of duct tape.  Finally, Orange apron has sorted Husband out, helping him to figure out the screw and nail situation. Husband is pleased.  Wife is relieved. Orange apron chalks it up to just another Husband, lost until found by Wife.

As they head to check-out, Wife turns to Orange apron and mouths "Thank You!" Apron mouths back, "Good luck!" Both shake their heads in commiseration.

Yes, indeedy, our stations in life are important.

,

This video is the 2014 winner of Video Awards for the Annual Tool Contest. I can see why.

The italicized and underlined words are provided by River, who is providing words for the weekly Wednesday Words challenge!  There are 12 magical words awaiting you, along with a sentence prompt.  River is in charge of June's words, and then another talented blogger will pick up the baton.
Head on over to her site, and read what some have posted in the comment section.  I always post my take on the words at my own site.  Jump into the deep water!  It is summer, after all.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

S: is for Sword




At the interesting Faires (Renaissance, Irish, Swap meets, etc.) there will always be a large, four-sided tented display of weapons, knives, King Arthur swords, Lord of the Rings swords, maces, shields….

Nearly all men attending that Faire will at one time or more during the endless hours be found holding something from the booth.  They will be holding the swords, remarking on its balance and heft.  These men will probably buy something when the wives are looking at home-made necklaces and silver rings.


If a man is lucky, his daughter will give this sword (techinally it is some sort of curved knife) to her father, with a chuckle.


Worth a giggle

S if for Sword, altho it really should be some of of curved dagger.


Meeting the Future and Dodging the Bullets...

YouTube with traditional graduation march, as composed by Edward Elgar

Graduation could not have come soon enough for students and parents alike.  That cap-and-gown walk into the gymnasium was dignified, with a few smirks and sly looks.  We are outta here!

There were at least three girls that I knew for sure were in the family way, had a bun in the oven, knocked up, and pregnant. Not that this wasn't a surprise, being who they were and their reputations.  AND there were many more who were anxiously watching the calendars, crossing each day off, and waiting.  This, again, I suspected and heard the gossip, since no girl keeps that secret to herself.

Meanwhile, there were some parents with grim faces, clenched jaws, and hands balled up in barely contained fury.  These were girls' parents, who had seen the evidence bulging out.  Others were the boys' parents who forced confessions after talking with girls' parents.

AND THEN there were parents who discovered that their boys had made side trips to other schools, and this was a drama in itself.

Each of those parents were thinking: we raised up our kids right, in the fear of the Lord!... Whenever church doors were open, we sat in the pews singing hymns!... We went to church, youth group, church camp.... We had family devotions every night!...We prayed with them, saw them saved at the altar.  We did not talk about sex, because that would give them permission to "do it". HOW could this have happened?

Well, I will tell you why this happened:  All dating venues were off bounds since they were evil or sinful.

Bowling alleys?  They served beer there.  Movies?  Oh, heavens no--all those actors were sinners and who knows what the hidden messages might exist.  Miniature golfing?  Just the two of them?  They need chaperones for that, too.  Eat out?  Are you kidding?  We don't have money for that!   Dancing? That stirs up lust and invites the devil in.

All that was left was parking in a cornfield and making out, which means to kiss passionately and grope body parts. Oh, there were many many cars in a field, leaving farmers to wonder who smashed down corn stalks. All it took was a promise and a kiss, plus I'll marry you if you get pregnant.

When graduates marched out the gymnasium door, some knew that next week, they would be marching down the aisle, wearing a wedding dress in a lovely shade of ivory.

Traditional Wedding March, Mendelssohn, as played by Diane Bish

 Addendum
This was in my 1969 graduation.  Life was different then.  Birth control was for married women.  Pills prescribed were to them.  Buying condoms often required driving to the next state over. Yup, this issue was a non-issue, due to many factors.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Creased, folded, photo in hands of memories

Great-Grandma Annie Praul Shive Johnson
A creased and tattered photo--
Held, shown, and stored in a shoe box for decades.
Hard evidence of a life lived
and remembered
Around in a circle on Christmas morning at Grandma's house, that is snapshot where I still see my family, frozen in time.  Photos have a way of capturing the smiles and memories that cannot be stored on a chip, flash drive, disc, cell phone...

A photo brings back sounds of laughter, of dishware placed onto the stretched out table.  Then it would have said the table was a mile long and the browned turkey as big as the sun. Lots of children noises filled the room, children laughter and some tears.  Just a quickly as they started, they stopped when grace was said and dishes filled.

A photo inhales wafting mashed potatoes with gravy cascading down the mountain and onto stuffing.  Creamed, buttered, fragrant, never-ending--amazing food, enough to feed entire towns. Then pies.  Queens of homemade pies, that's what Grandma and Mom were. Name any filling and these queens could whirl to place perfect pies, steaming hot, crust golden brown on the table.
  
 Front row: Robert, Bill, and me (with my new doll)
Don, Mary, Dad and Mom Christmas 1959

A photo can be held, placed lovingly an album, where smiles and bright eyes will look at it, talk about that day.  Remember...Mom nearly spilled the gravy...apple pie was...

A photo recalls the families settling into their groups for photos.  Click and wind, click and wind.  Film would be in an envelope and sent off to be developed, and then returned.  All done in a week.  

A photo will travel across decades to find its way into hands of one who calls back that day with all its senses.  One who will caress faces of those long gone, saying, "I know when this happened."

Grandma and Grandpa Cardiff at home


Friday, June 10, 2016

W.Words: We're on the one road, maybe the wrong road....


Liam's grandfather had told him stories of life in Ireland, how farmers and their harnessed draft horses plowed land and brought in harvest. These images were so compelling that one day, Liam and wife Betty headed to the 'auld country themselves.
Irish Travellers
Irish Travellers
Liam rented a traditional traveller's caravan, and plodded out onto the dirt roads, being pulled by a harnessed draft horse, named Billy. Sean and Dermot, owners of Caravan Travels, watched them leave, whispering, They'll be stuck in mud before the day's out.

First few miles, Liam and Betty were filled with energy, singing every Irish song they knew, which were many.  Over the hours, as energy seemed to drop and sag, they decided that left lane at the fork looked more promising and shorter to the pit stop where other renters would gather and sing more Irish songs.

Mud grabbed their wheels which locked the caravan stock still, while Billy quite happily grazed at lush green grass.  Betty began to weep and Liam was dismayed, feeling betrayed by his grandfather's stories.
 
This dog can track just about anything.
Then, a fine old black and white tracker came bounding and howling to this miserable couple, followed by Sean in a Ford 150, who fixed the problem right and proper, pulling them out of mud, with a loud SUCK.

Back at Caravan Travels, Liam doled over more pounds to rent a mobile trailer, hooked on the trailer hitch of his rental car, and drove off in a bright red shade of embarrassment.

Tourists.  Dreamers.

The six italized words above are provided by River for the month of June.  In July, another blogger will provide 6 - 12 words, and/or a sentence prompt, to capture other bloggers to leap from their genre, and take a hack at poetry, prose, flash fiction, or whatever thrills you.  Post it in River's comment section, and/or link it back to your own site.  We want to enjoy your writing!


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

I've got the election blues...

155498 600 American Whore Story cartoons:
source
Now the phone calls have started.  So far, strange, but very friendly people from the GOP have called me several times a day.  "Hello, mrs. kane, how are you today?"... pause to confuse me.. ." I am (lindsay, wendi, george...) and I want to encourage you to...do what?  I'll never know, since i hung up on him/her.

Soon, we will receive phonecalls from celebrities, honest to goodness hollywood celebrities. Depending on their political leanings, these sincere celebrities will encourage you to....do what?  I'll never know.

Today is California's primary election day, boy oh boy. If only there were a real person at the end of the other line, and I encourage him/her to ...do what? Will he/she hang up on me?

My head hurts. Commercials rip and destroy what our country represents.

But then....Silly me. I thought that elections were about freedom.

American Flag Marines honoring 9/11 on YouTube 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Praise to Success Rightly Earned

The Meadows
The Meadows in Temecula, CA
Recently we attended our Springs Charter School Gala to honor deserving employees, hand out awards, and most of all, demonstrate where former students had gone, what they had done with their lives. All had either become successful in education, creating businesses, and achieving what had once seemed impossible.

Not succeeding in traditional schools, many students and their parents seek alternatives, with Springs Charter School being one. Having been a traditional teacher in a public school, I can see how this alternate education would have benefited many former students.

It is listed as one of the most successful sixteen charter schools in California.


Springs Charter Schools
A growing successful school option
 One might think I am boasting, but it is merited in this case.  Awesome results.

*********************************************

Okay, you are waiting for my usual twist and surprise ending, so here you go.

Being a people-watcher, I gazed around, amazed. Too many women my age were struggling with weight (more than struggling), to extreme levels, and I mean jiggly bulging fat. And they wore dresses that should not have been worn by anyone with that much flesh stretched over, down, and around.

I viewed them mostly from the back, and I prayed that my butt did not resemble theirs.

AND THEN there were the young women.  Sigh.  A few of them wore girdle-like dresses, and all I could think was Spanx was doing big business tonight. Other attendees were  really skinny women with spray tans, who wore cocktail/nightclub dresses and teetered on stiletto heels.  None of them could possibly sit down or bend over, seriously.  Since I was eye level with their butts, I know this to be a fact.

**********************************

The buffet was truly well done and the decor was lovely.  Kudos to the special people from the school who arranged this.

Great entertainment, I must tell you.  An auctioneer who sold off donated baskets of good stuff garnered amazing amounts to support school programs.  Awesome man, and I know my auctioneers, having spent time at farm auctions. Donated baskets containing really nice stuff were auctioned off, as this man coerced big money with his wit and talent.

**************************************** 

I cut into the perfect prime rib, scooped some sauteed peppers and zucchini.  It was all that one could hope to eat at such an event.  About 15 minutes into the meal, my colon started battling with itself and abdomen swelled up to that of a five month pregnant woman.

The ladies' room was a good number of strides away, and was a "one-seater".  No relief, several women waiting.  I went outside where lovely misting hose provided some relief from noise and odor.

But oh I tell you what.  The five month belly was heading to six as we drove home.  I rolled down the window.  We got home and I raced to our dinky master bathroom.  It and I grew to be fast friends.

So here I am today, having taken much of the day with the battle raging.

What was it?  Heck if I know.

All in all, a memorable night.  A good time was had by all.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Take care of your teeth and they will take care of you!


Dental Care
Jane Anne Dapper had spent years and years to reach an executive level at Smith and Kline, LLC, producers of Prime Mouthwash and other fine products.  Jane remembered what her father had told her frequently, "Always brush your teeth and never question authority." Those years of his advice were finally paying off. She had arrived.

Jane Anne's position was one of quality control, where she had to determine if the undrinkable mouthwash was acceptable.  To do this, Jane Anne was required to gargle copious amounts of this product to determine if it met optimum standards.  The 25% alcohol content was a negligible consequence.
At the end of Jane Anne's first week, she collapsed, dead before she hit the floor. Mouth wash covered her.

Coroners determined Jane Anne died from alcohol poisoning.  CEO Mark Smith swore, shouting to Fred Kline, "This is the 3rd one this year!"

Kline suggested second woman in line to take over Jane Anne's job. Smith agreed and called personnel to send up Fannie Schimmel.


mouthwash contents


This week's Wednesday Words have been provided by River.  The bold underlined words are this week's words.  Bloggers: Go grab these words!  Write something outside your usual genre, stretch your writing wings and fly!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

School's out for Summer!

The stampede
The last days of school are filled with stress on students and teachers alike.  For the teachers, it is a sprint to finish report cards, say "good-bye" to students, clean out classrooms, return texts to the library, and everything else.  It was truly a sprint, because all the tasks were a finish line that depleted teacher resources, both physical and emotional.

Hard on the students?  In what possible way could leaping into summer vacation be difficult? Daylight-filled soccer games with friends? Time to ride bikes through neighborhoods?  Eat watermelon?

That is a small percentage of student populations enjoying summer with those activities.

But the last percentage, summer is horrific.

These students live in small apartments, surrounded by relatives from Mexico.  There might be 20+ people sleeping on the floor, with children in corners on a blanket.   Postage size green play areas cannot accommodate all the children from those apartments.  Green grass is trampled to dirt. Parents take them to a park?

Really?
Parents are working two jobs.  Cleaning houses, picking produce, working as maids in hotels, and other low paying jobs.  Food?  Slim pickings there.  Who watches the little children?  The bigger children watch them.

Once school ends, so does the free breakfasts and lunches.  Students had come to school, having not eaten since the last school lunch.

Once school ends, a structured classroom, which provides friends and learning, disappear.

How to change these conditions?
Once school ends, students may move back to Mexico or out closer to the produce fields, where they can also pick strawberries, beans, melon, and just about every food product that they cannot have in their house. Side by side with their parents, students learn to pick quickly. Depending on the policies of the produce companies, students and their parents may or may not keep or eat some of the produce.

Those students, those precious students have tears in their eyes when they leave the school grounds.  And so does the teacher.***

***There are programs that provide free food, clothing, and activities, but not every family can access them.