Saturday, October 15, 2011

Going out on the town....

My birthday week has turned out to be so much fun...but one filled with lunches and dinners out, which is NOT good for the diet but great for the soul. I had a luncheon with two Caseville friends, followed by a lunch with an old friend I worked with at The Flint Journal. Dianne and I laughed and reconnected. Then, last night, I met David, our stock broker and his wife, Lonnie at Cranberries in Goodrich for dinner. My plan had been to wear this black sweater and black pants but the shirt I brought was my "pinch me, squeeze me and make me whine" shirt I bought during sisters' week in Pigeon Forge and NOT what I wanted to wear out to dinner.

Girls confab resulted and McKenzie and Heidi decided I could try this top of Heidi's which Kenz had worn to school yesterday. It is a size medium and I have NEVER worn that size...well, maybe when I was 12. So, they had me pop it on and we were laughing so hard. I just whipped my t-shirt off in the living room and Kenz helped me put this skinny thing on. We liked it and so off to dinner I went. They accessorized my outfit by popping a bracelet from Costa Rica. Looked not so bad for an old girl.

Now this fashion production followed our shopping trip to the Salvation Army where Kenz watched me try on about 8 pair of jeans to see if they looked appropriate or not. Bought two pair which are two sizes smaller than those Kenz helped me buy at the same Salvation Army store in Davison three months ago. Feeling good for an old fart! What would I do without great women in my life???

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Last Sunday...Charity Island

Mike Quinn, the island cruise pilot invited us to go on a last cruise for fun. He used to camp and hike on the island when a young man and he has wanted to hike around the island one more time. Richard and I went and we invited a new friend, Kat Sturtz to also go with us on our day trip and probably the last day we had this season that was gloriously sunny and 80 degrees.
When we were working, there was no time to see anything other than the lighthouse. So, the hike was to be an adventure and it was. Unfortunately, Mike hadn't that there are no paths on the we hiked through brush and walked over slippery rocks coated with muck or fungi. That Mike knows the island was helpful and we aimed for the "inland lake" which he knew from past experience. Here is it..mucky and with low water level but framed by colorful fall foliage.

Kat and Richard are found here slowly picking through the rocks. They found some gorgeous geodes and some rocks with mica, granite and who knows what else.

This is the best of the brush we walked through and that it was fall made the trek better than what we would have experienced in June or July.

At some point in the circumnavigation, Richard suggested we hike through the island's it is and it was easier to hike and beautiful.

Miles later, we got back to the dock. Great day spent with good folks and I am looking forward to next season on the boat!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The past weekend: one of wandering

This past Saturday, I went for a walk here in Caseville and met up with Captain Mike, pictured here. We went for about an 8 mile hike around Caseville country roads. Danay, the young lady you see here was someone I also worked with on the Charity Island Cruise boat this summer, but she does not play a role in my wanderings this past weekend. So, Mike and I were walking on Crescent Beach road along the shoulder and a car came screeching behind us slamming across the road, narrowly missing us. Mike jumped down into a culvert. I didn't. The car was trying to avoid a tiny white dog that was in the road with two little girls fast on his tail. Moron driving the car did not even stop. Doggie was not hit but went running down the road. I picked him up, waiving at the girls to stay on the other side of the road.

When I got to the girls, I asked, "is your mommy or daddy home?" "Mommy left and daddy is at work," I was told. "Any other adult here?" "No." These girls are maybe 6 and 4 and I was concerned that they were alone with wild lose doggie. So, I took them to the porch, looking for a rope or a chain for the dog and a woman tore out of the back door yelling. She had heard the car screeching and my voice yelling at the girls and came to check. This was NOT mommy or daddy...I had asked the wrong question. And she wasn't an "adult;" rather she was the "old lady" who takes care of them. Am betting she was 40 and was dying to ask the older girl how she would describe ME!

All were fine and the hike continued but I had worn my new tennis shoes and when I left home, my plan was for a short two mile hike. Oh well...gorgeous fall day.

Sunday, Captain Mike and I were taking the cruise boat over to Charity Island and Richard, seen here and Kat, a new friend of mine, went along. Richard actually piloted the boat most of the way back...and he had a ball. I have done this but only with the pilot wheel bungy corded in place by Mike. Richard can do this the officially sanctioned way. I cannot navigate! More on the Sunday adventures....later.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Second day...subbing, and learning so much!

My second school work day was a surprise from the moment I arrived. The teacher I was subbing for was in her room and the first period, I was sent to a math/social science teacher's class. He was also in his room and wasn't "feeling" like math right then, but he could switch social studies to that period and catch up on math later. So, he/we decided to go out into the hallway where there is a huge map and I told the kids where I had been working these past couple of years and they picked a country for me to discuss and for them to hold a Q&A with me.

They chose Iraq, which was one of my favorite countries and we discussed education, women's rights, the difference between the freedom in the north amongst the Kurds and what is happening in the south. These 7th graders thought in one country, everything should be the same. So we discussed differences that they have experienced, seen, heard of that are unique, different between our southern and northern states. Eye opening, that discussion!

I went back to the original English classes but at noon, my teacher brought me a new plan. After lunch, I was to go relieve a 1st grade teacher. YUP, 1st grade...6 year olds. Much to share here. And the next period was with 5th graders who were studying the US, its climate, geography and regions. Then, back to middle school English. A hoot of a day.

1st graders are apparently creatures of habit and are forced into learning their days and stopping all of the afternoon time they had as half day kindergardeners. One little girl told me her tummy hurt and she was going into the loft. She was dead asleep in 2 minutes and two others wanted to join her. Apparently, these little guys miss their naps! I taught adding and I want you to know that one does NOT say, "1 plus 1 equals 2." Nope...we do it this way: 1 AND 1 are 2. No deviations from the norm. They played math games, and completed a math worksheet which I asked them to hold on so we could correct it together. NOT something we do. One little guy told me, very politely, "that is not normal." Normal is to place the completed work in a bin, which we did. Snack time was very serious because two boys had to go get the mile from the cafeteria, but math boys were slow at completeing their worksheet. Silly me...I suggested two other boys go. Calm turned chaotic in 30 seconds. We waited. Now, we count snacks ahead of passing them out and the girl who was sleeping was the snack girl. I decided to not upset the basket and wait til the next day for her to pass out her snacks. Everyone, even without a snack thought that was a good decision!

5th graders were a hoot. They had read a chapter on the US, its climate, environment, physical landmarks and features and had questions to answer. Some were open what features would you expect to find in the coastal lowland areas? One young girl pointed to the map and shared that she had no idea...she had never been to those states.

Next class, a special ed teacher came in, listened to the assignment I had been left and she decided to take one young man out of the room. She thought it would go better for him and for me. Had him later in my last period science class and was wishing someone would come get him and a couple of his buddies. Behaviour and control of one's mouth, whether talking, singing, rapping, mumbling is apparently not something taught at home. I could tell what was "the norm" because no one looked askance or said anything. Unusual...much for me to learn.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Values and setting priorities

The teacher I subbed for the other day had an interesting values exercise for a high school English class which was tied, in some way, to an assigned reading. First step...take 12 listed values and quietly, prioritize them for yourself. Do you think world peace is more important than a clean environment or a healthy, happy family? The list was a good one and the kids finally got that they could put whatever they wanted and we discussed who put love as their number one value and why? Various told their first, their fifth, their twelfth and why in that order for them. Finally, one student raised his hand and said, "Mrs. C, what are the right answers?" That stymied me because it indicated at least one person didn't get that this is personal and individual. Furthermore, this must not have been a topic addressed in his family or maybe not earlier in school. Not sure, but surprising....and I don't believe the kid was convinced when I told him there is NO one answer to this. I loved the exercise and so wanted the homework assignment to be to write a paper defending their values and the priorities they gave to each. That would have opened a window into their hearts and their lives. I am remembering why I loved teaching!

Culture shock...times have changed!

I had an experience yesterday that reminded me that what I know intellectually is NOT necessarily accurate or real. Walking into a real classroom in 2011 carrying preconceptions based upon classroom teaching experiences from the 1980's was a shocker. Now, my son-in-law teaches and I have heard him discussing his classroom antics, difficulties and issues with behaviors, but again, this isn't the same as feeling or smelling...yes, smelling a classroom today.

Let me share a few of my more humorous experiences here. I mention smelling because I had a young man who had serious issues expelling gas during the period...quietly, but violently. He left to use the bathroom and took care of business, I am sure. However, even with the window open, when the next class arrived, they looked askance at the new sub, wondering, I am sure, just what MY issue was. Everyone walked in squinching up their faces and noses.

The teacher I subbed for had outstanding organizational skills with everything in folders, numbered and copied. And, the directions were clearly outlined and I was able to follow them fairly well given that I had forgotten that these days teachers have classes mixed with kids who are both behaviorally and academically challenged. Though I tried to move around the classroom asking if any help or assistance was needed, it wasn't until we were through a period that I realized...hmmm, x boy or girl maybe had special needs. I am sure teachers cannot leave info on who the issues may be or what could be done for x or y student IF z occurs. I will ask but I left, having had a great time, learning and relearning some lessons but also feeling I maybe should have done a, b or c, differently.

Another young man left the class and his classmate told me to not be surprised if he returned and told me what he had done in the bathroom: number 1 or 2! He opened the door and announced exactly what he had one responded or laughed, and he sat down and got to work. A surprise for me...obviously de rigour for everyone else.

Several teachers talked fairly openly about their challenges and while one day does not an expert make, nor does it make one fully informed, I heard them differently than the chat one hears from fellow parents and grandparents. I didn't realize how many years I have been outside of a classroom...even as a parent of a now 21 year old, we haven't been connected personally to all of the education conversation, debates, arguments hitting the airwaves and newspapers. I am listening and watching anew.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The new normal....

---is really, really aggravating me and I am needing to construct a more vibrant life here in the country. I am finding that I have landed in a rut...a healthier rut than I had been in before but nevertheless, a rut. Life has been spiced up recently...met three new ladies last night and went out to dinner and to see the movie: The Help, which I highly recommend. Workouts at the gym are improving and I find I am making healthier choices...not so much chocolate and red wine these days. Miss them but not as much as I would have expected. Now, to be honest, the bag of M&M peanut candies that Richard bought to surprise me when I got back from Florida, lasted less than one whole day. Yup...ate the whole bag of candies. Well, I did share some with Richard but not very many.

Each day tends to be a mixture of exercise, healthy eating, a tad of housework and some interaction with a couple of people. I am awaiting calls for substitute teaching and found out last night that there is a local food bank so will try to get involved there. Weather is tedious...cold, windy, blustery and grey which is somewhat of a downer. Noticed today as we drove into Caro to do the big bi-monthly grocery shopping trip that the fields are all turning brown just as the trees are turning glorious shades of red, orange and yellow. What I am NOT doing is something nice for other people like I was doing with Hope Hospice. Just was sent a project to do for them and that will be good...but solitary. Needing more interaction.

In Caro, we checked out a few of the stores we hadn't been to in the past and checked out what possibilities there are there for restaurants and places to go. Pumpkin Festival here in Caseville today and tomorrow and I forgot about it...need to check the website and see when the bands are playing. IF they are as good as during Cheeseburger that will be great fun...IF the weather holds. Whining, aren't I?

Oh, the neighbors who are feeding the feral cats found one of the kittens that were part of the group which were abandoned in our wood pile. Ours are dead but they had one, now named Beauregard, which they found under their porch and which is now being bottle fed in their home. Beau is about three weeks old and soooo tiny. At least he hadn't been eaten and bitten like ours had. Issue: this guy most likely will be let out to go wild and he will be causing an increase in the wild cat situation going forward. These neighbors don't like pets but I am tickled they salvaged this little guy. Had a fast moment when I thought...maybe we could adopt him but not going to happen...three dogs and one kitten. NOPE

Enjoying the fall foods up here. Trish, our neighbor is selling apples so I have a huge amount of them and am making apple cake and tonight, for dinner, we are having a pork roast, cooked with apple cider, ginger, a bit of brown sugar, cored apples and potatoes. Smells heavenly in the house. Oh, making pumpkin muffins tonight....pumpkins everywhere. One of the ladies I met last night had pumpkin pancakes for dinner and that surely is something I can make soon for the family. Why is it that cold weather brings on the cooking jag?