Sunday, December 26, 2010

Verbs to Live By

I am not a fan of New Year's Resolution. I believe that one needs to reflect more than just once a year. Instead of writing yearly resolutions, I decided I just need some words to live by: understand, believe, inspire and enjoy.

understand (verb): to be thoroughly familiar with; apprehend clearly the character, nature, or subtleties of

I believe that understanding is the basis for kindness. In order to make a decision to be kind to that grumpy old man that yells at people to keep off his lawn, one has to understand him. I know many teachers that get so frustrated with students and don't know how to deal with them. If only the teacher understood where the child is coming from, it would be easier to "deal" with the child. I remember a student that fell asleep in my class first thing every morning. I would get so frustrated and without thinking I would say to him as I was waking him, "Get up from your nap, buddy. Maybe you need to go to bed a little earlier every night." Then I talked to a teacher that knew him well and she told me that his father had recently gone to prison and he stayed up all night guarding his family because he was the oldest son, and then she said, "You need to understand before you judge." Ahhh, knife in the heart! From that moment on I made it my mission to know each and everyone of the students I come in contact with. 

I changed my schedule for my morning sleeper.  He was really great at math, so I taught that first thing in the morning because he could pick up on any math concept quickly. I had an old bathtub in my room that students could lie in and read. I bought big comfy pillows for the bathtub and told my sleeper to go and "read" a book every morning.

I have learned that it doesn't pay to get frustrated and angry with anything because it doesn't change the person or the problem. And with frustration comes judgment, and right behind judgment come shtupid.

believe (verb): have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so

This definition of believe is interesting because it means that one has to believe without proof. That is a hard thing to do because in order to believe without proof one needs to have faith. Everyone needs to believe. Believe in yourself. Believe in others. With belief comes accomplishment. If you believe, anything is possible. 

inspire (verb): to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence

I believe that one needs to inspire others through their love for what they do. I once tried to figure out how many students that I have come in contact with over my thirty-two years of teaching. (Yea, I know, get a life!) I worry about the ones that got away. The ones I didn't inspire to do their best and to be the best person they could be. The ones I didn't inspire to believe. I know that not everyone can be inspired, but I have to believe they can.

enjoy (verb): to experience with joy; take pleasure in

The word enjoy comes from the late 14th century french word enjoir. En means to make and joir means joy. If you don't find joy in what you do, where you are, or who you are with then enjoy. Enjoy - make joy. If you don't find joy in your job, figure out a way to make it joyful or find joy in another job. The same goes for where you are or who you are with. Everybody has the choice to live in despair or joy. Enjoy - enjoir - make joy! 

When I was thinking about these words to live by I made a long list of words. I then narrowed that list down to these four verbs. Verbs mean action. These words to live by are words that I need to do daily and reflect on daily. This year instead of making a list of resolutions try making your own list of words to live by. I strongly suggest you make them verbs.

Paco's Perspective

twirl: to cause to rotate rapidly; spin; revolve; whirl

The Flip Side
What's a verb?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Scrabble Anyone?

I come from a long line of gamers. Some of my best memories and Caren's best "remember whens" took place during game play. Every Christmas there was always a game under the tree. I believe those many years of game play created Caren's very competitive spirit. I remember one year when my oldest sister, Chris, and her son Michael came to Phoenix for Christmas. He received a game for Christmas, of course it is a tradition, and Caren was playing it with him and she won continually and he got so frustrated he cried. Chris said, "Come on, Caren, he is just a little kid let him win." And she replied, "I am not going to let him win. He needs to learn to win fair and square. He also needs to man-up and learn how to lose with some sportsmanship." We were and still are very competitive. 

My brother Brad had this competitive spirit. I am sure he was the one that taught Caren to be competitive. Brad was confined to a wheelchair since birth, so he couldn't compete physically, but Caren could do it for him. He was the brains and she was the brawn. Together they were unstoppable.

During our summers in Montana, Caren and I play many games. There isn't much else to do. The TV reception is bad. How bad is it? It is so bad you have to point your left finger at a tower across the lake, hold the TV antenna with your right hand, and cross your legs all while wrapped in foil. We can only read so many books and play so many rounds of golf, and we are not allowed to eat, so we play games.

Playing games is what I miss the most about our Texas holiday gatherings. I haven't made it to Texas for a couple of years, so I haven't had the opportunity to participate in the traditional marathon Scrabble play, or 10,000, or Yahtzee. During our game playing one can always count on an argument, lots of laughter, and someone will end up peeing their pants. Caren is the queen, she is the queen, she is the Yahtzee Queen and I am the Scrabble Queen and Chris . . . , well, Chris is just Chris, we let her come along for the trouncing. I love it when Caren gets frustrated and yells at me during Scrabble. 

I will put down the word suq  and she will say very loudly, "That is not a word."
"Yes, it is."
"What does it mean?"
"I don't have to know what it means. Scrabble is a spelling game not a definition game."
"That is not a word."
"Okay, a suq is a market in middle eastern countries.I read it in some book."
"What book?"
"Not My Girl."
"Well, if it is what you say it is, then it is a foreign word and you can't use foreign words."
"I bet it's in the dictionary. Go ahead and challenge me."
Caren looks at Chris and Chris laughs and says, "I'm not challenging her. I am sure she has the Q, J, and Z sections of the Official Scrabble Dictionary memorized."
"I won't challenge you, but after this we are playing Yahtzee, and you know what is going to happen."
"Yea, Chris is going to lose."

The other day when I was playing Scrabble all by myself on my phone I got a double triple. One hundred seventy-six points. It's just not the same spinning in my chair in my room all alone shouting, "I am the queen, I am the queen, I am the Scrabble queen!"

Scrabble anyone?

Paco's Perspective

Okay, I will play, but if Flip spells F-A-T-B-O-Y one more time.

The Flip Side

L-I-Z-A-R-D-L-O-V-E-R, go ahead, challenge me!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pass the Kleenex, Pahleeeeeeeeeeeze

I am a sap for holidays. I relish the gathering of families, and I even kind of like the family spats. I love finding the perfect, thought-out, quirky gift. I spend hours on the internet "in search of". But the thing I love the best about the holidays is the Hallmark and Lifetime movies. I record them all, watch them early in the morning and bawl my guts out. Really, it is the same movie over and over and over with different characters and settings. Of course, there is always that fairytale-girl-gets-prince-and-they-lived-happily-ever-after ending. When I watch a movie at 2:34 a.m. I don't want to have to think too much because I usually fade in and out throughout the movie. It doesn't matter that the movies all have the same ending I still cry. As a matter of fact, if I have seen the movie before I start crying before the sad/then happy ending because I know what is coming up.

There are two overall themes that weave through the different characters and settings:

"Giving in its purest form expects nothing in return." Lifetime Movie
Even though I relish in finding the perfect gift, I enjoy more finding the perfect thing to say. Speaking the perfect words isn't about money it is about love, and expressing words of love are the hardest to express. The most difficult part of giving of yourself is expecting absolutely nothing in return. This is a difficult concept for me because I want reciprocation. I don't want reciprocation in the form of gifts because that is just one more thing to get dusty, but I do want words of love and thanks. I consider myself despicable because of it.

"Joy is based on where you decide to put your heart." Hallmark Movie
I want everyone to have that fairytale-girl-gets-prince-and-they-live-happily-ever-after ending. I want everyone to have that perfect job. I want everyone to live where they have always wanted to live. In order to be truly joyous you have to put your heart into everything you do and say. People don't like their jobs, where they live, or who they are with because they haven't decided to put their heart into it. Happiness is where your heart resides.

I have spent the past five months working on buying a house. So, this year I am not able to buy the perfect gifts. I guess I am going to have to work on those perfect words which frightens me. The expecting no words in return is going to take a lot of work. Maybe I will give everyone copies of all those movies, a box of Kleenexes, and let them figure things out on their own.

Paco's Perspective

Is this your way of telling me I am not getting a new toy for Christmas?

The Flip Side

Oh, Mr. Lizard, come a little closer I have something I have to tell you?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Whirlygig Man

I enjoy looking at the wares of the corner street vendors. Unfortunately, many have been chased away from their corners, especially, in town. On the corner of Jackrabbit Road and MC85 there were tons of people selling their wares. We called that corner the Jackrabbit Mall. The vendors are no longer there. They have been chased away, apparently, they were an eyesore. 

One of my favorite vendors was the Whirlygig Man. He parked his converted bus on Jackrabbit just south of the I10 freeway. He would always show up when the weather started to get cooler and leave when it got hot. I am not a whirlygig connoisseur (to be a connoisseur one must be at least 65 years old), but it always looked like he had some great whirlygigs. He also had quite and interesting variety from galloping horses to swimming frogs. 

My best buddy, Colleen, was obsessed with the Whirlygig Man. Whenever she came to my house she had to make a comment about the Whirlygig Man. He was a regular topic of our conversations:

"Do you think there is a shower in that bus?"
"I don't know."

"Where do you think he goes to the bathroom?"
"Mmmmmm, second bush on the left?"

"What do you think he does all day in that bus all day?"
"I am thinking he makes whirlygigs."
"Look, look, look, he has a TV!"
"Okay, so he watches TV and makes whirlygigs all day."

"I wonder how much they cost?"
"Let's stop and find out."
"No, that's okay, how much money can someone make selling whirlygigs?"
"Enough to buy gas for the bus?"

"Where do you think he lives?"
"In the bus?"
"No, I mean in real life?"
"I am thinking the bus is his real life!"
"NO, where does he come from?"
"The Land of the Whirlygig Makers?"

Colleen moved to Arkansas and for a going-away present I stopped at the Whirlygig Man's place of business and I got her a galloping horse for the front yard of her new home.

Every year I see the Whirlygig Man I think of her and I text her that her boyfriend is alive and well in Arizona. And then, one year he didn't show up. Through some research, I found out his bus burnt up, yes, I too am obsessed with his welfare. I had to text Colleen:

Me: Hey, the Whirlygig Man is nowhere to be found. Is he with you?

Colleen: Yes, he is living in my barn.

Me: Has he filled your yard with whirlygigs?

Colleen: No, I won't let him out of the barn!

Dear Whilygig Man,
I hope wherever you happen to be that you are well. I hope you found somewhere warm to reside. I hope you are still making whirlygigs. In another ten years, I will be needing some whirlygigs. Colleen sends her love.

Paco's Perspective

Hey, I whirl! I could take over the whirling gig!

The Flip Side

Does he make LIZARD whirlygigs?

Monday, December 20, 2010


 noun, a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting

I love traditions. It could be because I am a rule follower, and traditions are really just a set of rules that must be followed from year to year. Not only must traditions be followed, but they must be followed without question. When one questions why something is being done and the answer is, "Because it is tradition!" That's it, it's done, there are no further arguments. Just think, if families had more traditions, it would be so much easier to raise children:

"Mom, why do I have to do my homework?"
"Because it's tradition."
"Oh, okay."

"Dad, why do I have to pick up the dog poop?"
"Because it's tradition."
"Oh, okay."

"Mom, Dad, really, college, why?"
"Because it's tradition."
"Oh, okay."

"Daddy, why do I have to wait until I am thirty to I get married?"
"Because it's tradition."
"Oh, okay."

Holidays are especially filled with tradition. One Christmas tradition that we had was that we always opened ALL our presents on Christmas Eve. No, not just the new pajamas, but every single present. Our grandparents would take us out to see the Christmas lights and when we came home the presents were all there under the tree even the ones from Santa. The explanation for Santa getting to our house so quickly was our last name was Cunningham and Santa delivered in alphabetical order. We believed them. I believe this tradition was devised by very intelligent parents. They never had kids bugging them to get up at 4 on Christmas morning to open presents, and everyone looked great in the pictures.

"Mom, Dad could we not open our presents on Christmas Eve this year and wait until tomorrow morning to open our presents like all our friends do?"
"Nope, it's tradition."
"Oh, okay."

Another tradition was that we were the first family on our block to get a fake tree. We had one of those silver aluminium trees with one of those rotating lights. As the light rotated, the tree changed colors. We, kids, loved that tree. We thought we had the most beautiful tree on the block. Again, another tradition created by intelligent parents. There wasn't the annual paying megabucks for something that would die within a week, no finding pine needles in the carpet months after Christmas, and we never had to worry about that metal tree igniting. 

"Mooooom, could we just once get a real tree?"
"Nope, it's tradition."
"Oh, okay."

Our Christmas decorations came out on the 15th of December, no sooner and no later. They were taken down on the 30th, no sooner and no later. Also, there was no decorating the outside of the house. If one didn't know us, one would think we were the Jewish family on the block with a strange glowing light in the living room. One more time, tradition created by intelligent parents. Our electric bill didn't go up at Christmas. While the other fathers in the neighborhood were climbing up ladders and falling off roofs on Thanksgiving weekend, my father was spread out on the couch watching the football games. 
"Dad, could we get some lights this year for the outside of the house?"
"But, Dad, all the other houses on the block have lights."
"Not all the houses, the Abramowicz's don't have lights up."
"But they really are Jewish!"
"Sorry, Kiddo, but it's tradition."
"Oh, OKAY!"

Traditions, if you don't have any, get started creating some.

Paco's Perspective

"Paco, why do you have to twirl three times before entering the house?"
"Because it's tradition."
"Oh, okay."

The Flip Side

"Flip, look at you. We will never get all those sticker out of your fur. Why do you have to chase lizards in the farm field?"
"Because it's tradition."
"Oh, okay."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Girl, You Haven't Even Scratched the Surface

The other evening I had dinner with Caren and a dear friend, Jo May. Jo and I have know each other for years. We have grown in different directions and unfortunately don't see each other as often as I wish. I blame the fact that I no longer drive for many of my lost relationships. I was the one that always went to people, and now I am very GU(geographically undesirable). I miss those friends that I no longer see because I no longer drive. Our conversation at dinner made me miss those friends more. 

We stayed long after the bill came to chat. We were having so much fun that I am sure everyone in the restaurant wished they were sitting at our table or maybe they were wishing we would just shut up and leave. Some people don't like to be reminded of what a boring time they are having. We laughed so hard tears were dripping off our cheeks.

Jo May and I have always wanted to be authors. During our many hours of traveling we would outline our ideas for books: Codependency the Lighter Side, Jack Handy is My Hero and Why? just to name a few. Jo just recently found my blog. She asked how often I write, so she could keep up. I told her I try to do it once a week, but I am starting to run out of things to write about. 

Me: "I was kind of hoping Caren would do something stupid during her visit, so I would get some new ideas."

Caren: "I am sure you have other friends or relatives that do stupid things."

Jo and Me (after looking at each other): "No, not really."

Jo: "Remember the time I rode with the Wild Women of the West and I was riding near South Mountain practicing my hat trick for a parade. I fell off my horse and she bolted away and I was chasing her down Central Avenue in my parade regalia and the darn horse kept blowing the lights."

Caren: "Remember when we were at Rhonda's and Dalton and I were riding his wagon down the hill on the side of her house. We hit a bump and we almost flew over the fence into the neighbor's yard."

Jo: "I noticed you haven't written much about the Peggy and Cathy exploits."

Me: "Like when we got stuck in the revolving door in Pittsburgh."

Jo: "Or when you two did a song and dance in the district-wide talent show fund raiser."

Caren: "Cathy can't sing."

Jo: "I know, that's my point."

Me: "I dance so much better than I sing."

Caren: "You can't dance."

Me: "I know, I know, that's my point."

Caren: "Speaking of dancing, what about all those names and life stories you gave to the regulars at The Toolies bar where we used to hang out."

Jo: "Ahhhh, the good ole' days of real Wrangler butts."

Me: "Dick and Honey. Princess and Cord. Ken and Barbie."

Jo: "Eighth-grade Sweater."

Me: "Gumby and Pokey."

Caren: "Hey, did you know that Pokey IS in the pokey? What about One-Eyed Jack or Stinky Barry?"

Me: "Wait, I need to write these ideas down before I forget."
Jo: "Girl, you haven't even scratched the surface! And if all else fails, just spend more time with Caren."

After a couple hours of guffawing and crying, we made our way to the parking lot where we laughed some more.

Paco's Perspective

Ahem, you do have another family member that does many more stupid things than Auntie Caren. Think about it the name might flip into your mind.

The Flip Side

Have you seen how the "stocky one" always gets faked-out by my fancy footwork?

Friday, December 3, 2010


I moved to Phoenix with my family at the age of six in 1962. Since that time, I have been fortunate to have only two general physicians. One was an understanding, caring, funny man named Dr. William C. Stonecipher. He believed that a physician could be a professional and still care about his patients. Just before my brother died, Dr. Stonecipher left his room, told my mom that he had done all that he could do, and leaned against the wall and slid to the floor in tears. Dr. Stonecipher retired to somewhere in sunny California. I hope he is well and happy. My second physician was under the tutelage of Dr. Stonecipher when I first met her. Ilona B. had a great teacher and she learned well. She is a physician's assistant and now works under Dr. Cunningham (yep, we are related in someway but he doesn't know). I wouldn't know Dr. Cunningham, if I ran into him in a flood light lit alley. I have followed Ilona to Scottsdale. I see her once or twice a year, and I have a great respect for her. 

For the past ten or so years, at this time of the year I always send her a gift basket. The other day I received a call from her thanking me for the basket and she said, "I don't know what I do to deserve this kindness."

I laughed and replied, "Everybody deserves kindness."

And then I stopped to reflect. Darn, one more thing I have to put on my list of things to remember when dealing with people. Everybody deserves kindness. Or is it the only thing I need to remember? Everybody deserves kindness. In my blog about the book, Mockingbird, Kathryn Erskine's dedication  explains the title, author's purpose, and book: In hopes that we may all understand each other better. Yep, everybody deserves kindness! Even that grumpy old man that works at the post office.

Everybody deserves kindness. I am not very good at this, again. First, I am not a talker. My lack of conversation in crowds gives people the wrong impression about me - BITCH! I am really not as bitchy as one might think. (At least, I don't think I am.) I AM a good listener. I am very good at giving my opinion, as a matter of fact, some (okay, many) don't like that about me. I have been told to keep my opinions to myself. But it will be easier for me to be a better person, if I just have one thing to remember on my list: Everybody deserves kindness.

I have some good role models for: Everybody deserves kindness. Da Boyz, my dog's Paco and Flip, treat everybody with kindness. It doesn't matter who walks through my door Paco and Flip are so happy to see them. Flip wiggles his entire butt and "talks" to everybody, "Raaa, raaa, ra, raaa, ra," and Paco twirls, piddles and brings the guest a toy. If there would ever be an intruder at my house, I am sure Paco would twirl, piddle on his shoe, and bring him a toy, and Flip would show him where the good stuff is, "Raaaalk dis raaaay!" Da Boyz truly live the "everybody deserves kindness" mantra. My, younger sister, Caren, is my other role model. Caren has no barriers. She has built no walls around herself. She is everybody's best friend. Caren can get on an airplane (the place where everyone reads so there doesn't have to be any conversation) and by the time she gets to her destination she knows everybody's life story and she has all their phone numbers and everyone has hers and they will ALL call her and they will ALL become her new best friend. Caren will stop at a coffee shop to run in and get a drink. As she leaves the car, she will say she is ony going to be a few minutes, but I know that is wrong. She has to talk to talk to everyone in line and behind the counter. She also has to get everyone's number. Caren and the grumpy old man at the post office have swapped numbers. Caren and Da Boyz understand that everybody deserves kindness.

Dear Ilona, (Yep, I call her by her first name and I even have her phone number.)

You asked what you did to deserve such kindness. You don't have to do anything because everybody deserves kindness. But actually you have done a lot. You have kept me alive all these years even one year when I didn't want to be kept alive. You have fought the "quality of life issue" for me. You have put my needs above medical "I really shouldn'ts". But really it shouldn't matter what you have or haven't done, because EVERYBODY DESERVES KINDNESS.

Thanks for leading me to that bit of understanding,
Your favorite patient

Paco's Perspective

Okay, okay, I get it. When Flip enters the house I will twirl, piddle of his foot and bring him a toy. Does it have to be my favorite toy?

The Flip Side

I am nice to the lizards. I invite them in the house all the time. I haven't eaten one . . . . . . yet.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I'd Rather Be Poked in the Eye With a Sharp Stick Than . . . . . . .

Go to Wal-Mart
I know, I know everybody loves Wal-Mart! NOT ME!  I always have to dodge stuff in aisles of Wal-Mart. I have had to work my way around dirty diapers, pickles, sticky candy covered children, and very smelly people. 
I think Wal-Mart is the drop off station for alien abduction rejects. In Kallispell, Montana a new Wal-Mart was built across from the Cost Co. Now Kallispell is a small town and there was already one Wal-Mart in town, I couldn't believe that the town would actually need two. But, if you build it, they will come. Everytime we drove by the ENTIRE parking lot was completely full. There are not that many people in the whole state of Montana let alone Kallispell, Montana. The amount of people at that Wal-Mart everyday supports my alien-abduction-rejects-drop-off-center theory. That's why the people in Wal-Mart always look lost. They are wandering around thinking, "How did I get here?"

Eat with skinny girls
There are two kinds of skinny girl eaters: 1) The kind that eat nothing and inform their fellow eaters how many calories are in everything that they put in their mouth, or 2) The kind that eat everything and never gain an ounce. I hate them both. I am not one that goes out much, but when I do I am there for only one thing and that's the food. I don't want to hear,
"Do you know how many calories are in that salad dressing? You might as well put that fried food you are eating directly in your arteries! I'll have the broccoli salad with no dressing and absolutely no bacon. Oh, and there better not be any cheese on the plate. Yes, just put three pieces of broccoli on a plate with some raw carrots on the side. You're not really thinking about ordering dessert?"


But then there is the skinny girl that eats everything. She pulls up to the table in her size 0 skinny jeans and the conversation goes like this,
"Oooooooo, let's start with an appetizer. Maybe we can get the sampler plate. I'll have one of those and one of those and one of those, and don't forget to bring the dessert tray by before you bring the check.
Are you going to eat all that? After we are done here, I have to stop at the store and buy a new pair of jeans I am just swimming in these. Do you think there is such a thing as a size negative 2?"

The only thing worse than eating with a skinny girl is shopping with a skinny girl, but at least they don't shop at Wal-Mart.

Paco's Perspective

I'd rather be poked in the eye with a sharp stick than share my toys with Flip.

The Flip Side

I don't want to be poked in the eye with a sharp stick. What are you guys thinking? That would hurt!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Oh, Pooh!

The first Winnie the Pooh book was written about eighty-five years ago. I love the Pooh Squad, but not the Disney Pooh Squad. I am old and I love the original Pooh Squad. I am the same way about books and movies; I would rather have the old originals. If you've never read a Winnie the Pooh book, please do so. Although A. A. Milne wrote the stories for his son Christopher Robin, if you read them, you will find that they were really written for adults.  I believe all adults need a strong helping of Pooh (the bear that is)!

Some of my favorite quotes come from Christopher Robin, Winnie and their pals:

"If you want to make a song more hummy, add a few tiddley poms." Winnie the Pooh

I always add tiddley poms to my songs. I add them out of necessity because I usually don't know the word to songs. I am the brunt of musical jokes among family members and friends. I DO NOT know the names of songs. I DO NOT know who sings songs. I, especially, DO NOT know the words to songs. (For example, I always thought the song, "Betty Davis Eyes" was "Better Days Aside". It works! "She's got better days aside!") AND . . .  my father always said I couldn't carry a tune in a sack, so I DO NOT sing songs.

"It is more fun to talk to someone that doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like, "What about lunch?" Winnie the Pooh

I am definitely with the Bear of very little brain on this one. Teachers don't really get to do lunch. Teachers have the ability to eat a seven course meal in seven minutes because that is about how much time they have for lunch on a good day. There are days when I just want to go to lunch.  If you want to make me happy, just say these three simple words, "What about lunch?"

"A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference." Eeyore

I still need to work on this one. As I have stated in many blogs I do not have patience for shtupid adults.  There should be a law against shtupid people older than thirty. By the age of thirty, everyone must stop being shtupid, or else we are going to have to put all the shtupid adults in a room together and they can shtupid each other to death.

"Don't underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear and not bothering." Piglet

I am okay with doing nothing. I might have that perfected, but it is the "not bothering" that is difficult for me. I bother and bother and bother and bother! I worry silently way too much about things that are way too little.  I need to stop! I need to listen (to the voice of God)!

"You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for things to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes." Winnie the Pooh

Damn, does this mean I have to leave the house? Pooh, are you trying to tell me that handsome men don't come knocking on the door looking for you? Are you telling me people don't come knocking on the door saying, "What about lunch?"? Oh, Pooh!

"You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." Christopher Robin

I have this quote on my school web page. Many have asked why my students have done so well on tests and in the area of behavior.  I would tell my class every year, "My class is always the best class in the school and the smartest class in the school. We have a big responsibility to keep that happening, but I believe in you and I know you can do it!" I hate the words "but they can't do this", or "this class won't". I believe we should get rid of the words: can't, won't, and don't. 
I also know many adults that need to read this quote daily. There are many adults who don't believe in themselves. Cut and paste this quote, blow it up, and stick it on your mirror because "you ARE braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think"! 

Paco's Perspective

"Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake." Winnie the Pooh

The Flip Side

"Did you ever stop to think and forget to start again?" Winnie the Pooh

Saturday, October 30, 2010


This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the publishing of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Haper Lee won a Pulitzer Prize for her expertly written view of a sleepy southern town with hidden prejudices. I bought a copy of the book this summer to read. I am sure I read it in high school or college, but I wanted to read it through different eyes. As I began to read the book, I immediately knew why it is a classic and a Pulitzer prize winner. I also realized why Harper Lee never published another book because every other book she wrote would be compared to To Kill a Mockingbird. Here is an excerpt from the book where Lee is describing a hot sultry summer in Maycomb, Georgia: "Men's collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum." Oh, If only . . . . 

The title To Kill a Mockingbird comes from a quote that Atticus says, "Shoot at all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." Because a mockingbird doesn't have its own song it is considered an innocent and is symbolic for the downtrodden in the book. I haven't finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird which is quite a surprise I usually read a book a day. I think I am savoring it like a decadent dessert that I shouldn't be eating. I read it secretly when nobody is home.

When a book is ordered on it recommends other books based on what has been bought. Since I ordered To Kill a "Mockingbird" a book came up on my recommended list entitled Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine and of course I ordered it because recommended it for me. It is written from, a fifth grader, Caitlyn's point of view. Caitlyn has Asperger's which is an autstic spectrum disorder. Catilyn's older brother Devon is killed in a school shooting. Because Devon was wise beyond his years To Kill a Mockingbird was his favorite movie. The book being written from Caitlyn's point of view assists the reader in understanding Caitlyn's disability and causes one to have empathy for her which is ironic because those afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome are unable to feel empathy.

When I talk to students about reading books I tell them they must read every single word on the book: the title, bookcover flaps, blurb on the back, acknowledgements, copyright notes, title page, dedication, table of contents, prologue, epilogue, chapter notes, author notes. There is a purpose for every single bit of text on a book. There have been times when the author's notes in a book have moved me to tears. Kathryn Erskine's dedication in Mockingbird explains the title, author's purpose, and book: In hopes that we may all understand each other better. 

Mockingbird caused me to reflect on my life. I really need to work on understanding people better. I am very patient with students, and work very hard to understand where they are coming from and try to relate to them keeping that background knowledge in the forefront. Sometimes, oy, most of the time I don't have that understanding with adults. I have to keep in mind positive intentions. I truly believe that those I work with don't wake up in the morning saying, "I wonder how I can make a child's life miserable today." I believe that teaching is a calling. Teachers are not teachers for the piles of money. Teachers are not teachers because it is an easy job. Teachers are teachers to make a difference in children's lives. Teachers do have positive intentions. 

I have decided that I am going to print a picture of a mockingbird and put it on my office door so I see it every time I leave my office to help a teacher, work with students, or talk to anyone on campus. That mockingbird will be my symbol to better understand others. 

No one is home right now, I think I will sneak a few bites of that decadent delight.

Paco's Perspective

Okay, okay, I don't really want to, but I will try to better understand  where Flip is coming from.

The Flip Side

Lizards come from their hidey-holes in the ground. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Words, Words, Words

 I am a logophile. I love words. I love big multisyllabic words. One of my favorite words is onomatopoeia. An onomatopoeia is a word that describes or makes a sound like in the Batman comic books: OOMPH, ZIP, BOOM. Onomatopoeia is such a big word for such an easy definition. Yep, I love words, but not all words. I hate internet verification words. 

My repugnance for verification words comes from my adulation for words. I have to figure out what every word I read means, even if it isn't a real word. The word verification words that exacerbate me the most are the words without vowels because when creating a word one needs a vowel sound. 

My need to read a word and surmise the definition has caused predicaments for me. When buying tickets for events on the internet one must be quick or one loses their place in line. I have lost many a good seat trying to read and define a verification word. 

Of course I have kept a list of verification words, yes, I know, I need to get a life. Below is my word verification dictionary:

bacoun  n. (ba cone)  French bacon
dourisar n. (dower sore)  a grumpy dinosaur
equallator n. (e quil la tor)  a button that a superhero pushes to create a fair fight
fatowd  n. (fat oid)  an overweight alien
jonbog  n. (jon bog)  the swamp we lost Jon in
kildudy n. (kil doo tee)  an easy duty that a teacher would kill to have
mimxram v. (mim ics ram) when men chestbutt
pring n. (pah wing) pronunciation of the word spring by someone with a speech impediment
puniati  n. (pun e ah tee)  an italian punster
sautio  n, (sow te o) an uncle pig in Mexico
vochozave n. (vo cho sav vee) a person that knows a lot about vochoes

The ancient teacher in me would like to have you use them in a sentence.

Paco's Perspective

This chicka-chicka-wow-wow would like you to sprinkle a little bacoun on my food or I might turn into a dourisar.

The Flip Side

Oh, great logophile, what is a lounge lizard and do they hide in the bushes with the other lizards?

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I hate bugs! I hate spiders! I hate flies! I hate anything that is creepy-crawly! Actually, it's the crawly that really bothers me. Being handicapped, I am unable to reach and flick bugs off of me. I can't raise my hand above my chest, so when flies land on me I can't shoo them away. I truly believe that the flies know this, and they conspire together to bully me. I am so obsessed about bugs crawling on me that I have a tendency to panic at the wrong times. A loose string can be touching my leg and I will get manic that it might be a bug. The bug man comes to our house once-a-month, just to ease my mind, and I insist he spray heavily by the outside door that opens to my space. 

Our home is impeccable, as much as I am obsessed with not having bugs around, Janet is obsessed about having a clean home which is not a bad thing in my eyes. Many people have said that our home looks like a model home. So very seldom does a bug have the opportunity to get close to me, but every once in a while one sneaks past the bastioned barrier, and gets into my bed.  It is usually one of those little, black, hard-shelled, water bugs. Everyone needs to know those little bastards bite, and when they do it stings. The first time I was assaulted by one I was sure it was a scorpion. When Janet came in to rescue me she had to turn her head to keep from laughing when she spotted that itty, bitty bug. 

It happened again last night. One of those little buggers got by the guard. I was in one of those "dead to the world" deep sleeps and I felt a sting on the bottom of my right foot. Of course, it is down by my foot where I can't reach. I am convinced the flies have told the beetles about my inability to reach and that is why they go for my feet.  Now I have to decide if the sting is from a beetle or a scorpion. When I feel another sting between my toes I figure it is a beetle, but I am still panicked. Is this a call-for-help-in-the-middle-of-the-night-emergency or is this a cowboy-up-stop-your-whining-get-over-it-it's-just-a-little bug annoyance that will go away? After about the seventh bite from one of those little buggers, it's sting seems to lose its oomph. After twenty minutes of panic the little demon disembarked from my foot. 

Now, I was fully awake so I decided to watch a movie. About an hour into the movie, it happened, again, but on my left foot. No sting, same oomphless bug! I tried to crush it between my toes but like Ironman (the movie I happened to be watching) the armor-clad bugger was impenetrable:

I'm being eaten by a little black bug!

Oh! No! He's biting my toe!

Oh! Gee! He's up to my knee!

Oh! My! He's under my thigh!

Oh! Ootchie! He's up to my . . . . . . . . .

Paco's Perspective

Are you going buggy?

The Flip Side

Wouldn't it be cool, if was a lizard instead of a bug?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rules of the Road

I travel often with my "sistah", Caren. She is the one that will fly into town and then drive me somewhere else: our older "sistah"'s home in Texas, our aunt and uncle's in Palm Springs, and Montana just to name a few. When in Montana we do a large amount of driving visiting friends and sight-seeing. But when driving somewhere with Caren there are certain rules of the road.

1. Sight-seeing only on specified sight-seeing trips. When traveling with Caren the destination is the most important thing. If the final destination is San Antonio, Texas there will be no sight-seeing on the way to San Antonio. Sight-seeing trips are only one day trips and are done with specific times in mind. At times it is like riding a whirlwind.

2. You can only eat according to the time zone you are in. If you leave Arizona early in the morning, and you arrive in Texas around noon, Arizona time, you may not eat because it is not lunchtime in Texas. It is two o'clock in Texas and it is too late to eat lunch and you have to wait for dinner.

3. Peeing and getting gas must be at the same time. Don't think the driver will stop at a rest stop so peeing is possible. Absolutely not! Cross your legs, stop your liquid intake, and wait until it is time to get gas. You better pray that the car is not fuel efficient. If she stops for gas, and you don't have to go, do it anyway. This may be your only chance.

4. Driver's choice. It is driver's choice for everything. The driver chooses the route. The driver chooses the music. The driver chooses stops. The driver chooses where eating will take place, if eating does take place. The driver chooses what games will be played and when they will be played. The driver chooses the time of departure. The driver chooses the time to stop for the evening and where to stop.

5. When passing a car on a two lane country road everyone must lean forward. This is my favorite rule. Apparently, leaning forward when passing makes the car go faster. I always wonder what the people we pass are thinking when they see us drive by and everyone in the car is leaning forward and giggling.

The funny thing is when I was the driver there were the same rules but they were the passenger's rules. So I think the rules are Caren's Rules of the Road. I can't wait for our next road trip!

Paco's Perspective

Auntie Caren's owner, Osa, is perfect for her because she doesn't eat, drink, or pee during travel time.

The Flip Side

I do not like traveling. I like the destinations. I just don't like the getting there.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Blah, Blah, Blah

My official job title is Achievement Specialist. I used to be called a Curriculum Specialist but for some unknown reason the title was changed. The job is the same just the name is different. There are a couple of bad things about it: 1) The students don't get it and in there eyes, if you are not called a teacher, then you are a principal which I definitely am not and 2) the field of education loves abbreviations, so I am the AS, yep, the ass! 

Our PTO works very hard to plan activities for our students that are free or extremely cheap. PTO stands for parent-teacher organization which is ironic because it is run by all teachers because no parents want to volunteer to do the job. The Tomahawk PTO put on a Fall Festival. For $1 the students could do crafts, go trick-or-treating, watch The Great Pumpkin, and go through a Haunted Hallway. There was also a costume contest. There was at least 150 students in the contest. When you calculate that each student has anywhere from 3 to 5 family members with them that is at least 500 people. It was wild, but the students had a great time!

At the end of the evening, a young lady that I kind of recognized (she was wearing a costume) came up to me with her father. I knew he was going to complain about something because in my 32 years of teaching I have not seen a parent on campus walk up to a teacher in such a crowded room and thank them for all they have done. I smiled at the little girl and said what I say to every student that comes up to me, "Hi, it's good to see you!" 

The father said, "My daughter says that you are the principal. Are you the principal?"

"No, sir, I am not the principal," I replied.

"I didn't think you could be a principal," he said with a tone of belittlement. "What are you?" he continued.

"I am the Achievement Specialist, how may I help you?" I asked.

"Oh, the Achievement Specialist," he sneered with a la-de-dah lilt to his voice.

And that is where he lost me. I was having a conversation with him in my head, but it wasn't about what he was complaining about.

"And why couldn't I be a principal? Crippled kids can't be principals?"

"Blah, blah, blah, kids cutting in line, blah blah."

"I am sure you expect me to be sitting in a home with a blanket over my legs and drool dripping from my chin."

"Blah, blah, it's not fair, blah, blah ,blah!"

"Oh, look at your poor daughter. She is embarrassed that you are continuing to complain about such a silly thing. She is trying to pull you away."

"Blah, blah,blah, blah, cutting in line, blah, blah, blah, it's not fair, blah, blah, blah.

"I get it! I get it! Kids were cutting in line. That's what kids do. Are you finished? 

"I am sorry, sir, that someone cut in line in front of your daughter. We didn't anticipate the crowd being this large. We will be sure to take that into consideration when planning for next year."

"Please be sure to tell someone that is in charge what I suggested. You know someone important," he smirked. "Blah, blah, blah, blah cutting in line, blah, blah,blah, blah, fair, blah, blah, blah, blah!"

"I will be happy to do that for you sir. As soon as I wipe the drool from my chin. I know I am not important. I am only the AS_.  Have great evening." Looking at his daughter, "Bye, darling, it was really good to see you. I am so glad you came this evening."

Paco's Perspective

I do that same thing when you are ragging on me.

The Flip Side

What did you say? I'm not listening! Do you know what I am thinking about?