Sunday, November 24, 2013

I Need Some Cheese With This Whiiiiine!

First, the title of this blog and its contents must be read with a whining voice. Now let the whining commence:

1.       I am an ELL (English Language Learner) teacher in the state of Arizona. In Arizona ELL students must be taught in English only. Even though, all research shows that if one is a fluent speaker, reader and writer in one’s native language, one can then learn a second language much more quickly.
2.       Also in Arizona ELL teachers must teach the “four-hour block” which includes an hour of reading, writing and grammar and a half hour of vocabulary and conversation. Vocabulary must be a separate entity; one can’t frontload vocabulary before a lesson, which would make sense. There are six and a half hours in a school day. Two hour of that six and a half hours is taken up by lunch, electives, and breakfast in the classroom. This leaves exactly four hours to teach a four-hour block. I am sure the reader is thinking the time works out perfectly, but please notices that there is no math, science or social studies in the four-hour block. Supposedly, science and social studies can be integrated into reading. But, what about math? Math isn’t important, not in the eyes of the Arizona Department of Education.
3.       The State Department is coming to make sure we are in compliance with all of the established rules of ELL classrooms. Apparently, the State Department doesn’t come into the classrooms and watch how one teaches, mainly, the only thing that is checked is the mounds of paper work. It is important that all the tees are crossed not that the students are getting a good education. Lesson plans are closely scrutinized but not for well-planned lessons. Lesson plans are scrutinized for correctly coded and written content standards, content objectives, ELP standards, and language objectives. I just spent two hours writing and correctly coding all my standards and objectives for my reading lesson plans. I still have to do my speaking and listening, vocabulary, grammar, writing, math, and science plans to do. It doesn’t matter if there isn’t any time to teach math and science in the four-hour block we still have to have correctly coded standards and objectives. If I could use the time I spent on correctly coding, wording and writing my content and language standards and objectives towards actually planning lessons, I would have some untouchable first best instruction.
4.       I wish teachers would enforce school rules. I’ve been fighting this one for 35 years. It doesn’t matter if a teacher doesn’t agree with a rule, follow it and expect students to follow it also. I have said this before but I do believe that sometimes I am the only thing that stands between civilized society and complete and utter chaos. I am a rule follower and I expect my students to follow the rules. Many always ask why my students behave so well? My answer is simple, I expect them to follow ALL the rules whether they like them or not. 
5.       When will I stop being forced to attend professional development that I have seen so many times before? It might be because I have taught for thirty-five years and education recycles ideas about every five years but I am over professional development. I might puke if, one more time:
·      I see the teaching and learning cycle, Bloom’s Taxonomy, how to write objectives or Kagan Structures.
·      I get a binder filled with papers that I’ve read a million times already. (Although, I have collected enough over the years to furnish my classes with binders.)
·      I am given an agenda with times that are never followed.
·      A presenter reads a PowerPoint presentation to me.
·      I have to “stand up, hand up, pair up”
·      I have to sit through a presentation on how to use technology, when all the technology in my classroom either doesn’t work or isn’t there.
·      I am given another “new” form and way for deconstructing standards.

My principal asked me to work with a group of teachers that wanted to revamp their behavior management structure. I did not do Kagen Structures with them or give them a binder! We did have a “whine” and cheese party. I gave them pieces of paper with wine glasses printed on them and asked them to write their “whines” on the wine glasses: one whine per glass because one should never mix one’s wines or whines. Then we went through the whines and put them into two piles: what we have control over and what we don’t have control over. We threw the “no control over” whines in the trash. Finally, as we did our revamping work we found, we matched up “cheese”, solutions, to our “whines”.

It’s time I practiced what I preach. I have no control over the State Department and its demands of the ELL classroom teachers. I’ll continue to spend weekends writing lesson plans while everyone else watches T.V., goes to the movies, plays golf or has lunch with friends. Although, someone did ask me what would happen if I didn’t do what I am suppose to do? I answered maybe I won’t be “allowed” to teach ELL anymore. Mmmmmm, there’s an idea.

I also, don’t have control over what other teachers do. I will continue to expect my students to follow all school rules. Other teachers will continue to comment on the behavior of my students. And I will continue to say it is because I expect them to follow school rules.

Again, I don’t have control over professional development. I will continue to attend these presentations, bob my head up and down and smile.

Well, all of my “whines” I don’t have control over. That does it! I better stop whining! But I do have control over, “I just want to teach”. No matter what, I love my job. I love to watch when a student finally gets it. I love to watch them become passionate readers. I love it when my students catch on and laugh at my stupid jokes. I love it when they beg me to read more of a book. I even love talking to the same student, about the same thing, for the ten thousandth time. I’ve loved my job for thirty-five years and if I were in charge, I’d love it for another thirty-five years.

Paco’s Perspective

I love when Auntie Caren shares her wine with me, especially, the reds!

The Flip Side

Dogs love cheese and I heard you say I am a dog, therefore, I infer I love cheese.  How’s that for an inference with evidence? Now, I would like to try some cheese to prove this theory.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Abracadabra! Poof! You're Well Behaved!

We have two new teachers in our sixth grade. Now, this sixth grade group happens to be a very tough group. I know I taught them in Saturday School last February. They were a handful and there were only ten of them. I couldn’t imagine them in a class of thirty-two. Colleen’s and my classrooms are next to the sixth grade classroom and it is not fun meeting them in the hallways, let alone, having to teach them all day.

The other day a couple of the sixth grade teachers were walking behind Colleen and I on the way to a meeting. The new teacher said, “Every time, I walk by your classroom your students are always quietly working and in the hallways they are perfectly quiet and walking in a straight line. You guys are magical!”

I replied, “Thanks, those are very kind words,” and continued walking down the hall. Of course Colleen and I had to stop in the bathroom on the way to the meeting because that is where we have our best conversations. When we got in the bathroom Colleen said,
that was really sweet what he just said but I don’t think he gets it.”

“Yea, I wanted to say, it’s not magic, darling. It’s hard work.”  

“I really believe people think we have a magic wand.”

“And fairy dust!”

“Throw a little fairy dust in their face, wave the magic wand, abracadabra, poof, you’re well behaved.”

Behavior management takes work. Colleen and I work very hard to have well-behaved classrooms:

1.             We follow school rules whether we agree with them or not. At Tomahawk the students called us the uniform-code Nazis. When students saw us coning they automatically checked to make sure that everything was tucked, tied, and pulled up.
2.             We expect all our students to behave. We explain to them at the beginning of every year that they were put into the best-behaved classrooms in the entire school and they need to work to make sure it stays that way. We have a quote by Martin Luther King that is outside our door, it states, “Those who walk through these doors never give up. They are the first in kindness, the first in moral excellence, and the first in generosity.”
3.             We have rules with consequences, both, positive and negative, and we never give in no matter how much someone whines or how inconvenient it is to us. “No, you’re not going to recess means no, you’re not going to recess no matter how many times you ask!” We spend every lunch in the room with students that must come in and those that want to come in.
4.             Be consistent. Students know when you aren’t and they will take advantage of that.
5.             We let our students know we are real people. I cry every time I read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane where he finds Abilene after over twenty years.  
6.             We have fun! Many believe that because we are so strict that there is not one thread of fun in our classrooms but that’s not true. We have fun, lots of it, and our students know when it is time to stop having fun and get down to business. I wouldn’t be doing this job for over thirty-five years, if I weren’t having fun.

I know I do come on strong when it comes to behavior management. Sometimes I believe that I am all that stands between civilized society and chaos. So, here is a piece of advice to all the new first year teachers out there:
1.             Everything else falls into place once behavior management is established.
2.             It takes forty-five days to build a habit. Don’t give up on something you are trying for seven to nine weeks.
3.             You MUST work on behavior management every single day. There is no room for breathing.
4.             It’s not magic. It’s hard work. But so is teaching. Behavior management teaching goes hand-in-hand.

Paco’s Perspective

Be consistent. Give consequences. Expect them to behave. Hey! That’s like training a puppy. Do you rub their nose in it?

The Flip Side
I don’t know if anyone cares, but this is perfect lizard hunting weather.

Saturday, September 28, 2013


I have always felt that I would never have a man in my life. Let’s face it men are usually looking for someone that “the guys” will drool over or someone that will take care of them as well as their mommy. Don’t get me wrong I love men. I’m just a realist and I know all those years I spent with friends hanging out in bars wishing that some handsome man (Yes, we women are also on the search for “arm candy”.) would spot me from across the room and say to his friends, “Hey, the overweight crippled kid in the wheelchair is mine so stay away!” was a huge waist of time.  Over the years as I have read many romance novels and watched many hunks on T.V., in my mind I have designed the perfect man. My perfect man is a combination of Arthur Fonzarelli from “Happy Days”, Angus MacGyver from “MacGyver” and Noah Puckerman from “Glee”. If one combines the three names, one comes up with the lilting name of Noargus MacPuckzarelli.

It makes me sad to think that there is now many generations of people that don’t even have the slightest notion as to who Arthur Fonzarelli and Angus MacGyver are. Arhtur Fonzarelli was the motorcycle-riding, leather-jacket-wearing, bad boy on “Happy Days”. He invented cool and with a snap of his fingers men would quake and girls would swoon. But, of course, “The Fonz” or Fonzie had a side that was a soft as marshmallow fluff. He was wise beyond his years and had a soft spot in his heart for Richie Cunningham’s mom, Mrs. C. Mrs. C saw straight through the tough, cement-like exterior of The Fonz. She saw a kind, misunderstood boy that was only looking to fit in with the “not cool” crowd. Throughout those “Happy Days”-watching years, I knew Fonzie would date a crippled kid. Fonzie viewed others with his heart. He saw in people what was invisible to the eye. I dreamed of marrying The Fonz. I imagined him leaving for work to go to his blue-collar job in his leather jacket and jeans and on the way out the door giving me an ever so gentle kiss on the cheek, then getting on his motorcycle, giving me once last wink and a thumbs-up-“Aaaaaaaah” as he drove off into the sunrise leaving me on the porch of our simple but loving home with three little Fonzarellis at my side.

MacGyver is a whole different kind of man. He was somewhat attractive but what got me was his ability to build anything with a piece of wire and a Swiss Army knife. To this day when someone has to try and repair something in an unconventional way one says, “I guess I am going to have to ‘MacGyver’ this. Because MacGyver was so unconventional in his thoughts, home life (He lived on a boat.), and the way he did things I know he would have dated a crippled kid. I dreamed of marrying MacGyver. I imagined him leaving for work doing something secretive, (He too, like Fonzie, is a jeans wearing-man) and on the way out the door giving me an ever so gentle kiss on the cheek, but instead of he having to lean over to kiss me my wheelchair, that has been “MacGyvered”, rises up so my cheek is level with his lips, then getting in his Jeep, giving me once last wink as he drove off into the sunrise to save the world with nothing but his Swiss Army knife and a piece of wire leaving me on the porch of our extremely “MacGyvered” but loving home where if I want something out of the high cupboard all I have to do is push a button and it comes to me.

Noah Puckerman “Puck” is a womanizing cad on “Glee”. High school girls and women fall at his feet. But he, too, has a crack in his tough-guy exterior that oozes with sensitivity and to top it all off – he sings.  I love a man that sings. I don’t dream of marrying Noah Puckerman. He is much too young for me and that would be weird. But his ability to croon completes perfect man.

So now I wait and wait and wait for Noargus MacPuckzarelli to find me because that’s the way it happens in romance novels. Because I have a love for Captain Phil and swarthy pirates, when we meet he will introduce himself as Noarrrrrrrghus with a tiny bit of a Scottish accent We will first have a love-hate relationship because that’s the way it happens in romance novels. But he will realize that he can’t live without me and that I complete him and we will live happily ever after because that’s the way it happens in romance novels.

I dreamed of marrying Noargus MacPuckzarelli. I imagined him leaving for work as a super hero with his super hero costume under in his leather jacket and jeans and in his jean’s pocket is a Swiss Army knife and a piece of wire. We live in a cripple-kid-customized “MacPuckzarellied” house where everything works and if something breaks, it is fixed immediately to my liking. Noargus sings me awake in the morning and, like on “Glee”, we dance around the kitchen making breakfast. On the way out the door Noargus gives me an ever so gentle kiss on the cheek, then gets in his Lamborghini (Oh, did I forget to say we are stinking rich?), gives me once last wink and a thumbs-up-“Aaaaaaaah” as he drives off into the sunrise to save the world while our two perfect children, our well-trained dog and I wave good-bye.

Paco’s Perspective

I hate to throw a wrench into the “perfect man” works but what happened to your undying love for Clinton Kelly? What about Noargus Kelly-MacPuckzarelli? In your dream he could also pick out the perfect clothes for you before heading off to save the world.

The Flip Side

You need to either stop drinking or start drinking.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Wouldn’t it be nice, if there was equity among public schools? It is appalling how the schools in the higher tax brackets have more and always will have more. There are some schools in poorer neighborhoods where the teachers are spending all their hard earned money to compensate for the lack of very basic supplies. The federal government created Title I funds to fill this gap the size of the Grand Canyon but those funds are lacking and have a tremendous amount of restrictions and rules on the use of those funds.

Not only is there a huge disparity among schools across the state, but I am also amazed at the disparity of funding for schools within a district. This year I am now teaching at a school that is in a much lower socioeconomic area but still within the Cartwright district. I am amazed at the lack of anything and everything at my new assignment.

I am passionate about creating life-long readers. In order for students to love reading they must be exposed to excellent literature with complex plot line (which doesn’t include my nemesis Captain Underpants) and over the years I have accumulated many books without any help from any tax money. (Yes, I’ve paid for them all myself.) I have more books than God has angels. When I entered my new room I was amazed at what was there or what wasn’t there. There was one bookshelf four feet wide and five feet tall, one sink with no cabinets under or above the sink, one garbage can two feet tall and thirty chair-desk combination things. My poor aide, Cheryl, spent the summer begging the janitor to find bookshelves and most of the bookshelves that are in my room I bought. The bad part about all of this is that there are schools in my district that have empty classrooms full of desks, chairs, bookshelves, storage cabinets, easels, tables, filing cabinets, and many more goodies wall to wall and floor to ceiling. But everyone is hanging on to the stuff “just in case”. Just in case? Just in case there comes the hundred-year flood and everyone needs something to climb on so their feet don’t get wet? Wouldn’t it be nice, if everyone would share like they learned to do in kindergarten?

Wouldn’t it be nice, if technology actually worked all the time?  Due to the high-tech society schools have been pressured to educate children in the use of technology. Principals have spent what little funds they have (probably the funds that are used to pay for bookshelves) to buy active boards, Macs, and document cameras and then the district has mandated that teachers use these items and make sure the children are using them too. I would love to have my students use the two computers in my classroom but only one of them works and they are too old to download any programs that my ELL students need to work on. By the way someone has paid for a site license for the programs but there aren’t any classroom computers that are new enough to download the program. Even my computer that kind of works and that I let my students use is making that “shushing” sound which is a precursor for the “wheel of death”.  Just think of how often one gets a new phone to keep up with the technology. I would say the student computers in my classroom are at least ten years old. They are the big, boxy Macs but they are the white boxy Macs that are a lot newer than the blue boxy Macs, so I am considered lucky.

I’m not done yet, the printer that three other teachers and myself share has something wrong so whenever I print something there are three black marks in the middle of the text so the students can’t read what it says. So I have to print everything at home and then bring it to school and make copies on the copier that only works, if one pushes the buttons just right, leans on one particular spot on the copier, crosses both fingers, closes one’s eyes really tight, cocks one’s head slightly to the right and prays with all one’s might that the paper doesn’t get stuck or the toner doesn’t run out.

I haven’t even discussed the Activboard (yep, that’s the way it is spelled which drives me crazy). I happen to be one of the lucky ones that has an Activboard. I even have one of the newer models. Oh, by the way it doesn’t always work. It has to be unplugged and plugged back in every once in a while, the cords have to be jiggled just right and if the kids accidently step on the cords, one must start all over to “reset” the thing. AND it costs an arm and a leg to replace the bulbs when they burn out. That is not a cliché that is the truth it literally costs and arm and a leg. An Activboard bulb costs between $300 and $600 depending on the model. Multiply that by 30 classrooms in a school and there is a cost of $9,000 to $18,000 a year just for Activboard bulbs. Someone should be able to invent a bulb that doesn’t cost so much. Wouldn’t it be great, if technology worked all the time and one didn’t have to sell flowers on a corner in a tube top to get enough money to pay for the upkeep on technology?

Wouldn’t it be nice, if when something was added to one’s plate something else would be taken off? I remember when our district was continually asking teachers to do more and teachers were promised that if something new was put on one’s plate something old would be taken off. Teachers are being asked to do more and more and more on top of what they already have been doing. Teachers arrive early and leave very late and they take home a pile of work every evening and work a tremendous amount of hours on the weekends. That doesn’t include the sleepless nights that teachers spend thinking about how they can do something better for their kids.

I once figured it out that I make about $1.27 an hour. My plate is fuller than a fat man’s plate at a Las Vegas All-You-Can-Eat buffet and requests to do more keep on coming.

If only . . . if only . . . if only . . . . Sometimes I fall into the “if only” whines. My Daddy had a great saying, “Darling, if wishes were horses, ever beggar would ride and if tear drops were diamonds, well, Darling, you’d be a rich sombitch!”

And then I remember that I have to trust in God. God has given me the strength, talent and ability to do what I need to do today and every day from now on with or without “stuff” that I think I need to be successful. I have what I need and with God’s blessing I will succeed. I have exactly what I need to fulfill my destiny, even if that destiny is to be a poor teacher that lives paycheck to paycheck. I have to be confident in what I have.
I need to put everything in God’s hands. If God thinks I need tech that works, I’ll get it. If God thinks I need help, I’ll get it. If God thinks I need more money to buy books, I’ll get it. I just hope God doesn’t think I need a bigger plate.

Wouldn’t it be nice, if we just let God handle it?

Paco’s Perspective

Wouldn’t it be nice, if God had dog treats fell from the sky like rain? I am having a feeling that is not in my destiny.

The Flip Side
So you’re saying that God could send me more lizards to chase, if he wants me to chase lizards? Why wouldn’t he want me to chase more lizards? Oh, no! What if it’s not my destiny to be the Great Lizard Slayer?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Farts Are Always Funny

Teaching elementary school inducts one into the Farts Are Always Funny Club. I never liked teaching fourth grade for this reason alone. I always call fourth graders burpers and farters. They think bodily functions are hilarious!  Fifth grade boys are members of the “club” but fifth grade girls try to make boys think they think farts are disgusting. When boys let one go in my classroom I have to be the bad guy and give them the “no-really-YOU-aren’t-doing-that-in-MY-classroom look”.  But really farts are always funny!

I remember as a young girl being in the grocery store with my grandmother and her ripping one.  It sounded like a motorboat heading out to deep water. I was appalled that MY grandmother would fart in public. When I expressed my feelings to her she said, “Someday you’re going to be old, like me, looking for an empty aisle in the store. Keep quiet, keep walking and we may be far away before anyone notices.” So we proceeded to motorboat our way down the aisle as quickly as possible. When I got home and recounted the story to the family we all howled until we cried. Farts are always funny.

I remember Bill Cosby did a portion of his stand up routine on farts. And recently, there is a popular youtube video on “breaking the barrier”.  Yep, farts always have been and always will be funny.
My favorite chapter of the book The BFG by Roald Dahl is called “Frobscottle and Whizpoppers”. The chapter is about farting and being proud of one’s ability to “rattle the glass jars on the shelves and make the walls of the cave reverberate like thunder”. When I read this chapter to children and adults tears of laughter are always rolling. Farts are always funny.

I am fifty-seven years old and I have learned that with age comes gassiness. I now understand my grandmother’s dilemma. It is painful to hold gas in. I, too, am continually in search of an “empty aisle”.  I walk at the end of my class’s line for a reason.  I am not a motorboater like my grandmother.  I am the SBD type and when I let one go I pray that it is Silent and not Deadly.

This summer while in Montana we had quite a gigglefest about farting.  Caren’s home is in the woods and has very poor TV reception, so we spend a lot of time playing games at the kitchen table. Caren, my cousin Kelly, a friend I teach with Ally, and myself were playing Yahtzee. We had spent the day at the Flathead Cherry Festival tasting cherries and eating cherry pastries. One must be careful with one’s cherry consumption, if one doesn’t want an intestinal problem that always begins with gas.  Caren and I are in our fifties and Kelly is in her forties so we are at “that” age where we can’t and probably don’t want to hold things inside. Poor Ally being only in her early twenties and having the capability to hold it was surrounded and doomed!  I thought the one I let go was going to be just silent but I was wrong.  It made one’s eyes water like the weeping walls at Glacier National Park. Of course, like my father, I tried to blame it on the dogs but they weren’t in the room. And then we started laughing and Caren had to shout the “sistah” mantra, “Stop, I’m gonna to pee!” Then Caren who doesn’t try to be sneaky about anything let one rip. Caren doesn’t do anything half-assed not even farting. Ally’s eyes got as big as saucers and laughing she said, “Now that was like a whoopee cushion!” Again the “sistah” mantra was shouted by all, “Stop, I’m gonna pee!”  

The evening continued with a melody of gaseous explosions. We farted and laughed, farted and howled and peed, and farted some more. We could have gone on the road as the Flathead Cherry Festival Quartet.  We too “made the glass jars rattle on the shelves and the walls reverberate like thunder”. The BFG would have been proud. Farts are always funny.

Paco’s Perspective

Good thing no one lit a match!

The Flip Side

There was one that sounded like a bear growling. That’s when I hid under the bed.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Small Town Crime (Part Deux)

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about the crime report in the local Bigfork newspaper The Bigfork Beacon. It got a huge response and my readers enjoyed it so much that I thought I would do a Small Town Crime part two. These are real crime reports and my comment follow in italics.

May 20
A woman on Second Avenue East reported that her ex-boyfriend was outside throwing fish sticks, scattering them about her yard.
       Better fish sticks than body parts.

A driver on Hutton Ranch Road reported that he intended to enact a citizen’s arrest on someone who had been tailgating him.
This make me think of that Andy Griffith episode where Barney yells, “Citizen’s arrest, citizen’s arrest!”

May 21

A resident on Yeoman Hall Road complained that his neighbors owned one too many pigs.
       I’m thinking one pig is one too many pigs.

Reportedly, three llamas were loose and running wild on Browns Meadow Road.
Llamas Gone Wild! A new idea for the guy who makes the Girls Gone Wild videos.

A Kalispell woman wearing a fishing vest and velvet pants reported that a dangerous family member with martial arts skills had invaded her residence. The woman was especially concerned that the intruder would throw out her organizational items.
Did I tell you that smoking crack is a big problem in Montana?

May 22
A resident on Parliament Drive reported that his verbally abusive neighbor was standing outside in a football jersey, drinking a beer.

A resident on Concord Lane reported that some sort of terrier sneaks into his yard every night. He was advised to capture it, if he feels safe doing so.

Two happy German shepherds were on the loose on Prairie View Road.
       How does one know that they were happy? Were they singing German drinking song while lapping beer from a stein?

May 27
Three donkeys and two horses were seen traveling together down Demersville Road.
       I hate it when donkeys and horses travel in packs.

May 28
Someone reported seeing a man on a bike chasing a llama down the highway.
Maybe that’s the way Montanians exercise their llamas.

A Kalispell man heard “yelping” from his neighbor’s home and suspects that his neighbor is harboring his runaway dog.

A llama was seen running down Johnson Lane.
       Oh! Oh! I wonder where the man on the bike is?

May 29
A loose llama was seen on Arena View Drive.
       Okay, now I’m worried about the llama.

A Kalispell resident reported that their neighbors killed and cooked their pet bunny on a barbecue.
       Now, that is just gross!!!!

May 30
A Somers woman accidently called 911 to find out what time it was.

A man dressed in all black was seen walking in “all directions” on Highway 2.
       The ghost of Johnny Cash?

The woman in Somers called 911 again to ask what day it was and was shocked to learn that it was Thursday.

June 2
A woman on Harmony Drive reported that her husband’s cousin’s girlfriend threatened to beat her up.
That’s because the woman on Harmony drive previously threatened to beat up her husband’s cousin’s girlfriend’s uncle’s wife’s brother.

A Somers woman accidently called 911 again to check on the time of day.
Someone needs to tell Uncle Henry to take Aunt Ethel’s phone away and get her a clock and a calendar.

June 3
A badly behaved man was asked to never return to McDonald’s.
       But it is oka,y if he hangs out at the Burger King.

Someone reported that a man sleeping in the trunk of a Ford Taurus threw out his trash onto Sager Lane.
He had to or there wouldn’t be room for the wife and kids.

June 4
Someone reported a “hippie van” on Kila Road.
       Was it tie-dyed?

June 5
Apparently, someone was mowing the grass in the homeless camp behind the old Walmart.
       Homeless people have pride too!

An employee of an Evergreen business reported that a Hungry Horse woman purchased a few items and then stole an air-soft gun and two flashlights. The employee was able to determine her name and address from the check she had written.
Lesson One in Thief School: Don’t pay with a check when buying the decoy items.

A Lakeside man reported that someone has been shooting arrows into his yard.
       A misguided Cupid?

June 6
A concerned Kalispell woman claimed that while she was talking to another woman on the telephone, she thought she heard the woman say the word “Unabomber”.
       Did I tell you about the crack problem in Montana?

There was talk of a cat-hoarder in the Hungry Horse area.
       Talk, only talk, don’t worry.

June 9
A Cougar Trail resident reported that the neighbor woman was outside wandering around naked doing “odd things to her body”.
       Did I tell you about the crack problem in Montana?

Paco’s Perspective

Ahhhhh! Small town life is the best. I hate the hustle and bustle of the big city.

The Flip Side

What’s a llama? Is a llama like a lizard? If it is, I’ll get it for you.

Monday, June 3, 2013

I Loved the Way Our Daddy Talked

Our daddy was a country boy through and through. He grew up on a farm in Princeton, Missouri. He walked country. He danced country. He played country. He talked and he lied country.

 I know it sounds crazy but country boys have a certain walk. They all have a “hitch in their get-along”. I think it comes from getting on and off tractors, walking through the fields and dodging all those cow patties.

Our daddy could dance. He called it the Sheep Herder Shuffle. He was a fine dancer. I don’t where he learned how to dance. When he was asked where and how he learned to dance. He would make up some story about going to a barn dance and having nothing to dance with but the cows. “And I aint talking about the girls from school!”

He lied country . . . . “Why when I went to school I had to walk ten miles . . . both ways   . . . uphill . . . in the snow . . .  barefoot.”

When I asked my grandmother about this tale she laughed and said, “It was about two miles as the crow flies and he had a horse that knew the way so he was able to sleep. That boy could sleep anywhere and through anything. Also, he had shoes and he was the oldest so he didn’t get hand-me-downs.”

He did all the things a boy does in the country to play. Squirrel hunting, “frog gigging” . . . “Clarence and me used to make your Aunt Colene stand in the middle of the field with a heavy coat on and we would shoot at her with our pellet gun. If she hollered when we hit her with a pellet, we knew we could kill frogs with that gun.” As a teen, he would even play country boy pranks . . . “One day a bunch of us’n snuck o’er to the Pratt boys’ farm in the middle of the night and took apart one of their wagons and put it back together up in the hayloft. We neared died from laughing when old man Pratt found his wagon up in the hayloft.” Country boys don’t need T.V. or video games to have a good time. Country boys can make a game out of a stick and some cow patties.

Our daddy had a way with words. I loved the way our daddy talked. Eloise Greenfield wrote a poem called “Honey, I Love” and in it she talks about how she loves the way her cousin talks. I have a text-to-self connection to this part of the poem and my daddy.

I love
I love a lot of things,
a whole lot of things.
My cousin comes to visit
and you know he's from the South
‘cause every word he says
just kind of slides out of his mouth
I like the way he whistles
And I like the way he walks
But honey, let me tell you that
I LOVE the way he talks
I love the way my cousin talks”

I loved the way our daddy talked. Not only did the words slide right out of his mouth in a smooth country manner but he always had mouthful of crazy country sayings. He had a saying for every situation. Below are just a few of the things he would say:

It’s a vicious circle, like wiping your ass on a  rusty metal hoop.

You’re shaking like a dog shitting razor blades.

She’s so ugly you’d have to tie a pork chop around her neck for the dogs to play with her.

She’s so skinny she’d have to run around in the shower to get wet.

She’s homelier than an old mud fence.

That boy could eat corn on a cob through a picket fence.

It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.

It’s colder than a well digger’s ass in July.

I asked Caren if she could think of any other sayings of our daddy’s  and she said, “The only one I can remember is ‘hold her Newt, I held her for you’. I never knew what that meant.”

Our daddy died at the too young age of fifty-four. I miss his “country-boy” ways. I miss the way he walked. I miss his stories. I miss watching him do the Sheep Herder Shuffle. I miss his lies but most of all I miss the way he talked.

I loved the way my daddy talked.
I loved the way he danced
and I loved the way he walked
but, Honey, let me tell you
that I loved the way he talked.
I loved the way my daddy talked.

Happy Fathers’ Day, Daddy. I know you, Uncle Clarence, Aunt Co and Brad are having a good ol’ country-boy time in heaven. Duck Aunt Co.

Paco’s Perspective

Hey, you forgot something your daddy said, “I aint that God damned dog’s dad!”

The Flip Side

SQUIRREL! Did you say squirrel hunting? I have learned the joy of squirrel hunting here in Montana.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Plant Corn

My students are at the point where they are doing amazing things academically. As a class they have read over fifteen million words, and are reading books with complex plots and understanding them. They are able to have somewhat intelligent conversations and are able to work cooperatively to solve a problem. Their writing has finally become creative and unforced. They are creating essays, books, and plays without me hovering over them with whips and chains. But it is the end of the year. It has taken a long time for the seeds of learning to grow.

Next year I am planting corn it grows faster. I had a personal science experience with fast growing corn. Years ago when I had the time and wherewithal to do science, my students made terrariums for geckos for a science project. Groups of students were given plastic show boxes with flimsy plastic lids, seeds and soil and a few geckos to create terrariums. I hate teaching science it’s messy and the experiments never work when one needs them to, or everything dies. I also feel sorry for the butterflies, fish and lizards because when we are done with them we have to put them in the freezer and then dispose of them. One wouldn’t want to upset the ecological balance of the world by setting them free. Just think if every fifth grade teacher across the world let the geckos go we would be overrun by geckos and they would all want that little insurance lizard’s job and there aren’t enough insurance companies that have geckos as mascots and then they would all be in the unemployment line . . . . . The moral of the story, fifth grade teachers, is don’t set the geckos free and if you have in the past, stop.

Oops, back to the terrariums! One morning the students observed that corn had started to grow and when we were ready to leave for the day the corn had grown to about an inch in length in one day. On the way out the door one of the boys said, “Hey, Miss C, wouldn’t it be funny if we came in tomorrow and we couldn’t get in the room because the corn had taken over!”

“Yea, real funny. Knowing my luck with science experiences I wouldn’t be surprised, if that did happen.”

The next morning when I came into the room I didn’t have to weave through the cornrows but when I turned on the light I noticed that the corn had grown enough to pop the lids off the terrariums. AND the geckos had used the cornstalks as ladders to escape the terrariums. There were geckos in various places throughout the room, frozen in their tracks, staring at me like they just got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. I, too, was frozen because I didn’t want to move and end up with gecko guts in the tread of my wheelchair tires, so I did what any normal crippled kid would do in a room filled with geckos. I screamed, “GECKOS!”

I heard my friend Lauri shout from her room, “What?”


As she opened the door between our adjoining rooms she said, “Don’t tell me your . . . GECKOS! Why did you let your geckos out? The directions specifically say we cannot release the geckos.”

“The corn! It popped off the terrarium lids and they escaped. Lauri, help me get the geckos.”

“First, when you say help me you really mean Lauri you and you alone need to pick up the geckos. Second, I don’t do lizards.”

At that moment two students came in the room, saw the bug-eyed geckos and shouted, “Geckos!”

I am sure at that point the poor geckos were eying each other and shouting in their very best Australian accent, “YIKES, MATES! PEOPLE!”

As Lauri jumped up on the reading table she said, “Girls, I’ll point ‘em out, you corner them and catch them. Cathy, you just stay where you are and shout GECKOS. That will help tremendously.”

I don’t know how WE managed it, all but one gecko (I’m sure the insurance gecko could use an understudy.) was returned to their terraiums, the corn was removed and the flimsy plastic lids were duct taped shut.

A few weeks later that missing gecko was found. (I guess he didn’t make it to Hollywood.) A student stayed after school to help clean up and as she was putting stuff away in the science kit she said, “Um, Miss C, I found the lizard.” I was sure when I turned to look I would see its dried up, stiff carcass, but instead when I turned around their was the gecko hanging off the end of her finger.  I guess he was hungry. We named him Chomper.

P.S. I just couldn’t freeze Chomper and his friends not after what we all had been through. Lauri’s sister, Faye, took them and they lived happily ever after in a huge terrarium in her house. They lived for ten years before passing on of natural causes as natural as death can be in a terrarium.

Next year when I begin to plant seeds in my students’ minds I am going to plant the big, fast-growing corn seeds. They’ll be unstoppable!

Pacos Perspective

You are a metaphorical monster.

The Flip Side
Geckos? Geckos? You were in a room filled with geckos and you didn’t call me?