Where there is life, there is hope.

Posted by on 29 Jan 2017 | Tagged as: editorial, Politics and War

I do not know where this post’s title comes from — it’s so old that it has entered the public domain. According to some websites it is from Cicero, translated into English in the 1500s.

Is this true?

[small digression: I distinguish between “truth” which is a useful and generalizable sensibility that perhaps not everyone shares, and “fact” which is a repeatable phenomenon, readily observed by anyone.]

Right now, the republic that I was born into, the modern democratic processes that I grew up with, are endangered. However, there are still enough people who believe in the basic principles (“truths”) laid out in the Constitution; still enough people who are speaking out and showing up; still enough laws and lawmakers that are established and supportive of the conventional mechanisms that I believe this nation may yet be saved.

Unlike the last time tyrants and fascists began their march across a continent, there continues to be sufficient media and public discussion that groups can organize and respond in positive ways to an overreach of the government.

This is my belief: It is based on my experiences, my hopes and fears, my knowledge and training. It may or may not be factual! I do believe, however, that where there are enough adults who remember their civics lessons on the importance of public action and democratic participation that this nation can retrieve its reputation and become again a welcoming, forward-looking, progress-enabling home.

Back online.

Posted by on 25 Jan 2017 | Tagged as: Politics and War

Posts will continue to be sporadic, but I feel compelled to make them.

My first reaction to the last general election was to despair. To run. To hide.

But I have not only my own children to think of, as they start their adult journeys, but the lives of my students and their families.

Not everyone is a good person — and the election and first few days of a new administration has proved it.

However, I do believe that most people are kind at heart, that we want the same things for our families: sound shelter, enough food, an education that helps us get our jobs, and jobs that fulfill not merely a paycheck but let us live as our best selves.

I am struggling to find the right way to approach what I see coming. I am struggling to know how far to go, how much to say (or write), how much I should push myself on various things like seeking to maintain my teaching certification and political action. My health prevents me many times from being physically present, but I am increasingly upset by the lack of response to my letters and other written communications.

One thing I have chosen to do is to not read articles or watch TV that features or discusses the appallingly self-serving and vulgar administration. That feeds into the narcissism — these are people who confuse notoriety for fame, and bullying for power. I shall not mention their names on this website. If our systems works (as I continue to hope it will — I still hope that the Republican party will backtrack on many of their threats against the working poor and immigrants), then the Constitution will guide us toward removal of those who threaten our posterity.

Thus, I am fearful — and also hopeful. At some point, the hatred and mistrust that is being sown by politicians and their sycophants will result in either massive devastation to our nation and the world; or the resultant backlash in the next election cycle (unless they find a way to circumvent elections…) will allow more positive change again. Possibly – and increasingly likely – there will be world-wide chaos once again. We are already seeing so much.

But I am also seeing increasing contacts being made by people who are working for positive results. I know that the Constitution provides strong guidance, and expect that our local work will yield strength. There is hope, if people of good will band together and say, with a unified voice: NO to tyrants, YES to compassion. The world has survived tyrants, war-mongering, and protectionism before. We can still restore peace and prosperity.

Offline

Posted by on 09 Nov 2016 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

I have taken this site offline for a while.

Pages are gone, posts are gone. Archived, but no longer available.

I have not been able to keep up a quality online presence since my eyes started to go bad, and they are not improving. With teaching, there is neither time nor interest in blogging.

And did I mention the rain?

Posted by on 31 Oct 2016 | Tagged as: climate, Uncategorized, weather

This year, I haven’t written much about the weather, but this past month has been — shall we say on the wetter side?

One of the local papers says we have had over 11 inches of rain compared to our normal 4.6. The paper will let you view a few articles before you have to subscribe.

A little more than a week ago, Cliff Mass, climate scientist at the University of Washington predicted that Seattle would set a new record for the month. He followed up with confirmation of several records set in the state already.

It’s wet. Not “sailing down the freeway” wet, but long, drenching, chills-the-core wet.

I hope November (which is traditionally wetter than October) doesn’t set its own records!

And, just to note: it used to be that we had steady, but pretty much “light” rainfall from October through March (with a few isolated days here and there, and a single two-week early summer in February or early March)… now it rains at odd times, and more than was “normal.” Plants that used to thrive are dying, and plants that used to struggle a bit are doing well. Animals are not getting what they need, either. I like the wet weather, and the replenishment of the snowpack, but I am not appreciating the extremes.

Politics – a long view

Posted by on 01 Oct 2016 | Tagged as: editorial, Making a Difference, politics, Politics and War, Uncategorized

I would like to know why a man who has had multiple wives and mistresses isn’t called out for trying to shame a faithful wife for her husband’s infidelities? I would like to know why the Republican party decided to nominate a man with no plan, with no demonstrated ability to interpret or even follow the law? I would like to know why any person can assert that Trump is perfect because he says what he thinks, but then doesn’t make the obvious connection between his words against religious and racial minorities (and women, and people with disabilities) and increasing hate crimes as the groups who most identify with him feel validated?

He rails against the people in power, yet wields that power for his own gain unapologetically, benefitting from his ability to hire teams of expensive legal experts, and intimidating and trampling hard-working people with no qualms. Still, he seems to be attracting the very people he despises as his “base” in this election. There is some truth to the idea that the way to keep the masses down is to tell them a Cinderella story and imply that if they support the oppressors they will work harder and accept worse treatment on the hope they might someday themselves rise to the ranks of the oppressors.

If I were to refuse to pay my taxes, declared bankruptcy to avoid paying financial obligations I had the means to meet, treated my spouse with disrespect, treated my co-workers and employees with contempt, and encouraged people to engage in violent acts against people who disagree with me I would be in jail. And rightly so. Here we are, with a person who (if not made wealthy by the labor of those he has taken advantage of) would be facing multiple prosecutions — who is potentially going to be elected president of my country.

Am I worried? Surprisingly, yes. I am a student of history. I can point to past and current events around the world and in the United States when people like Trump have held power — and the unimaginable suffering they create. I would like to know why anyone would support this man, and the party who supports him. I would appreciate insight into how a person can consider herself (or himself) a kind or thoughtful person when the candidate she or he supports demonstrates only the worst characteristics of humanity.

I used to vote almost a straight ticket from one party, but in the last 20 years have had fewer and fewer candidates I could support. This year, for the first time, I cannot find any candidate from that party, in local, state, or national elections, to support. On the national level, the party I used to support has become the party of obstructionist politics, with the legislative leaders of that party refusing to consider legislation or hold hearings on necessary appointments to keep the government operational. Meantime, the policies and politics of the “minor” parties at the local level are bizarre (which may not be true in all locations!), and the candidates those same parties are promoting on the national stage are neither articulate nor thoughtful about anything other than their few key issues. The president of the United States needs to be able to understand, make decisions about, and delegate authority to people with the intelligence and experience to help. The minor party candidates simply do not articulate coherent ideas on enough topics to make me confident in their training or intelligence.

For young people considering the minor party candidates as alternatives to the major candidates, please consider what happened when Al Gore and G.W. Bush were undermined by Ralph Nader. Because Nader took votes that might otherwise have gone to Al Gore, the election was close enough that a court decision threw the election to Bush — in the recounts later, it was determined that Gore actually had the votes to win, but by then the election had been certified. G.W. Bush and his cabinet participated in some of the more disastrous foreign policies; the world continues to reel and fall apart as the result of events set in motion by his leadership. Our world is slowly dying as a result of his party’s refusal to allow the U.S. to take a leadership role in alternatives to fossil fuels and the rape of landscapes in the pursuit of wealth.

For those who think that this is the year for a protest vote, that their vote doesn’t matter, please look toward Great Britain, where even the sponsors of “Brexit” admitted they didn’t really expect to win; where the long-term consequences of that vote will be affecting the lives of the young people, working people, for decades. They want to have a re-vote. Like people accustomed to video games, where the game can be restarted from a previously saved version and different choices made… But such opportunities, in the real world, do not exist.

I readily admit to being old — my life is on the downslope already. My bigger concern is for the world my children face, as they enter the world as adults. We have time to correct the course our nation and world are on. We can do this by being thoughtful about the actual experience and policies of the people who are running for office at all levels. There is no vote that is unimportant, there is no race or candidate that doesn’t deserve your thoughtful participation.

Yes, I will vote. I will read the voter’s pamphlets to see what the candidates took the time to write — a thoughtful, coherent articulation of important philosophies and policies, or self-aggrandizement and promotion? Or nothing at all (really — in local and state elections particularly candidates sometimes cannot figure out the deadline… do you want a person who cannot read a calendar in office?). I will look at candidate websites. I will, for races where I am unsure, look for the public record of past votes and actions (if they have held office before), or watch for publications that vetted them. I will consider what people who have worked for and with the candidates say about them.

Yes, it matters what the candidates say and do. It matters what kind of person they are.

Yes, I will vote.

Yes, it matters.

Fifteen Years

Posted by on 11 Sep 2016 | Tagged as: citizenship, editorial, loss, Politics and War, Uncategorized

For fifteen years, we have talked about, and gone to war pretending it fixes, the events of September 11, 2001. On that day, I woke suddenly from deep sleep the instant the first plane hit.

I lost a college friend that day. Other people lost so much more.

We all lost a sort of innocence that day, I think — the idea that the United States was so big, and so prosperous, that no real damage would happen outside of a war.

And suddenly we were in a war. A war with a nebulous enemy. A war with no clear targets to strike.

But we had the good will of the world behind us, a world that (for the most part) was as shocked and appalled at the targeting of civilians during a time of relative peace in the world.

And then things got muddied up by “politics” and we lost the focus. And we are still engaged in wars in a now destabilized and volatile, and expanding, region. It got very messy, very fast.

I do not think we are safer, fifteen years later, despite giving up (and having stripped from us) some of our rights. I know that the more we objectify individuals and groups the less free we are.

I also know that, historically, when a society vilifies and dehumanizes a group, stripping them of equality, requiring people to conform to a narrow band of behavior, belief and speech, that society is on the downward slope. I know that it won’t stop with one creed, one race, one person — eventually more and more people are caught up and then no one is free.

Do we wonder why it is so dangerous to speak up in some countries? It is because when those governments first said “this person/group is a security risk” and instituted small restrictions, no one spoke up. When the first group was arrested, incarcerated, eliminated, the majority stood by silently. And by the time the majority realized they were ALL in danger… that anyone at any time could accuse anyone and that the machinery that had developed no longer cared about guilt or innocence, or intent, or outcomes… only about eliminating people who “might” be a threat to the government….

It is not yet too late in the United States to speak up, to fight for the traditions that underpin the constitution — no matter how unevenly applied in some times and places, no matter that it is imperfect — that ALL are created equal, and ALL are deserving of the same protections and opportunities.

Fifteen years ago, the United States’ population allowed a handful of angry, hate-filled people to start unravelling the core of our society. We gave up our freedoms in many ways out of fear and in a desire to be “safe” which we are never going to be. In so doing, the people who planned, carried out, supported, and approved of the murder of thousands — including my friend — were allowed to win. We allowed our freedoms and optimism, the very things that make us “Americans” to be undermined. It is not too late to reverse that trend.

Are you eligible and registered to vote? If so, do you vote? Even in local elections, perhaps especially in local elections, every vote counts. We shape our nation and our future by participating in our government. This is a right and privilege still denied to many around the world. WE CAN reclaim our rights and our national pride so that those who would deny us both do not win. We can elect people who keep military “answers” as a very last resort — not weakening our defenses but being more thoughtful and intentional about when to use force, and more intentional about when not to.

We CAN make this world better. It takes WILL. It takes time. it takes heart

Don’t let the terrorists win. Don’t let hate win.

Work for love. Work for peace.

Every day something new

Posted by on 06 Sep 2016 | Tagged as: 3rd Grade, Uncategorized

There is never a dull day as a teacher.

I have amazing, interesting (and interested!) students this year. They are not all in the same place of course, in terms of life experiences and academic knowledge. But they are all willing to try!

I have taught kids of all ages… and the willingness to try, to stick with me, to ask for clarification? That’s the most important quality to learning.

We are normalizing the idea of not knowing. We are normalizing the idea of mistakes being okay (I do not allow erasers or erasing in my class!). We are normalizing sitting with discomfort for a while.

I am optimistic about the coming year, not because everyone will learn and excel, but because everyone will grow. How much they grow will be depend on many factors under my control (and quite a few outside my control), and this year I have a better handle on what to do, when, and how.

Yep. Going to be a GOOD year as a teacher!

An End, and a Beginning

Posted by on 03 Sep 2016 | Tagged as: 3rd Grade, education, Education Professional, good things, teaching, Uncategorized

The summer was not “as advertised” this year. I remained ill for another few weeks, though we had a lovely visit with my grandfather in Ashland at the end of July and saw several plays (LOVED LOVED LOVED Richard II!!!). Was too exhausted, though, to try for the second silk painting session. Hoping for at least one this autumn, though!

August arrived, and my heart and brain went quickly into teaching mode. Tom took an extra week off that second week of August to help around the house and the classroom. By the end of the third week of August, the classroom was mostly in shape, and in the fourth week it was official training and a couple extra days… so that by the time the kids and parents arrived at 5:30 August 30 the room looked ready enough.

Kids in seats on August 31. By 2:43 on September 2, the room was already showing evidence of engagement and learning. I have a WONDERFUL paraeducator who comes in for 45 minutes in the afternoon to help with literacy and reading, and while we haven’t yet met to decide which few students need intensive pull-out instruction, with the in-class help every day, very few of them will have to leave. I am so happy in my teacher-heart that I will have most of them all the time!

Proof? Check out below!

A look toward the door to the restrooms.  The number chart goes up when needed, but will be stored flat for a few weeks.

A look toward the door to the restrooms. The number chart goes up when needed, but will be stored flat for a few weeks.

The reading table on Friday-- materials to sort, collate, cut, copy, and use next week!

The reading table on Friday– materials to sort, collate, cut, copy, and use next week!

All ready for Tuesday!

All ready for Tuesday!

The students use these to show something about themselves as we are learning about the new year.  Three pictures, and one word!

The students use these to show something about themselves as we are learning about the new year. Three pictures, and one word!

The purple "windsock" was a gift from a student on the second day of school!  The empty paper panels on a pulley system! will hold student work and anchor charts.

The purple “windsock” was a gift from a student on the second day of school! The empty paper panels on a pulley system! will hold student work and anchor charts.

The I-charts are a suggestion from the "Two Sisters" framework for Daily 5 and CAFE instruction.  They allow students to consider behaviors and purposes for studying in specific situations.  These are our first two.

The I-charts are a suggestion from the “Two Sisters” framework for Daily 5 and CAFE instruction. They allow students to consider behaviors and purposes for studying in specific situations. These are our first two.

Summer finally begins for me

Posted by on 16 Jul 2016 | Tagged as: allergy, friends, fun, Gardens and Life, good things, health, seasons, Uncategorized

I was still recovering from the allergic reaction into the middle of the first week of July. Not fun. But had energy to have a nice dinner for my parents on Sunday the third, which of course wiped me out for the next couple of days.

Then, on July 7 I had a chance to meet up with a friend from New Zealand — it was a very spontaneous visit, so we didn’t have as much time as I would have liked. But … so glad we were able to finally gives in-person hugs instead of virtual!

On July 8 we had a silk painting session at my house. LOVED it. My friends are such amazing artists. Planning another session next month.

But I pushed myself a little too hard… the following weekend was unproductive, and it wasn’t until Wednesday that I started to have some energy again. Managed to get cars swapped around so one of them could have service done. Then I figured out some ideas for school and dug in on Thursday and Friday with some thinking and planning. Not a lot of organizing going on in the physical world, but a good bit happening with setting up ideas and lessons. AND I pruned a few trees and shrubs…

And I still have a reasonable five weeks of vacation to look forward to. I am glad. I will need every minute to be ready for the upcoming school year.

Added Accountability

Posted by on 27 Jun 2016 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, housework, Uncategorized

I have been working through this face reaction (I don’t think I have ever felt so un-lovely!) for four days now. Every morning is a bit better, and no additional symptoms, so I am going to work today on organizing some of my office (if Grant, who stayed home ill feels better in the afternoon he can help secure the last important piece for my standing desk. I am also determined to sort some boxes I brought home from school.

And, sometimes it helps me stay on track when I am able to note progress on my blog. No deadlines… it’s summer vacation — and I am still not 100%. But, sort through boxes, upholster the seat cushion for the stool that belongs in my office (the original cushion needs replacing from the fire). And do a little more lesson planning and organization of online files. I reproducing my files from this machine in my school googleapps account so that I have some flexibility when working — work directly in google for some things, but also still using Word and Excel because the functionality in googleapps isn’t quite where I need it to be.

Organizing…. it will help me make it through this next school year!

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