September 25, 2014

My All-Time Favorite Autumn Poem

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Something told the wild geese
It was time to go,
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, "snow."

Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned, "frost."

All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly,
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.

September 22, 2014

A Little Gift

In honor of the first day of autumn, I give to you...

A Lovely Maple Leaf With Changing Colors
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September 20, 2014

September 17, 2014

Daughter From Danang

In 1977, "Operation Baby Lift" brought hundreds of children, orphaned by the Vietnam conflict, to the United States.

But some of the older children could talk and as they formed relationships with their US adopted parents, they told the truth: they were, often, not orphans at all, but simply children who had been scooped up by Americans to be raised by "better" families.

This film is from PBS and tells the story of a woman who was old enough, when Operation Baby Lift took her from home, to remember the truth. But her trip back to Vietnam to meet her mother is upsetting to both her and the viewer.

Click the image to watch the movie. It's 1:20:06.

Daughter From Danang

September 11, 2014

September 5, 2014

September 1, 2014

Back To School

I am certain I will always live mentally in the school year. That is, the first month of the "year" is September and the last is May. June, July and August are free, although August is tinged with a mixture of anxiety and anticipation. Because school is starting! Every September I remember it all: the smells of the waxed halls and the new supplies, the noise of children, the Monday through Friday work-a-day that is the world of a child.
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First there was the getting to school. Our Safety Patrol wore orange sashes (the photo here is before my time, I can tell by the cars) and I so wanted to be one of them someday.

They also left school fifteen minutes early to get to their stations. Some Safety Patrol kids let it go to their heads, a bit like Hitler Youth, but these bigger kids kept us alive for our journey to and from school.

We didn't have desks in kindergarten (much to my dismay) but the pic on the right shows just the kind of desks we had when I was in first grade onward. The lids lifted up and could be real finger-pinchers, but never mind...I had a desk! Ours were so old that the hole in the middle on the top flat part was probably an inkwell, but we kept our glue in that. It was amazing how much those desks could hold!

They were also good for hiding one's head. I remember doing that but I forget the details of why.
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 photo HighschoolDesk.jpg Just by the way, the desk at the left was what we had by junior high school. They were easily adjustable and there was that basket under the seat...and they are so very streamlined...but they weren't desks like above. They were more like tables with chairs hooked on.

I don't know what's going on in the picture at the left, and it's way older than I am, but I remember putting our heads down on our desks for any number of reasons, all of which came back to the teacher being at the end of her rope.

However, we did sometimes do this when the teacher read to us.

In second grade, Mrs. Rhodes read the whole "Little House" series to us, starting on the first day of school. I already had passing familiarity with the books, but those after-lunch reading times were precious indeed.
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 photo SRA.jpg The SRA Reading Lab come into our classroom when I was in the fourth grade. You started at the front with the "lowest" level color and worked toward the back.

It was all self-monitored; you read the card, which was a story or some informational writing, and then took a short test to measure your comprehension.

But now that I think about it, there must've been some kind of teacher intervention or I would have cheated my way to the last color. Not that I would've had to cheat; I'm a good reader and always have been.

I say that last part with the assurance of someone who can't do math to save her life. I can read. 
Even as a grade-schooler, I had the presence of mind to wonder why our wall-mounted pencil sharpener had so many holes. What in the world was that smallest hole for, golf pencils?

And if they don't want you sharpening your crayons in the pencil sharpener, they darn well shouldn't have a hole that perfectly accommodates a crayon.
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 photo BigChiefTablet.jpg Oh, how I miss Big Chief tablets! They were 8.5 X 11 lined newsprint, perfect for "ordinary" work at school and for great stuff at home. If they still existed today, I'd buy in bulk and use them for everything.

When my husband and I visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder Home And Museum in Mansfield, MO, we saw Laura's first words to the first book of her series (Little House In The Big Woods) and she wrote it on a Big Chief tablet. That took my breath away. A regular Big Chief tablet that she probably bought at the Mansfield drugstore!

What's good enough for Laura is better than perfect for me.