31 October 2006

Spooky delight

This has been the best Halloween ever. Ethan is finally old enough to really "get" it, the weather was PERFECT (70s for the high, and in the low 60s @ trick-or-treating time), and we finally got on it and decorated. Best of all, Mitch is home to enjoy it with us.

Ethan, as I've mentioned before, went as Mater from "Cars." Though he'd practiced and perfected his Mater voice with several Halloweeny phrases, when the time came, he was not so brave. He was fine with going up to doors and saying trick or treat, but always wanted one of us there with him, and he totally forgot his silly voice. Nevertheless, he was the cutest guy out and about this evening.

We kicked off our festivities with pumpkin carving. We just did one, with a simple smile, but saw some truly amazing pumpkins when were were out in the neighborhood. There were lots of silly and scary pumpkins around, but my fav, perhaps, was the one of the Linux penguin, LOL

Ethan LOVED going door to door, but one house in the neighborhood really outdid everyone else. There were 3 or 4 people at the end of one driveway, with fires going, torches, a cauldron of...something bubbling, and more spookiness than you could shake a stick at. It was way cool, but a bit intense for Ethan. When the people realized they'd truly frightened him, they seemed surprised and like they felt bad (I am basing this on the 2 handfuls of candy the one guy gave E for his trouble). After we left, Mitch and I reminded told Ethan that he shouldn't be scared, it's all pretend and that the people were just dressed up and having fun. Ethan replied, "I think that was too much fun." I hope they're still doing this when he's 15 instead of 5 - he will love it then!

Need I say he got a great haul? And, ever the sorter, he came home and organized it right away.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

26 October 2006

It's working!

Can you see me rubbing my hands together with glee? My nefarious plan to create a grammar pedant of my very own is working!

Yesterday, Mitch's grandparents sent Ethan three new Magic Treehouse books (numbers 16, 17, and 18 if you're keeping score at home). So, he sat down to write them a thank you note. My mom helped him find a cool blank card to use (a puppy on the front), and then he told me what he wanted to say ("Thank you for sending me the books. Love, Ethan"). I wrote out the words for him to copy onto the card. His penmanship is getting more and more legible and he LOVES to write things, so I was happy to do this. I was very focused on writing the words clearly for him to look at as he wrote, and didn't think anything of punctuation. He copied it, doing a fine job, I must say, and then said to me, "Oh, you forgot to put these," and then began putting periods at the end of sentences and commas after "Love." He took another look and said, "We forgot to tell who it's to! I need to write "Papa and Grandma" at the top." So, he added that, complete with the comma after "Grandma." Mind you, I've not said a word to him about punctuation (except for that conversation we had one day about semicolons and their uses, but I really didn't think he was paying much attention then).

As Mitch said when I told him about it later, "he gets it from me." When I see him use an apostrophe for the first time and - please, God - put it in the correct location, I'll know my plan is a success.

24 October 2006

Begging time again

It's that time of year again, when my students wake up after several weeks and realize these grade reports I've been sending them actually relate to them and their academic futures. I had one class end a few days ago and four more end this week. (Thank God!)

In the class that has ended, I was very speedy and efficient, grading all their finals and returning the final grades Monday. I've already had one student write back saying she didn't understand why she'd gotten a D on her final. Never mind that I'd sent along a detailed grading rubric when I sent her grades. I was kind enough (I thought) to write back with a more detailed summation, but she still doesn't get it. It's OK though, she wrote back and said she'd prayed about it and that "God will take care of it." I'm not sure if there was a threat in there or not ;-) As I see it, God gave her a brain, and she should use it. So far, I've seen no signs of divine intervention changing her grade.

Other students are a bit more conventional - I've gotten the begging pleas for extra assignments, requests for me to grade their finals "before I grade them" so they can fix them and get a 100% the "real" time I grade them, etc. Others simply mystify me, asking what their grade it in the class, even though they get an Excel spreadsheet every flipping week with all their possible and earned points laid bare for them. Apparently, if I don't write a big red D- on the bottom of the page, they can't tell they have a 61%. Is the art of long division dead? Whither the calculators? (This, from me, a non-math person!)

Many of my students are really good people and are truly trying their hardest - those people tend to get better grades, quell suprise. Even those whose marks aren't stellar still seem to realize they must take ownership of their work and performance in the class. Why can't they all be like this?

22 October 2006

Is it the nose?

Ethan looks different today, but I'm not sure why. Do you think it's his nose?

21 October 2006

Rocket man

Ethan has a cool room. He's always had a cool room, but now it's even cooler - today we finally had both the time and presences of mind to finish decorating it, after only 8 months inn the new house :-)

I'm also in the process of finally outfitting my office completely. In the next month it'll be done. Maybe by our 1-year anniversary in the house, it'll look like we live here!

20 October 2006

Deep dish

I love a good dishy Project Runway interview. This is, perhaps, one of the best I've ever come across.

19 October 2006

Disgusted, but not surprised

Needless to say, I'm disgusted with P-Run's choosing Tattoo Neck as the Season 3 winner, but then, I'm not entirely surprised. There was waaaay too much manufactured drama, demonizing, and redemption from the editors for it to go any other way, I'm afraid. Oh well, this tends top put me in a pattern of not preferring the winning designer each year. Last year (and still), my heart belonged to Daniel V and Uncle Nick, while this year Uli, Michael, and Laura all won me over. Hell, I even cared about one of the models (Nazri), and had opinions about another (motormouth Amanda). LOL - when Heidi says "remember, models, this is also a competition for you," I typically snort derisively and wait for them to auf one and get on with the show, but this season they actually did things to make the clothes hangers interesting. Who would have though this was possible?

Thank God LOST can still be relied up on to amuse me on Wednesday nights! (Though I'm already missing it on account of the upcoming several weeks with no show.)

16 October 2006

Fields of Gold

It's no secret, I love Sting. I've been a huge fan of his work, both solo and with The Police, for as long as I can recall. In fact, the first 45 (!) I ever bought was for "Every Breath You Take," purchased at the Peaches record shop (later known as Buttons, then Sound Warehouse, and then, I think, Blockbuster Music before shutting entirely) at 51st and Sheridan in Tulsa, OK.

Something has been in the back of my head for years - like 15 of 'em - and I am only now getting around to Googling out the answer. I'm not sure I've got it, but would love thoughts of those reading (Gillian, this means you, in particular!)

Does the lyric for "Fields of Gold" remind you of anything?

Here's Sting's song (one of my all-time top three Sting tunes, I'd say, btw):

You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we walk in fields of gold

So she took her love
For to gaze awhile
Upon the fields of barley
In his arms she fell as her hair came down
Among the fields of gold

Will you stay with me, will you be my love
Among the fields of barley
We'll forget the sun in his jealous sky
As we lie in fields of gold

See the west wind move like a lover so
Upon the fields of barley
Feel her body rise when you kiss her mouth
Among the fields of gold
I never made promises lightly
And there have been some that I've broken
But I swear in the days still left
We'll walk in fields of gold
We'll walk in fields of gold

Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
Among the fields of gold
You'll remember me when the west wind moves
Upon the fields of barley
You can tell the sun in his jealous sky
When we walked in fields of gold
When we walked in fields of gold
When we walked in fields of gold

It's a gorgeous, gorgeous song, but has always nibbled at the back of my mind - where have I read this before?

So, there's a Christopher Marlowe poem:

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of th purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.

The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love

is this what Sting was inspired by when writing Fields of Gold? He was an English lit teacher for several years and anyone who could write a concept album inspired by The Canterbury Tales would certainly know Marlowe forwards and backwards, too.

What about this, though, by John Donne?

The Baite

COME live with mee, and bee my love,
And wee will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and christall brookes:
With silken lines, and silver hookes.

There will the river whispering runne
Warm'd by thy eyes, more then the Sunne.
And there the'inamor'd fish will stay,
Begging themselves they may betray.

When thou wilt swimme in that live bath,
Each fish, which every channell hath,
Will amorously to thee swimme,
Gladder to catch thee, then thou him.

If thou, to be so seene, beest loath,
By Sunne, or Moone, thou darknest both,
And if my selfe have leave to see,
I need not their light, having thee.

Let others freeze with angling reeds,
And cut their legges, with shells and weeds,
Or treacherously poore fish beset,
With strangling snare, or windowie net:

Let coarse bold hands, from slimy nest
The bedded fish in banks out-wrest,
Or curious traitors, sleavesilke flies
Bewitch poore fishes wandring eyes.

For thee, thou needst no such deceit,
For thou thy selfe art thine owne bait;
That fish, that is not chatch'd thereby,
Alas, is wiser farre then I.

But, here's where I need help. I remember way back in French IV, Mme Anderson had us reading all sorts of great French works, and there was one by Rabelais, "Pantagruel," that for some reason I'm thinking also has similar language to this. I can still remember sitting there in class and reading it for the first time thinking, 'This is like "Fields of Gold,'" but, alas, since this was 1992 and pre-internet (for "regular" people), cross-checking it was not so simple. I'm not sure why it's taken me 14 yrs. to get around to looking for more on this - God knows I think about it every time I hear the song. Does anyone out there know what I'm talking about? I have a feeling this will drive me crazy until I know.

While being driven there, I'm loving Sting's new CD "Songs from the Labyrinth," which features, incidentally, a remake of Fields on the lute. Absolute perfection...

I have hay in my shoe

I have hay in my shoe, I said to Ethan and my mom this past Saturday. I don't think I've ever said those words, in that order, before. We'd taken Ethan to Hill Ridge Farms, in Youngsville, NC (about 20 minutes north of Raleigh).

Most Octobers, we are in NY and visit a fabbo place in Muttonville for pumpkins, but this year, with Mitch in CA right now, the NY thing wasn't happening. This place, I must say, was even better, when you consider all the cool stuff they have.

We took a hayride to the farm's pumpkin patch, where Ethan wasted no time choosing just the right one for him. Then, we were off on a train ride, through a literally short maze (over whose walls he towered, thus eliminating the difficulty of the thing), and an 80-foot slide. They also had a pond, where we could "feed the hungry, friendly fish," Ethan assured me, though we didn't happen to have any fish food on us. We even got to see a combine (Frank?) at work, something E and I had only previously seen in the movie "Cars."

The weather was perfect for such a day - crisp and cool, with bright sunshine.

I am so glad fall is here!

15 October 2006

Conversating is my speciality

There favorite way to conversate in Spain is in a foreign language Castilian.

Oh, the things my students teach me...

14 October 2006

I heart Borat

It was like Christmas in Khazakstan when I opened my mailbox this afternoon to find Borat staring out at me.

I am really looking forward to Borat's movie, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, in a few weeks. I'm loving seeing all the press it's getting. Last week Newsweek made my day with this article, and now, Entertainment Weekly has won me over once again with Borat on their cover.

I've' been a Borat fan for a few years no - I'm no bandwagon jumper! - I just hope the thing is taken as it should be, and does well to boot. If only Borat and Louis Theroux could get together, I'd be in heaven!

BTW, whenever people ask me what one can really do with a history degree, I now have an answer. Sacha has one from Christ's College, Cambridge.

11 October 2006

Shocking news

I'm still in shock, Laura Bennett doesn't live in a doorman building.

What more can P-Run throw at me?

09 October 2006

Buenos dias, Señor Cleaver. ¿Donde esta Wallace y Theodore?

I'm going with Ethan's kindergarten class to Ganyard Hill Farm for a field trip on Thursday. I was been told this afternoon that I'll be in charge of three boys: Ethan, a child who speaks only Hmong (I think), and another who speaks only Spanish. The above is ALL I can say in Spanish and, well, it's about all I can say in Hmong, too. Given that the volunteer background checks included a box where we were to tell all foreign languages we can speak (Russian and French for me), you'd think they'd get a Spanish speaker to help out with the Spanish-speaking kids.

It should be interesting!

The Hmong boy, btw, is one of two in his class whom Ethan has identified as his "best friend." They sat together at the Blue Table for the first month of school, which I suspect cemented their relationship - that and the fact that the other kid had no way to tell Ethan to be quiet and leave him alone ;-) E, btw, feels VERY important for being charged with teaching his new friend to speak English. He must assume the ESL teachers are recruiting him to serve as their intern...

05 October 2006

What I learned today

Did you know that it's most appropriate to use left-justified text when writing to "the poor"? I didn't either, but one of my students told me this today in no uncertain terms.

It's amazing what they choose to skip in the grad school curriculum these days.

Any poor people out there who'd like to comment on this? Do you prefer left-justified text? Why?


PS - This blog entry is left-justified in of the spirit of economic inclusion.

02 October 2006

Enjoy the Silence

OK, so the DM song title isn't totally accurate, but I can't think of any other cool song title off the top of my head to adequately express what a fabbo few days it's been.

Last week was the week from Hell, work-wise. I'm teaching (more than) a full load right now, and all but one of my classes had large assignments due. I have a week to get everything graded and the work plus weekly grades back in students' hands, and normally this isn't a problem. But, oh, last week was different! The grading went well, but there was just so much of it!

In the middle of this, Mitch came home from CA (yay!) and so my attention was distracted, to say the least :-)

Long story short, I did get the grading done, and then had a great long weekend. It was the first weekend that Mitch and I were in the same state since before my birthday, so we went out for a post-bday dinner and movie. We went to one of our favorites places, Michael Dean's, and then to see The Illusionist. Why aren't more people talking about his film? I absolutely loved it. Granted, Edward Norton can basically do no wrong, but he was far from the only good thing about it. I loved the story, thought the acting was great, sets and costumes really beautiful, and the filming itself was really interesting. Lots of nice, unexpected things going on, cinematographically. I'd def. like to see this again, and will pick up the DVD when it's out.

Today was the first teacher work day we've had since Ethan started kindergarten, and it was great having a long, bonus day for us to all hang out together. We slept late, stayed in our jammies too long, then went out for some mall time, had lunch, took naps, etc. All around, a really nice, low-key day. This was just what I needed after last week! Ethan and I even finished reading >The Mouse and the Motorcycle at his bedtime. Somehow this Beverly Cleary gem escaped me when I was small. I think I may have enjoyed reading it as much as Ethan did hearing it!

Now I plan to take the rest of the evening easy, curl up and pour over my new copy of U2 by U2, and then watch Studio 60.

Life is good...