Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Great Service

I have tried to post a video of one song sung Sunday night by the Calvary Quartet and cannot get it to load. Tried it on both computers - mine and Mike's - but I think it's too big of a file.
Anyway, the service was tremendous. I am 100% objective, but I thought that their blend and sound were beautiful. It was a lot like the old Oakwood - which we miss. And their new first tenor is young and good-looking to boot. :-)

Here's a photograph at least.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Calvary Quartet
Sunday night, August 28, 2010
Oakwood Baptist Church
Anderson SC
6:00 p.m.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Taking Pictures as Told By "Pearls Before Swine"

Pearls Before Swine
This was today's "Pearls Before Swine" comic strip. Occasionally this strip goes over the line, but most of the time it's a very funny commentary on numerous things. This cut and paste job may not be completely clear; I think if you click on it it will link to the website. Today's strip is humorously accurate in its point. For quite awhile I have noticed that girls today are very, very used to being in front of a camera lens and will readily mug for a camera. Since photography is all digital now, so many shots can be easily taken, uploaded, and deleted.

Perhaps I sound like a crotchety old woman, but "It wasn't that way in my day." With film cameras, people had to be cautious of how many pics they were taking since film, flashcubes, and developing all cost $$$. Therefore we weren't as used to posing before cameras. Oh, we still took plenty of pictures - however, just two or three of any pose instead of ten or twelve or more.

Last week at the school retreat I took a number of pictures and thought it interesting that the girls, at the sight of a camera, immediately put their heads together and smiled broadly, exactly like the above comic strip. It was obvious that they were quite used to posing for cameras, often, and they liked it.

Does this encourage vanity?

Monday, August 23, 2010


Got in at 5:00 after leaving for school this morning at 7:00. Still have work to accomplish tonight. Don't know when I've been this busy - it will take me awhile to adjust to six preps/classes.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Too Much Expectation for GREAT EXPECTATIONS?

I have wrestled all summer with how to teach GREAT EXPECTATIONS this fall. For the last ten years of teaching senior English, I've assigned the book, 3 chapters a night, quiz the next day, and left it to them to keep up. I'd answer some questions if they had any, but the "expectation" (no pun intended) was that seniors should wade through the book themselves and get enough out of it to write a literary criticism paper at the end of reading the book. I still don't think that's unreasonable.

However, reality is beginning to collide with this expectation. Teens today don't read - and what little they do read is definitely not within the "classics" realm. The trend has been going downhill for years, and it becomes more and more obvious every year. The struggle is - does a teacher insist that they read this book, knowing they won't get much out of it (about 10% will, but not nearly a high enough percentage) and, rather than make them appreciate literature, know that it will actually make them dislike reading even more.

Or, do I walk them through it, reading some passages in class aloud and assigning follow-up reading for that night, helping them to see the plot and characterization intricacies, and as a result hope that a higher percentage will actually see that Dickens was a master at weaving plot, characters, and theme together? Maybe even provide study questions to answer as they read? I'm leaning toward doing this. I just can't see going through the motions just because "They should be able to do this," or "It's always been done this way," when it's obvious that that is no longer effective.

Is this capitulation, or realistic thinking?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ups and Downs - School Retreat Edition

I will be spending tomorrow night with ten sophomore and freshman girls, in a double room at a conference center, on our school retreat. The ups and downs:

UP - The place where we go is beautiful.
DOWN - My dear friend can't go due to complications from knee surgery.
UP - It's a great way to start the school year.
DOWN - At my age, though I still love teenagers, I'm ready to come home to my own bed at night.
UP - Andrew is going also, to help with the music, fun time, and games.
UP - The food at this place is incredibly good. They are very shrewd to make sure their dining hall is fantastic. Anytime I hear someone mention this conference center, the followup comment is always "The food is great there!"

I got a biography of R. G. LeTourneau this summer at a free-book table - and discovered that he is one of the founders of the conference center where we are going. There was a long section in it about how he got it built and how the lake is named after his wife. That was very interesting in light of the fact that I knew we were going there again for the retreat. Come to think about it, I may have seen a plaque on the wall of the main auditorium that mentioned that. Will have to look tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Do You Want to See My Office?"

Today at the teachers' luncheon at our administrator's house (his wife made lasagna for 40 from scratch! With five kiddos running around!), his 3rd grade daughter, my buddy, said "Do you want to see my office?" I was a little taken aback and at first thought maybe "my office" was another name for the playroom. We did go through the playroom, but yes, she has an "office"! In the furnace area, under the stairs to the lower level, her dad has created a little desk/bookshelf area that is, as she told me gravely, "just for me - nobody else can come in here." It has its own doorway - three-quarter-size so that someone like me has to bend down to get in. He even wrapped all the ductwork in pink plastic so that it looks girly! She has painted it herself, and created her own drawings on the walls.

I felt honored to be invited in.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Worth the Read

This opinion piece in a British newspaper is breathtaking in its assessment of the Obama presidency.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Sunday night I could feel my face getting red and tingly. For the next 24 hours it would come and go, but seemed to be slowly getting better. This morning my face is swollen. Mike goes to our doctor this morning anyway for another matter - maybe I'd better go along, seeing that tomorrow is D-Day for going back to school.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

An Exciting New Opportunity

Andrew got in from camp at 10:00 last night. (His plane was an hour late.) At 10:20 we took him to Exit 14 to meet the Calvary Quartet bus to go to south of Atlanta. And this morning he sang for the first time as their new first tenor! He is very excited and we are very excited for him as well.

(He takes the place of the man on the left.)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Something Else About Sam

Another thing about Sam (see three posts down):

We were talking about education, and I said something about Chaucer, figuring that someone who grew up in Britain and had a college degree from a university there, would be very familiar with that author. He said (in that enchanting accent) "Chaucer? I don't believe I know who that is." He wasn't kidding!! He also said that they don't really read much Shakespeare and the students who go through the school system there aren't very exposed to his works. He told me that they read OF MICE AND MEN, LORD OF THE FLIES, and THE COLOR PURPLE.

I find that very sad.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

They've Got Trouble

A week ago tonight I went on a boat ride with my cousin Chip and his family, as well as my cousin Joanne and her husband Kent. It was very nice to spend time with all of them, especially since I did not know Chip's wife Kim before that evening. I only got this one picture, because of course the batteries in my camera decided to die.

They have a nice boat, and it was a nice ride. . .

EXCEPT - they've got a problem on the Illinois River. A BIG problem. Jumping Asian carp. In the picture above, there are people trying to bowfish in the two boats to the upper right. Apparently it's become great sport to try to kill the carp. I'm sure there are no limits set.


You have to be watching all the time. One almost jumped in the boat, and one did jump up against the back - we could hear the thud. This link is to a YouTube clip taken by somebody who left from the same marina we left from, and is a lot like what we experienced. Apparently it's bad enough that you have to be especially careful when skiing or letting kids tube from behind a boat. It is really a shame, and even worse, they've taken their toll on the native fish. I hope somebody can come up with some solution to get rid of those obnoxious fish - especially since they're headed toward Lake Michigan.


One of my phobias is being around a fish out of water. Kind of like reverse drowning. So flying Asian carp could keep me awake at night.

Only a Kid. . .

My daughter is working at the daycare and she's out on the playground with her little kiddies. She says to one, "Get your little hiney over here." He replies "Little hiney?" Another one says "Yeah - we all got little hineys, 'cept for Miss Mary Lee."

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


His name is Sam, he's a young man from the north of England (near James Herriot's home), and our lives intersected for exactly forty-five minutes on Monday.

He didn't even look up when I climbed over him into the window seat for the flight to Greenville, and since he was reading a book with a vulgar word in the title, I didn't figure he'd give me the time of day. After a couple of words of small talk, I discovered that that was a big misconception. He was eager to talk. His British accent was so strong that I had to listen very closely to understand what he was saying - it was much stronger than the average English person I've ever met or talked with. (Think Malcolm Merriwether the butler in the old Andy Griffith shows.) Perhaps a heavier accent is true of the people from the northern dales.

He told me he calls his mother "Big Sue," and we laughed about that because Mike always called his grandmother "Big Trudy." It was funny until Sam later told me his mother's age. She is a year younger than I am.

I don't even remember how we got talking about it, but he told me that though he grew up in the Church of England, now he was agnostic. It was very easy to suggest to him that he read the Gospel of John and the epistle of I John before he decides that there is no God. And then, after it had escaped me at first, I remembered the name of a pastor in the town where he lives, whose wife I used to teach with years ago. So I wrote it down, along with the two books of the Bible. He accepted the slip of paper, seemingly gratefully.

Then. as we deplaned, he said in his English brogue, "I really enjoyed talking with you. I like to meet people and find out about them." And he was gone.

I was glad for my forty-five minutes of interaction with Sam.