Sunday, March 31, 2013


I am going to take a sabbatical from this blog.  Maybe a week, maybe a month, maybe I don't know how long.  But I will be back at some point!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday's Fave Five, 3-22-13

Link to Friday's Fave Five

1. Great day last Friday at the Fine Arts Competition.  Choric speaking couldn't have done much better - first place, trip to Nationals, last spot in the Showcase Recital at the end of the competition.  So proud of them!

2. My sister arrived safely at her new home in Texas.

3. Self-diagnosed myself with a sinus infection.  I had some leftover antibiotic from when the doctor changed my prescription during the pneumonia bout in January.  I googled Augmentin (the leftover) and read that it was often used for sinus infections, so I started taking it.  Within 24 hours the symptoms were greatly reduced.

4. Great missions conference this week and one speaker in particular with whom my husband and I felt a great kinship.

5. Andrew was home twice this week, and Mary Lee all of last week (spring break).  Andrew came with his friend Mr. Moose, to help get our speech groups ready for nationals, and he and I were able to practice as he is singing at Homecoming at Mike's old church this coming Sunday.  We are looking forward to going - always a nice time of reunion.

Monday, March 18, 2013

YouTube of Choric Speaking Performance

Just found out this morning that someone has put up a YouTube link of our showcase performance.  Not as good as the real thing, but maybe a viewer can tell what is going on.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

"That Green Thing"

Making the rounds but worth sharing.  Some of this is from my day and some from before:

Being Green...

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older
woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags
weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing
back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation
did not care enough to save our environment f or future generations."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to
the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and
sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over.
So they really were truly recycled.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused
for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was
the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This
was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by
the school) was not defaced by our scribbling. Then we were able to
personalize our books on the brown paper bags.

But too bad we didn't do the green thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store
and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb
into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the
throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling
machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our
clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their
brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the green thing back in our

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every
room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember
them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen,
we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines
to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the
mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or
plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn
gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human
power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club
to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right; we didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or
a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing
pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor
blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because
the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes
to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi
service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of
sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized
gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in
space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old
folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another "selfish person" who needs a lesson in
conservation from a smart-aleck young person.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Big and Exciting Day

Yesterday was a fantastic day.

About six weeks ago, a group of juniors asked me to coach them in a speech choric speaking group for our state fine arts festival.  They knew that our history/speech teacher was busy with his own speech classes, reader's theater, choric speaking, and other pieces that students were working on, and they knew that I used to do some of this.  I agreed to help them.

So we picked a piece - one that the class had done four years ago, when I was the interim coach, before our excellent and well-loved speech teacher came to us.  It's a funny piece - it's about Yankees, Southerners, and the relationship between them.  The group that did it four years ago did a good job, but they were new at choric speaking and I was too; as a result, this current group was able to watch the DVD of the first performance and then work on taking it to a new level.

We worked on it hard for about a month.  It helped to have other teachers willing to cover my study hall, or let those taking Spanish miss the first few minutes of class every afternoon (right after my English class, where we spent a little time on the speech piece most days).

When they performed for our school, two days before the competition, it was good but not great.  I had someone video it on my phone (couldn't believe the quality a phone video would be - maybe learning this iPhone isn't so bad after all) and we analyzed it later in the day.  We made some mid-course corrections, as well as having to change some things the day before when one participant couldn't go due to a death in his family.

Yesterday at 1:45 was the big moment.  Mike drove me down to Columbia so he could see it also (most years I have to ride the school bus), and what was also nice, his sister who lives there also came!  The students were so excited. The judges were having a hard time keeping from laughing too much at the funny lines.  And when one young man picked up the "flags" afterward (that the Yankees hold up in surrender as they go to the Southern side), one of the judges leaned over her table and said "Perfect!" to him.

But then they really got worked up when the man who coordinates the Showcase came down to the judges right after their performance and said to the hostess, "Now what was the name of this group?"  Which meant that the next hour was filled with anxious wondering if they would be included in the Showcase,  six of the best performances of the day (speech and music categories combined, about 25-30 categories in all) that re-perform their pieces at the end of the day between each section of handing out ribbons and awards.

Well, to their excited amazement, they not only got named to Showcase, but they were the last piece on the program.

And, when the time came, they stole the show.  It was hilarious.  Their timing was perfect and their personalities really showed through.

And in the end - they not only went to Showcase, they also got first place in their category, and get to go to the Nationals competition next month.  Here is this excited group of juniors right after the awards ceremony/Showcase.  Yanks in blue on the left; Southerners in gray on the right.

And, below, they are showing the "arguing" of the two sides.  One thing that I learned through this - The practices were sometimes frustrating, because there were fifteen chiefs in this group and no Indians.  Everybody had an opinion, everybody knew how it should be done, and they were not easily settled down.  However, fortunately, most of their opinions worked and were worth incorporating.

With a group like this - so full of energy that just needs to be channeled - when they do get their chance to shine, they come through magnificently.  They surely did yesterday.  Great memories of a great day.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday's Fave Five - 3/8/13

Link to Friday's Fave Five blog.

It's been a busy week for me.  Two baby showers - one to attend, one to help give - and an evening with my dear friend Gretchen, along with working fulltime, made for not much blogging time.

1. We had a lovely birthday dinner last weekend with several of Mike's family, to celebrate the mutual birthday of two of his sisters.  And then on Monday night to have dinner with my good friend - that was wonderful!!

2. My daughter thought she was getting sick at college, but apparently it's not as bad as she thought it was going to be.  That's a relief.  Now let's just hope that my apparent cold turns out to be the same way.

3. I'm working on a choric speaking group with my juniors and it's going better and better every practice.  This morning a senior girl who is very good at speech evaluated it with me, and between the two of us we were able to work out a part that, until today, just hadn't been quite right.  It's much better now.

4. I spilled half a can of thawed frozen lemonade on the floor on Saturday night.  It's taken four moppings, but I think it's finally cleaned up!

5. I am truly thankful for the wonderful blessings and opportunities that God has given me.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Sequels to classic books, written by different authors, are usually a big disappointment.  Remember Scarlett, sequel to Gone with the Wind?  Either there are salacious details added gratuitously, that the original author would never have included, or the writing of the sequel is so poor when compared to that of the classic, that the second book is far inferior.  And I have seen books that were supposed to be sequels to Pride and Prejudice that were pitiful, gratuitous-filled attempts that were a waste of time to read and were meant only to capitalize on the famous novel.

That is why I was very pleasantly surprised to find Death Comes to Pemberley, by P.D. James.  This book was obviously written by a lover of Pride and Prejudice, including details that reveal great study of the original book and of the style of Jane Austen.  This was a murder mystery - a genre of fiction I rarely look at - but the pacing of the book, the style of conversation, the details included, and the manner in which the plot resolved itself by bringing in characters from the original book (minor as well as major); all these details made this a book that, once started, I could not put down.  P.D. James is an excellent writer.

The book is set in 1803, six years after the marriages of Jane and Bingley, and Elizabeth and Darcy.  The first chapter gives details of those six years, and then gets into the big event. The Darcys are planning the annual Lady Anne Ball to be held at Pemberley, but the night before the big evening, a carriage comes careening down the drive, Elizabeth's irresponsible sister Lydia rushes to the door screaming that Wickham has been killed, and the plot is set in motion.

This book is especially appropriate in that it is so well written for older readers (as in "not children,") and yet there is nothing gratuitous and nothing told explicitly.  I would not hesitate to share it with teenagers, and this book is going into our school library tomorrow morning.  Particularly in this era, when so much reading for young adults is so full of objectionable elements, that in itself is probably the best recommendation of Death Comes to Pemberley.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Little Blurry, But. . .

. . .I think this is the best photo taken at our birdfeeders this year.
Downy woodpecker and pine warbler on the suet feeder.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Friday's Fave Five - 3/1/13

Link to FFF.

1. On Monday I did a mile and a half on the elliptical at the gym!  Took 33 minutes but so what!!

2. My mother cooked supper for us on Wednesday night which was very nice of her.

3. I have FINISHED grading senior projects.  A huge load off my plate.  Junior rough drafts come in today, but I have a good idea from a teacher at a sister school which will allow me to do a lot of grading in class as I discuss each rough draft with each student.

4. We get to go to a nice family dinner tonight for my husband's sisters' birthdays (yes, that's plural - a year apart on the same day) at a nice restaurant.

5. This one makes me sound like an old lady, but I have really enjoyed all the birds coming to our feeders.  Great assortment, and many of them are beautiful birds.