Monday, December 17, 2007

8th graders

Sometimes all I can say is.... ARRGGGH!


3 more days till winter break.

Thank goodness!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wherever you were, I hope it was lovely. Brad's parents cooked a great turkey, as usual, and I contributed creamed onions (onions, anyone? anyone? ah well, I like 'em :-)

Time to break out the Christmas music!

Tables are turning...

... and it's very strange. My school district's liason for interns and student teachers, whose daughter I had last year, asked me to host a student intern this fall. I agreed, rather reluctantly. And things have been going well, for the most part. Intern X is very pleasant and willing to learn. I don't even have her in my classroom for the whole day, because only 2 of my classes are social studies, so during the language arts classes she goes to see other social studies teachers. She mostly observes, and last week she taught a two-day lesson, after which I gave praise and constructive criticism. Why, then, do I still feel uneasy about all this? I asked myself this question the other day ("Self, why are you uneasy with this situation?") and got the following reply: I am uncomfortable being in a leadership position. This may sound strange from someone whose job it is to lead 70 8th graders each day and keep them from descending into a Lord of the Flies scenario, but I realized that when it comes to peers, I shrink from the role of real leadership. I'd much rather be in the position of a student- asking advice, trying things, getting a pat on the head from those overseeing me. But when it comes to being the teacher (to a peer)- knowing how to encourage, how to give criticism gently yet firmly (since my inclination is to soft-pedal the criticism to the point where it becomes meaningless), how to communicate expectations- I really dislike it. I think this is mostly because there's no one telling me how I'm doing- mentoring me on how to mentor, in effect.
Chalk another one up to "things I discover about myself that I didn't even realize were there". Hopefully now that I realize the issue behind the discomfort, I can face it better.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Sorry that my promise of 'pictures to follow shortly' turned into 'I will take forever to update my blog'. Here they are- some pictures of our Jennie Lakes hike last month- see below. It's hard to believe it's only been a month- seems a lot longer than that. October has worked me over this year, with some difficult lessons and some busy times. More on that later- I'm still working through some things and not ready to put it in written words yet. In the meantime, I leave you with some Halloween pictures to enjoy!

Halloween, around 1989 :-)
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Halloween 2007. Party theme- recreate a childhood costume. How did we do? :-)
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Jennie Lake, Sequoia National Forest. It was great to be in the forest, with clean air and beautiful stars at night. It had been a while since I was able to experience that!
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Me and my sis!
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The 9th Hiker

Kia was a great hiking companion, and even carried her own food and our tuna cans!
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Hiking at Jennie Lakes

My baby brother and I, all geared up. My pack looks bigger but his was about 30-40 pounds heavier than mine. Thanks, brother!
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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Back from the Heights (in One Piece!)

I realized I'd better post something soon, lest anyone think that I had died up in the mountains or something dire like that. Since I am still in the middle of the school week (and trying to get caught up from being gone all weekend) this will be a short post, but more details and pictures to come.
In short:
-We had a great hike, though very different that expected. 3 days before leaving, my brother found out that an early snowstorm had covered the Mt. Whitney trail in 2 feet of snow and that pickaxes and crampons and other such technical gear was now required to climb it. That was definitely out of our league, so Mt. Whitney was no longer our destination. It sits, waiting, for a later return when I will pull myself to the top someday.
-Instead, Kenneth took us to the Jennie Lakes Wilderness in Sequoia National Forest. This made me very happy for several reasons: 1) not as hard a hike 2) we had a more relaxing time and 3) my parents took us to Kings Canyon and Sequoia all the time as kids, and it was great to go back. That particular smell, of high, clean forest, is unmistakable. Even the dirt up in those mountains feels clean and healthy!
-We hiked in on Friday; camped, fished, explored, day-hiked on Saturday; back out on Sunday.
-Beautiful scenery, peaceful lake that we had all to ourselves, and stars that covered the night sky like handfuls of dust.
-There were lots of great conversations, fun times, and chances to reconnect with people I hadn't seen in ages. And quality time with my baby brother, which is a rarity these days. All in all, a great weekend.

Pictures will follow shortly.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

5 Days' Countdown

Now that the simultaneous events of starting the school year and moving to our new place are done, never let it be said that there's a dull moment around here. In less than a week, I will be doing something that will turn out to be either very cool or very foolish, depending on my performance. My dear sibling, my baby brother, has invited me to come on an excursion up Mt. Whitney. Now, this is not Kenneth's first time doing this; he and his friends have climbed it several times, on top of numerous other trips scampering around the Sierra Nevadas. A four-day hiking expedition is a walk in the park for him, and he and his pals usually have fun by seeing how much time they can shave off their estimated time. This trip, however, he's specifically gearing towards hiking newbies and non-backpackers, which is the only reason I was even considered.
So, this coming weekend, I will be trekking (slogging? dragging?) up a 14,000+ mountain, with 60 pounds on my back. My companion on this adventure, besides Kenneth and some California friends, will be a fellow Phonecian. No, not my husband- the thought of having to leave his computer for 4 days, and being dragged into the dusty wilderness makes him wince. (Whenever I bring up stuff like this, there's always a haunted look in his face, because he would do it if I asked him to. He's offered in the past to give up the Internet if I wanted him to, which is the most perfect example I've ever seen of True Love. I'm so lucky to have him! <3) Anyway, it's my honorary sibling, my comrade-in-tent, my sister-in-law Stacy that is coming too. We've been making numerous trips to REI and Sports Authority to stock up on supplies these past few weeks, and tomorrow we're heading up to Prescott to take a practice hike through some actual trees.
World-class procrastinator that I am, it doesn't matter that this has been lined up for 4 months. My training has been sadly lacking this past month. Moving and starting school at the same time has a funny way of sucking up one's time; however, I seem to always find time for Newsweek, if not a jog. So it will need to be sheer willpower, and some luck, to get me up that mountain. Well, and my baby brother's expert guidance. Fortunately, he seems to have forgotten the abuse I inflicted on him as a child, and promises to get me back in one piece. So- up the mountain!
I'll let you know how it went- either a post on here, or directions to which hospital I'm at.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Life Update, in Haiku

Boxes and boxes
Making high walls around me
Why, why so much stuff?

Slowly diminished
Order returning to our
New (gently used) condo

Cat under the bed
Peeking nose out, slowly, scared
Venturing downstairs

Two weeks later, cat
Prowls and yowls at night, waking
Me in the darkness

Up stairs, down stairs, legs
Getting exercise as I
Carrry books and books

Dance of joy as now
House is becoming clean, neat
Happy here with Brad

Students file in and
Out of school, learning, laughing
I grade their papers

Teaching done at one
Not as rushed as last year, I.
More time to plan, think

This year's kids are nice
Is it bad to say I like
These new ones better?



Friday, September 07, 2007

Another quiz! says I'm a Dorky History / Lit Geek.  What are you?  Click here!

Rock on! That's the kind of nerd I want to be. :-)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Meyer-Briggs Personality Profile

Click to view my Personality Profile page

Most of the times I have taken the Meyers-Briggs temperament sorter, I get this same result. I'm glad it's consistent. I confuse myself a lot of the time :-) , so I enjoy personality profiles and tools that help me reflect on what might be underlying motivations or issues for me that I don't always realize. If you've ever taken this type of profile sorter, what temperament are you?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Busier than a One-Armed Paperhanger

.... although fortunately no wallpaper is actually involved. But just so people know why no posts have been forthcoming, it's because 1) school has started again (just finished the first week) and 2) we're moving! We got the keys to our new condo 2 weeks ago, and right now it's filled with paint, dropclothes, dust, etc. Brad's amazing family is helping us get it painted and prepped before we move in next Saturday. So I will have either a lesson plan or paintbrush or box of stuff in my hand for the next week. :-)

PS- if you live in Phoenix, and have nothing to do next Saturday morning at 8, we are loading up the truck about then. :-)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Harry Potter fun

A magic website says that if I went to Hogwarts, I would be in.....

Want to Get Sorted?
I'm a Ravenclaw!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Summer Reading

So here's the post I was thinking about last time- reviews of some of the books I've read recently. By 'review' I mean 'Margaret's opinion', not anything thorough or scholarly. I wish I could figure out how to put the little pictures of the covers, but I'm not that savvy with my blog. If anyone can tell me how, I would appreciate it! In the meantime, links will have to do.

Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court (Greenburg). A detailed look at the choices for nomination to the Supreme Court over the last 25-30 years. This was very readable, not purposely obscure, and showed some of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that goes on when there's a vacancy on the Supreme Court. The author interviewed several justices and also talks about their process of argument, discussion, and opinion writing. The book covered several of the failed nominations- Bork, Miers, etc- and the politics behind their failures, as well as the surprising shifts some justices have made once they were confirmed (Souter, etc). Being a new book, it covers all the way up to the recent Roberts and Alito nominations. I'm interested in the judicial branch, particularly the Court Supreme and the ways in which it uses or limits itself in scope, and this was really interesting to me. It helped me understand how great a departure from the past this season's slate of opinions was. It'll be interesting to see what the Roberts court does in the future.

Freakonomics (Levitt, Dubner) This book was very interesting, even though it had no overarching point (except, 'Look what economics can discover!') The author applied economic study to some unorthodox topics. This book got a lot of flack when it came out, particularly from the Christian right, because it postulates that the drop in crime in the early 1990s (after a steadily rising rate in the 80s) was because of the legalization of abortion in the early 70s and thus an eventual drop in teenage criminals. I don't think that's a flaw in the book, though- their conclusions deserve to be addressed, not just dismissed. Just because eugenics is a horrible practice, biblically, doesn't mean that it wouldn't 'work' if applied. It needs to be objected to on other grounds than practicality. However, this book mentions several times how important it is to make sure that one is really discovering a cause-effect relationship using economics, and not just parallel sets of data that aren't caused by each other, and I don't think it did the best job of proving that in its own arguments. It's still interesting, though. Other topics it covers are 'how much money do drug dealers really make?' and 'Does a certain name really help a child do better in life?' It's an interesting book, though not very applicable or useful.

The Bookseller of Kabul (Seierstad) This is an account by a Swedish journalist of an Afghan family she lived with. She met a bookseller in the city of Kabul, a middle-aged man who seemed to be what every Westerner would hope to proliferate in Afghanistan. He prized reading and education, tried hard to preserve his country's heritage and opposed the Taliban, and wanted to see his country make material progress. He would seem to be an example of the country's hope for a better future. However, the book mostly focuses on the women of the family and how they still have pretty miserable lives, subject to the whims of the males in the family. The bookseller has two wives, plays favorites, treats his daughters badly, and doesn't let them go to school or work. It's an interesting sociological case study, and (I thought) good evidence for how Islam distorts gender roles. It's hard to tell, though, how much of the family dynamics come from Islam, how much from tradition, and how much from just the bookseller's personality. It doesn't turn out to be the flattering portrayal the journalist had been expecting- it puts the bookseller in a very bad light- but it does highlight how deep the cultural differences are between Middle Eastern and Western thinking.

The Mighty and the Almighty: Reflections on America, God, and World Affairs. (Albright) The former secretary of state under Clinton, Madeleine Albright, discusses the importance of religion in today's political climate. She discusses the rise of 'evangelicals' as a force in American culture, mostly with a negative slant. She seems to fall in the same category as most religious liberals- religion is a good and necessary force for teaching morality, but when it comes to specifics like abortion and gay marriage, well, the government shouldn't decide things like that. Nothing instructive or new that I hadn't heard before, though she writes well and honestly. It's definitely not a straight-out attack; she has some good things to say about the religious right, which gives the book a balanced and mature tone. No screeds in sight. She then talks about the current world climate, in which fundamentalism in many religions is rising, terrorism is on the rise, and Islam is a global issue. She applauds President Bush for taking a strong stand against terrorism- again, nice, coming from a Clinton admin official. (She then points out how mismanaged and short-sighted the war in Iraq was; true, again). Her basic conclusion is "Everyone slow down, take a deep breath, and try to understand the other side's point of view". That's not anything revolutionary, but it sure would be great if more countries and groups paid attention to it. A good book, but nothing essential or groundbreaking.

The work of Carl Barks, and Don Rosa. These two storytellers delighted me for many hours of my childhood. My dear husband downloaded some collections of stories, and I've been been amusing him by the number of times I laugh out loud at what I'm reading. Now, lest anyone turn up their nose at the idea of Donald Duck comics being worth any time in this world, I know for certain that those and National Geographic magazine were two of the most educational things I read as a child. Not only were the comics funny, but Donald, Uncle Scrooge, and Huey/Dewey/Louie went to just about every country on the globe. I learned more cultural and historical information than I would have from just about any other source, and had a great time doing it, too. I'm definitely going to make sure my kids have ready access to these great stories!

So. There are more to add to this list, but I'll save them till another time. In the meantime, please let me know any recommendations that you have, or even cautions of things to avoid. I love to hear what people are reading!

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Awful

So, this post was going to be about books I've read recently, but I'm changing it because these new stories are just CRYING for a post. As I've revealed before, I'm a complete news junkie, checking FoxNews and CNN and Slate several times a day, and it's always fascinating. I love the sheer variety of all that goes on in this world, first of all, and it's also interesting to see what the mainstream media decides to focus on. Here are 3 things I've read in just the last 10 minutes:

1. The Good. I actually found this article last, because the other 2 caught my eye and then I had to find a good article (to match my great post title). There is rather a dearth of positive articles in ready sight this evening, so a rat will have to do. Pixar is putting out another good, funny, non-dirty movie for families to enjoy. I really like this studio on behalf of parents and any future offspring that I might have. I want to see this, even though I don't have kids- Pixar has always made the price of a movie ticket worth it before.

2. The Bad. Mitt Romney, presidential candidate, apparently has some 'splaining to do, after a story he told to an interviewer about how he strapped the family dog to the roof of the car for a 12-hour trip, back in 1983. To make things worse, he was telling this story as an example of how he's great in a crisis, because the dog got diarhhea and Gov. Romney was apparently Johnny-on-the-spot washing it off the car. Animal-rights activists are now howling mad (pun intended). How could he possibly have thought that was a good anecdote to share?!? That makes another reason that I hope he doesn't win the Republican nomination (I hope this guy does).

3. The Awful. As if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict didn't have enough to keep it going, Palestinian TV has been showing a kid's show, featuring a very Mickey-Mouse lookalike rodent named Farfour, which teaches little Palestinians why the Israelis are so very bad and why it's the best goal in life to hurt them. This predictably raised a worldwide outcry, so the TV station has decided to pull the show. However, they didn't just pull it; they killed off Farfour by a supposed Israeli! Yes, that's right, kids, your favorite friendly Palestinian mouse was just beaten to death, on camera, by an Israeli. Now how do you feel about those evil people? This just makes me really sad, because it will just put up another obstacle to getting future generations to cooperate together.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring. Any news items you've found particularly note-worthy lately?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Top 5 Eats in Phoenix

So here is the meme that Veronica passed over to me. (Aside- HH and I were wondering how to pronounce the word 'meme'. Anyone know? He thinks it's 'meh-meh', and I think it's 'meem'). Guidelines:
1. List the person who tagged you.
2. State your location.
3. Top 5 favorite local restaurants
4. Tag 5 more people.

1. Veronica!
2. Phoenix, Arizona (north Phoenix... this city is becoming more and more like LA, in which suburbs that can loosely be referred to as 'Phoenix' are getting really spread out. If someone recommends a restaurant in, say, Chandler, that's an hour's drive away. So I specify- north Phoenix).
3. My favorite places (I include major chains in this because a) Veronica did, and b) because the branch is local, even if it isn't exclusive to Phoenix :-)
1. Macaroni Grill. Not just because of the good entrees (I love Italian!), but because of that fabulous bread they give you before the meal.
2. Monti's Steakhouse. Another place that gives excellent bread before the meal, plus great steaks, and it's over 100 years old!
3. Manuel's Mexican food. I really love their Hawaiian tacos. Great guacamole!
4. Pick Up Stix. Not even close to real Chinese food, but great tasting, and they have excellent little cream cheese wontons. I'm bummed they discontinued the Honey Chicken though. :-(
5. Wildflower Bread Co. A salad-sandwich-pasta place that has a big variety of items to try. I wish they had more locations. I love their butternut squash ravioli!

4. People I tag: Stacy, Staci, Beth, Brad, and Candace. :-)

Hm. On reflecting upon this list, I note that all my Top 5 choices are fairly expensive and fairly fattening. Sigh. Ah well....

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Huzzah for summer!

Ah, summer... when students are not at school, when teachers can read a book or dip in a pool, when it gets hot enough in Phoenix to fry an egg on the sidewalk.... fun times! In fact, I've been having such a good time that I've neglected to post anything for some time. :-( Sorry about that, loyal readers! Thank Veronica for nudging me out of my stupor. (I'll be posting my answers to the meme she tagged me with shortly). First, however, since my last post was about our imminent departure to Disneyland, I'll start with that. I've been choking down reluctant spoonfuls of crow ever since we returned (feathers taste so awful!) because I did, in fact, have a splendid time at the Magic Kingdom. I've even been admitting that to people who ask about it. Does this erase my years of aversion to Disneyland? Not quite... I still have a few bones to pick with the philosophy of "Your Dreams will Come True" being fed to little kids. And I still don't like pink or the Small World ride. But I feel a little less reluctance to going there than I did before. :-)
Part of this, of course, comes from going with great company. Not only was HH along, but my dear sister in law Stacy, her roommates Liz and Vangie, the irrepressable Josh, and of course Candace and Nathanael. Candace and I have been to Disneyland together 3 times now: 1) in college, with someone who shares a first name with a famous duck. Good times! 2) after college, when I was newly dating HH (24 hours or so newly) and C & N got engaged. Hard to beat a trip where your good friend gets happily engaged! 3) This recent time, as married couples. Excellent times! I suppose it will be time to add #4 when we each have ourselves some offspring. :-) Plus, on this trip, my baby brother and my former student Kristy also came by. Fabulous times!
The other part of enjoying Disneyland, for me, is the nostalgia. I love nostalgia. It's one of the few things I enjoy about getting older... more stuff to be nostalgic about. So one of the highlights of our trip was something that I loved as a little kid- the Electric Light Parade. I was sad when it was discontinued in the 90s, and thrilled that it was put back in the California Adventure park. Watching that, with the funky music, the spinning snails, the caterpillar and his hookah, was such fun! HH even got me a mint-chip ice cream cone to make the experience even better. :-) Other nostalgic highlights were the Tiki Room (another favorite when I was a kid) and getting to ride the monorail. Stuff like that makes me realize why I will take my kid to Disneyland someday (though not as often as the aforementioned Veronica :-) - because there is a certain special-ness to Disneyland (where else do you get to ride a monorail?) and because then they can have their own nostalgia-fest someday. It's a bit strange, thinking that I'll be able to shape my children's experiences in their childhood, and thus indirectly control what they someday feel nostalgic about. I'm going to try my best to give them a kick-butt childhood! :-) And a part of that will definitely include the Haunted Mansion, Matterhorn, and Tiki Room.
S0, the crow eaten, the humble pie consumed, and the rental car returned to its roost: I did enjoy our trip to Disneyland!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Road Trip!

Tomorrow night (well, the wee hours of Saturday, actually) we leave for the happiest place on earth. I don't agree with that moniker, because there are about a zillion other places that make me happier. I remember being disillusioned with Disneyland way back when I was 6 or 7, because even though it was really fun to go to, we still had to walk in the heat and I didn't get all the souveniers I asked for and there were long lines. (Plus I was never that fond of pink, and princesses, etc. My favorite area of the park was always Adventureland, and I would dream about taking a vacation to a real tropical forest instead of just the Tiki Room. Although I did love the Tiki Room song). Anyway- I am looking forward to this weekend, though, because it will be spent with good friends (who are also very fun people). My baby brother may even join us for the day! And a couple of those good friends dearly love Disneyland, so it will be fun watching them have such a good time.
How do you feel about Disneyland? Why do you like it, or tolerate it, or loathe it (or anything on that spectrum)?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Oh Dear....

Hey, look at me! Two posts in one day! I guess the fact that there are only 4 more days of school is giving me energy. :-)
So, I told this funny story to HH the other day, and he wants to post it on his blog too. It's that good (or sad, depending on how you look at it). A couple weeks ago in my 6th hour class, we were discussing the Cold War. (My 6th hour is filled with chatterboxes, because it's the end of the day, and some rather airheaded kids. That may sound mean, but you'll see what I'm talking about.) So, we were talking about Russia and how it's no longer communist, and the kids asked me what other countries are still communist. So we talked about Cuba, and China, and changing forms of communism. Some of the kids know that I've been to China (I have a map on the wall marking the places I've been), and they started asking me questions. Then the conversation turned to the Chinese language (no, not part of the lesson plan, but there was like 7 minutes left in the day and we all just wanted to get to the end of it). I told them how complicated Chinese is, and how there are over 3000 common characters to memorize, etc. Then students wanted to know how different languages got started, so I told them that languages change over time as groups live apart from each other (no Tower of Babel can be mentioned). So one girl in the second row raises her hand... 'Mrs. Petry, I don't get it!' 'What don't you get, Student X?" I asked. (Now Student X has a history of coming out with 'blonde' questions. Sometimes I think she just pretends dumb to get attention, and sometimes I'm not sure...) Anyway, she replied. "I just don't get it. If Chinese is so complicated, why did they stop using English and switch to that?"
Sigh. No, Student X, English is not the original language of the human race. You might be proud to be an American, but there are some things in this world actually didn't start with us. Shocker.

Immigration Arguments

The immigration debate continues to build in the US, especially here in Arizona where the border is long, mostly unguarded, and busy with illegal immigrants crossing. The new immigration bill put forward by Congress last week seems like a hopeful step, but I wouldn't be surprised if it meets the fate of most other compromise bills- opposed by each side because it doesn't give either side enough of what it wants. I hope the parties can see the wisdom in compromising, given that the alternative is continuing to do nothing, but sometimes wisdom seems to be lacking in Washington DC...
Something that bothers me, though, is the amount of hostility I hear from many people, including Christians, towards illegal immigrants. My 8th grade students (who have never been known to think of facts when an opinion of their parents will do) hardly have to hear a mention of illegal immigrants before their righteous (and sometimes racist) indignation boils over. Back in April, we had just finished viewing a video about some people in East Germany who built their own hot air balloon to escape communism and get to West Germany. The kids seemed very sympathetic to the family- 'they were so brave', etc. But when I asked them if this made them feel differently about the immigration debate in Arizona, they instantly switched their position. 'Lazy, taking jobs from Americans', etc. (And of course the kids thought of these things all on their own, because 8th graders LOVE to sit around discussing social policy in their free time :-) But anyway, it's a symptom of a much greater mood in the country. And I've heard many adults hold a very black-and-white position too: 1. People are breaking the law to immigrate. 2. Lawbreakers should be punished.
Now, both those points are true, I admit. However, I can't help but feel that the blame is being grossly misplaced in this situation. Maybe it's my empathetic nature (wanting to take care of sick kittens and all that), but I truly think that people's anger should be directed much less at the immigrants and more at the Mexican government and NAFTA trading partners that continue to make conditions ripe for immigration. There's a mental analogy that I keep thinking of lately:
Two pastures of sheep, side by side, separated by an (old and broken) fence. On one side, the grass is green and lush, the water trough is sparkling, there are shady trees, and the sheep are content and fat (maybe a little too fat). The little lambs gambol about happily, not a care in the world. On the other side, the grass is scrubby and patchy, the wind stirs up dust that clogs the sheeps' eyes, the water trough has mold in it, and the sun is hot and dry. The little lambs are skinny and coughing and hardly have energy to play. Now there is a gate between these two pastures, but there's a sign on it that says only one out of 100 sheep in pasture 2 will be chosen to go to pasture 1 (though a rich sheep can pay off the gatekeeper too). There's a law that says no other sheep in pasture 2 can go over to pasture 1.
So it seems to me, as I think of that scene, that there should be anger at the shepherds who care for the sheep. There should be anger at the land-management company. There should be anger at the groundskeepers. There should be calls for change and reform in all those areas. But, I think, there should be a great deal more sympathy and understanding for those poor sheep. I know what I would do if I was in pasture 2.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Happy birthday, brother!

Even with me as a big sister, my brother has made it to the ripe old age of 24. He's got the battle scars to show it, too! And he still actually likes me, I think... imagine that. :-)
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Wednesday, May 02, 2007


So today was Career Day at school, and I had a guest speaker assigned to my classroom. It was a retired school principal, who talked about her years in education as well as her waitressing during college and such. She also talked about what she remembered of the 1960s- Kennedy, Vietnam, etc, since that's what we've been studying lately.

Most of my classes were good, but my good ol' 2nd hour (well, the handful of louts that are in that class) managed to ask her two memorable questions:

1. Have you ever worked at Hooters?
2. Did you do LSD during the hippie era?

Great, guys. Just the thing to make your teacher proud. >:-(

(She's taught middle school before, though, so it didn't phase her very much!)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

New hair color! I thought it would be fun to try something new. :-) At least for the 2 months it will last.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Is anyone lurking?

So, I'd like to find something out, if you'll help me. I know I'm a really slow blogger, and I update this site at the speed of snail (probably even slower). So I need some motivation- a kick in the pants, as it were. One motivating factor would be knowing that there are people who do look at this blog every once in a while. I am a 'blog lurker' myself, and I read plenty of blogs without ever leaving a comment, so I wonder if there's anyone lurking around mine. Therefore- if you stop by this blog in the next 2 weeks (till May 8th), will you leave a comment, please? If you happen to come by more than once, please leave a comment for each visit.

If you need inspiration to comment, here is a question for you: What is your favorite book?

Thanks, friends!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Unsearchable Ways

What an incredibly powerful post this is. This blogger is a guy I vaguely knew in college, but he has great thought-provoking posts. Read and be thoughtful....

Monday, March 26, 2007

Spring Break!

My spring break officially ended yesterday, and today was back to the kids. Ah, it was so nice to have a week to see people, read books... to have more of what feels like a 'life' than when I'm teaching! (I know that's a life too, it's just not as fun) :-)
I don't have a lot of time right now, but here are thumbnail reviews of several books I read over break:

Uglies, by Scott Westerfield. A decent young-adult sci-fi story. It's well-written, though you can see where the plot is going. It's about a future society in which everyone gets an operation at age 16 to look like a supermodel. Of course, evil lurks behind this seemingly great idea... The main character is well-written and believable, as a girl who wants the operation but makes friends with a girl who wants to run away to the wild. I also read the sequel, Pretties. It's a trilogy, and I'm looking forward to reading the 3rd part, Specials, when it comes out in paperback.

A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah. This is the current 'Starbucks book', a memoir of a man who grew up in Sierra Leone during its civil war and became a child soldier. Besides being a mournful account of a country torn apart and a childhood destroyed, it's a good example of how quickly and evilly people's morals break down when they're involved in a group that's acting in their own self-interest. The two 'sides' in the conflict, the government soldiers (and child recruits) versus the rebels (and child recruits), do unspeakable things and justify it to themselves. It really made me want to stay more aware of civil wars, especially in Africa, and find some reputable aid organizations to support. One of the best things about the book is his description of his rehabilitation and the people who worked with these murderous, drugged-out teenagers and children.

A Three-Dog Life, Abigail Thomas. Continuing my fascination with sad and melancholy books, this one is a memoir of a woman whose husband was hit by a car and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He had absolutely no memory and barely any present sense, almost like an Alzheimer's patient. She had to put him in long-term care because he was too hard to care for at home. I liked this book a lot because while this could easily become an exercise in self-pity, it's a realistic look at what it feels to go through grief and then acceptance. It's a strange in-between place, her husband not being dead, but their relationship completely changed. Like some other books I've read in this genre (The Year of Magical Thinking, etc), she makes no mention of God, and its doubtful that she has a relationship with Him. That makes me simultanously admire her, and draw back in horror- the idea of facing such a horrible circumstance entirely under her own strength, and without any hope of eternity.

The Gates of November, Chaim Potok. One of my favorite authors of all time, in fiction, here writes about a Russian Jewish family and their experiences under Communism. This true-to-life telling gives me great admiration for the Russian people, for surviving for 70 years under communism. It seems like the communists kept their power intact partly by a strategy of sheer confusion- things that were permitted one year were banned the next; people who had done a certain activity for years were suddenly arrested for it; that teetering way of life seems to have been purposeful, in order to keep people afraid. The book contrasts between a father, a dedicated orginial Old Bolshevik, and his son, a 'refusenik' who tried for years to emigrate to Israel. To see the son's eventual success at the end of the book, after decades of futility, is a great ending. It's the happy ending of fiction, played out in fact.

If I manage to finish any more of the, oh, 10 or so that I'm working on currently, I'll update with more later. :-)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Hee, hee!

My husband is funny. You should go see. :-)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

My Grandma Parker


My Grandma Parker died on Friday. It was rather unexpected, and quick- a heart attack and she was gone. I had been waiting for a phone call with news of one of my grandparents' deaths for a long time now, but it still was hard to hear. I will remember her unwillingness to speak badly of anyone, her love of animals and nature, the way she would call me 'Mah-gret', her giggle when she heard something funny, and the way she would squeeze my hand when I sat next to her. I am picturing her in heaven now, seeing her Creator face to face and getting to revel in more spectacular scenery than Alaska's ever had. I love you Grandma! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 21, 2007

2 1/2 Years!


B and I just passed our 2 1/2 year anniversary, on January 17th. :-) Even though I don't go around smiling this big all day each day, I'm still just as happy to be married to such a wonderful man! Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 15, 2007


I'm very proud of several of the men in my life right now. Sunday was the annual Phoenix marathon, and once again my parents came out so my dad could run. It was great to visit with them (I'm reminded of how much I miss them every time I'm with them!) and to cheer on my dad. Actually, I didn't get to see him finish the race, because I was over at the half-marathon fimish line, watching Brad finish!! I was so proud of him for doing the race, which has been a goal of his since this past summer. He got really sick for about a month in November and had to stop his training, so he'd pretty much decided to not do it. However, he was persuaded by his dad to walk it with him- yes, my father-in-law did the half marathon as well! And B got a bit more energy than he had thought, and ran for over half the race, finishing in 3 hours 6 minutes. Go, husband! My dad, meanwhile, racked up another time of 4 hours 6 minutes- amazing, for 26.2 miles. The under-four-hour mark continues to elude him, but all his finishes have been just over 4 hours. Considering that running for more than about 50 yards is enough to put a stitch in my side, I am amazed by my two dads and my husband! Go them! Right now I feel inspired enough to start training and do the half-marathon next year myself. We'll see how long that inspiration lasts though. ;-)