Sunday, August 31, 2008
Yes, friends. By virtue of napping until 5:00 p.m. today (Sunday) I have earned the new title "King of the Slugs." Of course, I was up reading Gregor the Overlander until after midnight (thanks, Amanda--and I mean it). But isn't this what holiday weekends are for? I think so, and I hope all of you got a nap or at least enjoyed what you were doing today.
The pictures were taken on last evening's bike ride around Pinehurst. Above is the entrance to Fairwoods Pinehurst # 7 Golf Course (where the old World Golf Hall of Fame is, near the traffic circle).
After free-wheeling through the entrance circle of the Carolina Hotel, I paused for the above shot of the grand old place. Diamondhead Corporation had once changed its name to the Pinehurst Hotel, but the current ownership, a more genteel and history-conscious bunch, reverted to its original moniker, The Carolina.
Nearing dusk, I changed camera settings for this pic of the Sandhills Women's Exchange building. It is more than historic to our family. The building was actually the kitchen of the McKenzie family (Judy's great grandparents) in the late 19th century. The Tufts family who founded Pinehurst acquired this kitchen and had it moved here in the early days of the resort (around 1895) so that local women could display and demonstrate such crafts as spinning and weaving for a tourist population largely unacquainted with such things. Judy's Great Grandmother McKenzie demonstrated weaving at the nearby Carolina Hotel.
Biking is a great way to tour the village and "old town" of Pinehurst. The riding is level, leisurely, and safer than most county thoroughfares. Judy and I plan to put on a lot more miles up there during the fall. Come to think of it, when I think of all that pedaling yesterday, I don't feel like such a slug after all. How about "Slug Prince?"
Saturday, August 30, 2008
The first week of school really breezed by. I could really blog for a long time about what it was like not to be an active part of it, but I think I'll limit myself to 5 things I missed and 5 things I didn't miss. Here goes:
- Reading the first Jack Tale, "Jack in the Giants' Newground."
- Playing "Poison River", where the children have to leap across an increasingly wider, more treacherous river, threatened by imaginary piranha, alligators, anacondas, and so forth.
- The first singalong, and teaching a new bunch of children "The Cat Came Back."
- Sharing before and after school with my colleagues. Those sharing times were far too limited by the nature of our job, but they were moments of empathy, support, and encouragement.
- The opportunity to ignite a love of learning and nurture a sense of purpose in a new group of children. As Dr. Purser aptly noted in some beginning-of-the-year remarks, teaching is one of the few professions that gets to start fresh each year. That's why I still loved teaching even when I chose to retire. In fact, the last year was one of the best!
I DON'T MISS
- Giving End-of-Grade Pretests to 3rd graders the first week of school.
- Having to sign up for committees that I knew were going to take me away from where my heart was.
- Having to implement practices or procedures I was philosophically against.
- Being taken out of my classroom for county inservice or group scoring sessions.
- Being deluged by e-mails from the county office that generally had little relevance to my mission, and often required a detailed, well-thought-out response, survey, or evaluation (there went my planning time again).
Many folks have asked me this week if I miss the children. YES! However, the children I miss are the ones I know. That's 45 4th and 5th graders that I was privileged to teach, PLUS Jessie! Not knowing who would have been in my class this year meant that I didn't have to break a bond. Because once I have a student for one day, the bond solidifies quickly and parting is painful. But very soon I will be back on campus, at least from time to time, doing the things I loved best. But not for a paycheck. More later. HAPPY LABOR DAY!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I have no compelling topic to blog about today. I'm scared to title this "pots pourri" because if I blog for years this will probably be a recurring problem. So I'm just going to drop a few tidbits of what I've been doing the last couple of days.
- Found a new home for the frogs (except the original--he dropped by to have Bible study with Judy last night) Thanks for all the helpful advice, blogmates!
- Tuesday night was Greg's Jam at church and we had a good time. Ray went for the first time and made my old guitar sound better than I ever did!
- Enjoyed Wednesday lunch with Amanda. She brought Italian Sausage Soup and Judy made cheese toast and coffee cinnamon bars--yum!
- Thanked God for 3 and a half inches of rain (not just because it got me out of yardwork!). I was even more thankful that Georgia and western North Carolina got heavy rains. Their drought has been worse and more persistent than ours.
- Enjoyed Wednesday night Bible Study. Finished up Ephesians with "the whole armor of God."
- Began one of my periodic cleaning/reorganization efforts in the garage. With the woodpile 95% ready for winter, working in the garage is a never-ending task. But I love sorting and sifting through the stuff. I do get rid of some things, but just reorganizing and putting things in their proper place makes it worthwile. I turned on a box fan, listened to NPR's coverage of the Democratic convention, and kept cool as I worked. My main achievement was going through all my toolboxes and inventorying where everything was.
For my teacher friends, here's a Thursday 'Thought for the Day.'
Having a five-day week to start the year must be a mental drain on you as a teacher. With that in mind, put yourself in the place of your students. The length of the school day is exaggerated even more in their minds. And when teachers have pull-out, the kids are still in a learning situation. For those third graders who had to take the EOG Pre-test this week it's been a particular challenge, for certain. My point is, do something purely for fun Friday afternoon. It's a trade-off that reaps rich dividends. Just for the children to see that school is not all work, no play, encourages them and makes them more productive when it is worktime. Okay, okay, I know . . . you already had a video selected, didn't you! Well, you ALL deserve it! And just to show I mean it, there'll be no faculty meeting next Monday (ha,ha).
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
Let us not forget that today is the last workday for teachers. Monday is the real thing. Thousands of students and hundreds of teachers got rid of a few butterflies with this week's Back-to-School Night. I didn't always like those nights, but after a few years I realized it actually reduced the stress of the first real day because at least we weren't meeting for the first time. Monday, computer willing, I'll have some opening day words of encouragement for those embarking on the 180-day journey once again.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Today, I took off from working on the woodpile for a more important endeavor. Pastor Barbery asked me to lead Sunday evening's service this week, and I knew my basic theme immediately. Developing it and organizing my thoughts is the harder part, and I've spent most of this morning studying every gospel reference to the word "truth." Things are coming together, but I have a lot more studying ahead before I'm ready to share.
Amanda's coming for lunch! Soup, cheese toast, and great company. So long for now.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Today's blog is dedicated to all educators in general, but specifically to my former colleagues and dearest friends at Sandhills Farm Life Elementary. Under Miss McNeill's patient guidance SFL has continued to be true to the proven practices of the past while embracing the promise of new horizons. Staff, please remember that of all professions, only a handful rival that of the educator for far-reaching, life-changing impact on individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole. NO ONE will work harder than you this year, but like exercise, if it were easy, you'd know you weren't doing it right.
Today, letters to students go in the mail. Tomorrow, with luck, most will know who their teacher is. Thursday is Back-to-School night, and Friday is catch-your-breath, final preparation day. Monday is live action, play for keeps. 180 grueling days, but yes it will be worth it. No one does more important work.
I'll keep you folks in my prayers and my blogs will pertain to education matters more than they have thus far. They should still be relevant to non-educators, because whether you're a parent, aunt, uncle, sibling, or mentor to someone younger, you're a teacher, too. Eyes are watching you, ears are listening.
Soon, I hope to be seeing a lot of you at school. A cub scout has already volunteered to assist me with Nature Trail upkeep. Fourth grade teachers say they will permit me to share my book once again ("Mystery at the Loyd Homeplace"). I hope to do Acey-Deucey at the Fall Festival and share some games and Jack Tales at other times as well.
Still, all in all, it's nice to be blogging instead of scrubbing desks (Forgive me)!
Saturday, August 16, 2008
- When in doubt, PRAY. When not in doubt, PRAY. (Thanks for the T-shirt Amanda and Stephen)
- Our lives must have a purpose, and that's not the same as "what will you be when you grow up." We can't fully understand our purpose until we have Jesus in our life.
- Knowledge can come from man, but wisdom originates with God.
- Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It's harder and harder to find truth in the world, but you can depend on God's unchanging truth.
- A simple formula for life's purpose is "To know Him and to serve Him." (That's not an original motto by the way)
I donated a copy of my book Mystery at the Loyd Homeplace to their church library after giving a little background. My dedications always refer to finding life's true riches in God's Word. The youth were having hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch and plenty of outdoor fun, including a dunking booth, later in the day. As I left, I was thankful for the invitation to share and meet some new friends as well as see a few old ones.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Mural Facing the General Store
Ken ~ Spinach Walnut Stuffed Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper and Smoked Gouda Sauce -- Locally made ravioli from Drakes Pasta in High Point NC stuffed with spinach and walnut and topped with roasted red pepper and smoked Gouda sauce and served with chef’s choice vegetables and organic bread. (I also had an appetizer: Seasoned Oven Fries w/Citrus Soy Mayo Dipping Sauce)
Judy ~ Shrimp and Grits GSC -- Gulf shrimp sautéed in butter and roasted garlic over creamy local organic yellow grits with roasted baby tomatoes and Prosciutto ham and served with chef’s choice vegetables and organic bread.
*Sneak preview. A few of you know that Emma and Jessie's sleepover extended into my and Judy's 32nd anniversary, August 14. My next post will feature that momentous occasion.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
There have been times in my life when rain ruined big plans, but for the most part I have positive associations with rainy days. When I was little, in Georgia's red clay country, a good rain meant you'd have puddles for wading or floating toy boats for several days. We had a large puddle beside the entrance to our driveway that rarely dried up before another rain came along to refill it. I got my first bicycle while living there, for my 6th or 7th birthday. Unfortunately, it rained for several days in succession, non-stop. My sympathetic and loving mother allowed me to ride my new red bike with training wheels inside the house! That was so sweet I never forgot it. Rainy days were also great for making indoor clubhouses using blankets, up-turned chairs, and card tables. We played games, read, and manufactured fun. We had a wonderful screen porch where we set up Fort Apache or World War II battlefields, played with our electric trains, or constructed with Lincoln Logs and domino towers.
When we moved a couple of miles away, we had a stream in our back yard. The house, where Mama and Daddy still live, was on the high ground above the stream and back yard, which was in a flood plain. When the days of rain came, we resorted to our old favorite indoor diversions, but would keep looking out the back windows to see if our stream had overflowed its banks yet. It took a lot of rain to accomplish this, but the raging torrents were a sign that with continued rain, our yard would eventually become a rice paddy. Even though we couldn't play there in those conditions, it never failed to take our breath away to see the Noah's Ark scenario unfolding.
During college years, all four of my summers were at Camp Cherokee near beautiful blue Lake Burton in north Georgia. It rained more there than anywhere I've resided before or since. In some ways, rainy days were harder work for the counselors because we had to use every ounce of ingenuity to entertain 50 active boys without letting anyone get bored. Instead of archery, riflery, skiing, and outdoor games, we substituted Hide Mr. Duck, Parson Parson, Community Sings, and impromptu dramatics down at the barn. Not that we had to stay indoors. We all went barefoot on rainy days (all pioneers know to keep their shoes dry!) and wore raincoats or ponchos. Many engaged in dam building as red clay rainwater gushed down gulleys and through ditches. Teams of muddy, happy campers used their hands, the abundant clay, large rocks, and camping shovels to try to control the roaring floods. And if there was no thunder and lightning we could sometimes persuade Jane Mac to let us play mud soccer on the grassy expanse of the A-field. Barefoot and in swimsuits, we played with a kickball, and sliding in the wet grass was more likely intentional than an effort to steal the ball. From a counselor's viewpoint, two of the best things were rest hour and bedtime. Rest hour was extended on those days, and boy did we need that catch-up time. And with rain on our cabins's tin roofs the boys didn't try to stay awake whispering--they couldn't hear each other! We may have taken white shorts and T-shirts to camp, but when we went home they were tinged with red clay stains forever--Tide XK or no Tide XK.
Camp also had the puddles that we in the Sandhills of North Carolina don't tend to see. Here at home, after a downpour of even the highest magnitude, most of the water soon seeps through the sandy soil (Do I like tongue twisters? Yes). Jennifer went to Camp Cherokee with me and Judy the summer before Amanda's birth, 1982. Shortly after we came home to the Sandhills we had a rainy day, and that night Jennifer called me back into her room after we'd said our prayers and turned out the lights. She had had an interesting realization. "Daddy (I hadn't become 'Dad' yet), it rained today and the mud didn't come out!"
Today was one of those steady, drippy days that I've come to love and appreciate. I did something I'd never tried before, which I think is environmentally wise in these days of frequent drought. My brother Buddy had mentioned washing his cars when it rains, and I proceeded to wash the '90 Toyota, '73 Mercury wagon, and Judy's Toyota Tacoma with the steady showers supplying the rinse. My bare feet relished the fond memories of when they had known such freedom in days gone by. Definitely, good memories.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
I was an adult before I learned (taught myself) about meteors, and I have found them to be a fascinating natural wonder. Every year the earth passes through a dozen major meteor showers as it orbits the sun. And only a small portion of them ever become visible, because only upon entry into the earth's atmosphere do they begin to glow and burn up, a result of high-speed friction. It's a little hard to visualize what's happening, but think of a child running through a sprinkler. Only a small percentage of water drops actually hit the child, but he/she still gets a thorough shower. And no meteor shower typically has more meteors enter our airspace than the Perseid.
You'll hear and read from various media sources that you need to observe this shower between 2 and 5 a.m. tonight (Monday night/Tuesday morning). That's not entirely accurate. That IS the PEAK period, but a lesser number of meteors will be visible well before midnight. There is some degree of unpredictability, but Judy and I have never failed to see at least a few meteors any time we looked, even at 9 or 10 p.m. So don't despair just because you can't afford to lose sleep tonight. In fact, this shower lasts up to three days, the period it takes Earth to exit the "target zone." So even Tuesday evening, a sky-viewer is likely to have success.
Now, for some tips on viewing for the most enjoyment.
1. Select a spot with the greatest 360 view and the least interference of city or neighborhood lights. The darker it is, the more your eyes will catch.
2. You'll persevere longer if you set up a viewing area so you can lie flat on your back for at least several minutes. Folks that go out in the yard, tilt their head back, and wait a couple of minutes are going to get a stiff neck and tire of this quickly. But if you spread out a sleeping bag or quilt on the ground and lie down you'll be able to totally relax and enjoy the night air and peacefulness even when no meteors are falling.
3. Once in a comfortable position, you DO NOT need binoculars or a telescope. Those are for viewing stationary heavenly bodies (NO, not your neighbor). Your eyes are all you'll need. Lying on your back very still your eyes will pick up any motion with peripheral vision. So you can just stare straight up until your brain detects motion in some other portion of the sky. Likely, you will see some meteors so faint, you won't know for sure if you saw anything. Don't worry about that. There will be enough certain sightings for you to feel successful. We've seen over 100 on one occasion, but even seeing a few is rewarding, and some of them are breath-taking.
So treat yourself to this free and awe-inspiring spectacle. If you miss it, or it's cloudy, don't worry. These showers will be back. A google search will probably give you a lot more info and dates for the other showers, or e-mail me. They're really fun on a winter night, too.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
In the days since I scheduled this almost everyone I mentioned it to said they had already had the experience (some of you younger ones may have years to wait). I got advice, I got sympathy, but nobody offered to take my place. Harold was eager to e-mail me a comic list of comments patients had supposedly made to their colonoscopy administrators. Here are a couple: No-- on second thought I don't want to get banned from blogspot after one month. Anyway, they're funny. Harold told me I'd crack up. My 94 year-old father was most encouraging, too. He told me his was done years ago without anesthesia and he thought he was going to die. They kept him for one hour, let him drive home, and he ate at Chic-Fil-a.
Well I just paused for my sixth 8 ounce drink in one hour. No results yet, but I am starting to feel full. Between potty breaks this evening, I hope to read, watch a little of the Olympics, and play cards. I'll leave you now to anticipate my next post. Personally, since I'm going to miss my next three meals, I'm going to begin thinking about my next solid food--Monday evening!
Friday, August 8, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
My outings resulted in me filling up my calendar for the rest of the week. I have places to be at 8 a.m. Tuesday, 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, 8 a.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. Friday, and 9 a.m. Saturday. See, that's why I had to retire!
Saturday, August 2, 2008
St. John, the Toilet Tree (use your imagination)
In general, I love trees. Growing up, about the only ones I knew were pine, oak, holly, and dogwood. But in high school biology I got really interested in leaf classification and the new hobby would serve me well as Nature Counselor at Camp Cherokee a few years later. Then, on our Sandhills Farm Life Nature Trail, I always enjoyed pointing out interesting trees. There were Jack, Will, and Tom, a poplar tree with three identical trunks orinating from one huge base. Jack, Will, and Tom were the three brothers in our popular Jack Tales. Students also loved St. John (the Toilet Tree), which had an interesting trunk that resembled a port-o-potty. Many looked forward to a snack from "Sourwood Sally," located in the Graveyard of the Pines. Most would at least try chewing up a leaf in the pioneer spirit, and some claimed to enjoy it.
All of these positive associations still do not make me claim to be a "tree hugger." I am thankful for trees, and consider them one of God's great multi-purpose blessings. They provide food and shelter for wildlife, oxygen for all, lumber, and firewood. Much better than a jungle gym for authentic climbing. And where else, praytell, would you locate a treehouse? With all that to love, what's NOT to love about trees? Stay tuned.