Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Oyster Snobbery

I bought some really delicious looking oysters to put in my stuffing for Thanksgiving and they were very fresh and yummy. They were from Washington state. But when we ate the rest of them in oyster stew, I realized that my oyster love is definitely reserved for those "arsters drudged" from Chesapeake Bay. There's something about those bivalves that are absolutely fabulous. They are mild and light tasting--eating them is like breathing the air near the ocean--light, sweet & salty all at once. The west coast oysters were good, and the milk broth was just fine, but the oysters themselves were just too strong. They weren't "gone 'round the bend" bad, just too strong.

My oyster love started when Cool Guy and I went to a seafood restaurant in Malibu. We tried some raw on the half-shell and they were really yummy. Then, five years later we moved to Southern Maryland where oysters were king for many years, and now, in their decline, are still pretty darned regal. We ate them at the seafood restaurant near our house. The oysters there were so fresh they had probably been dredged that very day. Then we went to the National Oyster Shucking Championships at the county fairgrounds and totally gorged ourselves. Once we were gifted with a gallon of freshly shucked oysters by our son who brought them home from the restaurant where he cooked. They were closing for a week and all the fresh food went home with the workers. Wow. We had them fried, stewed, baked and creamed. I used my cookbook from the oyster shucking festival! Ymmmmmmm. We really didn't get sick of oysters everyday for five straight.

When I was a girl, my dad used to have oyster stew several nights a week. He'd open that can of oysters to pour into the hot milk and I'd have to leave the room. They looked like boogers and tasted like an old shoe filled with horse poop. Blecchh...

Don't know why as an adult I've gained a taste for them---raw, no less! Guess I have to make up for all the oysters my dad missed out on since he died too young. Happy to do my part, Daddy.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Ha! Looking at my weather box on the computer I see that everywhere I've ever lived, or my children (in the western hemisphere) are living is FREEZING COLD. Even here in Vegas Baby. But...wait...in Southern Maryland it is warm! What? That's just wrong. Oh well, at least the brothers are not shivering. The rest of the family is.

But of course, if we were in Port Hueneme, the 65 Degree Town, we'd be okay, too. My friend there used to say that it would either get up to 65 or down to 65, but everyday, it would be 65. And in six years---I can validate her remark. Hmmm...California.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Olive Blah

I have always like Olive Garden's soup and salad combo. Their soups are tasty, the salad dressing delicious, the breadsticks to die for. So tonight, I thought I'd stop there, get that for dinner, and take home another entree to feed myself for the next two days before the Season of Cooking officially begins. Blah...what a yucky experience! My soup was tasty, but they apparently just chopped and tossed in the kale about two seconds before serving it to me. What? Then the salad: a pathetic collection of the yellowed inner leaves of really old iceberg. You know, that bitter core part? And TWO, count them (apparently someone did!) TWO olives!!! Come on!! One measly peppericini and two tiny tomato slices. GOOD GRIEF--I've had better salad at Denny's. And the ultimate failure: pasty, undercooked breadsticks. I got there at 5:00 P.M. so I figured they wouldn't be too busy. Wrong. Evidently they were "between shifts" or something. My server disappeared shortly after I finished eating what I could of my icky salad and raw breadsticks. So I finished off the soup. Sat there. Sat there. Sat there. Someone cleared my table. I sat and sat waiting for my check. But I didn't see the server again! Finally I went up to the front and asked a hostess to find her. She appeared with the take out bag, handed it to me and said bye. I could have just walked right out, because no one seemed to notice that I'd never been asked to pay anything by anyone. I offered my money to the bartender, but he had to find the server and eventually she came back and charged me. Sheesh...it'll be a long time before I go there again. Bummer, I really love their breadsticks and soup. Guess I'll have to find an Olive Garden in another part of town. Or another town---it was all too much like many of my Vegas experiences.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Things I Wouldn't Camp in Front of A Store to Get

Tonight I stopped off at Target and there were seven people in lawn chairs sitting in a line outside the door. One person had a small tent pitched at the end of the line. I asked why they were there and one woman said, "To get away from my kids!" I told her that was a good enough reason for me. What they were actually doing, however was lining up for tomorrow morning's release of the new Play Station version whatever.

This, I would not camp in front of a store to get.

But then, we did without t.v. for eight years. It broke, we couldn't really afford the part right then for Cool Guy to fix it, and after about a week, we looked at one another and said, "Hey, this is pretty nice...." and threw it away.

Now, mind you--our children were 4 and 2 and 1...there was no cable t.v. yet...no one at our house watched sports...VCR's weren't invented yet...and we loved to listen to music and read. Although, one year I had two children who quit my home daycare after a week when they couldn't handle living in a house, even for three hours after school, without a t.v. or a video game set-up.

I grew up in a home where the television was mostly always on. I loved and still love to watch the tube. But, honestly, we rarely missed it! Occasionally, I'd rent one for Christmas break, still pre-cable, but we lived in a big city and so could easily get the broadcast channels. And no one was forbidden to go to a friend's house and watch it now and then. But mostly our kids played and read and made crafts and dressed up and wrote family newspapers, and dug huge pits in the pathetically ratty backyards we seemed to always have. And had wars with GI Joes during which Barbie was taken as prisoner and inevitably died and a funeral and burial followed. (I didn't buy Barbies again after she was lost in an unmarked grave...)

We bought a t.v. again one year after Cool Guy was given a broken VCR which he repaired. We figured we could watch movies. Well, cable had been invented and so we started watching regularly again. But, if we wanted to see a show at 8:00 and then another one at 10:00, we'd shut it off in between. And we still read books, and played GI Joes and made crafts and dug huge pits in the backyard (curious how that activity remained popular over the years even as the children grew older.)

But at no time would I have considered owning a game console. Yes, I was [and am] the evil mother who would not permit one to be purchased and installed. Okay, we had computer games. But no way, no how, will I ever live in a house with a game console. To me it is the equivalent of crack for kids. I've taught nine year olds for 12 years. And the kids who play a lot of video games have no imagination for story-telling. They do not read for fun. They don't even play outside very often! They live, eat, and breath X-BOX/GAMECUBE/PS3/whatever. I think it is a path to brain inertia at the least, and brain damage at the worst.

So, you'll never find me camped outside a store, waiting for the release of the newest, bestest, coolest brain-cell sucking object for my children. I just laughed with/at them in a nice way and went into the store.

I didn't tell them that as a parent and a school teacher I was appalled and horrified that they would waste the time and the money on something so destined to stunt their child's intellectual growth and physical health. Since none of them asked.

Kitty Cat Schedule

5:00 A.M. Get on the bed and knead the bladder of the sleeping person so she will wake up and let you out the door. Even though there is a perfectly fine cat box right there by the door.

6:45 A.M. Sit on the counter and sniff everything that the person is putting into her lunch box. Lick the top of her glass of milk.

7:15 A.M. ---6:00 P.M. Nap

6:01 P.M. Hearing the garage door open, assume position on front rug in order to meow loudly as soon as she walks in the kitchen door.

6:01 --- 6:15 P.M. Continue meowing loudly until the kitty-chicken is served. (If foolish person does anything prior to kitty-chicken service continue meowing as you follow her around and, if necessary, jump up and pound on her leg if she still fails to deliver the kitty-chicken.)

6:15--6:18 P.M. Gobble down half of kitty-chicken.

6:18--7:00 P.M. Rush back and forth between patio and kitchen and living room in a state of delirious dervishness for reasons known only to Kitty-Cats.

7:00 P.M. Curl up at the side of person correcting math tests on the couch.

10:30 P.M. Curl up beside person who FINALLY went to bed.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Forgetting the Hidden Rules

In coming here to teach in a very poor part of this town, I spent several weeks over the first summer in a class sponsored by the school district that, among other things, gave us some specific information on generational poverty and its impact on student learning and behavior.

I forgot some important parts of it this year. And it has led to serious misunderstandings with parents and students--but definitely parents.

Ruby Payne, PhD. has a terrific book about this and one important part is about the hidden rules. She points out this:

Understanding and Working with Students and Adults from Poverty:
The hidden rules of the middle class govern schools and work; students from generational poverty
come with a completely different set of hidden rules.
In generational poverty, the driving forces are survival,
entertainment, and relationships. That is why you will have a student whose Halloween costume cost $30 but the textbook bill is not paid. Relationships and entertainment are more important than

Hidden Rules
Generational Poverty

The driving forces for decision
making are survival,
relationships, and

People are possessions. It is
worse to steal someone’s
girlfriend than a thing. A
relationship is valued over
achievement. That is why you
must defend your child no
matter what he or she has done.*

(*there are several others...this is the relevant one)

So, when I invited the guardian of one of my most difficult students to come over one afternoon and sit in my class to help me keep him under control---as she volunteered to do on several occasions---it was a mistake. It actually just allowed her to "gather evidence" that indeed, the white teacher wasn't being fair to her "boy" because other students talked some, and other students were off task, too, now and then. So WHY WAS I PICKING ON HIM???[her surrogate person--therefore I'm picking on the adult]

I had forgotten the hidden rules. When I had a child acting badly in a class years ago, I volunteered to come and sit in the back of the room and the humilation factor for that young teen worked great!! I only had to do it twice before I was promised (and the promise was kept) that no more bad behavior would interrupt that teacher's class.

It's those pesky middle class values: you can change your behavior because you are in charge of you; the future DOES matter; education is important. I can't forget that I'm working in a different culture, and I need to play by the rules.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Creeping Alarm Clock

Every Sunday night, I get to bed before ten. I set my alarm for 5:30, I go to sleep, I get up right on the dot. Then, I'm at school by 6:45 A.M. and I get a lot of prep done and I'm ON THE BALL. Tuesday, I get up about 5:45, then by Wed. I've moved the alarm time to 6:00 and sometimes I barely get to school on Friday by 8:20, my official start time. I just don't know what happens...But I'm beginning to get a clue---


Do other employees experience this??

I know farmers do, and mothers do. So...why the heck did I choose teacher after 20 years of farming, and 25 years of mothering? This is sick.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Jeopardy! Lite

Okay, okay, It's really an addiction when you're willing to watch Jeopardy! even during Celebrity Week. Blah. Many of the questions have to do with topical-to-the-celebrity items such as Broadway, NYC, t.v. etc. But yesterday there was a catagory called "Molecular Biology". It was no doubt to flatter the guests/contestants so that the catagory on deli foods wasn't so obviously for the non-thinkers. (ooh this is getting mean) But, when the celebs finally ventured into the biology catagory the first thing that occurred to me was "These are questions they would have asked during Kid Jeopardy! week..." Something on the lines of..."What legume did Mendel study to learn about genetics?" and today all three of them stood mute till the time ran out because NONE of them could tell who was president when Fort Sumter was fired on. Sigh. But I still sat there and watched. Sigh. I really need to get out more.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Evolving Roles of Mother

According to a post on her fabulous website , I recently caused my daughter to cry from happiness. (Well, at least get teary-eyed.) I'm pleased to have made it to this phase of our relationship. I've caused her to cry a number of times in our lives, and most of them were NOT from happiness. And I'm very sorry for all of those times, except for the (extremely rare) ones where she was being really naughty and spanking was the inevitable consequence.

But---I vividly remember several instances where the tears were a result of my careless, rude blurting out of the first (usually self-centered) thing that popped into my head without regard to her view or feelings. And these are the ones I wish to officially apologize for now and for the remaining years of our lives...hopefully there will be fewer and fewer of these events. They shall remain unenumerated because I'm confident that there are more instances of which I am unaware than any that I could recount.

Here's to a future of more happy tears!