Wednesday, October 7, 2015

An Object Lesson

I don't like it when the universe feels the need to teach me a lesson somewhat subversively, but that is exactly what happened today.  For no reason that I can identify, I managed to leave the house this morning without my phone.  I realized this about half way to school.  On most mornings, we could have turned around and run home to get it, but today the traffic was terrible.  Weber would have surely been late for school had we done this, so somewhat reluctantly, I said that I could do without it for today.

This should have been no big deal, right?  Not too long ago, no one carried phones around and the world continued to function.  I know that I don't use my phone for as many things as some; I do still keep a paper calendar.  However, I am more tethered to it than I wish I was.  Just how much so became painfully obvious today.

Here are all the things that ran through my mind today as I made peace with the fact that I would be phone-less
  • What if a student texts me regarding class?  If I don't respond, they will think that I am ignoring them.
  • I won't have my clock.
  • I won't have a metronome.
  • I can't check my email.
  • I can't take roll in class.
  • I won't get the text alert if we have "an incident" on campus.
  • I'll have to walk home without being able to call for help if anything should happen.
  • I won't be able to talk to Weber at lunch.
How ridiculous are all these concerns??  Well, except maybe the one about campus emergency alerts.  I am embarrassed to admit that these were real thoughts for me today.  And to top it all off, this thought also crossed my mind, "Boy am I glad that I don't use Apple Pay at Subway on campus.  At least I can still get a diet coke!"

As it turned out, when I got home and was reunited with my phone, I had had a text from a student saying that he wouldn't be in class and asking for assignments.  He is a student who is never absent and I was a little worried when he was not in class this morning.  I apologized for not responding sooner.  I think I was more concerned about that than he was.  Other than that, I managed just fine.  Today made me think about the fact that I rely too heavily on my phone for way too many things.  I have definitely been left with some food for thought.

Since we missed our midday conversation, Weber and I shared our day after we got home from school 

while we watched the newest resident of our backyard.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Optimistic Tuesday

Despite the fact that we are two weeks into fall according to the calendar, the weather here has not gotten the official word.  Temperatures are in the 90's and the summer annuals are still in full bloom.  The oak tree has dropped a few leaves, so I am being optimistic that sometime soon fall will arive in more than name!

If you are interested, here is the link to today's Tuesday in Texas post on Pixels, Plates, and LOLs.  Tracey and I are sharing on thoughts on morning people vs. night owls.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Reflecting on Francis

With prayers for a blessed rememberance of Brother Francis...

What might Francis say to us today?

What Now, Francis?

Waste not
your tears on me.
on what was
or could have been,
maybe should have been.

Save your weeping
for those who live-
the hungry, the thirsty, the cold,
the sick, the beaten down, the longing-
for those who still have breath.

Turn all of your tears to hope
To fuel God's work-
the death of injustice, pain, and suffering-
with joy.

Cry not for me;
I have eternal life in Christ.
Weep only,
as I do,
for God's hurting people on earth.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Apples and Tamales

 Today is Food Friday, which means I spent a good part of the day cooking and taking photographs along the way to post on Pixels, Plates, and LOLs! Click on over for some tasty apple recipes.

I played for a service tonight at the Interfaith Peace Chapel.  It was a Taize service with a celebration of the Transitus of St. Francis.  Both are moving services in their own right, but experiencing them together was exceptionally moving.

After the service, a few of us went to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant.  As we were walking in, I was struck by the shapes, lines, lights, and darks of the pathway leading in.

And yes, I had tamales for dinner.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Where I Work

Today's Capture Your 365 photo prompt is "Where I Work."  I was excited by this prompt because it encouraged me to take photos in a place where I normally am not thinking about my camera.  The sad part here is that it is the place that I have come nearly every work day for the past 23 years and of which I have very few photos.

As I walked in to school this morning, I was thinking about the possibilities for today's photo.  So many aspects of where I work would be worthy of a photo to represent my workplace - my students, my colleagues, the quirky details of my classroom or the music building, or perhaps a bigger picture of our campus.   

My teaching day began at 7:30am.  These were the students that I missed seeing on Tuesday when I was home sick.  Even though they had a test, they asked how I was feeling and we're glad that I was back.  This made for a wonderful start to my day.

I continued through the morning teaching back to back classes - lecturing in some, returning tests in another, and testing again in my last class of the day.  And then I went to lunch.  As I always do, I checked my personal email and Facebook expecting to find my email full of ads and my Facebook feed full of beautiful photos posted by my fellow CY365ers.  Instead, my phone's home screen was filled with news alerts about another mass shooting.  This one in  Oregon.  This one on a community college campus.  Suddenly,  my perspective on where I work changed.

Where I work is on a community college campus much like that of Umpqua Community College, the site of today's shooting rampage.  Every day I stand up in the front of a classroom filled with students just like those who were injured and killed today.  And every day, that scenario that unfolded in Oregon could have just as easily be where I work - in a classroom that I enter each day, without any reservation.

Those students at Umpqua Community College were in only the first week of their fall semester.  A morning and a  semester that for them began full of possibilities, hopes, and dreams ended in a few short minutes.  What could have been, no longer given a chance.  The lives of all those  sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, and lovers who were working to better themselves by gaining an education now, rather than earning a college degree, earn a place in history as ten more innocent people taken by gun violence in this country.  

This is where I work.  In a classroom full of students striving to realize their dreams.  In a classroom where the reality is that those dreams can be shattered far more quickly and easily than they can be realized.  This is where I work.  On a college campus in a state whose legislature has voted to permit the legal possession of guns on our college campuses.   This is where I work.  

This is where I work.  Giving my all to every student with whom I share a classroom.  Hoping that I can play at least a small part in helping to make each of their dreams come true.  Praying that the senseless violence that has struck so many students in so many schools in so many places
 ceases and that none of us has to experience fear in any classroom.  This is where I work.

My heart aches for all of those whose lives are forever changed by the events on the Umpqua Community College campus today.  I pray for this college community, for the family and friends of those who were injured and those who lost their lives, for the students and staff who will return to that campus next week trying to move forward, for all those who enter classrooms around the world every day, for all those who believe that violence is an answer.   This is where I work.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What's Been Going On

What the saying?  "Life is what happens while we are busy making plans."  I made the big pronouncement that my plan was to post here regularly.  I guess the truth is that I don't yet have enough of a trend to define "regularly" but in my head that meant almost every day if not every day.  And here it is five days since my last post.  So what's been going on?  Lots, actually.

The biggest obstacle to posting has been no computer.  Well, that's not actually true.  I had two computers.  An old one and a new one.  

YAY!  Weber spent all weekend cleaning up files on my old computer, backing up everything, and then doing the migration of everything to the new one.  It was a long process that I am happy to say is now complete and everything is working perfectly so far, but it left me with no computer over the weekend.

Friday was food post day on Pixels, Plates, and LOLs.  Our subject is cinnamon.  If you are interested in recipes for cinnamon rolls or cinnamon streusel coffee cake, check out this link.

On Saturday while Weber worked on my computer, I cleaned.  I'll spare you pictures of my clean bathroom, but I assure you that it is picture worthy. :-)

Then we get to Sunday, usually one of my favorite days of the week.  Normally it is filled with church, singing, food, fellowship, and, if I'm lucky, sometimes even a nap!  All of  those things happened, but I must say that church was discomforting, and not in a good way.  My morning started in the Episcopal Church, the church in which I was raised, married, and have called my spiritual home for my entire life.  The guest preacher was the newly elected diocesan bishop of Dallas, a man who is proud to stand in opposition to the held beliefs of the Episcopal Church as a denomination and the Supreme Court of the United States.  He is proud to preach in favor of injustice and inequality for gay and lesbian children of God.  He also began his sermon by invoking the story of St. Francis, which he totally bastardized.  I found myself saying out loud, "That is not the way the story goes!"  I left angry rather than refreshed.

The good news was that I had another service to attend at Cathedral of Hope Dallas where, in direct contrast, the sermon focused on our need to coexist with all of God's people, even with those who hurt us or with whom we disagree.  

There is something seriously wrong with having to go to a second church service because you are so unhappy with the things you heard at the first, especially when that first church is supposedly your home church.  And to add insult to injury, the "first church" had the nerve to do the stewardship pitch.  Yeah. NO.

And then came Monday... 

I woke up feeling not great, but went ahead and got ready and went to school, knowing that it was my shortest teaching day of the week.  I figured I could get through two classes just fine.  I did, but by the time I got home, I felt much worse.  After dinner, I was running a 101 temperature and made the decision that I should not, could not go to school today.  Why is that such a hard decision to make?  I felt terrible yet I also felt a sense of responsibility to my students.  I finally realized that there was no way that I could give them my best so instead of wasting their time, I emailed my classes and told them I would not be at school.  Once I had committed to staying home, I was able to rest and not worry too much.  I can't remember the last time I took a sick day from school.

The animals and I have spent all day doing pretty much nothing but resting, except for the test that i had to write for tomorrow.  

Though I still have the fever hangover kind of feeling, I am better.  I will be back at school tomorrow.

And it will be a new day.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


My Thursday's are incredibly long days, beginning with my first class at 7:30 am and ending at 4 pm after a final composition lesson.  In between, I teach five different classes and two lessons.  The good news?  Unlike Wednesday's, I actually have 30 minutes for lunch!  The thing that makes this tiring day tolerable is knowing that it is the end of my work week.  And, I have some awesome students.

No one really wants to take (or teach) a 7:30 am class, but to get it all done, this is the way the schedule has to be, so we make the best of it and do whatever we have to do...arrive at school with a great big cup of coffee!  

This morning, one of my students came skipping into class at about 7:28 with a big smile on her face and pronounced, "I am so happy this morning; I am winning at life."  Whenever someone says something like this I always go through a quick analysis of their expression to determine whether they are speaking truth or sarcasm.  In this case,  I was fairly sure it was truth, but I asked her just to make sure.  She said that she was glad that she was on time and really enjoyed being in the class.  How can you not have a good day when it begins like this?  I woke up with a sore throat and the feeling that a cold was trying to take over my body.  This student's enthusiasm and good cheer made me forget about the fact that I wasn't feeling 100% and pushed me to give her my 100% so that she  left class still feeling as though she was winning at life.
My day had an equally good ending.  Thursday has become "diner dinner night."  We have gotten into a routine of meeting a small group of friends almost every Thursday night at our local diner.  It is a true diner experience-juke box and love meter in the entry way; burgers, fries, and all-day breakfast; and servers that know all the regulars (that would be us) and bring our drinks as soon as we walk in the door, no ordering necessary  Most of us order the exact same meal every Thursday night.  That s part of the routine.  We catch up on each other's week, roll our eyes over the current state of politics in this country, solve as many of the world's problems as we can in a couple of hours, and mostly enjoy the friendship that we share.  Oh, and we have dessert.  Diner dinner is the only dinner during the week that includes dessert.  For me that is banana pudding.  This too is part of the routine.  The partners that we are, we close the place down at 9pm.

Neither having a student who feels that she is winning at life or a Thursday night diner dinner may make the list of what makes most people happy, but both are exactly what bring joy to my world.  Knowing that what I do as a teacher causes even one student to feel good about herself and having wonderful friends who enjoy simply being together are both, for me,  awesome things!   If only more people realized that it is really the little things that are the big things in life...

Today's photo prompt was "With A Ball."  This is what you get when you take your photo at 10pm...after diner dinner.  It's all about priorities!