Monday, April 14, 2014

in which green girl contemplates so many things

As I type this there's a robin shivering on a snow-coated branch outside my window.  I know he's thinking WTF? right now, just like me.  (It could be a girl robin wondering WTF?, I honestly have no way of knowing.) Less than two days ago I was ensconced in lovely Dayton, Ohio where the weather was balmy and fellow writers swarmed around me full of ideas and encouragement.  I came home to a desk at work overflowing with tests to grade (because giving kids a test while I was out of town seemed like a real good idea at the time--an essay test--I blame the sinus infection for my poor judgement) and laundry baskets at home overflowing with dirty clothes.  You know how it is, between the offspring and the housecleaning and the miscellaneous errand-running and a 40-hour work week.  In normal circumstances it's somewhat manageable. 

But I dare not kvetch.  That Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop was an amazing blessing.  Nevermind that 3 inches of snow coat my front yard and I was late to work because I forgot my keys and I need an oil change before I stack another thousand miles on the Momvan this weekend for Easter at my parents'. 

I feel like that robin looking around at the whole mess, trying to figure out where to find a twig under a blanket of snow and slush in order to build a nest.  That's a metaphor for having a lot I'd like to write about, but lacking the time to gather the words because life has me temporarily smothered.

I promise I will tell you all about meeting Cha Cha and the workshop and all the juicy bits in between, but there's a fight breaking out above my head and according to the timer in the kitchen, dinner's ready.  I'll leave you with this one bit of awesomeness:  each writer at the workshop got a complementary wine glass and that, my friends, gives you an idea of how much we should all love Erma Bomeck.

Monday, April 7, 2014

one of life's finest blessings

is this friendship which has lasted almost 20 years (I realized last night).  What a beautiful, funny, intelligent, loving and honest group of ladies.  We reconnect a few times a year and I always return home feeling thankful to be part of their lives.

Sure, the Badgers lost, but you can tell from this "selfie" that at the end of the weekend, it didn't matter all that much.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

chipping away

 There's this wonderful red-headed woodpecker at our feeder pretty regularly.  He loves this block of suet, just chips at it all the time with his long beak.  Such a cheerful looking bird against the dreary landscape of late winter. 

What's that?  It's spring, you say?  Not here it isn't. 

I've been reading Sue Monk Kidd's The Invention of Wings.  Lovely book.  I'm also reading two novels for this teaching gig, so it's great to just sink into this novel at night and wallow in a couple of short chapters.  It's not the kind of book I feel compelled to race through.  It's written in a leisurely style and I'm chipping away a small section at a time, not devouring it as I am wont to do with a really good book. 

Speaking of chips, I've got a girls' weekend planned and there will be guacamole and chips.  And wine.  And laughter.  Also, I've got a 50 minute deep-tissue massage booked.  I haven't had a proper spa day in years, so I'm very excited.  The down side is that I'll have to start hacking away at the winter growth before I settle into a sauna wearing a swimsuit.

The other down side is that I have the mother of all bruises on my left thigh.  That's a good story.  The English 12 kids are reading Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers, which is about the Vietnam War.  I set up this marvelous simulation for them to go "on patrol" as a squad through the school's lecture hall which I booby-trapped to the hilt.  If they knocked anything over, their squad was blown up by a "land mine."  You have no idea how much fun a bunch of seniors can have moving through a pitch-dark obstacle course of furniture, black thread and paint cans equipped with a single flashlight, a 40 pound radio pack and "guns" (really long boards because even a Nerf gun would raise eyebrows, wouldn't it?).

I patrolled the back of the lecture hall to keep an eye on their progress and call out any dead squads and every time I walked down the row of chairs, I slammed my leg into the armrests.  In the same spot.  Repeatedly.  Now I have this huge purple raised bump on my left thigh and have to tell my masseuse to steer clear of half of a major limb.  Bet I won't get a discount for that, will I?

What a blur this whole working full-time again has become.  I've strategically arranged to work through my lunch at school, so I'm not bringing anything home.  Yet.  I haven't assigned a major writing assignment yet and that will change everything. 

But first, girls' weekend.  Then, the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop with Cha ChaThen I'll bring home student papers to read.  Maybe.

Oh, many of you wondered how I answered the lad with the court-ordered community service.  I gently suggested he leave it off for fear it might come up in an interview and require more explaining than he felt like getting into with a potential employer.  He agreed that he'd prefer not sharing that chapter of his life and would definitely think about other, more positive, experiences he might include on his resume.   It's one thing to do the community service out of a school requirement, quite another to do it as a mandate from a judge.

On a related note, there's a daring duo of twins who earned some community service hours for a April Fools' prank they pulled at school this week.  It involved the roof of the school and a dummy. 

Spill it, reader.  What are you chipping away at in your neck of the woods?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

sloppy season

It's definitely spring out there.  If the start of baseball/softball practices on our calendar this week didn't clue me in, the damp muddy tracks on the floor would have.  Even so, the ground is frozen solid and covered with ice and snow. 

I've been planted in a chair all week reading Dostoyevsky, student papers and a novel that I'm editing.  This sedentary lifestyle feels unhealthy and wrong to me.  My body feels dull and flat when I move so little.  Tonight I hopped on the elliptical in our basement for 25 minutes to take the edge off.  When will spring come?  What I most crave is that grand exhaustion, the tight shoulders and tired legs, after a day of pulling weeds and hauling dirt around the garden.  I miss getting sweaty and grimy with dirt caked under my nails.  And my feet hurt from wearing shoes all day!  As much fun as this teaching gig is, I'm discovering how thick that farm-girl blood runs through my veins.

You can imagine how much I laughed when Karen posted this on my Facebook page:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

flesh it out, she suggested

Among the assignments I've collected from the seniors at Happyland High School are the resumes and cover letters.  While I barely know most of these students, I've tried to connect with many of them to help them make these business documents good enough to use in real life because resumes and cover letters are practical (unlike the analysis of theme in a novel, for example).  To that end, the following conversation occurred Friday afternoon:

Green Girl:  So, your resume looks fine, but you only listed your education and job experience.  You might want to flesh it out with something else, you know, to give people a better idea of who you are.

Student:  Like what?

Green Girl:  Well, activities, clubs or sports are good.  No sports?  It doesn't have to be a school thing either--maybe you're a member of a snowmobiling club or something like that?

Student:  Not really.

Green Girl:  Okay.  Hm.  How about volunteer experience?  Maybe you've volunteered at your church or you worked concessions for the tractor pull in Mackville or Breakfast on the Farm?  People like to see how you're involved in your community.  I know a guy who got an interview because he listed coaching kids in baseball on his resume--it showed community involvement along with an interest, which is why it's good to list that something extra.

Student:  I did fifteen hours of community service last year.

Green Girl (perking up):  You did?

Student:  Yeah.  Does it matter if it was court ordered?

Green Girl:  !

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Utterly wonderful:  this heavy-weight wrestler in one English class who always has his nose buried in a thick book.  He wears sweats and does NOT match up with anyone's stereotype of a bookworm. 

Vexing:  the students going on vacation for a week...with their boyfriend/girlfriend's family.  WTF?  I cannot wrap my mind around that at ALL.

Curious:  it seems that asking a girl to prom requires some sort of presentation.  These boys put as much thought and creativity into it as they do a marriage proposal.  When did this become a "thing?"  I knew it was the trend at my BFF's son's school, but this has spread...

Lucky:  the weather continues to be crap as spring creeps slowly north.  It's a thousand times easier to keep seniors engaged in school and in their classes when the weather stays cold and wintery.

Eyebrow-raising:  the many students gone for a week's vacation to places like Florida and Mexico.  Evidently the economy is just fine in our neck of the woods for so many families to be heading south.  Wouldn't have ever guessed it.

Spill it, reader.  Any interesting observation.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

things of beauty

It's sunny and Sunday and quiet.  I've been looking and here are five beautiful things I saw this weekend:
* My best bowling series ever on Friday night in league:  498!
* My best bowling score ever on Saturday in a 9-pin tournament: 518!
* A woman with the most striking cobalt blue Mohawk and matching lipstick (Jen, I totally thought of you!  Your favorite color!)--she looked magnificent and exotic and fierce.
* Finally, the inside of this little bar by the river that I've wondered about for almost 15 years.  The bar itself was old and warm-toned and carved art deco style.  It was all much prettier and quaint than I expected.
* Mr. G's face sound asleep, smooth and soft and pale and perfectly still.

Spill it, reader.  Beautiful things.