A Letter to No-Homework-Johnny from His Teacher

This letter is dedicated to students, parents, and teachers who are on the front lines of the homework battles.

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Dear Johnny,

You don’t do my homework, but I’m not going to address that now. I prefer to consider your strengths.

I want you here. We are not in a war, and if you think we are, I surrender. Please, no battles; I want YOU to win.

Let’s build on what you do well, Johnny. Here’s what I know about you:

You’re perceptive, Johnny. You can read others. Cultivate those kids who no one else will cultivate. Find their strengths and their interests. If anybody can get to them, you can. You might be surprised to learn that one of those kids can offer something special to you too.

You need a lectern, Johnny, for that powerful voice of yours. OK, so sometimes I call it your big mouth, but when I throw out questions like, “Agree or disagree?  Andrew Jackson was a friend of Native Americans,” you love to share your thoughts, and you are a born speaker.  (Please try to wait until I call on you so that other people get a chance to think too.)

  • Using academic language will make you sound even smarter, and because you are a leader, your classmates will follow your example. I’ll show you how to back up your ideas, with true evidence. The debate team awaits you, my friend.

You have a very strong moral code, Johnny, sticking up for the underdog—even if it is against the school authority.

Others may not know this, but I know that School Johnny is very different than Home Johnny. On the block, Home Johnny helps the old people carry their packages, walks his little sister to school, and sings his heart out in the church choir.

You can make the other kids in the class laugh. Yes. I know you drive us all crazy, Johnny, but the ability to make others laugh is really a gift. I’d like to celebrate that strength with you.

Please know, Johnny, that I like to laugh too, at myself and at all the crazy stuff that goes on in our class. We teachers are human too, even though we sleep in our coffins.  A little secret—often when a kid like you is giving me a hard time, I imagine him at home in his bed, wearing his pj’s (the ones with the feet), and clutching his teddy bear, Then I smile and I keep on going.

Feel free to do the same with me, even if you need to substitute my coffin for the bed.

It is not me against you, Johnny.  We’re in this together, and I want YOU to win!

Sincerely,

Your Teacher

 

 

My Blogger’s Blooper

Yikes! What did I do? I was wrong, and my friends told me so.

They were absolutely right!

Re: Yesterday’s blog piece, “Showdown at the Double Doors”

The Truth”

  • I did meet another woman at the double doors of the post office.
  • We each opened a door and waited for the other to walk through.
  • We eyeballed each other.
  • I am seventy-one.

The Lie

  • I wrote… “she was 10 to 20 years older than me.” That would make my readers believe she was eighty-one to ninety!  Big mistake, Rosie.

The Truth

  • She was probably about my age.
  • I would never, never, never be mean or rude to an eighty-one to ninety- year-old.
  • In fairness to me, when my friends chastised me for my elder abuse, they said something like, “Rose, it was so out of character for you to treat an “old” person that way.”
  • Sometimes my “creative non-fiction” exaggeration backfires on me. There was another time when I wrote that I received a $75,000 dollar advance on my book, and some of my dearest relatives believed me!

I do apologize.

Conservation of Energy

Hello Folks, any of you who might still be left out there…

You might relate to this block if:

  • You talk to yourself
  • You aspire to be a person who is “organized and gets things done.”

As I was staring at the birds at my feeder this morning and talking to myself, this is what I said:

“Rose,  stop it.  If you use up your eyes on the birds now, your eyes will not work for you when it’s time to write.

Rosie, if you look at the birds and think about them now, you will use up your mind and it won’t work when you are trying to plot out the novel.

Girl, if you work on plotting the novel now, you will surely need a nap. Then you won’t be able to start the new project…the one that was going to make you and the family….lots of money.

Doody Head, if you use your energy to write on your sweet dying blog now, you will not be able to do any of the above—so you might as well go back to bed; remember 40 years of going to work; remember traveling there on snowy, rainy, icy mornings; and then snuggle in and sleep late.

Nighty night.”

Getting Your Child Off to a Successful First Day of School: People to Thank

Looking out my living room window at the kids and their parents waiting for the school bus, I am remembering my own first days—as a parent, and as a teacher. No one has asked, but I am prepared to say, “Thank these folks.”

  • School Staff who are also parents of young kids: Many of them left their own kids in the hands of spouses, grandparents, and neighbors so they could be there for your kids.
  • Those wonderful spouses, grandparents, and neighbors who stepped up for all working parents.
  • The Boss who said, “It’s OK to come in late. Bring in photos!
  • The municipal workers who protected my child.
  • Your school’s: aides, nurses, social workers, office staff, janitors, bus drivers, crossing guards, and those truly wonderful cafeteria ladies.
  • The school’s administrators, who got about an hour of sleep last night, if they were lucky.
  • Your school’s teachers who are experiencing “the longest day” of the school year and who will arrive home absolutely exhausted. Somebody please bring in a pizza for them. For some teachers, it may be just the reverse. For them it will be “the shortest day” because they so over-planned, and the time flew by, and they couldn’t accomplish all they planned. They should get a pizza too.
  • Here are two additional categories of teachers to thank on the first day:
    • Smiling teachers. They could be the best teacher your child ever had.
    • Non-smiling teachers: They could be the best teacher your child ever had.

Parents, you won’t know yet. Give everybody a chance!

  • Finally, anyone in the school community who “parented” any child who nervously waited on line or walked through those big doors that day. Believe me, every school has many of these wonderful people. They are the folks who supply a change of clothes for a wet child, and a comforting arm around the trembling shoulder of a frightened child. These “mama’s and “papa’s” are also the ones who make sure every child has a costume for Halloween; a warm coat, mittens and boots for the winter, and (about fifteen years later) a cap and gown, and maybe even a tux or a  dress for a high school prom.

Parent, you thought I was going to forget. Thank yourselves too! You have done a wonderful job!

This retired teacher wishes everyone a wonderful school year!

Marketing for Seniors. Should You Memorize Your Pitch?

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Here are some things I learned to memorize long ago. Try them. See if you can add a few words.

  • My country tis of thee…
  • Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow…..
  • My name is Ozymandias, ________________g of ____________gs.
  • We the people………………………………..

How did you do? I bet you did just fine.

What do these ancient memories have to do with the title of this post? Read on.

Well, as I mentioned on my last post, I have written a book.  Now I’m expected to market this book. Actually I should have been marketing my book for at least the past ten years, but I couldn’t because I was too busy writing it.

So, along comes Rosie-Come-Lately to the new world of Marketing and Promotion. Ten years ago, I learned the words, elevator pitch. I needed to “pitch” my book  (to an important person) in the time it takes for an elevator to go from the third floor to the first floor.

So, let’s just pretend I get into an elevator with Ms. Gatekeeper of  the Biggest Publishing Company. Ahem! I curtsey to her, bow my head, kiss her toes, and cast my eyes downward, with reverence. Of course she doesn’t know I have been stalking her, and have planned this elevator pitch like Eisenhower planned the invasion at Normandy. I have thirty seconds to tell her what my book is about.

She says, “Good Morning.”

I say, “I have a book.”

Then Ms. Gatekeeper says, “Oh please tell me about it.” Actually she says “Oh sh–! How do I find these people?”

Then, I lick my lips and say, “My book is about (we pass the third floor) and then I (we pass the second floor). “Oh yeah,” I mumble, “I forgot to say it’s a memoir, and, and, and (she walks out of the elevator doors and into her waiting limo). I stand there in the lobby, trying to catch my breath.

So, I go back home and practice rewriting my pitch. I have written at least 4356, drafts of this one paragraph pitch. Book writing is a cinch compared to writing and delivering an elevator pitch.

I write another copy and this time, instead of stalking Ms. Gatekeeper, I decide to take it to my own unique audience, my fellow seniors. There is a Senior Fair here in Rockland County New York where I live. I go from table to table pitching my story and offering to speak to groups of seniors about some of the themes in my book that we all share. Again, because I am nervous, I flubber all over myself, can’t get the words out, and feel like a total failure.

Amazingly, they all want me!!! I think there is something about my words, “For Free! No Charge!” that ingratiates me with my tribe.

Every day in this book publishing trip, is a learning day for me. Now, I have decided that the key to delivering my pitch is to memorize it. Yeah sure. So I print it out, stick it on the fridge, and start memorizing it, sentence by sentence, word by word. I walk around my kitchen trying to memorize and make my morning coffee at the same time. Mistake. The milk goes in the dish cabinet, the spoon goes in the fridge, and the pot is turned on before I put in the coffee.

Long ago, I could memorize, thanks to my dear teachers.

Now it’s a different story.  I’m sure if you are a senior and I ask you to finish this sentence, you will be able to do it. “I remember what I did fifty years ago, but I ___________________________!”

Of course, you got it right!

So. as a public service, I’ll save you the trouble of listening to me fumble my way through my pitch.  I invite you to read it here…for free!

Here’s my elevator pitch for my book.

“My book Still Playing in the Dirt is my memoir that begins in my childhood and continues to today. Each chapter is about my search for serenity in the world of nature.  My problem, however, is that most times instead of finding serenity in the outdoors, I have found stress, usually due to my own ineptitude. If you are looking for a serious guide to camping, fishing and birdwatching, this book is not it. However, if you are looking at how a woman uses these nature experiences to make us laugh and cry about the common concerns we all share like belonging, parenting, yearning, and aging, then— this is your book.”

Like the kindergarteners who starts school on the first day with his name, address and phone number printed on a  card , safety pinned to his first- day- of- school shirt,  I am going to carry  a card with my elevator pitch on it, but for sure, I will use large print.

Thanks for riding the elevator with me.

How to Gain Weight and Exercise Your Brain at the Same Time!

Photo Credit: Boogies with Fish via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Boogies with Fish via Compfight cc 

In my earlier post, I said my brain was frozen during the summer.  But only part of that was true. So let’s move on to the subject of Neurology and the Brain.

As The Nothing Expert, I am qualified to write about the brain because I have one. Now that I have your attention, let me just say that my brain does not work like the brain of a millennial. I cannot multi-task. I’m lucky if I can do one teeny, tiny task at a time, and then for mental reinforcement, I munch on some chips, and dip.

In 1955 in our fourth grade class, I wrote the script for a puppet show, and then I decided that someday I would “Write a Book.”

When I was sixty, I started my book, and it only took me ten years to write it.

Then millions of people told me “Ha. Ha. You cannot publish a book without a platform and billions of followers. Get a platform.”

A platform means followers, billions of followers, even some from outer space.

And so, I put the book away, and decided to seek followers, on Facebook, Twitter, and on this blog.

Along the way I met some very wonderful people and I have enjoyed their blogs, comments, and our shared conversations. I still don’t get Twitter, and I’m past the point of caring how I screw up on Facebook.

But I have not been a good girl this summer. I have failed to write in my blog and I have failed to comment on other people’s blogs. I beg for your forgiveness, if you are one of my followers.

That’s because I have been working on my book, again. You cannot just write “The End,” on your last page and then say “OK World, Come and get It!”

Actually, I have been learning how to publish the book. Now if we break that up into steps, I would say that publishing a book takes about a zillion steps, all of them new for an old broad like me. And I can only concentrate on one step at a time, or I will get frazzled, eat too much, and gain 25 pounds of flesh, in my thighs.

So, who had time for writing? Not me.

Also, I never mentioned the book because somewhere in the zillions of publishing pointers, there was a warning on “shameless self-promotion.”

So, I am going to try to do the unheard of “Walk and Chew Gum” at the same time. In the coming weeks I am going to work on a few more steps, all at once! Along the way, I will tell you more about the book, but I will try to do it in a way that isn’t shameless self-promotion. 

Now where is that butter pecan ice cream? I’m spent.

Winds of Worry

Photo Credit: lindsayloveshermac via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: lindsayloveshermac via Compfight cc

My children, husband, relatives, friends and complete strangers say I am a compulsive worrier and control freak.

But, when you live in a house surrounded by trees, you tend to worry when there are reports of 15 mph winds with gusts up to 45 mph. You like to prepare for disaster ahead of time.

Here are some of my recommendations.

If a tree falls on your house, you might have to go outside and be seen. With this cold weather, no one has actually seen you for weeks, and some folks are even wondering if you ever really existed. So dress appropriately for the moment you hear the crack of the branches, and the tree starts falling onto your roof and into your bedroom.

Plan your sleep apparel for the evening storm:

  • Scratch the pink, blue and white pajama bottoms with the ripped seams that you usually wear accompanied by the bleach stained red tee shirt top.
  • Instead, select appropriate I-have-to-run-out-of-the-house-likety-split sleepwear. May I suggest you retire to your boudoir in simple black sweats, along with a gray turtle neck (sans bleach stains) top. Socks and shoes are always a nice touch. Robes and slippers are only recommended for size two’s with fresh pedicures.

If, after the tree falls, you have to be carried out of your house you might also want to make provisions for the week that will follow.

Plan food for the events.

  • Have plenty of nourishing, yet suitable for a crowd casserole dishes just waiting to be microwaved in your fridge. It is important to prepare these dishes from scratch, so that people will compare you to Martha Stewart during their tributes. Soups are lovely, sustaining, and I highly recommend Portuguese Caldo Verde for feeding a large crowd.
  • My late Aunt Shirley also specialized in her “mourning meatballs” (with peppers and onions) which she put in a large vat for our family.

While you might want to run around and straighten your house as the winds whip up, it is highly recommended that you put your house in order ahead of time.

  • Clean bathrooms; hang fresh towels
  • Organize drawers and closets by color, season, event and in the case of some people, current size

Some last minute bedtime preparations must still be performed at the last minute.

  • Floss and brush
  • Dust
  • Put some fresh candy in the candy dish on the end table in the living room.

Then, go to bed, sleep well, and let the wind howl.

A New Year’s Countdown for Dieters Who Are Perfectionists

Photo Credit: trixi via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: trixi via Compfight cc

Saturday, December 27, 2014

You and your scale are not dialoguing. It’s better to put your scale away than have the stress of it sitting there and judging you. Yes, I do believe scales are the original passive aggressives. You probably believe the same thing if you name yours and talk to it like I do.  “Oh, hi Elvira. No, no, not today, Elvira. Go (bad word) yourself, Elvira!”

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Are you still eating leftovers from assorted Holiday Festivities?  This is an equal opportunity blog so if you don’t see your favorites here, please feel free to suggest others. Look at your fridge? Do you have any of this stuff still in there, even though it may have been reheated or re microwaved at least 13 times: turkey, baccala, shrimp, mussels, pasta, ham, rice, pernille, frogs’ legs, cakes, pies, cookies, sweet potatoes, latkes, stolen, fruitcake, pasteles, goose, gingerbread, bacalao, tamales, and lamb. Finish ‘em off! Mix and match. FYI.  I really enjoyed making this list.

Monday: December 29, 2014

Oh, when did this happen? I always start my diet on a Monday. Not this Monday. I will start on January 1st. 2015, even if it is a Thursday. Perhaps, since I am not starting my diet until the New Year, I might want to celebrate the Winter Solstice with a light bite, some wine, some cheese, some nuts, some chips, and just a little bit of that chocolate cake that my husband, Jerome, the Great and Good, says he’s going to eat when I keep threatening to throw it away because it tempts me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

If you’re like me it’s time to buy your diet planning calendar and a new pen for the New Year. I like 5mm. black pens for my calendars. Very neat. If you are a perfectionist like I am, plan to keep your calendar pristine, no cross-outs, and no substitutions. Using your new pen, set up your diet planner and make a tentative shopping list of the staples you will need to keep on hand. You know the drill. Consider shopping today so when the New Year comes, you can hit the kitchen table eating correctly. There may also be some good sales on sweats and work out clothes. And don’t forget to get a warm hat because you will be out running or walking in the January cold.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Serious countdown now. Last licks. For the first time in my life I understand the meaning of that idiom. Just enough food to wrap up the year and get it all out of your system. Perhaps some  bacon wrapped anything, vats of creamy stuff into which you dunk bread and chips, and, of course, the new trend, salted caramel on something….you don’t care if it’s cardboard. And that damn chocolate cake that your husband says he’s going to eat someday is still there in the fridge, looking sad, calling your name.

You look at your pristine diet plan book and swear you will succeed in 2015, for sure. You know you are guilty of perfectionism. Remember that time, when you were on that very serious Diet, and you ate a slice of salami that wasn’t on the plan! The bacchanalian orgy that followed would have put Nero to shame.

Ah, it’s almost time.  With homage to Dick Clark, you turn on the TV to Times Square. A few minutes later, the ball starts to drop. You stuff one last chip with spinach artichoke dip into your mouth before the ball hits bottom, and all of that kissing and hugging starts.

Thursday, January 1, 2015: Fifteen Minutes into The New Year.

After kissing your significant other (in my case Jerome the Great and Good) tenderly, he sweetly suggests you share the chocolate cake that has been sitting in the fridge. In your euphoria of the New Year and all of the kissing and hugging, you take a bite, and then you stop. You tenderly say to him, “Oh, what the hell. Let’s eat the rest of the cake!”

A few minutes later, you smack your lips and say, “Oh what the hell.  I blew it. The year is shot. I’ll start next year when I can do it right and get a fresh start!

Happy New Year to all, perfectionists included!

Sons and Lovers

Photo Credit: Brave Heart via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Brave Heart via Compfight cc

I wrote a text asking about my granddaughter’s team number so I could buy her a volleyball shirt.

Ding went my phone. Here is the text I received back.

“U r so sweet, but she already has this. U r hot!!!”

Had I texted a long lost lover by mistake? Was there some handsome stranger out there who had a secret crush on me? I closed my eyes and for a brief, but spectacular moment, I was the most desirable woman on earth.

Who was the mystery texter? I texted back…“Was this message from MY son? “Sweet? Hot? R U sick?”

Ding went my phone and the following text message was received. “Oh shit! Thought u were one of my ladies!”

To all sons out there….a bit of advice from one of your mothers. Read this cautionary tale and check that number before you hit “send.”

My House Pops! Is that Feng Shui?

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Today’s post is about home decorating. According to my son, granddaughter, son-in-law, and numerous “allow me to straighten your pictures” friends, another suitable title will be “What Not to Do When Decorating Your House.

First let’s discuss emotional needs….mine.  I know what I need, and I’m still searching for it. I am an introvert. I need peace, quiet, contemplation, meditation, candles, and Native American flute music. For the past twenty or so years, I have been trying to “feng shui” my house. Some people do not feel I have succeeded.

I am not a monochromatic home decorator. My granddaughter says, “Grandma, your house pops!” My son snickers when she says this, and I want to smack him. Perhaps a house that pops is not in keeping with feng shui.

My son in law smirks, as he goes from room to room in my house, moving my paintings into totally unbalanced tilts and shifts…just to see if I even notice.  Ha! Ha! I think I’ll smack my son-in-law too.

Perhaps a “house with tilting paintings” is not in keeping with feng shui.

For the past twenty years I have been searching for feng shui, and trying to figure out how I can have it and, at the same time convert the junque I pick up at garage sales into a shabby chic home, worthy of any decorating magazine. I like to pride myself on my creativity. You know; using things a different way and “making them work.”

I’d like to show you  photos of my  bedroom which I decorated with African tribal cloths, gourds, wall hangings over triple dressers, and one large bust of some lady naked from the waist up.  My friend, Gerry, and I went shopping at these discounted African Arts and Crafts warehouses in the Chelsea section of Manhattan.  I don’t know what Gerry did with her stuff. I, however, revitalized my circa 1968 Macy’s bedroom furniture  into a tribal village. My children called my bedroom, Botswana. I’d show you my photos, but I’m expecting  either National Geographic or Architectural Digest to request one first.

Two steps from the hallway outside Botswana, my family and other adventurers could enter My Garden Room. This room was formerly my daughter’s junior high and high school bedroom. Here, instead of using tribal cloths, I covered her circa 1970’s campaign style furniture with tan plastic roll-up blinds (to simulate bamboo.) Then I piled on a bunch of hardy (yeah sure) potted plants. My green walls, white molding, stained white carpet, scented candles,  portable fountain,  and vintage boom box playing Native American Flute music set the meditative tone I was seeking.

I tried to sit and meditate, but I worried too much.

The problem was I overwatered the plants. The dirty water overflowed the plant saucers, cascaded over the plastic blinds, and landed on the few clean places left on the old white carpet.  Then the dead plants dropped their dried up leaves all over the room.

It was hard to be serene with all of that death around me.  I tried. I gave up when I realized that if I fell asleep to the Native American Flute Music, the candles would catch on to something  and I would probably burn the house down.

It’s been quiet lately in AdventureLand. If you need a free-lance home decorator, I am available. If you don’t want me, then how about sharing some of your own stories?