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?



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?




Football Betting is For the Birds!

Photo Credit: furanda via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: furanda via Compfight cc

My daughter and I are in a football survivor pool. For those of you not in the know – survivor pool is the greatest invention for gambler wannabees during football season. A survivor pool doesn’t require much skill.

I don’t need to spend the time and energy that a fantasy football team requires. It’s low commitment, loads of fun, and, simple.  Here’s all I have to do each week:

  • I look at all the multiple football games being played that week.
  • I pick out one game
  • Then I pick the winner of that game.
  • If I win, I advance to the next week where I start all over again. Pick any team and then pick a winner.
  • Here’s the catch though. I can never pick my winning team again.

So, my daughter and her husband tell me, there are a variety of schools of thought on picking winners

  • Go strong at the beginning and go for a guarantee of a great team.
  • Some players, however, opt to leave their strongest teams until the end.

I play differently.  As an Audubon nature lover, my picks are all focused on teams that are named after birds.  As I have told you earlier in this blog, I’m not good with statistics and only passed in college because I was dating the instructor’s buddy.

Here are my current results. So far my bird teams haven’t let me down.

  • Week One, I chose the Seahawks and they won.
  • Week Two, I abandoned Jerome the Great and Good’s NY Giants, and chose the Cardinals. (I love the way cardinals feed their young and my granddaughter lives in Arizona. Makes perfect sense, don’t you think?)Yes. The Cardinals won.
  • Week Three, I picked the Eagles. Once when I picked up a piece of litter from a mucky pond, a bald eagle swooped over my head in salute, and I didn’t even think anyone was watching.

This Week Four,  I’m torn between the Ravens and the Falcons? What to do? What to do?  Got it!  I love crabs, both the succulent soft shell ones and the hammer ‘em open hard shells. Baltimore’s got them both,

As the sun sets and our midnight dreary approaches,  I’m wondering if Jerome the Great and Good is going to roll his eyes again at my weird team picks. The answer to that philosophical question is” Nevermore, nevermore”… because I keep winning.

Ravens it will be!



The Meaning of “Existential”: An Empirical Study of the Pragmatic Use of Big Words in English Language Arts, aka ELA.


Students, try to use big words to sound smart.  One of my favorite big words is existential.  I can write or say stuff like, “The existential purpose of blah blah is blah blah,” and people will nod their heads in serious agreement, or squint their eyes in serious disagreement. Using words like existential in conversations makes people feel flattered that you have shared deep thoughts with them.

I do not know what “existential” means. This is a minor point.

My real concern is that there might be a list out there of “Teachers Whose Students Do Not Know the Word, Existential.” These days, you just never know!

Therefore,  all students who will be taking the College Board SAT’s ,  ACT’s,  KAT’s (Kindergarten Assessment Tests)and PNVEE Tests,  (Pre-Natal Vocabulary Enrichment Exams), please thank me in advance for giving you one of the  definitions of existential.

Courtesy of, one of the definitions of existential is:

  • Logic: denoting or relating to a formula or proposition asserting the existence of at least one object fulfilling a given condition: containing an existential quantifier.

Why are you cranky?

Here’s another definition of existential:

  • Of or related to existence, esp. human existence

I made up this sentence for you to clarify the definition of existential:

  • I eat because I am existential, and I need Rum Raisin ice cream to continue existing.

Now, my loyal readers, as an added bonus, I am going to share two new words that have always been problematic for me.  Common Core Standards expect you to use high level academic language. These two words qualify. According to, both of these words are synonyms for existential! Who knew?

The two new words are empirical and pragmatic.

Students, try substituting the word, empirical for the word, factual.

  • Example: If I write the word empirical in my essays instead of the word factual, my test scores may jump from a score of one to a score of five!

Now students, let’s take the word, pragmatic. Use pragmatic, students, every time you are tempted to use the word, practical. This is easy to remember because both words start with the letters, pr.

  • It was pragmatic for me to use the word, existential, because I had read many empirical essays about humans who existed.

Comments? Questions?








Retired from Teaching? Yes and No


I stole this chalk from my elementary school  on the day I retired from teaching. That was in August of 2000.  At this time of year I like to hold my chalk, and remember.

I retired from 30 years of  teaching elementary school in August 2000.  By  October,  I was working again, part time, in elementary, middle and high schools as a literacy consultant.  I’m still doing that.

Consulting is like teaching, but without the lunch duty, hall duty, attendance taking and money collection.

Consulting teachers can get away with stuff that regular teachers can’t. Sometimes, for my own self-preservation, I put on my “old grandma hat. ” I can say to a potty mouth student, “If I were your grandma, I would wash out your mouth with soap.”

The kids laugh, and then they behave. They say, “Yes, Miss. Sorry, Miss.”

All teachers have golden academic moments with their students.  The real art of good teaching is to take those  serendipitous  moments and make them happen routinely. That’s happening. It will take time, but it’s happening.

Kids are kids.  Kindergarteners and high schoolers have the same needs.  All kids can think. I have learned that often the kids with the worst grades can think at a higher level than the rest of the gang. They just haven’t learned how to apply their high levels of thinking to school. Maybe it’s the fault of the school.  That’s why change is in the air. That’s good.

All teachers have moments of great poignancy  with their students.  Probably those are the moments that students and teachers will remember most. Many of my fourth (or was it fifth?) grade students remember how I cried when I read Bridge to Terabithia to them.

All teachers have moments of great comedy with students. The art of good teaching is to take those comedic moments and enjoy the humor. Even in semi-retirement now, as I  work with a new generation of teachers, the moments continue. The story below happened in one of my high schools last year.

A first year biology teacher was doing an experiment on enzymes.  I met with him before the lesson and suggested he probe the students’ background knowledge to set the stage for the lesson. Recalling  my days as an elementary school teacher, I suggested he  “Ask the kids what they know about yeast.” I knew many teachers in elementary school had baked bread with kids at one time or another.

The lesson began and my eager protégé, asked his high school students, “So tell me what you already know about yeast.”

Instantly, the one student who always calls out, described, in graphic detail, yeast infections and where they are found. Using the feline word for female genitalia, he was indeed proud of his contribution.

I clearly remember the “deer in the head light” look of my young teacher as the class gasped and laughed.  Up until this moment, Mr. C. had trusted me.

Stepping in, I said to the eager student, “Thank you for your contribution. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, I may have an extra sip of wine as I share this story with my husband. Let’s try to use more academic language in the future, and now let’s move on.” The teacher continued with his wonderful lesson, and  the class moved on.

So newly retired teachers, as you move on, take time to savor your remembrances . Also, you might want to also steal a piece of chalk…if you can find one.  It may be a valuable artifact someday.



Can I Laugh My Way Through Panic Attacks?

Yesterday I watched a wonderful Huff Post Live broadcast called Mental Health: Living With Anxiety. Thanks to the moderator and panelists who shared their experiences with phobias and panic attacks. The link to the program is below this post.

Here in my blog, I have begun to write about my own panic attacks on bridges, planes, mountains, and let’s just say, “anything that goes up, high.”

Here in this blog, I can be real smart. I can invent solutions, laugh and make cracks about heads floating up in the sky when we, panic attackers, are having our out of body experiences.

When I am not here in this blog, I am not so smart.

Let’s take Saturday night when my husband, Jerome the Great and Good, and I were heading to a restaurant in Queens.  He was driving and I was giving directions. Missing the access to the main part of the Queensboro Bridge, he drove on to the lower level. In seconds, we entered a rickety, single, OUTSIDE lane, which was once used as a trolley track. We were there with nothing between us, the East River and the rooftops of Manhattan and Queens, but a teeny-weeny, rusty, ripped up fence.

So, during that time, when I was not here in my blog, I did not say funny things.

I did sweat, hyperventilate, clench, pound, moan and pray.

And, in case you were wondering, I cursed; but I did not use the word “doodyhead” like I do here in my blog. Sometimes, “doodyhead” just doesn’t cut it.

I am fortunate that I will still travel on bridges, planes, even an occasional tram up a mountain. But nine times out of ten, it will be a hellish experience for me.

The thing is I keep living to tell about it.

For that, I say thanks to all those others who have shared their own stories and research. Thanks again to Scott Stossel, author of My Age of Anxiety, one of my favorite books, for tweeting and reminding me of the Huffington Post Live broadcast.

Also, thanks to the wonderful moderator and panelists at Huffington Post Live for their insight. The link to the program is below.

And I will continue to make attempts to look at the light side of all my stuff. Believe me, it would be a heck of a lot easier to write about only the dark side, but what fun would that be?



Why You Should Tip Your Hairdresser, Generously.

 Photo Credit: Old Shoe Woman via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Old Shoe Woman via Compfight cc

“I look like my mother,” I said to my hairdresser, Lola, as she was preparing to cut my wet hair.

“All woman say that when their hair is wet,” she said.

“Wow, that’s interesting,” I responded. “You should write a book on women.” The blogger in me kicked in and I asked Lola to share some other things she’s learned from her days of coloring, cutting and blowing.

She thought for a minute, and said, “How about I share what a bunch of us (hairdressers) were talking about when we had a few drinks in us?”

“Great,” I said.

“Well, for starters,” she said, “one time we talked about how we would kill some of our clients. She picked up her scissors.

“Interesting,” I said. Thank God, I didn’t complain when she took me a bit late.

“I thought I might like cutting into someone’s throat,” she said, “just like this! Swish!” I looked in the mirror and saw her pretend swipe across my throat.

“Cute.” I said as I calculated previous tips I had given to Lola. Were they enough?

“Then there’s the flat iron,” she bent my head forward so she could work on the hair on the nape of my neck.”When it’s hot, the flat iron reaches a temperature of 450 degrees.” She put down the scissors and waved the flat iron around. I could see she was definitely warming to her subject.

“Is that the same as a curling iron,” I asked. I remembered the time I forgot to call and cancel my appointment.

“No, the flat iron is definitely the way to go if you want to kill a client.” She really was warming to her subject.

I looked at her array of brushes,scissors and irons on her counter top. I don’t think I ever gave Lola a Christmas present.

Lola finished. I gave her a generous tip, and escaped to my car, happy to be alive.

This Christmas, things would be different.