Friday, September 30, 2011

Things That Go Crash In The Night

The nocturnal shenanigans continue.

I fell asleep in the basement recliner last night at 9:30. Much to my chagrin, as I had just remembered that Sweet Genius was on, and tuned in to see desserts made with bubble gum, carrots, and a turtle as the inspiration. I only made it through that one dish. I awoke at 1:40 a.m. I gathered up the materials I had brought down to write out some bills. That would have to wait.

Upstairs, I plugged in my cell phone on the kitchen counter. I heard a crash. Like something substantial falling over. Like The Pony's insulated cup of ice falling on the basement tile. Or a small appliance falling on the #1 son's laptop. I searched the house. Nothing was out of place.

What's up with that?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beware The Haboob

My classes learned a new word today, courtesy of Science World magazine. Did you know that haboob is Arabic for strong wind? It's true.

Yeah. They really liked that one. I gave them a little Jeopardy-type game to see what they knew before reading the magazine. About half of the classes guessed that the statement, "Haboob is an Arabic word for strong wind" was false. Like Science World would put in a fake word such as haboob. I'm so sure.

Mainly, they giggled. As did I, when I read the question out loud. It was on the big screen up front, too, for all to feast on with their eyes. One girl said, "Well, I'm not sure. I seem to have left my Arabic to English dictionary at home today." Good one.

We also read a good article about Tasmanian Devils and a contagious facial cancer that is killing them. So much so that they needed an intervention. A wildlife sanctuary/breeding program has been established on mainland Australia, called Devil Ark. A devil heaven, according to Science World. A person quoted in the article happened to attend the University of Tasmania. Which just struck me funny. Because of the Looney Tunes devil, Taz. And because one of my classes has been teasing me that I never actually graduated from college. That's because my college changed its name since then, and because I told them I don't know where my diploma is, and because I refuse to tell them my graduation year and/or provide them with my social security number, age, lock of hair, or a blood sample. These little whippersnappers are dead set on getting a quality education.

I am SO going to tell them tomorrow that I've been lying. That I graduated from the University of Tasmania.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

You Can Lead A Fish To Water

What if...somebody happened to mention that his goldfish did a flip this morning in his bowl? The teacher should be duly impressed, right, and say, perhaps, "What a talented goldfish you have! Did you train him to do flips?" Or the teacher could say, "Funny, fish seem to flip over like that right before they die. How has your goldfish been feeling lately?" Not recommended. But realistic.

Because teachers have way too much idle time and nothing better to do on their 22 minute lunch period, even after heating up lunch and taking 5 minutes to use the restroom, we discussed the goldfish issue.

The student said the food ran out. So he was waiting until he got more food to feed the goldfish. Keepin' It Real asked if he could feed it something else. "Well, somebody said to feed it crackers. But I don't think that's good for the fish."

"Oh. But letting it starve is good for it? Seriously. That fish is dying. What worse could happen to it from eating crackers?"

The student agreed that it might not hurt to drop some cracker crumbs into the fishbowl. Back at the teacher lunch table, we took the bait and ran with it.

"Hope he doesn't feed it a goldfish cracker. That would be all kinds of wrong."

"You mean like cannibalism?"


"We throw out leftover food to our chickens. But we won't give them chicken. On the other hand, I would give them Chicken-In-A-Biscuit crackers."

"How about some toast."

"Give a goldfish toast? Won't he choke? Won't it not be toast any more once it hits the water?"

"No. You toast the bread, then scrape off crumbs into the fishbowl."

"That's not enough to keep a bird alive."

"How about you just give it a big ol' fish sandwich. That should tide it over until you get some fish food."

"That's just wrong."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Thus I Sat Engaged In Guessing

Maybe I've mentioned that my planning period has been changed to 2nd hour this year. Which is pretty much the worst time ever for me. Some people like it, because they have a chance to prepare for the day. I, on the other hand, like to be caught up for the day. I want all of my papers graded, and the next day's materials laid out before I leave school. So 2nd hour doesn't do much for me. I can get some advance planning done, but the papers that pile up through the day, in need of a good gradin', have to wait until after school, or some spare minutes while my class works on an assignment.

Chief among my complaints of the 2nd hour plan time is the lack of a spare moment to attend to bodily functions. I can go before school. I can go at the end of my plan time. I can go at lunch. But then it's a four-hour wait until I can go again. Which is possible if I want to restrict liquids all through the day. And dehydrate myself.

Mondays are especially hazardous. I have duty. Before AND after school. This week, I headed in from afternoon duty and made a pit stop at the faculty women's restroom, housed inside the teacher workroom. I had barely sat down to do my business when suddenly there came a tapping. As of someone strongly rapping, rapping at the chamber door. Ah, distinctly I remember...

Oops! For a moment there, I was deep inside that Simpson's episode where Bart shows up at Homer's chamber door as a raven with a boy's head.

I heard voices, then silence. Upon vacating my throne, I stepped out to find Mabel, my teaching bud, awaiting entrance to the chamber. I asked who had been tap tap tapping. Twas the Master Schedule Maker, she sang. Like a canary. Not a raven.

Which was sweet, poetic justice. Because just this once, Master Schedule Maker had to hold it until an opportune time presented itself for the performance of bodily functions.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Please Release Me Let Me Go

You know how you get a song stuck in your head? And you can't get rid of it? But you don't know all the words, so you are stuck repeating the same phrase over and over?

Every rose has its thorn. Just like every night has its dawn. Just like every cowboy sings a sad, sad song. Every rose has its thorn.

Yeah. That's the latest one. I had to download it on Zune. Because the #1 son pays for free unlimited downloads. Go figure. But that has not helped me learn all the lyrics. And I'm still kind of upset with Bret Michaels for his Celebrity Apprentice performance.

Prior to that thorny issue, the song stuck in my head was one that The Pony and I heard on the Sirius XM 60s station on the way to school. We heard it at least twice a week, at the same time every morning. I don't know the name, but its a dude with an Irish accent.

You got your green alligators, your long-neck geese, your humpty-back camels and your chimpanzees...blah blah're never gonna see no unicorn.

But the cake-taker for earwigitis is Ms Tanya Tucker. For over a week, I woke up with her lyrics running through my brain.

There's a tree, out in the back yard...that never has been broken by the wind.

That's it. That's the extent of the lyrics. Every morning, I got up humming that part. Over and over. Until one morning, the song on the radio alarm was none other than: Strong Enough to Bend. By Ms Tanya Tucker.

It released me from my torment.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Hills Are Alive...With The Sight Of Carnage

I came across a magnificent Turkey Vulture yesterday on my way to town. Or as we call them around here, a Turkey Buzzard. He was gigantic. I feared I might run over him. He was sitting on a freshly-squashed rabbit in the middle of the county road, ripping out chunks of flesh. The rabbit looked like it had been skinned. The fur was gone. A fresh spot of blood made a pool of dipping sauce.

Mr. Turkey Vulture turned to look at me in my approaching T-Hoe. He heaved himself heavily with an ungainly flap, flap, flapping of his enormous wings, and rose out of harm's way. He did the same on my way home twenty minutes later. I saw him perch in a dead tree in a cow field, about fifty feet off the road.

I did not get a picture, because I am not in the habit of fumbling for my smart-phone to make a dumb move and click pics while I'm piloting a large SUV on unmarked two-lane blacktop. But Google is my best bud, and on this website, I found this spittin' image of him:

Mr. Turkey Vulture was bigger than Tank the Beagle. The size of a turkey, in fact. Go figure. So much wildlife. So little space on the road. Last week, The Pony and I saw a turkey run across our gravel road. And three raccoons scurry across the county road. The hills are alive.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Sky Was Falling

I trust that this evening finds my vast readership alive and well, having dodged the bus-sized bullet of NASA's wayward weather satellite that came home to roost yesterday. Funny. They can put 12 men on the moon to go for a sunlight stroll, but they can't calculate the time and location of returning Earth-orbit kibbles and bits? Poppycock!

The #1 son wanted to go to a movie with his buddies last night. A 10:00 showing. I did not particularly want him out so late. I tried the old ...but a chunk of NASA's falling weather satellite might crush you argument. Let's just say it was less than effective. I allowed him to go, with the caveat that he had to keep one eye on the sky and be ready to employ defensive driving techniques.

My mom said she had been worrying about the sky falling, as well. "I was thinking, maybe I should sleep in the basement tonight." I assured her that if it was her time, and the Express Cross-Planet Satellite had her number, it wouldn't matter whether she slept in the basement or up on the roof. Which may not have been such comforting advice as I imagined.

Anyway, we're still here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Most Funderful Time Of The Year

Farmer H and The Pony are off to the annual car show on Saturday. It's sponsored by the Band Boosters, of which Farmer H has been decreed president.

Normally, he takes his 1980 copper-colored Olds Toronado. This year, he's taking his 1998 Ford F250. It's not vintage or anything. Farmer H said that the Olds needs a battery, and he doesn't drive it very often, and it gets cheated out of prizes by people who bring new cars like Corvettes. That's the short version. There are many categories. Farmer H thinks that having all original parts ought to account for something. Apparently, the judges are not swayed by authenticity, but by flair. So he's taking the truck because he can haul two grills in it.

That's right. Farmer H is in charge of the BBQ concession. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Farmer H is a fantastic BBQer. The Pony is his gofer. He has a ball. Both of them do. Plus, The Pony is ever-hopeful that he might win the fifty-fifty drawing. Last year, it was upwards of $500. But The Pony didn't win.

The weather is going to be fantastic this year. Around 70 degrees. Clear. Perfect car show weather.

They are pumped.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Smacking Of Unprofessionalism

'Tis the season of smack. Talking smack, to be specific.

The assignment I gave today was two pages of Chapter Review questions. But one class told the others that they were having a quiz.

Then a different class told the others that they have to read the chapter out loud now, because I caught the whole class sleeping during Mr. Textbook CD Reader's monologue. When in truth, that class ASKED to read out loud, because they are good readers, and very social.

And one lass asked if she could ask me a question, and I said of course, because that's why I give them time in class to work on it, so I can answer questions. Then she said her friend told her that she came to me with a question, and I allegedly said, "No! I'm grading papers!" Like that would happen. I only grade papers to efficiently pass the time while I await questions. I tracked that one down to the source, asked her if I'd ever denied her the opportunity to ask a question because I was busy, and she said no.

Today was just one big ol' game of post office. One starts a tale, and by the time it gets back to me, rumors of my quizzing, snoozer-punishing, unprofessionalism are greatly exaggerated.

Kids. Can't live with 'em. Can't eat without 'em.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Force Feeding Mandate

The Pony thinks outside the box. He can't be corralled by arbitrary rules.

On the way to school this morning, he let it slip that every student is now required to go to the cafeteria for breakfast. I knew that this year, breakfast is fed for free to the Elementia, Basementia, and Newmentia masses. And thanks to Genius, I knew that even if kids only want a milk or juice, they have to take a tray. What I did not know is that at Basementia, every student must take a tray.

The Pony is perturbed that such an interlude in the cafeteria cuts into his reading time before the bell. He gets dropped off forty minutes before the start of school. He sits in the gym in hog heaven, ignoring the mayhem and feeding his brain.

"So now you have to go to the cafeteria?"

"Uh huh. Everybody has to."

"Well, can't you take your book and read it down there?"


"Then what's the problem? When everybody goes to the cafeteria, just take your book. What's the difference between reading it in the cafeteria, or reading it in the gym."

"I have to stop reading to go through the breakfast line."

"Oh, so you're eating breakfast now."

"No. I just go through the line."

"Why would you go through the line if you're not eating?"

"We have to."

"That doesn't make sense. You might as well eat. It's free. And it's wasteful if you throw it away."

"I don't throw it away. I go through the line, put a box of cereal on my tray, walk out, throw away the tray, and put the box of cereal on the teacher table. The I go back up to the gym and read."

"Why don't you eat. They have all kinds of stuff. Sausage/pancake dogs, French toast sticks, sausage biscuits, honeybuns, toast..."

"No. Not when I go through. Only cereal."

"That doesn't sound right."

"Well, it could be because I go through early. The cooks are still sitting at the teacher's table, eating."

"What are THEY eating?"

"Don't know. Don't care. I get done as fast as I can so I can go back to the gym and read."

"Would it hurt you to eat the cereal? You take it in your lunch every day."

"Yeah. But I already ate breakfast at home. So why eat again?"

I don't know about that boy. Most 8th grade boys would love to eat a second breakfast. My little Pony prances to his own drummer.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Pony's Winter Coat Is Coming In

The Pony got off the bus at Newmentia this afternoon, and trotted up to my desk to tell a tale of middle school hijinx. I surveyed his appearance to discern whether he might have brought embarrassment to the Hillbilly family today. Like that time he snagged his shirt about six dozen times from when I dropped him off in the morning until the bus hauled him back to me at the end of the day.

"What's that on your knees, dirt? Have you been crawling around on the floor? What did you do in PE today? Can't you even clean up?"

"Uh. That's hair. Leg hair."

"On your knees? Who are you, Harry, new friend of the Hendersons?"

"I don't get it."

"It was just a movie. With a bigfoot kind of guy. I can't believe you have hair on your knees!"

"Uh huh. Look at it! It's growing."

"I can see that. It's curling over your socks. But normally, people don't have hair on their knees."

"But I do! Look!"

Yes. My thirteen-year-old is growing hair on his KNEES. That is just not right. I fear for his future back.

Monday, September 19, 2011

All About The Tucker

Mrs. Hillbilly Mom is just plumb tuckered out this evening. All that standing around for a.m. and p.m. parking lot duty, plus whipping up a delicious pot of chili that includes everything but the kitchen sink, plus frying hamburgers for the boy young 'uns will do that to you.

Did you know that a sixteen-year-old boy will eat a bowl of chili and a hamburger and a peanut butter sandwich? In ten minutes or less? Because he has to regain his strength that ebbed when the cafeteria ran out of hamburgers and had to scramble to find some cardboard pizza for the third lunch shift.

I've never seen the cafeteria line as long as it is this year. I don't know if more kids qualified for free lunch, or if kids are not getting enough to eat at home and rely on school food, or if there are fewer anorexics and manorexics in the population. At least everyone gets a free breakfast this year. Even if they aren't allowed to have syrup with their sausage/pankcake dogs. Some kind of regulation about too much sugar. Clamp down, big government! Don't you know that kids bring soda from home to wash it down? Because they don't like what we sell in the machines, that being diet sodas and Gatorades. And one half-pint of milk does not keep them adequately hydrated.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What If?

What if you were faced with a dilemma of doing something for the good of society, or something for the good of an individual? I know. Kind of vague. Here's the situation:

In hop, skip, and jumping through blogs yesterday, I landed on one in which a person heard a coworker make a racist comment. It was a private conversation. Blogger was surprised to hear such a thing from Coworker. So surprised, in fact, that she did nothing. Upon reviewing the situation, Blogger felt that some form of action was necessary. She debated with herself. She could go to management with the incident, which could get Coworker fired. Other employees had been dismissed solely on the statement of the reporting party in cases where a racist comment was made. Blogger was torn. Because Coworker is a single mom with a young child to support. Times are tough, and Coworker might have trouble getting a new job.

Blogger's dilemma was whether to report the incident to a superior, or to have a private conversation with Coworker about the comment. Making it clear that further display of such an attitude would not be tolerated, and Blogger would go straight to management. But Blogger was concerned that Coworker might mistreat the clientele if she was allowed to skate.

Tough decision. Nobody can be sure how she might handle it until the time such circumstances affected her directly. I feel that I would err on the side of caution. Telling a supervisor could cause Coworker to lose her job. Not that she might not deserve it. But this comment surprised Blogger. So either it was an anomaly, or Coworker was good at hiding her true feelings at work. A young child could be adversely affected if Coworker was canned. On the other hand, Coworker could do something that might affect the child of a client. But you'd think there would have been complaints about Coworker before if this attitude got in the way of her work.

I don't know. Tough call. But I couldn't deliberately get somebody fired during this economy. If the penalty was a reprimand and mandated diversity training, yeah. I'd tell. But not if it's dismissal. Coworker did not say it in the presence of clients. The only two people who knew were Blogger and Coworker. I'd talk to Coworker and let it be known that I would run and tell in a heartbeat if I heard it again. Or sensed a prejudice in dealings with clients. Then it's on Coworker.

Life is messy. It's not played out in absolutes. Sometimes there are no on-off switches. No plus-minus. Life plays out in varying shades of gray.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

If Only The Work Week Passed So Quickly

Gosh, the weekend flies by!

Tomorrow my day will be filled with an expedition to The Devil's Playground for weekly provisions, and a trek to the top of Laundry Mountain. Thank the Gummi Mary, I have The Pony as my Sherpa. At some point I will have to sail the Sink of Despair to make sure we have clean dishes. With any luck, I should be able to work in a short float down the Lazy Blogreading River.

The students have a four-day week coming up. But I will be working Friday at an inservice day. At least it's a break from the routine.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Rose, By Any Other Name

Tonight, now that it's after hours, I must tastefully broach the subject of followers. I have no issue with followers. I'm not on a quest to gain more and more to keep up with the Joneses. If I'm followed, fine and dandy. I'm happy to see my regulars pop up when I log on.

My other blog has more followers. I've noticed that some bloggers heartily welcome each one to the fold. It's a classy thing to do. I am not averse to it. But I often don't notice when a new one shows up. If they leave a comment, I welcome them in the comments. Otherwise, they're on their own. I haven't devoted much thinking time to the issue. Until today.

Something looked different. I noticed a new follower. I let my cursor hover over the picture dealybobber. The name appeared. Twatsmacker.

I try to keep my other blog up to snuff. A bit more upscale than my Mansion in Hillmomba. Sure, I wrote about my dream where I had four boobs. But aside from that, it's a classy joint. I don't go running my pottymouth fingers. No inappropriate language. Which puts me in quandary. A part of me wants to welcome my newest follower. Another part of me does not.

I'm sure Twatsmacker is a lovely person. But I just can't see myself writing, "And I'd like to welcome Twatsmacker to our little community. Make yourself at home, Twatsmacker. I hope you enjoy your visit. Come again."


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Life Is Not A Simpson's Cartoon

The Pony has a kind of warped sense of humor. I have no idea where he gets it.

This morning, we were watching the Duggars and their 19 kids while getting ready for the day. Nothing makes you feel less harried in the morning than seeing the Duggars on TV, and then looking at the two children you are responsible for getting off to school. It was the episode where Josh takes Anna and baby Mackynzie for a ride on the Ferris wheel. Anna is not so thrilled. "What if the baby fell out?" she says. Or something close to that. I can't quote the Duggars like Seinfeld.

I went to brush my teeth. When I came back, The Pony was philosophizing. "Wouldn't it be funny if you took your baby on the Ferris wheel, and when you got to the top, you threw out a doll? And people would think it was your baby? Ha, ha, ha."

Um. No. That would be psychopathic. Not funny. Abnormal. I told him not to propose that joke to anybody else. On the way home, he said that he told a girl at school, and she started laughing. That Pony! He's learning early on that girls are attracted to psychopaths.

This evening, I told the #1 son about his brother's proposal. #1 never misses an opportunity to slam The Pony for real or imagined flights of psychopathy. "Can you see somebody doing something like that? It's just wrong."

"Actually, Mom, I think it's kind of funny."

I regret allowing them to watch The Simpsons during their formative years.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Top Of Their Game

I mourn my students from last year. Specifically, my students from last hour, last year. They were world-class chair-straighteners, by cracky! Olympic caliber. Chair-straighteners without equal. The creme de la creme of chair-straighteners. Chair-straightening mavens, if you will. They wrote the book on chair-straightening. If you look up chair-straighteners in the dictionary, you see their picture.

This year's class? Meh. They go through the motions. Put a desk foot on the tile corner. Let the other three reside where they may. Sometimes they'll push their chairs all the way in. My classroom looks like something out of a Richard Scarry book. But without the worm in the hat and bow tie. It looks busy. Nothing lined up right. Corners akimbo.

I mourn my students from last year. I'm still looking for a specific talent from this year's group. I'm sure they'll surprise me when I least expect it. Otherwise, it wouldn't be a surprise. Right?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Can't Please All Of The Students All Of The Time

Bet you didn't know that my total student load this year consists of Goldilockses. It's true. One and all. Here a Goldilocks, there a Goldilocks, everywhere a Goldilocks.


Old Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had classroom, EE I EE I O

And in that classroom she had all Goldilockses, EE I EE I O

With a "Too cold!" here and a "Too hot!" there

Here a "Freezing!" there a "Sweating!" everywhere a "What's wrong with your AC?"

Old Mrs. Hillbilly Mom had a classroom, EE I EE I O.


Seriously. My thermostat was set on 72. The actual room temperature fluctuated between 76 and 72, depending on the hour of the day, and the number of Goldilockses in the room. You'd think they were all menopausal matrons, the way they carried on. Nobody thought it was just right. Not even when a happy medium of 74 was achieved.

Being the selfless Mother Teresa type, I vacillated between offering to fan them with palm fronds to nip that impending heat stroke in the bud, or warm up some bricks in the microwave to stuff inside their socks to prevent frostbite. In the end, I did neither. Lest some type of litigation result from altering a Goldilocks temperature from the ambient temperature.

At least the chairs were just right. Today.

Monday, September 12, 2011

This Is Just To Say, Pick Your Own Dang Grapes

I have been taking grapes in my lunch. They are fantastic red grapes that I found at Save A Lot. So sweet. And so cold.

Because the price of teacher lunch went up $1.05 this year, there is rarely a tray on our table. Michelina Salisbury Steak and Michelina Fettuccine Alfredo are quite popular. As are Kellogg's Special K Protein Drinks.

Everybody knows that I am a veritable Mother Teresa when it comes to performing humanitarian deeds for my fellow faculty. So every day, I offer Arch Nemesis a small bundle of grapes. She loves them. She is so grateful, she throws away my paper plate. Not that I couldn't do it myself, you know. I walk right by the big gray plastic trash can on wheels on the way out of the cafeteria. But it makes her feel good, so I Mother Teresaly allow it.

Today I got up to go to the bathroom before the bell. It's along stretch with my new plan time being second hour. I must hold it from 11:20 until 2:56. Except on Mondays, when I have to hold it until 3:10, or when the last kid is out of the parking lot. Arch grabbed my plate that I was going to toss in the trash.

"You don't have to do that."

"I know. But I want to. You feed me grapes."

We looked at each other, me standing over her, her looking up. She started to snicker.

"That didn't sound right."

"It's kind of disturbing, that image."

"Can you bring some palm fronds tomorrow?"

"Yeah. Right."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

No Exceptions Without A Doctor's Note

Well, gosh. Mrs. Hillbilly Mom has to have rules. Otherwise, her classroom would be a touchy-feely, I'm-OK-you're-OK, anything goes, anarchy-driven, free-for-all.

It's not a complicated rule. No Beverages in the Classroom. Simple, no? That means don't bring anything to drink into the classroom. No soda, no milk, no water, no Gatorade, no Powerade, no liquid at all in any kind of container.

I looked up last week to see a young lass chugging a bottle of water like she was a finalist in the water-drinking equivalent of Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. A regular agua-imbibing Kobayashi was she. So intent on her world-class guzzling in plain sight was the little gal that she did not notice me giving her the stink-eye. Nor was she aware that the class had fallen silent, eagerly anticipating a showdown to rival Alien vs. Predator.

AquaMaam gulped her last swallow, wiped her lips with the back of her wrist, and turned to look at me. "What?"

"You are not supposed to bring water into the classroom. Go throw it away."

Then, the kicker. "But I'm thirsty."

"I'm sorry you are thirsty. You might have noticed that I allow people who ask me to go get a drink. But I do not allow them to bring water into the room."

She threw away her water bottle. And hopefully learned a lesson about Tough Love.

Seriously. But I'm thirsty? Like that would make me change my rule that has been in effect for the last...oh...I don't know...length of time that I have been teaching! Perhaps assuming that such a rule was only in place for people who tried to bring in water when they were not at all thirsty.

Next thing you know, there's going to be a petition for students to look at each other's answers during a test, because I only wanted to see what she put down for her answer.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Second-Best Time Of The Year

Now that we are four weeks deep in the school year, time is going to fly. Labor Day sets the tone for days off every couple of weeks. Not actual days off for the faculty, but days off for the students. Anything out of the routine gives us a spring in our step and a date to anticipate.

September 23 brings us a professional development day, where we might have time to catch our breath and figure out how to use this new Gaggle dealybobber that is the next wave of the future.

October, not to be outdone, proffers an early out for inservice, plus a whole Friday off after parent conferences. She's a harsh taskmistress, though, our October. For she requires us to stay late on two separate evenings to earn that day off.

November sits back all smug and cool, because he knows he signals the good will of the holiday season kickoff. He gets things rolling with an early out for inservice, then coasts along to the two-and-a-half-day Thanksgiving break.

December teases us with the start of the basketball season and hope of snow days. A mere three weeks in, we're out! Christmas break starts with a half-day on December 22.

January and February don't offer much in the way of scheduled time off. But we all know that snow can come at any time!

Gosh. The school year is almost over again. It's just a hop, skip, and a jump until the BEST time of the year: the second and third week of May.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Hot Buns Affair

We had a debate at the teacher lunch table yesterday concerning a cookbook. Because that's what we highbrow, hoity-toity educators do in our idle moments.

The whole thing started with a book in the teacher workroom. It was on a display rack set up by a vendor who drops in once or twice a month with books to sell. In fact, we have two such vendors who seem to be competing for floor space. But since none of us have time to hang out in the workroom due to all the work we have to get done in our rooms, the petite blockade does not affect our productivity. There is still a clear path to the copy machine.

While waiting for copies, I picked up the cookbook. I can't remember the name, but it was catchy enough to make me choose it over more scholarly works. The page that fell open had...wait for it...the high-demand know you want it...for...a ham sandwich! After my initial reaction of WTF, I put that book back on the rack faster than a sixteen-year-old boy yanks his hand away from his buddy's hand when they accidentally touch while digging into the chip basket at a Mexican restaurant. A ham sandwich recipe? Totally ludicrous.

At lunch, I sat down beside my colleague as he bit into his own ham sandwich. He was in the process of receiving a regular ribbing for making his ham sandwich with a hot dog bun. Arch Nemesis hauled her carcass to the table, and what did she have under her arm but the offending cookbook. With no mincing of words, I told her that even she had no need for that instructional tome. Because anybody knows that a person who needs a recipe for a ham sandwich probably won't be able to read such an advanced directive.

Arch flipped open that book and exclaimed, "Look! Another one! Hot Buns: Open four hot dog buns. Lay slices of ham on each bun. Place a cheese slice on top of the ham. Cover with foil. Heat until cheese is melted."

I turned to the bun man. "You could totally write a cookbook!"

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What Do You Do?

What do you do if a student asks you if they ever find shoes in the lost and found box? Do you tell him that there is no lost and found box in this building? That sometimes the custodians will save something in their closet, but often they just throw it away? Like underwear and towels on the locker room floor.

What do you do if a student holds out his foot and says, "I've got a problem." And the end of his shoe flops open with each step, the whole end opens like an alligator's mouth, showing toe teeth. Do you tell him that you might check at home to see if you have any shoes your boys have outgrown? Because you give such items to your mom, who gives them to her neighbor, who gives them to her daughter for her grandsons, unless they don't fit, and she passes them to a friend in a neighboring town.

What do you do if this conversation takes place in the presence of the entire class, need overruling embarrassment? And nobody seems surprised or offers to assist the shoe kid, because there but for a single paycheck might be them.

What do you do if the shoe kid is only in ninth grade, and can not get a job, and can not drive himself to a thrift store, and will be wearing that alligator shoe until it swallows his ankle and he can no longer walk in it?

What do you do if your state is trying to make it a crime to even communicate with students on social media, and helping one might be construed as giving gifts in order to groom one for ulterior purposes?

What do you do if it hurts your heart to think of Mr. Alligator Shoe walking around with his sole flapping with each step?

What do you do if you think bringing in outgrown shoes might hurt feelings or look like you're passing off your worn-out shoes as charity?

What do you do if Mr. Alligator Shoe says, "What's up?" the next day when you call him aside in the hall to tell him there's good news and bad news: you found one pair of shoes a size too small, and another a size too large?

What do you do if Mr. Alligator Shoe tries on a pair of outgrown shoes in front of several peers, and says, "These are good. Can I take my old shoes to my locker? They're gonna be swim shoes now."

What do you do if Mr. Alligator Shoe says in class later in the day, "These shoes are SO comfortable. How do they look? My toe comes to here. Maybe that's what broke my other ones. They were too little."

You think that maybe, this one time, it was OK to get involved.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Pony Is Getting Too Big For His Pasture

The Pony has been kicking up his heels in a coltish kind of way. I know he is entering adolescence, beginning the struggle for independence. But that doesn't mean I welcome his journey toward autonomy.

The Pony is my right-hand man. The Mr. French to my Uncle Bill. The Radar O'Reilly to my Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake. The Uncle Charlie to my Steve Douglas. The Miss Jane to my Milburn Drysdale. The Waylon Smithers to my Montgomery Burns. I want for naught when The Pony is there to anticipate my needs.

Yesterday, I was in a hurry to leave school. I stepped out of my teacher shoes and into the comfy shoes I wear to commute. I asked The Pony to set my teacher shoes in the cabinet while I went to run a few copies.

This morning, I set the teacher shoes out of the cabinet to put them on. The Pony had switched them so the right shoe was left, and the left shoe was right. When I asked him about it this afternoon, he laughed like that Jordan kid on Bernie Mac.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Presence Has Been Requested

I have been summoned to the principal's office. It would have been today, but he forgot that the counselor changed my plan period from sixth to second hour. So now it's tomorrow. I'm not sweatin' it. The purpose of the rendezvous is to go over results from the End Of Course test that my juniors took last year. And the results improved 30-something points from the year before.

I would love to nod wisely and take credit, enumerating the high points of my grand plan to boost the scores. But we all know that you can't compare apples to oranges. Same methods, different kids, you have to play the hand you're dealt. And we held a flush last year. I'd be singing a different tune out the other side of my mouth if we draw a pair of twos this year. So I will take it for what it is worth, which is a feel-goody feeling for the rest of this school year.

Until next May, I can shine my fingernails on my lapel and lord it over the teachers of subjects that did not show such an improvement. Not really. We're not like that at Newmentia. We are all for one and one for all, an upper-echelon team that commands respect from the surrounding districts, even though they may dwarf us in size. We are a school of distinction. That's a real deal here in Missouri.

Monday, September 5, 2011

This Is Just A Little Peyton Place And They're All Hillmomba Valley Hippocrats

We are heading toward night #4 of my three-day weekend with no sleep. None to speak of, anyway. None that I can remember.

This cold virus is the gift that keeps on taking. I am OH SO TIRED. But when I lay me down to sleep, the effort is fruitless. The snot trickles down the back of my throat to make me cough. Or the congestion in my lungs causes a series of wheezy whistles as I try to exhale. It's like a panpipe symphony in there. With bagpipe accompaniment.

I have spent three hours in bed all weekend. Then I have to get up and sit in the recliner to catch my breath. After about an hour, I can fall asleep there.

A holiday weekend is a terrible time to go without prescription cough medicine. But you can't really call the doctor on Friday with a sore throat and no cough to ask for some. Saturday around 5:00, my mom casually mentioned that there was a new critical care facility ten minutes from the Mansion, open from 9:00 to 4:00 on Saturdays. Thanks. Good to know for the next holiday weekend that I have a cough.

I think I'll stand outside on the sidewalk tomorrow on my plan time and see if my doctor will call in a prescription. Funny how my cell phone won't work inside the building. I can't call from the school phone because it's long distance. I'm sure the art, anatomy, and chemistry classes on that side of the building will enjoy being all up in my bidness. I hope those students will be good little Hippocrats and not do any harm by mentioning my medical history.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

SPOILER Alert On Apollo 18

The Pony and I dodged The Devil this morning, and went to see Apollo 18.


That's the best I can do. It was not nearly as good as I had hoped. It had kind of a Blair Witch Project feel to it. And it was kind of slow-moving.

There was a passel of teenage boys who rambled in at the last minute to fill an entire row. I think they were bored out of their gourds. One by one, they got up to get candy or go to the bathroom or wander aimlessly or perhaps sit in another theater to see something more exciting. Like The Help.

One thing Apollo 18 had going for it was the GOTCHA factor. Several scenes had me recoiling from the screen, from surprise. Kind of like when Jason pops out of the lake at the end of Friday the 13th. Oops! SPOILER! Hope nobody that hasn't seen that movie made in 1980 is reading. Or like when Carrie's hand reaches out of the rubble of her house to grab at Sue Snell. Oops! I did it again. 1976, people. If you haven't seen these classics by now, you deserve spoilage.

Anyhoo, I can't really recommend Apollo 18, except to hard-core conspiracy theorists. A better monster might have helped. Too much Alien factor without a decent alien.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Can't See The Chicken For The Grease

I have done nothing all day. I really should have gotten a jump on the laundry. But instead, I sat staring into space during a Bernie Mac marathon. I've seen all the episodes a couple of times, anyway. So I just vegetated. Trying to advance the progress of my virus. I figure at 8-10 days, I've got 6-8 days left.

Farmer H must have read the writing on the wall. He sent the #1 son for Chinese food. I really should not complain. But since I can't taste, the texture is everything. My late breakfast of BBQ pork rinds speaks for itself. But I must address the chicken policies of our favorite take-out destination. I'm pretty sure that General Tso's Chicken is required to contain...oh, I don't know...perhaps...just a little bit of...CHICKEN! The last several excursions down that slow boat to Hong Kong House have resulted in a container of twisted, chewy, battered, soupy particles that appear to harbor neither white nor dark meat. It's more like fried chicken skin. From a rubber chicken. Now I'll have to go back to something unbreaded. Like chicken with broccoli.

Because I can see the chicken.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Mommy Needs Some Germ-X

Okay. I stole the name of one of my long-time blog buddies, Mommy Needs a Xanax. I know she'll understand. We go way back. We were houseguests together in the Big Blogger House. She taught me all about the horror of waistboobs of the aunt variety. In appreciation, I shared pics of hot cabana boys with her. There's a record of all that nonsense somewhere back in one of my first two blogs. But the point, which I had when I started typing, is that she won't begrudge me the title.

While Mommy Needs has been taking care of her brand new bundle of joy, I have been busy taking care of my 105 new bundles of... joy.

I have picked up the sore throat runny nose bug from The Pony and the #1 son. Unless I picked it up at school, just breathing the same air as the students. Somebody shared it with me. I'm very careful with the hand-to-face transmission route. My illness started way up in the back of my throat, halfway to my right inner ear. Which makes me think I inhaled the toxin. It could have come from respiration in the hall during class change. It could have come from The Pony breathing in my face as I slicked his forelock down before we left for school.

But now I have the sickness. So I'm not very energetic. I may have been coming down with it for several days. That's my excuse for the short posts of late. And why I haven't been traipsing about the bloggyside, popping in to set a spell with my peeps.

I have some stories to tell. When I regain my strength. Maybe the long weekend will be good for what ails me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

To Every Season: TURN! TURN! TURN!

The temperature today in Hillmomba was a balmy 97 degrees. Quite a respite from the 103 in town. Don't tell my boys that people have been baking car cookies. I'm not sure of the heat index, but I would not have been surprised if The Pony carried in fried eggs in his chicken basket this evening.

Summer seems to be lingering. Fie on that Autumnal Equinox. Once school starts, summer should be over, and fall chomping at the bit. We need some good sweater and headscarf weather. Old Mrs. Hillbilly Mom mumbled, around the stem of her corncob pipe.