Young / Tales Out of School

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Young / Tales Out of School

My high school English teacher said teaching kept him young and open-minded. He may have had a point. My students constantly introduced new ideas, music, humor, and help with technology.

Appearances are the tip of the iceberg, and visual reminder of the wisdom of picking battles and letting them express themselves.
Early on, a favorite student sported an awesome mohawk. We loved him so much, we had him walk on stage during a talent show skit, as teachers sang, “Why can’t they be like Donny, perfect in every way? Nothing’s the matter with kids today.”
Earrings become common for males, and then there were multiple piercings, of more than just ears.
Tattoos became common.
One of my sweetest students sported very imaginative hair colors, which she told me her mother helped her do. When she said she wanted to participate in Renaissance Faire, I pondered authenticity of period, and then realized she could join the Fairy Realm. She was adorable, and in far more comfortable clothing than my long wool skirt. My great-niece Moriah was also a glamourous fairy. More about the Ren. Faire at http://www.stlrenfest.mcjr.net

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Xylophone/ eXtra credit/ eXamples / Tales Out of School

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Xylophone/eXtra credit/eXamples / Tales Out of School

Xylophone must have been given away when I moved. It was a really cool one on which one could rearrange the pipes to create different patterns of notes, and children loved it. I’m sure I gave it to someone who would appreciate it, but I don’t seem to have a photo.

Irises bloomed today, though, so that’s a good photo choice. 😉

Queen of eXtra credit . . .
I had no qualms about adding points to papers that exceeded my expectations, to the point that some of my junior high students had grades of 120%. Only one student ever complained of a “mathematically impossible grade” and had me remove the extra points.

Someone once said that the problem was school scores were small compared to video games. To compensate, I told students that if they didn’t think an assignment carried enough points to be worth their while, they could add as many zeros as they wanted, as long as they added to both the points earned and the points possible.
(Math lesson in English class? Why not? The math teacher and I shattered artificial distinctions by pointing out the similarities of rules for sentences and equations).

I often gave at least partial credit for clever wrong answers, and extra credit for cleverness added to right ones. I would coach students that on standardized tests, they should give the answer they knew the testers had in mind, the “best” answer. On my tests they had the option of writing their own explanation, making a case for two or more options. Few took the trouble, but those who did usually got full marks.

Goofus and Gallant — remember them from Highlights Magazine?
After the last final, I was inputting grades when a father emailed to ask how his son had done. Now quite well enough, but close and he had been trying, so I called down to Industrial Technology and asked his teacher to have him stop by before leaving school. Message not received, but he came by anyway, to return a book. I told him to call his mom to say he couldn’t leave until he was passing, and he set to work, typing a paper on how technology had influenced his life.

Meanwhile, enter Goofus, checking his grade and launching into a rant because he wasn’t passing (had, in fact, been failing all semester). My sense of fairness took hold of me as I noted that I’d given a last minute chance to Gallant. I started looking for missing assignments Goofus could do to raise his grade, but each suggestion prompted a new rant, so I asked him to leave so I could complete my own work. Soon, though, a principal warned me to expect a call from Momma Goofus . . . who proved by her own ranting that the acorns don’t fall far from the tree.

Meanwhile, Gallant was quietly typing away on the computer in the back of the room. I read a bit of his paper over his shoulder and entered the grade as he continued to work. We printed out his work, because it was GOOD, and he called his mom for a ride home. I walked with him to the car to wish him and his mother a great summer, and wished I had a video of the two interactions as an example of how to succeed (or not) in school.

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Walden Pond/ Weird / Tales Out of School

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Walden Pond/ Weird / Tales Out of School

Henry David Thoreau said: “In winter we lead a more inward life. Our hearts are warm and cheery, like cottages under drifts, whose windows and doors are half concealed, but from whose chimneys the smoke cheerfully ascends.”

When I watch the little pond, which I have named Walden, freeze and then thaw to welcome geese, I think of Thoreau. I do feel warm and cozy, with much to do, some “have to” and some “want to.” Three guesses which get priority . . .

I used to tell students that if they really understood the unit on Transcendentalism, they’d all probably walk out of the school. Then the reality of consequences would rear its ugly head, and we’d all stay in the classroom. Pass me some more Soma please. https://skipmendler.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/education-should-be-dangerous/

Thoreau said to distrust any enterprise that required new clothes. My friend Chris Crow said he chose shoes with the goal of still being able to smile at his last-period class. Comfort is a necessary component of such active work, “on” non-stop all day. A parent once described some of our teachers as looking like “aging hippies.” I’ll accept that, if it leaves me able to focus on the students instead of my self, and “You’re weird” ranked as the highest possible compliment from the most discerning students.

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Storytelling Cruise to Belize 2005

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Bil Lepp Cruise on Carnival Elation July 3-10 2005 Mary Garrett’s notes

Bad news/ the group was small, only 20 or so total, so it was hard to achieve
“critical mass” for story swaps and classes

Good news/ the group was small, so there was plenty of time for one-on-one
questions and work.

This report may suffer a bit from a two-week delay in writing it, but with only two days between cruise and conference, there was just time to wash and repack. (I still haven’t sorted through all the mail). I just took a look at the “Cruise Highlights” video, and I’m remembering how much I like the feel of a deck under my feet. One downside on the Elation was fewer decks going all the way around, but I did find plenty of places to stroll a bit and greet the ocean.

A highlight for me was swimming with dolphins. They seemed happy and well-cared-for as they performed their well-orchestrated tasks, swimming among us to be petted. We were told areas NOT to pet, just a matter of respect and personal space. These were all males, and I couldn’t help thinking of the dolphin subplot in Sharyn McCrumb’s If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him. The kiss and handshake at the end were very nice, but as Tom Lehrer sang, “better let it go at that.” I’m not a strong swimmer and can’t see well underwater, so this was tame enough for me, but perhaps not wild enough for some. I wore my oldest extra glasses, so if they were lost it wouldn’t be a tragedy, and did just fine — but I didn’t buy the photos, so you’ll have to take my word for it. (I keep wishing for masks that could hold glasses properly positioned within).
** Glad to report that prescription lenses in masks are now more common . . . and appreciated.

I loved the zoo in Belize, also, as natural a habitat as one could get and still keep the animals from eating animals (and people) they shouldn’t. The guide kept pointing out that they could get out of the enclosures if they wanted (I suspect the same was true of the dolphins), but with such regular meals, why would they want to? Mosquitoes were the real problem, and I kept passing my repellent on to people who hadn’t heard they should bring some — and it ˛kept coming back, not empty! It was like the loaves and fishes. I left the magic never-ending repellent in my cabin when I left, not wanting a spill in my overly full suitcase.

At Chichen Itza I discovered that I could only go a third of the way up the pyramid before a combination of fatigue and fear of heights sent me back down. I think it’s time for a fitness program. Another deeper issue is the blood sacrifice issue — perhaps because the world is filled with such destruction right now, I can’t tolerate the darkness of the history of the site (though it was so hot that I began to think fondly of the well of the maidens; at least it would be cool there).

A grand highlight for me was performing in the ship’s talent show. They were mostly looking for singers, but Sue Hinkel had already been assured that storytelling would be welcome. Unfortunately, there were 12 entries and only eight openings, so they drew names (I guess that way no one can get mad); I wish Sue had been chosen as well. It was fun, and I even bought the video, to go with my wonderful plastic trophy and medal.

I started my iguana story with Noah Lepp’s knock-knock joke. (Iguana who? Iguana eat you up!!) Noah was a kick! He’s five-going-on-eternity, bright, fun, charming! When the seas got a bit rough from tropical storm “Dennis,” the small pool became a wave pool, much to all the children’s (including Bil’s) delight. Noah wanted the captain to sail right back into the storm area; meanwhile, the captain was busy finding a course away from the storms and warning us all to use “extra preca-u-tion” while walking around the ship and especially on deck. I actually took ginger twice for a bit of queasiness.

Classes with Bil were enlightening. His crafting of stories is carefully planned, with no unnecessary details, moving from the real to the crazy idea to the completely ridiculous (that aha moment), and circling back to the beginning point, with several levels of meaning. As a lit. teacher, I admire his literary devices as well, including the puns, accidental, simple, compound, and puns of inference, to compliment the audience’s intelligence. He’s also clever enough to keep political references sufficiently non-partisan so that everyone can laugh and no one feels challenged on particular views — finding common ground. Check out http://www.buck-dog.com/ I just did, and highly recommend the Harry Potter essay. I’ve also requested (Bil’s rec.) _The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float_ from the library.

It was great to meet Paula Lepp, a super-charming woman, who told of a wonderful teaching/counseling/wilderness program she had been a part of, helping really troubled youth find their worth.

Sue and John Hinkel and sister-in-law Barbara were great fun. Kristin with the magic tiara, who is making the jump to full-time telling, was a constant energy rush! For a small group, we had a big presence.

I also admired the older couples I saw dancing together — years of love — and the large African-American extended family being photographed on the stairway, about 30 very elegant people. The photographer had to go to the balcony to frame the shot, and onlookers (including me) applauded the feat.

Food and latex — good food is part of a cruise experience, but the use of latex gloves complicated that area for me. I got to be best friends with Mandy and Katrina, who helped order meals in advance for me (like eggs Benedict most mornings) so that they would be safely prepared. The buffet was off-limits to me because there was no way of telling which gloves had been used, so when the dining room was closed, they arranged room service. Far from a deprivation, it was “ask for whatever you want,” “no, you need to order more, how about (various indulgent foods). . . . ?” I couldn’t help thinking of the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man,” “We wouldn’t want you to lose weight, Mr. Chambers.” They were splendid, and by the end of the cruise, like sisters (I even brought them back chocolate and strawberries from the afternoon buffet, but that’s our secret).

Perhaps it was just the mood I was in (or perhaps storytelling at Earth Day this year), but I couldn’t shake the feeling waste and excess. The day I came home, Marilyn Vos Savant had a brainteaser — PAEWLGS — in the Parade Magazine.
Yep, the seven deadly sins, and they did seem to apply, mostly.
Pride – probably some of that
Avarice or greed – maybe so — lots of shopping going on . . . .
Envy — hard to avoid; perhaps we were also target of this one
Wrath or anger — naw, we were pretty mellow
Lust — oh yeah — lots of opportunity for that one
Gluttony — the big winner!!! I have pictures of the midnight buffet; with
the latex issue, I was saved from eating it, but I stumbled out of bed to take
a couple of photos (and had my drowsy photo taken with lovely Mandy).
Sloth — being pampered felt so good: no housework, beautiful surroundings,
and towel-animals as entertaining decorations.

Conclusion? I’ll do penance for a year and look forward to next year’s “occasion of sin” — we don’t know where yet, but it’s sure to be fun! (any hints, Marsh??)

I wrote down this line from the comedian — for Mike A’s nose flute introductions perhaps? “If I had a nose full of money, I’d blow it all on you.”

Notes from class — might make no sense to anyone else . . . .
Elements
Character — develop (grow, learn) in some way
can develop as a composite of real people
name fits character Miss Crankberry, Sheriff Hasbro
Setting — general
Theme (Donald Davis — “All stories are about two things.”)
Rising Action — Climax (falling action sometimes)
Conflict to resolution

Story is evolutionary — develops its humor/Will make a funny story
— slapstick, irony/sarcasm, puns, situational, human nature.

Wife calling husband on walky-talky “Where are you?” — “In the cabin. In bed.” — “No, you aren’t, not in OUR cabin!” Oops.

Writer’s block — use different approaches — say the opposite to clarify meaning.
graphic organizer, sketch, webbing
Research — include some facts, real numers, amid the tall tales.

Notes that turned into the Carnival Elation story on my Frogs and Friends CD
mini plane — smaller than Prius
lost luggage
lunch buffet — complimentary drink
lifeboat drill — hot, so have some ice cream
midnight buffet, still looking for clothes
breakfast from room service, waiting for clothes
breakfast in dining room, friends (and strangers) offering to lend clean clothes
Finally, clothes delivered, but somehow shrunk — so if you could lend some?

swimming pool full of waves — but fun until that one big wave flipped me over the side of the ship
grabbed rope — barefoot water-skiing — Wow!
flying fish hit me in head — off balance and fell
but grabbed a snorkle and enjoyed the underwater view for a while
until shrimp stampede — all those little pinches made me drop the rope.
Who knew I could swim so fast?

Additional thoughts:
My recurring teacher nightmare has been not being able to find the classroom
in a “these stairs don’t go there” situation which usually led through
downtown Minneapolis (where I worked when there weren’t any teaching jobs)
and finally to a park. It used to be a panicky dream, but now that I’ve
mellowed, I generally figure the kids will be fine without me, and I enjoy the
park.

While on the cruise I dreamed I was calling into school, “I won’t be there . . . . Yes I know classes have already started, so you’d better hurry and send a substitute because . . . I . . . won’t.. be . . . coming . . . in.” Hah!

Love and peace (+sunscreen & big hats),
Mary Garrett

(St. Peters, Missouri)

Greece to Istanbul 2000

Sharing, reminded by Naomi Baltuck’s wonderful post on Turkey https://naomibaltuck.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/poetry-in-motion/

Greece . . . . Istanbul July 2000 with Barbara McBride-Smith

Mary Garrett’s Journal

(This was written primarily for myself, to organize and retain my memories — it is long because we did so much and still a bit disorganized, again because we did so much. You are welcome to read as much as you enjoy . . . By the way, I didn’t send one single postcard, that’s how busy this trip was; so consider this a substitute, and you are welcome to see pictures, guide books, etc. anytime you want to come visit.)
** Photos not digital, so all I can attach here are some recent photos of toys purchased in Turkey.
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What a magical trip! Atop the Acropolis of Athens, viewing the Parthenon, I kept thinking I should pinch myself — it just didn’t seem that it could be real. Wandering the streets of Istanbul, Leigh and I pointed to minarets and views of the mosques and the Bosphorus, saying “That’s not real.” This was the most exotic, magical, and mind-boggling trip of all. Even as I sit here, reflecting back on our adventures, it is hard to believe it all — but the two-weeks’-worth of laundry, and purchases from street‚ vendors and artisans are pretty convincing evidence, as are the residual weariness that ten hours of sleep has only begun to alleviate, and the bruises and sore muscles from hauling luggage off the carousels. There was so much to do and see, and such a full schedule, that I think we all suffered a bit from the “If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium” syndrome — and I will allow my reflections to wander accordingly.

The trip back to St. Louis was memorable (and tiring, as is to be expected from 22 hours of travel on three hours of sleep — that seems to be be rule for travel to Europe). The most memorable part was the presence of twin Bosnian boys, nine months old, traveling home to St. Louis with their new parents. Christian and Peter were the stars of our flight, participating willingly in a game of “pass the baby” as they made many new friends. Since their daddy, Michael, sat next to me, I got to hold, feed, and even sing to each boy. The English gentleman on the aisle seat, in between work on his laptop, proved his skills as an able father, helping to entertain the boys, and helping Christian to fall asleep (actually, that accomplishment took all three members of our team, as I contributed the lullaby). At one point a whole family of traditional Arabs were entertaining Christian while his mommy had a few minutes off. It was such a lovely picture that the Englishman took a photo to send them later. As we left the Atlantic and again flew over land, I sang “This Land is Your Land” to Peter as he looked out the window at his new home. It seemed appropriate, and Jeanette (Myers, the teacher of my “Singing for People Who Have Been Asked Not To” course) will be so proud.

The boys were welcomed by new cousins and aunts at t1he airport, but I feel honored to be a part of their trip home. (I even scrounged a much-needed diaper at the Detroit airport; remembering how other mothers had helped Joy in the past, I just found a big sister of a small baby in the ladies’ room (W.C.) and asked). It was wonderful to see how many people were prepared to love and welcome these babies!

Waiting at the airport in Istanbul, I had made friends with a Turkish family in the loooong check-in line. Even though we couldn’t speak, we established that the young daughters were pretty, that their mom had sewn their matching dresses, and that we liked each other. Language is handy, but not necessary for making friends. I offered them dried fruit, then later one of the girls brought me peaches, and I gave them some pine nuts I had bought in Istanbul on the way to the bath — I had given a bag of those same nuts to one of the women at the bath, having received more than I wanted because the vendor had no change — they never do. . .

Another adventure involving singing was at the evening of folk and belly dancing in Istanbul. It was a wonderful evening, with the sultan on stage with his guards and wazir (who had to taste the food, of course) — and storyteller, a very pretty young girl, who seemed to be entertaining him with many good stories. The folk dancing was actually more interesting in its variations than the belly dancing (but the stamina of the dancers was amazing). Leigh was asked to join the folk dancing, as she had in Greece — one of her high points of the trip, I know. Ann and Leslie and I posed in “lady sultan” costumes for pictures — Leslie wanted to pose in the Sultan’s costume, but they wouldn’t let her (too scandalous!).

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At the end of the evening, the singer sang a group of international favorites, and invited us to sing along. I did, enjoying every minute, and Ann asked why I had ever needed to take that course (that seems to me a measure of success right there). Then at the very end, he sang “Yesterday” by special request, which gave me the courage to go up and ask him to sing “The St. Louis Blues” (as we had on the ship and in the fancy restaurant on the roof of our hotel, our new travel tradition). He didn’t remember it well, but gave me the microphone and had me sing the few lines I could remember (I guess my next task is to learn the whole song). The remarkable thing is that he wanted me to sing more (but under the pressure I couldn’t think of any suitable songs), the crowd of 200 or so wanted me to sing more, and the people on our bus’ wanted more (so we sang “Home on the Range” on the way back to the hotel), and the comments from people at friends’ table were good — That class has been good for me! (Actually, the cutest, and most multi-cultural happening at that dinner was the woman who stood up and belly-danced to “Havah Nagilah.” Perhaps there is hope for peace).

Other beautiful moments in Istanbul: the lovely dinner in our Hotel Marmara restaurant, 20 stories up, with the lovely view of the city as darkness fell and the lights came on — the mosques were lighted beautifully, one by one. The waiters removed the food covers simultaneously, with great flourish and drama, and the pianist produced the most sophisticated rendition of “St. Louis Blues” so far. (on the ship, at the Captain’s reception, the musicians sounded more like the Preservation Hall traditional jazz). By this stage of the trip, we were all happily sharing tastes from each other’s plates, bonding.

Our dinner out on the last evening was on a balcony overlooking the Bosphorus, where the ferries land. It was lovely, with children playing in the little park by the water, a man playing an accordion, and the ferries coming and going. We were served a pita bread as big and puffy as a beach ball, and when the waiter tore it open for us (it was too hot for me), the steam poured out. At the end of the meal, the waiters presented me with a full, cold 1.5 liter bottle of water (I guess because I asked to have my glass refilled so often), which I thought was a pretty funny present, but which we used every bit of as we waited to begin our flight a few hours later, at 3 a.m. (It is nice to be able to drink the water from the faucet again). Fitting all four of us into one little taxi, coming and going, was also hysterical! I suspect stories will be told in Istanbul for days to come.

Leigh and I had wandered Istanbul on that last day — finding the traditional Hamam, or bath, only after asking about a dozen people. It helped that the nice people at the hotel where we stopped when we realized it wasn’t really “just around the corner” wrote down the name so we could just show it to people. As promised, there was a car full of policemen by the school, and they were happy to point us in the right direction, and to give us instructions for riding the trolly back to the hotel afterward. The absolutely adorable old gentleman selling the trolly tickets had also been there to help us find our way to the bath — he refused Leigh’s dollar for a ticket, indicating that my dollar was enough for two, and he gave Leigh his stool to sit on as we waited. (We never did figure out why he was selling little strings that he had draped around his neck like a shawl, something to do with stringing beads). Two gentlemen gave us their seats on the trolly — there are still some gentlemen out there — and we enjoyed our trip back to the hotel.

The bath was quite an experience! The women attendants didn’t speak English, and we don’t know Turkish, of course; so it was like being a little child, and without my glasses, a blind little child. They managed to show us what to do, and we were scrubbed, steamed, and massaged into little relaxed puddles lying on the hot marble. Cold water tasted so good after, and the hot day seemed cool afterward. There was some discussion of tip; they wanted more, but seemed happy with what we gave (so it was probably too much). We were the only customers right then, and probably Americans were a bit rare also. It was lovely! As we waited for the trolly back, we thanked the young policemen for their help. I asked if we smelled better, and they laughed. Leigh asked if they thought we were adventurous or crazy — they said yes to crazy and then laughed more. It was just too much fun.

(I am continuing this writing on 8/3, after another 12-hour night of sleep and beginning to feel human again — only one more load of laundry to do, and I actually drove my car again, to drop off film and buy milk and fruit — I really miss having meals served to me by trained professionals. I am overcoming my sense of unreality at being back, and Bob is supposed to come this evening to finish the new door — the one that was to be completed while I was away).

After a return to the hotel, with six little bottles of water for our group, Leigh and I took a cab to the train station and the spice market. We had asked the doorman to give the driver our destination, but somehow we ended up by the ferry dock, with the driver refusing to take us to the (our imitations of train sounds) but instead pointing across a very busy street. Leigh had me call out for someone who spoke English, and a wonderful couple came to our aid (good thing, too, as he was moving the cab forward to who knows where). An English woman and her Turkish husband, who also spoke with a very British accent, explained that there was an underground cross-over for the street and promised to help us find the station, and helped to deal with the unhappy driver, who wanted even more money (we were told it would be $5; converting from the meter, I had added $3 more); our new friend told us to just walk away. They showed us where the spice market was, and had us walk with them to their streetcar stop, where we were right across the street from the train station. He indicated (as had our guide the day before) that Istanbul was being ruined by “ignorant” people who had moved in, who didn’t work and didn’t send their children to school, instead having them beg on the streets. Hearing the same complaint twice in two days made me feel there must be some basis for it, and I hope something can be done.

The train station was wonderful — stained glass and lovely masonry. We found the charming Orient Express Restaurant, decorated with photos from the movie. We sat at a table outside, so we could watch the street, and had tea and pastry, a lovely repast. We heard the call to prayer as we sat there, and were pleased with ourselves that we knew what it was.

Then we walked to the Spice Market, joking about having freed ourselves from the tyranny of the tour bus (though agreeing we needed the foundation of information provided from those tours). We asked directions halfway there, and were sent down an unpromising alley (joking that this was where they sent annoying people who asked directions too much, never to return), but we did arrive and joined a mellower crowd than at the bazaar. Several teen-age boys joked as we arrived, “Spice Market . . . Spice Girls?”

We were invited to shop in various stores, but not pressured. We enjoyed the sight of the dried vegetables hanging in the shops, to be used for stuffed peppers, etc. I bought spices for Leslie at a shop where the man complained, “You are breaking my heart,” when I negotiated the price — of course he also told Leigh that she was breaking my heart because she wouldn’t wear a hat in the sun. Another gentleman offered to be my boyfriend and even promised not to smoke. (So many people there smoke so much that the phrase “smoke like a Turk” is a common statement — I know I couldn’t live with that).

I also bought some candy “for the nieces and nephews,” but some for me, too. We had a pleasant stroll through the market, a pleasant rest in a little park nearby, and a very nice ride back to the hotel — this driver took us past the train station, one last lovely view, and thought $5 was too much . . . but we made him keep it anyway. It was a pleasant, adventurous day.

(Back now from the allergist’s — I really needed that shot! Actually, I figured out that the most difficult part for me was the tour buses, logical considering the mustiness of my car a/c. The best was Istanbul, but I can’t move there; besides the language difficulty, we were told it is the most expensive city in the world to live in).

Now, to begin at the beginning, with the world’s most awful flight, thanks in large part to my home-town airline, TWA. Our flight was delayed for maintenance, and poor cranky 2-year-old Calvin in the next row was only kept happy by the occasional gift of a sucker that Stephen and the girls had graciously shared with me after the family fun day here in St. Peters. Arriving in Detroit, I was given no assistance by TWA in making my connecting flight (I have seen other airlines do things like radio ahead to find the gate). Also, since my baggage was for some unknown reason checked only to Detroit, I had to collect it and race madly for the Alitalia (Northwest) gate, where they graciously re-opened the door to the plane and helped me, and all my luggage, aboard. What a mess! But I made it, and once on board was put back together by the flight crew, caught about three hours’ sleep, and had a wonderful time talking with a lovely Albanian woman, who had established her new life in Detroit, worked hard to learn lovely English, and was on her way to visit her son in Rome and her sister in Albania. As I was leaving the plane, the flight attendant asked how I liked the flight, once I got there. I said that it was wonderful, and that I liked Northwest much better than TWA.

In Italy I had to go through much the same run-for-the-plane routine, but with a little more time to spare, and the help of a guard who magically made the x-ray machine big enough for my illegally large bag, (to the chagrin of the gate attendant who fussed that “the police should have stopped you with that large bag” but who finally let me board — I do have to learn to pack lighter, but it’s so hard to anticipate exactly what will be needed). I have now learned to double-check the destination tag on my checked luggage, and since I shared my story with Marsh, she has now warned everyone else. It is really a miracle to travel so far so quickly, about 11 hours actually flying and 18 hours from when I left home, though at the time it seemed long. (And as Marsh pointed out before the trip, “If you don’t want adventure, stay on the porch and sort socks).

I could do without jet lag, though. In the first couple of days I seriously overspent by misunderstanding the exchange rate (and by being ethno-centric enough to think the 50 on the ATM meant $50 — why would it?) I also destroyed my air cleaner by mis-using the electricity converter (and I really could have benefitted from a working air cleaner). I don’t know how business travelers function after these flights!

The Divani Caravel Hotel in Athens was very nice (though the Marmara in
Istanbul was even more impressive), and after a little nap we had a brief meeting to organize our group. Dennis gave a little overview of the archeology, and Marsh gave us all-important conversion charts for the money, to help us deal with all the zeros (and Turkey’s money is even more impressive — we spent millions for dinner). We then took off to enjoy a Greek dinner, folk dances, and singing. It was lovely (we even saw pistachios growing on a tree by the entrance), but I hope they don’t judge Americans by the energy level we were (barely) able to muster up. Ann, Leslie, and I did have a long talk with the costumed dancer who posed for pictures with us — he teaches the traditional dances to young people, and as we saw later, does a creditable job himself. I was especially impressed with his dancing on top of a glass!

The next day we toured Athens with a lively, sweet guide, Smira(sp?). We climbed the Acropolis (quite a climb, and very hot), were awed by the Parthenon (dedicated to Athena, you know — she beat out Poseidon for the honor by giving Athens the olive tree — Barbara’s story on this was great!) Smira explained that the Nike (goddess of victory) was wingless so she couldn’t fly away . . . an especially good idea since so many treasures have found their way to the British Museum. Dennis had strongly advised a trip to the Archeological Museum, and our driver was kind enough to detour slightly to let us off at the museum. It was amazing, even with part of it closed off for repairs — but also very hot. I especially liked some older statues with horses, but I spent a very long time in a room housing a donated collection of jewelry and small statues, not because they were so significant, but because that room was actually air conditioned. I met with Lonetta and Chris well before closing time, and we agreed that it was time to taxi home.

That night we had dinner in Microlimano (Small Harbor), sitting right by the water and enjoying fresh perch and Greek appetizers — such a treat! The Sound and Light Show, seen from a small hill near the Acropolis, was pretty, but a bit dull. At first I thought it was my fault, having indulged in a bit of ouzo and a bit of wine, but then I heard others’ comments — we decided they should hire Barbara McBride-Smith and Ron Adams to make a livelier commentary tape. Harriet had decided not to climb the hill (there seem to be plenty of them to climb) and declared she had enjoyed a better spectacle from the park, sans boring commentary and with the extra pleasure of people-watching.

The next day (7/24?) I joined Marsh and Leonard for breakfast. Marsh had her first taste of Greek/Turkish coffee and called it “disgusting” so she gave me the rest — they both laughed when I made them point out directions for returning to the hotel “just around the corner.” It just wasn’t a morning on which I wanted to get lost and miss our much-anticipated trip to Delphi — which will be the source of much story-telling for the next year or more. First, the trip was not really workable in the time allotted (made worse by the late arrival of the bus). There was just too much driving and not enough time to visit the site, and Marsh’s attempts to persuade the guide to shorten our shopping stops to increase our time at Delphi were unsuccessful.

We were impressed with the ability of the bus driver to navigate the narrow streets of Delphi — at times he had to be up on the sidewalk to creep past another bus with only inches to spare. We were not impressed with the guide, poorly dressed, hard to understand (and I’m usually good with accents), impossible to hear in a large group — we decided that she had been called in as a last minute substitute. Several of us finally left her just inside the entrance at Delphi and climbed up without her, finally meeting with Dennis and Barbara and getting much better explanations. It is a beautiful site, and as Dennis said, just the sort of high and beautiful place to be attractive to the gods. Several people lined up as if to race in the arena; I was too slow to join the group, but would love a copy of the photo — hint to Marsh! (And did I mention that it was hot?)

Our guide’s one moment of glory was her dramatic argument with the gatekeeper (“the two harpies” – re Marsh) when Barbara had to run to our group for her ticket, chased by the angry woman shouting, “ticket, ticket.” We had plenty of drama, but not really time to explore or contemplate the sacred. Oh, and I refilled my water bottle from the faucet at Delphi, not realizing that the red handle meant “don’t drink.” Fortunately, Marsh warned me before I drank very much, and I took antibiotics (from my dentist — root canal two days before the trip), yogurt, and Vitamin C (and said a little prayer to Apollo, since Delphi is his spot), and I was just fine.

We were delivered directly to our ship, the Crown Odyssey (appropriate name!) — and were brought aboard swiftly (no long lines) and escorted directly to our rooms — very nice. Even the life boat drill was nice, as they had us gather in a cool inside location. We had a lovely dinner (but not dressy, no time) and then met for our first official class. Dennis showed those lovely slides and explained the lay-out of the temples and the types of columns. Barbara told the stories to go with the facts. This was a great combination, fact and story, and we even got a brand-new story of Artemis before the end of the trip. We had less time for group activities and bonding because the schedule was so hectic, but between them they prepared us well for what we were seeing, and helped us to organize what we had seen. (Of course, Dennis also invited us to keep asking people where to see the Colossus of Rhodes until someone “tells you where to go” — cute, Dennis!)

7/25 Delos — not wanting another tour, I wandered the island with others, feeling a bit like a voyeur as we explored the remnants of walls and tiles and pieces of pottery remaining on this sacred island (all the people moved away because birth and death were forbidden here, and you just don’t separate people from their families in Greece). I know I missed significant sights, like the lions inside the museum, and the most beautiful mosaics, but I liked wandering as much as I felt like and then sitting with Marsh to enjoy the waves and the breeze (and watching the young man dive for something which he placed in a box floating on empty water bottles). It was, of course, hot on Delos also.

After lunch, we were in Mykonos — Leigh, Wilma, and I left Harriet in a little cafe as we wandered around, finally finding the windmills and even getting a brief peek at the Folklore Museum. We were actually seeking a cab to take us on a brief tour of the island, but we were always told that the cab stand was a “hundred meters” further on, and so we continued to wander, and saw the town, lovely winding streets, little shops and cafes. We stopped at a lovely spot covered with an arbor of vines, with caged birds singing as we drank and rested. We only managed to find a cab when we really needed one — to take us back to the ship! We were so grateful for his timely appearance (and even looked for Harriet, but she had gotten her own cab and returned to the ship 15 minutes earlier).

That evening, we had an informal story-swap, with stories of ghosts, fire ant candy with snake-spit, unlucky sandals, “feeding an ass” at the Anglican church, loose skin as the place to keep all the stories, and my Sherazade. A couple of nights later we were treated to “Hoja stories” — I added one from Barbara Walker’s book, about a village suffering from the gift of an elephant. I bought another book, The Best Anecdotes of Nasreddin Hoca, in Turkey. (I noticed a certain similarity to Jewish stories, and a Chinese woman on the plane to St. Louis said “These are Chinese stories”).

One evening, we also had star-gazing, spotting the Big and Little Dippers, Cassiopeia, Scorpio and Sagittarius (I’ve been trying to see those two for a long time) and even the Milky Way. We did find time for some “bonding” activities, just not enough.

7/26 Santorini — Our guide for the day was Smira, who had flown from Athens (only a 30-minute flight) to do the tour. I was glad to see her and told her we could have used her in Delphi! The “Lost City of Atlantis,” the prehistoric (Cycladic?) site of Akrotiri, was very interesting — well-preserved walls and jars, and ongoing excavation work. Excavation began in the 1950’s, after mining for pumice had resulted in a donkey falling right through to the city below, which had been abandoned in 1600 B.C. because of volcanic eruption.

Wandering around Thera’s narrow, winding streets with Leslie and Ann, I found tee-shirts for gifts (fair warning, family, this is probably the last time I will lug back tee-shirts — I’ve received the lecture on supporting authentic crafts of the regions I visit). Leslie and Ann sought out embroidery — beautiful stuff! We enjoyed a lovely lunch overlooking the sea — Greek appetizers and moussaka (and Greek coffee – I like it!) and then took the cable car down to the ship. (I had thought about riding the donkeys, but it was so hot!) Someone later told me that the streets are so very narrow and winding as a way of reducing the force of the wind, which was strong but pleasant for us, but is quite fierce in the winter.

Dennis pointed out that we had seen or would be seeing several of the wonders of the ancient world, and filled us in on more of the inter-relationships up on Olympus. Barbara told about that forgetful Theseus with “a few cogs without a matching ratchet.” I personally think he was “forgetful” like some of my students who “forget” the rules, their assignments, and anything else they find convenient to “forget.”

7/27 – Rhodes — Our guide, Costa, was so very sweet and poetic. When we lost track of Leigh, he went looking for her, but wouldn’t let her rush, saying, “No stress, this is a no stress tour.” He talked about meeting an Italian man who had helped to install the tiles in the Palace of the Grand Masters. He regretted not knowing Italian so he could get “the story straight from the mouth, the heart of the man. A book is cold.” We visited the Palace and the Street of the Knights first on our tour because Costa wanted us to see them when it was cooler and less crowded. Restoration of the Palace took place in 1939, under control of Italian fascists (even noted by them as the ?? year of fascism), but they lost the war and never got to see the restored palace — thank goodness. He also showed us where the Colossus had been, so long ago, and took us to where beautiful pottery is still made today — I couldn’t resist two small pieces, glazed with the master’s “secret colors.” We also saw olive trees, with olives only a few months away from harvest.

The Acropolis of Lindos was indeed spectacular with the beautiful remains of the Temple of Athena, anfld the harbor entrance only visible from one side. It was a demanding climb, and hot as Hades up top (I swear you could bake cookies on the marble). Actually, I rode part way up on a donkey, mostly for the fun of it, but when I saw how much more climbing there was to do, I was glad for the help, and glad to ride back down as well. I think the ship should offer mountain goat lessons prior to these particular tours, but even without the lessons, I climbed up and around, down to the front of the temple, and then back up to leave, feeling like a real explorer because the area was so rough. One sad thing, though, was that the picture of my donkey ride wasn’t developed because of a power failure; so you’ll just have to take my word for this adventure.

7/28 Kusadasi — Ancient Ephesus. Lovely walk through a city of marble — the theater with its terrific acoustics, the amazing bathrooms (group effort there, with musicians), the impressive library (with underground tunnels to the baths and brothels “Don’t wait up, dear, I’ll be at the library”). Such beauty and conspicuous wealth. We were told that the fountains were emptied onto the streets in the afternoon to clean and cool the marble (could have used that on Lindos). We were then taken to see how carpets are made, and shown the advantages of double-knotted (Turkish) carpets. They were beautiful, and totally wrong for my cluttered life-style, but I can still admire them. If I’d had a few more sips of raki (like ouzo), I might have bought one anyway. There was also jewelry, including the multiple rings the sultan’s favorite wife would wear, one for each wife (I guess she would share him, but could keep the rings all to herself).

Istanbul — what a treat! It really did seem like a magical land. We visited the Blue Mosque (the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet), which was truly fabulous, and the Chora Church with remarkable mosaics and frescoes, explained ably to us by our guide (so ecumenical). We saw the site of the Byzantine Hippodrome, and then went to the Grand Bazaar, to bargain for wonderful finds and fend off those with more to sell than we could ever want. It was a rather frantic scene, but some of our group went back for more on our free day. Actually, everywhere our tour bus stopped, we were mobbed by people with postcards and other things to sell. I bought two wooden musical instruments and a top I didn’t figure out how to use until Stephen’s birthday party! (In Kudasi, I bought a dress, right where the guide said not to because it was all “ticky-tacky” — I must have simple tastes!)

7/30 — our private tour — wow! The Cistern was amazing, so large, such a secure place for water, such eerie Arabic music playing, best of all, so cool! The “recycled” marble columns were beautiful, but I had to feel sorry for poor Medusa, sideways and upside-down under the water. She just can’t catch a break! The Topkapi Palace was wonderful — I couldn’t quite get my hands on that Spoonmaker Diamond for my friend Margie. I was most intrigued with the fig/cypress tree in the garden, and the wonderful embroidered robes of the sultans. A gentleman from India told us that several of the emeralds were gifts from a relative of the sultan, the Indian ruler who built the Taj Mahal, and that emeralds were very good luck when given as gifts, but terrible curses if stolen.

Lunch in the courtyard of the Suleymaniye Mosque was wonderful (though some of us noticed that the chicken pastries had fallen on the floor and were then picked up and served — the floor looked fairly clean, and we didn’t get sick. Leslie said she would have preferred not knowing, but I can’t help sharing “dirt” like that). Marsh had warned us that there would be no alcohol, since it was on mosque property, and that anyone who needed to drink would have to “swill it from a paper bag in the bus.” (Marsh is a hoot!) The Mosque was quite beautiful (perfect, as our guide said, with a better-quality carpet so it wouldn’t smell from all the bare feet). We arrived just before the call to prayer, which we heard after we left.

The Bosphorus cruise was wonderful, more of a tour boat than a yacht, but we were grateful for the cool shade of the covered section. It is too bad that the houses we passed were so expensive, but Barbara and I decided we could time-share (I can afford about a one-half-hour time-share) and we picked out a favorite, and a spare for when we need extra room for guests. I realize looking at the original description of this day that we were supposed to have tea in an authentic tea house — how were you going to ever fit that in, Marsh? Since you described it as a “must do” event, that means we have to return sometime??? I recall tea on the “yacht” and in the market, so we’re covered.

Wow! Eight pages, and I’ve barely scratched the surface! Leslie said at one point that it will be nice to pull out all the guide books and re-live these adventures when it is cold outside. I think this is a trip that will have to be re-visited through pictures and words to be really absorbed, so complex that it will never be completely understood — a bit like life itself.

Umbrella/De-Icer/Scraper/WD-40 / Tales Out of School

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Umbrella/De-Icer/Scraper/WD-40 / Tales Out of School

I kept emergency supplies in my cabinet, and colleagues knew where to find them: broken but usable umbrella, for when all the good ones were in the car or at home, De-Icer and scrapers to help get cars cleared after winter storms, WD-40 for squeaky doors not serious enough to call maintenance. When I left, I bequeathed supplies to my next-door neighbor, so she could continue the mission.

In the grand Wopila* (give-away) teachers, students, and out-of-town friends took books, posters, step ladders, podium, and sundry other gifts, contributions to the work of education. First item claimed was a poster of Rapunzel from the Rep’s production of Into the Woods. Funniest was a little pink step stool, taken by a friend who scolded others for being “vultures” and then, spotting the pink ladder, exclaimed, “Oh that’s so cute!” to which I replied by giving her a post-it on which to write her name to stick it on the ladder.

On the last work day, student volunteers helped teachers pack and clean, and some of them gladly delivered my treasures to the appreciative recipients who had claimed them. A long extension cord and the hammer from a student’s project on “The Parsley Garden” went to the drama department. She hadn’t had time to come lay claim to anything, but with set-building and such, I knew they’d be well used.
* https://storytellermary.wordpress.com/2012/05/08/wopila-a-give-away/

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Typing / Trust / Tales Out of School

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Typing / Trust / Tales Out of School

I was a secretary for Prudential right after college. Most female liberal arts graduates in the ‘70s became secretaries, back when want ads were still divided by gender.

When teaching jobs finally became available after a few years of school Reductions In Force, one of my students looked at one of my blue dittos and said, “I see why you aren’t a secretary any more.” Hats off to those who work in offices, and appreciation for the students whose humor put smiles on my face . . . and hurrah for computers and word processing and no more scraping the back of blue dittos!

I remember when all teachers had autonomy to plan and implement lessons as needed to reach and encourage the unique students in our classes.
I remember my very favorite principal entering my room amidst apparent chaos, blinking, giving me whatever he’d come for, and never even asking what it was all about because he knew/trusted it was something worthwhile.
I would sometimes ask reluctant scholars to trust me on a lesson for which they could not immediately see the value.
When I first heard of scripted curriculum, I was appalled. Human beings, teachers and learners, are not cogs in a machine.
I left several copies of Donald Davis’ Ride the Butterflies in my school as hope for a return to creativity.

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