Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Babes – Making It Fit

Yesterday, the 2nd graders went on a rock hunt to a nearby park.  This field trip closed out a unit of study on geology that we finished up this week.  It’s always a fun (free) field trip, and the kids LOVE IT.  We send the kids off to hunt for rocks with a bucket or a sack.  They are told that they may collect the rocks to take back to class for further observation, but whatever they take they have to carry.  Most kids pick up a handful of small-to-medium sized rocks and easily return with them to school.  Others, well, let’s just say on the walk back to campus most of theirs fall out of the overfilled bag or bucket, and they end up with nothing upon their return. 

Anyhow, G is a student who falls into the latter category.  Right out of the starting block, G found a piece of concrete about 5”x5” that had an impression of some kind in it.  He brought it to me asking if he had found a fossil.  It was really very cute.  I told him that it was like a fossil, and explained that it was a piece of concrete with an imprint in it…about 47 times, which by that time it was no longer cute.  He also asked me 47 times if he could take it back with him.  My response to that question always is, “You may take any rock back if it fits in your bag.  But remember you have to carry it.  I will not.” 

While I roamed around the park, checking in with my kids, I noticed G carrying his “fossil” debating what to do as it was awfully big for his bag.  Just before rounding everyone up to eat lunch, he came up to me carrying his wrinkled bag, flattened and stretched out as far as it would go without tearing.  He had a huge grin on his face.

“Miss Delight!  I made it fit!” he was beaming.

“I see that,” I responded.

“Yah, just like a Mexican,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Wait, what was that?” I asked, wondering if I heard him right.

“I made it fit,” he said proudly, “like a Mexican.  We make things fit.”

“I haven’t heard that before,” I said.  “Who told you that?”

“Oh, my uncle, my mom, everybody.” 

Now living in Southern California I have heard many stereotypes about Mexicans.  This was a new one.  While the kids ate lunch, I mentioned the story to the other teachers I teach with, one who is married to a Mexican.  We all had a chuckle over this 7-year-old’s stereotyping himself, as it was a new one for them too.

I texted one of my friends, who also happens to be Mexican.  I told him the story and asked what he knew about it.  This was the response…
”It’s true!  The browns make it work.  It is a bad stereotype, but funny.”

You learn something new every day.  And hey, if you’re going to have a stereotype, being a people who make things work, that doesn’t seem so bad. 

Monday, March 24, 2014


Some people have recurring dreams about losing teeth, showing up someplace important naked, or about being chased.  Sleep dreaming is not something I do regularly.  I'll have an occasional, nonsensical dream in which the premise is all but forgotten by the time I'm coherent in the morning.  The most common (which isn't that often) dream for me is when I've been doing something repetitive just before I go to bed.  Whatever it is, I will do it all night in my sleep.  That type of dream began when I started waitressing and bartending.  After particularly busy and late nights I'd wait tables and make drinks in my sleep and/or dream that I fell asleep in the restaurant/bar and got locked in.  Nowadays, I'm not working into the late night at school, but sometimes I will work on some monotonous task before bedtime like grading papers, reviewing student data, or researching for a lesson.  If that's the case, I will also do those tasks in my sleep.  Although they are terribly annoying and exhausting, they're not all that exciting in the dream department.

The last two nights, I've had two dreams that aren't my typical MO and that I remembered the next day.  Last night I took a test of some kind ALL NIGHT LONG.  And the night before was mostly spent on parking my car and trying to find it again...over and over again.  I didn't do either right before sleeping or at all during the day for that matter.

I don't take much stock in dream interpretation,  but I did look them both up out of curiosity.  It seems exams and parking the car are a common subject of dreams.  Maybe there is some truth to what the interpretation says...I can see some things that apply.  Interesting.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Copacabana - A Saturday 9

This week's Saturday 9 is linked to Barry Manilo's famous Copacabana song. I have to admit I wrote this last night on my ipad, but fell asleep before posting.  About 2am I woke to the ipad sitting on my chest.  At that point I was in no condition to blog. Better late than never I guess.

1) This song refers to the merengue and the cha-cha. Are you a good dancer?  I do like to Latin dance.  I can do the merengue, the cha cha, and the salsa.  I never caught on to the samba.  I don't know how good I am, but they're fun!

2) Dances like the merengue and cha-cha are featured on Dancing with the Stars. Are you a loyal DWTS viewer? I'm not loyal, but I have watched it.  I prefer So You Think You Can Dance.  They're so talented.

3) The Copa girl in the song, Lola, wears yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there. If we were going to the clubs tonight, what would you wear? If you're going tonight, I can't's been a long week, and I'm in my jammies.  

4) The real Copacabana nightclub was on East 60th Street in New York. It was used as a setting for the movie Goodfellas. Do you have a favorite mobster movie?  The Godfather is my favorite (although the book is better), but I do like Goodfellas too.  

5) Our featured artist, Barry Manilow, has unfortunately spent a great deal of this young century in the hospital -- broken nose, face lift, chest pains and two hip surgeries. Tell us about your most recent trip to the doctor, ER, or dentist.  I went to the dentist on Tuesday.  I hate going to the dentist because I'm always afraid they will find something wrong and I'll need a shot or the drill.  Thankfully all is well in my mouth.

6) Manilow told US Magazine that he enjoys nude sunbathing. Have you ever skinny dipped or sunbathed au naturel?  Ha, no...

7) Before he became famous as a performer, Manilow was a very successful jingle writer. "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there …" and "You deserve a break today at McDonald's …" were his. Tell us about a TV commercial you saw recently.  With the dvr I watch very few commercials.  However I do like the "Don't Tell Mom" Hyundai commercial.
It makes me laugh.

8) The Manilow faithful are known as Fanilows and proudly wear Barry hoodies, wristwatches and even dog tags. Do you have any clothes that feature a recording artist?  I have a few concert T-shirts that I wear when I workout - The Police, Elvis Costello, Dave Matthews Band to name a few that I remember.

9) In 2005, Manilow refused to respond when Larry King inquired about his sexuality. Do you think it's rude for interviewers to ask personal questions? Or is it something a performer should expect because it goes with the job?  I think asking Barry Manilow if he's gay is a silly question because of course he is!  I'm on the fence on that question.  I think a star goes into being a star knowing that they're giving up their privacy.  On the other hand, is it the fans' right to know everything.  Being minutes away from the Entertainment Capital of the World, most of our news is about "stars".  Interestingly enough some stars are in the news all the time while others we never see.  I think they can keep their privacy to a point if they choose to do so.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

More On Oranges

In my last post I mentioned how much I enjoyed the way those native to New England say the word orange.  I have many, many stories about the language and accent on that side of our country (and my interaction with it), but by far the best centers around the pronunciation of the word “orange”

As I have mentioned, I say “ornj”.  In New England, they not only pronounce the “a” in orange, they also overemphasize the “or”.  That, combined with pronouncing anything with an “r” as a harsh “ah”, the word “orange” comes out sounding like “ahhh-ranj”.  I found that most prevalent in Rhode Island. 

For about a year, I lived in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Providence, RI.  Well known for its Italian restaurants, my roommate and I ate an abundance of Italian food while moving in and getting settled.  After a few weeks we got the hankering for some Chinese food but had not a clue where to go.  My roommate remembered that we had received an advertisement in our mail about a Chinese restaurant that delivered.  We decided to call in our order for delivery.  Since we didn’t have a menu we agreed upon a general order of beef and broccoli, orange chicken, and some rice – regular fare at a Chinese restaurant. 

I called the number on the advertisement and a man with a very thick Chinese accent answered.  I asked to place an order for delivery.  After taking down our address, he asked what we wanted.  That conversation went like this….

Me: Do you have beef and broccoli?

Man: Yes

Me: Ok, we’d like an order of that.  We’d also like some “ornj” chicken. 

Man: What was that?

Me: “Ornj” chicken.  Do you have “ornj” chicken?  Like “ornj” flavored chicken.  (Trying to remember what it was called in other Chinese restaurants I’d been to).

Man: (struggling to understand) Uhhhh

Then an idea popped into my head.  I turned on my New England accent (which I usually only brought out if I’d been drinking).

Me: “Ahhhh-ranj” chicken.  Do you serve “ahhh-ranj” chicken?

Man: Oh, yes, yes! (He said in his broken English.) We have “ahhh-ranj” chicken.

I finished the order but couldn’t help giggling.  Even an English language learner was saying “ahhh-ranj”. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Owls and Oranges and a Week Into Daylight Savings

As a teacher of reading, I'm well versed in the rules of phonics and more specifically (for this story) syllabication.  At least I thought so until a few years back while training a student teacher.  While she taught a lesson, somehow the number of syllables for the word "orange" came up, and she had the class clap it out.  Beyond teaching the syllabication rules, we also show the kids what syllables are by comparing them to the number of beats in a word.  For example the word "book" is one syllable or beat and therefore we clap once, but the word "fantastic" has 3 syllables so we clap 3 times.  So while clapping out the word "orange", my student teacher clapped two times.  I had been observing her as part of her coursework and was documenting the lesson when that struck me as strange.  I mentally clapped out "orange" in my head and two sounded wrong.  So on a piece of scratch paper I divided the syllables using the phonics rules and did, in fact, come up with two syllables "or-ange".  The thing is, I don't say it with two syllables.  I say it in one syllable, leaving out the "a" completely - "ornj".   When I lived on the East Coast my favorite word to hear them say was "orange" because they pronounce it "ah-ranj".   I found it so funny that they made orange into two syllables.  Ha!  Well, after that lesson, I realized I was the minority.   At lunch that afternoon, I shared this syllable a-ha with my work colleagues and, although there were a few who agreed with my pronunciation, most say it in two beats, "or-ange".  I can admit when I am wrong, and we had a good laugh over it albeit I was made the butt of some syllable jokes for the next few years.

Those jokes have since subsided until I was made aware of another syllable deficiency I've been carrying around for forever.  In music class this past week, the teacher was teaching the beat or rhythm of music by comparing them to syllables.  While they clapped and sang various bird names, my mind was completely blown when she clapped out "owl" AS ONE SYLLABLE!!!  "How can that be?" I wondered in my head.  "We don't say it in one syllable!"  Again, I mentally divided it using the rules.  Ashamed that I should have known better...there's only one vowel for goodness sakes...I still can't say it in one syllable.  "Owl" has two beats when I say it, and as much as I try, one beat sounds like I'm talking about an "awl" not an "ow-wel".
How do you say "orange" and "owl"?

Speaking of owls, I think I have one nesting in the tree outside my bedroom window.  It turned hot again this past week, so I've been opening up the window at night to cool things down.  On Wednesday night I heard it.  At first I thought it was one of our many Mourning Doves, but as I listened the sound was more a "who who" than the guttural "woo woo" of the doves.  Anyhow, we have a few who frequent the wooded/mountainy areas nearby so it wouldn't be unheard of.  However, most of those species are nocturnal hunters, so I'll probably never actually see it.

Was this past week rough for anyone else after losing that hour last Sunday?  I have been out of sorts all week - tired and kind of crabby.  My regular bed time comes and goes without me being tired, and then the alarm goes off while it's still pitch black outside.  This popped up on some site this past week.  What a good idea!

Monday, March 10, 2014

I Spy

Given my fascination with all things espionage, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go to the closing-weekend of the exhibit “Spy: The Secret World of Espionage” at the Reagan Library on Saturday. 

I’m a little embarrassed that even though the Library opened in 1991, I had not ever been.  Some of my family live in Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, and I drive right past it on the way to my aunt’s house.  Anyhow, it’s in a beautiful location, overlooking the Santa Susana Mountains, and the Simi Hills. 

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     a piece of the Berlin Wall

Since we didn’t visit to tour the library itself, these shots were just taken while waiting in line for the exhibit.  The place was PACKED due to the last weekend.
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The Spy Exhibit was so much fun.  It offered a peek into how secret agents and covert missions shaped our history.  There were tons of gadgets and contraptions, most haven’t been on display before as they are part of a private collection of the founder of the International Spy Museum in Washington DC.  It also showed how technology has tremendously changed the way the spies operate.  The exhibit was set up in chronological order and most of the pieces were linked to significant events in history.

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spies 036Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

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CIA created maps of Moscow due to the inaccuracies in the maps produced by the Soviets and CIA secret versions of Dr. Zhivago. 

spies 053 spies 054There were a lot of documents and memorabilia from former Soviets who were spies for the US.  In a lot of the cases, they were found out by the disgruntled members of the CIA.  That seems counterproductive!
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At the end of the exhibit, there were voice machines, secret drop locations, interactive eavesdropping, hidden cameras, face disguises, and a laser maze!  My alter ego as an international spy was in all its glory.

With less than an hour before the Library closed, we raced to the Air Force One Pavilion to see Air Force One and Marine One.  In addition, they had cars from Reagan’s motorcade.   

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A panoramic of Air Force One

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While I’m indifferent about Ronald Reagan, I have to say that the Presidential Library is very nice – there are so many interesting things; things I never thought I’d see here in Southern California.  And the Spy Exhibit…well, in my next life I’m changing careers!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

If You Can’t Find What You’re Looking For, Make It Yourself

A couple of months ago, I was blog lamenting about trying to find a ceramic coffee travel mug that was microwave-safe AND cute AND fit under my coffee maker.  Literally, hours have been spent searching for this mug. 

In the mean time, I had been seeing “DIY Sharpie Crafts” all over Pinterest.  Have you seen those?  People have been buying cheap ceramic or porcelain dishes (mugs, plates, etc.) decorating them using Sharpie markers, baking them in the oven, and there ya go. 

After this never ending search for a travel mug, I finally put two and two together…why didn’t I just buy a blank ceramic one and make it cute myself.  So the search continued for a white travel mug.  That took some time, but finally I found a white and a black “Not A Paper Cup” cup. 

While researching this Sharpie phenom, I learned there were quite a few “Pinterest Fail” posts about decorating with a Sharpie.  A lot of people lost their image after regular use.  There were some hints – bake at higher temps, wipe the dish down with alcohol before decorating, use a porcelain paint pen, use a Sharpie Oil-Based paint pen instead of a regular pen. 

I decided to go with the porcelain paint pens – black and white.  I figured something made for decorating a glazed dish would be my best bet.  I also did clean the mugs well with alcohol before starting.  The porcelain pens were a fail for me though.  Neither of them were opaque enough for my taste.  Luckily, before the pen dried, it came right off with an alcohol wipe – which also helps for mistakes!

I went back to the research and decided to go with the Sharpie Oil-Based paint pens.  I happened to have both colors in my art stash as they make great journaling pens.  The cups were decorated without incident – it was hard writing on a rounded and very slick surface,  but I made the designs simple. 

After decorating, the mugs were put in the cold oven and the temperature was set for 425 degrees.  Thankfully I realized there was a rubber “plug” at the bottom of each double-walled cup.  So that was removed before baking.  Once the temp reached 425, they baked for 30 minutes.  I worried a bit because the kitchen started to smell odd after about 15 minutes.  I watched everything carefully, but all seemed well.  After the 30 minutes, I turned the heat off and kept the mugs in the oven until it was cold again. 

stuff 345stuff 344They turned out pretty cute I think. I’ve just been hand washing them as I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry.  This year’s class of students is so kooky that I NEVER finish my coffee before it gets cold in the morning.  They have both been put in the microwave at recess time on multiple occasions and have survived as well. 

Most of the steps I followed were based on “The Cozy Old Farmhouse” blog post

Monday, March 3, 2014


Growing up, we had a touch tone phone in the house.  I had friends who had the rotary phone, and I always wished we had one.  How funny that kids barely know what a cordless phone is let alone a rotary phone.  Cute video.

I loved the kid who thought the busy signal was a button you pushed if you were too busy to take a phone call.  Also, one of my Grandmothers was the quickest phone caller in the world due to those long distance charges.  She always got to the point and almost before we answered her she was saying her goodbyes and hanging up the phone. 

The payphone is kind of a dinosaur anymore too.  Back in the day, there was a payphone at the barn where I rode.  Before I was old enough to drive myself, my parents would pick me up when I was finished.  Since that time varied on a day-to-day basis they wanted me to call them when I was ready.  I never had the change so would call them collect.  They’d deny the charges, but know to come and get me. 

These kids were shocked about the “old” phones and how we managed to get by without carrying one around with us 24-7.  I often think about that when I hear some story about the immediacy of a cell phone and how it has changed our lives (some for the better, some for the worse) in many ways.  A high school teacher was telling me how over the last couple of years parents have become brazen enough to start calling their kids WHILE THEY’RE IN CLASS.  I’ve even been questioned about “Where were you?  Why didn’t you answer the phone?” on more than one occasion.  The girl in the middle of the video had point – we did survive without being able to get a hold of someone who was on the phone or not home at that time.  I don’t know if our kids will ever know what that’s like.