Category: Writing Entries

Dave and I veterans of evacuation, it seems. As we were packing up our suitcases for with several sets of clothes, our electronics and all those irreplaceable photographs, artwork, and my recipe box, we were recalling the five hurricanes we’ve evacuated for. Now, we can add evacuating for two wildfires. Our adventure started on a lazy Saturday. Dave was keeping a mindful watch on a smoke plume off to the North. By late in the afternoon, he was concerned enough to force me out of my comfortable chair to pack up all our essentials. The major problem was that I had just taken a new pain medicine for an excruciating back pain. I had no relief from the back pain and the side effects were making me lethargic. I walked gingerly to the bedroom, taking a handful of work clothes still on their hangers and laying them in the suitcase. No decision process – no sorting, just getting something in the suitcase.

We gathered up the dogs and left just as many other neighbors were leaving the subdivision. The smoke plumes were quite close at this time. We parked at a safe distance just outside our subdivision to watch all the activity which included neighbors walking their horses out, people taking pictures of the fire crossing Old Hempstead Highway, and emergency vehicles roaring by. I finally realized that I had my Canon Rebel in the car and continued to take pictures with it rather than my phone. It was amazing how high the flames and smoke were and how quickly it moved across the road headed straight for our homes!

Eventually, we made our way to our friend’s home,Kathy & Bob, who made the unfortunate mistake of calling us as we stood gaping at the flames. We spent two nights and two days on our regular schedule of getting up early, heading off to work, getting some supper and heading back to bed. All the while, we are checking up on the wildfire status using internet news sites and (of all places) Facebook. The worst thing an evacuee can do is follow the news reports on the local TV sites. Not only are they grossly inaccurate, they are also depressing! This was a lesson I should have remembered after Katrina.

We were allowed back into the subdivision on Thursday. Friday afternoon, Dave had just returned with the dogs but I was still at school when the Sheriff came speeding over the hill towards our street. Two officers peeled off one direction in their patrol cars, one headed our direction. Dave hadn’t even taken the leashes off the dogs when the Sheriff yelled over the fence, “Get out now, we are not coming back to warn you again.” There was no time to pack anything! Dave loaded the dogs back into the car. He frantically texted me about the activity and the DC10 flying over dropping red flame retardant.

This evacuation found me with little more than what I was wearing, only two of my electronics (luckily, I had the recharging units) and my school bag. We stayed three more nights in a hotel near another set of friends who were gracious enough to keep our dogs again. After breakfast on Saturday, we made a trip to the store for toothbrushes, and clothes. We spent hours checking the wildfire status using the hotel’s internet and our Ipads. The maps we were seeing had the fire sending its tentacles back into our subdivision but we had no way of knowing exactly where.

We were allowed back into our home after five days of evacuation all together. The electricity had been off for at least three days but clean up was so much easier than when our refrigerator had sat for three weeks without electricity after Hurricane Katrina. There were burned fields just outside of our subdivision and trails of graded fire lines within our subdivision. A few days later, we drove around our surrounding neighborhoods. This is when we realized just how close our home was to danger and how impressive our firefighters worked to save the homes in harm’s way. We stared at the white picket fences that were melted to the ground and the reddish tint on the road from the flame retardant.

The contrast between green and charred tree trunks and bushes greets me everyday as I pull into my subdivision but I am still very thankful. Our emergency personnel and fire fighters did ONE VERY IMPRESSIVE job protecting our homes!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

So the other local paper Tomball Magnolia Tribune (not to be outdone by last week’s excellent article) ran an interesting Sheriff’s Office report for the week of Oct. 20, 2008.

“When Patrol Sgt. Dwayne Finley of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s office went to investigate a reported explosion at a business, what he saw when he went inside was believed to be bloody hoof prints on the carpet.

As he continued to check the interior of the business, he entered the last office and a large eight point buck jumped up from behind a desk. The deer attached the sergeant, trying to gore him with his atlers. Sgt. Finley was able to shoot the deer before being injured.”

The best reason for placing this on my weblog is because this is so ripe for puns! If you have one, add it to the comment section. I know my husband and son will have a few. You don’t want to be outdone by them!

Writing Entries

I just finished reading an article in my local paper, The Magnolia Potpourri on Oct. 15, 2008 and had to write about it. I don’t usually write two entries on one day but I just couldn’t pass up on this one.

The title of the article is “Blogger takes virtual bike ride through Tomball” by Dustin Bass (dbass@hcnonline.com) The article is about Clifford Walk who is using Google Maps new walking directions feature to chart his course from baseball stadium to another baseball stadium. He climbs on his exercise bike and pedals away until he reaches the appropriate mileage, then makes a blog entry about the special baseball events that occurred at that stadium. He’s combined his love of baseball with exercise and brought it into the virtual world! (Unfortunately, the link given in the article didn’t work and I couldn’t locate the article link online so you will have to email Dustin Bass above for more details.)

I can see grandmothers bicycling to their grandchildren’s homes, boyfriends making their way to their girlfriend’s house or even just virtually pedaling my way to the local coffee shop! First, I will need a bike, tho! Perhaps this will start a few more rider/bloggers out there!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

Don’t you hate it when you have an excellent idea to write about but you are laying in bed around 2 am. In the morning when when you wake up the idea and the great way you thought to word it is totally gone. That’s what happened to me last night. I think it was about growing up in a small town in SE Colorado but since I didn’t capture the thoughts using a pen and notebook because turning on the light would wake up my husband I have now way of being sure. Maybe it will come back to me sometime……

Writing Entries

This is the video I made at a recent workshop sponsored by the Office of International Outreach and Dept. of Educational Technology at Texas A & M. We used Microsoft Moviemaker or Apple’s VideoCue for the video portion, and Audacity for the audio. All these programs are readily available on your computer or for download.

I began the workshop with a factual piece about the local lighthouses but as the workshop progressed I understood the value of using the medium for storytelling. Ultimately I realized how valuable the process would be to the gifted learner. Yesterday, I found an article looking why humans tell stories in the Scientific American Mind, Aug/Sep 2008 issue titled, “The Secrets of Storytelling” which only solidified the importance of storytelling with the quote, “The imaginary world of stories may serve as a proving ground for vital social skills.” The author provided research that suggested that children who listened to stories developed empathy and ability to read other people’s emotions.

Back to my production. My writing underwent four total rewrites and edits before I was happy with it. It is usually quite difficult to get a student to put this much work into a written piece but the result is so worth it. (The National Writing Project has lessons that focus on the rewriting/editing process that appeal to children.)

Two side notes: I recently found that the New Canal Lighthouse actually fell in Dec. 2005 and had to be completely dismantled so my information is not quite accurate on that point. Also, I hope that I covered the complicated copyright issues correctly.

Thanks to Martha Green and her staff for researching and assembling the workshop!

Gifted Education Uncategorized Writing Entries

I helped E find his ring! It may seem like a little thing to you but to E it wasn’t. The ring his grandmother gave him had flown off his finger onto the SW Colorado forest floor late in a “capture the flag” style game during our week long archeology field trip. Two classmates and I looked for about 20 minutes at dusk with no luck. I promised E that we would try again the next morning. It would be our last chance before returning to school. During this trip, it seemed that each student had their own ‘need’. For D, it was a slow reveal of his true self to others who think like him. For M, it was to be accepted by the crowd. For A, to show she was all grown up. For E, it was just to find that ring.

Most all the bags were packed and sitting by the bus parked in front of the lodge early the next morning when E reminded me about the promise I made the night before. He and I made our way up the path into the underbrush and looked for the marker we had chosen the night before and we began our search. Amazingly, I found the ring within about a minute of arriving. How we missed it, I will never know. E was relieved and happy. I could also feel his trust in me as his teacher had risen 100% that morning. He could tell that I truly cared about him.

This year, out of all the lessons coming out of the classroom, building trust with the class was the one for me. (Each year seems to have its lesson for the teacher.) Trust is wrapped up in the little things we do from day to day in our classroom. It’s fetching that special type of card stock paper for a project, remembering to bring in an ingredient for a recipe, smiling, chatting, following through with promises, and a zillion other things.

During a conversation the first week in May, a co-worker mentioned that sometimes it takes him nearly half the school year to build trust with his new class of students. It became clear that this was the issue in my class. This group of children was taking longer than most to develop that certainty that I was going to lead them, teach them and expose them to learning situations without embarrassing them, without stretching them too far beyond their needs or belittling them when something goes wrong. A big chore for any professional!

After some fits and starts, I can say it took well into February when the students began to trust me. Situations, attitudes, perceptions, stresses along with school culture and teacher experience all played a role in our slow development. The last part of the school year was the most productive for my students in many ways other than just in their class projects and assignments. We had quality discussions, inside jokes, playful fun. All these things the students will remember more than any lesson on grammar or ancient history that I taught.

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

It’s holiday time and I’ve caught another cold (fourth since Thanksgiving). This really puts a damper on all my plans to be so productive during my holiday break from teaching. Reading and sleeping have been about the only productive thing that I’ve done the past two days. I’m halfway through a huge novel called “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. Being plopped right smack dab into the early middle ages following the building of a stone cathedral is much better than dealing with a cold!

Just today, I felt good enough to sit down to the computer. I’ve been just cruising around, visiting some favorite blogs, trying out some new blogs. I even visited my own (leaving your own blog alone so long in cyberspace is not good) and I noticed a comment left by Michelle at http://www.michellehix.blogspot.com/. She has a really cool site with a few neat widgets on it. The best one is Shelfari and, of course, with me being a teacher of English, I could not pass on it!

I have to get my son to figure out why the widget won’t load up in my sidebar. It’s probably something very simple but it’s New Year’s Eve and I don’t want to bug him. He’s out with friends getting ready to celebrate the new year. My daughter is out in Jackson Square in New Orleans, my husband went to our friends in SW Houston, my sister is in Times Square and I’m sitting in front my laptop with my box of kleenex. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

Another interesting toy that I’ve had time to play with is Google Reader. Now, I can keep up with the news and actually have something interesting to add to casual conversations without becoming a news-junkie like a few people I know.

Somehow, I feel like the little kid who got all these toys for Christmas but ended up playing in the cardboard box that the new washer came in. These two ‘toys’ were free (actually not quite free. I ((my husband)) paid for the internet connection, the electricity, the kitchen table, the lemonade in the Pizza Hut Fred Flintstone glass we bought when we were going out together 25 years ago….I think you get the picture.)

Anyway, here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year and lots of new ‘toys’
Angie

Random 'Munchings" Uncategorized Writing Entries

I was reading through one of my favorite magazines, “Discover” and ‘discovered’ a few interesting things about September. My birthday, this year, is the Autumnal Equinox and also a national holiday in Japan. Cool! I share the month with these other fascinating celebrations such as the Beef-A-Rama in Minocqua, WI. Can you envision 1,200 pounds of meat parading down main street? There might be some issues if the beef people get with the chicken people in London, KY where they are celebrating the origin of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken). Their proud achievement is cooking 600 chicken quarters at the same time in a huge frying pan. September is such a meat lover’s month with the Roadkill Cook-Off in Marlinton, WV. The list of featured recipes sounded clever and disgusting.

My little holiday sure seems out of place, now that I come to think of it.

Writing Entries

I’ve been to several blogs lately that have an entry regarding the latest release of the Harry Potter books. The blog entries all read just about the same: “you won’t be hearing from me for a while, I’m reading Harry Potter” or “don’t spoil it for me”. I hate to admit that I joined the ranks. But I am happy to report that not only did I read and finish the book this past week, I did several other things at the same time.

Amber’s home from France now and we’ve been preparing her for her final year at Tulane. We went through the house looking for things she can use in her first apartment and we decided to refinish some old furniture that we had been saving in hopes that one of our kids would need it. She’s the lucky winner! We’ve sanded and painted several pieces and now I have the job of making new cushion covers while she is gone once again (France for 3 weeks). We also went to New Orleans to see her new place and visit with old friends in Mandeville. I did not read in the car, but I did read every minute of free time that I had.

I’ll forever connect Harry Potter and the St. Louis Hotel on the corner of Bienville and Royal now. I finished the book on Sunday morning. Just like everyone else, I feel just a little sad that the story is finished. I find myself thinking about the story and the characters as I go about my everyday activities. And I do have a few questions which may be enough of a motivation to start reading the series again from the first book. If I do, I’ll let you know because you won’t be hearing from me for several days!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries



Incitement 2007

Originally uploaded by afrench2.


Please Welcome!

I’ve been teaching a Writer’s Workshop and I wanted to introduce my new contributors to the site. I have eight creative writers who have posted some of their fantastic work on the Incitement 2007 page.

Take some time to read enjoy their writing by clicking on the Incitement 2007 link in the Categories (right sidebar). Then make a few comments (good and constructive). Let them know they have an audience!

Thanks

Writing Entries

While Dave and I were in France visiting Amber in April, I purchased three black and white prints of children in the streets of Paris. One is of a small boy happily carrying a fresh baked baguette, one is of a line of children crossing a busy Paris street holding onto the coat tails, dresses or shirts of the child in front of them, and the last is a girl peering over a wire fence at a fork in a canal system. All the pictures were taken in 1956, 1952 and 1972. One of the artists caught the eye of Roxane’s mother, Josslyn.

In broken English or through translation provided by Amber, Josslyn told me that the one photographer, Doisneau was a popular favorite of hers. Turns out, he was also quite prolific. Amber arrived back in the States just before our sailing trip bearing gifts for all of us from the Lalandes (Roxane’s parents). My gift was a very thick, small book filled with black and white photographs taken by Doisneau. During my down times, I picked up the book and thumbed through it. Every time I do, I see something different. There are so many layers to Robert Doisneau’s work. For a taste of it, try this website or come visit me in Magnolia to look through my book! http://www.staleywise.com/collection/doisneau/doisneau.html

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

Yesterday was an interesting day, now that I look back on it. It was pretty much a normal day until I made the daily trip to the post office box where I found an invitation to a wedding. You know how sometimes companies create a junk mailing that tries to imitate a fancy event. That’s what I thought this was because I didn’t know of anyone getting married.

I had no idea what is was for…it took reading all the way down to the young man’s name when I realized it was an actual wedding announcement for a young man whom we’ve known since living in Mandeville. We were neighbors from about the time he was 5-6 until he was a senior in college. The interesting thing about him is that he is highly gifted. As a boy, he was intense. My son played with him from time to time and always came away stressed but happy. What is so rewarding about receiving this invitation is the young man that he’s turned into. He had a little sister born when he was in high school. The affect on his emotional and social growth was phenomenal. He’s going to make an excellent husband and father.

When you are a parent of a gifted child, all you can think about is getting through each day doing the best that you can to meet their academic, social and emotional needs. I never thought about having young adults, meeting that special someone getting married, securing a job. Gifted children do grow into gifted adults.

Later, when I got online for my email we received another wedding announcement. I know I have never received two announcements in one day. We had just seen this couple, sailing for ten days with them and 13 of our other friends. Our history with Sabrina started when we agreed to host a German student for an entire school year. She was 16 at the time. Sweet, curious, independent, flexible and very willing to share her culture with us and to partake in our culture. She eventually became the big sister for both my own two children and nearly an adopted daughter for us. We are super excited for her and Michael!

To round out the day, we had supper and drinks with several more friends. One young man, around 22 years of age, came with a friend. After our introduction, I learned that he had been in the Marines and had been married and divorced once already. During the discussion, I remembered that in a few days, Dave and I will be celebrating 25 years of being married to each other. I even mentioned how my grandparents had been together for over 70 years now during our conversations. All the day’s events caused me to reflect on the broader aspect of how and why some humans of the past select one individual to live with for a great length of time and how that way of thinking may be changing with the present culture in our world. Information, technology, scientific discoveries, increased population will affect our relationships with one another. It will be a challenge for our children to live with the same expectations that we had in our generation. But hopefully, the notion of caring deeply for another will remain foundational. I wish the best to every young couple out there thinking of making a lifetime commitment. It will take work, patience, cooperation and knowing that the ‘grass is greener’ right where you are!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

I had an interesting thing happen on my way to Baton Rouge to help my son pick out a new apartment for the fall semester at LSU. I left Houston around 11 am and had to make two stops during the four+ hour drive. The first stop went off without a hitch. I’m still left wondering when will gas stations create a pump handle that does not require one to use two hands to keep that costly gas pouring into a gas tank. It had been lightly raining for most of the trip but the last 20 minutes was a solid downpour and I needed another stretch break.

The second stop at a Shell convenience store found me following a skink (or lizard, for all ya’ll not from the south) down the potato chip aisle in the convenience store. Mind you, he was dressed for the occasion, dressed to match the motled brown and gray tile beautifully. I happened to look up at the cashier and said, “Did you know you have a skink running down your potato chip aisle?” She thought I said ‘a snake’ and ran completely around the checkout counter, all the while saying, “if there is a snake in this store, I’m leaving.” Now, I’m a very soft spoken person so I could understand her confusion, so I was nice enough to say in my most effective teacher-voice, “no a lizard.” She calmed right down and laughed at the confusion. I poured my self a cup of hot coffee, looking for the well-dressed patron but he had scurried away somewhere. As I approached to pay for my beverage, I noticed a local policeman chatting with the cashier. It’s a good thing I didn’t take advantage of my accidental diversion….

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

I want to announce to the whole world that I’m proud of my grandparents! They are celebrating their 70th year together as husband and wife on May 10th. My grandpa was 22 when he married my grandma of 18 in dusty Kansas in 1937. They have been directly responsible for the lives of three children, eight grandchildren and oodles of great grand children. My grandpa has a great sense of humor and my grandma can discuss baseball and politics with the best of them. If you think times are rough for relationships now, try living through the Dust Bowl or working in the lead mines in Colorado while supporting a young family (with orange crates for furniture). They’ve come a long way and planned well for their later years. Picture Caption: That’s me in my daddy’s arms.

My grandparents

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

I’m preparing to go on a vacation to see my daughter who has been studying in France for her junior year in college. Wow, what an experience for her! She’s written about the food, people, culture mishaps and the interesting sites. It is almost positive that she feels a real connection to Paris because she really doesn’t want to come back to Texas. And really, in the long run she may end up living and working there in her future. But first, she has to finish her degree at Tulane. I picture her like a baby bird peering over the safe edge of the nest, eager to jump out and try her wings. She just needs a little more time and knowledge and she’s on her own.

My son, however, is at a decision point in his life right now. He’s out looking for employment in far away places like California and New York and Austin. His progress has been more like the contented puppy lingering next to familiar places and people. It’s his time! We’re excited for him and for all the possibilities out there that are open for him.
Raising dependent young children to independent young adults. How did we get from one point to another? I wish we could bottle up whatever we did and sell it to anyone who has concerns about getting their children from point A to point B. I wish we could bottle up this, refine it and require it for all those struggling parents and struggling children. But then again, maybe the struggle is the most important part.

While Adam and Amber struggle with life changing decisions in their future, I get to watch. I’ve made some life changing decisions in my past and they worked out ok. I’m sure their decisions will too.

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries


IMG_1220

Originally uploaded by afrench2.

It is so nice outside right now. If you haven’t been outside to enjoy the nice weather, shame on you. It won’t wait for you. If you live in the south, you only have a few days to be outside. It’s now or never!

We’ve picked an outside project to try to complete before the weather turns hot. This our front circle. Those stones…we moved them all. I moved the little ones, Dave moved the bigger ones. That dirt and sand, we moved it too. We still have several loads of dirt to bring over, several loads of flagstone and some planting to do. It’s expected to rain Wednesday and Thursday this week, just like it rained last week Friday and Saturday. Those prints you see in the walkway is the neighbor’s dog. He’s huge and he’s only a puppy. We’re hoping that the fencing (we are adding a 24 inch high wire fencing to the railings) will keep him out and our dogs in. That is the other spring project.

So, get outside! If you need something to do, head over to Texas. We got plenty!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

Looks like nearly all zillion school districts in Houston go on spring break the same time.  Dave says the office is really quiet this week, workmate’s and their families are off skiing somewhere, probably.  I was thinking about how important a break is to teachers.  Some people think that a teacher’s yearly schedule is ideal; working shorter days, getting three months off.  That’s not really true.  Teachers need that break from the intensive day to day demands and schedule in their classroom.

To show for my spring break, my husband and I have nearly completed the landscaping in our front circle.  It has large square rust and gray colored stones outlining a curvy walkway that leads in and out of the circle.  It will soon be filled with flagstone that is reddish in color peppered with white leftover limestone from the house.  We’ve made a large garden bed and filled it with native Texas plants and so far, they are still alive.  And I’m hoping that the small white concrete bench will lend the area an informal invite to walk the path and come sit for a while.  The whole project has been quite enjoyable.  Lugging large stones and next to a zillion loads of dirt and sand into the space, planning the design and spending the money hasn’t been a drain on my mental and physical system, it’s been a boost.

The other thing we have to show for this spring break is a fence.  Now, we aren’t doing the work ourselves but we sure are paying for some quality work out there.  The 3 rail white vinyl fence (just like you see in the country magazines)  is being installed by a master.  You can tell.  He wastes no movements, works methodically, checks his work frequently and talks little.  In an essay I wrote for an undergraduate course, I called this type of person a ‘maestro’.  Someone who is a master of his/her chosen field.  My goal is to someday be a maestro in the field of education ….. but it is hard to give up days working at my own pace, creating something visibly pleasing.

Taking breaks are part of the process of becoming a maestro.  It gives one time to regroup, rethink and reflect on their live’s goals.  Spring break is a necessary thing if we, as a society, want to increase the quality of teachers working with its students.  Problem is, most teachers are working even harder during their break catching up on unfinished projects, housework, appointments or working with their own children.   What teachers truly need is a break from all their responsibilities.  A trip somewhere, time to sleep in, time to read a book for leisure (instead of planning lessons for the next week or month), time to work towards something they enjoy.  We all need it, whatever field we are in!

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

It was great to learn more about my ‘writing’ buddy, Nancy on her weblog. I always knew she had far and wide experiences. When you read some of her writings you get a sense of it.

Tagged. The word brings to mind the constant games of tag we played in our front circular yard in Holly, Colorado with my two brothers and best friend, Melveta. Freeze tag was my favorite because you had to stop exactly in the position you were tagged in and you had to wait for someone to unfreeze you. Somebody always did because the more kids running around during the game, the more fun it was. Being tagged in the cyber world is similar. “You” has been chosen as the Man of the Year. It’s a funny choice, but at the same time a good choice. Anyone can post anything from radical plans to deep dark adolescent secrets that never made it past the bedroom door in years past. We’ve been ‘unfrozen’ and the ‘game is afoot’ which brings me to addressing being tagged. Here are a few interesting things about me: Read More I’ve been tagged …..

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

My husband just coined a new term: “urban camp”. That’s what he is calling our apartment. Let me explain. For us, our main place for our belongings is our country dwelling. It’s where we have our roots. Our city dwelling is smaller and sparser. It’s like our urban camp. We have some kitchen tools to cook with, we have some of our clothes there, just enough to dress properly for our day jobs, a few pieces of reading materials, minimal channels on the tv, and a very nice bed. Even the dogs have their second set of dog bowls. Our city dwelling (urban camp) is where we go to exist during the week, the country dwelling is where we go to relax and live. We also have come up with a name for our country dwelling: Chateau-ed-teau (we are still working on just the right spelling of it). If you can’t figure out what this in reference to you might have never smacked your big toe on something in the middle of the night as often as my husband has…..

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries

The National Council on Teacher Quality has a brochure that outlines what makes an effective teacher.  What I like about this publication is that it looks at the research before it makes a general claim about what makes an effective teacher.  I was also interested in their finding that teacher literacy was the most effective indicator of student acheivement.  So, keep reading and writing and keep those kids reading and writing.  It may feel like you are not making any gains in the education of your children but research shows that you are!  And it doesn’t hurt to brush up on those ‘soft’ issues that make a great teacher such as  the ones outlined on page 12 of the brochure.

http://www.nctq.org/nctq/images/nctq_io.pdf

Random 'Munchings" Writing Entries