Friday, January 30, 2015

Social Obligation

January 18 we were invited to dinner with friends whose house is less than two miles from ours.

January 20 mailed bread-and-butter note.

January 28 the note was in my mailbox.

Right, I am an idiot.  I am the one who neglected to stamp the envelope before posting it.  Yet. Yet it took the postal service eight days to get it back to me.

Well.  They were working for free, so. . .

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Revisiting the Christmas Cactus


The Christmas cactus actually gave us a few blossoms at Christmas, and it has had a few blooms ever since.  The flowers have been fewer in number this year than it has had some years in the past, but they are no less beautiful, wouldn't you agree?

The plant has been moved, repotted, 
overwatered, underwatered, chopped back, 
broken and otherwise abused over the years.
It is at least forty-three years old.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Winter History in Perfect

37 years ago today this is what it looked like in this neighborhood.  This was the most intense snowstorm I have ever experienced, before or since.  The snow was driven by sixty mile winds. There was still snow on the ground in April.

I found an envelope in my desk tagged "Blizzard of 78." Inside were strips of 35mm black and white negatives. I no longer have the equipment to print negatives via wet chemical processes, and I don't know anyone in the area who does this anymore. So, onto the scanner, into a folder in the computer, and with a good deal of "messing around" with two or three programs, I managed to "develop" these images.

The first shot shows me in front of our house. The rest of the pictures were taken at my workplace shortly after the snowfall stopped. I had to walk over a mile, through drifts and all, to get to the building.




From the inside looking out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Little about Nothing


Dear Reader,

To paraphrase a character in "Pogo" from many years ago, "If I could only write, I'd send a nasty letter to the mayor, if he could only read."

What you should take away from this is that the post today is vacant (vacuous? empty? bereft of sense?) or nearly so, because while I do have things on my mind, I am less than sanguine of the possibility that any of them would be edifying.

Stay warm, stay alert, and stay out of trouble.

Sincerely,
vanilla

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Buses and a Hobby Horse

I was an elementary school principal for eighteen years.  I have shared some of my experiences as a student and even a few incidents from my teaching career.  Yet I have written virtually nothing about my years in the office.

Do not infer that I had no noteworthy experiences.  Do not conclude that I did not enjoy my work.  Do not expect that this article is a precursor to my memoirs as an administrator.

One of the teachers on my staff was a brilliant young woman, an excellent teacher and quite outspoken.  Janet, some might say, had a strong personality.  Dismissal time was 3:05.  To insure safe and orderly egress from the building and safe boarding of the waiting buses by some four hundred, five hundred children, I deemed it essential to establish some simple procedures.

My solution required each teacher to escort his or her charges from the classroom to the bus lot.  Two teachers on a rotating assignment basis were to remain on the bus lot until the vehicles moved out.  The size of the staff was such that this meant each teacher would have two nonconsecutive weeks on bus duty during the course of the year.

I typically held faculty meetings on Monday afternoon immediately after school, said meeting, not to last more that twenty minutes.  Or so I planned.  And this was not every Monday, but once a month, or as deemed necessary.  Toward the end of such a meeting, I would note the twinkle in Janet’s eye, and I knew exactly what was coming, and she knew I knew.  I knew I would not do anything about her grievance, and she knew that I would not do anything about it.  A game, you see.

But Janet was serious about the issue, and she had some support amongst her peers, perhaps even widespread support, who knows?  They let her take the lead.  Janet was quite content to be penned up with a classroom full of children for most of her working day.  Nay, she was excited that she had such an opportunity.  But for some reason, weather perhaps, contrariness maybe, Janet resented having to spend ten minutes a day, ten days a year on the bus lot after school.  Thus, the issue was to place in my lap the problem of solving the dismissal supervision problem.  A problem which I had already solved, and hence to my way of thinking, did not exist.

And sometimes this caused the faculty meeting to go past the twenty minutes I had allotted.

 Janet was engaged in what I call riding a hobby horse.  You know you are not going anywhere, but you just have to rock it anyway.

After several years with us, Janet moved on to other pastures, her choice because she was an excellent teacher.  I lost contact with her, but through the grapevines that entangle the educational world, I was able to “follow” her career.  She later became a principal and a school superintendent. 

I have often wondered how Janet solved the problem of “bus duty” in the venues where she served as an administrator.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sometimes You Read the Darndest Things

I was doing a web search last evening, a search that had nothing whatsoever to do with school girls, surgeons, pins, rheumatism, or Pennsylvania when I happened upon this, from sixty-seven years ago.

Surgeon Removes 13 Headless Pins From Leg of School Girl
KIRKSVILLE, MO.  Dr. Paul R. Koogler, surgeon-in-chief at the hospital of Kirksville college of osteopathy and surgery, said he had removed 13 or 14 headless pins imbedded in a leg of Mary Serena Beach, high school junior, of Sigourney, Pa. Miss Beach registered at the hospital with symptoms of rheumatism. Pictures disclosed the pins, which the girl could not explain.
 Jeffersonian (Jeffersontown, Ky.), April 4, 1947

And sometimes you witness something just as weird.

It was, I think 1948 or about a year after the needled leg incident in Missouri.  This happened in Colorado.  Al, a lad of fourteen, was an attendee at a camp, escaping Kansas for a week or ten days in Colorado's scenic surroundings. 

Suddenly one evening he reported to a camp counselor with an extremely swollen hand and excruciating pain.  Clearly, a trip to the emergency room at the local hospital was required.  The surgeon ascertained that some foreign object was embedded in the flesh at the base of the thumb.  The offending intruder was surgically removed and proved to be the tip of a pair of sewing scissors, perhaps an inch in length.  Now, how did that happen?

The boy told this tale.  Many months ago, nearly a year ago, in fact, he and his sister had gotten into a contretemps, the upshot of which was a stabbing inflicted to the hand by the sibling.  "We knew the scissors had broken, but we couldn't find the missing piece."

Nasty, rusty thing.  Successful treatment for the infection, though, and the wound eventually healed.