Started at the front door and wandered around taking photos on this perfect autumn day.
Started at the front door and wandered around taking photos on this perfect autumn day.
One of my students wrote a poem to which many of us can relate–how to keep track of and remember all the passwords we have created.
so many of them.
swirling around in my head.
and many others,
break my brain.
is it 1234,
or is it,
In the Panhandle of Texas residents greet rain with joy. We rarely get enough and when it does rain, usually it brings lightning, thunder, sometimes hail, wind, downpours. Today was different. When I arrived home, I heard the waterfall running, saw droplets on the evergreens and flowers, saw flashes of sunshine.
Sometimes a teacher’s work seems to never end and, honestly, it keeps me from posting here as often as I might like. At the same time, it provides me with endless joy and entertainment. The last couple of days brought lots of laughter.
I teach 8th – junior English and Spanish 1 and 2. This past Friday, Spanish 1 class became the site for lots of laughter. We were practicing translating sentences from English to Spanish. To date they have learned to say what they like, sentences about the weather, write about time, and to use the two “to be” verbs used in Spanish among other things. Somehow in the process of describing a person using a variety of adjectives they have been taught, one of the students blurted out, ” I think old people are ugly.” I said, “So you think I am ugly?” This caused a minor uproar with laughter and indignation. In an attempt to make the situation better, he continued, “No, I mean people over 60.” I repeated, “So you think I am ugly?” By this time everyone was laughing, including me, protesting his attitude. He started to try to wriggle out of that one when I pointed out that it might be better if he kept quiet. He started to say something about wrinkles but that got shut down by the other students.
Just before all this, his younger brother came into the classroom. He is the student who wrote a page-long poem about my hair last year. He said to his brother, “What is wrong with you? She is beautiful.” Then walked out of the room.
By this time everyone was laughing and talking except the student who made the original remark about old people and a few were shouting at him about his awful attitude. By the way, in case you do not know, the word for ugly in Spanish is feo or fea, depending on whether you are describing a male or female.
This weekend I read 50 or so book reports. One of them included this statement in response to the question, “What did you learn from this book?” “I learned it is sometimes fun to be bad.” The student was referring to the book, “Tom Sawyer.”
I have no clue how to respond to that remark.
My friends and I spent the last two days of my California sojourn driving to and staying in San Francisco where they have an apartment. I had not been in this part of San Francisco before and some things there surprised me. Next to their apartment building resides a grocery where we went shopping for some salad items and cheese. Much to my astonishment most prices were no greater than in Amarillo Texas, near where I live. Some items were cheaper. Who would have thought? Not me.
On the road to San Francisco.
The view from their apartment.
The purpose of our going to San Francisco rather than staying near Carmel was to see the new opera, “if I were you”, commissioned by Merola Opera. It is a modern retelling of the Faust story. The devil is female and much to my astonishment sung/acted by a young woman, Cara Collins, from Amarillo, Texas. The director, a good friend of my hosts, informed me that Cara’s teacher, Mary Jane Johnson who is famous throughout the opera world, was there also. That saying about how small the world is seemed all too true.
After the opera several of us went to a French restaurant where the waiter spoke several languages. I felt a bit envious.
After breakfast the next morning, we took a walk to Alamo Square and to The Mill, a famous coffee shop.
A view of City Hall through the trees.
Above: the Painted Ladies.
Latte at The Mill.
Then off to my flight home.
Last year I joined Now Read This, the online bookclub sponsored by PBS and The New York Times. Why did I join? To expand my exposure to books I might not otherwise read, to learn, to explore, to interact with others reading the same books.
I rarely read fantasy or science fiction. This summer has become an exception. The June choice, The Fifth Season by Jemisin, won the Hugo in 2016. The other two books in the trilogy won in 2017 and 2018. I wanted to know what happened to the characters so I read them all. The spine says Fantasy. I think they are more science fiction. Even people who claimed they did not like either fantasy or science fiction became like me and read them all. This series tells a futuristic tale extremely applicable to events, both social and political, in the world today, how prejudice kills both overtly and covertly, how fear of those who are different affect everyone, what it costs to live in a world where certain attitudes exist.
It took me two days to finish the July title even with chores, touchup house painting, all the things teachers attempt to do during summer break. Although I had previously read at least three books by Luis Alberto Urrea, I had not read this one, The House of Broken Angels about a family who lives back and forth across the border–San Diego and Tijuana. It is a tragic-comedy about the endurance, hopes, dreams, cooking, living of several generations. His non-fiction book, The Devil’s Highway, is a must read for those who want to understand what occurs along the US-Mexico borderlands.
In the midst of all this, I went back and reread Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. Wow, no wonder it caused a stir when it was published in the 1960s: a whole country where everyone switches back and forth between male and female and those who cannot do this are considered perverts. Additionally, the main character is described as having very dark brown skin and those who do not behave exactly as they should or politically protest are sent off to a stark camp where they work in excessive cold and eventually die.
Then I read an article about Toni Morrison and authors who do not write for people based on a certain audience, e.g. black, white. They write about what they know, what they feel, for a different purpose. One book listed was Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, a fantasy, all of which takes place in what we now think of as Nigeria. It has not one single white character in it. I kept thinking, wow. I read a lot of literature from Africa, Middle East, and Latin America. Most of the time, for better or worse, characters from other cultures show up, usually European and usually for the worse. Not in this one. If you go to a book store looking for it, look in Young Adult. Jemisin’s can be found in Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy. When I mentioned to someone I could not tell why some are categorized one way and some another, I was told there is less graphic sex in YA. Really? I cannot tell the difference.
Next on my list? I annually act as a judge in a literary contest. Three novels arrived in yesterday’s mail. Guess I need to get busy.
“What is a country but a borderless sentence, a life?
What is a country but a life sentence?”
“Freedom is nothing but the distance between the hunter and its prey.”
We tried to pick a non-rainy day to go to the Bronx Zoo. Yet, when we arrived, storm clouds swirled; it did not look good. Luckily, the threat never materialized. I had forgotten just how large it is. This June, the vegetation reminded me of a tropical jungle except the species of plants differ.
This zoo is huge and old with elegant, classical style buildings.
These photos were taken in the Madagascar building.
Water flows everywhere, making for a very natural feeling environment for many of the animals.
The okapi can really blend in with its forested environment. This is one of my grandson’s favorites.
The gorilla area is so large I was never able to discern its perimeters. This seemed good to me; they have lots of room.
If you do not want to spend much of your time walking from exhibit to exhibit, some of which are not close to each other or are very large in terms of acres, a shuttle circles the zoo regularly and you can get off and on at various stops.
Another option is to ride the Monorail which goes all around the huge Asia exhibit. The only downside is, due to the area in which the animals have to roam, you may not see many up close. Can you find the tiger?
This is an Asian rhino and we were told she especially likes hanging out in the water.
Red pandas are not related to pandas at all. Although they are a unique species, they are most closely related to raccoons and weasels.
Many people criticize zoos and would rather have animals roaming free. Sadly, some animals are already extinct in the wild. A number of animals at the zoo fit this category. In some cases the zoo has a breeding program and are working on reintroduction programs which will reintroduce extinct species back into their original wild habitats.
No matter how you plan to get to the zoo, you are going to have to walk some distance unless you hire a car or taxi. You can take the subway and walk about 1/2 mile or so, or you can take the bus but will have to walk to the correct bus stop to catch the express bus which stops near the zoo entrance. We took the bus which allowed us to get a sort of “tour” of Uptown, Harlem, and the Bronx. It was comfortable and not very crowded. I took the following photo at 124th street.
A small community garden.
Earlier in June, my daughter, grandson, and I went to NYC for ten days. We had no particular plans, stayed about three blocks from the East River in Midtown, conveniently only a couple of blocks from the subway so going up and down Manhattan was easy. We did not do a lot of the usual touristy things. Mostly we wandered around, exploring.
This is a view from the hotel room on the 18th floor. Yes, there are people living in some of these buildings, complete with patios, patio furniture, and in some cases plants.
The first evening we traveled way downtown, got off the subway at Spring Street, and walked to a soba noodle place which had many vegetarian options–my grandson is vegetarian. We liked it so much we intended to go back but somehow never accomplished that. I would recommend this place for those who like Korean, Japanese, etc. food. Sadly, I do not recall the name.
The next day we went downtown again and did something touristy, had lunch in Little Italy. We had no idea which restaurant to pick so picked this one: Caffe Napoli. My grandson liked their cheese ravioli with marinara sauce so much, he ate two entire platefuls. I had the beet salad. I am not a bread eater normally but liked theirs so much with the olive oil and herbs that I could not stop eating it. This place was a hit for us so we went back in the evening several days later.
After lunch we took a very long walk through Soho over to Washington Square Park. We spent quite a lot of time there people watching.
If you have heard of the college, New York University (NYU), and have never been there, you might be surprised to discover it does not have a campus in the usual sense. Its “campus” is comprised of buildings around and near this park.
Twice we ate at a place close to the hotel: Clinton Hall at 230 East 51st Street. They have good veggie burgers and a giant salad served in a huge beer stein, among a variety of options. They also provide all sorts of games you can play while waiting on food, etc. I would not recommend this place near or on the weekend, however, unless you like loud. It is a very popular hangout for young, professional people and was so noisy then that we could not even talk to each other without shouting.
One touristy thing we did was take the subway uptown to Central Park and eat lunch at Tavern On the Green. The salmon patty was excellent. It was a sunny day, the guests seemed happy except for one man who demanded to be seated in a part of the restaurant that was closed. He did not succeed. The meal was good, the atmosphere sunny and pleasant. It was relaxing and fun.
Three times we went uptown to the Barnes and Nobles on 86th Street. We also visited the one at 555 Fifth Avenue. We are book people, and it seems we end up at book stores everywhere we travel. My grandson had to stop buying books because of concerns about luggage being over the weight limit. The most unique bookstore we visited is Kinokuniya just across from Bryant Park. I highly recommend this place. Not only do they have all sorts of books both in English and Japanese, but they also sell various Japanese art items some of which are very beautiful. I had to seriously restrain myself. My daughter and I sat in their cafe, I drank matcha latte, and we watched the activities across the street in Bryant Park while grandson explored the huge graphic novel area.
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