Reflections on Independence Day


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When I was a child, we lived on a farm where it rains around 40 inches annually.  On the Fourth of July, Dad always shot off a few Roman candles, and we had small firecrackers and sparklers, nothing fancy, just fun.  Even then I knew about the Declaration of Independence, revered its message.  Still do.

Now I live where it is hot and dry.  The neighbor’s fireworks display rivaled those found in cities–beautiful but dangerous in brown grass country.  I wonder if they give any thought to the history, to why anyone celebrates this day.

For the first time in the decades of my life, I did not celebrate Independence Day.  Why?

Born decades ago, I originally went to college in Virginia where I experienced the shock of real segregation; I had not grown up where it was like that. I was horrified, lasted only one semester, then transferred.  Later I attended a college which shut down in protest over the Viet Nam War, I supported The Civil Rights Movement, I helped create one of the first intercollegiate groups to advocate for abused women, and with an ethnically diverse group I taught diversity classes for teachers.

Now in 2020, I feel that even with all that hard, determined work, progress has been too limited.  It is as if I have been transported back to 40 years ago.  People need to learn from the history most do not even know:

-Cotton Mather, the leading intellectual and Puritan minister in the colonial era, actually helped butcher King Phillip (Metacomet) like an animal.  What did he do to deserve this?  He tried to save his Native people.  Cotton Mather later writes about tearing Metacomet’s jaw from his skull.

-In 1676, when poor whites joined enslaved Africans to rebel for a better life and decent living conditions, fighting for justice against the wealthy planters, those rich planters realized they had to get poor whites to hate Blacks.  They took land owned by Blacks and gave it to poor white people and then paid them to hunt down and abuse, even kill, people of African descent.

-Later, the same Cotton Mather mentioned above, learned from his slave that in Africa, Africans had been taking pus from a smallpox infected person and inoculating others with it to prevent smallpox from spreading.  He refused to believe any African  could be so smart even though he inoculated himself and his family after learning this.  Later, he wrote this about his African slave who had told him the story that may have saved his life: “…brokenly and blunderingly and like Idiots they tell the Story.”

-Of course, we all know that the intellectual giant, Thomas Jefferson, held the deed to the woman who would later bear him numerous children while he proclaimed those famous words that all people are created equal.

The history of racial and ethnic hatred goes back to the inception of this country.  It continues to poison progress and hope.  It never seems to end.  I am tired of it.  Enough is enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Covid19-5-Spring Beauty


In the midst of being home for about a month now, it is spring most of the time.  Saturday was 80 something. Now it is snowing.  When it was 80 plus, I walked around outside and took photos of some of the wild flowers and the orchids blooming in the window above my kitchen sink.

I had planned to post several days ago, but I am so busy teaching English and Spanish online, I hardly have time to do much else. I did mow for several hours Saturday morning, did some gardening, cleaned horse runs, let them out to run. My students are studying the works of John Steinbeck, reading Animal Farm, The Odyssey, and Oedipus Rex–I teach four different levels of English.  Designing lessons they can do online with little assistance takes forethought and planning.  I thought I would hate it, but there are some things I really like and when we go back to class, I probably will continue.  In the meantime, I will read, think, garden, care for my horses, hike my canyon, teach, write, and dream.  Take care.  Be safe.

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Covid19–3


Internet and modern technology make quarantining easier. Today is my birthday and for the first time in my life I am alone on this day.  It could have been a lonely, sad day I suppose but it has been good; modern technology has enabled me to FaceTime with my college roommate and her husband in California, to exchange messages with three of my former exchange students scattered across the world, France, Italy, Thailand, receive birthday wishes on Facebook from around 80 people I know from everywhere, and message family and friends.  Some of them and I have exchanged little conversations, catching up on who is doing what where.

This morning I almost finished all the work I need for Google Classroom this week.  This afternoon I have spent a sizable chunk of time outside watering, fertilizing bushes, chopping down some weeds.  After I finish writing this, I will go back out and complete the watering.  Mostly I have plants for our dry climate and water only what is necessary.

Yesterday was the perfect sunny weather for taking some wild flower photos.  Everywhere yellow flowers carpet the land. Here and there white ones appear as well.

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Inside an orchid that resisted blooming for two years has changed its mind and several other plants are in full flower.  All this beauty makes hanging out at home so much easier.

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Stay home.  Be safe.

Covid19–2


The saga of staying sane, learning new skills, keeping occupied continues.  When I posted Covid19–1 a couple of days ago, the Panhandle of Texas had two cases, now we have ten, one of whom, at the age of 39, has died.  Another 30 something is in critical condition.  A case was announced this morning at Cannon Air Force Base just across the state line.

Yet, I can think of positives arriving from this:  people at home reading, spending more time with family, cooking, playing games, relearning old skills.

What have I done recently?  I teach high school English and Spanish.  Starting Monday, we will be teaching online using Google Classroom.  I have used it before but not for over a year.  Probably overkill, but yesterday I spent something like four hours taking a class on how to use it and relearning.  More to come today.  I have the English lessons hand written, all planned out.  Now I have to convert them to Google Classroom. Perhaps with Spanish I will change course totally and use Duo Lingo for many of the lessons.  Did that last year, but not this one.

Luckily, living out in country, having horses, having lots of gardening to accomplish makes this quite a bit easier.  Horses have to be fed and cared for, weeds require hoeing or mulching, dead wood must be cut out of woody plants, the tasks seem endless.  Since we are having a heatwave and temperatures are considerably above normal, I can hike, walk the long drive to the mailbox, eat lunch on the patio as I did yesterday.  The mustard weeds out by the barn suddenly grew more than two feet tall; it was driving me nuts–I cannot stand mustard weeds.  Yesterday afternoon, I got out the tractor and mowed.  They are tough.  When I fed the horses this morning, I saw a few had regenerated themselves and were sticking up again. I might have to do this over.

In the midst of this crisis, I have noticed far too many people around here seem not to take this seriously.  It appears, looking at the news, that this is a problem in many parts of the country.  Do we want to be like Italy?  I received a message from Martina there.  More and more dying and no end in site.  When I stepped out on the patio this morning to take the photo that appears below, the traffic on the main road was as loud as it is when nothing is happening, when people are not asked to stay home.  Is no one complying?  Why?

Meanwhile I will take advantage of all the positive things I can find in this–communicate with friends and family all over the world, garden, cook, learn more Google Classroom, relearn some pieces on the piano, water before the predicted wind for tomorrow occurs, brush the shedding hair off my horses, read, and perhaps join the online Zumba class in San Antonio at 4.  Life, even in times of crisis, is what you make of it.

Be safe!  Learn something new!  Laugh out loud!

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Teacher Tales


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.

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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.

 

 

 

Appreciation


A few weeks ago it was Teacher Appreciation Week.  Several students brought me things, home made cookies, something orange–my favorite color, a gift certificate.  However, two notes written by the students themselves caught my eye.  One especially made me smile a lot.  Here they are:

“Thank you for improving my language skills and being such an amazing teacher.”

 

“Ms. Lightle

“Thank you for making all of us laugh every single day!  Your craziness and how you stay true to you, even when we say stupid things, and make you angry.  We have not known you for very long, but we hope we can keep you here at LEAST until we graduate!”

Love, ”

I do not think I am one speck funny.  However, for years now, students keep telling me I am super funny.  I have no idea what I do to make them think this, but guess it does not matter.

 

It is a beautiful spring day, exceptionally green for the Panhandle of Texas.  Papers are graded. Now,  I am going to read, cook cod with lemon and fennel, feed horses, and watch the moon rise.

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Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

My Hair–a Student Poem


Recently, my students read a poem where the eggs in a carton expressed terror at being removed by human hands and a Pablo Neruda poem about his socks–hand made, blue wool with a golden thread running through them.  Their assignment was to also write a 20 line poem about something ordinary which they love or appreciate. One student wrote about my hair.

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Saturday at the Wildorado Cattle Company Bull Sale


Yes, no kidding, I took my Italian exchange student to something so typical of where I live, a livestock auction.  However, this was not just any livestock auction.  With the guidance and support of the Ag Teacher, the students at Wildorado ISD, where I teach, have created their own cattle company.  They did the advertising, contacted potential buyers and consignors, marketed, everything.  Top bulls from various ranches and producers were in the sale.  A few brought over 4000 dollars and many brought over 3000.  Mostly these were top of the line registered bulls. Several were bred and raised by the students themselves. The freshmen and sophomores spent most of the week washing (no kidding) and moving bulls to Amarillo Livestock Auction where the sale was held.

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Although there were two other breeds of bulls in the sale, The Wildorado Cattle Company raises purebred Angus cattle.  The students have learned to AI, doctor, maintain records, and every thing it takes to maintain a superior quality cattle herd.  I was especially impressed with several students the night before the sale at the pre-sale dinner.  The students introduced the speakers and top consignors, introduced the Cattle Company program, waited on tables.  Kudos to all my students who worked so hard to make this sale such a big success.

More Student Poems–Two More Dogs


With my students, it seems dogs are a rather poplar subject when assigned a poem to write about a pet.

 

Hondo

Hondo is special,

in his own unique way.

He loves his home,

but never seems to stay.

 

His best friend is Scrappy,

and together they roam.

They chase wild bunnies

far, far from home.

 

Yes, Hondo is special,

in his own unique way.

A pain in the butt,

And in my heart he will stay.

Author:  Taylor Shugart

 

 

Cricket

Cricket, a dog of 13.

She was a tiny little one,

Getting older.

She was losing control,

Now in diapers, and

moving slowly.

She begins to fade.

Cricket is gone.

After school, tears fall,

my best friend was in the pasture.

Author:  Skylee Isham

 

 

 

Student Poems: Dogs


The instructions:  write a poem about a pet or wild animal you love.  Most of the students wrote about their dogs.  Six more students requested I publish their dog poems.  Here are three:

 

Kimba

my name is Kimba

I am really fun

but be very careful I like cinnamon buns

I run and I play

I sleep everyday

I ride in the car

but not very far

I really hate cats

They remind me of rats

I need to lose weight

So I can relate

back to when I was tiny

I thought I was so mighty

Author:  Kayla Stephens

 

 

 

Sadie Mae

Sadie Mae is the best

Whatever she does, she makes a mess

She loves to play with all

especially her favorite ball

Sophie is her best friend

but their energy never ends

In the open pastures she runs wild

which gives her a big smile

In the middle of the bed she sprawls

sometimes you will see her crawl

Author:  Jake Kenedy

 

 

Baps

My name is Baps.  Milana

loves me I sleep on her

head so she can’t see

When Milana gets up I

have to get off When I

roll over I fall off

Milano needs me so does

Finley But beware of the

bird because he is my enemy

Be very careful we don’t get along

don’t put us together or he will

be gone.

Author:  Milana Evers