Thursday, December 20, 2007
Let the stable still astonish:
Straw-dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child--
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.
Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said,
“Yes,Let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place”?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
“Yes,Let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born in this place.”
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The best thing about the research paper is the process of discovery. I'll share a couple of examples with you:
- I can't believe there aren't any books about Zac Effron in this library!
- It's says here that Bob Marley liked to smoke pot!
- All the websites about (guns, Nazis, Hitler, white supremacists, cocaine, Hugh Hefner (?!?), Ecstasy, etc.) are blocked!
- Mrs. Cheney, this website is all about some guy who has the same last name as you! Are you related? (It was Dick Cheney, of White House fame)
Ahhhh, good times, good times!
Friday, December 7, 2007
Here are some student answers to this week's question number 2: Why did the British teacher in Sudan get in trouble?
- For letting her class name a teddy bear Mahamahama.
- For letting her students name a teddy bear after some Mustom thing.
- She let a 7 year old student name a teddy bear Ohsamabenladin.
- The teddy bear took offense to a lot of people.
I have 8th grade research papers due in two weeks. I look forward to filling this space with quotes for your enjoyment.
Also, there is a Box Elder bug flying around my room here at Box Elder Middle School. Ha!
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Ah, such a pretty tree . . . too bad it is a carnivorous tree who did this to MY ARM!!!
I made my angel a few years ago. She's still cute.
We have all six girls for Christmas this year. Still need two stockings.
Brock wants to sleep under this on Christmas Eve. Do you think we'll finish in time?
How did THIS get here??? I keep asking myself every day when I see it hanging on my wall. Coming attraction: Funny Story About the Jackalope parts 1 and 2
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The chickies decorated a cute gingerbread house. Thanks again, Grandma and Grandpa, for bringing fun activities for the girlies to do. They had a fine time!
Can you see my kitchen sink in the background? It is EXACTLY like the kitchen sink in A Christmas Story. We have the same push button light switches as they do as well. I love my old house!
Brock and I played in a bell choir for a Christmas worship service his family hosts every year. It was a beautiful service, and we had a grand time playing the bells.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Today is the last day of the trimester, so that means I get a whole new 160 names to put to faces next week. It also means the 160 faces I have been talking at for the past 12 weeks will move on. Kids get brave when they know they are moving on. So this morning, a 9th grade boy raised his hand and asked, "Do you have a crush on Mr. Thomas?" I just kind of stared at him for a minute, because, quite frankly, I was trying to figure out who Mr. Thomas was. The only Mr. Thomas popping into my brain was my high school math teacher, and there were certainly no crushes there. Yikes!
Apparently, the rest of the class wanted to know the same thing judging from their head nods and sudden silence.
I said, "I'm married."
They said, "So what?"
I said, "My husband is the love of my life."
They said, "That doesn't matter."
I said, "I don't even know who Mr. Thomas is!"
They said, "You know, the science teacher."
Oh yeah, Mr. Thomas.
He is kinda cute.
I have to admit that I was relieved that at least they thought I had decent taste in men. But still . . . a) why the heck would they think that? and b) why the heck would they care? and c) I hope to high heaven Mr. Thomas hasn't heard this rumor!!! Yikes!
I realized later in the day that I was likely the one who gave birth to this latest locker-buddy gossip--inadvertently, of course. A couple of times a week my students play this game called Grammar Punk. They get to grab sticks out of a container, and the sticks give them criteria for writing a sentence. In one of my 8th grade classes, the sticks we pulled were: teachers, 1, proper noun, t, o. That means we were supposed to write a sentence with one proper noun (with a t and an o in it) about teachers. I always write a sample sentence, and I do my best to make my sentence one the kids might get a kick out of. So this is what I put on the white board:
I toilet papered Mr. Thomas' house.
Of course toilet papering someone's house equals true love forever (written with the T, L and A all hooked together) for an 8th grader. So the very logical leap would be that I love Mr. Thomas.
Teenagers are good at making such logical leaps.
Just like that time when my best friend in high school asked if my mom (who taught at our high school) was having an affair with Mr. Campbell. Their rooms were connected by a storage room/office space and sometimes my mom and Mr. Campbell were in there at the same time.
And there was that time when she t.p.'d Mr. Campbell's house . . . *rubbing chin* hmmmmmmmm
Monday, November 19, 2007
Many times when 8th grade students don't know how to spell a word, they will give it their best shot, right click on the misspelled word, then choose the first option on the list without a thought. As a result, I often get sentences like this one, from an 8th grader's autobiography:
"It was a good year, both fiscally and mentally."
Pretty sure he meant physically. How was he to know it didn't start with an "f"?
Saturday, November 17, 2007
"I am going to write an autobiography about myself."
And to remind you the difference one measly letter can make (italics added):
- "We were going to see the Arizona Diamondbacks vs. the Colorado Rookies."
- "Instead of hitting the log with the ax, I hit my hand. I cut my thump almost all the way off."
- "We were disappointed because the building was not open to the pubic."
I should hope not!
Friday, November 16, 2007
Today I pass the time reading
a favorite haiku,
saying the few words over and over.
It feels like eating
the same small, perfect grape
again and again
I walk through the house reciting it
and leave its letters falling
through the air of every room.
I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.
I say it in front of a painting of the sea.
I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.
I listen to myself saying it,
then I say it without listening,
then I hear it without saying it.
And when the dog looks up at me,
I kneel down on the floor
and whisper it into each of his long white ears.
It’s the one about the one-ton
with the moth sleeping on the surface,
and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating
pressure of the moth
on the surface of the iron bell.
When I say it at the window,
the bell is the world
and I am the moth resting there.
When I say it into the mirror,
I am the heavy bell
and the moth is life with its papery wings.
And later, when I say it to you in the dark,
you are the bell,
and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you,
and the moth has flown
from its line
and moves like a hinge in the air above our bed.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
he presents his proposal
and distributes the diagram
'round the table--
the diagram in which
he illustrates where the cut
will be made
starting in the center of the head
straight down the center of the body
following the dotted line.
Two perfect halves.
A net gain for him.
No, I say.
The cut must be made here,
'round the belly.
I get the upper;
you get the lower.
Here is my proposal
(yours is the top copy).
And Soloman scratches his beard
in unanimous confusion
and says, "Well,
I guess someone should get a knife."
Monday, November 12, 2007
"Everyone wanted me to blame myself for my parents' divorce so they could feel good about telling me it wasn't my fault. The only problem was I never blamed myself. I blamed a random girl at church."
I thought this was such an interesting perspective: a child who understands what the adults are thinking without being explicitly told. She's probably right about people actually wanting her to blame herself so they could feel like they had done something good for her by correcting her misconceptions. I think most kids are smart little stinks.
Monday, November 5, 2007
my sneakered feet tromp, slurp, slosh
through the marsh to the frog ponds.
The buzz buzz around my shoulders goes nearly unnoticed,
until a tubed tongue prickles my wrinkly dry-skinned elbow
a moment before the slap, brush, rub of my hand.
I remember too late about my
too warm, reddening skin which lazed the afternoon away
in the too hot, yellow sun.
I dip two curved fingers into the meandering muck
and smear the slime on the birth of the bite
for an itch fix.
The mountain evening cool soothes my skin.
The frog pool’s shaded shelves,
overgrown with sweet grass,
try to hide them,
but my practiced eyes find
two bumps breaking the smooth skin of the water,
arms and legs splayed out from the body below,
cooling in the evening’s draining sun.
I inhale them.
They smell like water
left to stand in a bucket
for a few hot summer days.
The smell of living green.
I squat, hands sinking in the soil between turned out feet.
I spring forward.
My fingers close as the frog kicks
and swims through them.
My fingers grow green
with a web of hairy algae dripping down my arms.
The sweet grass stings my sun-baked, mud-caked legs.
My dusty lids grind over my hot eyes,
and I see myself,
arms and legs splayed out,
suspended in the water,
my eyeballs alone above the water’s skin.
My own skin is slick.
I smell like living green.
A woodpecker rattles.
A bush rustles.
A fish rises in the stream.
My transparent lids glide over my cool eyes,
and I kick through the fingers
closing around me.
I settle in the mire below
Friday, November 2, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Mrs. Cheney: You mean To Kill a Mockingbird?
9th Grade Male Student: Yeah, How to Kill a Mockingbird, are we reading it today?
Mrs. Cheney: Yep. We're going to start on the chapter about shooting the mockingbirds with sling shots to knock them out of their trees. Then, in the next chapter, we'll talk all about the advantages of the various methods of torturing mockingbirds including, but not limited to: forcing them to listen to country music from 2-5 a.m. while they are trying to sleep, telling them they are nothing but a bunch of dirty magpies, and showing them pictures of snarling pitbulls and 12 year old boys armed with BB guns. Then we'll move on to mockingbird-specific disembowelment techniques discussed in chapter 5.
9th Grade Male Student (after a pause, with a nod of his head and a slight smile): cool.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
We had a bit of rain on Saturday. And it was cold. As we scurried from our parking space to our warm, waiting seats we passed through the inevitable parade of antis. This was to be expected, of course. What would conference be without antis? They are like the Cousin Eddy of the church. We know they'll always be there, that we shouldn't take anything they have to say too seriously, and that they'll be wearing tight green polyester pants, white patent leather shoes, and a white V-neck sweater with the outline of the black dickie underneath showing through. Brock took advantage of the opportunity to point his finger at them and laugh Nelson-style. Yeah, yeah, he is well aware that he shouldn't engage in such activities, but he is Brock, and Brock likes to do his own thing.
It was pretty funny when one of the antis saw Brock laughing at him and responded by telling him to get a haircut. See, antis and Mormons DO agree on some things.
Friday, October 5, 2007
- She hit the tennis ball like a train hits a cow.
- The boat moved through the water like my dad's diesel going over an overpass in Salt Lake.
- I hurried down the sidewalk like a bunny getting shot at hurries down a path.
- The stream flowed quickly like snot runs out of my neighbor's nose.
- The stream flowed quickly like the fingers of that girl texting in the corner.
- The stream flowed quickly as if someone flushed a huge toilet.
- The dog was smart like Malcolm X.
- I hurried down the sidewalk, its hills and grooves like my dad's stomach.
- The stream flowed down the mountain as if it was a man late to the next life.
- The carpet was soft like my grandpa's belly.
- I hurried down the sidewalk like a hobo after a ham sandwich.
- I felt sad, as if I lost my iPod.
- The building looked sleek and new like my dad's head.
- The building looked sleek and new like my hair after I got it straightened.
- The boat moved through the water like a comb through my hair after I just put tons of conditioner on it.
- The building looked like it had just got its braces off, so sleek and new.
- The carpet was so soft it was like walking on clowns.
Ha! These kids make me laugh. I love my job.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
from the fall
when we were once water interrupted.
We are confused mist, now settled
after the churning slowed
and the flow resumed, finding relief
in our deep and constant union.
May we join in our river’s bed together
and discover joy in our journey.
We are a poem personified,
penned by one of the greats.
A Hopkins, a Collins, a Frost.
We are used words, which
when rearranged with talent and skill,
become fresh and alive, an obvious fit.
We are a sonnet, a ballad, an ode.
May we couple our words together
to compose our eloquent epic.
We are heaven’s cloths
woven from unraveled threads
with our combined colors:
golden joy, rosy exuberance, creamy confidence.
We are beauty renewed,
embroidered with our finest floss.
May we weave ourselves together
to complete our emerging mural.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
- I teach one 40 minute lesson a month.
- Once I get the sisters talking they take over and I can spend the rest of the lesson nodding, smiling, and pointing to the next raised hand to comment.
- The group is actually officially called The Relief Society (I thought it was called Release Society when I was young--relief is much better, don't you think?).
- It keeps me out of the nursery.
- I don't have to do any paperwork.
- I don't have to go to meetings.
- I don't have to report to anybody.
- I get to say whatever I want and nobody can do anything about it.
Okay, well, maybe that last one isn't all the way true . . . but I do get to steer the topic in a direction that I find useful and that makes me happy.
Last month's lesson was called "No Other Gods Before Me." I read through the material and found some bits and pieces I could use to jump start the discussion. The lesson included a story I remembered hearing when I was a youngster--about these special traps used to capture monkeys. The gist of it all was that if you take a box, cut a small hole in the top, then put a nut in the box, the monkey would inevitably reach his hand in the box to retrieve the nut. Then when the monkey would try to remove his hand from the box, his newly formed fist would be too large to extract from the hole. The simple-minded monkey would never be able to figure out the whole drop-the-nut-and-I-can-be-free strategy, and thus he would be trapped by his own actions. You see how it fits, right?
So I told the story. Except for not exactly like I just wrote it. Especially the part about the monkeys refusing to let go of their treasure to free themselves from the box. What I said, and I quote (as if you couldn't tell from the quotation marks I'm about it use), "The cute little monkeys were trapped because they wouldn't let go of their nuts."
Yep. I said that. In relief society. With little old ladies all around. And. To. Make. It. Worse. . . Somebody giggled. I honestly didn't realize what I had said until I heard the giggle. I thought to myself, why is someone giggling?? Monkeys are being captured!!! That's not funny!! And then my face turned BRIGHT red (as it is prone to do when I make a complete idiot of myself in front of others).
I should have just gone on with the lesson and ignored the giggle. That's what my brain told me to do. But I also have this thing called a mouth which spouts various embarrassing crap when I'm flustered. "Ummmm, that was a poor choice of words, huh?" It's a good thing my eloquence got me out of that sticky situation. I know how to put the "relief" in Relief Society, I tells ya. Without that quick thinking, I might be known forever more as the teacher who used allusions to monkey genitalia in church. *sigh*
I'll bet those sisters are already charging their hearing aids so they can hear what I have to say in next month's lesson: "The Law of Chastity."
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
As a teacher, I am surrounded by boys who are constantly hitching up their jeans to prevent gravity from taking over. The vice principal of our school keeps zip ties handy as a quick fix for boys whose pants are so loose they show their undies (two belt loops joined by a zip tie makes for pants that stay put). The girls also show their unmentionables, but not because their pants are too big--they are just so ultra low and so ultra tight that when the girls are in a seated position, they are plumbing it. A computer lab full of these girls slouched over their keyboards has so much crack in it that if a group of addicts from Pioneer Park accidentally wandered in (hey, it could happen) they would thank their lucky stars for a Christmas dream come true.
During my first year of teaching, I got stuck with the "at-risk" students (they had no hope of graduating, so they all got stuck in the same room out in a trailer in hopes that they wouldn't infect the kids who still had a chance, and I was their lucky babysitter). These kids were shameless. And they were proud of their anti-social behavior. Eventually, I got in the (bad) habit of using sarcasm when I was attempting to manage the classroom. One day, a punk senior kid named Rhett (I really liked the kid, but he was definitely a punk) came into my classroom with his pants so very low he had to walk with his feet about 2 feet apart to keep his too-baggy jeans on his too-narrow hips. At least six inches of blue plaid showed below his shirt and above his jeans. I couldn't imagine how UNcomfortable it must have been for him to have to walk like that just to avoid the embarrassment of losing his jeans.
I said to the punk, "Hey Rhett, you're panties are showing!" in an attempt to humiliate him into wearing a belt, or buying pants that fit.
"They're not panties," he unabashedly replied. Then with the very slightest amount of effort, he flicked the waistband of his jeans toward the floor and WHOOSH! he was standing in a puddle of pants. As soon as I realized what his intentions were, I covered my eyes with my hand. I was sure I was going to lose my job since my sarcasm was the tool which lead to a student exposing himself.
But the rest of the class laughed. Rhett laughed too. I peeked through my fingers and found Rhett standing in blue flannel pajama pants with his jeans pooled around his feet. There really weren't panties, and I really was going to be able to keep my job after all.
I'm now teaching at a middle school--8th and 9th graders. They are pretty good kids for the most part, but they are old enough to have figured out about the huge pants deal. I see just as many "panties" here as I did at the high school two years ago. Just the other day I was in the teacher's lounge during my prep period when I heard some boys talking in the hall. One boy said quite urgently to another, "Hey, pull my pants up!" I peeked into the hall, and there was a line of boys carrying desks over their heads down the hall. One unfortunate boy was rapidly losing his jeans and with both hands full he was unable to remedy the situation.
Tsk, tsk, tsk. Will they never learn?
There seems, however, to be a change a brewin' these days. And as most things go, this one is another extreme. The latest fad for the "cool" guys at my school is to wear girl jeans. Yep, jeans made for girls. And the preferred cut for these forward-thinking boys? The skinny jean! And they wear them tight! Oh my! The good news about this fad is the undies will always be covered. The bad news is that people are buying skinny jeans! I can't imagine that any self-respecting woman would wear these jeans designed to accentuate the negative and eliminate the positive, but if our teenage boys are buying them, the manufacturers may have the false perception that women actually like these jeans which may result in the increased availability of the skinny jean.
The sky is falling!
The sky is falling!
My hips just can't take it. Here's to wearing skirts. (pencil skirts be damned!)