Category Archives: education

Front Yard Serenade

My nextdoor neighbor, Brian, is a school music teach and band director.  The last time he saw his “kids” was when they said good bye for spring break.  Then schools began to close, so they have had online classes but as you can imagine, band class isn’t quite the same and since Brian is changing schools this fall, he felt a little bad about not seeing them again.

The kids apparently felt badly as well because on Monday, the brass section, along with a drummer, showed up in the front yard and serenaded him for about 15 minutes.  It was a big surprise to Brian; the kids had set it up with his wife, Sarah.  By the end of the performance, quite an audience has gathered, on both sides of Lyndale. 

I know that other entertainments and festivities are happening in people’s front yards.  A young friend of mine had a drive-by college graduation and Tuey, a juggler that I like, has also been doing his show on front sidewalks during shelter-in-place.

I think this is a great way to celebrate even while social distancing.

What front yard entertainment would you like?

I Know What I Know

Yesterday I added my eggshells to my bales.  I use a high nitrogen fertilizer on the bales and somewhere in the past I must have seen something (probably on the internet) that suggested added calcium in the form of eggshells to counteract that.  While I was setting the crushed eggshells around each plant, some of them were blowing away in the stiff wind.  This made me think about my friend, LeAnne.  I’ve known LeAnne for over 30 years and from the beginning I’ve known that she believes that if you get wind in your ears, you’ll get sick. I’ve never even tried to talk her out of this belief, because you can tell that she’s not willing to believe anything else.  In fact, just last week, she mentioned how she had felt bad all day because the day before she had been gardening and it had been quite windy.

As I stood there in the wind, watching some of the eggshells blow away, I realized that I am the same as LeAnne.  I know what I know and it’s not just about adding eggshells to my bales.   Snakes.  I didn’t want YA to have an irrational fear so whenever we were around snakes (zoo, children’s museum, etc.) I made it a point to “pet the snake” in her presence.  So my brain KNOWS that snakes are dry, but my brain also knows that they are slimy.  Airplanes.  I travel for a living; I’ve been on plenty of planes.  I have even researched lift and airplane engineering.  But I still know in my heart of hearts that on every single take-off, when the plane tilts for lift off, the tail of the plane is going to scrap the runway.  The fact that this has never happened, not even once, makes no difference. I know what I know.

Do you “know” something, despite evidence to the contrary?

What If?

Photo credit:  Manfred Richter

One of the lawns along my walking route got an aerated overnight.  As we walked by, I was struck how all the little sod pellets looked like goose droppings, although more brown than greenish.

There aren’t all that many geese where I grew up (suburbs of St. Louis) so I could not have made this comparison until after I moved here.   If I hadn’t come to Minnesota, I probably wouldn’t know be a single parent.  I don’t know if I would have finished my college degree.  And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t know what hot dish is.

Imagine you are still living in the city of your birth.  Tell me how your life would be different.

 

Unplugging! / Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Photo credit: Crissy Jarvis

I had already begun a tech-related post about social media, (see below) and then found on my Firefox start-up page a notice about National Day of Unplugging

beginning this Friday at sundown. This, then, is the Public Service Announcement segment of the post.

According to one study:

75% of Americans spend 3 or more hours per day on their devices (smart phones, tablets, computers);

48% use the devices 5 or more hours; and

32% check in before getting out of bed in the morning.

I know myself well enough that I will probably not wean myself from my computer for an entire 24 hours, but will try to cut down during that period. (I don’t have a smart phone, and rarely use our tablet.)

Meanwhile, here’s the post I’d already started:  Should I stay or should I go?

A California friend recently posted one last item on her Facebook timeline, saying: “I’m going inactive on FB. A book can change me and THIS ONE DID… Picture the same posts: me baking, fostering senior dogs, meeting up with friends and reading, and watching Netflix, and volunteering, and going to Church. Contact me via email for a while.”

The book in question is Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts RIGHT NOW, by Jaron Lanier, a virtual reality pioneer. From the book’s dust cover:  “Lanier’s… reasons include its tendency to bring out the worst in us, to make politics terrifying, to trick us with illusions of popularity and success, to twist our relationship with the truth, to disconnect us from other people even as we are more ‘connected’ than ever, and to rob us of our free will with relentless targeted ads.” It’s not a huge book, just 144 smallish pages, and he skims over a lot of detail (and gives numbered references to innumerable online articles). I understood maybe 1/3 of what I was reading.

But he’s right about the Big Brother aspect to our current online society. I hate it when I go to, say, a Perkins restaurant (and pay by credit card), and see online the next day (for the first time) ads for Perkins’ Signature Burgers. It’s creepy – I feel like I’ve been spied upon. I’m sure you can all relate similar happenings.

Oxford’s definition of social media reads:  “Social media is computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities. … Users engage with social media via computer, tablet or smartphone via web-based software or web application, often utilizing it for messaging.”

I got on Facebook years ago so I could see photos of far flung relatives, especially the little kids who are growing up so fast. Lately I find myself getting on sporadically, but once I’m on I seem to be addicted for days. I have also been addicted at times to msn.com’s news feed (which is full of junk), and of course I find myself checking emails – and this blog – multiple times on days when I’m home. And I’m starting to play Spider Solitaire more often… Who knows what I’d do if I had a smart phone!

Are you comfortable with your level of involvement on social media?

If not, what would you like to change?

Best Laid Plans

Over the weekend I made thank you cards for the good Samaritans that pulled me out of the snow last week, baked two loaves of zucchini bread, wrapped them and tied them with ribbon. When it was time to go to dog class Monday night, I put everything in a tote bag and took it along.  Neither of my Samaritans was there.  One is on vacation in Mexico, the other under the weather and skipping class.  I left one loaf for the other staff to enjoy and YA has already polished off quite a bit of the second loaf!

When have you had best laid plans go awry?

Mentor

I was so hopeful. For 15 years I have been the only therapist at my agency, indeed the only therapist working west of the Missouri  River (100 miles to the  east) and south of Williston  (a 2 hour drive north) who does therapy with young children. My colleagues all seemed to profess a profound fear of the under-5 crowd and would not treat them, referring them all to me. I plan to retire in about 18 months. I worry about my region’ s littles, and who will see them when I am gone.

Last spring we hired an older,  master’s level social worker who was excited to learn play therapy and who was excited to read all the materials and books I gave her. I supervised her with her cases and she really got it. Now, due to personal issues with her significant other, she is moving to Colorado.  Sigh! It is back to the drawing board and profound hope that someone will show up who I can mentor and support to treat children.

Who have you mentored? How did it work?

Chinese New Year

Happy Year of the Rat!

When I adopted YA from China, there was an enormous amount of support for the new family I was creating. There were adoption magazines, online forums and a very active local chapter of Families with Children from China.  You know me, I dived right in, learning about traditional holidays in China as well as taking part in gatherings with other adoptive families and even subscribing to two adoptive magazines.  We even traveled to Illinois once to go to an adoptive family conference when YA was 3.

I dropped the magazines early on; they were really depressing, overwhelmingly focused on all the negative aspects of adoption and very few of the joys. Then when YA was about five and I was signing us up for another “culture camp” (these were annual weekends), she said “Do we have to go?  They’re boring.”  So that was the end of culture camps and big FCC gatherings.

When she was in middle school I was informed that the Chinese delicacies that I had taught myself to cook for CNY weren’t that great. Could we just have take-out instead?  Okey dokey.

Then when she was in high school and I was in a whirlwind of cleaning before Chinese New Year (it’s traditional to really clean the house before CNY so the kitchen god and goddess give a good report on your household to the emperor of heaven), she said “You know, I don’t really care about this, so if you’re doing it for me, you don’t have to.”

So here I am, several years later, still caring about this holiday that I embraced when she was a child. I still have little figurines of the kitchen god and goddess; I still try to get the house spiffed up before the new year and I still have a my best friend and her hubby over for a nice take out dinner to celebrate the new year.  I don’t put out a lot of decorations, although there are a few things I’ll put out.  I had a toilet tank topper made from some fun Asian-designed fabric last year, so that’s a must and a great dragon flag for the front of the house.  I do make a few CNY cards.   YA just rolls her eyes.

What will you be up to while I’m celebrating the Year of the Rat?