June 30, 2008

Studentisms 2.0

School's finally out, and I already have our principal emailing me about behavior plans and what-not for next year. Blah. Leave me alone for one second!! In any case, since I don't have students for another two months, I thought I'd send out another installment of funny things those wacky kids say!

I was teaching about the Solar System one day. I was interrupted mid-sentence with:

Ellis: Who named these planets?
me: Humans.
Ellis: The names are stupid. I'd name them differently if I was in charge.
me: What would you name them?
Ellis: I'd name Earth "Aqua". And Jupiter would be "The Big Planet". And Uranus would just be "Butt".

During the explanation of the "Egg Drop Project", where students try to increase shock apsorption in a container to prevent a fresh egg inside it from breaking:

Danny: Are there prizes for unbroken eggs?
Ayush: (sarcastically) Yes. It's sponsored by Honda.

Close to the end of the school year, the 8th grade teachers need to help the students know what they need to know and do before graduation. One teacher in particular has discussed it ad nauseam:

Carlos: Hi Allison.

me: Hey Carlos - what's up?

Carlos: What present do you want for us graduating? I'm getting Jean a muzzle.

My 8th graders "graduated" last Thursday and I didn't shed a tear. They did, however, vote for me to speak at their ceremony, so I went against graduation ceremony speech conventions (I know, surprise surprise) and read a children's book from the podium: Max Lucado's You Are Special. I'm such a dork - I did all the voices and everything, but the kids seemed to like it. I've been telling them all year whenever they roll their eyes at me that every good teacher has a little bit of dork in them.

June 18, 2008

Jardines of Rest

My parents came into town a couple weeks ago, and being the horticultural buffs they are Allison and I took them to lovely Descanso Gardens in beautiful La Canada.  They've been to San Marino's Huntington Library and Gardens a couple times so I felt they were due for a change.  Even though I've lived in California for almost six years now, my Spanish is still a little rusty, apparently Descanso Gardens means gardens of rest, and I must say, they do make for a nice place to kick back and do a little resting.  The day we went though--not so restful.  The Southland was experiencing a little unseasonable warmness at the time and the mercury was pushing 102.

One of the first things Allison taught me when we were dating is the joy of the foliage shot.  For example, one of us will climb in amongst a shrub or a tree and pretend like we're exploring the jungles of Brazil while the other snaps a picture--when in actuality we're next to some planter at Union Station.  Allison may be swearing off foliage shots for awhile though after this one, so nicely captured below (or at least she'll hold off on cacti shots).  The shriek and gaping mouth are just a setup, but the rest of the day was spent pulling needles out of Allison's rump, including a couple we excised the next day.  

Now here's a fun native plant.  Apparently they grow like weeds, and I guess in actuality they are weeds.  I wish one of us was standing next to them for perspective, but suffice it to say the word tall comes to mind.  The Descanso Garden caretakers cut them to the ground each year, and by August they're 8 feet tall!

The foliage had it out for us that day.  Look at me here being attacked by a manzanita tree, and I in no way provoked it.  For the record Allison was definitely taunting that prickly pear.

Now you're probably wondering why I included a picture of some pavement.  If you'll notice though, it's the most ingeniously camoflauged lizard I think I've ever seen.  By some fabulous turn of evolution it just happened to be prepared for a life on Earth's millions of miles of asphalt roadways.  That red tailed hawk soaring above will never spot this tasty little morsel, oooh but neither will that SUV.  Ouch, that probably hurt.

Here they are.  Mom and dad.  Surrounded by roses upon roses in Descanso's International Rosarium.
I mentioned it was 102 degrees that day, right?  Splashing water like this was a welcome site.  We came this close (fingers 2 mm apart) to jumping in.

June 17, 2008

Continuing on the Purple Theme..

My mom's favorite color is purple, and has been for as long as I can remember. I, on the other hand, have gone through myriad "favorite color" changes (currently, it's deoxygenated blood red), but I've always admired my mom for sticking to her guns.

She had a best friend, Cris, who died from breast cancer long ago and whose favorite color was also purple. That was only one point on which they bonded, though. They turned into giggling girls whenever they were together, and they traded off having children: Cris had one, then my mom, then Cris, then my mom, until they were both toting along 10 children. They were bosom buddies, and became very familiar with a certain poem revolving around their purple proclivities. It's quite amusing, so I thought it would be fun to post it here:

When I Am an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple
by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired
and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
and run my stick along the public railings
and make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
and pick the flowers in other people's gardens
and learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
and eat three pounds of sausages at a go
or only bread and pickles for a week
and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
and pay our rent and not swear in the street
and set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

I figure, why wait until you're old?? I don't necessarily have to wear purple, but I can certainly consider singing in the rain in my slippers and laughing with friends at dinner! I might also consider swearing in the street and spending rent on brandy, but then I might have to spend a little time talking with the bishop. I probably wouldn't wear a red hat, either. I don't necessarily need to wear a hat to feel like I'm having the time of my life, but they can certainly be fun. It was apparently a lot of fun for these women:

We went to the Getty Villa in Malibu last Saturday and found these "Red Hat" women swarming the place. My friend Max approached these three and asked them questions about this little society they belong to. Apparently, ALL women belong to the Red Hats whether you know it or not, because, and I quote, "women already have all the power. Now we just have a uniform!" If you are under 50, however, you should be wearing lavendar clothes and a pink hat. Also, when it's your birthday month, you get to reverse it and wear red with a purple hat - hence the woman on the right. She didn't want her friends telling us this, but she doesn't have anything red to wear, so she had to do purple with purple. We LOVED her bag, however - red fuzzy fur atop a dark purple bag. Giggles abounded.

Those of you who know my mom, could you imagine her becoming part of this society? She certainly shows a carefree attitude from time to time, but my mother has never been what you might call "flamboyant". She saved it all up and passed it on when she had me.

June 16, 2008

A Celebration in Lavendar

I thought it fitting to do a tribute to the reason for mid-May to early June in Southern California. There are these incredible trees called Jacarandas planted everywhere, and they're pretty nondescript until May rolls around. And while many trees have flowering blooms popping from their branches, a Jacaranda will lose almost all its green leaves to make room for the purple magnificence that abounds.
I used to live in very cool apartment on El Molino (translation: The Molino) which is very near another street (Del Mar) that has these Jacarandas planted ALL along it on both sides. I loved driving to and from work every day, watching the green slowly disappear as the lavendar-colored blooms made themselves known with much pomp and circumstance.
And speaking of graduation songs, a little research taught me that these fabby purps thrive in sub-tropical climates, so they're hugely popular in India, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and some parts of Australia along with southern North America, Central America, and South America. In fact, there are so many blooming in Pretoria, South Africa, that its nickname is "The Purple City" because it appears blue or purple when standing on the neighboring hills. At the University of Pretoria, the tree itself is given the nickname "the exam tree" because they bloom right around the time of finals. If a bloom drops on your head while you're walking to take a final, BAM! you'll pass them all. Which means I'd much rather be walking outside on campus there than at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. If a jacaranda flower drops on your head there, sorry, you fail. (This superstition can be reversed if you catch another blossom before it hits the ground.)
Brisbane really upped its population of these trees during the '30s and '40s when new mothers, leaving the maternity ward after squeezing a watermelon out of their cherry, were given a jacaranda sapling to plant. Small compensation, folks. The mother was either dead or blind by the time the tree was big enough to merit any oohs and aahs, but I guess it's the thought that counts.
While I lived in that apartment on El Molino, I found out that the Daines only lived a block away. We had grand plans of making midnight runs to Famima for Cokes and Reese's and taking walks over to Del Mar to see all the jacarandas, but then Ted and I moved too soon. So when his parents were in town, I demanded Ted take the Del Mar route so they could see all the plumage. Here are the pictures I took whilst speeding along at the breakneck speed of 19 mph.

Here's one I took in L.A., on my way to work one morning (I had to put my mascara down to get my camera out).

I have another little story to tell, and I hope my friend Jana doesn't mind me using her name. When I was preparing the talk I gave on Mother's Day, I asked her for any ideas because she is artistic, well-read, insightful, in tune, incredible, and many other words that begin with "in-" (not including "inept"). While I didn't use anything she sent me for the actual talk (sorry!) she told me of a poem she wrote some years ago about her children growing up with the children of one of her best friends, Jeanne. In this poem, Jeanne's Garden, she likened all the children to different trees except for her daughter and the only daughter of Jeanne's. They were both Jacarandas - so fitting! Here's an excerpt:

Then smiling, together
Jeanne and I
Each planted Jacarandas.
Lovely flowering trees.

They like to dress in purple
And gracefully toss their blossoms
Throughout both our gardens.
So much in common,
Growing up so close.
They are almost identical, even to me.
Dancing, laughing
Sharing, teasing
Filtering light.
And they are natural nurturers.

I smiled when I read that because if there's anything that describes those two girls, it's a gaggle of giggles. Now I think of them every time I see one of those trees. I wonder what kind of tree I'd be. Jana? Any ideas? Something with a fat trunk and large...fruits?

So, Happy May and June! Enjoy the purple while you can, because soon it will look like this:

And who wants to clean up all that crap?

June 12, 2008

More exciting than being DONE!

I just checked my grades. Here's a snippet from my transcript:

Spring Quarter 2008

TERM GPA : 4.000

June 10, 2008


Praise to the Lord God Almighty!! I am FINISHED with this Spring Quarter!

I took my final final yesterday, felt pretty good about it, and celebrated by eating a cheap cheeseburger with fries and singing a ditty on the karaoke stage.

A lot of you already know, but I have been Stressed with a capital S for the past couple of months. Well, really, since September. I've been teaching full time and racing over to CalStateLA for my education classes (snore), and up to this last quarter it's been reasonably manageable, but this time around I decided to take 4 classes instead of 3, and two of those were toward a Master's degree. I've been reading multiple texts, writing papers and researching like a maniac, all while doing lesson plans for work and trying to stay ahead of my grading.

Thank you thank you to those who always cheered me up, thank you to Ted who made me dinner quite often (and always with such nice presentation!) and thanks to my students who really tried to not drive me TOO crazy.

It's a great feeling!

June 5, 2008

Fond Childhood Memories

I realize this might be a "generational" post, but it would be fun to get your participation.

I grew up with five older brothers, and money was tight, so my "new" outfits usually came from their laundry baskets. Even some dresses were hand-me-downs, courtesy of Laura D's family (and thanks to Diana, too!). Happy was the day when I got something new! I recall wearing a certain pair of new white patent leather Easter shoes for three days straight (I even slept in them) because I was so excited. I hated getting those scuffs on them, though.

So imagine my excitement when I got my brand new pair of Wonder Woman Underoos. I wore those things ALL the time, and I know many of you (Valerie) know what I'm talking about. Unfortunately, we don't have a picture of me in them (hey, I'm a modest girl!), but I know I looked just like this (on the right), but with brown hair - tan and all.

I'll have to check with my sister to see if she got Spiderman ones. In the meantime, what's one of your favorite childhood memories?

Yum Day 2

It's time for another installment of Yum Day!

This entry comes to us from our friend Lilian. She made up an incredible salad recipe that I fawned over (combination of being really tasty and me being really hungry). It's pretty, it makes for a great summery lunch or a tasty side dish, and it's especially great because you really just "throw it together". No cooking something extra on the side, no chopping, nothin'. I made it for Mother's Day along with Feta Chicken and Roasted Vegetables (mmmm) and on another night I paired it with a Chicken Caesar Pizza - totally delish. I was such a fan that for a friend's birthday, I copied the recipe with a fancy pen and sent it to her along with most of the ingredients. I couldn't send the dressing because it's one of those refrigerated ones, so I sent her the ingredient list from the bottle and she made up her own! I totally knew she would. Go Jana! Without further ado, here is....

Lilian's Yum Salad

1 bag baby spinach (I've used chopped romaine, too)
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 can sweet yellow corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup pepita/almond mix from Trader Joe's (I've also just used almonds)
Trader Joe's Cilantro Dressing

Throw in the spinach, pull apart (or chop, if desired) cilantro and add it in. Dress the greens and arrange the rest of the ingredients on top for presentation before tossing. SO good. Here's a picture:

I just thought of this... Bacon....

June 2, 2008

Ahh..foreign accents

I have a student whose first language is Russian. When she speaks English, she has the gutteral "h" and everything (which always gives me a giggle whenever she says the word "homework") and substitutes her "w" with a "v". She speaks fluent English which she claims she learned from cartoons, and she has a very curious and amusing personality while also being extremely vain. I completely adore her.

Today I was allowing them to watch a movie, so as I was getting it ready I heard some whispering and snickering behind me. It doesn't bother me when my students talk if I'm just getting ready for the next activity, unless they completely get out of hand. So I didn't think anything of it. Then my little Russian friend (Aziza) tells me to turn around and I see this lying on the floor in front of me:

It looked like a big fuzzy rat. I made an "ugh!" sound which of course made the class laugh, and then they asked Aziza why she has it. This is a phonic transcription:

"Ven I vas talkink vith my grrrendmahther she esk me vhat I vant for my berrrthday and I telled hkher I vant the hkhair clip but she thinked I said HKHAIRY clip."

I was dying.

The Cooling Rack

Baked goods are only half the story...