Wednesday, August 29, 2007

deja vu....all over again

I'm two days into the new school kids yet just professional days, mostly meetings and preparations for classes. Here's a little anecdote that fairly well illustrates what for me are some of the most obvious differences between teaching in the US and in France.
I'm sitting in a cafeteria eating breakfast along with a hundred and fifty other people, mostly teachers from all the k-12 schools in our district. We are here to kick off the school year by catching up with friends and colleagues over a muffin, some eggs and sausage, and a cup of coffee. We will be hearing remarks from the district superintendent, the school board chairman, and all the building principals who will introduce new staff members.
I wander in, get some food and find a table with a retired teacher (now a school member), acouple of high school colleagues, a biology teacher and a social studies teacher. We chi t chat about sports mostly and then another teacher comes up to speak with me. It turns out that he has a son who will be in one of my classes.
Great, I say.
I just want you to know that he has a soccor match next Tuesday, the first day of school.
Don't tell me what I think you're going to tell me," I say.
"We're just wondering, you know, if it's a problem or anything?"

I am doing a much better job of digesting the dry muffin than I am digesting this message. I can scarcely believe what I'm hearing, and when I'm hearing it. I'm less than a half hour into the welcome breakfast and already I have kids excused(by the school no less) from their very first class of the year?
The opening day pre-test I had rather ambitiously planned on giving my students is but a glimmer in my imagination, but now some of the luster has been taken off by the fact that whatever I do, it'll be missed by whoever is playing soccer and football that day...probably a significant number of kids. So much for assuming that anything that I do in the classroom is anywhere close to being as sacred as a soccer match or a football game. So much for hitting the ground running. Guess I'll just stumble out of the gate and try to
I look across the table at the biology teacher who happens also to be the soccer coach. He is clearly embarrassed by the conversation. He shrugs helplessly and says, "I didn't schedule it. The athletic director did."
I tell myself, eat your breakfast, just eat your breakfast.
It's way too early in the year for a rant....instead, I just say to my colleagues, "I'm not in France anymore."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Northeast Oregon... Cricket Flats

Here's a place we love to get away to every so often...on Cricket Flats

It's just a few miles from Elgin. The moon is waxing, almost full. The light at sunset is something to see.

The remnants of an apple orchard, an old barn, the grass,

the ponderosa pines, and the blue moutains in the distance.

The next morning reveals deer behind the curtained windows,

and midday day brings a breeze strong enough

to fly a kite and fire a child's imagination.


Friday, August 17, 2007


It was midnight four days ago when I almost stepped on him on the steps leading up to the deck. Had he not been so ghostly white I very well might have. The next morning he was still there waiting to be let in. We let him in.

He hasn't been out of the house since, except for one tour around the block in a cardboard box mounted on the red wagon. We learned that nobody in the neighborhood owns him though lots of people seem to recognize him.

With four kids chasing him around for a couple of days, fighting over turns at loving him, he's had ample opporutnity to reconsider his situation and escape to more peaceful surroundings, but no dice.

He lives here now. Say hello to Sugar.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fun brewing at Wallowa Lake

Shari, Emily, Georgia, and Doug are visiting us from New York.

We all went to Wallowa Lake for an outing today...Doug took Emily for a trailride in the mountains, while the rest of us hunted minnows in the lake.

Colm and Georgia made contact with one of the local deer. Later on we stopped at the excellent brewery, Terminal Gravity, in Enterprise, Oregon where we had dinner and beer....very good beer.

Bordeaux has wine, we have beer.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Happy Birthday Erin!

To my eldest child who was born under a wandering star and who's own travelogue would be well worth reading some day should she ever sit still long enough to write it down....Happy Birthday. Your gift is pictured below.
I'll send them to you as soon as I have a reliable mailing address...don't delay, these fabulous shirts are yours!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Going to Grandma and Grandad's

This morning we were getting ready to drive to my parents' house for a family get together. Tess disappeared downstairs in the basement and when she came back up she was dressed like this. We 're still way behind the curve in unpacking the boxes downstairs but it isn't because Tess hasn't been trying. Everyday is like Christmas down there. Never mind the fact that it was going to be 95 degrees, she was very happy with her outfit.

At Grandma and Grandad's place we ate burgers and dogs and I showed a few photos of France.

Afterwards dad and my brother led the Tess and Colm and their cousins around the field on Jake. The other two horses followed as did all the dogs.