Monday, October 23, 2017

Sunday, Funday, But Now It's Monday, And I Fixed My Fence

The vast part of my Sunday morning was spent in preparation of an online seminar I'm giving through Read. Write. Act out of the University of North Carolina (more on that as the date gets near). When I finished working on that, I decided to head to Home Depot to check out potential gates, as a Tru- Green agent accidentally broke mine when he was aerating and putting seed down for the winter (he left a note that said, "sorry," and the management told me they would replace the gate). Rather than stress out by hiring someone, I decided I would simply go to the store and do it myself.

I've been watching videos for a few weeks now.

No project is ever as easy as you think it is going to be, but I managed to finished in three hours. I was rather impressed with myself, too, using my circle saw, drills, and all the parts. I now have a gate that springs back into place and stands sturdier than it previously had. And I did the project for a reasonable amount (wondering how much someone would have charged to do it for me).

I don't know why I wanted to save TruGreen money, but I thought it would be a good exchange. It was an accident and I couldn't fault the guy. These things happen. I was just glad to read a note where he fessed up a "whoops."

Then, finishing the project, I returned to finish my project for this Friday's presentation, frustrated by technology, but excited by its potential.

My house has been neglected, as has my cooking. Glamis was fed, however (I got her food and even a Bull stick to chew on).

I was thinking, though, how much I love doing manual labor and I wish I had more opportunity to learn more about the ins and outs of getting things done. I now want to build a house, so I can be part of the construction from beginning to end. I want to learn.

But it's Monday. Ain't nobody got time for that. Rather, here's the workweek. We are back at it, indeed.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

My First Ever Co-Ed Baby Shower...No One Does It Better Than the Diva!

I had the honor and pleasure of attending Attallah and Shawn's baby shower for Zoriah Aliyanna Stone and, knowing the poetics we share between us, I had fun creating an original piece to take in the baby's room: We Are Blessed. Family.

For Zoriah

Z oo joke. What’s a Llama’s favorite drink?
o h, don’t know? Llama-nade (formation).
r eady for a giggle? What do you call an elephant
i n need of a bath? A Smelly-phant (the frog has
a nother). Where do rabbits buy clothes? At the
h opping mall!

A ll of us, Zoriah, so enormous, so small, should
l earn all that we can, Langston’s renaissance call:
i asked you, baby, if you understood.
y ou told me that you didn’t, but thought you would, &
a ngelou, too, who heard the caged bird’s song,
n arrowing poetic text against all that is wrong. When
n ubian Queens unite, they show they are strong. They
a im for togetherness, Ubuntu, to belong (shepparding a

S ympony of faith that the dark past has
t aught us, singing a chorus full
o f hope that the present has brought us). The universe
n eeds your laughter, your love, your serenity & bliss…
e verything, Great Whatever, delivered in a family’s kiss.

The festivities were wonderful, and it was great to see everyone - the whole Shep-crew from New London, Connecticut. Of course, Attallah and Shawn looked great (and I apologize for causing a bit of emotion for my favorite muse). I'm wishing them the best as they begin to nest in their New Haven space. The magic of another generation is upon us.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

I Get To Spend This Morning Being Poetic, But First There Was Yesterday

Nope. It wasn't graduation, but in was precursor of sorts, welcoming the new president of Fairfield University. I marshaled undergraduates and was fortunate to participate in the pomp and circumstance. It was remarkable to see representation from so many Universities worldwide, coming to our campus on a stunning day to tell Dr. Nemec, "Welcome to your new role at Fairfield University."

We also sat in the sun, and I thought to myself, "It's October. It could have snowed."

But it was beautiful, just like the National Day on Writing that was hosted by the University's Writing Center in collaboration with K-16 teachers worldwide. Between my Twitter account, Facebook account, campus participation, and daylong celebration, I came home, walked the dog, and totally collapsed.

I was spent...not an ounce of energy left.

That is why I'm looking forward to attending a co-ed baby shower this afternoon, and finishing a project I've been working on for a few weeks. I think, however, I'm ready for a couple days away from the campus to work on other items needing attention.

Happy Saturday, world. Enjoy this great weather.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Paging Mr. Kelly! Mr. Kelly. Paging Mr. Kelly! And The Milford Beach Winner Is...

Running from campus to gym and with a list of errands to accomplish before I went to bed, I stopped by Walnut Beach in Milford to root on my favorite Pit Bull/American Bull Dog mix in his first ever Halloween contest parade. Last year, some time near Thanksgiving, I found a dog costume for $2 and picked it up for Jake. I dressed him one night when his canine wife wasn't looking and had him run down the stairs to surprise her. It was hilarious. 

Pam said, "I'm going to have him lead many parades," and last night he did - the one at the Walnut Beach dog costume contest. I'm proud to say that he got first place, although he was ridiculously vocal while the contest was going on doing his best impersonations of a maimed Chewbacca. The sounds that dog can made are haunting, and I thought for a second he was calling whales and mermaids trapped in the Long Island Sound. He looked good, though, and won a skeleton dog toy of which he destroyed in 10 minutes. 
Other dogs were dressed as butterflies, prompted queens, devils, cowboys and cow girls. Jake, however, made a phenomenal drum major or bell boy (depends on the perspective you take. 

I made it in time to Big Lots and Michaels for the other projects I had lined up for the evening, but when I returned home, I realized the pizza slices I thought were in the fridge were actually given to my own dog, so it was an evening of roasted peanuts and Triscuits for me (in front of the television for Scandal while preparing a presentation to be uploaded tomorrow for a conference next Friday.

Ah, but this was a special treat to see Jake-a-boo win a special prize for looking so dapper. As I texted Pam and Kaitlin, it was the best $2 I ever spent. I will always be a fan of Clearance racks and humor. In this case, I won!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Yesterday, A Sunrise (and Then a Sunset) with Colleagues - That Means a Lot.

My morning yesterday began with writing, but was quickly followed by a Poetry For Peace meeting with the co-directors, Dr. Elizabeth Boquet and poet Carol Ann Davis. For the last few years, they have built, stabilized and maximized an incredible Fairfield University tradition. 10 a.m. and I was convinced that a double espresso cappuccino would be good for me.

Okay, so I left buildings with a cape around my neck and only realized I was far from invincible when I crashed last night.

Seriously, these two are incredible and I realize how unusual college teaching is in comparison to K-12 teaching. On our campus, those who are like minded find one another and aren't necessarily united by curriculum and shared responsibilities. Instead, the roads cross where interests lie.

Then, in the afternoon, I met again with Dr. Beth Boquet to share her expertise with a teacher from Joel Barlow and another from Central. It is just awesome to see the vision she has, and how so much of her wisdom can be shared with K-12 schools. I was definitely sandwiched in excellence and I am happy for that.

The rest of my day was spent in a faculty meeting and doing a 1.5 hour workshop with undergraduates in a Philosophy of Education course (which was a lot of fun, because I practiced some of what I want to deliver at NCTE next month).

And that brings me to this morning. One meeting at noon, and the rest of the day I am prepping for the craziness of all to come. In the meantime,  smile. That's what I got yesterday morning at the coffee shot.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ending a Fourteen Hour Day With a Classic Perspectives Essay & Starting the Day Anew

Since 1999 (yes, I was partying like it was that year), I've been doing the same perspective activity with students and teachers, which involves smashing an egg and writing from the perspective of a character (a mother hen, a chef, a journalist, a politician, a brother, a 3rd world child, etc.) on what was seen in the genre I give (e.g., letter, memoir, op-ed, journal entry, email). One of the characters I give is musician who turns life's event into music. I offer this activity to teach literary analysis, but also perspective.

Peter, a 1st year graduate student studying to be an English teacher, picked the musician's perspective and in ten minutes tapped his love for Tom Petty and parodies his "Free Falling" song.
She's a bad egg, filled with life's yolk/ could have been made into breakfast for two/ She's a bad egg/ now a pile of shells/ Yellow yolk drips, when dried like its glue.
It's a long fall, dropping from Bryan/ There was no chance / it was going to stay whole / And it's a bad egg, cause I think I can smell it/ It's a bad egg for exploding on the floor.
The egg's free / free falling/ Yeah it's free/ free falling. 
I'm trying something new this semester, too, bringing high school students into my graduate courses so they, too, can participate in literacy events and bring youth viewpoints to the instruction that works and doesn't work. Why this hasn't occurred to be before is absurd? Those of us who teach in graduate programs in education should always have youth in our room to remind us what it's all about (and to raise the bar of what they are able to do intellectually.

The graduate students and I read two short stories, too, and I know that our perspectives were made richer because I included young people from Haiti, Bangladesh, Guatamala, and Tanzania. The American youth population is a pastiche of cultural voices that transcend the Western European our traditional classrooms tend to serve. The subject and content is made robust because of the diverse perspectives of these youth - especially in relation to 21st century realities.

Take any event in history: elections, murders, kneeling, banned books, or tv programs, and explode it for the multiple viewpoints the world might have on it and you have diversity of thought. That's what I'm after, and I am made a better thinker because of it.

And I'm free / free falling. RIP Tom Petty.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Look Mom! Cheaters! And Those are the Soles of My Running Shoes, Glamis! Argh!

 I spent yesterday in my office preparing 4.5 hours of instruction because I will be spending the day in 4 hours of a minors/majors fair, followed by meeting a candidate for a position at Fairfield University, followed by meetings, and followed by guilt before I actually teach.

In preparation, literary analysis. Texts inform, even fiction, and that is the intent of one of my courses tonight, knowing that I have traditionalists who love the classics, but I want to point out how Young Adult literature can foster deep, intellectual thought. I had several copies of Angus Bethune by Chris Crutcher on my shelves from a summer workshop, and decided to put them to work (hmmm. someone put the short story online). It's a coming of age story, late 20th century style, and I want to do a comparison of the text with one that is more traditional - a piece from an Irish Literature anthology that also questions 'parenting' in the role of what it means to be successful in school.

And look at those glasses. That's how I'm reading these days, because it's totally a blur otherwise.  It's all good. At least I'm still reading.

When I got home, however, I saw the bits and pieces all over the house. I knew what it was...the sole of my New Balance sneakers. They came out when I got home from gym last night. I thought, "Either Glamis will grab this (or the mice)."

Glamis got to them. She did it to spite me because I was gone a long time yesterday (and it will be much, much worse today). I realize she didn't go full-throttle beast, however, but just enough to let me know that I'm a schmuck. She wasn't happy that I was gone all day and now I need to get inserts because running without them makes for discomfort.

Okay, Crandall. You got this day. Hold your breath and you'll be home by 10 p.m. before you know it. (For all concerned readers, I have made arrangements for Glamis so she isn't neglected the entire day.