Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Welding, gardening, job update, and a list of things I'd like to do

Today is a big day for Son #3 (aka the little boy aka Anselm).  He takes his welder certification test.  He has many hours of practice behind him and his instructor says he's ready.  So, hopefully, tonight he will be an AWS certified welder.

The garden is doing okay.  Lots of squash, cucumber, and tomatoes are growing but everything seems kind of slow this year.  Too many cloudy days.  I have learned the big advantage of raised planter boxes:  No snails.  We have no snails in the boxes but the one plot of dirt that we broke up for the garden - well, it is a constant battle against snails.  Before I figured out where they were hiding (in the leaf litter) they did a lot of damage.  Now I go out every morning before work and kill them.  The population is much reduced and the plants are doing well.  The grapevines are just crazy huge.  There have been some big black bumblebees in the garden.  They make me happy.

I have an interview for a job in the city traffic department next week.  I'm pretty excited about it.  It isn't a lot of money but it is enough money.  Also, it is low stress.   Really, enough money and low stress sounds pretty good to me. 

I don't know if it's just me, or if everyone is like this.  I seem to need to be working toward something big or else I feel discontent.  Ever since I decided to not be a teacher and give up on the the teaching credential and the M.Ed. degree I have felt kind of rudderless.  I've spent more of my adult years in school than out of school so I've been feeling like I don't have a purpose.  That's an exaggeration, I mean I know "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever" so I'm not talking about any thing that big, more like "what am I going to do right now".

So, I'm making a list.

1. Help my son get a fictitious business name, insurance, and a business license.
2. Help Kathleen roll over her 403(b) into self-directed IRA.
3. Finally use my veterans benefits to buy a 4-plex in Sacramento, Fresno, Sonora, or Modesto. (A few years ago I got approved for a 6 unit building but my wife at the time kind of freaked out over it so we didn't buy it.)
4. Take the motorcycle licensing safety class.
5. Build a raised bed in a partly-shady area of the garden for blackberries.

That's probably enough.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Resignation and Paskha

I resigned from my job today.  I am not cut out for either middle school or science.  I'll stay there till the end of the school year but next year, I hope, I'll be teaching history in a high school.  I've had to work late every night this week preparing lab activities for the next day. (You have no idea how much prep work goes in to teaching 150 middle school students how to potassium hydroxide from charcoal then test its pH.)  I've missed all the Holy Week services.  All of them.  Well, its 10:30 at night.  I got the paskha cheese in the flower pot and the pot in the fridge.  Good night.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Spring Break

The week that is just now ending is my school district's spring break.  So, I took the boys, Anselm and Basil on a road trip to the Grand Canyon.  At 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday we left San Jose, heading south on U.S. Highway 101.  Our first destination was the cemetery in Paso Robles where their oldest brother is buried.  Every time I go to his grave I find flowers, or beer, or a flag someone has left there.  This time was no exception.  There was a flag left by someone.  I don't know who. 

We prayed for Billy and then ate sandwiches I had prepared for the journey. The sandwiches were tri-tip I had grilled with a garlic/salt/black pepper rub on Monday, dijon mustard, blue cheese from Point Reyes, and pickled peppers on an Acme sour baguette.

From Paso Robles we drove east on state road 46.  Its the road James Dean died on. Our destination , on the other side of the San Joaquin Valley, was Bakersfield.

In Bakersfield we stopped at the church my Dad built in 1953.  It was good to tell my boys about their grandfather and show him one of his accomplishments.  I told related to them a sermon I heard him preach in the 1970s in which he told about having a nervous breakdown while pastoring there.  It head to do with a self winding watch.  While he was strapped to the hospital bed he couldn't move and the watch stopped running.  The point he made in the sermon I heard, and what I related to my sons was that the Christian life requires exercise.  If we do not exercise the faith God gives us it won't do what it is supposed to to.

From Bakersfield we drove over Tehachapi Pass  and across the Mojave Desert on 58.  We stopped in Barstow, passed the giant boron mine and 20-Mule Team Road, got stuck in a sand storm and had to pull over at a rest stop, then into Nevada. It was the first time Basil had been out of California.

Just across the state line we took a little detour down a side road, pulled over, took out a rifle, and shot at a red solo cup about 40 yards way.  I  guess we went through about 100 rounds.  It was fun but we had to keep going so we hopped back in the car and headed to Las Vegas.

We checked into our hotel, The Eastside Cannery, dropped of our bags, put the rifle in their safe, then went to the big Bass Pro Shops on Las Vegas Boulevard where we saw a sturgeon leap out of a tank and taxadermied everything, even a giraffe.  We took advantage of the more relaxed legal environment of Nevada and bought a bunch of ammo.  I bought several boxes of buckshot while Anselm bought 1,000 rounds of .22 hollow points.

Then we went to Cracker Barrel for dinner.  I hadn't been to a Cracker Barrel since the mid 1980s.  It was the boy's first time.   Of course, I had chicken livers and I introduced the boys to hashbrown casserole.  I think they fell in love.

The next morning we checked out about 7, went to the Longhorn for a breakfast of pancakes and country fried steak, then on to Hoover Dam.  We wanted to go on the tour but they wouldn't let us park the car because of the rifle in the car. (I called the White house to complain about that.)  So we just went on our way.

In Kingman, Arizona we stopped for a while and went to the Route 66 Museum. (Yes, I know. I've talked about Route 66 before.) and looked at some turquoise jewelry.  I really wanted a Navajo-made bolo tie but I din't want it as much as they wanted to charge for it.

Then we headed to the Grand Canyon.  On the way, as the terrain turned from desert to forest, we hit a hail storm.  The hail was blowing across the highway like snakes. We checked into the Yavapai Lodge, then went a looked at the canyon.  Then it started snowing.  While walking around on the top of the canyon we saw many elk, some were just a few feet away from us, one big cow was close enough to touch, but we were smart enough not to try.  After a looking at the canyon and going to the geological museum we went back to the lodge were we ate elk for supper.  It was good.

The next morning we checked out at 6:30 and began the drive home.  We stopped in Kingman again, but this time to eat breakfast at another Cracker Barrel, where I bought divinity and a pecan log for Kathleen's children.  As we approached the Colorado River we took a little detour up to Golden Shores to buy gasoline before crossing into California and having to pay much higher tax.

One of the fun things about this trip was seeing all the trains.  Some of them had 5 or six engines and a hundred or more cars.  Most of the cars were flatbeds loaded with containers nearing the names of big ship lines such as Cosco and Maersk.  I guess they had been offloaded at the Port of Long Beach or the Port of Los Angeles and were bound for all points east.  I encouraged Basil to think about becoming a locomotive engineer since the best training program for that career is right here in California, and it is a perfect job for people who don't enjoy having to interact with a lot of people.  I hope he gives it serious consideration.

We didn't drive all the way over to Hwy 101 but turned north at Interstate 5 (Lots of new orchards have been planted.!) so the boys could see Harris Ranch (aka Cowschwitz) where their food comes from, and then went over the Diablo Mountains at Pacheco Pass.  It was late so we didn't stop at Casa de Fruta.  We were home before midnight.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Scouting and Gardening

Anselm Samuel (aka the little boy) turned 17 two days ago.  Its hard to believe that that same little boy who used to race snails after the rain now towers over me, is a high school graduate (two years early) works full time,  and goes to college part time, has his drivers license, and is progressing through his welding certificate requirements.

After the divorce he lost interest in scouting for a couple of years. I guess it was hard with me not having a place to live near him.  I don't know.  And when he got back involved he didn't want to do the stuff required for advancement, he just wanted to go to troop meetings and go on all the camping trips.  But last spring her really jumped back into it with both feet.  All last summer he worked as a life guard at Camp Hi-Sierra, became a patrol leader in his troop,  and decided to go for Eagle Scout rank. He was awarded Star Scout rank a couple of days before his birthday and has to advance two more ranks before he turns 18, which is the cut-off age for earning Eagle.  So, he went by the Scout store yesterday and bought all the books, got his Scout Master to sign off on the forms, has contacted the merit badge counselors and has begun work on the remaining merit badges.  Its going to be a lot of work, and he has no time to goof off.  I hope he can do it.

The garden is doing well.  We lost two tomato plants; the Cherokee Purple and a Big Boy.  Kathleen really likes the little yellow tomatoes so I replaced the dead plants with Yellow Pear and Sungold.  Altogether we have 11 tomato plants.  It looks like the summer squash has decided to come up.  4 of the five seeds I planted have sprouted.  None of the sunflowers have come up.  The parsnips, onions, and carrots are doing okay, I guess.  It's hard to tell since they grow underground.   In other news, a red-tailed hawk has begun perching on top of the oak tree behind the garden.  I heard his (her?) cry when I was planting tomatoes.  WOW!  it is loud!  Other than that one cry the only evidence of it's presence is an absence of squirrels and, every few days, a scattering of pigeon feathers in the garden.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Banana Bread

I slept in until 10 o'clock this morning.  When I awoke Kathleen was gone.  So I started in on a couple of baking projects.  The first was a berry pie.  I used strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. And I put a top crust on it.  This bight sound silly, but I think that the crust is the best part of most pies.  When the pie was in the oven I set to work making banana bread.  It was the first time I had made banana bread since I helped my Mother make it when I was just 15 or 16 years old.

My recipe (adapted from someone else's)

2 cups of flour (I could find my measuring cup so I used a pint jar)
1/4 pound butter (softened)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas
2 AA large eggs
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp salt

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 F.   butter a 5" X 9"  baking pan.  Cream the brown sugar and butter together.  Add the eggs and mix them into the butter and brown sugar.  Next stir in the mashed bananas.   in another bowl mix the salt, flour, and baking soda.  Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture.  Stir it thoroughly, until you can not see any white flour.  Pour in the chopped walnuts and stir until evenly distributed.  Pour the batter into the baking pan, put it in the oven for 65 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before slicing it.

Kathleen came home just as I was putting the bread in the oven.  So we had just enough time to run to the nursery.  We bought a bunch of plants.  Tomato varieties include Big Boy, Cherokee Purple, Early Girl, Sungold Cherry, and Husky Cherry Red.  We also got some cucumber and rosemaries.

We got home just as the bread was coming out of the oven.  Kathleen's niece is staying with us right now so she was keeping an eye on it while we were at the nursery.  I turned the banana bread out to cool and then went out to the garden. 

We harvested all the garlic, planted all the tomatoes, cucumbers,
Holding up some garlic
 and rosemaries ( I use a lot of rosemary in the kitchen so we really needed more than the one plant we already had.)  we bought today. Kathleen also transplanted the onions I started indoors a few weeks ago. 

I am a bit worried about the squash seeds I planted in the ground last week.  I don't yet see any sprouts.  I think I might need mix in some better soil and reseed.  The parsnips are looking really good.
Some of the tomato plants
I wasn't feeling well in my stomach so, though I cooked dinner for Kathleen, her niece, and her kids, I didn't eat.  After dinner some neighbor kids came over to play games.  They ate the berry pie.  I had a little slice, too.  It was good.  The banana bread is still resting on the counter top.  Kathleen said something about taking it to her dad's house tomorrow.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

The Redwoods

Today Basil and Kathleen and I drove over the hill to Felton and Henry Cowell State Park. (I have been  there many times with my boys over the years). 

Deer on Meadow Trai

Matt and Basil 
There were lots of deer. I thought we wouldn't see any because Oliver the pit bull was with us but there they were.  Lots and lots of them.  We went on two different trails, we only saw the deer on the Meadow Trail.  The Redwood Grove Trail has too many people and not as much grass.

Kathleen at the Opening
On the Redwood Grove Trail we passed the Fremont Tree.  There is a plaque.  Kathleen crawled inside it, to where he slept. that night. In addition to being a famous California explorer,  John Fremont bears the distinction of being the first U.S. army general to free slaves during the Civil War.

A strange thing we saw on the Redwood Grove Trail is that the park administration changed the bronze labels on the big giant slice of redwood tree at the trailhead.   It has some new labels (the founding of an Aztec city) but is missing a lot of others, such as the tree sprouting during the reign of Emperor Justinian,  which I mentioned seeing in 2008.  It is very strange.

After the two trails we went to our favorite grocery store.  It merged with a larger grocery store chain a few years ago but the owners didn't like the direction of the new larger market.  They were were bringing in a lot more factory made food and losing the connection to local farmers.  So the owners of the original New Leaf Market stores in Felton and Boulder Creek pulled out of the company.  Sadly, they had lost the right to use the name.  Now they are called Wild Roots Market.  It's as good as ever.  I got some fennel, carrots, and cheese to take home and prepare for lunch.

After saying midday prayers, Basil helped me cook lunch.  Then we worked in the garden.  While I turned the compost piles he planted carrot tops in a big wash tub full of soil.  Sadly, the sunflowers I transplanted last week did not survive.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Ski Week

This is Tuesday of what people in this part of California call ski week. All the schools are closed for the week and many people drive up unto the mountains to go skiing.  I am not.  Mosly, I am working around the house.  Yesterday I rehung a door that was falling off its hinges,  Then my boys came over and I made dinner of roast beef threaded with bacon.  I also made bread pudding.  I couldn't eat it but everyone else loved it.  That made me happy.  After dinner we played board games.

Basil spent the night.  We woke up, said morning prayers, then Kathleen made us ommletts for breakfast.  After that we wend to the nursery to see if they had any tomato plants.  They didn't.  So we bought a couple of bags of potting soil and some flower seeds.

When we got home we dug out a new bed for sunflowers and pumpkins.  Its about 4 yards by 3 yards.  We also planted some flowers, and got the three raised beds ready for planting.  There are a couple of cold nights predicted this week but I think it will be safe to put the seedlings (onions, sunflowers, and zinnias) I started 3 weeks ago out in the Earth. 

After we dug the new bed (it was hard work.  Nothing had grown in that soil for 20 years since it was covered in 3 inches of crushed granite.) Basil went somewhere with his mom and I came in to get supper started.  I am baking a meat pie.  It is from last nights left over roast beef and bacon. I added one diced onion, two diced potatoes, 3 cloves minced garlic, allspice, black pepper, salt, shredded cheese, and mushrooms. And it is all in a pastry shell. 

I taught Kathleen's kids how to make ice cream 3 nights ago.  I think I am their favorite person right now.

I have run out of money to pay for National University's tuition.  So, it looks like I am going to be out of their internship program in a couple of weeks.  I don't know if the school district will be able to keep me on as a teacher without me being in an accredited internship program.  Well, I can't make $6,000 appear out of thin air.  I really wish I had never embarked on this road but had remained a substitute teacher.  As it is now, I owe tens of thousands of dollars for a program I will never finish.  Oh well, at least, my debts can't be inherited by my children. In the meantime, I have begun looking for other work. 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Formal Evaluation

This is the first day of my winter break from school.  It is one o'clock in the afternoon and I haven't done anything other than walk the dog. (Have I mentioned that we have a pit bull named Oliver who lives with us now?)   Now I think I'll wrap the last few presents and do some last minute baking for the people in my parish.  I'm taking the boys to confession tonight.  I'm still not able to go.  Its been about three years since I've been able to go to confession or communion.

Oh, I almost forgot.  I had my formal evaluation at work yesterday.  My boss said they love me and not to worry about the person from the district who says i am a lousy teacher.  She said the whole school has been talking about the experiments and demonstrations I've been running in my classes.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Maple Pecan Pie

Well, just one more week to go until the semester is over.  I mean the semester at work, not National University.  I think, that was over a couple of weeks ago.  I just have zero desire to do anything for them anymore.  Kathleen says its just a hoop invented to make it difficult to become a teacher and that I shouldn't make a big deal out of it, but I do.  But work is going well.  The lactic acid and yeast experiments are doing what they are supposed to do,  and next week  I'll do lessons on emulsions and sub-zero water culminating in ice cream.  That ought to be fun.

Today was a very fun day.  I picked Basil, my youngest son up at his mom's house at 9 this morning and, after morning prayers, we cooked all day.  We made 20 pounds of Christmas sausage,  a gallon of beef/pork stock for soups (I freeze it in plastic bags), two green bean and onion pies for Kathleen to take to her sisters Christmas party tonight, a roast beef for Kathleen's kids to make into sandwiches for their lunches at school next week, and a maple pecan pie.  The nice thing about this last pie is that it is like the sausage and beef stock:  It can be frozen for future use.

When I took Basil home a few minutes ago we drove around his neighborhood and looked at Christmas lights on all the houses.

In other news, I am back on the wagon.  I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to stop drinking again but I have. 

Maple Pecan Pie Recipe

9-inch pastry pie crust
3 cups pecan halves
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
3 large eggs. at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup grade-A dark amber maple syrup
1 tsp non-iodized salt

Bake the pie crust at 350F for 15 minutes.  Take it out of the oven and let cool.  You will be tempted to skip this step.  Do not skip this step.  If you do you will be sorry.
Put the pecans in the pie crust and set aside.
Melt the butter but let it cool a little before you do anything with it.
In a small mixing bowel whisk together the brown sugar, salt, flour, vanilla extract, and maple syrup.
Add the melted but somewhat cooled butter to the mixing bowl and whisk it together with the other ingredients.
Add the three eggs to the mixing bowl and whisk them together with the other ingredients.
Pour the contents of the mixing bowl into the pie crust.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes in the lower half of the oven.  When the pie has been in the oven 20 minutes tent it with aluminum foil so it doesn't get too brown on top.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Off the wagon

I went off the wagon today.  Actually, I have a big glass of whisky in hand as I write this.
It was miserable.  I was miserable.
I was told last week by my observer from National University that I am the "worst teacher on the planet".  I was told by my Consulting Teacher from the district that I am a horrible teacher.   (In both cases the main complaint is that I lecture too much, teach above grade level, and don't have my students doing anything.  By "doing" they mean anything other than reading, listening, and answering questions on tests.  They really hate tests.)
All morning and afternoon I was miserable.  I am supposed to write "reflections" on my lesson plans.  (I thought they were really good lessons:  water density experiments, oxidation experiments, bread mold [apparently the district doesn't want students exposed to mold], Linnaean taxonomy, making and exploding gunpowder, cellular respiration [seriously, how are you supposed to teach that without also talking about atomic theory?], etc).  But I did nothing all day today.  Now I am making fruitcakes.  And a bunch of the bourbon whiskey that was supposed to go into the fruitcakes wound up in me and, suddenly, I am happy again.  I had forgotten how good this feels.  Well, I suck.  If I hadn't invested $30,000 in this program at National University I would quit it today.
The only good thing about this day, a Saturday, is that this morning I delivered the Advent calendars to my sons and to Kathleen's kids. And I said morning prayers.  And I like Oliver the dog.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The night before Thanksgiving.

I am baking pies.  The cranberry walnut pies.  I'm also making pecan pies since they are Kathleen's
daughter's favorite.  It makes me happy to make food for people.  Kathleen and her kids are going to Livermore to be with her brother's family tomorrow.  My sons are going to be with me.  Anselm has to work until 5 pm. (He got a job at Starbucks.) so I didn't want to to go to the Cathedral and then to Livermore as we had planned.   I am waiting until Anselm gets off work then having Thanksgiving dinner with my boys.  I'm pretty excited about it. I got a smallish turkey, yams, cranberries, potatoes, and a few other things.  I'm very happy to be making my Mom's cranberry salad.  I don't think I've had it since the Thanksgiving before she died.

In other news, we've had a dog for about two weeks.  It's an old pit bull named Oliver.  Kathleen got him from the dog pound.  He seems to hate everyone but us.  I am surprised by how gentle he is with Kathleen's kids.  They are pretty rough with him but he is very patient. 

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Sausage, a Praying Mantis, and Fruit Cake

This was a very busy day.  At church today I cooked lunch.  Father Basil was gone but there was still a big crowd.  I cooked super hot cajun sausage and cut it up and put toothpicks in it for an appetizer.  Then I had a couple of big trays of bratwurst and polish sausages in sauerkraut, and then a huge platter of Italian sausage in caramelized onions.  Someone else made dessert, and someone else made a salad, and someone else made mashed potatoes.  It was a good meal for the last Sunday before the start of the Nativity fast.

Kathleen is so pretty.  Is it wrong to feel pride when she goes to church with me?  I feel like I got the pretty girl.

After church I dropped Anselm Samuel off at work then picked up Basil at his mother's house (it used to be my house) and we went and worked in the garden.  He pulled out the last of the summer squash vines, cut them up and put them in the compost bin, and helped me plant radishes.  It might be too late in the year to try for radishes.  We'll see how it goes. 

We watched a huger praying mantis hunting.  It spied a flower stalk covered in aphides from about 15 feet away and slowly moved toward it, and up it, and began feasting on the aphids.  It was fun to watch.   I am pretty amazed that it saw the aphids from so far away.

After working in the garden we set to work making fruitcakes.   The first time I made fruit cake was 10 years ago.  It is hard to believe the time goes by so quickly.  I didn't cause any explosions this year but I did burn the hair off the back of my hand when the whiskey in the oven flashed.  Basil and I made 12 fruitcakes.  We'll make more throughout the month and give them away on Christmas.

It has been a long day and I have a hundred fifty kids to teach tomorrow.  Goodnight.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

This and That

This morning I took out the tomato vines.  There were lots of green tomatoes but the days are too short and cool so they weren't getting ripe.  I planted garlic in their place.  Then I emailed an assignment to a professor.  I am taking a break from grad school now until I finish this internship.  Lots of paper I have to write while doing it.  No way to work on a masters degree at the same time.

Last weekend we harvested most of the squash and took those vines out.  Parsnips, carrots, and radishes were planted in their place.  There is still one acorn squash and two spaghetti squash ripening.  Maybe another week before they are ready to pick.

The potatoes were a bust.  After all that care we just got 9 little potatoes.  I think it is because I used store-bough potatoes for seed.  I heard they spray those with a hormone to keep them from reproducing.  In the spring I'll make sure to use seed potatoes from a nursery and not just buy them at the super market.

Basil Wenceslas, Kathleen,  her kids, and I are going to Half Moon Bay today to get pumpkins; we always go here.  Maybe you, dear reader, remember seeing the picture from when my boys were little.  I made a picnic for us.  Sharp white cheddar and romain with homemade curry mayo (cumin, carlic, tumeric) on baguette, braeburn apples, San Pelegrino, potato salad (my sister's recipe.  I'll post it later.), some of the pickles I made back in the summer, and for desert Daelman's caramel bites.

After that we are going to vespers in Felton.  I am so excited about this.  It will be the first time in months and months since my boy has been in church.  I worry and pray so much my lips are wearing out.

Well, it is time to go get in the car and drive over the hill.

Friday, October 05, 2018

A Garden Update

We have taken out the the cucumber vines and most of the tomato vines.  The pumpkins, cantaloupe, and watermelons have all been harvested.  There are still a few tomatoes ripening on a couple of vines.  We have acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash growing.  Actually, the butternut are, probably, ready to pick now.  I know the potatoes are ready.  Tomorrow, when son #4 is here we'll harvest them.  That should be fun.  A few Days ago Basil and I planted a row of cabbage.  Once all the tomatoes are gone we'll plant more.

It seems the prayers and the lithium have been helping Basil.  He is happier and his personality seems to be back to normal, the way he was three years ago.  I still worry and pray.  Last weekend he and I did all night security at the parish festival.  It was good.  We just played games all night.  The best part was vespers.  I think it was the first time since Holy Week he's been to church.

Anselm is working at Starbucks and going to school.  He seems to be doing well.  It is hard to know.  I worry about the friends he is making.  I don't know them but we live in Sodom or Ephesus.  I pray to St. Michael for him constantly.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

A blog for school

One of the classes I am taking at National University has me writing a blog.  If you are interested, you can take a look at it here

Monday, August 20, 2018

Have Internship. Will teach.

Last week I worked three days as a sub at a middle school.  It was a lot of fun.  Not at all like the bad school I subbed in last March.  That was a hideous affair and I wasn't sure I'd ever be a teacher after that month.  I had to file three sexual harassment complaints, a student going through a gang initiation tried to have me fired, one girl put another in the hospital.  It was the worst ever.  I felt like a total failure at the end of that assignment.  But when I walked into work last Wednesday the Principal greeted me and told me she and all the other principals in the district had heard about what a great job I did at that school and that she was amazed I lasted more than two weeks (no teacher had made it even one week in that class) and that she was thrilled to have me at her school.  Then last Friday she offered me a job for the rest of the year.  So, I have an emergency  internship credential (so I won't have to work unpaid for a semester) and meet the requirement for a real teacher credential.  When I told my students today they all clapped and gave me flowers.  It was surprising, to say the least.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Secret Christian Man

I had two conversations in code with students today. 

Incident 1.
Me: "Your name is Lydia. Do you like purple?"
Her: "Yes, how did you know?"
Me:  "I just did."
And three students pulled crosses out of their shirts.

Incident 2.
Him: "I chose the tulip."
Me: "Why did you choose the tulip."
Him: "Because of how it was designed."
Me: "Designed?
Him: "Yes, designed."
We looked at each other silently, just for a heartbeat, and each knew the other knew. He looked relieved.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A High School Graduate

Well, he did it.  It took three months of intense study but Anselm Samuel passed the CHSPE and he is free of high school two years early.  He spent all summer working at Camp Hi-Sierra so he wasn't home when his diploma arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago. 

I had wanted him to start next week at  SVAE to learn to be a welder (it pays about $20 to $30 per hour in California; not bad for a 16 year old.) but the classes conflict with his Boy Scout schedule.  He is on a pretty tight schedule with them to make Eagle Scout rank before he is 18 (He has earned Star Scout rank over the spring and summer.  along the way he also picked up the 1 mile swim patch, the lifeguard patch, the gardening merit badge, and the lifeguard merit badge) so, he has delayed welding at SAE until January, when he will be able to take a 13 week break from the weekly troop meetings and complete the welding program.  So, what is he going to do until January?  Well, today he applied to De Anza College, where both I (liberal arts, 1992) an and my mother (early childhood education,1978) went to school.  He says he wants to study something technical, such as machining or automotive, it depends on what classes have openings.  He has already arranged to try out for the water polo, wrestling, and rifle teams. 

But I am worried.  I am worried because one of my neighbors is a 15 year old girl and she has her sights set on my son.  That wouldn't be a big worry for me if he was already trained and in a career.  But he isn't.  So, I am pushing the welding program in the Spring.  Boys Scouts will work around his schedule in the spring but they can't do it in the fall, and because the welding classes are at night they won't interfere with his day classes at De Anza.  Oh, he looks like a man, he sounds like a man, but he is just 16 and not ready for life.  I have to hurry.  I really wish I had the money to send him to St Herman Seminary in Kodiak for a year so he could do the reader program and find an Orthodox girl.  Why can't there be any girls his age in my parish?!

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Today in my life: Pickles, Tomahawks, and a Name Day.

I woke up this morning to the smells of Kathleen making breakfast.  Coffee, omelette with baccon, cheese, bell peppers, and onions. They are the best omelettes I have since I was in the Army.  Truly amazing. (We are on day two of the Dormition Fast but I do not keep the fasts.  Because of my living situation it feels pharisaical when I fast.  But maybe fasting would help me solve this problem.  I don't know.)

Kathleen and I moved one of the watermelon vines, watered, and picked tomatoes cucumbers and summer squash.  I ate a couple of the squash then pickled two pints of squash and cucumbers.  Then I cleaned Anselm Samuel's rifle, sharpened the the boys' tomahawks (One could shave with them now), smoked my pipe, and read the day's entry in the Prologue of Ohrid.
Today is my youngest son's Name Day.  He is named for St. Basil of Moscow.  I think I'll pray an Akathist for him now.  Oh, and I have to finish a TPA.
Today's Harvest


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Summer So Far

Kathleen and tri-tip
Billy and I
Kathleen at Light House
I've taken three trips so far this summer.   The first trip was Paso Robles, Santa Maria, and Pismo Beach.  I think that was in early June.   In Paso Robles we visited my son Billy's grave and prayed for him.  Even saying his name hurts.  In Santa Maria we ate tri-tip at Shaw's.  in Pismo Beach we played in the ocean.  We drove down on Hwy 101.  The drive home through the Santa Lucia Mountains and Santa Cruz Mountains was much longer but beautiful.  But it was also sad to see gorgeous productive farmland in Monterey county being turned into tract houses.  Before actually heading into the Santa Clara Valley we spent one night with a Kathleen's friend who lives on on the overlook La Selva Beach.

The second trip I wrote about a few days ago.

The third trip was to San Mateo County where we drove through mountains, ate a molten chocolate bundt cak Alice's Restaurant, visited a goat farm, played at the tide pools where Kathleen gathered salt at an evaporated pool, ate amazing artichoke soup, and visited a light house.  This might be the best day I've had in a year.  It's hard to believe it was all done in one day.

At the goat farm
Oysters and Artichoke Soup
In other news, Anselm Samuel (AKA the little boy) got his CHSPE results and is now a high school graduate two years ahead of schedule.  He will start a welding or machining course in a few days when he gets back from the Boy Scouts Camp Hi-Sierra, where he has been working as a life guard for the past few weeks.  This is a big achievement.  But his life has been full of achievements.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Service Schedules

I was just thinking, "I wish there were a vesper service going on right now that I could go to". Then I had this idea, and I think it's a pretty good one: All of the Silicon Valley parishes could change their calendars so that their mid-week vespers services happen on different days of the week. 

There could be a schedule like this: 

Monday: Reedeemer (Los Altos Hills), St. James (Milpitas) and Holy Cross (San Jose)

Tuesday: St. Herman (Sunnyvale) and St. Michael (Saratoga)

Wednesday: St. Basil (San Jose), Holy Virgin (Palo Alto), and St. Christina (Fremont)

Thursday: St. Stephen (Campbell) and Nativity of the Theotokos  (Menlo Park)

Friday: St. Nicholas (Saratoga) and St. Nicholas (San Jose)

of course, everyone already does services Saturday night and Sunday morning, and that means - BOOM! - the whole valley has coverage!

Sunday, July 08, 2018

A little vacation in a free RV

Kathleen, her kids, and I went to Donner lake for a week.  We left San Jose last Sunday after church and drove in a motor home.  Let me tell you about the motor home.  We got it from https://www.freervrental.com/ and it was a dream.  It has less than 60,000 miles on it, everything works, it is super well equipped with everything you can imagine needing on a camping trip, (I especially like the outdoor rug the company provided so we could sit out side and not get dirty.), and it is spotless.  This company is so excellent that Kathleen did a lecture about them in her economics class.  We get one more free week.  I can't wait for Kathleen to tell me where were are going to go next.

We had to pick up the RV in Morgan Hill so, from there we left the bay are via the Pacheco Pass over the Diablo Mountains.  Of course, we stopped at Casa de Fruta.  It was the first time Kathleen and her kids had ever been there.  It was fun to watch them enjoy it for the first time.

Coming down into the San Juaqin Valley I began to feel very nostalgic.  Sometimes, I think California holds too many memories for me and that is why i have to leave.  If there were people in my life to whom I could say, "remember when Uncle Fred burned himself with the pressure cooker?" Or "remember when Bryan and I  went swimming in the pigs' watering hole?"  Or "remember when I taught Billy and Devon to shoot a pistol in the eucalyptus grove?"  "Remember when Ken almost drown in that irrigation canal?" "Remember when the fog was so thick on 99 that everyone had to drive 5 miles per hour?" But my parents are  dead.  I don't see my siblings much.  I'm divorced from the women with whom I made the most memories.  My oldest son is dead.  I haven't seen my second son in years.  So, here in  California there are a thousand things each day that prompt me to ask, "remember when?" but there is no one to answer.  But I still have a couple of decades left, maybe.

Kathleen took me somewhere I have never been; someplace that doesn't make me remember anything.  For this trip we stayed at Tahoe Donner.  Kathleen's dad (He's a real knight.  Not something you come across very often in America.) owns a house there so she is a member and has access to all the amenities. For example, we parked the RV, ate most of our dinners, and played volleyball and table tennis at the campground. We swam, saunaed, jacuzzied, steam roomed, and flopped on super comfy couches at the Trout Creek center.  We swam, and ate pizza (my first pizza in a very long time.  I won't do that again.), played bocce ball, and shot arrows at the Northwoods Clubhouse.   On Independence Day we drove up to the top of the ski slopes at Tahoe Donner and watch the fireworks over the lake.

A friend from Reno came up the mountain and spent one afternoon with us at the Northwoods Clubhouse.  Another day we walked around Truckee.  One morning we went fishing but were not successful.  I am sure our poor angling performance was due more to all the powerboats on the lake than any lack of fishing skill on our part.  Kathleen and I left her kids at the campground and went to Reno for a couple of hours.  We took some pictures under the famous sign on Virginia Street.  Had coffee in one of the casinos but did not gamble.  The best part of Reno was buying old post cards at an antique store to mail to Sons 3 and 4 (Son three is staff at a Boy Scout camp all summer and Son 4 is not well enough to travel.  Although the doctors have him on lithium now and he seems to be doing better.) ,  Kathleen bought a wallet for me there, and I bought her a turquoise necklace.  Oh, I can't forget stopping on a tiny Indian reservation to buy pipe tobacco.  It was 40% less than I would pay in California and the profits went to the descendants of the first people who grew tobacco.  It was a win-win!  We also went to Squaw Valley and listened to a blues band in the little village.  They might have sounded better if we had been drinking.

We cooked out over a fire almost every night.  My food is kind of boring now - just meat and low carb vegetables - so I won't write much about it.  But I did make some desserts for Kathleen's kids.  I showed them how to wrap bananas, marshmallows, and chocolate chips in aluminum foil and set it in the hot coals to cook.  I helped them make s'mores almost every night.  I also tried to make a giant chocolate chip cookie in a skillet over the fire, but I forgot to adjust for altitude.  It came out like a giant souffle!  Everyone said it was amazing good but it wasn't what I was trying to make.  Oh, well.

On the way home from the mountains today I stopped in Roseville to pray at St. Anna Greek Orthodox Church.  It is a beautiful town; clean like San Diego or Disney World.  And the church was super welcoming.  There is something so beautiful and comforting to walk through the doors and instantly be in Heaven.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Memorial Day, 10 Years for Billy, and Some Other Things

On Memorial Day Kathleen and her children, Anselm (aka the little boy), and I went to the grave yard and heard some speeches, saw the local politicians, and honored the fallen.  It was good.  This year we sat in the shade.  There was a female Air Force sergeant who sang the Star Spangled Banner.  It was the best job singing it I ever heard.  She sang it exactly as written; no embellishments.  I appreciate that.  It's the national anthem, and to jazz it up is the equivalent of jazzing up the Flag or the Great Seal.  It shouldn't be done.  Kathleen's son and daughter enjoyed climbing into the tanks and helicopters more than the speeches.  My son seemed more interested in a female bagpiper.

On Pentecost, Anselm and I drove up to San Francisco for the Vigil at Holy Trinity Cathedral.   It was good to see so many old friends.  Anselm's godmother didn't recognize him!

Last Wednesday was the 10th year since my oldest son died.  It was hard.  There is not a day that goes by that I do not weep for him.  The sorrow and regret is always just below the surface.  People said when he died that it would get better.  I think what they really meant is that I would just get used to the pain.  It doesn't go away.   My friend Jeff (the same Jeff I used to blog with), my oldest brother, my sister, Anselm, Kathleen, her children, and some people from the parish came together to pray the Trisagion for the Departed for my son Billy.

On the weekend of All Saints Day Anselm was at Camp Hi Sierra going through his Ordeal.  He made it to the end and is now, just like like Archbishop Benjamin, a member of the Order of the Arrow.  I am proud of him.
Kathleen posing with the latino big-butt  manequins

On the Sunday of All Saints I over-slept!  I don't know how but I slept right through my alarm and didn't wake up until 10 minutes after the Divine Liturgy had started.  So, Kathleen and I went to the flea market.  The San Jose Flea market is the largest open air market in the United States and has been in operation since 1960.  It was my first time to be there since before i started kindergarten.  I still remember going all those years ago.  I remember the plastic swords my cousin Brian and I got but that is about all.  It was 45 or 46 years ago.

Kathleen bought me some hurache sandals (as mentioned in the Beach Boys song).  She bought herself some camping chairs.  We played ski-ball. We got some avocados and mangoes for lunch. 

Basil Swimming.  It is deep.
Yesterday Basil, my youngest son felt like getting out of bed so we went down to the creek where he swam and we worked on a fort.  Mainly we cleared brush.  He has plan to plant bamboos for walls.  The water is polluted with all kinds of chemicals and heavy metals, but I am just so happy any day he is brave enough to get out of bed.  I think it will work out okay.             
The geese were nonplussed

  Oh!  I should mention that Kathleen did something pretty neat the other day.  For almost 30 years I have been buying The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco as a present for people.  I think it is one of the best books ever written.  Well, the other day the author was in town and Kathleen went to the book signing and got a copy of the book autographed for me!  Isn't that sweet?

Kathleen with Patricia Polacco

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sons and Gardening

Anselm and me at Scout-O-Rama
Anselm Samuel seems to be doing okay.  He spends a lot of time with me now.  We work on math and English so he can pass the CHSPE.  Why the CHSPE?  Because in the years since the divorce he has failed lots of classes and has no way to complete high school before he ages out.  But when, he passes the CHSPE he will get a high school diploma and be able to enroll in a community college.  Right now he says he is interested in welding program at Cabrillo College.  It would be pretty amazing if he winds up with a high school diploma and a welding certificate before he is even 18 years old.  He didn't know what he wanted to do until he looked at help wanted ads and saw a local company's ad: "Perfect job for new welders! No experience necessary! Just pass the drug test and start working tomorrow. $26 per hour to start."

A shot of most of the garden
Watermelon vines

Yesterday was the Scout-O-Rama.  (I remember the first one we went to, when Anselm was six years old and Basil was two.) Anselm went yesterday and had a good time.  Basil would not leave the house. I couldn't even get him to leave his bedroom.  I am very worried about him.

Basil is not doing well.  I won't say a lot about it here.  He is not thriving.  In fact, I think it is accurate to say that he is withering.  I have had to step back from trying to help him because it was only giving him an opportunity to act out.  I no longer invite him to do anything with me.  All I can do for him now is pray.  I pray akathists for him and have him commemorated at liturgies. I informed his godmother of the situation so she can pray too.  Other than that, I don't know what to do.  His mother and I disagree even regarding the root problem; there can be no team effort regarding the solution.

Our garden is doing okay.  I enjoy working in it.  It's not a farm but it is good enough for now.  The first tomatoes were harvested last night.  Many more are on the vines and will be ripe soon.  That's pretty amazing considering it is only mid-May.  The watermelons are doing amazing.  Anselm started them from seeds the last week of February and they are ready for transplant.  I think I might not have enough ground for them; watermelon vines grow long.

We weren't going to plant corn this year but Anselm really wanted to.  So I gave him a pot and some

Corn and beans
soil.  It sprouted a couple of weeks ago.  Then one day, when I was out watering, I remembered the story of Squanto.  So I planted a bean at the base of each corn stalk.  Now the beans have come up.  I hope the corn starts growing faster or else the beans won't have a stalk to climb!

Of course, we have planted lots of wild flowers for the bees and butterflies.  I've seen a few of each.  Not as many as when I was a boy.  I learned an interesting fact yesterday while at the Scout-O-Rama:  As late as 1960 fully 60% of the western hemisphere's fruits and vegetables were grown in the Santa Clara Valley, where I live now.  I know change is inevitable, but I have trouble seeing concrete, tract houses, skyscrapers, and freeways, and tilt-up computer factories as progress when it means bulldozing fruit trees and ridding the valley of bumble bees and butterflies.
Red leaf lettuce.

Romain lettuce
Kathleen planted lettuce.  She likes to munch on it when she's in the garden.  None has yet made it to the table, but it makes her happy.

We also have three kinds of squash, two kinds of cucumbers, cantaloups, onion, leeks, two kinds of sunflowers, garlic (I use the garlic in the kitchen all the time.), sage, and oregano growing.  Today I bought two grape vines: merlot and zinfandel.  We had some last year but we had to pull them up because of a virus.  I'll sprinkle the new vines with holy water and ask God to protect them.  Hmmm.  I wonder if Fr. Basil blesses gardens?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

After Pascha and a Peanut Butter Pie Recipe

Pascha was glorious, as per usual.  I had many obstacles to attending holy week services but I was able to make it to the Thursday night Matins of 12 Gospels.  I was at a little Romanian parish in East San Jose. Beautiful building but the whole service was in Romanian. It wasn't a problem for me since I know the service but I think they are going to have trouble growing in that neighborhood.  That side of the city is mostly Spanish and Vietnamese speaking.  But, it was gorgeous, and heartbreaking, no matter the language.

On Saturday night Kathleen and Anselm went with me to Paschal Matins and Divine Liturgy at St. Nicholas.  Then on Sunday afternoon was Agape Vespers.  Then, and I think this was the first year to do it, I attended Bright Monday's Paschal Divine Liturgy.  I really enjoyed the procession around the outside of the church building with the four stops to read the resurrection accounts from the Gospels..

I changed the paskha recipe.  In years past I have had a problem with it being too soft.  So, this year, I made it a day earlier, added 8 oz of cream cheese, cut the farmers cheese by 50%, and doubled the amount of sour cream.  It turned out close to perfect.  I also made two peanut butter pies for the pot luck after Agape Vespers.   Here is the recipe for peanut butter pie.

Use two Keebler chocolate pie crusts or make your own. The filling is one cup of creamy peanut butter, 8 oz cream cheese, 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar beaten together, then fold in 8 oz of cool whip (refrigerated but not frozen).  The filling is enough for two pies.  Top with whipped cream.  I like to whip 8 oz of heavy cream with 1/4 cup powdered sugar.  That way it doesn't separate as quickly as it would otherwise.

One of the things I am enjoying about Bright Week is praying the Paschal Hours instead of the usual prayers.  It is a welcome break from looking up the daily troparia, the Psalms, the hymns and prayers for the weekly commemorations, etc. every time I pray.  That reminds me:  years ago, Jeff asked me how I could stand singing the same songs and praying the same prayers and singing the same songs all the time, and I was amazed.  Gosh, so much changes, depending on the day of the week, the day of the year, the liturgical season, that this calmness of unchanging glory during Bright Week is a welcome sameness.  It is a happy resting period.

In other news, my long term assignment at the bad school is over, and I am back in Palo Alto for the week.  I really like it here.  And this morning I found out that, in a survey of all the teachers in the district, I am one of their highest rated substitutes.  That makes me happy.  I want to find out what I am doing that they like so much so I can keep on doing it.

And finally, I have now made it through the two biggest drinking holidays (Nativity and Pascha) without a drop of alcohol passing my lips.  It. is not easy.  Every day I think about drinking again.  But I don't.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Getting Ready for Pascha

The paskha and kulich have been made.  I changed the Kulich recipe a little but this year.  I added cream cheese and more sour cream, and reduced the amount of farmers cheese.  Hopefully, it turns out okay.  It was weird to only use four ounces of brandy then pour out the rest of the bottle but that is what I have to do now.  (The desire to drink is unrelenting.  Other people have told me that it gets better with time.  I hope they are right.)  Anyway, we are getting ready for Pascha, as much as I can, anyway.  (I'm not really part of the Church because of my living situation.  It is difficult, but St. Paul was not ambiguous.  I hope I figure out a path forward soon.  I need Communion, and I need Holy Unction.) In addition to the paskha and kulich, today I bought Karoun braided cheese, the Molinari salami, and sardines for the boys' Pascha baskets.  Sadly, I have no red eggs or an opportunity to make them.  I don't have time for the onion method, and I went to the one store I thought might have the red dye but they said they ran out yesterday.  I love the store, The International Food Bazaar, though.  It might be my new favorite place.  Of course, the day after the Catholic's and Protestants' Easter I took advantage of the clearance sales and bought some chocolate bunnies, Cadbury creme eggs, and Reese's peanut butter eggs (those are the best!) for their, baskets.  Well, Matins of the 12 Gospels is about to start so I had better stop writing in my blog and get ready.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

No Hats. No Food. No Drinks. No Talking.

My First Day
I'm back at the bad school. They offered me a long term assignment teaching 8th graders for an extra $15 per day.  I accepted the offer and started today.  It was a rough beginning.  I have 17 kids on lunch time detention tomorrow.  And I have one female student who keeps saying obscene things, and even touched me.  I didn't get a chance to talk to the principle about it today, but as long as I report her within 24 hours I'm okay.  Its just annoying to have to deal with that kind of crap.

So, about the class:  It's four periods of kids who have grave difficulty reading.  Many of them just misbehave to avoid having to do any school work.  And don't even think about asking them to rad aloud.  Today was all about getting to know them and letting them get used to me.

So, what is the deal with me doing a long term assignment as a substitute when there are credentialed experienced teachers available?  How is this possible?  This is how it works.  The State of California gives the school district money for each student.  But these are lousy students.  9/10 of them are going to drop out as soon as they are legally old enough.  They've been getting F's since the 3rd grade and are going to get F's no matter who their teacher is.    And they are trouble.  Two of my students got in to a serious fight today.  One girl sent the other to the hospital with a concussion.  And did I mention I have 17 kids doing lunch time detention tomorrow?  The school district just needs to be able to say they are doing the legally required minimum to educate these kids.  So, why should the school district hire a credentialed teacher for these kids when they can hire a bunch of subs and pocket the difference? 

I am not complaining.  I like my job and I am happy with the money.  Who I feel sorry for are the kids who are really good kids and who want to learn but are stuck in classes like mine.  For example, I have this Ethiopian girl who just seems terrified by her classmates.  I grouped her with two other okay kids today.  I hope they are able to concentrate on their work and ignore all the garbage that goes on in the classroom.

And yes, that is my Phi Theta Kappa pin in the picture.  I've been a member since I was a sophomore at De Anza College back in 1991.  This is the first time I've worn the pin.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

It isn't the money and it isn't race: Good and bad schools

As a substitute teacher working all over the county and teaching in 7th to 12th grade classrooms I have a little bit of insight into why some schools are good and why some are bad.  This is what I have noticed.  It isn't the money.

There is one little town, Gilroy, near the southern edge of the county that is 99.9% Latino.  I have subbed in their high school, their middle school, and their very tiny "continuation school", e.g. the school for problem kids.  And it is a joy.  The students, for the most part are engaged, excited to learn, and not a disciplinary problem.  There are always one or two problem kids in every school but even at the continuation school the students seem diligent and focused on getting the work done and earning their diplomas.  I love teaching there.

And I have subbed in Palo Alto, Saratoga, Cupertino and Los Gatos the richest areas in the county where most of the students are Chinese, White, and Indian.  And the students are even more focused than they are in Gilroy.  It is not unusual for me to walk into a classroom in those schools and find half of the students already at their desks a quarter hour before the bell rings. (I should ask them how they get into the classrooms?)  Its a little bit boring for me, since the kids already know everything and don't really need me but these cities are a huge and needed break for me when I spend day after day at another city's schools. 

Those schools are, for the most part, hideous.  No, I don't mean the buildings.  Those are well maintained.  And I don't mean the teachers. they are, as far as I can tell, competent. (Though some of them are too political; decorating their classrooms with propaganda.) The problem is the students.  Like Gilroy the population is mostly Latino so I don't think it is a racial issue, but I think it is an economic point of view issue.  In Gilroy the population is Latino but has a much higher proportion of recent immigrants.  Immigrants are people who have hope for the future, who believe they can change their lives.  They are more likely to believe the American Dream is attainable.   But the other city is opposite. 

A few days ago, I was working at one of the bad schools in that other city.  This particular school has had a bad reputation for more than 40 years and is a major reason parents in the area send their kids to private schools. It had been a rough day and I had abandoned any idea of teaching anything; all the kids were doing whatever they wanted.  I was just trying to keep them from destroying property or hurting each other. I kept hearing this one ugly word being said over and over again at one of the tables in the classroom.  I walked over to them and said something like, "I've heard that word more times in the last 5 minutes coming from you at this table than I've said that word in the last 20 years.  You have to know that the decent people of the world will have nothing to do with you if you talk like that.  I only tolerate it because I'm being paid to be here with you."  In response to that a girl said, "This is a ghetto school.  If you don't like it you shouldn't be here."  To which I replied, "This is not a ghetto school. We spend more money on this school and per pupil than any middle school in the county." (the school is gorgeous, well outfitted, lacks nothing technological, and is adorned with gorgeous original works of art.) and then the girl said something profound,  "Ghetto isn't about money."  I said, "Even it it is ghetto, you don't have to be ghetto.  You don't have to live down to that standard."

I was talking about it with Kathleen.  She said the school has been like that all her life and needs to be torn down.  I think, I agree with her.  50 years of failure is enough.  It would be sad to lose that beautiful building, but as long as it stands it will be an emblem of ghetto-ness.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Higer Ed Hell

This is a complaint.  I have spent scores of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours working toward graduate degrees and am nowhere near getting a degree.  I have 15 units in theology, 30 units in ancient history, and 30 units in education theory; with a cumulative GPA of 3.8.  That's two and a half years worth of graduate school with high marks.  That's twice the amount of work most American M.A. programs require. The problem I have is that it has taken me so long that my units are expiring.  I have no way to finish a 1 year masters degree program without spending another $10,000 and taking another semester of courses.  It makes me crazy!  I think I'm just going to declare that I have a M.Litt. degree and stop going to school.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Smaller Every Day (and other health stuff)

I weighed myself this morning:  267lbs.  That's down from a high of 339.  All of my clothes hang on me, even the clothes I had taken in by a seamstress.  I hate buying new clothes so I'm just going to look like a circus clown for a few months; at least, until summer.  I don't actually have a goal weight.  I just want to feel good again. And I don't want to die from diabetes or go blind or lose limbs, etc.  I'm still not drinking alcohol.  That is hard.  I am sad all the time, I feel burdened and worried about everything.  Except for church, I don't enjoy anything; not food, not sex, not other people's company, not my work, not my family, not my friends, nothing.  For the sake of those around me I try to act pleasant and happy.  All I want to do is stay in bed all day and listen to audiobooks. I think I am still suffering from depression but I didn't know it when I was drinking.   I am going to talk to my doctor about going back on the Prozac.