Wednesday, October 28, 2009

True Confessions...Again*

All the photos above are ones I took!

OK, so in the last post I announced my dismay at having lost the small camera I carried to the wedding, and reception. For days, it stayed missing.

Things are a little hectic around our house right now...the wedding and attendant festivities on Saturday. A lovely brunch on Sunday hosted by our daughter and son-in-law (yes, I get to write that well and truly for the FIRST time). Then Sunday afternoon, daughter and SIL packed up to depart for the airport, via SIL's home in New Jersey. Also son and DIL packed up to depart.

Monday, my husband and I went into high gear. Bedrooms cleaned up, order restored. And then order promptly undone, as we packed up the kitchen. On Tuesday, workers came to tear out our 30 year old kitchen, and they immediately set about building a new kitchen.

With the week leading up to the wedding, I had mostly concentrated on that happy event. I put aside any class preparation--so in addition to the house clean-up, packing up goings-on, I managed to grade one set of papers to return to the students on Tuesday. I also whipped up a smashing lesson on literary analysis (OK--that was easy, as I love teaching literature).

Meanwhile, poor little camera is still missing. I emailed the church to inquire. I called the hotel where the Sunday brunch had been. I called the caterers who ran the reception. Still no camera. I asked my son--did an errant camera sneak into your luggage? I even sent a message to my honey-mooning daughter. No camera.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went off to class. And, as I set up for class, I opened my purse. What's this? Uh? A camera? Neatly tucked in its little black case? All soundly nestled in the deep reaches of my most commodious purse? Huh!

So, there you have it. Yes, I had looked in my purse--in fact several times. I had opened all four zipped parts of the purse. I had looked in the two snap parts (it's a big purse, OK?). And each time I missed the little black case. When I saw it, I assumed that it was my make-up kit. The one thing I didn't do was turn the purse inside-out. I should have.

When we thought the camera was lost, my husband began a little sequence of missing camera jokes. I think he was up to number 10. When I got home from class, I sheepishly told him I had FOUND the camera.

And that, dear blogging friends, began a whole new round of camera jokes, only this time they are found camera jokes. Sigh!
* I wrote True Confessions...Again as my blog title. I used that title once before, here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Bells are Ringing...

Full disclosure: as I began writing this blog the other night, I went looking for the small camera I took along--my husband's camera, actually. GONE. I looked high and low--I cannot find it. Bereft!

But, our son took marvelous photos--all those you see here are from him.

Well, wedding day has come and gone.

Despite all our fervent hopes for good weather, Saturday dawned cloudy and drizzly. All day--off and on rain, gusts of wind, and in general a warm muggy tropical feeling. Most strange for late October in central PA.

Daughter and I began the day somewhat early--off to get hair done, and then make up done. Out of the ordinary special treatment--but for a most special day.
We headed to the church early--not much else to do with the rain. Along with my daughter-in-law, I had the immense pleasure of helping my daughter. Her dress had some 20 or 30 small buttons down the back, with little crochet loops. She patiently stood and waited, while daughter-in-law and I struggled to close them all.

Then, the big moment arrived. Music for the trip down the aisle--The Prince of Denmark March. Father of the bride, and mother of the bride accompanied her.

I have never liked the idea of "giving away" the woman--only the woman. The couple together are giving themselves to each other, and we the family members--both of the bride and the groom--are sharing this time and supporting them. So, that is how our daughter and her partner had structured the service.

The intervening moments between dressing and worship service had been filled with lots of photo taking. LOTS of photos.

After the service, we rode several blocks to the Civic Club--a lovely old building along the Susquehanna River. The father of the bride had, many months ago, arranged for a small bus to transport people from the church to the reception. At the time, it seemed most appropriate for more senior members who might need help traveling. But, with the uncooperative weather, the mini-bus turned out to be just the thing.

We had a grand time at the reception--the wedding couple entered the grand ballroom to Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line"--such a great choice of a song. Their dance song was Nina Simone's "My Baby Just Cares for Me." For my husband and me, our daughter had picked Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years."

Ah, music--sometimes it says all that needs to be said.

We had multiple toasts, a scrumptious meal, the traditional cake cutting.

Just before the reception began, the rain stopped--and the low hanging clouds draped a gauzy fog over the river. A breathtaking sight. So, even though a clear fall day would have been gorgeous, a beautiful evening along the river was an acceptable substitute.

So, now they are well and truly married. The wedding couple returned the next day, after a wedding brunch they hosted, to London.

That is a sigh of relief--all the planning worked out. Our daughter looked lovely, the groom was handsome. The music was perfection. The flowers fantastic.
Also a sigh of bittersweet awareness--our daughter is our younger child, no one else at home to make a major life step.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Count Down

Today is our dear daughter's birthday.

Happy birthday, best daughter ever!

And, we are on a countdown. The big day is only 3 days away.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Round 1...

We are now 2 weeks into late fall semester. Things move at a fast pace when the class begins at the end of September, yet ends mid-December, along with all the other classes.

Students turned in their first paper, which I returned to them today, all green pen marked and graded.

I gave them my usual--here's what the various marks mean, and here is where you look in the handbook to fix the types of mistakes commonly being made--speech.

Before, I even got to that review, one student called out--what does WW mean. Continuing with the paper returns, I said--it means wrong word. There are various words in the English language--wonderful rich language that it is--that sound like other words, yet mean something completely different.

I find that using wrong words is one of the most frequent errors students make. And the tendency is catching. I was using a PowerPoint to highlight the important content that I wanted students to get from today's lecture--and there it was up on the screen. A MISTAKE. Glaring. Winking at me. Arrgghhhh! I have been corrupted by my students.

I had written DUEL, when I clearly meant DUAL. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Sadly, no student caught it.

Here are three of my favorite wrong word errors from this round of papers.

Fronds. . .meaning friends

Sauna gram. . .meaning sonogram

And spur attic. . .meaning sporadic.

With all the papers returned, I gave students time to review their marks. And, I answered as students said--what is this that you wrote.

All along, I could hear one woman in the front of the class muttering--I am not liking this at all.

I dismissed class a bit early, saying--any of you who have questions, and want to take 5 minutes to go over your paper, I will stay right here.

I expected the muttering student to stay and ask something--but she was out the door in a flash. SIGH. And to think, at the beginning of the semester, she had loudly announced how much she loves to write. What she probably means is that if she gets to write, journal fashion, unedited, unevaluated thoughts, then she loves to write. But let me review her work and offer constructive criticism--well, that she is NOT liking at all.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The List

I am smitten. I have a new favorite singer.

Understand, I am a classical music person, pretty much through and through. And, if I listen to something different from classical, it's likely to be classic rock. I love to play some Queen songs good and loud, as I clean the house. Or the Eagles--I can listen to them for hours. Or Crosby, Stills, Nash--sometimes Young--great songs.

Now, of all the music styles available, the one I have never really gravitated to is country music. I do love folk music, country music's very close cousin, but I just never got into country music. (As a quick aside, I do not consider rap to be music.)

Well, things are about to change.

The other day, I tuned in to Terry Gross's marvelous program Fresh Air. Her guest was Rosanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash. I was just getting ready to turn the radio off, when the opening story caught my attention.

As a young enterprising song writer, Rosanne was talking with her father one day as they rode the tour bus. He mentioned a song, and she said she didn't know it. Then he mentioned another--which she also did not know. His response to her was: if you're going to write country songs, there are just some essential songs you HAVE to know. So, his gift to her was the list of 100 essential country songs.

Rosanne has now recorded 13 of those songs on her new album "The List."

Right after listening to the entire show, I went out to I-Tunes, and bought the album. And I am smitten. I have the album playing now, as I write--Rosanne is singing "500 Miles from Home"--which was a staple of many 60s folk singers, including Peter, Paul and Mary.

Most of the songs on the album are familiar to me--for example "Long Black Veil" I first heard sung by Joan Baez.

But the song that is just resonating in my head is "Sea of Heartbreak." Visit the Rosanne Cash website, and you will hear that song playing. This song is nearly perfect. When she wanted someone to sing back-up harmony, she thought--well, what about Bruce Springsteen. So she asked, and he said YES. Bruce Springsteen!

Lest, I gush on too long, I will stop. You can listen to the Fresh Air interview or visit the Rosanne Cash website.

Talk about me doing some against my personal norm.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Creating Community

When I began blogging more than 3 years ago, I was thrilled to find an outlet for my yearning to write. As an English major in college, and now as a teacher of English composition to college freshmen, I am an enthusiastic advocate of writing. It is, after all, one of the principle ways whereby we humans have retained history.

In the space of the last three years, I have probably written a book's worth of thoughts. And I am profoundly grateful for the few readers I have, who stop by here and who occasionally leave a comment.

What I had not expected to find is a community of friends. Now, I am sure somewhere there is a sociologist who is cautioning my presumption that I can find communal solidarity with people whom I have never met. But I do.

Years ago, there was a wonderful sitcom--Barney Miller. Maybe you remember it.

I recall one show where a very distraught woman came into the police station. She proceeded to tell the officers about scenes of domestic violence and mayhem that she had witnessed. They probed, and after a bit it became very clear that what she was watching was not a window, but the television. She had mistaken an earlier version (TV) of cyber reality for ACTUAL reality.

That episode is at the back of my mind as a kind of caution for me not to confuse virtual cyber community with face-to-face community. But, I still care about the people I have met through blogging (and, of late, through Facebook).

Just as with our close-by friends, our cyber friends can be open and sharing. People whose blogs I read, and who read mine, know some of what I am involved with. For example, my blogging friend
Philip knows I teach--so he sent me a very interesting article on the dangers of over-using computers in the classroom.

Or, I can share with my blogging friend
Christine our mutual love of elephants, and support for the wonderful place The Elephant Sanctuary.

These are just two small examples of how we share communally through cyber-space.

And then, today, I received a comment on a blog that I had written so long ago I had quite forgotten it. Entitled
Unauthorized Stories, I had written about telling tales on my children--who then called me on telling the tales. This comment came from a new reader--here, you can read what Curtis said.

I stumbled upon your website through trying to find the words to Crosby, Stills and Nash's song, Teach Your Children Well. How I got here, only the good Lord knows but it has been a delight to me. Reading this story reminded me of being with my son two weeks ago (he is my baby and is 34) and going through a divorce. Telling him of how important my wife, his step-mon, is to me and that she has been really the only mom to him. I played the song of Foster and Allen "After All These Years." After listening politely, he said matter of factly "That's nice."

I realized he is not in the same place I am. When his children were toddlers, he said to me, "Dad, I am glad you have grandchildren because now, in your sermons, you will give me some rest. I assured him that was not the case, I only had more unauthorized stories.

Thank you for your blog, Peace, Curtis

Well, such a thing could only happen in this cyber community. I can't imagine someone I have never met overhearing a conversation I might be having--and then stepping up to say what Curtis said. Face to face, we simply don't do such a thing. But this space--cyber-space--allows us to make connections--to create community--in ways that we cannot or will not do face to face.