Saturday, January 31, 2015

A little bedtime reading

 Porter, Harry W., and Isla have been here since Thursday.  And I had assumed that only Isla would want to be read to, but I was wrong.  Harry W. was interested too, and often Porter would sidle in!

I have gotten rid of a lot of my picture books - gotten rid of in the sense that I have found new homes for them!!  But there are still some old faves on the shelves.

Isla was sure this would be "boring" but changed her mind!

This one she emphatically declared boring, but Harry W. didn't agree with her.
And Porter and Dad came in to see what all the laughter was about as I read this one tonight.

I love a good picture book - and I love reading them to kids.

I need to get my "Little Free Library" up and running!!

And maybe I need to become familiar with some of the new titles out there too!!

Friday, January 30, 2015

"The very willing suspension of disbelief!"

After enjoying Moon Over Manifest so much, and finding out that the author had written another book, I promptly put it on my Kindle - and then started reading it!!

It's a little on the "fantastic" side - that is, you have to "suspend your disbelief" as you dive into the story.

But it's worth the journey to a place of imagination and adventure.

And it's a pretty good demonstration of the mind and nature of autism.  The author says that since the story was set in 1945, she purposely didn't use the word "autism."  But her sensitive depictions of Early's odd behaviors are very enlightening and evocative.

I hope she has some more stories up the proverbial sleeve!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Newberry Winner - a real winner!!

I am currently subbing at my old school - hope to get 5 or 6 jobs a month - and just started last week and had 3 jobs and turned down one - and have another one this week - and had to turn down one this week.  So much for worrying about not getting jobs!  (I only do pre-arranged at Clifton, so I was concerned that maybe there would not be enough calls!)

But one of the assignments required me to take the classes to the library for the students to pick up their latest "mandated read" and check them out.  Then they were supposed to sit and read for 20 minutes.  Except for the 2 Honors classes, I had to really work hard to get the kids to read.  In one class, about a half dozen kids hunkered down and literally refused to read - wouldn't even stare at the pages and pretend to read!  I was flabbergasted.  

I taught Special Education for 18 years, and actually didn't have much mandated reading time - unless I was reading to them while they followed along.  I did have some students who expressed disdain for reading, but never had  students who didn't enjoy having me read to them.  I did choose carefully, and tried to use emotion and expression in my reading.  I did a lot of explaining too - I know that helped kids get more meaning, and I'm convinced those who don't read well appreciate the help at understanding the story and the details!

But I would have thought I'd died and gone to heaven if a teacher said, "Okay, I want everyone to read for 20 minutes!!"  Perhaps I should have offered to read to the students - but they all had different books based on their individual reading levels.  If I'm going to keep subbing, and mandated reading is a part of it, I will have to come up with some solutions!

At any rate, Mrs. Gray, the librarian, saw me looking at the above book and told me it was great - she'd listened to it on tape last summer as she was traveling.

And she was right!  What a great story.  It's a first novel, too, and won the Newbery Award in 2011.  If you haven't read it - read it!  And if you have kids who love to read, have them read it too!!  It goes back and forth between 1917/18 and 1936 in rural Kansas.  And there are issues with mining and moonshine too!

The story is part history, part mystery,  part "story-telling" at its finest!

Let me know what you think!!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Good-bye to a friend!

Saturday was the service for Karen Livingston, who died last week after battling brain cancer for almost 29 years.  Nola Neeley, her aunt, spear-headed the event, and there was family there as well as friends of her boys.  It was a lovely service, and I was grateful to be part of it.

I was Karen's visiting teacher initially, but we became good friends and stayed connected over the years.

During the hard times, when she was prevented from being with her boys unless someone was with her, we organized women in the ward to come and stay with her.  Eventually the custody issues were resolved, but for those months when I spent lots of afternoons with her and her two boys, Danny and Nathan, I came to love and care for these boys.

They have grown into fine young men.  Nathan got a degree in Microbiology from UCLA and currently works at City of Hope.  Danny still works at Wal-Mart but is planning to return to school in a technical field that I can't quite recall at the moment!  Karen died happy, knowing that her boys were happy and successful.

Karen did have a very hard life.  She faced challenges that would individually do anyone else in, but she somehow just got through it.  Her sister Barb recounted one night a few weeks before she died.  Karen said, as Barb was helping her get ready for bed, "I can't do it anymore, I just can't do it anymore.  It's too much."  So Barb said, "Just get through tonight, Karen.  Take care of tomorrow tomorrow."  And Karen gritted her teeth and got through the night.

We are grateful that she is finally at peace.  I am grateful to have had a friend who had a good heart and a lot of inner strength.  I learned much from her.

We love you Karen!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Getting my groove back!

This is an old staff photo - and it actually has not much to do with my post, but I always like a picture!!

7 months after retiring, I went on my first sub assignment today.  I wondered how I would do, how I would feel, how I would like it.

Well, I think I did fine - no one ran away or got injured or complained to the principal.  I felt fine too - but my feet did hurt.  And I liked it fine.  There is something liberating about being in front of a classroom of students - and knowing that it's a "one night stand!"  (although I am subbing again tomorrow for Marcie - she had a meeting today but was feeling unwell, so decided to take a day to get better.)

Maybe I will get tired of it.  Maybe I will hit some "loser" classes and not enjoy it as much.  But it's fun to see old friends.  It's nice to be back in an atmosphere that I mostly enjoyed.

The money is nice too.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gotta Love Bogey and Bacall!!

And love them we do!!  Not sure why he pulled it up on the screen, but last night Harry put this one on - said his movie queue recommended it for him!!

It was classic film noir - maybe not in the same caliber as To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep - but an hour and a half of some pretty good entertainment!

Bogey is an escaped con - who is out to prove his innocence - and Bacall is a young artist who has followed his trial and imprisonment.  There are lots of coincidences that are just that - coincidences - but they work for me.  And they move the story along.

And the ending is pure joy!!

Give it a look-see!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

If you liked Seabiscuit, or Unbroken, you'll probably like this!

Hannah and Robbie gave Harry this book for Christmas.  He made the mistake of telling me I could read it too!  Once I started, I couldn't put it down!

It is a very compelling story about the 1936 Olympics and the University of Washington rowing team.  But it is also about the rise of Hitler in Germany, the Depression in the United States, the Dust Bowl, and the importance of a mother and family in a young boy's life.

I enjoyed the way the story was intertwined with history.  I have always said that stories are the best way to teach history!  The story is told from the point of view of a young rower named Joe Rantz, who took up rowing as a way to get himself through college.  As we learn Joe's story, we also learn about the effects of the Great Depression on life in the United States, and especially Seattle.  Later we learn about Joe's early life and the tragedies he endured as a boy.

As we see the development of Joe's rowing career, we also learn about the rise of Hitler in Germany.  All of these elements combine to make for a great read.  I commented to Harry that even though I knew throughout how the story ended, it was still exciting to read.  

And the ending is a real nail-biter!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Seeing Selma

Even though I lived through the Civil Rights movement and all its attendant drama and history, I was mostly in the somewhat sheltered atmosphere of BYU.  Most of the information we got was filtered through the student newspaper.  Sometimes others talked about it, but I have mostly been learning about this time period in the years since the events occurred.

One of the triggers for acquiring more knowledge about this time period came from my teaching experiences.  One of the novels that students at Clifton had to read was Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.  The novel is about conditions in the South in the Depression, and the story is told from a black viewpoint.  There was always lots of ancillary material, and it was from this material that I came to understand more about the history of the South, especially the segregation of schools, the voting issues, and the terrible prejudice and persecution that prevailed.

I was also a little disturbed that most of my African-American students didn't seem to know anything about the Civil Rights movement or even Martin Luther King.  As I strove to fill them in on the history and events surrounding those tumultuous years, I was gratified that they all seemed very interested in learning about it all.

I hope all of those same former students of mine have gone to see this movie - it is not like a documentary at all, but humanizes the story and all the history that surrounds it.  I love getting my "history" from books and movies and trying to fit it in with the "big picture" in my head about the world and how it all works.

This is a well-done film.  The language got a little rough - apparently Lyndon Johnson and George Wallace were a little coarse - so they might have a time showing it in American history classes - but they ought to anyway!!

(Where's Clean Flicks when you need it?)

The film is moving, informative, historical, emotional, and tells a story that needs telling and re-telling.

Lest we forget!

More on the wooden bowl!

While sorting old photos - a never-ending task I fear - found this shot of Ara in the wooden bowl.

And a photo of our friend Raymond Jonas, the artist who sculpted the wooden bowl - back in our BYU days actually!!

And I understand he is still sculpting in wood - he lives in Arizona now.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Own Little Free Library

Perhaps you are familiar with the Little Free Library concept.  Or perhaps you are not.  But I love the idea of it - and I love all the Little Free Libraries I see in town - or I read about in the LA Times - or see on the website. There was one near Hannah's place in DC, and Theo and Ida loved stopping and getting a book.  There was one in their neighborhood in VA too - and I found a book I really enjoyed reading when I was there last summer.  The possibilities are endless.

Harry and Dawn have one - and I confess I have coveted it!  I guess I coveted it so well that they got the message and gave me my own Little Free Library for Christmas - Bonny was part of the gift too!

Now I am really excited to get it up and running - heaven knows I have plenty of books to spare!!  I have the spot picked out - and Harry is on board - I just need to nudge him in the direction of getting it set up so I can start playing Madame Librarian!!

I plan to set it up on the curb north of our driveway - it's a barren little spot, so I feel that a bench would be in order too.  I thought I had an old wrought iron bench behind the garage that could have been spruced up, but apparently in a fit of purging I got rid of it.

Oh well, now I'll just have to get a new one.

I also need to name my  Little Free Library - Harry and Dawn's is "The Lemon Avenue Library."  I'm thinking and brainstorming - suggestions are welcome.

Watch for updates!!

And stop by for a book if you're in town!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

He wasn't Grandpa Bob, but he was a great Grandpa Stevens!

Harry is known to our grandchildren as "Grandpa Bob."  He tells "Grandpa Bob" stories when they come to spend the night.  The stories always include chocolate milk and Milanos too.  He is becoming pretty "famous" with the kids - and they love the stories.  (One time Esme asked him to repeat a story - he was at a loss - he just makes them up as he goes - and doesn't think about repeating them!)

My own Grandpa Stevens was not a story-telling man, but apparently he hung up diapers - as least he did one time when this photo was taken.  But I have some great memories of time spent with him.  He had a 3-hole golf course in his back yard and would let us "play golf" with him when we were there.  He'd let us help him water the garden too.  He worked for GM and got a new car every year.  When they came out to visit, he'd give us and our friends rides around in whatever new car he had then.  Riding in a new car was pretty special - especially the year it was a Cadillac convertible.

One special memory from my childhood was the Christmas he and Grandma gave me roller-skates.  Our small house was surrounded by concrete sidewalk - not sure why, it was just built that way.  He had me put one hand on the wall of the house and he held my other hand.  He walked with me around and around the house until I was steady enough to skate on my own.  I was maybe 7 or 8 and I can still feel the stucco of the walls under my fingers.

I was visiting with my mom today, and she shared a story I've never heard.  She said the year she was 5 or 6 she got a tea set and small table and chairs for Christmas.  She said she can still remember her dad sitting with her and having a tea party that day.  It was water and crackers she said, but he stayed with her and played for quite a while.

There are other stories about my grandpa:  he said children should be seen and not heard, he said women didn't belong in college, he said my mom shouldn't have had so many kids, and he often said that if she and my dad would just stop paying tithing they could get ahead!  (He was pretty critical about our church membership.)

After he died, my grandmother went to his clubhouse to gather up his golf clubs and other personal items.  Several of the men there asked her how her grandson was doing.  She asked which grandson they were referring to, since she had 8.  They replied, "The one who's on a mission for the Mormon church.  Harry talked about him all the time and admired his diligence and service."

Sometimes I guess you just never know everything there is to know about a person!


Monday, January 12, 2015

Endings - and new beginnings too!

Hannah and Rhoda flew back to Philly today - Harry and I dropped them off at LAX.  And I noted that I only flew with a small child once - when Harry and I brought Phoebe with us to LA in 1979 - when we were thinking about moving here.  Phoebe was 18 months old - and the plane was only half full so the stewardess suggested I let her run about in the back of the plane - and we were talking about a 2 1/2 hour flight!!  There are some things about children that I have just not experienced like my kids have!!

Hannah had Rhoda in a front pack, she had a backpack and a bag, and she was wheeling a bag that had Rhoda's car seat on top of it.  Wish I'd thought to bring a camera to take a photo - Hannah seemed fine with all of it too!  That just hasn't been in my list of life experiences!!  I try to get by with as little as possible whenever I approach an airport!

So I guess the holidays are really over now!  Everyone is gone, and I'm tackling the laundry.  (Of course, with as many people as we have had over the last 17 days, laundry has been a daily experience!)  I'm folding up the pack 'n play, stashing all the quilts and pillows, dismantling the hook on chair we use instead of a highchair, moving furniture back to its room of residence,  looking for the little odds and ends that will require a few packages to send back, and once again finding that there is always some Christmas item that escapes me - after Harry has put all the Christmas boxes in the rafters of the garage!

I feel melancholy - I always do - and even though my chore list is a mile long, I'm blogging instead of tackling it!!

I signed up to sub and that's supposed to start this week.  I need to go out to the Valley and take my mom to a doctor appointment.  I need to finish my Christmas cards.  I need to write my thank you notes.  And I'm still trying to bring order to the thousands of photos that have collected on my computer!!

Besides, we are going to DC in February for Theo's baptism.  Ara is turning 18 this month. Harry and Dawn are taking Eve to competition in Ft. Worth and we are tending the other kids. We have the Boston Marathon in April.  Eliza's baby is due in May.  And I have some plans hatching in my mind too!

There are things coming up. It won't be quiet for long!!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The wooden bowl

The wooden bowl has been part of the Terrill household since the very beginning.  Our friend Raymond Jonas carved it and gave it to us.  It's generally been used to hold newspapers.  I think at first we tried to keep it as a piece of sculpture, but newspapers always found their way there.

We had an obnoxious cat that we had to banish to the out of doors because he was convinced the wooden bowl should be his litter box!

Every Terrill child and grandchild has sat in it.  I have not managed to get a photo of everyone of them sitting in it though.

I will try to do better.  For now, Hannah, Ara, and Rhoda will be the poster girls for the charms of the wooden bowl!

If you have a photo of anyone in the wooden bowl, be sure to forward it to me!!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

"Happy New Year, Happy New Year, may we all have a vision now and then, of a world where every neighbor is a friend. . ."

These are the people I love most in the world - there are certainly others I love dearly - like my parents and family - but these are the near and dear who gathered with us this holiday season for our annual celebration of Terrill Coolness!

And now they are mostly all gone home - Hannah and Rhoda are here for a few more days, but Hannah is off visiting with a girlfriend - and I'm taking down the tree - always a melancholy task!

This feeling, almost a feeling of loss, overtakes me each year - and I'm always surprised by the fact that it feels new every time!  A psychologist friend suggested I dive into the cleaning and de-cluttering this time of year seems to mandate - she says motion dispels these feelings quite effectively - and she's right - and soon enough I'm feeling excited about decorating for Valentine's day or finishing my Christmas cards or diving into a new book.

But meanwhile, I hanker to just gaze at the photos and start to plan for next year!