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an interesting day/way to end the year...

Saturday, December 31, 2011
I spent most of the day painting walls today. I got an email yesterday asking for volunteers to help with renovating a building in an older section of town. They are remodeling an old branch bank to transform it into a medical office.  I'm not fully informed about the whole story, but will tell what I know... (in spite of trying to raise daughters to Not Do That.)

The doctor who will run the clinic has been doing something similar in Augusta, with support from the medical community there (which would be enormous with Medical College facilities to provide staffing and loads of interns and residents looking for someone to 'practice' on). He was persuaded to come to Columbus and start a clinic here that would provide care for the un-insured, under-served population, people who need medical help and don't have the resources to do anything more pro-active than drag into the ER when they get so miserable, or so badly injured they need more than band-aids or over the counter meds. Folks who are homeless, or suddenly unemployed, lost health coverage, seniors living on small fixed incomes of retired mill-workers who have to decide between filling the Rx or buying groceries.

I understand the medical community will corporately support what he is planning. The clinic is located close to downtown, in an economically depressed area where there is a tremendous need, but will provide care to anyone who can get there. Medical Center and St. F. Hosp. will help with funding, because this clinic will help the people who would otherwise show up in their ER, with problems that are not considered 'traumatic' or life threatening. I am sure there is probably some private funding as well, from some families with 'old money' and deep pockets who have the resources to do go anonymously. It pleases me, no matter the source, there are people in the community who are aware of the need, and willing to tackle the problem, aggressively seek solutions to provide needed assistance for the under-served who so often fall through the cracks in our society.

I spent the day painting. We made pretty good progress until the Dr. came in with three little girls who asked Daddy if they could paint - so then it was pretty much herding monkeys until they lost interest. I then spent a couple of hours re-doing what the monkeys did in a bathroom that the public will not have access to, so it does not matter that they got that horrid, institutional green paint Every where. Probably including each other, though I did not see the finished product the sisters  were wearing, before they left for lunch.

I went to wally world to get some solvent, cleaner and need to go clean paint brushes. Will go back on Monday to work on the trim... since they are hoping to have the Grand Opening on Thursday. They don't know how much I like to paint.


Friday, December 30, 2011
With a family member who is a professional chef, you'd think I would be all about cookbooks and such. But I cleaned that shelf off in the pantry several years ago, and gave most away (probably to the chef - who I also gifted with a whole rolling suitcase full of cookbooks at one point - that caused her to have to get a bookshelf built to hold them all!) I am a little shame-faced to admit I rarely cook anymore, and even more rarely in search of a recipe to get the end product to come out 'right'. I probably have less than a dozen bound books as resources, (you can always 'google it up') as well as a small file box filled with 3-5 cards. If I was not interested enough in the recipe to put it on a card in the file, it is likely untested in my kitchen.  Those cards are my first option/resort: I dearly love to thumb through those little dirty, frayed, faded, food-spotted cards and discover the one I was searching for is written out in script by someone long gone, but remembered  fondly/with love.

I recently bought/pre-ordered prior to shipping several cookbooks from the Infantry Museum, not knowing what I would do with them, but you know how we are when tempted with that old sales trick of: 'savings here!' proposal - even though it means spending to save... I got a whopping bargain, and only spent $86 for four that are now $30 each. Am I not the clever one?! So I gave them to the younger gen. who actually do spend time in the kitchen, and will hopefully try some of the eclectic assorted printed gems collected from all over the world, military families, supporters, veterans, museum volunteers, etc.

The Infantry Museum cookbook I took to Decatur to give away received several rounds of hilarity in response, when they found recipes for elephant casserole (feeds 8,362) and armadillo stew. Reminding me of the recipe from my brother years ago for Rum Cake that I submitted to reprint in a small cookbook the Presbyterians were producing... that ended with 'take another shot of rum and bo to ged'.I've known for years 'How to Eat an Elephant', but if you are interested in information on the prep. part, it has now been published as well...

lost civility in this 'modern' age

Funny that I would be writing this right after talking about how desperate I was to get 'tech support' with cell phone, but it has been on my mind in one form or another for a couple of weeks, and I feel the need to step up on the soapbox again. As I seem to have a lot of free time here at 5:30 a.m., see no reason not to give all three of you another piece of my mind... though I am sure there will come a time when I don't have any molecules to spare and hope you will save/remind/return to me things that are escaping faster than helium from an inflated balloon.

I spoke to my husband (obviously inappropriately - as he got profoundly huffy, and remained in a state of 'Grinch' for hours) about taking out his cell phone recently when we were sitting in a restaurant waiting for our server. He said he was just checking email, and I said that the people we were with were more important than the latest message/update. He did put it away, but we have yet to have the 'conversation' that will, I am sure make him very defensive and irritable all over again. Which is pretty interesting, since I am of the opinion that people usually get 'that way' when they Know They Are In The Wrong and so thoroughly dislike admitting (and especially apologizing for) bad behavior.

I often see people in pairs, or groups, sitting in public places, obviously having deliberately planned a convivial outing together, with heads bent low, text-ing or perusing mini-screens on their pocket sized electronics. I think I would have (slightly) more tolerance for such horrifying failure to interact if they were small children in need of diversion. But they if they are independent enough to get to any given location, and capable of paying their own expenses when they get there - they surely should have the ability to carry on a conversation/amuse themselves and companions. Especially with people they deliberately choose to meet/invest their most valuable commodity in.

I'm ready to hear from  'Ms. Manners' about: social isolation in a crowded room? Turn it off? Put it down? Make eye contact? Force yourself to invent small talk? Take baby steps toward relearning how to verbalize with your mouth instead of thumbs? I've seen articles that indicate all these young people who have electronic messaging devices prefer to type than actually make the call and talk with their friends - no actual interacting on a verbal level - too risky? Too easily mis-understood? Too simple?

When I accidently/unintentionally bought myself a new cell phone this week, I asked if they could disable the part that receives text messages. I found a number of messages on the old phone last week, that I did not know were there, or how to retrieve... so you know how interested I am in devoting my time to that! Forget expecting such tricks from this Old Dog...(though I will admit to trying to figure out how to send a message last night when I was walking in the dusky evening to say:' I saw the moon'!)

O.k., done with that....

a 'gift' I did not intend to purchase...

I did not mean to A) buy myself a new cell phone for Christmas, or B) have to learn how to use a new piece of techno-whiz. But I find myself compelled to do both - and think that the purchase will likely (and unlikely!) be less painful than the learning curve.Mostly due to having acquired this new one with montrous discounts and a $30 rebate that brought the price down to ten dollars plus a postage stamp was nearly as good as going in the store when I was informed that my contract was up for renewal and qualified for a new one - which the guy who pays the bill got instead. Being a guy, happens to be Very Fond of bells and whistles: the bigger the boy, the bigger the toy.

Happy New Year's Eve eve: I am up in the wee hours again, (4:30 a.m.) in spite of all the things I did to sleep all night... oh well.

I wanted to report:
I got all those missing numbers out of the old phone. Idecided to give it one last shot, so I took it back to the ATT store where they (independently of my personal preferences) bought my new one, and the sales guy said they had not been properly saved and un-retriev-able. But I could get it to power up,where they could  not, so decided that I would just go in and act pitiful, possibly get on my knees and whine if necessary. 
The sales guy told me I could take that sadly abused phone with the number pad lit up, but black screen, to another store across town and they had some technology that would transfer the missing contacts. I found my new Best Friend, who hooked me up with all those people who went MIA when I dropped the phone over the weekend. 
I was, needless to say, delighted to be back in business with my Family and Friends. There were several people on speed dial, but all the others were amongst the Disappeared - until I met my new BF at the ATT store yesterday. Three trips to the various ATT stores were, I think, a small price to pay for being able to 'reach out and touch someone' instead of waiting and wishing and hoping they would want to be calling me so I could get those contacts back after a 'series of unfortunate accidents' this past weekend.

But you can still call me if you are one of the 3 people who read this on a regular basis...hearing from you always makes me smile :)

yesh - that was amusing... now that it's over...

Thursday, December 29, 2011
I was really anxious about going, and very apprehensive about what would happen: sounds like dental surgery? Not at all sure I was fully committed but past the point of backing out, knowing that I had to finish what I had started: sounds like childbirth? Thinking I might just plead nausea, and go lock myself in the bathroom: sound like a blind date? Wondering 'what was I  thinking" when I agreed to go: sound like jumping out of a perfectly good airplane? It took me sleeping on it and having my little pondering hour this morning at 4:00 am, to decide I think I had enough fun to want to do it again... maybe. In about 364 days...

Went to Decatur yesterday morning to play 'paintball' with my little brood and several complete strangers, people who just ambled up about the same time we did, apparently with their own 'groupons',knowing the meter was ticking, time was running out for their own 'fun opp.'. F. lost her mind several months ago and purchased two 'groupons' for us to go, and we had to get it done before mid-January when they expired. The only time we could all get together was this week, so against better judgement and basic sanity: I went. They kept looking at me all afternoon, asking if I was 'OK?' Having fun? Enjoying myself? So under all the safety equipment, I must have looked pretty stressed out, visibly apprehensive... And it took getting almost to the end of a 500 count bag of little marble sized thin-shelled plastic balls filled with bright orange paint for me to say: well, what the hell... and start blasting away.

Blessedly those grubby little guys who were running the paintball establishment really seriously focus on safety (to their own benefit I am sure, as one accident could quickly put them out of business!) We amused ourselves for several hours with no more damage than some welts and bruises that will soon become badges of honor. (What is it about guys that makes them want to rehash the story of the biggest fish, largest mammal, woolly mammoth hunt over and over?) We were assured the paint will wash out, but you'll have to wait for 'news at 11:00' for that report.  Little Grubby Guys had a couple of different scenarios set up and we were divided variously into teams to shoot one another - mildly amusing. Probably 'way more fun for those with testerone pumping, but it was an interesting experience, and entertaining enough (in retrospect) for me to demand a rematch.

I've had a chance to inspect my parts for damage, and found big bruises on my right forearm, about 3 inches in diameter, and one a little bigger, where I must have taken a closer hit on the left upper arm that is really sore - but since it is right where I got my flu shot about a week ago, I did not think much of it, until I pulled off my long sleeves and looked, thankful that it is not on my face! I was a bit wussy when we started, so expect the other more adventuresome enthusiasts have much more impressive bruises to show for all that fun we had...

So: yesh, we had fun...and togetherness and laughing, smiles, family, being with people who have a really strange sense of humor (that they attribute to a genetic predisposition and completely beyond their control).

ready for Christmas? me neither!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Well, actually, I am ready - it's just that my house isn't. I have things I want to get done like cleaning up a bit, thought I don't know exactly why I think it is necessary - other than I have not done it in weeks. And it will be full of people, who am certain are not coming as health inspectors - especially since they have various and sundry hairy animals living in their houses that leave clouds of dust bunnies and tumbleweeds every step they take. My own personal dust bunnies are of the common, garden variety, and nothing so exotic one could be knitting scarves and sox from the residue... so my lowered standards are barely noticeable.

And I have wrapped zero gifts - no, wait: I mailed one off last week in a box of baked goodies. But I there is a bin in the closet that needs papering and taping and tagging, so I am not as ready as I could be. But the thing is:  I am absolutely, positively convinced at this point in my aimless little life that Christmas is about connections and family. Making the effort to be with people you care about. Devoting yourself to giving 'time' instead of stuff.

For the past couple of years, one of my girls has devoted quite a bit of effort to share skills with people she wanted to gift for the holidays: making handmade things, sewing, crafting, cooking with husband, doing cute and clever instead of 'made in China'. So there is the 'thing' that is the gift, but there is also the Thought +  Preparation + Effort + Time = Thing that she takes to the office and will share her skills and cleverness with co-workers as the Thing changes hands. (People Do still sew at home! yes! and we are such a rarity that other people will actually pay for having pants hemmed, buttons replaced, girl scout badges sewn on vests...)

I told them years ago that I did not want any 'stuff'. Nothing to wear, nothing to have to find a place to put and then dust around, move from place to place to clean. All's I want any more is time. Just a little attention from the people I care about... I guess that is some portion of the reason I write so much, send so many cards and notes, compose letters to mail and generously support the aching, aging US Postal System. Putting my effort into staying in touch, communicating through the hand written word: devoting my time to keeping friends and family informed, and signing my notes with 'love' - that's what's important. Email is good, conveinent, fast, cheaper than cheap - but nothing compares to opening your mail box and finding a letter or postcard someone wanted You to have.

So I have spent hours and hours the past three days handwriting notes to about seventy five people I want to stay connected with - lucky you! Making four trips to the post office in the past week for more stamps and addressing all those cards to keep in touch... remind all those people of my interest in their lives. You know who you are... better run out and buy those 'Forever' stamps and support the postal system before Ben Franklin starts spinning in his grave...

civilized behavior unravelling....?

Friday, December 16, 2011
I am appalled by the death of common courtesy in our society. I am horrified by the inconsiderate people who are walking around among us, loose on the streets without supervision by trained professionals who should be accompanying them to protect the rest of us from their compulsive behavior and baser instincts.

I heard a story today that makes me so irritated and annoyed I could not actually believe I was hearing the re-telling correctly. She was loading gallons of milk (you know how heavy those things are: at least eight pounds each) from a grocery cart in to the bed of the truck from the sidewalk (and yes, I know it was a no parking zone), when a woman passed by and shoved the cart off the sidewalk, causing it to crash, and bust a jug, wasting a gallon of milk. Without the first inkling of 'sorry', or 'whoopz' or 'can I replace that for you?' What's the world coming to?

And another story about a little fifth grade boy who was overheard by a third party/adult saying he thought a particular teacher was 'pretty', so he was suspended, charged with harassment. I'm all for the Zero Tolerance program with school bullying and opposed to anything that even remotely smaks of sexual inuendo or suggestive talk: but please.... people.... this is ridiculous.

If you are the rude, thoughtless, ill-mannered (possibly mentally unstable) individual who deliberately shoved the grocery cart off the sidewalk and onto it's side in the parking lot, or the adult who felt a ten year old child paying his teacher a compliment was out of line,.... we need to talk. But then again - if you are so out of touch with reality and common courtesy as to believe having no couth is acceptable, it is likely we are on such different wave-lengths, we probably don't have a common language in which to communicate.

I'm done - off the soap box. But open to suggestion as to what we might begin to do as a society that could turn our minds and hearts down another path and head us back toward a more compassionate, considerate, lucid, meditative state. Please don't take Newt Gingrich seriously. I am hoping all the people who are smart enough to realize what a clown he is, are just to polite to even discuss it, but will know what to do next November.

on the way to a job this morning...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I planned to leave the house about 7:00, to have time to stop by Publix on the way to the 8:00 start time for the sub. teaching job today. And nearly got out the door on time (this from the person who willingly admits that if I am riding with him on Sunday mornings, I always get there 15 minutes early, but if for some reason we are driving separately, I am always ten minutes late), so I think I should get some points/partial credit for the 'nearly' part.

There is usually a 3 to 5 minute wait at the top of my driveway, not even able to inch out onto the street, with traffic coming over the hill in three different directions. Hundreds of cars going to and from the elementary school a half mile away, plus hundreds - literally- of autos with  commuters headed into town. All these vehicles going towards town/work, trying to get out in the flow at the intersection  about one hundred feet from my mail box. Everyone attempting to make a left turn at the same time I am, in an effort to get someplace on time when we all started ten minutes late.

But this morning: when I left the house, only about three minutes after 7:00, and started up the driveway... no traffic what-so-ever. None. Nobody. Nothing moving on my street except my toyo. All the way to the end - no one - and nearly nothing barrelling down the highway - I was so confounded, baffled by the relative ease and complete lack of competition - I thought that the Rapture might have started without me - and I was more than a little alarmed to think I had got left. But I did not see any abandoned vehicles or empty shoes, so apparently I haven't missed my chance.

sub. teaching needs proliferate

Today will be my 3rd. sub. teaching job for the week - unusual in lots of ways. I think there are so many people competing for the fill-in jobs that I rarely get one a week. And there are weeks when I have so many other little items filling in the squares on my calendar, just some little something - any number of minor commitments - that when I do get a call at 6:03 a.m., I can't accept a 'day labor' job. Plus most of the calls I get are for someone to fill in a spot for a para.pro./aide (which does not pay nearly as well as the Teacher jobs), which is why everyone else who is job-searching/fishing for work jumps on the Teacher jobs, to make nearly double what they pay for replacing a para. in a classroom.

I was in the fourth grade Mon. and Tues... and can't explain what made me accept being in a room with two dozen ten year olds. I generally try to only take jobs that are pre-K, K or first grade, that usually have two people in the room, as I feel if there is already someone in there who knows their schedule, knows them well enough to call the misbehaving down by name, it will be a much better day for all parties concerned. So I actually don't mind going in a room as the para: other than the poor pay that indicates 'you are obviously not as valuable or valued as the Teacher is in this setting'. But I do like to leave at the end of the day with all my hair intact. Not so much from having the troop of excitable monkeys, hanging off your limbs and pulling on it - but the stress of trying to control the uncontrollable can make you pull your own hair out in despair and frustration.

I will be a para. pro today, at a school on the south side. But when I was down there a couple of weeks ago, it was in a well-disciplined, organized, classroom with a teacher who obviously loved her work and loved those little people, so I am hopeful about today... and will start looking for some 'day labor' jobs to fill in the rest of the week, before they get out for the holidays.

various and sundry road trips...

I went from one end of the state to the other last week: from Q. to TN. At some point recently my little toyo. has turned over on 10,000 miles. Which is somewhat worrisome after recently reading that the batteries are designed for that - and now I am fearful I will have to fork over the cost of replacement at any moment - or be coasting to an unexpected, ill-timed stop in an undesirable location (that would ideally be right in front of the battery store!)

I'd planned to go to Q. to do some dreaded house-cleaning, and year-end visit last week. Then I took a sub. teaching job on that particular day, so was mid-afternoon leaving town. On the way south, I got a call that dear friends in mid-FL were motoring to Tally. in anticipation of/impending birth of first grandchild. So I went on to FL instead, to see the new person and welcome APM to the world.He's already good looking, which is not always the case of new babies. Happy people, lots of joy.

Then I went on to Q. in the dark, flopped into bed. Spent most of the next day cleaning, with a little visiting around: went to see a friend of my mom's and to Valdosta to see my auntie, (and the new auntie of APM who had just moved into a new house - that as it turns out, has had several 'new house' problems, hopefully all resolved?) Got up early on Thurs. to get back to Col., so I could unload and reload to go to TN on Friday.

The worst part about going to Chatt-y-nooga is getting through ATL, but it was not a bad trip (or at least no worse than usual), probably due to the time of day I squeezed my way onto I-285. Got to TN before noon, and had lunch, went to an (over-priced) craft show/sale downtown, and did some shopping. Then across town to the mall to spend more $$$, and back to St. Elmo/nest of family.

We did errands on Sat.: shopping for gifts, trip to Post Office. That ill-fated trip to the p.o.: we were just there on Friday afternoon - right there in the parking lot and did not get the stamps to mail the Christmas Cards. So after driving across town again, and going to stand in line for ten minutes, behind a woman who had forty packages to mail at self-service, I said: 'just give me the cards and I will mail them for you'. So I went to the p.o. here, and bought happy holiday stamps, mailed them to Chatt. I know it is crazie to mail stamps - but not nearly as crazie as standing in line for half an hour when the inconsiderate person ahead of you in line won't look over her shoulder and give way.

After shopping, eating too much, hanging out, we cruised around to see Christmas lights on Sat. night. Went up on Lookout Mtn, and enjoyed the view out over the city - when the trees are bare - I guess you can enjoy the 'lights' for months on end with or without any seasonal decoration?. The tour of Rock City over the  holidays is highly promoted on billboards and well advertised during the fall, trying to make it a destination, with 'annual pass' rates... but we were not persuaded to want to stumble and bump around  in the dark along the edge of the precipice. They can actually see the festive decor. along the edge of Rock City from their house down in the valley, so we just enjoyed the SeeRockCity! view from a friendly neighborhood distance. And no 'SeeRubyFalls! for me either, as I have lost nothing down in a hole....

Went to church on Sunday morning, had lunch and started home, with a side trip to Decatur. Got it all unloaded (and found things I had to mail to Chatt. that should not have come to GA), and ready to start sub. job on Monday morning.

it almost felt like skipping school...

Saturday, December 3, 2011
What it really was: was a stolen day. Completely unaccountable. But did not really misbehave, other than eating some things that made me feel guilty (for just a few minutes - and since we did not even order dessert - that wee little twinge of wrong-doing did not last long enough to be worth mentioning...)  I prefer to think of last Wednesday, Nov. 30 as a day Filled with Opportunities - but if that were actually the case, we probably would have ordered one of everything on the dessert menu and two spoons.

One of my favorite cohorts reported months ago, and instructed me to mark on my calendar that Nov. 30 had been designated (by who? we will never know!) as Official Stay At Home Day. So what did I do to mark such an important milestone? yah, you guessed: left home... went to Decatur and spent the day slouching around. Then when it was over, and time for me to leave to go back to where I actually should have been all along (Home), I asked ' how in the world did you manage to finagle getting off from work for such a completely unlikely bogus reason?' She claims she had requested the day off weeks ago, and she also claims to have told the truth about the reason: she had to stay at home. I am convinced it is the lamest, 'most unlikely to be succeed' holiday ever, but: if it works, it works...and if you have seen the youtube videos of people who supported the 'wear your underwear to work' event, you will probably agree.

I recently read a quote by a well-known 'celebrity': a term often woefully mis-used and applied to people (with a large following of photographers who document their every move/bite/hair color) who dress unattractively in public, make fools of themselves by doing things that would horrify their grandmothers and generally completely destroy their reputations - in the unlikely event they had one at all. The quote was, I think, from Robert DeNiro - or maybe not- but went something like: 'there are no 'guilty' pleasures, just pleasures'. So though nobody actually kept themselves in p.j.s and robe on the Official Stay at Home day, it was mildly entertaining.

One of the things we did was go to the Christmas tree lot and accidently abscond with a tree. The only reason it was borrowed, instead of bought, is that there was no Attendant on the lot. The Boy Scouts had set up in a corner of a small mall, and were apparently not open for business until Dec.1, and obviously 'un-manned' during the day. (Got a report later that two other people had borrowed trees and not bothered to leave contact info./return to pay for goods). She left a note on the door of the trailer, and later went back to cover the cost of the 10-foot tall tree we delivered to her workplace.

When we leaving the house (fully clothed!) on the Tree Mission, I asked if we could take a box of bows I had been riding around in my car. Big pretty, sparkly, colorful, fluffy bows for holiday decorating on fresh green wreaths. I tried to sell to a guy who has a tree lot near wally-world and he told me how pretty they were. I told him I was a trained professional with much experience, then he said No. Oh. O.k.

So, while airing the bows out as they were enjoying the scenery cruising around in the backseat, I was pondering my next move: where is a more likely tree lot to get rid of a dozen fluffy holiday bows? And said: 'hmmm, I can just donate them to the Boy Scouts, to decorate the fresh, fragrant wreaths they will be selling for supporting their fun and projects'. Brilliant idea!

When she went back the next day to pay for the absconded tree, she took the pile of sparkly ribbons and asked if they could use them, in exchange for a receipt for goods donated to a non-profit. So: I hope the little scouts put the ribbons on their holiday decorations, and will increase the price of their goods. And I hope they will send me a receipt for the bows that I can then use as a deduction on my taxes.

I know you have already got your calendar for next year, and at the very least started filling up the little squares in January with various and sundry things that you need to remember/attend to. So go ahead and turn over to November, and write 'National Stay at Home Day' on the 30th. We will get together and eat bad/good stuff, laugh, enjoy life.

kinda, sorta, but not really...

Friday, December 2, 2011
I had a couple of days this week of substitute teaching work - but  not really. I was there, in the classroom, on Monday and Tuesday, but since I was the 'para-pro'/aide and had no idea what was going on, the daily schedule/routine, what they are capable of, what to expect - I was not actually useful... Plus those days of replacing the second on command, pay about half of what being the teacher pays, so it was only marginally productive in a remunerative sense as well.

I have made quite a few disparaging remarks about work as a sub. in the public schools in recent months and years as it gets more challenging, and frustrating trying to get to the part where you feel like you might actually be doing some good, effective even only for a few minutes with an occasional impact on a random child. I become more and more convinced that a big part of the struggle teachers face is due to issues within the home environment. And wondering: are children so often disrespectful and uncooperative because the teachers (and authority figures in general) are not honored and respected by other adults the children come in contact with outside of the educational arena? As in so many other areas: children are learning by what they see modeled as acceptable behavior. End of editorial...

Anyway: the two days I spent this week in schools down on the south side of town were very gratifying. I am sure part of it is because the kids were young enough to have some respect for authority, and maleable enough to want to learn, absorbing everything they are exposed to (both good and otherwise!). But those teachers were so obviously dedicated to what they are doing, it was a delight to be in the classroom with people who are there to try to have a positive impact. Those two classrooms, in different schools, were happy places, conducive to learning and education, well-run, disciplined, managed by people who obviously had plenty of experience and knew what it takes to make a herd of five-year olds feel valued and successful.

I think another part of it is that five year olds will always be five year olds - each August, that kindergarten teacher gets in a new batch of 'blank slates', to put the information in and hope you have a lasting impact. And each year, the teacher is a little wiser, more experienced, better able to discern the things that worked or didn't - even though some of that verbosity of curriculum guidelines/requirements probably makes them want to pull their hair out. I don't know the solution, and don't even know if there Is a solution: but it is apparent from what I saw on Monday and Tuesday, that there are teachers who do it because they love kids, and love the challenge of corralling up a roiling tussle of excitable five-year old, and applying knowledge to their brains.