29 August 2007

Why I teach

I teach because there is no real living to be made as a poet these days. I teach because my mother taught, and three of my aunts taught, and my grandmothers were teachers of a different kind, and it is how I process the world.

Today I asked 20 young people in my classroom, all under 30, all over 18, to name one female supreme court justice.

Twenty Americans of voting age.

No one could even come up with part of either name. Now I know there have only been two, and perhaps when I was in college....no, I know that's not true. I have known the name Sandra Day O'Connor since she was appointed in 1981. I was 8. Ruth Bader Ginsberg missed an awful lot of limelight being second. But they both have nice long names, and I was so hopeful that at least part of one of them would come up in class.

This is almost as bad as last semester, when I asked three separate sections of students, totalling 75 people, to tell me the year the Civil War ended. Someone got as close as 1850, which is pretty close, considering many thought it was around the time Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot.

At any rate, I teach because I want people to know things. I want them to know why it's important, and how good it feels to have context. Of course, I can lead the horses to water, but I can't hold their heads under and make them drink: so I try to be satisfied just getting them close to the water and hoping they figure it out.

In other news, my latest attempt at an extreme closeup. I love wood. I love how it ages, how it changes color. As I was putting these together, the oldest one crumbled a bit in my fingers. I love how that feels.

Next spring we'll set up a little clothesline for the daughter. It's high time she learned to do some chores.

25 August 2007

She's an angel straight from heaven!

Like many new parents, during our pregnancy and for the first two years of our child's life we have often quoted Raising Arizona. From "show the tattoo" to "I think I got the best one" to "he's a little outlaw, he is" the movie has provided us commentary when we were too tired to be witty on our own. And sometimes I get a photo that makes me think of the film, and I must share.

In other news, one of my oldest non-relative friends just had a baby girl. Her sister's daughter was born a few months ago, and to have these two women, whom I've known all my life, have babies my daughter's age is really profound. Their brother has twin boys, who are even closer to V's age, and this, too, gives me goosebumps. I don't know why: it means a lot to me that my sister and I had children in the same month, but that seemed natural, as we've always done things at a similar pace. But Joel, Jennifer and Emily, our big city friends, becoming parents along with us? Suddenly I'm ten years old again, standing neck-deep in South Twin Lake, talking with the girls about why it's just as bad to say "damn" as "Goddamn." Our children, if they come to know and love each other (and I so hope they do) will be the third generation of our families to be friends, despite the fact that most of the time we have lived over 200 miles apart. It's all very...cosmic, I guess. Serendipitous and cosmic, and I am ever so excited to meet Zoe and August, and hang out more with Noah and Oliver, and provide V with her own big-city friends.

In baby-turns-toddler news, V's recent vocabulary expansions:
oh, no!
digeradoo (kinda)

A fabulous mix. What else does one need to know, really, but tuba, pizza, and digeradoo?

And more than anything, the child loves to play the drums.

16 August 2007

Because Laura Ingalls didn't have any pink plastic toys.

I love Amy Karol: her book on sewing, her blog, her projects...but lately, I've especially loved her rants about plastic things. Today she posted about the scary toy recalls and offered fabulous solutions (that's my favorite part, the solutions), and you should all read this and take it to heart. Even if you don't have children, you know small people, or you might someday have your own, and plastic crap just crawls toward your house once you have an infant.

Just my opinion. I mean, we have more than our share of plastic crap, indeed. V is fond of plastic crap, and I myself have a healthy collection of crappy plastic. But I have been lately making a collection of soft food: I find it challenging to make and hilarious to play with, and V grooves on it. Here's my professional-looking photo shoot. Hopefully you can tell, but here we have bread (with butter), chocolate cake with pink frosting, a tiny slice of watermelon, a carrot, some celery (go Wonderpets!), and an egg with two fancy pieces of bacon. Brilliantly (or perhaps because I am a disgusting packrat) I had an extra metal lunchbox so V can tote her new food hither and yon. Meanwhile, enjoy my delicious picture. And feel free to suggest other fairly-simple-to-translate-into-fabric food stuffs. I'm actively searching for inspiration.