Thursday, April 30, 2009

The snakes are out.

Yesterday, I spent over sixteen hours writing and I got nowhere but somewhere. As a gift to myself, I mowed my lawn. Quirky, I know. In the process, I had to stall my mower for two grass snakes - one of which was eating a grasshopper and perturbed I was intervening on his feast. The local snakes are harmless, but after my first year of mowing in my North Syracuse home, I've tried to be more conscious about sharing my lawn with critters. Like us, I imagine they're not thrilled by the onset of blades coming down from the sky.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ma Na Ma Na

It's Wednesday, and if my predictions serve me right, I will be spending fourteen hours writing and editing today. I was thinking about this and opted to get a song in my head when I remembered the Muppets singing, Ma Na Ma Na. Lo and Behold, I found a video. Perhaps the song will click with you today and you will go about humming as your day unfolds as it does. I need a quirky rhythm to move through all I have to get done.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

da bomb

Mike & I had the last practice for the AA Bombers. Their first game is this Thursday night at Cicero Little League Park. All who can attend are expected to be there with their quirky cheers and promises of post-game ice cream. Mike surprised us all with assistant coach t-shirts and little shirts for the kids. We are the bombers, 2009 and we're learning along with the kids.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm Late, I'm Late.

There might not be a better metaphor for the next two weeks than this image of the rabbit from Alice in Wonderland. I failed to post this morning, only because I'm up against the clock. Last weekend, 12,000 individuals ran the marathon in Louisville, Kentucky. It was a one-day ordeal. I, on the other hand, am running a two week marathon of trying to bring a lot of my semester's work to a culmination. The issue I face is that there are only 24 hours in a day. I will try my best and see what I can accomplish. I am looking forward to resting after it is all done.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


It is strange how patterns work. For several years, this was my view into work. I saw it every morning. Since I've been in the 'ville, it has been my view once again. Yesterday morning, I drove into it for the conference and away from it in the evening (just like ol' times).

We might be nomadic, but there's something to be said about our quirky routines.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Zoom, it goes so fast.

There aren't enough words for today's entirety, so I'll try to begin at the end. At the National Writing Project Conference, dooby doo me stands and mingles with people he doesn't know -- in particular a woman who looked friendly. She turns out to be Sharon Washington, the new director for the National Writing Project. We were in the Hyatt SkyTop, a rotating restaurant that spins above Louisville. We gabbed a bit and I sat with her, Jean Hicks and Bonnie Benard during the dinner. The evening was a reunion of sorts and I got to catch up with many writing buds.

More importantly to this quirky day, is that I spent most of it at the Brown School. I'm not sure if there is an emotion quite named to describe how this felt all day. When I have more time, I will explore the emotion more: it was like being home, feeling recharged, feeling overjoyed and also worried about how quickly time passes and everything changes. What makes Brown the Brown are the kids and they remain wonderful. I especially loved seeing the diversity in the elementary school and the wonderful friendships that continue to exist all the way through the high school.

They say you can never "go home again," but that is a lie. You can always go home to anywhere that people love and support you. There, it always feels good to pull up a chair to chat.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I arrived safely and have been running through Kentucky with my head cut off. Yesterday, I was able to run from Sue and Dave's down to the river front, past the Chow Wagons for Derby and then through the city before I went back home. All the Dogwoods are in bloom and the air balloons are setting up for the balloon race. It is definitely heading towards May in Louisville.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Syracuse Showcase

Tuesday at Syracuse University, students from Nottingham High School highlighted their life stories in posters and scrapbooks. One young man from Somalia, Ibrahim, created a website with his research partner Johanna. The work is worth visiting and it is a true testimony of how diverse the Syracuse community grows everday. Abraham's Story. (click here)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blue Moon, Kentucky

This seems like a fitting post today. I am heading to the Bluegrass for the National Writing Project Conference for urban educators -- how quirky is it that Kentucky is known for its bluegrass but also for its writing curriculum. It is a busy five days, but it might be exactly what I need to refresh my "guts" that are exhausted at this time of the year, and also perplexed by the way writing instruction occurs locally.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I know sinuses are meant to keep equilibrium and balance in our heads and to help filter out allergens in the air that our body wishes to reject. With this said, I still don't understand them. I lay in bed at night feeling like a balloon ready to pop. There's no more air or pressure capable of being blown into my nostrils and ears. Nope, tis the quirky season of sinus gunk and the funk that goes with it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

good ol' quirky Sysiphus

Would you just relax? I found this cartoon when I taught at the Brown School. I hung it up by my desk as Alice's reminder to me to 'chill out' when the end of the year came around. Whereas this is the period of winding down for the semester, and the boulder/beach ball still needs to be pushed uphill, I am reminded of how much hard work goes into living life and that no matter what we do, the ball/rock will roll back down. Even so, pushing forward is "what we got" while we got it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Broze in Law -n- Cynderballs

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

When life gives you dead batteries

This is me wearing the red cap that came with my new car battery. I was trying to get moving on Thursday when my car wouldn't start. It was dead. I wanted to get to the office to help out because one secretary took the day off, but the great whatever had another plan. I left my keys in my truck overnight with the ignition turned on. Why? Because I was changing a break light and in my wisdom, I had a dumbbell (no, not me) resting on the break light so I could make sure the new light worked. I took the dumbbell off the brake but left my keys. Idiotic move on my part.

I dedicate this post to my brother-in-law Mike who earned a few chest hairs for helping me out. I have tools, but they are of minimal use and together we changed the old battery to the new one. Because I was dressed for work, he didn't want me to get dirty, but I didn't mind. It is always good to experience life as it is - not the academic life I live that has failed to teach me the essence of an engine. That would be practical, now wouldn't it.

I made it to work...late, and I bought a tub of Edy's super-fudge-cookie-crap icecream so Isabelle and I could make beauty out of a rough start of a day. When life gives you lemons, where can you buy a pint of goo?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

this post for Frances Mican

I don't chill with supermodels. I don't even know any. I often complain that my schedule doesn't allow time to veg in front of the t.v., but I do take advantage of stupid, mindless shows that require very little brainwork on my part. This is why I adhere to the advice of Frances Mican and occasionally watch America's Top Model while studying, reading and writing. I like competition. I like beauty. I'm fascinated by art. There's always been a part of me that is drawn to catty, superficial fighting over superficial means. Hence, I admit it. I have a quirky fascination with this show. Tyra Banks drives me insane, but I think it is fascinating how they often take what I would consider homely individuals, but with make up and lighting, they make them look good. Okay, I'm going to bed. This confession has me critical of my own viewing practice.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quirky Find

I was looking again at Qualitative Research for Education: An Introduction to Theories and Methods written by Bogdan and Knopp-Biklen when I came across this photograph on page 47. Dr. Biklen (Sari) has mentored my last two years of qualitative research studies and I read this text before I met her. I cracked up to see this photo in her book because under the caption it reads: Faculty Union Free School, 1907. Sherburne, N.Y.. Here in this text is historical Sherburne before my dad and his siblings were born. Amazing. To think of Sherburne's history as hub for educational progress is evidence of how the demographics of populations change. In the early 1900s, Sherburne made sense for settlement: good farmland, a nice place for a town and excellent hunting. Wow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Iron Woman

This is a small shout out and "thank you" for my mom who ironed five shirts for me last night. I brought her nine and kept the pants and eight other shirts for myself to press when time allows. Trying to stay on top of my schedule in clean clothes has been rough. I've prided myself for years with my ability to iron my clothes, maintain laundry, do the indoor and outdoor chores, while keeping to my career as an educator. This semester, though, I've fallen short and the ironing overwhelms me. I am very appreciative to have my shirts pressed so I can get through the rest of this week. Thanks mom!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter on Eastman

The second annual Easter dinner was held at my house yesterday from 12:30 until 6:15. The above movie is a nine-minute slice of the cacophony that occurred throughout the festivity and offers the joy my family noted I must miss when I'm home all alone reading and studying with only a passive dog for my company. I now have the quirky sounds of family in a safe place to cherish forever and always. Let peace reign forever.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


In Denmark, they are called "Nisse." Gnomes, the neglected entities to the Harry Potter film series that was a HUGE mistake. At the Weasley's, gnomes are common place but the film directors chose not to include them. Tsk Tsk. In the meantime, the gardening season is upon us an no lawn should go gnome-less. They are meant to inhabit all our yards because they are much more important than humanity. Gnomes are God's fingernail clippings and they deserve to be spread around the world.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pounding stone with Paula

On Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me a regular guest is Paula Poundstone. I love her sense of humor and with my dedication to quirky in 2009, I needed to have some of her stand up comedy. Her dry humor cracks me up whether it's visual on YouTube or auditory on the radio. She makes me crack up and that's a good thing, no?

Friday, April 10, 2009

April is Poetry Month

I was asked to teach a group of Masters students last night about how I came to teaching poetry. The above clip is a partial film of my presentation. I began with my grandmother, AnE.Rip, moved through my college years and ended with the irreplaceable education my students at Brown gave me. It was Kelly Ruff, class of 1999, who made me see Nikki Giovanni's words for how RICH they actually are She teaches at Virginia Tech and those who know about the shooting from a few years ago should also know she had that young man in her class. She worried terribly about him. My point for posting this, however, is to remember poetry heals. Poetry speaks. Poetry challenges. Poetry defies. Poetry defines. Poetry is.

Poetry is.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I read somewhere once that the human body is water's secret ploy to transport itself around the world. Actually, water runs the world.

With a headache today, I drank a bottle of water and it went away.  A quirky remedy, indeed, and it replenished the dryness I'm feeling in April cold, heated, indoor air.  Given the fact I sweat most of it out in a matter of seconds, I know there is truth in the need to drink as much water in a day as a human can.

And I thank the great whatever for tap water to fill the empty bottles always lying around.  I think of droughts and how horrific a lack of water would be.

Now, I am thinking of swimming.  That day is coming again soon, I hope.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I have spent the last three days working on life narratives of the three students I've interviewed this semester:  a boy from Nepal, a boy from Liberia, and a boy from Sudan. With two to three hours of interviews with each student behind me, and six hours per transcription of the audio, and now the twenty-four hours of writing their life stories, I am enlightened, but tired.  Now, I am creating posters of their life story so they can showcase their world to their school.

I've never made a poster before and I relied on my Apple to do this.  It turns out Powerpoint allows for larger posters, so I had to redo my work in Powerpoint.  

The point is, however, I have the quirky power to take on such a challenge and after three straight days of working on these posters, I believe I'm getting closer to my goal.  

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It's my line...well, it's my blog, anway.

I am missing my work with Improv4Quarterbacks and Brown School comedians. I love improv and cherish the creativity it requires to think on the spot and in the moment, especially to make someone laugh. If you haven't seen the classic Who's Line Is It Anyway? with Richard Simmons, click the link to the left and laugh your butt off. What a quirky episode that was!!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

original tree faces

In Clarskville, Indiana, at an icecream shop, they sell concrete tree faces to dress your favorite bark to look like an Ent.  I'm proud of all the faces I bought for people around the world and even the fact I purchased one for myself before Walmart went corporate with a mock plastic version.

Trees have spirits and it is fun to give them a quirky identity to spark up the natural world.  Although this isn't the face I see everyday when I drive into my home, I do have one that is similar.  It welcomes me to my driveway and puts a smirk on my face that the dead tree out front actually has a daemon and can look over my property while I'm away.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Why? Why not?

The Cicero North Syracuse Northstars Varsity team arrived home to Central, New York, last night as National Champions. Outscoring 115 other guards in their division, they accomplished the NCAA World Series of their event. It is a warm bit of news in a blustery, cold April. Congratulations!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Judy Freiberg

Yesterday, my department of Reading and Language Arts hosted Judy Freiberg who has been a writer for Sesame Street since 1975. She worked with Tony Geiss on The Land Before Time and An American Tail. It was nice to have a Syracuse connection with the show. After all, in my own textual lineage, I recognize that Sesame Street taught me to read. A Syracuse graduate has had a national influence, and if she didn't visit with our department today, I'm not sure I would have known who she was.

 It was an honor to have lunch with her and to hear her wisdom. I'm always thrilled to learn behind-the-scene tales of writers and the multiple ways they work within systems. Sesame Street is a product of many people - it has a life of its own. Yet, behind the curtain are those who make it work...most of these individuals go unnamed and unknown. Elmo and Big Bird are in the vernacular of kids all around the world, but names like Judy Freiberg, are not. I suppose this is the power of writing. Our creations become our Frankensteins, which is both beautiful and tragic. Beautiful, because life (even when it is textual) can be gorgeous. Tragic, because it's hard to control a beast when it takes on a life of its own.

Sesame Street, without a doubt, is a life on its own. I can't imagine this world without it.

And for this reason, I'm thankful for Judy Freiberg and the other 'puppeteers' who script the world that changes the lives of children and adults everywhere. The power is omnipotence, indeed.

Friday, April 3, 2009

In need of April bug zappers

The thing about coaching little league in Cicero is the proximity of wetlands and swamps that breed mosquitoes. Last night, as we learned to ground balls, bat and pitch with 8, 9 and 10 years olds, we also practiced swatting mosquitoes that were overly ambitious to feast on our ready-to-appreciate-the-warm-sun skin. There are very few things I despise in this world as much as the blood sucking bugs that come with warm weather. They aren't as annoying as the deer flies of Vermont, but they are mutually as pesky. We are a quirky breed of mammals who love our outdoor sports, but we must endure the joys of summer vermin, too.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Day Late for Fools.

It's April 2nd and Dave's Birthday. Best wishes, buddy!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Freak Shows

Bob Bogdan spoke to my class tonight and his conversation and slide show was very interesting. For over thirty years, he studied freak shows on midways and the portrayal of disabled individuals in American history. His conversation, designed through a photograph slide show, was very educational, especially in light of what constitutes a freak and the politics that go with it. Historically, the way shows put individuals on stage is a sign of a cultural period. At one time, it was status, so much so that Asian siamese twins bought property in the south and owned slaves - They were high society.

Times change, however, and then they don't. If we look at Octo-mom, one could say that our society still pours cash on those who create notions of abnormality. I think paying attention to how we display one another - whether normal or abnormal - is a great place to challenge our definitions quickly placed as truth. As it's been pointed out again and again, a supermodel - who is supposed to epitomize beauty - is actually quite freakish and odd. Yet, she's placed before the masses as an ideal. Quriky insight for a Wednesday.