Monthly Archives: April 2014

John Lennon and Long Underwear

bossyI taught high school and college Spanish for thirty years.    For the most part, I really enjoyed my students.  The only way to keep teaching is to love your subject and enjoy the age you teach.  And to retire before you lose your mind or hurt someone.

Often my students were funny.  One October day when I was teaching in Fort Bend County outside Houston, I noticed  one of the guys in class sweating manhad sweat pouring down his face.   His hair was wet with perspiration and he was gasping for breath. Concerned,  I leaned over his desk and asked what was going on, was he sick?  He said, “Mrs. Perrine, may I go to the restroom.  It was cold this morning so I put on my long underwear but it’s really hot now.”  What I love about people in the South is they don’t understand they never have a reason to wear long underwear.

LeninAnother time I was talking to an upper-level Spanish class about Diego Rivera, the Mexican muralist who paint a controversial mural of Lenin in Rockefeller Center.  I asked, “Does anyone know who Lenin was?”  One young lady raised her hand, so excited she waved her arm  and said,  “I know.  I know.  He John Lennonwas one of the Beatles.”

I always attempt to be polite and not laugh when a student says something funny.  I don’t want to hurt their egos but I did chuckle a little–okay, I chortled- when she said that.  They are young and she was sort of close.

One student I taught, Billy,  could make me laugh any time.  There are some students who believe they are funny but usually aren’t.  He   didn’t try to be funny.  He just was.  He’d say seriously  in a voice filled with concern, “Mrs. Perrine, I have a lot of trouble with irregular preterit tense verbs.”  I know that doesn’t sound funny, but I would laugh so hard I nearly fell off my desk.

Do you have a story about something funny that happened in a classroom?  I’d love to read it.

Read the instructions

There are two kinds of people:  those who read the instructions and instructionsthose who don’t.  I imagine most of us belong to the latter group.     As a teacher for years, I can swear to the fact that teachers are worse about following instructions than students.  I guess we all believe we’ll figure that out.  We’re smart and creative, right?

In 1987, I went from Kentucky  to a work camp at Inman Christian Center WANG2in San Antonio during a really hot July.  We were scraping and painting  the playground equipment.  On the second day, one of the center staff asked if anyone knew how to set up a computer system.  We had Apples at home.   I used mine all the time but felt sure someone knew more than I did.   However no one did and the task meant working inside in the air conditioning so I volunteered.    This was a WANG, one of the early makes and not a bit user friendly but I set it up and trained staff.   When I called George to tell him what I was doing, he gasped and asked, “How did you do that?”  To his great surprise, I answered, “I read the instructions”

Sometimes that’s a good place to start.

coffee makerI learned that again a few  weeks ago.   I make a full pot of coffee every couple of days and stretch the length of time it lasts by adding water to the tank.    However, it does get weaker and weaker so I decided to add the already made coffee to the tank which will warm it up without thinning it.   Yes, I know the instructions say, “Use only water in the tank” but I considered that over regulation by a big business and poured my coffee in.   An hour later, I smelled something burning and searched for the cause.   Quickly I realized it smelled like burning coffee.  Oh-oh.  I poured water into the reservoir.  Issue resolved.  Coffee odor gone.  Lesson learned.

Which are you?  Do you always follow directions or do you take off on your own?

 

Editing just because I can

editA few weeks back, I asked on Facebook if anyone else edited the books they were reading as they read.   Many people commented that they did.  Some said they didn’t edit if the sentence didn’t interrupt the story.    For me, if I have to stop to figure out the meaning, I quickly edit and move on, feeling better.

There’s a sentence in a television commercial for a medication that always made George laugh, a warning for “those who take aspirin or the boots in closet2elderly.”   As he explained, the sentence contained a warning for “those who take the elderly” although it didn’t seem to bother anyone else.  What an easy fix to write, “the elderly and those who take aspirin.”

A sentence I read the other day.  “He found a pair of boots that would fit him hanging in the closet.”  Truly, my first thought was that he could wear these boots as he hung in the closet.”  Logic took over.  Of course, the BOOTS were hanging in the closet.  The sentence wouldn’t have stopped me–the incredibly picky and easily confused reader–if written like this:  “Hanging in the closet was a pair of boots that would fit him.”

intruder in the dustAnd over and over, run on sentence beg me–simply implore me–to edit them, to cut them up into comprehensible units.   In fact, that’s one of the reasons I cannot read Faulkner.   He had one sentence that was a page and a half long.  I could not handle it.  I rush to add that Faulkner is one of the best novelists in the country and I’m not, but I still believe he’d profit from a little editing.

Do you ever edit as you read?   Please share.  It always makes me feel better to know I’m not alone.

Hoarding for fun but little profit

blanketI just got rid of the blanket George and I shared for ten years.  It was soft and warm and lasted a long time.  What more can one ask of a blanket?   However, I noticed when I put it on the bed in October, it had what looked like many little tears in the surface.  One more winter, I thought.  Surely I can use it one more winter. because I’m too cheap to buy another.   I blogged on this a year ago so you don’t remember this confession:  I’m cheap.   Really, really cheap, extraordinarily frugal.frugality

Every time I changed the sheets, I noticed that the slits had turned into small holes.  In those places, mesh showed through.   This is a Vellux blanket in which fabric is sprayed onto mesh.    LIttle by little, the cover wears off.  I also found small pieces of soft, maroon fabric on the sheets last week.

My plan was to give the old blanket to the veterinarian hospital that takes such good care of my pets, but, when I pulled it out of the dryer this morning, I noted huge chunks of fabric inside the dryer, a mess in dog in blanket cutethe lint filter, and huge holes in the blanket.  I’m not sure even the dogs want this. I wanted to take a picture for this blog, but the old thing was shedding too much to carry it the picture taking site.

The good news:  I made it through winter without having to buy another blanket.  Who knows what may happen before next fall when I need to buy a new blanket?  I could decide to use the quilt my grandmother made or move to a warmer place or, well, who knows?

What have you kept for too long?    What can’t you part with and why not?   Do you hold onto possessions for sentimental reasons?   Because they are pretty or useful?  Are you a collector or someone who hopes they’ll be worth a lot in a few years?  Or, are you cheap like me?    I’d love to know.