Friday, May 30, 2014


"The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books."     
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

School is out, its such a bitter/sweet time. I look forward to summer and all that it offers but I will miss the kids, the magic of teaching and the moments when the "joy of learning" happens for me.

As my own children progressed through school I was voracious about what they were learning. My youngest took AP English and I followed along, reading everything he talked about. I cried as I finished John Steinbeck's The Red Pony. It was a wrenching moment when Billy Buck makes the ultimate sacrifice to keep his promise to Jody. 

Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" left me in awe at his skill as a writer. How could he say so much without saying what he was talking about?

This was my first year teaching 6th grade math.  I knew I was in for a "ride"  I finally understood where Pi came from and how to use it.

I was good with geometric solids and finding the area of parallelograms and triangles but then I had to teach them how to multiply positive and negative numbers.  That's simple until you get to ....  negative x negative = positive

I remember learning this. I did the process but I never understood the "why"  I asked everyone of my fellow teachers. They just repeated to me a negative x negative = positive.  I know that but why???  "Just do it"  they said.

I went to my son who gave me the very lengthy mathematical explanation which I completely did not understand.

Then... I "googled" it and this is what I found...

If I said to you "Don't eat that"  that's a negative.
If I said to you, "Don't, don't eat that" it is a double negative that means  EAT IT!  (a positive) In that context I got it and going down that "rabbit hole" was fun.

After lots of coaxing, all the lost and overdue library books have been  accounted for except one, a little picture book titled, Galileo's Treasure Box

As I looked at the title I thought ... I know who Galileo is. Then the little voice in my head said... 
"Yeah, so what do you know about him?" Once again I googled it. Oh my word... so interesting.

Galileo was the father of modern astronomy and modern physics. He did not invent the telescope but he improved it and was the first to use it to study the stars. He showed us that there was much more going on in the heavens than anyone suspected. 

He observed the four largest moons circling Jupiter that are now referred to as "Galilean moons" and showed us that our earth is NOT the center of the universe.

He made contributions to the law of inertia, developed the first pendulum clock (quite a feat since previously there was no accurate way to keep time) and directly influenced Newton's work on gravity by showing that any two objects of varying weight, if dropped from the same height will hit the ground at the same time. This was very radical thinking in his day and in direct opposition to the teachings of Aristotle.

Is there a point to all this?  YES!  Learning is fun and being a lifelong learner makes the future exciting and mysterious.

There is so much out there... I never want to be too old to learn something new!

Enjoy this 3 minute mini biography about Galileo...

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


It is fitting that we set aside Memorial Day to honor those who fought bravely and unselfishly in preserving freedom. Their stories fill us with gratitude. There is, however, a story, seldom told but truly remarkable, one that was vital to our success in World War II.  

It is the story of 

Picture from the 1998 movie THE LAND GIRLS


We often think of "Rosie the Riveter" as the icon for the American women's contribution to the war, but in addition to those efforts there was an army of three million women who served on the agricultural front in the United States and in England. 

With so many men gone, the workforce on farms was small and food was getting scarce. Young women flocked to the country, ensuring "Freedom from Want" at home while our soldiers were fighting for victory abroad.

In the UK, Lady Trudie Denman convinced the agricultural board to set up radio broadcasts, calling for young able women to leave their city lives and move to the country to work the land. By 1944 there were over 80,000 young girls who responded. The majority were "country girls" but over a third came from London and industrial cities of northern England.

The American recruits were mostly high school and college students. They worked long hours driving tractors, tending crops, harvesting, catching rats, milking cows, raising live stock and even shearing sheep. 

Most farmers initially opposed women working their land. Out of necessity those in the Midwest and South yielded, employing hundreds of thousands. Those in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains resisted and suffered great agricultural and financial losses. 

2 short sleeved shirts
1 green pullover
2 pairs of socks
1 pair of shoes
1 bib and brace overall
1 hat
1 pair of rubber boots
1 long (very thin!) Mackintosh for the winter

At 25 to 40 cents an hour, money was not the attraction. They came to support the war effort and in the end they proved themselves an indispensable brigade of hard workers. 

Our GI's may have won the war but the women
 "kept the home fires burning"

(Women's Lad Army Song)
Back to the land, we must all lend a hand.
 To the farms and the fields we must go.
There's a job to be done,
Though we can't fire a gun
We can still do our bit with the hoe...
Back to the land, with its clay and its sand,
Its granite and gravel and grit,
You grow barley and wheat
And potatoes to eat
To make sure that the nation keeps fit...
We will tell you once more
You can help win the war
If you come with us - back to the land

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

a blog I love!

There are plenty of blogs out there where women, young and older, dress up in beautiful clothes and have their pictures taken. But there is one that I return to again and again. Last week it finally dawned on me why I am completely captivated by this blog.  

Meet Sarah Vickers, a young woman who loves preppy fashion, her fiancée Kiel and her home state of Rhode Island with its easy access to some great New England destinations.

I love this Lilly Pulitzer dress!

Sarah's blog "Classy Girls Wear Pearls" sports 26,000 likes on Facebook, 115,000 followers on Instagram and over 3,500 direct followers to her blog.

So what's the attraction? Its really not that complicated but it IS BRILLIANT!

#1 Location, location, location

Every post finds Sarah and company in an amazing location. From the Kentucky Derby to a New England ocean side vista, to Ashford Castle in Ireland, she Kiel and a handful of friends take us on a visual tour of some of the most beautiful, and historic destinations on the East coast and beyond. You might say its a "travel blog" fronted by fashion.

 They look like they are in an Agatha Christa novel

#2 Sarah is a beautiful girl ...

with a great shape and classic good taste in clothes. She wears everything from Lilly Pulitzer's dresses to iconic Christmas sweaters. Some I'm sure she has purchased but many are sent to her by advertisers. Either way, its fun to watch a normal girl, not a model, with her own sense of taste and fashion. She mixes vintage with contemporary, looking chic but never vulgar or immodest.  She "rocks it" 

#3 And then there's the romance!

When her blog started Sarah and Kiel were boyfriend and girlfriend... now he is her fiancée and she sports a beautiful ring.

Everyone loves a good love story. Theirs is in pictures with almost no commentary. That leaves us, the readers, to fill in the details. Oh the imagination can take us to such fun places.

I'm waiting for the "big day"  I'd love to see her in a wedding dress walking down the aisle with a little piece of New England history in the background.

So... there you have it, a blog about fashion, love and travel. Its like watching a romantic movie without the sound and very, very few subtitles. I have no idea what is really happening behind the scenes but it is fun to vicariously re-live my 20s watching and loving Sarah's blog! 

Excuse me... I need to go and adjust my pearls!

BRING HIM HOME (from Les Misérables) - ThePianoGuys 



Friday, May 23, 2014


As long as I'm talking about "summer reading" it would be a shame not to include a list of some of my favorite picture books. The kids never tire of these. Whether you're a mother or grandmother these are amazing books to read to children!

Petite Rouge by Mike Artell illustrated by Jim Harris
This is a delightful Cajun version of Little Red Riding Hood. You will need to practice your accent!

Art and Max  by David Wiesner
Art takes his art seriously and Max takes it literally... a funny combination!

Anansi and the Talking Melon  retold by Eric A. Kimmel
All the Anansi books are "must reads" How could one little African spider play so many tricks? You should also read, Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock.

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw
This series was written for the very young but don't let that stop you.  These sheep are hilarious!

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
Joseph proves "you can always make something from nothing"

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson 
A book every child should read. It includes the "recipe" on how to lose your best enemy!

Heckedy Peg by Audrey and Don Wood
The illustrations are rich and the story is clever. You will need to practice your "witch" voice... don't miss this one.

Caps for Sale by  Esphyr Slobodkina
A delightful tale of "monkey see monkey do"  A perfect interactive read.

The Library Lion  by Michelle Knudsen
When the lion breaks the "rules" for a good reason everyone learns a lesson.                  "NO RUNNING"

Princess Bess Gets Dressed by Margery Cuyler
With a wardrobe befitting a princess, Bess's favorite outfit just might surprise you.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel
Of all the books on the list, this is in the top three of my favorites. A clever tale steeped in Jewish tradition and sprinkled with delicious goblins. 

It's a Book by Lane Smith  A very clever play on words in our fast paced "techie" world. This book will make you laugh!

Tops & Bottoms by Janet Stevens
"OK Bear... you get the tops and I get the bottoms"  Quick witted Rabbit outsmarts lazy Bear.

City Dog, Country Frog  by Mo Willems
A beautiful tale of friendship, loss, and moving on. The illustrations are gorgeous.

Press Here  by Herve Tullet
From the very young to the kid at heart, this interactive book makes everyone squeal!

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
A sweet tender tale, perfect for sending your little one off for the first day of school. 

Gator Gumbo by Candace Fleming
"Now that's just like Maman use to make."  A scrumptious Cajun  re-telling of the Little Red Hen.

Chester the Worldly Pig by Bill Peet
When Chester sets out to become famous he has no idea just how "worldly" he really is.  Bill Peet was one of Disney original eight animators and his illustration are wonderful.

Owl Moon  by Jane Yolen
This is one of my favorite books... sweet, gentle  illustrations befitting the tender relationship between father and daughter.

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey and Don Wood
"Tonight we dine in the bathtub"  Beautiful illustrations and a great ending!

A Bad Case of Stripes by  David Shannon
Self discovery and finding one's voice even at a tender age, this book delivers an important message. 

ENJOY Sean Astin reading 
A Bad Case of Stripes 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


"There is no friend as loyal as a book."
Ernest Hemingway 

School is out in six days and summer beckons. I look forward to doing things I never seem to have time for, like painting walls, digging in the dirt and reading some good books. 

I use to read actual books but now days I buy the audio version and listen while I get something accomplished. Last summer I listened to, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn , To Kill a Mockingbird and Jack Gantos' Dead End in Norvelt.  It's like filling my house or car with interesting people... there's never a dull moment and I'm never lonely.

A book can be a friend, a companion and very often a mirror. I remember the summer I read  The Secret Life of Bees, and heard the voice in Lily's head say... "Your jar is open."  

I dropped the book and began to cry. That was the year my mother passed away and I began to discover who I was. I felt such freedom.

I was in the third grade when I read Beverly Cleary's Otis Spofford  I laughed right out loud at Stewy and Otis's antics as the "bull"  That began my love of literature. 

It is satisfying, as I close the library for the year, to watch our students come to pick up their "summer read"  Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. I know they will be in good company!

Fall in love with a good book this summer!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

talking to my "ex"

I've been single for a while now. It was rough at first but good friends and time brought me through it. I can honestly say I'm in a good place, a place, however, that does not include men. Yesterday a rather handsome older gentlemen approached me and struck up a conversation. I smiled, I was pleasant and then I fled. Twenty-four hours later I realized he was flirting... I'm not only rusty, I'm dense! I might need to work on this.

I got a pleasant surprise last night when I spent over an hour talking to my ex-husband on the phone about a family situation  and I managed it without "drama" 

... no anger, no hurt, no thoughts of revenge. (Poor man, for years I've fantasized about a "fiery" crash.) I'm not sure when it happened but I think I'm over "the divorce" 

Its true, forgiveness is as much for me as it is for him and being angry just got too heavy to carry around.  It feels like I lost ten pounds!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

ANGELINA and SARAH GRIMKE: Abolitionist Sisters

Remarkable women in history!

Angelina Grimke and her sister Sarah were born and raised in South Carolina in the pre-civil war era when women had NO legal rights to property, education, or opinions. From a wealthy southern family whose lifestyle was supported by numerous slaves they could have looked forward to a life of ease that would have included balls, dinner parties and eventually good marriages with elegant southern homes of their own. 

Instead, Angelina and Sarah chose to speak against the inequality of the times, publishing some of the most powerful anti-slavery tracts of the antebellum era, even testifying before the state legislator on African American rights. What made them unique was that they could speak first hand about the horrors and injustices of slavery. 

 They left their privileged life in the South and devoted themselves to racial and gender equality, becoming legends in their own lifetimes.

Now Sue Monk Kidd, one of my favorite authors (The Secret Life of
Bees) has written a powerful novel based on their lives. 

The Invention of Wings 
available from Read the Review...

In the early 1830s, Sarah Grimké and her younger sister, Angelina, were the most infamous women in America. They had rebelled so vocally against their family, society, and their religion that they were reviled, pursued, and exiled from their home city of Charleston, South Carolina, under threat of death. Their crime was speaking out in favor of liberty and equality and for African American slaves and women, arguments too radically humanist even for the abolitionists of their time. Their lectures drew crowds of thousands, even  men, and their most popular pamphlet directly inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom's Cabin--published 15 years later. These women took many of the first brutal backlashes against feminists and abolitionists, but even their names are barely known now. Sue Monk Kidd became fascinated by these sisters, and the question of what compelled them to risk certain fury and say with the full force of their convictions what others had not (or could not). She discovered that in 1803, when Sarah turned 11, her parents gave her the “human present” of 10-year-old Hetty to be her handmaid, and Sarah taught Hetty to read, an act of rebellion met with punishment so severe that the slave girl died of "an unspecified disease" shortly after her beating. Kidd knew then that she had to try to bring Hetty back to life (“I would imagine what might have been," she tells us), and she starts these girls' stories here, both cast in roles they despise.

Follow the link below and listen to her 30 minute interview with Oprah. 

Here is a short five minute clip...