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Monday, October 31, 2011

Teeth in the darkness....

The Test of the Wine Taster


They sat together in the beautiful room,
as they had so many times before.
The goblet moved smoothly in her hand
as she swirled its contents.
She held it up to the dim light
and breathed in its aroma.
Finally, drinking deeply and leaning back,
she closed her eyes for just a moment...
. . . and then spoke.

This is truly a challenge, my friend,
For it is indeed a unique drink.
Its hue is dark and somber,
Darker than most reds .. .
The fragrance is sharp and sweet,
A strong bouquet with a hint of spice.
It has a full-bodied taste,
Rich, bold, and full of life.
The vibrancy contrasts sharply
With the darkness of its hue.
The contrast brings an excitement
And a hint of the mysterious.
It has the freshness of a young vintage,
But the dignity of an aged wine.
It is unlike any I have ever known,
And yet seems strangely familiar.
I cannot place the label, origin, or year,
And must therefore admit defeat.

She set the goblet throughtfully on the table
as her host templed his long fingers.
She smiled at him across the candlelit table,
admiring his handsome pale features.
His blue eyes gazed at her, touched by her beauty
as he leaned forward in his heavy chair
Then he grinned at her and she gasped in surprise.
Sharp teeth glistened as he reached out...
…and took her hand.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Gonna buy us a dog...

So, we bought a new dog.

It occurs to me that much of what J. and do must seem really random and spontaneous to people.  It does rather seem sudden that we traded in cars, bought a new house, got pets.  Sometimes it is, I suppose; we never intended to move from one house to another just down the street.  Life has a way of making things happen, though.  That's another blog altogether.  Often, however, we have talked about whatever it is for a long time.  We just don't inflict those conversations onto others.  My dad and J.'s mom get to hear more than enough about some isssues that we try to spare them giving input on every single event in our lives.  I'm sure MomBee is still scarred from the Ford Fusion discussions and I am fairly certain that dad doesn't really find our mortgage all that interesting.  But both give us their patient input and the wisdom they've gained over the years and so we try not to take advantage of that.  I'm not really sure why we dont talk to others as much.  I suppose it might be because we know that we take forever to decide anything so we want to spare people the agony that we put ourselves through.

In other words, we have been talking about getting another pet for probably close to a yeat, on and off.  We came close a few times, but it never worked out.  But we kept checking the website of the place where we got Stupiddog, waiting for the perfect pet.  Sometimes it was a cat, sometimes a dog.  A cat seemed good as they are lower maintenance - but then there was the incidents of Lucycat and Oz,  We weren't sure that Fatcat would really warm up to another feline.  Not that her and the dog warmed up, but they don't fight across my bed and they've actually been known to nap together.  I know, craziness.

So, we watched and waited.  And then we saw Cora.  Her name will probably change - J. likes it, but he hasn't met her yet.  I have and I don't think it fits.  She's a rescue from Georgia - a BostonTerrier /Chihuahua mix.  She looks like a puppy, but really is full grown at 13 or so pounds.  I love her already and while it makes sense to let them fix her before we bring her home, I still don't want to be waiting to bring her home.

It may have taken us a long time to decide, and find, and decide to get her.  Several phone calls, a discussion while sitting in the car, a flurry of texts when my work obligations were over and I was free to go meet her.  Knowing that meeting her meant buying her.  When the decision was finally made, however, it meant we were ready to throw our all into this little bundle of cute that someone had thrown away.

Then we can share the results of our private summit-level debates, knowong that we must look like spontaneous, go-lucky people when we are, in fact, just the opposite.  We act on impulse only becuase if we do not ambush ourselves with DOING, we will spend all our days just talking ourselves into and out of actually living.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Do as we say...

Attending professional teaching / education conferences is always fascinating.  For one thing, teachers are notoriously bad at doing the things we ask of our students.  As we file into a room to listen to a keynote speaker, we gravitate to the back of the room.  We critique the speakers while they are speaking, we resist hands-on group activities, and the list goes on.  In fact, even as I type this, two of my colleagues are passing notes.  I am not at a point where I am positioned to discuss this, but it is something of note nonetheless.

The other thing that fascinates me is the level of exhaustion that comes from sitting all day and listening to speakers.  It makes me wonder what we are asking of our students when they take a full day of classes that are largely lecture.  It is no wonder that they, too, are counting the minutes to lunch, regardless of how interesting or active our classes might be.

My favorite part of conferences, oddly, has nothing to do with the content - though that is interesting as well.  No, what I like about conferences is the ability to interact with people that I dont get to see or spend time with during the regular workday.  The conversations seem easy, even the ackowledgement that we don't know a name or a department.  We share laughter and stories - sometimes of teaching, sometimes not.  We, in short, are given the chance to build the community that we so value in what we do.

So, if we don't behave precisely as we should, perhaps we can be forgiven...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tuppence a bag...

I spent the other morning working at Tim Horton’s. They have food there, internet when I need it, and nice tables. People come and go in a constant flux of coffee-seekers and bagel-eaters. It’s a relaxing and productive place to work and there are always people to watch when I raise my head from the papers in front of me and look around. This particular morning, a youngish man approached the restaurant pushing a shopping cart that contained two suitcases and a coat. He was rather dirty looking, and barefoot. He rummaged around behind the suitcases for a few minutes and pulled out a pair of ratty looking shoes and slipped them on his feet. Then he sat down at the mesh table and pulled out some grungy dollar bills. He seemed to count them for a few minutes and then came inside and bought a bagel and a bottle of orange juice, which he took with him back outside. Sometime later, he came in and got a small soda or maybe some water. Then he took off his shirt and, using it as a pillow, rested his head on the table, basking in the warm October sun that always feel so comfortable and fleeting. For awhile, nothing else happened.

I looked up again after reading a paper or two and saw an older man come out of Tim Horton’s and hand the young man a bagel. I could not hear what words were exchanged, but the young man looked as if he were going to cry and I could tell by his body language that he thanked his benefactor several times. The two parted ways. I watched as the young man sat back down, gingerly unwrapped the sandwich, and slowly began to eat. I also watched as he picked off a few pieces of bagel and fed them to the seagulls that constantly hover around that particular Tim Horton’s. I smiled. It was a lovely moment – man being kind to man, and that kindness being passed forward. And then the moment was ruined. An older man inside Tim Horton’s turned to me and began to complain that the young man was feeding the birds. “Isn’t that something,” he said, “a man gives him a bagel and he feeds it to the freaking birds.” I shrugged and did not answer. His cynicism made me sad but it was not, to use a phrase I heard the other day, a hill I wanted to die on. So, I did not argue.

I was relaying the story later to J, who understood my frustration. It was not as if the young man threw all the food away and it is not as if he had not been clearly grateful for the kindness bestowed on him. Rather, as J said, he understood what it meant to be hungry – and even in his own need and dire straits, he shared that kindness with other living beings around him. As I walked away from Tim Horton’s, I should have been touched by the beauty of the moment, but instead I was saddened by how much others feel they need to judge situations and events that they only watch from afar and never truly understand. That young man had little – but he still shared what he had. Others could learn something from him – but instead, the only other one who observed chose to judge him for not valuing a gift in a way that aligned with some arbitrary moral code. I, for one, would rather live in a world of warm sunshine and birds in flight than sit by the garbage can in Tim Horton’s making judgments.

So, feed the birds, young man. Feed the birds.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give” – Winston Churchill