It was a beautiful day out today.

I went for a hour (or so) long afternoon walk when I had used up all my patience for grading.

Frozen Harbor Is the Best Harbor
Frozen Harbor Is the Best Harbor

Give a Little Love
Give a little love

Nothin' But Blue Skies
Dang, what a gorgeous day

Glimmer Tunnel Looks Out on the Wintery World
Glimmer tunnel looks out on the wintery world

Schwoop Schwoop
Schwoop schwoop is the sound of me sinking in the snow

Back to school tomorrow. Laters.

posted by Duff on February 02, 2015 | Comments (0)

This Is Just to Say.

unless you're living under a rock, you've probably heard reference to William Carlos Williams' apology poem (or IS IT. Reread that last stanza).

So let me tell you a funny store (hang on to the end, that's where the funny is!)

Every year, I use that poem as a template with my students to write their own sorry / not-sorry poems. After we examine the poem's structure, and some previously written student examples, we usually write one together as a class to get started. My morning class wanted to write to our principal. For reference: Nobel bucks are reward dollars we give out for being respectful, responsible or safe (and students can redeem them for actual items at our school store).

Here's what we wrote:

"Dear Mr. A.,
This is just to say
We have stolen
the Nobel bucks
that were piled on your desk

you were probably
for good kids.

Forgive us,
it was worth
all the toys
that we got."

NOW HERE'S THE BEST PART: I emailed it to our administrators "Here's a poem 208 wrote for you" and in the body of the email I wrote "based on William Carlos WIlliams." Well, our principal didn't read that part, he just clicked on the image.

Our assistant principal told us that all of a sudden he was scrambling around his desk saying "WAIT A MINUTE WHERE ARE MY NOBEL BUCKS!!!!"


Best prank ever especially considering we didn't even intend to prank. The kids are going to FREAK tomorrow when they hear about his reaction! ;)

It's the little things, peeps.

posted by Duff on January 29, 2015 | Comments (2)

Peace out, 2014.

[Old photos, not from 2014.] Candles, In Memoriam

Once, when posting pictures from a trip to Europe, I sheepishly mentioned that despite avoiding religion as much as possible, I do still light candles in memoriam. And my friend Ashley said "hey, sometimes it's just about bringing a little light into the world."

I have shared part of this quote before. It's from the Christmas bulletin at my parents' church.

If you choose, you can be instruments of hope in the world.
If you choose, you can counter the voices of anxiety and despair in the world.
If you choose, you can fight against the fear that freezes the heart of many.
The choice is ours to make, how we live into the possibilities.

Hey 2015, be the possibility. Bring a little light.

The Gate at Chion-In 4


Lit Up Bamboo, Inside

Pile of Christmas Family

posted by Duff on December 31, 2014 | Comments (10)

You, in three songs.

I have been obsessed with this Fuel/Friends blog post since it went up in September. I'm home this morning thanks to a midday dr appt to check on my summer back injury (since apparently 2014 was the year my body completely fell apart. Six months healing my torn PCL followed by mystery incapacitating back injury that started July 1 followed by being sick ALL FALL--today is literally the FIRST DAY in 33 DAYS that I can fully hear out of my left ear), so I thought I'd whiz by and drop by a blog post on you. Then Safari crashed and I had to start all over so...this may not go up until tonight. ANYWHOSIT...

Here I am. This is me.

Take It on the Run, by REO Speedwagon
My favorite song since high school (yes I'm that old, I was entering high school when it first came out!). Ah, high school relationships. "Talk is cheap when the story is good" indeed. I was involved in a long-term relationship in high school with someone possibly even more violently moody than I am, so to say I spent a lot of time wondering what was going on behind the scenes would be a massive understatement. The way the singer vacillates between (I paraphrase) I totally don't believe you cheated but you better run away if you did is such a microcosm of all young relationships isn't it. Or just ME in relationships as short-term, long-term, friends before, never friends, no matter the situation it always feel both super serious AND super precarious to me. I also love the whispered quality of the beginning and end--this isn't really being sung to the object of affection, it's being muttered to oneself, while worrying, worrying, worrying. Yup, me to a T.

Bonus: my other favorite high school songs are 1) "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC possibly the best song in the entire world and I maintain that Back in Black is one of the world's top 10 all-time albums; and 2) "Slow n' Easy" by Whitesnake. Nuff said.

(Bonus 2: check out this hilarity. COME ON the lyrics are not that confusing.)

Weather With You by Crowded House
Gee, another song from 20+ years ago, who could've even guessed. My mom has always claimed that I'm such a strongly mooded [sic] person that it always wore off on all the people around me--if I'm in a good mood, suddenly the whole room is. And, unfortunately, VICE VERSA. I don't know if I truly believe it, but I do see the effect of my mood on my classroom very strongly these days. That's part of what this song is about for me--my emotional weather is how the world feels no matter what the sky looks like. Also not just in this song but in so many Crowded House songs, clever unexpected lyrical allusions just get me: "Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire / couldn't conquer the blue sky." They probably tried though!

Bonus: If you don't know it, you MUST listen to "There Goes God." The lyrics are amazeballoons. Here, lemme give you a sample: "Hey, don't look now / but there goes God / in his sexy pants and his sausage dog / And he can't stand Beelzebub / because he looks so good in black, in black." COME ON NOW. Also: Crowded House is one of those rare groups where their fast songs and their slow songs are equally fantastic. They could do ANY style well.

Stop Draggin' My Heart Around, sung by Stevie Nicks & Tom Petty
The first single from the fabulous Belladonna album that I still listen to quite often, even though it's, you guessed it, 20+ years old. There's another duet on this album also ("Leather and Lace" with Tom Henley) but Stop Draggin' is by far the superior tune. This is also the album with the fabulous "Edge of Seventeen", the compelling beginning of which was sampled in "Bootylicious" (Destiny's Child). Basically this is the album no one should have ever stopped listening to... I mean I haven't! And clearly Beyonce hasn't either. Why is this song me? Well...I'm a bit of a typical pisces. Despite being born on the cusp, I have a completely overloaded empathy gene and man I can get my heart dragged around by so many different things. I have to work pretty hard to protect myself from falling apart at times. Just in case, say, I randomly see a commercial filled with Americana, a red pickup driving down a dusty country road past two boys tossing a baseball OMG WEEPING JUST THINKING ABOUT IT. Kidding...but it has happened. I've started crying WHILE READING ALOUD to my students (Martin's Big Words, SOB). I teared up during an interview while talking about how important literacy is. The world has dragged my heart around so many times, and that's not even thinking about relationships.

So those are definitely my all-time three, although at any given moment I could certainly come up with a "right now three" that would be entirely different.

What three songs tell YOUR story?

posted by Duff on December 02, 2014 | Comments (2)

Peace Out, 2013.

This was really a quote about Christmas, but it actually applies to all of life.

The choice is ours to make, how we live into the possibilities of Christmas.

Here's to better choices in 2014. Bring it on, possibility.

hblad 62: 'Blad Bokeh.

posted by Duff on December 31, 2013 | Comments (4)

RIP Bella Schmella Schmoo.

My friend Carrie's dog Bella died yesterday and I'm oh so so so very sad about this, I couldn't even express to you how much. I loved her very dearly.

Spotlight on Bella

Bella ponders her kingdom.

Bella streeeeeeetch.

Bella scared.

Bella Schmella Schmoo

She was super camera shy as you may have been able to tell but I'm so glad I took her picture anyway.

33/52 me & Bella, cuddlin' on the couch

I'll miss you sweet sweet girl.

posted by Duff on January 26, 2012 | Comments (7)