Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pancake Party

Well, I've been limited lately in what I find to write about. Partly that is because I have discovered Facebook, which takes some time and divides my interests. Partly I have also been writing a Latin curriculum for 5-6th graders and that takes some time also. Also, I can imagine that you don't want to read every gory detail of how each unit comes together. I might be immersed in that kind of stuff, but you don't have to be!

A few fun things have happened. One is the next installment in the little almost-restaurant that I blogged about previously. The owner, Helen, called about a week ago and invited us to come and have a pancake with her on one day that week. We chose Wednesday and arrived at her place around 6:45. There were already two other patrons there, a retired Spanish teacher and an older lady. Helen instructed everyone to introduce themselves and we got started.

I got my pancake first. It was a full-plate-sized creation and absolutely delicious. I was just digging in when Evan's arrived. Helen had made Evan the same pancake, except she used M&Ms and butter to make a face on his. He was delighted! Evan also had coffee with his pancake. Not a coffee drinker myself, I had water.

As we were eating, more breakfasters wandered in. There were eight of us that Helen fed that morning. I learned a few days later that our hostess had her 90th birthday last summer! It seemed almost inappropriate to be served breakfast by a 90-year-old woman, but I guess she's been doing it 60 years, and a few more times wouldn't hurt.

They said we could come back next Wednesday. Evan absolutely loved the experience, and I really enjoyed the sense of community, even though I don't yet know these people too well. I'm hopeful for a rebirth of community in our "neighborhood". Real community is centered in Christ, and I am anxious to see if He will allow some growth in our lives in that area.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Wrong Boy

I usually get Evan up for school around 6:30 in the morning. My method is to yank the blankets off him, which causes him to stir and then arise. [Evan comments here that he hates that method; he would prefer to be shaken gently.]

Usually he stumbles into the bathroom and we don't see him again for several minutes. This morning I didn't see where he went, so I went about the business of getting my breakfast. A few minutes later I wandered into the living room to see what Evan was up to, and a saw a small boy covered with a blanket on the couch. Only the feet were sticking out. Thinking he had attempted to go back to sleep, I snatched the blanket off in one swift motion. However, it wasn't Evan. It was Aidan, who had come down about 5:00 a.m., snuggled into bed with me, been booted out of bed by his mother, and then curled up on the couch after his eviction.

He didn't quite wake up, but it gave me quite a surprise to find that Evan was in the bathroom as usual and I had almost lambasted Tater thinking he was Evan!

A few posts ago I mentioned visiting the Old Woman Who Makes Sourdough Pancakes. She called this evening to say that she hasn't forgotten about us. This coming Wednesday Evan and I are invited for pancakes at her tiny restaurant (you can only eat there by invitation, I guess). I'm glad that we'll have this opportunity; it feels just the slightest bit like community or neighborliness.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Sunny Saturday

I woke up early this morning but didn't feel very well. That makes about three weeks straight of various, moderate illnesses that don't keep me home from work, but also don't make me feel sharp and able to make an impact on the universe.

I made pancakes for my family this morning. I usually do that on Saturday mornings. Then my adult children will be able to say, "Dad always made pancakes for us on Saturday mornings."

Tara left a little after breakfast to buy some stuff and then go to a tea party over lunch. Yes, all the children are home with me. I've moved the legos to the living room so I can watch people building.
I've also thought about what to make for lunch, but I will have to go do that soon.

I am reading _The Fellowship of the Ring_ in my spare moments.

I am also catching up with lots of long-lost friends on Facebook. It really works!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tara Teaches...Latin and Mathematics???

Anita was sick today, and Tara has her name on the sub list, so after some phone calls and childcare gymnastics, she was free to take Anita's classes.

So Tara has been telling people all day on Facebook and whatever that she taught pre-calculus today, and Latin. Sounds educated, doesn't it? Now, I don't know how much actual teaching went on, but I'm very sure that there was decent order in the classes. Better than most, I know Mrs. K.

On to more interesting subjects... like me! Evan and Aidan and I distributed more (belated) Christmas treats in our neighborhood on Sunday afternoon. Two owners were not home, we had a brief conversation at another place with a young family, and then we came to Lowell and Betty's place. Betty came out to meet us, and the beginning of the conversation was a delight:

Me: Hi, I'm Jim, and this is my son Evan, and my son Aidan. We just moved in.

Betty: Oh, which house did you move into?

Me: The little gray one just over there.

Betty: Oh, my! I'll have to go get my husband! He's been waiting to meet you.

Me: (gulp)

Betty: He saw your tractor. He loves tractors. He notices every time you move it and tells me about it.

So we had a marvelous conversation once Lowell came out. He has a John Deere A or something , and he is very proud of it. Even went back in and got a picture of it to show me.

It's interesting to speculate about what ministry will look like down here.

I turned over the first three units of my new curriculum to one of my sophomores today. J----- is going to serve as project editor; A------ is going to write the historical readings that are to be interspersed with the grammar and vocabulary lessons.

We have much to be thankful for. Soli Deo Gloria.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why I Wear Vests

Once I was young. I wore shirts and sweaters. During my first few years of teaching, I noticed that if you get to teaching with energy, a sweater will get too warm. If you're sitting at your desk correcting papers, a shirt by itself will get too cold. The demands of teaching don't leave a lot of time for temperature change.

So I wear vests. I suppose they seem old-mannish and unfashionable, but they handle the temperature factor just perfectly, allowing me to be comfortably warm almost all the time. They also reduce the need for a tie. I am not opposed to wearing a tie, but it does take time to choose one that coordinates and then tie it correctly. And time always seems to be at a premium.

Two of my sophomore students have agreed to help me with the curriculum I'm writing. Since they are just as good at Latin as I am, it is a nice arrangement.

Three fifth graders continue to come at lunch on Thursday to work on Latin enrichment stuff. It's kind of like Math Masters.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Another Cause of the Financial Meltdown

I went to the bank after school today. I usually go on Tuesdays before tutoring, but I was in a hurry yesterday and so I waited until today. Since my Wednesday schedule is different from the Tuesday, I also went to a different bank branch.

The teller I got, though some brand of African native, spoke English surprisingly well and provided very responsive service. After we finished my transactions, she asked eagerly if I had a credit card. I told her that I did not, since as a matter of something like principle I don't use credit cards. In fact, I have never had one.

She went on to tell me that there was a very good credit card offer waiting for me, which would give me 9 months of zero percent interest! She said I should certainly think about getting one.

Now this is disastrous for at least three reasons:

1) Wells Fargo knows that a credit card will benefit only a tiny percentage of their customers, yet they offer one to anyone who can even remotely be considered solvent.

2) Wafa (the teller) has no idea that she is participating in the financial enslavement of her customers.

3) The U.S. economy is where it is largely because people are in the habit of spending what they have not yet earned -- borrowing from tomorrow to play today.

So I listened politely and then told Wafa that I didn't think I wanted a credit card today. And I went away burdened for the many people who will think that they're receiving a compliment and sign up for that credit card right away.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Evan Seeks Employment

You know you have an 8-year-old when... he goes out looking for a job? Let me tell you the story.

As many of you know, we moved last November and are now situated off Marion Road, quite a ways from town. About a half mile before our turn, there is a tiny, dilapidated restaurant called "The Grill". It does not seem to have regular hours, but the lights are often on early in the morning. So one morning, a Saturday, Evan and I stopped in to see what it was all about. The lights were off, but the door was open. Inside, we found one of the oldest people in the state, a bent-0ver old woman with train tracks all over her face and a very hunched back. She was accompanied by another elderly woman sitting in a booth.

It turns out that the first woman and her husband founded the restaurant in the late 1940s. Of course, he, being a man, went off and died, leaving her with these buildings and the restaurant. I don't know how long she carried on in the regular way, but now she uses the extra buildings as rental storage and cooks sourdough pancakes to be ready on weekday mornings for a pack of retired teachers. She said she could not make any more pancakes because she doesn't have the strength to do more than one batch of batter.

So Evan had been thinking about this. A few days later, he asked if he could go back and ask the old woman if he could help her. He figured that he would mix the batter and then she'd be able to make two, or three, of however many batches she wanted. We tried to stall him, thinking maybe he'd forget, but he didn't. He kept after the point. So yesterday I drove him back to The Grill and made him go in by himself. His deal, after all.

He was probably inside for five minutes -- long enough for Daddy to wonder if I shouldn't go in and see what was happening. But finally he emerged.

"She said no, Dad. And then she told me why she had to say no. Something about how you make sourdough pancakes. She just went on and on. It was really boring."

Well, of course I was very proud of Evan for seeing a need and trying to help. He didn't really even want any money. He just thought that maybe he could help an old lady who was trying to keep the last shreds of her restaurant alive.

If you need any help...