Monday, September 26, 2011


The days are getting shorter. Well not the hours in a day, it’s still 24 hours, just the daylight. We are losing about 6 minutes of daylight each day so it adds up fast. It’s not getting light until after 8:30, so when I sleep in on the weekends it feels like I’m getting up real early because it is still dark outside. The problem is that I get real sleepy when it gets dark. Like going to bed sleepy. Which is fine now, but in a month, it will be dark by five, so I’ll be getting plenty of sleep this winter.

I teach three separate grades: 3rd, 4th, and 5th. The great thing about that is that I get about two-thirds of the same kids back the next year. The bad thing about that is that I get about two-thirds of the same kids back the next year. Really, it is a good thing. It’s nice to know the kids and what they are like in the classroom. It also really helps me because they know me and how I rule my classroom. They know how much they can get away with and how much they can’t. They also know what it means when my left eye starts twitching.

This means that the third graders are the newbies in the class. They sit in their cluster and watch me with curiosity and skepticism. They are not sure if they should fear me or laugh at me. The other two grades already know that answer: they laugh nervously. One of my new students reported to me that she needed a drink because her “lungs are dry.” I told Auquawoman to wait until our next break, promising her that she would not die of thirst.

I use a graphic organizer for writing in my class and it is labeled ‘THEMATIC WEB’. Last week I had my class write about their favorite movie and we used the graphic organizer to help organize our writing. (I’m thinking you wish I was using one for my writing.) The organizer has a main topic box and six ‘detail’ boxes that connect to the main topic box. The students were to put the title of their favorite movie in the ‘main topic’ box and then add six details in each of the ‘detail boxes’. One student’s favorite movie was “The Matic Web”. Apparently it was a story about a spider, named Matic, who weaves webs and talks with pigs.

I had my hair cut today. Since there isn’t a barber for a couple hundred miles, we ordered clippers from and Monica cuts my hair. She’s done this for years because I don’t like other people standing that close to me, touching my head. I’m not really fond of her touching my head, but since she said I looked like Friar Tuck, I knew I needed to get it cut. I also decided to trim my beard right after my haircut. You know, the whole package. I hadn’t had my hair cut since May. It is depressing to see that the amount of beard trimmings was more than my hair trimmings. It is bizarre to have hair disappearing from my head and migrating to my shoulders, sprouting in places they hadn’t been before. I even found one growing inside of my ear. How can that be useful to our species?

Not only is it getting darker, it is getting colder. I saw the weather forecast for next week and we may get snow by the end of the week. I don’t have to shovel it or drive in it, so I say bring it on. It’ll be nice to see the snow falling while I’m reading my new book about Matic and her friends.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Week four is done and I don’t have much to whine about.  Last year it was nice to write my blog and bellyache, since Monica wasn’t hear to suffer my babbling.  But she is able to hear it firsthand this year.  Since writing is similar to work, and I’m lazy, I tend to whine more with my face-hole than with writing.  That’s my pseudo-attempt at making an excuse as to why I didn’t write a blog last week.

I was in Anchorage last week, receiving training for a tutoring program I will be helping with this year.  Our school offers an after school program for up to 15 kids three days a week.  It is administered by an outside group, which sets up the curriculum and even provides snacks.   Another teacher and I will be sharing the duties of managing the program from our end.  This will give us a few extra bucks to go towards our next purchase: a snowmobile.

Well, it’s called a snowmachine up here but I’ll stick with using my southern accent.  Having a snowmobile would give us something to do while it’s frozen outside, besides just watching TV.  Not that TV is all bad, but getting cabin fever may be dangerous this year.  I don’t know how Monica will handle being up here all winter, knowing there are sharp objects in the kitchen drawers.  Plus, when I’m asleep I snore.  Loudly.  And I have no way to defend myself while sleeping.  So this snowmobile purchase just may save my life.  It would also allow us to do some shopping at an actual store.  Emmonak is about 20 miles away on the Yukon River and has two stores.  Once the river freezes by the first part of Dec., it is used like a road for people riding snowmobiles. 

It will be expensive to shop there.  Just the gas will be a big part of the cost.  It is about $6 a gallon and may go up during the winter.  Food is pretty outrageously priced; eggs are about $5 a dozen. Crappy, small red delicious apples are $13.29 for 5lbs.  Monica went up there yesterday on a boat with some friends and bought a few things for us.  Eggs, not apples. 

Monica has been working more than we had anticipated.  Way more.  In 19 school days, she has worked as a substitute in 14 of them.  She has subbed as a special ed teacher, special ed aide, general ed class aide, and a math/science HS/MS teacher.  She has not subbed in my class yet, but maybe someday.  She will be starting her college career next month, so she’ll really be busy, with subbing and doing her own homework.  I’m not sure how the laundry will get done, but maybe the Laundry Fairy will show up.  I was the Laundry Fairy one year for Halloween.  Ok, it wasn’t Halloween, but it sure makes a Tuesday go much faster.

With nothing to whine about, I have to look for a new hobby.  The snowmobile will give me something to do once it gets cold.  Until then, I can try out the Xbox.  Monica and a couple of other teachers have already started by playing some Kinect games (dancing and jumping around).  I have yet to succumb to the urge to dance to Lady GaGa.  Maybe the Laundry Fairy will help me with that.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I realize I didn’t post a blog last week, but I was busy entertaining my parents.  Not entertaining in the way of an old-thyme Vaudeville act, but in the way of sitting on an old, uncomfortable couch, painfully realizing what people did before TV.  They talked.  They talked about mundane things that aren’t discussed much these days.  Once Philo Farnsworth put the television in living rooms across America, we were spared conversing about how one’s day went.  Now we can watch The Simpsons instead of listening to someone drone on about the difference they are making in the world.

But, we were without TV for most of the time my parents were here.  Apparently the cable that runs from the dish to our TV had an open in it.  We learned this by doing a little troubleshooting.  Our troubleshooting consisted of me holding a ladder and Monica crawling up on the roof, unhooking the old cable, hooking up the new cable, crawling back down the steep-pitched roof to the ladder that was firmly anchored back on the ground.  So it is a bit self-serving when Monica rolls her eyes when I explain how we fixed the problem.  Without that ladder secured to the ground with my anchoring skills, she may not have been able to scale the roof so we could fix the TV. 

We finished week two of the school year.  One of the great parts of teaching multiple grades (3-4-5) is that I already had 2/3 of the students in my class last year.  The new 3rd graders are still trying to comprehend what has happened to their lives.  They are still trying to figure me out; wondering if I’m serious when I tell them they cannot have a drink of water.  I’ve known camels that drink less water than these kids.  (Some of my best friends are camels.)  I give specific breaks for the students to use the bathroom and get drinks so they are not constantly asking for breaks throughout the day.  One of the 3rd graders asked is she could get a drink of water because her “lungs were dry”.  I’ve heard of severe dehydration before, but she must have really been experiencing an awful amount of pain.  I told her no.  The good news is that I know what I’ll be teaching in health now.

Monica has kept busy up here.  Not including playing a cable repairperson, she has worked 6 of 10 days substituting at the school.  It looks like she may be able afford to pay for her plane tickets home. She’ll be starting on her college classes in Oct, so she’s already on her way to a teaching career.  After taking two classes last semester, I swore I would take a year off before taking any more classes.  I’ll be taking a grad level writing class this semester.  Maybe after this year my writing will be improved and I’ll figure out what a transitive verb is.  I always thought it was a verb that dressed as a noun. 

The year has started smoothly so far but I know grief will show up a few times for me.  I have Monica here this year to complain to, which she is looking forward to.  Our pantry is filled with most of our year’s food and our freezer is filled with meat.  I am convinced I will have another great year here in a place called The Middle of Nowhere, Alaska.  I think I’ll have another cup of coffee and watch football for the next 14 hours.  (Thank you Monica)