20 July 2009

Moving day...

Before the dog days of summer take over, I'm making a move:


is my new home on the Web. Please come see me there, and keep up with me.

18 June 2009


With the table finished, glossy sheen marred only by debris borne on a summer breeze, I felt it a good idea to sit out here to work a little on this digital diary. My dog Beau followed me outside, and he has perturbed more than a few neighbors by barking as they passed by our patio. This morning, I swept the concrete slab. It really needs to be sealed and painted, but as my daughter pointed out, ti wouldn't have the character of whether and rust stains, paint drops, and a mysterious mark related to drippings of garbage that th upstairs neighbor left on his balcony.

Don't ask. I haven't.

The miniature botanical garden I have in assorted terra cotta and ceramic pots sways charmingly in the June air. Unfortunately, so does the artificial plant-like structure in the corner. I want it to leave. Ah, punny. In its place, I'd like a chiminea where I could put a couple or three candles to burn in the evening. There just a few other odds and ends that I'd like to toss in the rubbish: two rusty metal bolts that John brought home from a job, two rusty half-spent propane cylinders for a camp stove, and the rusted base of a hurricane lantern. There may be a theme in that last list.

A couple of well placed citronella candles, and this would make a nice little spot for an evening dinner. If only I invited people to visit, it would be pleasant for entertaining too.

15 June 2009

One of the most disturbing images...

At DixieLand Fun Park today, the kids and I saw this game, Spider Stomp. The pictures on it were so disturbing. Spiders and people in crazed mayhem, joyfully awaiting destruction and death: it's just not right! (Photo Credit - Marie Cécile on an Insignia 10Mp NS-DSC10A)

Page, Marie, and I were seriously buggin' (pun intended) on the creep factor of this arcade entertainment. It wasn't a video game, it was like those whack-a-mole games only without a mallet. You just jump up and down on these raised red spider bodies. A couple of little tykes walked up to play it while we had sodas, but those two lost interest. After they left, Page walked up and finished off the game. He won one of those prize redemption tickets.

Suddenly those mechanical claws that reach for stuffed animals but always drop them at the last second don't seem so bad.

13 June 2009

Beach Complements on the Patio

What this family needed was a little summertime project.

When my step-mother was here, we put some new plants in my barren porch post. However, once they were green and pretty, I just realized how decrepit my old wooden table appeared. Yesterday, I stopped at Home Depot and bought primer and two colors for the table: Glidden's poolside blue and ripe apricot. The finish is exterior high gloss, though I'm sure enamel would have been better to handle outdoor use. My kids helped me prime everything, though as I painted colors, there were several places that lacked the primer coat. Of course I had to pick a slightly complicated arrangement of colors, and most likely there are places that have a stray brush stroke of the wrong color. With the apricot and blue, it's a bit like being at a little seaside café.

As I finished painting, a neighbor came to my porch fence and asked about the table. She wanted some ideas for an old dinette set she has. Her conversation ended with compliments on the table. Then as I took photographs, my table and chairs had another little visitor. I think there were a few more compliments from that guest.

Painting with my children was fun, though I don't think I'll quit my day job to startup a new family business. Proviso! If you have upstairs neighbors, watch for dripping bags of trash placed over head. They can ruin a paint job and a hairdo! Anyway, this service set for four will make a pretty little spot to sit on sunny days...after the paint cures a bit. There's also hope that the Fingerhut craftsmanship from more than a decade ago will hold out a little longer.

24 May 2009

Longest break here in a while, I guess

To my faithful followers, the elite minority that you are, I do live still. School, both where I teach and where I study, continues for just a couple more weeks. The real summer break will come in mid-June when my grad courses take a little break. During that time, my little troop will travel to France to meet up with my sister and her gang. The Swanson-Bogle-Rodeles group will hit Paris, and I'm sure France will never be the same. I'm not sure how easy it will be for Lalo to find Tobasco while we're there, but I'll do my best to help him order dishes that are très épicé or at least bien piquant. Once I can work it out, some photo blogging of l'Hexagone will occur here, too. In the meantime, I've got a little more work to do before my summer rest arrives.

11 April 2009

a little Buonorroti

graphite on paper
April 2009
sketch/detail of Michelangelo's Pietà

06 April 2009

Yogic harmony & Zen abide in the iron

My wardrobe has changed, perhaps for the better. The result: I've discovered that I don't hate ironing a shirt. In fact, the act of passing a steaming handheld iron over the woven cotton of a collared shirt brings a sense of peace that perhaps I never knew existed before.

As a youth I have watched my father, younger then maybe than I am today, methodically layout sleeves, collar and body of shirt over the padded board, carefully removing wrinkles with steaming metal. Although I know our housekeeper in Turkey ironed most of our clothes, and I know that on occasion he took shirts for professional pressing, I still have this image of him next to an ironing board, smoothing dress shirts to a crisp finish.

Maybe it's as much age as the need not to look like I slept in my clothes.

Interestingly, the process often matches my mood. When I'm a bit agitated, some shirts seem to fight the iron. Instead of removing the crumple left by the dryer, I add new creases that I have practically to beat from the shirt with the iron. It's also a time for deeper discovery: the tomato sauce stain that didn't wash, the missing button, the tear at the seam. These small moments of reflection lead to moments of renewal: scrubbing and mending.

Ironing lets me see that it's never going to be done. There'll always be wrinkles. Examination always finds flaws. Constant reflection has to require constant renewal. New shirts don't solve any problems uncovered by ironing. Eventually, even the "wrinkle free" fabrics demand attention from the iron. Nothing is free; nothing is easy. At least my Black & Decker Quick 'n Easy 365 (how ironic...ha!) helps me find a little yogic harmony in the contemplation of wrinkle removal. Perhaps I can take it all to a deeper sense of balance by alternating tree poses as I press my shirt sleeves.

03 April 2009

New laptop up and running

It's a Sony Vaio CS215J in pearl white. This machine is sleek, very Mac-like but still a PC. (One day my elitist, Mac ship will come in, and I'll be ready). This laptop was definitely marketed for women: "It slips easily in and out of a handbag." But I can live with that. No matter what anyone might say, I got the extended warranty with accident protection. It was worth it. My last laptop died 6 mos. after the manufacturer warranty expired. This time, if something goes wrong, I just take it to Best Buy right across the street for repair or replacement even if I drop it!

31 March 2009

We live in love

and apart.

Another sonnet of caring heart
I will not write.

Oh, lame poet,
whose pen betrays,
lets stray thoughts cross
a page of notebook paper.

He is the dearest friend
of the me I share
not at all.

Closed completely
from those around
so pretense of fabulous wit
is intelligent fakery.

28 March 2009

The ethical dilemma of facebook "friending"

What do you do when people you know
but with whom you've never been friends
Ask to "friend" you
on facecbook?

It was years, decades ago:
the old conflicts, the hard feelings.
You thought you were over it.
It seems that you're not.

Do you pretend?
Do you swallow pride?
Do you accept the invite
and then just never message?

Living thousands of miles away,
it's not like you'll ever see them.

And if there's trouble,
can end a flame war.

So maybe it's like the teen talk
that you keep close
to scrutinize,
letting the Internet
be the glass
between you
and vitriol.

15 March 2009

Another quarter finished

Now there are 5 courses out of the way working toward my EdS. Only 7 more are left to go. Every day is progress. Still, it's nice today just to sit, relax and not worry about finishing a mountain of reading or posting responses to discussion questions in the course room.

Yoga is going well. I've been at it for 10 weeks now this year, and I feel a lot better at work, and sleep a little bit better each night. However, I've not exactly kept pace with my online yoga club. It's not really something I have to keep at a certain pace though. Some weeks are a bit more challenging than others, and when weekends were too busy with course work to download workouts and pose tutorials, I relied on a couple of DVDs that I have from the same company. Because of those little bumps, its sometimes tough to get through morning practice. I do it though. I need it. Beau watches me; he stays curled up in his chair and watches me do downward facing dog. How ironic.

Now, I just have to work on my diet a bit, reduce stress induced sugars and fats. Then maybe some of this spare tire that I've stored up can go a way. I'm not so concerned about the weight itself, just the shape of my body and my overall fitness level.

25 February 2009

If you know where to look, you can find me

If you search carefully, you'll find my work in French literary criticism. I can't be certain that this is a permanent or persistent link, but give it a try on Google Books. If you look for William Thompson's French XX Bibliography and search the text for Swanson or maybe this title (Convergences thématiques et narratives dans La Rue Cases-Nègres de Joseph Zobel et L'Enfant noir de Camara Laye), you'll find my name.

Below is bibliographical information if any of you faithful readers are truly interested. All is in APA format since I need to practice that style for my EdS research work.

Monye, L. P. & Swanson, K. A. (2001, September). Convergences thématiques et narratives dans La Rue Cases-Nègres de Joseph Zobel et L'Enfant noir de Camara Laye. CLA Journal, (45)1, 95-113.

That article is listed and or cited in the following:

Renaudin, C. & Toczyski, S. (2003, July 11). Ressources et illustrations. In En préparation à l'examen AP: L'Enfant noir de Camara Laye. Sonoma State University. Available from http://www.sonoma.edu/users/t/toczyski/camaralaye/clayeressources.html


Thompson, W. J. (2003). French XX bibliography: Critical and bibliographical references for the study of French. Selinsgrove, PA: Susquehanna University Press.

The latter means that I have contributed to the scholarly, peer-reviewed research and critique of French literature from 1885 to present! The former is a citation of my work in an AP French Literature study guide.

Thank you for your tolerance of my shameless self promotion.

15 February 2009

My childhood "street gang"

Born in 1969, I teethed on Sesame Street. My own children teethed on Sesame Street. I'm guiltily fond of "Mahna Mahna." Today, I listened to a Feast of Fools episode (#926) that included an interview with children's entertainment journalist Michael Davis. Davis has recently published a definitive history of the premier children's television show, Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street. It's going to have to be next on my long reading list. I miss Super Grover, and I still sing "C Is for Cookie" and "It's Not Easy Being Green" at random. When you love the Muppets, a part of you never completely matures.

The week ahead or The List

So next week is my mid-winter break. Although I won't have to go to my classroom at all, I will have plenty of work to do:
  • complete readings for each of my two graduate courses
  • complete discussion questions & responses for the aforementioned classes
  • complete an assignment/paper for each of these classes
  • grade papers for all of my own classes
  • prepare lessons for all my own classes
  • prepare substitute instructions for all my own classes for three days of the following week
  • arrange a carpool for my son for the three days that I'll be attending a graduate colloquium
  • attend a graduate colloquium that begins Saturday
  • practice yoga daily
  • walk the dog daily
  • have the car serviced: change oil & request little warranty repairs; rotate tires; wash
  • wash & fold laundry
  • do dishes
  • do the custody shuffle with children and ex-wife
  • shop for food
  • watch TiVo with addictively reckless abandon
  • read Watchmen
  • bathe the dog
  • press the Easy button
  • do the Dew
  • Just do it
Ok. Got it. Why do I need a vacation?

14 February 2009

Home for this holiday

John is here with me today. It's good to have him home. We stayed in and split a bottle of chardonnay. The dog is very glad that John is home, too. The children are with their mother this weekend. I prefer when they're here with me, but a custody agreement is what it is. Tomorrow, John goes back to New York. It's tough here without him, but at least we have unlimited cell phone minutes together.

Tomorrow, I think that I will have my hair cut.

07 February 2009

Valentine's Day

My boyfriend will be home for Valentine's Day. It's a total Hallmark marketing holiday, but I don't care. I just want to be with him, and because it will be 14 Feb, I'm especially glad. I really miss him.

30 January 2009

Way cool Web sites and news about me (sort of)

After listening to an story on NPR about the old IBM Model M keyboards (which I did love for their typewriter like feel), I did a little surfing online for the company that makes them today. The IBM Selectric-like feel of those old keybaords was wonderfully reminiscent of my 7th grade typing class with Mrs. Weesa (not sure of the spelling on that name anymore, so forgive me Mrs. Weesa). I didn't do well at the time in that class, but I did learn to touch type, and I don't peek at the keys. Although I love all the extra media and application keys on my Microsoft Wireless Multimedia Keyboard, I do miss that clickety-clack of a real, spring loaded, heavy duty, built to last keyboard.

After checking out that bit of retrotechno, I decided to hunt for more cool tech. I found Steampunk. These are beautiful works of art that, alas, are not for sale. That keyboard is downright beautiful. I've always been fascinated by the aesthetic of cyberpunk: analogue and digital coming together in such crafted elegance. [post scriptum: I found a site where a man makes keyboards like these for sale - Datamancer.net. Heck, the name of the site alone requires a little creative loafing on my part!)

In other news (look around a bit, you'll see me standing out from the crowd), the high school where I teach is now award winning. I wish the recognition weren't merely for high test scores because so much more happens at Northgate than simple standardized achievement. I work with some very inspired teachers, and I have students that impress me every day. I'm proud to be a teacher at NGHS. Go Vikings!

25 January 2009

Inauguration of a New America

Tuesday at school, we watched President Obama's inauguration on CNN. My upper level French classes most often tend to be filled with the most liberal students in the school. Because we are in the Bible belt, that tends to be the entire population of 11 liberal high school students. Being who I am, I think that may be why they're attracted to my courses.

During the new president's address, we commented to each other, and when the address ended, we commented more. My favorite part, right now anyway, was "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." That call for peace, for the end to the anger in the world, it was the line that touched me.

As a teacher in a public school, the next portion of the speech that touched me was this passage: "What is demanded, then, is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task." Making this nation great requires hard work on the part of all Americans. For years I have heard criticisms of thrown at our country, our people and our schools--by Americans! The only way to improve our country is to get off "our" critical backside, take off the necktie or high heels, roll up your sleeves and get to work on making the United States a better country. I believe in public schools, so that's where I teach. I believe that public school teachers are great people, so I work hard to be a great teacher and to help my colleagues to the same. Thank you, Mr. President, for the reminder that each and every one of us is responsible for our success or failure in the world.

Although our previous president was not necessarily my favorite, I do not envy the hard tasks he faced during the last eight years. In all, I feel hopeful for this new administration. I'm grateful that this new president has a very different vision for the United States, and I look forward to the changes to come.

17 January 2009

Things to do

Finally, with the Eastern Orthodox Christmas just around the corner, my little Episcopalean tribe is taking down the Christmas tree.

I've also decided to clear off my Stephen King collection of hardbacks and rare paperbacks. If this link works, you can see my Amazon storefront. Maybe if you're looking to update your collection, I might have the book you need.

I plan to sleep a little extra this weekend because of the Monday federal holiday.

Tuesday, my school system is authorizing classes to have students watch the Inauguration during the school day. I'm glad; it's an important experience to witness.

10 January 2009

New semesters all around

It's 2009, and with the new year came a new semester for my high school and a new quarter for my online degree program. My teaching course load includes an art class and three French classes. I'm glad that this term I have one advanced French class with students who really want to work on the material. My art class is smaller this term, too. It looks to be a good semester.

For my online courses, I've enrolled in one course in collaborative professional settings. The other is in curriculum development. The courses seem to be off to a good start. I've got all of this week's work done, and tomorrow I will dig into the next unit.

My kids are enjoying their new school terms. Both have had positive comments on their teachers and classes, but I'm sure each would have enjoyed a few more days for Christmas break. I think I would have as well.