Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Books read in June

A mostly nonfiction month due to a bunch of teaching-inspired holds arriving at the same time. Not a stellar month for fiction. Hopefully July is better.


Women Food and God
Geneen Roth
I've read all of Geneen Roth's books and really like her philosophy. This short book was a restatement of such, but with more god this time. Because it didn't include a magic pill to fix everything, I guess I'll have to start following her advice. Again.

The Women
TC Boyle
I liked the writing style of this book but I did not like this book. Frank Lloyd Wright: unlikeable. Mistress #1: not really likable. Mistress/Wife #2: extremely unlikable. Mistress/Wife #3: likable. The story of Wright's women is told in reverse order, so once likable wife #3 exits the scene, the last half of the book is filled with women I wasn't quite so fond of. Also, intrigued to see what Taliesin, his home in Wisconsin, looked like I looked it up on Wikipedia and discovered the great tragedy associated with Wright that I was not aware of. Had I not read about that, this book probably would have had more dramatic tension, as Boyle presents that part of the story last.

I did like the narrator as former Japanese apprentice. That worked for me. But ultimately, this was a big, thick book full of people I could not stand.

Motivating Students Who Don't Care
Allen Mendler
Very short book(65 pgs) with five different approaches to get students to learn what you want to teach them. The approaches are:
  • Emphasize Effort
  • Creating Hope

  • Respecting Power

  • Building Relationships

  • Expressing Enthusiasm

Within these approaches are some good tips such as working two minutes per day for 10 days to build a relationship with the student and telling the chronically late student that though you will probably keep bringing the issue up, you are happy to have him/her the 50 minutes in class s/he is there. Also a great point made: there is very little teacher can force students to do these days, so why not gentle them along?

There was a tip about calling home and leaving praise messages for students so they would be most likely to hear it when they get home after school, which I don't think was such good advice, but other than that, a great quick read.

Change your brain, change your body
Daniel Amen
Interesting perspective on changing your body. Amen uses brain scans and identifies areas of the brain that are not functioning well. With treatment, patients see rapid improvement in a variety of areas. This is according to him. I, not being a medical professional, have no idea if this is true or not. It was interesting to see the brain scans of people with head trauma and hear about their impulse control issues.

Amen has clearly built a commercial empire, with brain scanning clinics across the country as well as a line of supplements and many, many other things you can buy to make yourself better. However, you could follow many of the action steps without all his merchandise and probably still see improvement.

Colm Toibin
Not a very long book. The whole time I was reading it, I kept wondering why. The plot seemed to have no compelling reason for me to keep reading. I did get attached to the main character and her choices, but there wasn't really an ending. I feel like this was a fleshed out outline for a much longer book.

Started but did not finish

What every teacher should know about student motivation.
Donna Walker Tileson
Seemed to be a good book, but I lost interest in learning more about student motivation. (Hah!)

Meet Me In the Middle: Becoming an Accomplished Middle School Teacher.
Rick Wormeli
A broad approach to middle school teaching. It being my vacation, the fiction books were calling and I set this aside. It would be good to read before an interview though.

Poem for June: The Lake Isle of Innisfree

The Lake Isle of Innisfree
W.B. Yeates

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

I chose this poem because one of my visualizations for mediation is at a small cabin on a lake. I would like to eventually find a tiny cabin on a lake to visit each summer, but for now, my visualization and this poem will do.

Monday, June 28, 2010

No more coffee

And here is where I used to walk by Paul Bunyan's Coffee Shack on the way to the train. What will be here now?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: Hot Tub Time Machine

Four separate times during the movie Matt leaned over and said, "Remember, you were the one who chose this movie." And indeed there was a lot--from a feminist perspective alone--to quibble with during the show. However, I thought they had a particularly brilliant way of showing the 40-ish actors as 20-year-olds and there were some laugh-out-loud funny parts.

poster from:

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Three sentence movie reviews: Serenity

It's still a tragedy this show was canceled so early on. The characters still are fabulous, lovable and funny. As good as this movie is, it doesn't make up for the fact that we never got even a full season of the series Firefly.

poster from:

Friday, June 25, 2010

I can't look away.

This photo doesn't accurately capture the object of my fascination and for this you should thank me. This gentleman, who I sat behind on the train, clearly had trouble shaving all the hair from his head. The hair caught in the fat rolls was rather long, and you could see how the clippers and razor missed them. As he would turn his head, different hairy patches were exposed. I tried hard to concentrate on the newspaper, but I kept getting distracted.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Paul Bunyan, Oh No!

It seems that not only did wandering Paul never return, but also his coffee shack will be wandering soon too.

Three sentence movie reviews: Frank Lloyd Wright

I've just finished T.C. Boyle's book the Women and had to see Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin. Who better to show me than Ken Burns? Very nicely done documentary with a insight into FLW's life.

poster from:

Three sentence movie reviews: Mama Mia

Kinda slow and mostly vapid and you would be better off seeing it as live theater where you can hear so many people sing along. That said, it does have Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried who are always delightful to watch. And Pierce Brosnan's singing wasn't nearly as bad as I was led to believe.

poster from:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last day of school

Just like the other days of our cold and rainy spring, the last day of school arrived with children bundled up in winter coats, feet in solid, warm shoes. I spent the last recess of the 2009-2010 school year bundled up against the cold and wearing a wool hat. It started to pour about ten minutes before the last recess ended, which was also the end of the school day. Because the trees in the North Park blocks had leafed out, most of the children didn't notice how hard it was raining. But just as I was about to blow the whistle to end the recess, lightning flashed and thunder cracked nearby. We ended our soggy, rainy spring and our soggy rainy school year by escorting a bunch of cold but excited 2/3 students inside.

"Why do we have to come inside just because of a little lightening?" asked more than one child. They are such Portlanders. They think hail is snow and because lightening rarely strikes the Portland metro area, they don't know to be afraid of it.

Three sentence movie reviews: She's Having a Baby

I enjoyed watching this movie about a couple just starting out, though I disagreed with many of their choices. Kevin Bacon was great, as were the rest of the actors. Watching it, I could tell that this was heavily drawn from John Hughes life, which probably had me overlooking any flaws.

poster from:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Portland Roses

A Master Gardener once told me that Portland, Oregon is a dumb place to grow roses. Apparently, they enjoy the desert-type climates of California much better than our dark, cold and rainy days.

And yet, Portland is well known as the City of Roses. We have a Rose Festival, for goodness sake and everyone seems to want to go to the Washington Park Rose Garden when they visit. If they are so darn hard to maintain here, why do we Portlanders insist on growing them?
I realized today, on yet another cold and gray spring day, that our hearty pioneer ancestors most likely grew up in climates much sunnier than ours in the winter. They probably grew roses because if anything is cheering against yet another day of gray skies, it is a profusion of colorful roses. Thank goodness there is a neighborhood rose garden on my walk to the train.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Does it have a greencard?

This grass needs you to know its nationality.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Friday, I was exhausted. "You would think," I told one of my colleagues, "that I had worked 40 hours this week and done six interviews and a kindergarten roundup. However, due to my 32 hour a week work schedule and several conflicts, I did none of them. Still, I could hardly motivate myself to get to the ballet Friday night. When I came home, I was the kind of tired where it seems like a better option to sit on the couch and stare at the wall because going to be takes to much energy.

Saturday was a different matter. I woke up remarkably refreshed--a well rested rising being a rare occurrence in my life. I went to the gym, did laundry, hung it to dry, harvested some greens and radish from the backyard, cooked and ate them, spent several hours alternating through homework and planting root vegetables in the garden, folded and put away all of my laundry and hung out with Matt. All with a level of energy I haven't had in forever.

It was the sun. Yesterday the sun shown all day. It was warm, and promised of summer. The vegetable beds dried out. The mustard plant flowered. The asparagus shot up. The cilantro threatened to bolt. It warmed my back as I was planting seeds and Matt came back from his bike ride with a sunburn.

It rained all of May. If you live in Portland, you know what I mean. It rains a lot here, yes, but this rain was persistently nasty and cold. I've only worn sandals once this year. My summer clothes sit in a box under my bed. There is threat that the strawberries will rot in the field, if it doesn't warm up. We've had a month solid of March rain, with its reminders of winter, rather than May rain, with its promise of summer. Today it is raining again. I think I'll be okay, thanks to that one glorious day of sun.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What Jane Austin character are you?

I am Elinor <span class=

Take the Quiz here!

Lucky me. She's my favorite! Funny how that works.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Springtime 2010: Rain Wins!

Yep. It rains here. But I must say that it usually doesn't rain quite this long, hard and--let's face it--Biblically, as it has this spring. We get rain, but we also get warmer days with sun and promises of summer. We bring out our sandals. We pull out our shorts and skirts and short-sleeve tops. Usually May is a great month, some rain, but a lot of sun and happiness.

Not this year. Day after day the rain hammers us. If we don't get rain, we get gray skies all day long. And cold? It has been freezing. I've not worn sandals once and it is JUNE. One of my workmates checked into prices for a last-minute ticket to Las Vegas for the weekend where it is a lovely 90 degrees. But nothin' doing. There were no cheap flights and so we are left huddled under blankets and longing for warm spring to arrive. Perhaps even before summer does.

This fellow's outfit

Walking to work, I sometimes walk in the same direction as the art students. I could not get over this guy's outfit which was a one-piece with puffy sleeves and pantaloon-type leggings. He also had some sort of matching large handkerchief attached to his getup. There was a guy walking near me and he was staring so much he almost walked into a lamppost. This is the kind of outfit that Sinefeld-type episodes get written about.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rubik's cube solved!

For my class this quarter, Problem Solving for Middle School Math Teachers, we did not have to buy a textbook, but we did have to bring a Rubik's Cube to class. The teacher guaranteed that we would solve the cube by the end of class and voila! I did it! Now I just have to figure out how to do it again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Slow Children

Now, I have been known to refer to certain children--and adults, for that matter--at my school as "slow." But would I ever use the term to market a product? N-O, No! Slow isn't a professional term. Try "delayed." So this postcard made me laugh. Several times, as it came to us repeatedly.

ps. The child on the front who is most probably unmotivated, slow or discipline-problemed? What were they thinking?

Kenton: G&H Meat Market

When I moved to the Kenton neighborhood in 2007, G&H Meat Market was the typical business in downtown Kenton. You could buy large packages of different cuts of meat and there were also basic grocery items available. It was a no-frills operation. I went in once, but none of the meat was free-range, organic, etc. and the standoffish attitude from the proprietor reminded me of South Boston, so I never bought anything from this store.

Still, I was surprised to find that it had gone out of business. Here is its corner location.

The windows that used to have the listings of packages of meat you could buy are now covered with white paper.

A liquor license notice has been posted. If approved, it looks like there will be a tavern here.

Looking south down the street.

The North side of the building. Across the street is the Cup and Saucer, which has delicious breakfasts.