Saturday, May 17, 2008

A photo of Supergirl One and her Beloved can be found on this post.

I talked about her and failed to put her photo up!

A Letter From Emily & A Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh

(early May 1883)
Mrs. J. Howard Sweetser

Dear Nellie.

I have long been a Lunatic on Bulbs, though screened by my friends, as Lunacy on any theme is better undivulged, but Emerson's intimacy with his "Bee" only immortalized him -
They came in happy safety, and rest in their subterranean Home -
"Remembrance faithful to her trust, brings" us "in beauty from the Dust,"
their divine prospective - Smitten by the sweetness, I only can take those
wasted words "Thank you," on my lips.
We shall tenderly think of you in the foreign Home.
Were affection dependent on location, this would be an anonymous World.
The Apple Trees lend Vinnie Blossoms which she lends to me, and I pay no
interest, their rosy Bank in need of none, and the Woods lend Austin
Trilliums, shared in the same way - If you will
lift your little Hands I will surely fill them, though not agree to let them go, but to that,your your Lovers
would not consent -
Your great Neighbor the Ocean, will see you oftener than I, and I am jealous
already of his Morning calls -
Alice's call is still remembered - and a glance from Nettie in Hyacinth time.

Emily, with love -
(Vinnie was Lavinia, Emily's sister and Austin, her brother who after marriage, lived in the house next door to the Dickinsons, named The Evergreens.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Two More Victories!

Letters, emails and whatever else you can do to take action, really do help!

Iraq: House Votes Down War Funds

Your lobby visits, emails, and phone calls are making a difference!
Yesterday, 149 members of Congress said "no" to more funding for war. Please take a moment right now to thank your member of Congress if he or she voted against new funding for the president's failed war strategy in Iraq.
Equally important, if your representative didn't oppose the war funding, write a short letter now asking her or him to vote no when this bill comes back to the House for another vote sometime in the next few weeks.
Congress is finally getting the message that a majority of the people in this country want the war to end. But that may not result in Congress's voting to cut off funding. The victory Thursday was made possible in part because a large block of supporters of the war decided to sit out this vote, simply voting "present."
Take Action
Congress needs to know that you are watching.
Write your representative today
to thank her or him if she was one of the 149 legislators who voted no. If your representative did not vote no, let her or him know you are disappointed.
Find out more about FCNL's Iraq Peace Campaign.
Find out how your representative voted.

And this from yesterday:

You did it. Just a few minutes ago, the House of Representatives passed the new GI Bill by a vote of 256-166, as an attachment to the emergency supplemental. Click here to view the full list of who voted for it and who voted against it.Earlier this week, we told you that the new GI Bill was facing opposition from a small group of Representatives in the House, who were threatening the bill despite its deep bi-partisan support.

We asked for your help, and you stepped up to the plate. Thousands of you took action by calling your Representatives, signing the petition at, and spreading the word to your friends and neighbors. Today, your dedication paid off and together, we made history.
There's no question that your efforts had an impact. Referring specifically to the group of Representatives that were standing in the way of the bill, known as the Blue Dogs, the Politico, a Washington-insider newspaper, said that "there had been erosion among Blue Dogs in the face of pressure from veterans groups."1 The leadership you demonstrated in fighting for this bill shows that IAVA is a force to be reckoned with.

The new GI Bill has widespread support among Democrats, Republicans, and all of the major veterans organizations. But the legislative process is a long one, and it's your dedication that keeps it going during these crucial stages.

Next week, the Senate will have to vote on the bill as well. After that, it will go to the President's desk for his signature.
We'll keep you updated via email, but for the latest news, just visit you again for standing with us. The support we're getting in this fight has been truly inspiring.
Patrick CampbellIraq VeteranLegislative DirectorIraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

1. Politico:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Victory!

I heard about his at Mad Priest's site and shortly after got this in my email from The Human Rights Campaign, an organization to which I will be contributing a little more generously this year with a portion of my "stimulation" check. Supergirl One and the Beloved will be thrilled when they wake up! :-) They've been so sleep deprived all through finals that at 2:30 p.m. they may very well still be sleeping. The Beloved is a California resident.

Same-sex couples win the right to marry in California!their relationships have so long been denied.

Today, California's highest court ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry is unconstitutional, granting loving, committed gay and lesbian couples the dignity and support
Two words sum up how I feel at this moment: proud and determined.
I'm proud of Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who argued this case, and all the advocates who worked tirelessly to make this day possible. More than anything, I am proud of you and all of HRC's supporters who, rather than backing down in response to bigotry and hate, have continued this fight.

And I'm determined to make this win stick. Our right-wing opponents are using this moment to build a $10 million war chest for an amendment this November to ban same-sex marriage in California.

That's why we've set up a special fund to direct 100% of your gift today to this fight in California. Don't let them use our victory to get the upper hand.
Donate today and send your dollars straight to California to protect this victory for equality!

I would love to tell you to take a day to sit back and enjoy this momentous victory. While this win is certainly a reason to celebrate, this is not a day to rest easy.
In fact, sitting back is exactly the reaction the right-wing is hoping for. We can't afford to let them turn our success into their win.

Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage and their anti-gay friends want to write discrimination into the constitution of the most populous state in our country and undo what we've achieved today.

The National Organization for Marriage's own web site is calling on their supporters to give $10 million so they can blanket the state with anti-gay messages in the coming months.
They think you'll be too busy celebrating to notice as they amass their millions. I think they're wrong.

HRC is a member of Equality for All, the coalition of groups working together to defeat the marriage ban in California. Funds raised today will go to support Equality for All's efforts.
Click here to make a gift that will go straight to California to keep discrimination out of the constitution! This is a momentous day. Let's make sure it doesn't become a piece of history this November.

Supergirl Two

This is Supergirl Two, age 19 and I, her mom, taken last summer. That girl will not let me take a candid shot of her, so the posed one will have to do. She's home all summer and as I mentioned on a previous post, looking for a job. In the fall she'll go back to Boston University as a sophmore in the journalism program of the school of communications. The 3.6 semester GPA is something we are currently celebrating. It's also a relief. The financial side of success isn't going to be pretty. But we're hoping through the concerted efforts of family that we will make it through okay.

We're still waiting to hear about Supergirl One's final grades. She'll be a senior (oh my gawd) in the fall at Mount Holyoke. Her summer schedule makes my head spin. Holy shit. She's taking a break the rest of this week, then starting her job at the college next week and until June 2 when she starts summer session classes at UMASS. She worked her tail off last summer at waitressing at a local inn and after summer session, she's taking a much-deserved break. Her Beloved will be going home to Sacramento for the summer. How those two will survive two months without each other remains to be seen. Oh, to be young and in love! Though I am concerned that her Beloved's family is not as supportive of the relationship as CR and I are. They're not disowning her for being a lesbian or anything but SG1 was a little put-off by some of their reactions. I'm hoping maybe they're still adjusting to the idea of seeing their little girl in love, regardless of sexual direction. I've been around them a lot more, since I visit them at their college and take them off campus for dinner and shopping and such. I'm hoping it's just an adjustment thang.

I'm home sick today and blogging like a mad-woman! Wait. I am a madwoman! :-)

What A Fool Believes

My blog friends Beth and Poetryman both reminded me today that I had to say something about the fool who masks as our president. I was both sickened and irate about Bush's "sacrifice", though not surprised. Poetryman wrote the most wonderful post about how his muse, who is as much a co-writer of his blog as he, reacted to Bush's latest stupidity, thoughlessness and elitist crap. Beth posted this same clip, which I stole because we have different readers.

That Keith Obermann is a pretty cool guy, as I'm late in discovering. Thanks to so many of you for what you put up daily, which so often enlightens me and keeps me going.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Slice of Life In The Happy Valley (click)

There are several of these installations spread around the Amherst College campus, which is essentially part of downtown Amherst. I took this earlier this spring while on a jaunt down to Mount Holyoke to visit Supergirl One. If you click to enlarge, you can read the messages. Other than having photographed this, I don't know much else about this series of installations. I like the message that's written on the painting of the man, so I snapped the picture.

On a somewhat related note: one of my favorite valley bands, turned famous, J Mascis and Dinosaur Jr. doing Neil Young's I've Been Waiting For You; a song off Neil's first solo album.

Loud Warning

It's only Wednesday and I'm already craving loud music. Uh-oh.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mad Pride

What's Goin' On

My 19 year-old daughter whom I call Supergirl Two or SG2, a.k.a. Ultimate Spawn on her dad's blog, is done for the semester. She'll be living between her dad's and my house and...hopefully working. She has an interview tomorrow at a local supermarket. I always preferred waitressing when I was in college: fast money and you could cheat. This tells you that I am, in fact, 30% evil. hehehe She is still in suspence about a couple of her grades but she thinks she did well.

Meanwhile, Supergirl One or SG1, a.ka. Elder Progeny on her dad's blog (he's always been more clever than I, cunning runt!), called me today to announce that she is DONE for the semester and she is most happy and relieved. She said she had pulled an all-nighter and fell asleep at 6:30 a.m. today. My advise: take a blanket and a warm body and go lay out in the spring sun.

And me, I'm happy now that I'm home. Work had its magic moments, as it does daily. My thought for the day has been: I think that if children were properly entertained, they would learn so much more than if they went to school. Followed by a mantra - you think too much, you think too much...

So. I read this article in the New York Times on Sunday, went to Feministing today, at the suggestion of my daughter and had to talk about it here.

At feministing, I was introduced to the funny and charming Liz Spikle on a youtube video they featured. I'm looking forward to reading her blog which discusses mental health issues. I have a strong feeling she's on my side. :-) Check it out. Especially if you don't have a mental illness.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Life's Many Little Difficulties

As W.P. takes on the challenge of trying to resuscitate my old laptop and Supergirl Two is upstairs napping, I find myself with a little time to "talk" to you all. The house is quiet; some leftover dishes need to be put in the dishwasher and some bills need to be paid. But that can wait today. I have been good.

I'm using the old Dell laptop which I can use until mine either is repaired or I need to buy a new one. I hope he can recover my images, music and favorites, as I've amassed quite a collection; espsecially since I started the blog.

So. Work. I feel a little silly for asking you to send good wishes and prayers my way about my work situation, as I am not in danger of losing my job nor do I face any real threats there otherwise. I think you should save the energy of prayers (which I do believe in somehow) for those who really need them - people with serious illness and strife in their lives. My situation is more like one of frustration and few options for anything better. You know the old saying: The devil you know is better than the one you don't know.

Of any area of my life, I have the most difficult time writing about work here. I have drafts of at least a half-dozen posts that I started over the last weeks trying to convey to you my work difficulties. I hesitate to get too much into detail about my work and its resulting frustrations because of my paranoia that sometime, somehow, someone from my school or school community will chance upon this blog and discover that I am its author. It's not likely but also not impossible. So, names and even situations will have to be changed around to not only protect the innocent (my students and their families) but also to protect me. The other factor that keeps me from publishing any of the drafts I mention is that I have not been able to write anything that really does justice to the quiet desperation I feel about my work situation and the people with whom I work - my colleagues.

Essentially, I co-teach in what is called a multi-age classroom where children from pre-school through second grade are integrated with their special needs peers, in a public school setting. This particular classroom is unique and has many specialists from the special education department who work closely with my colleagues and me. There are also, of course, special subject teachers (art, etc.) and assorted other support personnel. This is my second school year with this school district. I hate it. If I could find a parallel alternative I would take it in a hearbeat.

I am very much at odds philosophically with certain curriculum requirements, firstly. That this school district lines right up and does the state's bidding has earned it a reputation for "excellence". That may very well be in other schools, I'm not sure, but it certainly is not the case at mine. I see so much shoddy teaching in my own classroom from my co-teachers on a daily basis, it's heartbreaking. It is also maddening. There are some days when I think to myself while driving home from that place that I can't possibly take it another day.

One of my biggest gripes is with the attitude of the specialists on what constitutes a good program for children with autism. Their ideas are not put on the table as guidelines or even suggestions, as I'm accustomed to in other schools, but are handed down almost like mandates. I tried this year, to bring to the table some of my concerns about the younger children with autism. The program does not meet their developmental needs and in essence, they are being asked to get in line, no questions asked, with their older and typical (non-special needs) peers. When I brought up my concerns, they looked at me like I had two heads, everyone went silent and one of the more outspoken of the Prima Donas, put me in my place. They know better and there is no room for compromise. That came across very clearly.

It does not matter that I have 25 plus years of experience in the field and that I've worked in a variety of classrooms where things are done differently and better. For the most part, these folks have been working in this same school district for years and years, some of them all of their careers. Many, I tell you, have never stepped foot outside of the county where they live. I would not hold that against anyone usally, but in this case their miopia is affecting the education and future of many children. Obviously my co-teachers can roll over for all of this without questioning. I've never been a person to simply accept things without questioning, so you can imagine how radical they must think I am.

To make things harder for me, my work (everyone's, really) is not valued and I have nothing even remotely like a support network there. I have, I realize, acquired a reputation for being difficult. And perhaps I have been. However, I have put my concerns and ideas out to others in a calm, professional and thoughtful way. I have no regrets about how I communicated what I had to say. Further, my philosophy on certain matters I've expressed to the team are commonly adhered to in the field of education. It's not like what I'm saying is completely radical. My suggestions have been of a scale that is doable on a daily basis. It's not like I'm some idealistic kid fresh out of college who seeks to upturn the established education system. I believe I'm just a threat to the way things are done in this school district. And now I'm paying. I've never been one of the good ol' gals but I managed to get on okay anyhow and there was always at least one person I could rant to who agreed with me.

I love my job in the sense that I know I am excellent at it and I adore the kids. But I don't know how much longer I can put up with the crap. I have few alternatives. Schools in the area are laying off teachers left and right. Going back to a private school or social service program will mean a pay cut, if I can even find a vacancy, as those other layed off teachers are going to be scrambling for jobs as well.

I keep thinking back to an incident last fall with one of the specialists I work with. As she followed me outside with a group of children, one of them, an autistic boy with a developmental level of about 2 years old ran staight for the sandbox and began to dig with a shovel. She watched him do this and turned to me and said "Sometimes you just have to let them be autistic." My expression must have gone blank as I thought to myself: A young child playing in a sandbox is "being autistic"? That's what all children are supposed to do! To me, this exemplifies the lack of understanding of what all children need and a lack of wisdom in providing them opportunies that help them grow into whole people, regardless of their disability. This lack of understanding and wisdom has me so depressed that getting ready to go work every day is a struggle.

I can't wait for summer.

Five Minute Update

I'm so glad to hear from all of you. I'm on my lunch break at work and I only have a few minutes. Mother's Day was really nice, minus Supergirl One who is still in the throws of finals.

The relationship issue has been amazingly easy to deal with. Simply, people in relationships need time to be together. I didn't realize how much time I was spending at the computer. Though he didn't complain, I sensed W.P. and I growing apart a bit; each way too involved in our respective hobbies. This little break has been good for us.

The kid issue can and will be resolved. Again, time and communication are needed. If I can keep her in one place for more than a minute, I think I can help Supergirl Two resolved some of her current difficulties. She's a great kid, doing well in school and she has great relationships with her dad and me as well as with her many friends and boyfriend. She's nineteen. Enough said? :-)

Work. Ugh. That is one big, huge pile of crap. It's my biggest challenge in life. In that area, I feel I do need your thoughts and prayers the most. And I thank you. So very, very much for being such loving people and passing along a bit of that to me.

Gotta run.

Namaste (deep bow)

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