Thursday, September 27, 2018

Goodbye, Old School

I recently passed by my old elementary school -- the place where I walked daily, five blocks from home. The place where I learned to read and was abysmal in anything related to sports. Picked last for kickball. Corrective shoes. You know the drill. Despite that, I loved elementary school.

Photo: East Lansing Info (no credit given)

Large pieces of equipment were in the lot -- not the playground I remembered, but the big lot that led up to the busy adjacent street. Probably a playground now. I wondered what they might be doing. Gas lines? Some sort of dig-deep technical thing? I whizzed by, mildly curious but not enough to check it out. (Below is what it looked like a few days after that.)

A few days later I was sitting at a memorial service, chatting with a friend whose daughters attended the school. During the conversation she revealed the school was being torn down. A new one would be built in its place.

I have no idea why I felt violated but I did. And sad.

She told me a bond had passed to replace all the East Lansing elementary schools by only 51 votes. A summer election when many of the locals head north or take vacations elsewhere. Or, more likely, just don't vote because "it's just a local election."

Local elections matter, people!

(My personal opinion is that summer elections should be primary only. No bond, millage or other significant tax election should occur in August. Rick's theory is more radical. If 50 percent of the registered voters in the area don't vote, then the race is null. I actually like that but I think it would be pretty tough to implement.)

I digress. For the rest of the day, two trains of thought went through my head. One, of course, was the loss to our community of the man we went to honor -- a wonderful supporter of theatre in general but of one particular local theatre particularly; an educator, an advocate for children's theatre. Bill Helder will be sorely missed.

But I also thought often of my elementary school. Making puppets and covering cigar boxes with macaroni in Mrs. Craddock's third grade class. The death of Bobby Cotter of leukemia when I was in fourth grade -- the second child I knew who had died but one who was actually a classmate. Being in the "Palamino" reading group in first grade (we were the best!). Nap and a snack in Miss Bayless' (later Mrs. Quimby's) Kindergarten.

I remembered watching the first astronauts soar to in space on the black and white televisions that were new to Miss Lee's fourth grade classroom. And I also recall watching the educational television programs (social studies with Miss Bliss) on television -- all produced from the station I would one day work, some by people I would one day call my colleagues.) We made Valentine boxes. And I still have the report on Kentucky I did in the fifth grade.

I remembered my favorite teacher, Mrs. Ruby (fifth grade). Of the dreaded Field Day when we had to do sports. Of Boys Day and Girls Day, Japanese holidays our principal Miss Sloan had for us -- boys brought kites, girls dolls on their special days.

I remembered the lobby with the fireplace in the entrance, where we would sometimes go for stories. And I remember Miss Sloan's Easter Egg tree, which was quite impressive. And I remember school pictures.

I went from being pretty cute on my first day of Kindergarten... the fat kid who couldn't run (yeah, corrective shoes. I STILL wear corrective shoes!) in fifth grade.

I think back to good times. Nancy lived less than a block away. We played Barbies and did trading cards. Remember trading cards?

And slumber parties -- Nancy had slumber party when we were probably about 10.

The twist was in!

The Loomis sisters lived near me too. I've lost track of them and I wish I could find them. We spent plenty of time at their home.

My bestie (we didn't call them that then) Michele has since become a remarkable jewelry designer. Who would have thought when we were playing up north or making Christmas ornaments out of styrofoam balls. (And yes, I was attached to a camera even then.)

And Brownies. Do little girls even do Brownies anymore? I hope so.

And Mrs. Dart's Saturday French class where she tried to turn us all into ladies. With mixed results, I think -- at least at the time!

When Greg and Kevin were in elementary school it happened they went to the same school I had as a child. I remember the first time I walked in to see one of their class presentations. It seemed so small! All the furniture was little and low and the ceilings seemed low, too. The all purpose room was the same and the lobby, but additions had been built. Things were wired. Times changed.

Rick often says "Will a new edition of Word make you a better writer? Will a new stage make you a better actor? Will a new building make you a smarter pupil." After all, Larry "Google founder" Page was an East Lansing grad. He did OK in those schools.

Rick is right. True. Times change. Buildings need to accommodate the internet, enrollments enlarge or decrease. And while we all survived well without air conditioning even in unseasonably hot early June or September, it's probably nice that kids can be a little more comfortable now.

But I'll miss driving by Glencairn, seeing it as it was, remembering where we played dodge ball in the all purpose room or dreaded field days on the playground.

It all started there.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

A Little More Fall, In and Out

Well, autumn is officially here. I see it at the farmer's market with the shots of color: pumpkins, tomatoes, zinnias. (Oh, and because so many of you asked, camera info at the end of this post.)

And a row or two later, I am blown away by this gorgeous bunch of fungi.

I see it branded into the sidewalk as I move toward the Ditch, imprints of fallen leaves, leaving their mark on the cement.

I see it in the sumac and the astors.

I see it at Kohl's. And by the way, why anyone would spend 15.99 or 23.99 for these pumpkins when you could cover a faux pumpkin with artificial leaves, probably from Dollar Tree at best, a little more at worst, is beyond me. They're really cute. And all it would take is a pumpkin, leaves and a glue gun. You're welcome.

I see it in the falling leaves.

And I see it through the bare branches -- a spotted fawn on the Deer Island at the Ditch. I never would have spotted him otherwise.

It smells like fall, too, at least around my house! Heat up the oven -- make this simple chicken casserole and serve over wild rice.

Basic ingredients -- I use chicken tenders instead of the breasts the recipe calls for. Any dry white wine will do.

The joy of this is that you can make it up early in the day and later, when it's nearing dinner time, pop it in your 375 degree oven and in 45 minutes it's on the table. (Maybe a bit longer if straight from the fridge.) That's just about how long it takes me to do my wild rice.

Remember that farmer's market? Well, I bought a quarter bushel of tomatoes and so guess what!

Yup! Loads of batches of pasta sauce starter with onions, garlic and tomatoes. (One batch had artichoke hearts and mushrooms, too.) We'll dress it up with extras (olives, sausage) later! I took the immersion blender to one batch and it was the best tomato soup ever!

I've been making pesto, too. And I can't resist caramelizing a few more onions than I need while I'm doing the sauce!

You knew I had to add a little to the house, didn't you. Mostly, it's a few botanical elements, dried and faux. I love these leaves in the tin pail. That's one of Carol Gillot's (Paris Breakfasts) watercolors beside it. Pears are perfect for fall!

The china cabinet top got a bit of an upgrade.

And a few branches in the big vase with battery lights by Lizzie's bowl.

A quick peek at the other cabinet -- outside...

...and in.

I love this corner with my Stickley lamp, a few leaves and a photo of the Eiffel Tower by my friend, author Judy Winter. Can't wait to see it in person again!

A number of you asked about my new camera, what model and make. It's a Canon SX730 HS and has a 40x optical zoom (which stretches to 160, although at that full zoom, it's hard to steady.) It's reasonably lightweight (not as light as my earlier model) and fits easily into my purse. I got the little kit which included the memory card, battery, mini-tripod, card reader (disappointed my old Canon cord didn't fit) and a little cleaning kit. I found it on Amazon through a seller called WhoIsCamera. So far, I'm impressed, although I have to say, looking at these photos enlarged, they seem a little soft. That could be operator or setting error. We'll see.

 I guess I'll be putting it through its paces in October and look forward to sharing with you!

Meanwhile, enjoy some magical fall!

Sharing this week with:    Let's Keep In Touch     /   Pink Saturday   /     Thursday Turnabout

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Big Birds -- In Trees, Water and Taking Flight

When I uploaded photos for this post, I uploaded 83. Don't worry. There aren't 83 pics here. I just couldn't decide from the thumbnails!

And why? Well, two beautiful Ditch Days! There is a bit of color coming through...

...and it's beginning to look like fall.

Ellie and Harry are hanging enjoying the pond, along with the ducks. Word on the street is that there are two herons but I've only seen one at a time. So, it's Harry. Because it is. And one egret. (Though a Ditch Walker said she had seen two of those as well.) So, we're talking Ellie!

Half these photos were taken with my old camera (all the flight ones and the ones where the birds are in the trees).

The rest with the new one. I'm loving it!

I was lucky enough to catch two fawns on the run...

...and Harry was lucky enough to catch something, too!

Ellie, too!

The spot...

The dive...

The twist...

The dinner!

I had heard about both the birds hanging out in the trees but had yet to see them...

...until this day. Ellie was way up there.

Harry, a little lower and well camouflaged (which may be why I didn't see him before!)

But when they fly, it's glorious!

I was lucky enough to catch both of them on the wing. Harry's wingspan seems enormous.

But Ellie makes such a dramatic exit with her white reflected on the water.

I could watch all day. It was like seeing an angel fly.

For a bit of time I was joined by Dorothy Duck.

Loved her feather detail!

But time to move on and leave this lovely spot behind.

At least for a little bit! (By the way, if you really want to see fascinating bird photos, learn about banding and more, visit David at Travels with Birds. Some of the photography he posts takes my breath away, it's so dazzling!)

Sharing this week with:    Saturday's Critters    /   Let's Keep in Touch   /   Pink Saturday   

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