These are a few of my fav’rite fall things . . .


(Corniness warning to readers: you must sing this poem to the tune of “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. Go ahead. You know you want to.)

Crisp Fuji apples with carmel to dip in
Bonfires in backyards while watching the leaves spin
Woodsmoke that lingers on clothing and clings
These are a few of my fav’rite fall things

Bright, sunny mornings, upcoming Thanksgiving
Stars on my iPod, my soundtrack for living
Sipping hot cider or chai while I read
These are a few of my fav’rite fall things

When the kids gripe, when I’m lonely, when I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my fav’rite fall things, and then I don’t feel . . . so bad!

Robert Frost’s poems bring fall inspiration
Wearing wool sweaters and hiking creation
Playing more soccer while pine needles sing
These are a few of my fav’rite fall things

When the kids gripe, when I’m lonely, when I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my fav’rite fall things, and then I don’t feel . . . so bad!

No more funny money

As of today, Canada will no longer be the butt of currency related joking. The dollar has been sinking for the past few years, but today my attention was grabbed by the following:

1.00 CAD


0.999149 USD

Yes folks, the Canadian dollar is now par with the American dollar, and will probably be worth slightly more in the next day or so. The last time the Canadian dollar was worth more than the U.S. dollar was November 25, 1976. Here’s a handy list on how this will affect your lives:

  • Vacations to Canada will no longer feel like a great deal. In the past, we’ve put up with lackluster trips to the great north because hey, it’s cheap. There’s no excuse now to put off that Mexican vacation.
  • Lumber and beaver pelts now out of our price range.
  • Influx of Canadian tourists. Aboot time, ay?
  • Books will no longer have the U.S./Canada price difference on their spine.
  • No more thrill in using Canadian nickels to beat the man at toll booths. emot-argh

I guess I could talk about how this is helping U.S. exports and the trade deficit and blah blah blah… No, I think my list covers all we need to know.

The Beauty of Spring

The following are some pictures from the beautiful springtime of western Maryland. The rainbow indicates that you can find a pot of figurative gold by attending HVA…field.jpgflowers.jpggroup.jpgflowers2.jpgwalkway.jpgflowerrainbow.jpgcloseup.jpgpotofgold.jpgrainbow1.jpgbestone.jpg

Finished blog….

Okay peeps, you can visit the entire account of our England trip on my HVA webpage (, but here are a few choice pictures from the trip.queen.jpgavebury.jpgstonehenge2.jpgstephen.jpgcastle3.jpgclimb2.jpgeye.jpgshakespeare.jpgavon.jpgeye3.jpgeye2.jpgparliament.jpgparliament2.jpgbritmuseum.jpgjen.jpgjen1.jpg

Weird Winter Weather

jendc.jpgHere in Maryland, as in much of the country, we have had a strange winter. January was supposedly the warmest on record, and even February and March have had some really warm days! But then, out of the blue, 3 different snow storms suddenly descended on Western Maryland and as a result we’ve had 6 snow days and 3 delays total. Pretty crazy! It is my hope that spring has finally arrived. Here are some photos of our snow events and of my recent excursion with the Class of 2007 to Washington, DC. (The cherry blossoms should be blooming shortly,cherryblossom2005.jpg but, alas, I will be in England….ah well, life is full of trade-offs!)cb20052.jpgsnow2.jpgsnow5.jpg

Does anyone recognize this guy?

So, here’s the story.  On Friday, December 1, Jesse and I attended the National Council on Social Studies (for teachers) in Washington, DC.  We went to a really cool seminar about how to use music to teach history.  The Library of Congress has a great website for downloading old recordings of great pop hits such as “Daughters of Freedom, the Ballot be Yours!” from suffrage days, etc.  Very fun stuff.  And then we went to see Alex.  He hosted the National Geographic Teachers’ Geography Bee.  There were 10 finalists, and we watched them compete much like they do on Jeopardy, without the nice wall of televisions in the background.  The questions were extreeeeeemely hard, but I must say that between the two of us, Jesse and I didn’t do too badly for ourselves. (Of course we were answering quietly to ourselves, having not participated in the preliminary round of questions; we were unworthy to sit on the stage.)  Alex was HILARIOUS!  He is truly a brilliant man, but I think what has helped him rise to the top is his really great sense of humor and uncanny sense of timing.  He thinks on his feet very well and very quickly.  We were laughing pretty much the entire time.  End of the story: the man who won was definitely a geography nerd and deserved the two round-trip tickets to the Galapagos Islands.  Very cool.  We had a wonderful experience and hope to go next year when the annual convention will be held in San Francisco!

Judge Payne

I am a judge at this year’s HVA talent show.

I went in the gym tonight to look at the setup and saw the judging table front and center. From what I’ve seen on TV and in movies, judging is serious business. I’ve thought of a couple styles I can reach for:

Judge DudeOld-tyme Judge – This style requires a wig with some sort of curlers embedded inside and some sort of sheet/robe combo thing. Plus a tiny croquet mallet. I guess I can pound the table if things start to get out of hand and yell “Order! Order in the court!” I will also need to procure a baliff, and that might be hard at short notice. The best part about this style is that particularly bad acts can be sentenced to medieval type punishments. “How dare you sing LeAnn Rimes! Break them upon a wheel!”

Judge DreddJudge Dredd – This style requires an awesome futuristic helmet. I like how the visor will shade my eyes from the glare of the spotlight. Unlike the old-tyme judge, I can be judge AND executioner. If any of the acts displease me, I can shout “I am the law!” or “I’ll be the judge of that!“. I can also shoot at people with my futuristic firearms, which while boring, gets the job done.

SimonJudge Simon – This style requires a black t-shirt. I like how everything that is performed for me will be sub-standard and completely lacking in talent. If any of the other judges disagree with me, I will make disparaging comments about their intelligence and discernment. This style doesn’t have any cool weapons except for a sharp wit.

Sleepy JudgeSleepy Judge – This style requires Ambien. Only the best acts will wake me from my slumber, and they will be richly rewarded by my heavy-lidded attention. This style is probably the safest for the performers on-stage, but is pretty boring for the judge.

Well, that about wraps it up. I’m looking forward to some decent entertainment tomorrow night.

Lost… or are they?

LostWell, it’s almost time for our favorite show. With week of prayer at the school this week, and our overall busy schedules, I didn’t have the time or motivation to create one of my famous alcoholic culinary delights. However, we may provide some sort of brownie for people to munch on while we watch the show. I am still enjoying the show, even though the flashback structure can sometimes be lame. Really, if we didn’t have these group gatherings each week, I would just have the computer record it and fast-forward through both commercials and most of the flashbacks. Anyway, people will be arriving any minute! Ta!

Black Widow

Black WidowSo, on my way into the school building today Jenny was picking up the pile of newspapers delivered by our handy-dandy local company, the Herald-Mail, and she shrieked: “A black widow!” I rushed to her side. I’ve never actually seen one, but I’ve always been terrified of the legendary red hourglass that is supposedly visible on this potentially deadly arachnid. We stoop down to look at it–oh my goodness! It is the most perfectly shaped red hourglass ever! As Stephen said, it was as if someone had painted it on the frightfully large, round, black body. It appeared to be dead, so Stephen kicked it around with his foot. And–how repugnant–it rolled around, like a blueberry, all over the sidewalk. We kept saying: “Step on it! Step on it!” But he didn’t want its guts all over his shoe. So, we’re all trying to find a rock when the thing comes to life and starts running away!! Stephen slammed a piece of paper down on its head and then brought his foot of justice down on the paper. It was over for that Black Widow. I rushed in to my classroom and found the attached picture on wikipedia. It might as well have been taken of “our” spider. The personal resemblance is eerie. Now I’m a bit more frightened of all the spiders that inhabit our basement and bedroom…