Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

Bike Haikus

In 1 on July 28, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Shan on Bike I sometimes get the best thoughts while riding my bike. I usually ride at dusk in my neighborhood, which is flat and desolate. At this time of day, most of my neighbors seem to be done with their evening meals and errands and tend to be hanging out in their garages or screened-in porches, playing idly with children in the front yard, or just sitting. It seems a content time of day, dewy and transitional, and fleeting.

My husband, Jim, usually rides with me. I have a cool state-of-the-art water bottle and TWO (yes, you heard right)— TWO bells on my handlebars that are there for the sole purpose of pleasing me. These were anniversary gifts from Jim. I don’t wear any special biker gear, just whatever I happen to have on and tennis shoes. I don’t talk much while I ride, which is probably a relief to my husband who listens patiently to my endless chatter on a daily basis which might just make him a saint. Instead, I ride far ahead of him (my bike is faster; his is a mountain bike).

Tonight the sky has a bit of pink to it. I see a heron fly from that pink and between the wires of a giant satellite tower— its long neck a geometrical contradiction to the vertical cables. I notice the moon which is a light blue because the sun has not yet set.

Some nights, I ride into an unfinished condo development. There is a small bridge there where it is impossible to build anything and so there are trees and frogs and a green smell that is missing everywhere else.

I notice the open garage doors. I often wonder what the older man who sits there each night in front of his motorcycle is thinking, and if he fought in Vietnam.

I also look at mailboxes and the flowers people have planted there and wonder if it indicates something about their personalities. I tend to believe that it does. There are those who have wild flowers and climbing vines, and those with ordered clusters of petunias, and those with nothing at all.

Occasionally, I’ll look over my shoulder to see if Jim is still there. He is. I’ll loop around one of the dozens of cul-de-sacs waiting for him to catch up. He passes me. Smart aleck.

A lady walks to her mailbox. It seems a difficult journey. She is walking slowly, probably because of her age, and her knees are arthritic. She wears a lavender outfit that looks like a sweat suit.

I hear someone playing guitar and wish I had learned how. They are practicing and so are repeating measures. I am temporarily imagining learning to play. I see myself on the back porch swing, figuring out frets and chords, but the truth is my hands are small and not that strong. Maybe I should play the ukulele?

At the end of the ride, I come to my house. It is a creamy pale yellow with blue shutters and a matching door. I can never decide if I would like to prune the bushes so that they all have the same shape and size or enjoy their lanky unevenness. I am torn between what is wild and what is ordered. I consider this a metaphor for the basic inner struggle of most of us.

There, are the magnolia blooms.

I snip one off top.

The blue night is almost here.


The Summer of “Re”

In 1 on July 20, 2009 at 4:17 pm
At my sister's birthday party this year. There was no Michael Jackson cake, but she did get his biography "Unmasked" as a present from her husband!

At my sister's birthday party this year. There was no Michael Jackson cake, but she did get his biography "Unmasked" as a present from her husband!

re: prefix…1. again:anew 2. back: backward (recall)


I. Reunion

My summer began with a trip to Middlbury Vermont for the 90th birthday of the Bread Loaf School of English. There, in the beautiful Green Mountains, I was reunited with old friends. We sat in the same chairs on the same green and yellow porches of yore and re-lived great old memories. It was a wistful journey– in a good way. Most of my buddies there are also teachers or involved in education somehow. Aerie teaches in Baltimore. Todd is a headmaster in Massachusettes. Tim & John both live and work in NYC. Kathleen teaches in Mass., CC also. Helen & Tim met at Bread Loaf and both teach at The Asheville School. They have three kids with one on the way! My friend, Teri, teaches in the very northern part of Vermont and also works with the National Education Association which is a labor union for teachers. Aside from all of that, they are just wonderful people and seeing them all again made me feel hopeful.

II. Remembrance

On the other hand, I was also struck (or sucked in by) the loss of several famous/semi-famous pop culture personalities: Bea Arthur of The Golden Girls, Ed McMahon of the Johnny Carson Tonite Show, Walker Kronkite of CBS news and…of course…Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson’s death seemed like yet another bit of my youth fading away. I remember junior high dances where we all ran to the middle of the gym floor for “I Wanna’ Rock with You.” My little sister had a Michael Jackson wall in her bedroom and slept in her Michael Jackson earrings for so long that her ears got infected! She also had a Michael Jackson birthday cake. No one was allowed to eat the sugary rendition of Michael Jackson’s frosting head. MJ’s head was wrapped in foil and placed in the freezer for safe keeping. Nearly a decade later when we moved from that house, my mom found Michael Jackson tucked in the nether regions of the freezer. Somehow this bizarre family anecdote seems fitting for Michael Jackson. I wonder what other less glamorous souls were lost this summer?

III. Re-use, Reduce, Recycle

So, my husband and I have been trying to recycle most of our plastic, paper, and aluminum. It is kind of a pain to loading up laundry baskets of trash into the station wagon and driving to the dump, but truthfully it’s really not that bad once you get into the habit of it. Dr. Gresham also helped us to re-plant five tiny Eastern Red Cedar trees which he re-located to our yard from upstate near Columbia. We are hoping someday that they will grow tall and wide enough to create a natural fence at the back of our small patio. We also learned from Dr. Gresham that our soil is really CLAY and difficult for plants. That won’t stop me, however, Next spring, I hope to plant a mimosa tree. I find them feminine and graceful and reminscent of both the swampy and the swanky aspects of the South which make me love it so!

IV. Rediscovery

Okay. I was cuckoo for Netflix when it first came out. But now? With the “watch instantly” feature? WOO HOO! My husband hooked my laptop through the tv and we were able to INSTANTLY watch nearly 1,000 movies. Documentaries seem the most interesting to me right now. I especially enjoyed “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill” which is about a community of wild parrots in San Francisco and this St. Francis of Assisi type guy who cares for them all, understands them, and explains their personality and issues. I also enjoyed a documentary called “Home Movies” which documented the lives of people who made alternative living choices. One lady lived in a tree house in a remote part of Hawaii. Another couple lived on a defunct missile base. A guy from Illinois lived in a house that he had engineered with robots and crazy gadgets like a hand that popped out of the wall and handed you soap. And the most likable fellow lived on a house boat in the bayous of Louisiana. He was an alligator charmer. It was fascinating. I also watched GIANT with James Dean because I have heard it is his best acting. He died very young (like Heath Ledger) and was amazingly talented. Also, did you know that Michael Jackson, James Dean, and Shannon Lewis are all originally from Indiana? 🙂

V. Relaxing

I am one of the few adults I know who gets to nap frequently, has hours of solitude, and can choose or not choose to do whatever I do or do not do. Of course, this is mostly true in the summer. I stayed up waaaaaaaaaay too late this summer surfing the net, working on my Tweb, watching The Golden Girls, Tori and Dean, and Bridezillas. At the Bread Loaf reunion, my good friend Aerie said she is a firm believer in “mixing the high and the low”. So I read a little Shakespeare and then I watched a little Oxygen network. Eat a healthy salad and have some Skittles for dessert. I’m testing out her theory. I’ll let you know how it goes.

VI. Restructuring

As July melts into August, slowly, slowly, I am also thinking about the restructuring of our school. We have a new headmaster and his children will attend our school. We have a golf school option and the schedule in the upper school is going to be different. I am teaching a new course (English II) with new texts that I have never taught before. AND, I’m even trying to think of how to rearrange the room so that it is more efficient for my teaching and your learning.  This is all exciting and interesting and means being able to take a refreshed and open mind into the school year.

What are your RE flections for the summer? I would love to know. Post them in the comment section of this blog OR start your own wordpress blog. It’s pretty fun actually. I’m sort of getting used to it.

See you soon,

Mrs. Lewis

Sonnet Written Upon the Realization that Summer Will End

In 1 on July 14, 2009 at 3:52 am
She said, "Awwww! He's so cute!"

She said, "Awwww! He's so cute!"

Popsicle Hours


Summertime, summertime, your sweet embrace

wraps around me in silent wonder,

the slow, the slacking, steady pace,

the sinking down and under.


The popsicle hours of nothing to do

melt slowly like candle wax dripping

and to the wondering of whys and whos

my mind will go atripping.


I read. I think, with the sun on my cheek,

and my toes in the sand on the shore,

I stay up all night like a vampire freak

and selfishly wish for more.


Time, time, for what it’s worth,

to spend it slowly is much like mirth

Yes, even in the summer…

In General/Miscellaneous on July 13, 2009 at 4:50 am

I think. Not in the same way as I do during the school year, but still, the thoughts come, sometimes deeper, sometimes not. This summer I have been thinking about how to stay inspired. If you have had me as a teacher before, you know that I like trying new technologies and ways to communicate. I do Facebook. I tried Twitter (not so relevant unless you are on the go and can only microblog or are Ashton Kutcher! I followed Demi Moore…She and Ashton twitter all the time!). And last year on Teacherweb, I had you all try blogging. If you were in the Eighth Grade last year, you were forced to blog about your trees. So, here I am again, trying another type of blogging. I like this better so far because you can set it up/design it in a way that suits your personality and needs. I know I won’t have as much time once school starts, but still, I’m hoping that this might be a good space to share with you all of the stuff I forget to say during the day (and you thought I already said enough! ha!).