2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 12 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

the real deal

so.. i bet you’ve been wondering “what’s goin on in school?”, “how did you do?”, “what have you been writing about?” well…

here’s your answer.

i am currently on hiatus from school. shocked? i know, me too. i was doing well for the first two classes (a B- in the first and an A- in the second) and then the third one hit: Mythology in Literature. hundreds upon hundreds of pages about the origin of the word, it’s first use, it’s first reference and the mysteries contained therein. it was exhausting. and that was just the first week. there were four more to go. needless to say, it was like trekking uphill in a torrential downpour. i found myself exhausted, tired, pooped and plain ole bored to death. i was unable to keep up. to top it off, my son got sick, i got sick and my mojo sprouted wings and took off. quickly. i failed.

then, the next class started. i was still stuck on stupid with mythology (which i thought i would absolutely love) so i was already behind. i felt like i was looking at myself through the rear view mirror… i was in the car, traveling forward, but leaving myself behind at the same time. i bowed out gracefully and quit while i was ahead (technically).

so, i’ve taken a six week leave of absence. i have about four weeks to go. i’m taking the time to dote on my son, to clean, to spring clean and overhaul the closets, drawers and office space. i’m hoping that if i declutter my world, it might extend into my mind. hoping, i say.

i’m not telling you this because i’m proud. i’m sharing with you because i was devastated. when i received the email from my counselors, suggesting that i take some time off i  almost burst into tears. but why? it was obvious to me and everyone around me that i was struggling and floundering… neither of which is complimentary. still, i didn’t want to hear someone tell me “you seem overwhelmed”. i was. i am. i will be again. but at least i can see it, i know it, and that gives me the opportunity to try and deal with it.

now, don’t get me wrong. i’m not changing my mind or getting cold feet.  “going back to school” is a great thing to do. it’s an awesome suggestion and a noble quest for anyone who wants to do better, be better, get better or live better. that’s all of us, right? so, going to back to school is not the problem. it’s time and time management. well, that’s the problem for me.

 i’ve always known this and i’ve actually taken two classes regarding being a better student including specifics regarding time management, priorities and being successful at school and home. but as you all know, all the planning in the world is useless if it’s not put into place. good intentions are rhetoric without action.

there are only so many hours in the day. some of those are spent sleeping, eating, traveling and working. the rest of the time is mine.. well, my son’s. i have duties and responsibilities to him and to our household. that leaves me with nil. and in that nil amount of time, i’m supposed to be a student. a good one.

let me tell you, it’s no easy feat – this online school jazz. you have to be present in your classroom forums at least four or five days out of the week. you have to answer the questions appropriately (with classroom related reading quotes and citations), respond to your classmates, participate in your learning teams and write papers that are supposed to be critiqued and corrected through the online research paper destroyer grader. it’s got a four day turnaround. your instructor, classmates and team mates are in different states, countries and time zones. they are of different cultures, languages, religions and mindsets. add to that the household and everything contained with it and you can see why i needed a breather after only ten weeks. and i have a whole year to go! yes, a whole year. i’ll be in school until november of 2013. shoot me now.

why did i do this? why did i do this to myself? i think that’s my reason for writing. i wanted to see it all in black and white for myself. i want to read my own reasons for pursuing a high education:

dear neesh~

you are going back to school because what you have now can’t be it. there’s got to be more. there’s bigger, better, stronger, faster, and lots more –ers out there for you and your son and you want them. you need them. you deserve them. that’s why you did it. you want your son to have what he needs, most of what he wants and the wherewithal to go get what he doesn’t have. you want him to see you working, schooling, and mom-ing and know that this is what it takes. you want him to know it takes hard work, sacrifice, saving, arguing, budgeting and all that grown-up stuff to have a real life. to have a life made of dreams. to have a life worthy of writing and reading about. you want him to see that life is what you make it and you’re making his great. now, get off your @$$ and get back to the grind. stay on top of the reading and do your work. this is real life. this is your one chance. the days are going to be long, hard and sleepless. they are going to be rough. there will be good ones and bad ones, but when you’re done — there’ll be great ones. give up a little so you can get a lot. you have it in you. you do.

~your conscience

so i’ve taken a moment to assess my situation and tackle my most visible obstacles.

  • time management: i’m a perfectionist and a procrastinator. that’s all B-A-D (thanks, Gene). it doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be done. get it done… just get it done. sooner, rather than later.
  • household chores on hold: i hate a messy house. even though i have one and sometimes it gets out of control, it drives me nuts. when the house is cluttered, i can’t think. so i need to declutter, clean and downsize so that i don’t have to work at it everyday. i’ll be able to leave the house for a day or two in hopes of getting some reading or writing done. it’s a must.
  • read: there’s hundreds of pages to read. they don’t get any shorter as time wears on. read. sit down and read. there’s no getting around it. read.
  • phone restriction: i recently became the proud owner or an iPhone. i know, i sound like “one of them”, right? it’s because i am. i am one of them. in awe with and chained to my phone. but where school is concerned, if i’m not tuned into the merriam-webster app, then the phone must be down and away. not sure how i can enforce this upon myself, but i’ve got to try.
  • reward good behavior: hours of reading, posts of participation and completion of an essay are all deeds that deserve rewards, but i musn’t over-indulge. i can reward my good behavior with something — small. i can’t jump off the deep end every time i turn the page.
  • should i stay or should i go, now?: if i am debating on whether or not to stay home or go visit friends, the answer is stay home. no matter what. true story. just stay home.

i won’t know until school comes back around and i’m knee deep in it, whether or not my list of self-awareness will be of any benefit. i can say that going back to school was a kick in the pants. i thought i knew what it would take to be successful, but the last time i was in school i was single and childless.

there are not enough hours in the day to be working-student-SuperMom. but i’m going to make it work. i want SuperBoy to have opportunities and experiences and not all of them will be free. i want him to know the value of hard work and sacrifice… because i want him to take advantage of everything life has to offer. i want the world for him, and i’m going to get it… as soon as i get it together.

Leave Well Enough Alone

 Leave Well Enough Alone[A1] 

Tanisha Danise Ware

ENG / 125

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ozichi Alimole, Ph.D[A2] .

 Langston Hughes and José Armas are skillful writers. They are able to illustrate how the main characters, in their short stories “Salvation” and “El Tonto del Barrio”,[A3]  are better off without the tampering of others[A4] . Both characters have familial support, but it appears to be from a distance. Hughes attempts to find his personal salvation at the encouragement of his aunt’s congregation and peer pressure.[A5]  What he receives, instead, is a falsely justified reason to be anything but saved. In a more subtle light, Armas’s protagonist, Romero, is a simple man of simple means until a bright college student distorts his view money and of the community bringing both resentment and intolerance. If the main characters were allowed to maintain their previous status – if they were allowed to just maintain, void of expectation, they most likely would have been better off. [A6] 

Langston Hughes’s short story, about himself, titled “Salvation” provides the reader with a quick glimpse into his childhood understanding of the meaning of salvation.  He is invited to be saved.  At this time, Hughes is just a child of twelve. His understanding is that “you could see and hear and feel Jesus in your soul” (Hughes, p351). Hughes is taunted by his peer, Westley, who simply gets tired of sitting, gets up to “be saved” (p351) [A7] and leaves Hughes alone. In his heart, Hughes knows that he did not, see, hear, or feel Jesus, but at the risk of shaming himself, he relents to the prayers, the guilt and the heat. He gets up and the church erupts “into a sea of shouting” (p352). Once the church settles, Hughes and the rest of the children were[A8]  blessed. Hughes is obviously upset as demonstrated by this reaction. He cries “in bed, alone, and couldn’t stop” (p352). His aunt misinterprets his grief as tearful joy. Hughes is distraught; he can’t bear to let his aunt know that not only did he not receive Jesus, but he had also lied. Not seeing and feeling Jesus the way he had anticipated left him wanton[A9] . He felt deserted by Jesus;[A10]  forsaken. When he felt and saw [A11] nothing he left disappointed and dejected. It is not clearly stated, but one can discern that this is not Hughes’s first time to church. He most likely had a respectable relationship with Jesus prior to his supposed salvation, but once the weight of this relationship was questioned publicly, he sought stronger validation only to find himself completely disenchanted. He should have been allowed to explore his religious affirmations on his own.[A12] 

José Armas expresses much the same sentiment in his short story “El Tonto del Barrio”. The main character Romero is ‘touched’ (p170). He has a routine, a ritual he follows when cleaning his and is recognized as a respected citizen. He is pleasant, helpful and entertaining. Armas describes the careful work of Romero as he tended to his citizens. In return for his dedication and cleaning up “the barrio looked after him” (p170). Each business provided for Romero in some way. Summertime brought the barber’s college-bound son, Seferino. He was unable to recognize the subtle unspoken relationship between Romero and his community.  He, instead, felt sorry for Romero and insisted on turning him “a businessman” (p171). The barber, Barelas, tried to dissuade this train of thought; that Romero wanted for something, but still his son was convinced that Romero was being taken advantage of.  Barelas pleads with his son, making a point of the fact that “[Romero] sweeps the sidewalks because he wants something to do not because he wants money” (p171). His son is relentless and Romero is soon receiving menial wages for his work. This concept spirals out of control, resulting with Romero having a feeling of duty and obligation followed by resentment for all the work done in the past. He soon requests a raise saying he deserves it, then asks for credit and soon quits. “Romero’s behavior continued to get erratic and some people started talking about having Romero committed” (p173). Barelas convinces the community to wait it out, hoping that a full moon would change Romero’s disposition. No one seems to notices that Romero returns to his old ways once Seferino leaves for school.  Romero’s needs are as simple as he. The outside interference could have resulted in Romero losing all freedom of choice by being committed.[A13] 

The nature of the familial relationships of both characters is not explained in either story.  Neither of them lives with their parents or in traditional family settings. In fact, the parents are not mentioned. What we do see is that both characters are supported by their communities. Hughes’s spiritual well-being is encouraged and prayed for by “old women with jet-black faces and braided hair, old men with work-gnarled hands” (p351). Hughes recreates the feeling he felt when he was left alone on the bench. His aunt came to him, knelt and cried “while prayers and songs swirled all around” (p351). I feel it is this action alone that convinces Hughes to, even against his own intuition, “save further trouble” (p352) and “lie, too, and say that Jesus had come” (p352). Hughes did not move at the encouragement of the congregation or the taunting of his Westley. He holds still and states that he waited “serenely for Jesus” (p352). Hughes took his aunt’s explanation literally and in the end his spirit suffers true heartache as he does not get the salvation he had truly hoped for[A14] .

In “El Tonto del Barrio”, Armas shows us that Romero belongs to his community. The community is his family. They are used to him. They expect him. “If [Romero] didn’t show up one day someone assumed the responsibility to go to his house to see if he was ill” (p169). The children did not mock Romero and criticism of his work is not necessary. The community accepted and respected Romero just as he was. He “[fit] very well into the community” (p170). This peaceful and mutually beneficial relationship is questioned and scrutinized by the barber’s son, Seferino. Why did he feel the need to meddle? Why did he not listen to his father? His questions and valid points confuse his father. Barelas understood the logic behind Seferino’s suggestion — to pay Romero for his work, “but it still went against his ‘instinct’” (p171). Knowing that his son was bound for Harvard silently squelched any argument and while he knew better, Barelas chose not to continue the debate with his son. Romero would have benefitted more from the argument between father and son than the silent succession by a man with no desire to interfere.[A15] 

Hughes uses irony to bring the reader into his perspective[A16] . He opens the story by stating that he was saved, “but not really saved” (p351). The reader is engaged from the second sentence.  The writing is concise with beautiful descriptions and a lovely choice of adjectives.  He plays back-and-forth between the excitement and commotion within the church, in comparison to the silence and stillness inside him.  The reader can imagine the look upon his face as he sat trying to decide whether to lie — in order to be saved[A17] .

Armas uses Barelas dialogue with Seferino to foreshadow the negative outcome of his tampering. He expresses himself clearly, when he tells Seferino “you don’t know about these things mi’jo” (p171). He goes on to explain that “right now everyone likes [Romero] and takes care of him” (p171). Barelas wants to tell his son to leave the situation alone but he says nothing instead. He allows the situation to play out knowing that everything was just fine, the way it was.[A18] 

We have all seen an[A19]  experienced a situation that should have been left to play itself out instead of being controlled by the thoughts, feelings and experiences of others. Our family is our first reference for this grey area. We turn to our family in times of confusion or uncertainty. We look to them for guidance, advice and support. For some, this is not possible and they have to trust that what is being brought to them is not only true but beneficial. Hughes, as himself and Armas as Romero show us that not all suggestions should be taken to heart. Hughes was a child of twelve. At the request of his aunt Hughes attempts to look for a deeper stronger salvation that he must not have been ready for. Not only did he misunderstand what he was looking for, he was presented to the congregation and pressured to call on and accept Jesus, right then and there. [A20] Likewise, Romero is convinced that he should be paid for doing something that he’d gladly done for years, without question. Romero was perfectly happy living sweeping his streets, singing his songs and sharing camaraderie with his version of family. One person glanced at this relationship and interpreted everything incorrectly. His suggestions turned the community upside down. This was one such occasion where it may have been wise to leave well enough alone[A21] [A22] .

 

References[A23] 

Barnet, S., Burto, W., & Cain, W. E. (2011). Literature for Composition (9th ed.). New York, New York: Longman.

 


 [A1]This is an interesting expression that’s best suited for an informal or conversational usage. To maintain the academic tone of your paper, you may want to rephrase the expression in a formal language. 

 [A2]Hi Tanisha, the title page meets the APA standards.  Good job.

 [A3]How may you explain the use of this story as a nonfiction?  It is difficult to evaluate this paper because your choice of stories does not meet the expectations of the assignment.  For example, the stories you’ve selected belong to two different genres.  Do you agree? 

 [A4]Rephrase, ‘interfering in the affairs of others.’

 [A5]This is an important point.  How may you restructure the phrase to make it a complete sentence?

 [A6]This is a fiction short story.  It does not meet the standards of the nonfiction genre.

 [A7]The use of quotations to support your main points enriches the essay.  Try to review the in-text citation format consistent with the APA guidelines.  You may want to refer to the Sample Paper in the Center for Writing Excellence for examples of in-text citations formatting.

 [A8]Try to maintain consistency with your tenses.  Consider ‘are’ instead of ‘were’

 [A9]How may you clarify the use of this word in this context? 

 [A10]Reconsider the punctuation.

 [A11]Rephrase for clarity.

 [A12]This is a thoughtful interpretation of Hughes’ experience to support your essay topic.  How may this thought help to define the theme of this story and the author’s purpose?

 [A13]This section is inconsistent with the expectations of the assignment.

 [A14]This is an excellent analysis of Hughes experience.  The view of family pressure is thoughtful in this context.  Good job.

 [A15]This section is inconsistent with the expectations of the assignment.

 [A16]This is a good point.  The author’s use of specific literary strategies to convey his thoughts is an important aspect of the assignment. 

 [A17]You demonstrate an excellent analytical skill.  What techniques do you think Hughes may have used to evoke the powerful imagery in the reader’s mind in this scene?

 [A18]This section is inconsistent with the expectations of this assignment.

 [A19]and

 [A20]This is an important point that restates your interpretation of Hughes’ experience. 

 [A21]How may you clarify this important thought?

 [A22]Tanisha, your essay is a good effort.  It demonstrates an understanding of Langston Hughes’ narrative in “Salvation” and your view of family pressure as a possible theme of this story is credible.  The use of quotations from the story to support your views is commendable. 

Your paper is organized in a manner that is clear and logical and your discussion on the author’s use of irony as a strategy to express his thoughts is quite satisfactory.   

Consider how you may increase the content of your essay by a more comprehensive and in-depth analysis of the author’s description of his ‘salvation’ experience.  

Consider also how you may structure your essay to address other key aspects of the assignment including the nonfiction value of “Salvation” and the role of imagination in writing and reading of nonfiction.

Try to proofread your paper to address minor cases of incomplete sentences, word choice and spelling.

Note that “El Tonto del Barrio” by Jose Armas is not a nonfiction story and therefore not considered valid for this assignment. 

 [A23]Please check the Reference and Citation Examples document in the Tutorials & Guides section of the Center for Writing Excellence for examples of correct formatting. Then carefully check your reference page to be sure that it is formatted correctly.

Helping Hamlet Heal

 Helping Hamlet Heal

Tanisha Ware

ENG / 125

Saturday, October 06, 2012

O. A., Ph.D[A1] .

Grief and betrayal have to be two of the most profound emotions, outside of love.  It is because of intense love that grief and betrayal have such an enormous effect on a person, their thoughts, feelings, and actions. Grief is inevitable as people die and the circle of life is renewed. Betrayal is more of a reaction to an action. It is so intense and blinding that the mere idea of betrayal can turn the most intelligent and meek person into the most cunning and vengeful. Like love, grief and betrayal come from the heart.  The levels of either can only be experienced in a first-person perspective. Everything else is just a reasonable facsimile. Hamlet suffered both grief and betrayal, followed by rejection, doubt and hallucinations. His story is tangled and weaved so tight that he, himself, could hardly understand. He had no time to recover from the former without being forced to deal with the latter. William Shakespeare walked us right into[A2]  Hamlet’s psyche and held us captive while he slowly became unraveled.

Hamlet is a just and believable character. He is of royalty, but still looking to fulfill his own destiny. Whilst abroad studying, his father dies.  Hamlet is scarcely allowed to mourn his poor father, the King’s,[A3]  passing before he is forced to deal with his replacement. Sadly, while still in the throes of grief for his father, Hamlet’s mother, the Queen, remarries – to her own brother-in-law. Creating a royally related family based on greed and deception.[A4]  Hamlet is visited by a ghost that he feels resembles his father. The ghost informs him that the King, the new King, his uncle and step-father is a murderer and murdered the previous King, Hamlet’s father[A5] .

What kind of consuming emotion would stir within after hearing such news?  It has scarcely been two months since his father has died and Hamlet will find no solace for his grief.  He cannot shake the apparition as a fluke.  He begins to piece together the horrid plot and evil intentions of his uncle. Shakespeare allows us to see the level of Hamlet’s madness by providing long, descriptive soliloquies that unearth his true feelings of madness and disparity.

In the most famous quoted line of all plays, “to be or not to be” (Shakespeare, p951) Hamlet shows us the path that his madness will take. We can see that he just recently harbored a wonderment and fascination for life and all of its nuances, but as of late, his thoughts have become less enthusiastic and more vengeful. He questions the motives of any man that chooses to continue to live and suffer at the hands of time, the hands and will of other men, the painful resonant tenderness of unreturned affection or the biased government[A6] .

Hamlet starts a fast paced descent into the depths of his grief – confronting, questioning and offending everyone along the way. It reads like a modern-day television sitcom based on meeting and exceeding every possible limit.  As if Shakespeare had a list of what if questions that would push and push until the breaking point[A7] .  Hamlet’s uncle kills his father, marries his mother, denies him his true love, set[A8]  him up to be deceived, to be swindled and eventually shipped away to bother no more.  And in come the questions[A9] : What if the killer was his uncle?  What if his mom married his uncle?  What if he vowed revenge but stabbed the wrong person?

Hamlet is ravenous with revenge.  His thoughts and feelings get more erratic with each passing moment. While praying and asking forgiveness, Hamlet sees his uncle, at a disadvantage, but carefully decides that death while praying will not allow enough suffrage for his liking. Hamlet meets with his mother, to shame her and inquire about her reasoning and state of mind. He didn’t know it then, but he was being listened to.  Upon hearing a noise, he impulsively stabs the councilor to the king, only stating “I know not: was it the king” (Shakespeare, p969)? Hamlet’s power hungry uncle takes this as an opportunity to ship Hamlet off to England[A10] .

After word of the accidental unnecessary death, the mayhem is rampant.  Hamlet’s only love and the councilor’s daughter, Ophelia, loses her mind when she discovers that her would-be lover has cold-bloodedly murdered her father. Her brother returns from war to avenge his father’s death – but soon is grieving the loss of his sister. The conniving king plays his part by inciting the youngster to seek justice through the death of Hamlet and tries to ensure Hamlet’s death by poisoned blade or poisoned goblet. A fight ensues and nothing goes as planned.

The queen dies from the poisoned goblet. More grief. The councilor’s son, Laertes, and Hamlet both suffer wounds, but it is the councilor’s son that meets his demise. Before dying, he revealed the evil and treachery bestowed upon him by the king. Hamlet, ripe with the vengeance of his father, his mother and his true love – followed by the confusion and torture of killing the councilor, forces the king to drink from the poisoned goblet before his own death.[A11]

Hamlet is a character of much character. He is noble and intelligent, practiced and rehearsed in matter of thought and philosophy.  Hamlet loses his mind, his philosophy and his entire sense of family when his father is murdered.  While suffering this grief, Hamlet is prompted by a ghost to believe that his uncle killed his father. He sets forth on a turbulent and frantic journey towards the truth.  But with every reveal, Hamlet discovers that not only is this travesty true, that there is more to be unearthed, to been seen and discovered and none of it can be denied. He is not given a chance to deal with any of it on his terms. He cannot come to terms with what he is being told before there is more to tell. He is not allowed to process and heal. He simply has to deal with it. Hamlet is a whirlwind account of how a young man loses his mind – and his entire family[A12] .

 References[A13]

 Barnet, S., Burto, W., & Cain, W. E. (2011). Literature for Composition (9th ed.). New York, New York: Longman.


 [A1]Hi Tanisha, the title page meets the APA standards.  Thank you.

  1.  [A2]This is a thoughtful reflection on the concept of grief and betrayal in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.  How may structure this paragraph as an effective introduction of your essay?  You may find it helpful to review the 5-paragraph tutorial from Writing Wizards in the Tutorials & Guides section of the Center for Writing Excellence for more information about writing introductions.

 [A3]Remove.

 [A4]This is an important point.  How may you turn phrase into a complete sentence?

 [A5]Your understanding of the central plot of this tragedy is remarkable.  Thank you.

 [A6]Hamlet’s dilemma expressed in this analysis defines the heart of the tragedy.  Your demonstrate a great analytical skill.  Good job.

 [A7]This is an important phrase.  How may you turn it into a complete sentence to enhance the clarity of your thoughts?

 [A8]sets

 [A9]Try to maintain a professional tone in your essay by avoiding the use of conversational words and expressions.  How may you rephrase this expression to make academic?

 [A10]This is great retelling of the story of the Tragedy of Hamlet.

 [A11]You demonstrate an understanding of the sequence of the actions as they build up to the climax.

 [A12]This is a good essay, Tanisha.  It demonstrates an understanding of the plot structure of The Tragedy of Hamlet and your view of the theme of grief and vengeance is thoughtful.  You did a great job retelling the story.  Your paper has a structure that is clear and easy to follow.  Your conclusion is logical and flows from the introduction.

Consider how you may  structure your paper to address in some depth the key elements of the assignment rubric including the role of imagination in wiring and reading this play and Shakespeare’s use of literary devices and conventions of drama to his view of betrayal and vengeance.

Consider also how you may use direct quotations from the play to support your views.

Your title page format is consistent with the APA.  Try to review the reference page format to meet the APA guidelines.  Good effort.

 [A13]Please check the Reference and Citation Examples document in the Tutorials & Guides section of the Center for Writing Excellence for examples of correct formatting. Then carefully check your citations and references to be sure that they are formatted correctly.

bah, humbug!

that’s right, i’m a scrooge. i don’t deny it. but it’s not that simple, let me explain… it’s october second and i can see christmas decorations. of this, i am not pleased.

my earliest holiday memories included the last quarter of the year. we would bid g’bye to the summer with a labor day bash and settle in for the winter with family, friends, fires and festivities. the seasons would (actually) change, the leaves would fall and that was the cue… that the holidays were to begin. october brought us halloween. candy and costumes! what’s not to love, right? november would peek in and before you know it, we’d all be gathered together for thanksgiving!! more family, friends and food. snow would fall (somewhere, it’s too hot where i live) and december would bring the best holiday of them all: christmas. more family, friends and food — but this time, with GIFTS! and since you all know me so well, you know i’ve always looked forward to the new year. not really the year as much the party to issue in the new year. but these days.. i just want to change the calendar and move on. i’m frustrated by the holiday season and it bothers me.

i spent the larger part of my childhood with my grandmother in a sweet little suburban southern california town. she had a group home for developmentally disabled men. there were no less than six of us in the house during those years. she cooked breakfast lunch and dinner for all of us, everyday. by herself. she also entertained the larger part of our extended family for the holiday seasons. she was an excellent grandmother and she excelled at all things in the awesome homemaker category (i could be a little biased).

we decorated the house for halloween as conservative as possible. usually just two carved pumpkins at the top of the stairs leading to our front door. sometimes with that spiderwebby stuff. on halloween night, my gramma would open one of the windows and play a spooky halloween record — you know the one with the creaky door, the ghost moans and chains.  good stuff.  classic. we always had our porch light on, we always gave out candy and she always let me go trick-or-treating door-to-door as long as i remembered to stay away from “those” houses. which houses? it’s hard to say… my grandmother had an innate sense of OHHELLNO and didn’t like certain things for her own reasons. i think i have it too.  but either way, halloween tradition carried on until the bestie and i determined that we were too old to go. saying goodbye to october meant november! and thanksgiving!!!

thanksgiving was a situation. it was intense. my grandmother would start her round of calls early in the month to check in with the family and find out who’s doing what. she would pull the dinnerware from the shelves and cabinets and start in on the cleaning and polishing. that’s right!! polishing the silver. a lost art, if you ask me. such a time consuming chore, so full of detail but the reward that comes with a full table, completely set and everything aglow with it’s own shine and sparkle is worth it (again, if you ask me). it obviously was to her.

the days of november would dwindle. my gramma would collect her head count and about a week before, there was the shopping. the mountainous, endless, heavy, grocery shopping. the menu never varied so the list was always the same. she would put everything away, count the sleeping spaces, wash the linens and prepare herself for thanksgiving week.

tuesday of thanksgiving week was beginning prep: the cleaning, pruning, and dicing of any and all ingredients. tuesday evening she would bake a pan of cornbread, the size of a twin-sized bed, to the most beautiful golden brown with dark edges and burnt corners. she would set it out to cool, always scooping a corner out for herself to “try”.  wednesday was when the kitchen really started movin’… for this was the day she made DESSERTS!! sweet lord baby jesus the desserts!! again, always the same: peach cobbler (mmm!), sweet potato pie (mmm!), pecan pie (mmm!), lemon ice box pie (mmm!) and POUND CAKE (i just had a heart attack!). sadly, there weren’t many dessert leftovers. she would end the day by greeting the over-nighters, helping them get settled and finally putting the turkey in the oven.

on thanksgiving day, my gramma would be up before the sun. i don’t think she slept much as she would get up periodically to baste and check the turkey. when the rest of the house was brushing it’s teeth, she would be assembling all of the  need-to-stay-cold items. and from there it was nothing less than master chef. she really was amazing:

  • turkey with giblet (eww!) gravy
  • a HAM! (with cloves and pineapples, and NOT from honey baked)
  • sage cornbread dressing (i would slap you r’now for some)
  • mashed potatoes (lump free!)
  • green beans
  • corn
  • okra (uhh, i don’t like okra)
  • cornbread (but i DO love cornbread)
  • dinner rolls
  • cranberry sauce (i like the cranberry salsa or chutney or something that the bestie’s dear sweet aunt ruth used to serve with pillsbury crescent rolls)
  • waldorf and carrot & raisin salads (fruit +  mayo = wth?)
  • black eyed peas (occasionally)

she did it all herself. we didn’t help much, she didn’t ask for much and everything went as planned. i remember one year having about 12 or 14 people at the table. we had to add two leaves to the table and still didn’t have enough room. my grandmother’s china collection was stunning and when it all came together (at one o’clock) it was truly divine.

there would be laughing, playing, tv watching, cheating at cards and general familial mayhem. my gramma didn’t drink much so we didn’t have too many drunken outbursts. everyone would hug and love and just enjoy the day. most of the family would leave at sunset — stealing my desserts and always loving her up for feeding them so well. the next day, the only clue there had been a thanksgiving FEAST would be the leftovers. by the middle of the next week: homemade turkey soup. ahhhhhhhhhhhhh– the good ole days.

and in begins the christmas season. we used to go to a christmas tree farm (obviously weeks prior) and have them cut the tree that we had chosen. we would spend the evening decorating a live fragrant dirty dusty sappy beautiful christmas tree. we used the same ornaments for as long as i can remember. they were always carefully placed and stored in the same boxes marked “xmas”. the tree would be lit every night from dusk to bedtime. on christmas eve we would turn the lights on and they would stay on until the end of christmas day.

my grandmother always played santa and surprised me with something that would be over-the-top. my most favorite christmas morning surprise was a HUGE box of books. really? yes! it was a box from May Co. and it was big enough to hold king sized bedspreads, so, IT WAS HUGE and it was filled with books. i still have some of them.

the christmas spirit, leftovers and remnants of packaging took us through to new years eve. we always watched dick clark and we would light the christmas tree (for the last time) and waved to the year gone by. sometimes i made it to see the new year, other times… not so much. on new year’s day, we would disassemble the holiday season, pack away our holiday cheer (and every last decoration) and make resolutions that we never intended to keep. 😀

but NOW! now, we can hardly get through august without seeing ribbons and bows peeking through. and as i pointed out, on october second there are decorations hung for purchase in the local stores. what kinda $h!t is that? why would you do that? to sell more? are there really people out there just frantic to buy decorations before the rest of the free world? they don’t have anything from last year? why? there are people still putting up those nasty huge bulbs (i call um ghetto bulbs) from 1982!!

my list of questions could go on for days, but the point i’m trying to make is that selling things and marketing have taken away my holiday cheer. things change as we age and mature and especially when we have kids. but for me, the real holiday season was wrapped up in everything i just mentioned. in the family and friends. the celebrating. not in the buying, the receiving or black friday (which i avoid like the black plague). i can carry on with my family traditions, but it’s not the same and i don’t think it will ever be that way again.

the holidays used to be a warm time: filled with family, friends, food and good cheer. it was a way of celebrating the old year and celebrating the new year. it was a time to reflect and pull fond memories and share them with thoughtful gifts or handmade goodies. a time to forgive, to bond, to share. but now it’s just a marketing scheme. a horrible gaudy expensive marketing nightmare. people camp out in parking lots to buy the new craze or they just bogart the local toys ‘r us with pepper spray and take what they want. thanks, but no. i’ll stick to sugar cookies and turkey dinners with the ones i love. you can bombard my senses with your holiday crap but i refuse to accept. i can’t see your ornaments or fake trees. and i certainly don’t smell those God awful cinnamon scented migraine inducing pine cones or hear that holiday music. i’ll have my christmas when i’m ready, thank you. right after thanksgiving. you can take your marketing scheme and shove it, i’m not shoppin’ here no mo!

Home Is Where the Heart Is

the same photo in my course book

 

 Home Is Where the Heart Is[A1] 

Tanisha Ware

ENG / 125

Saturday, September 29, 2012

O. A., Ph.D[A2] .

Somewhere along the way, a negative connotation was attached with the responsibilities of a classically defined female gender role[A3] . Women maintained[A4]  the children and the home while men provided structural[A5]  and financial support to his family. Julia Alvarez makes it clear that the work of the woman – the “Woman’s Work” is an art and it is to be recognized and respected.  Even as a young girl, employed to assist rather than allowed to play, our narrator understood the effort and precision as she watched her mother meticulously prepare their home, time and again. The author’s words fill the girl with an overwhelming sense of pride and point out that the keeping of the home, is “nothing less than art” (Alvarez, 1996[A6] ).

Managing a home is hard work.  There was a time when it was considered woman’s work, meaning it held less respect (to some) than the responsibilities held by men.  House-husbands were a concept yet-to-be [A7] discovered and the place for a woman was in her home.  Respectfully so, the narrator of Julie Alvarez’s “Woman’s Work” values the efforts of her mother and shares a sense of gratification at a job well done.  The narrator begins with her mother’s advice to “keep house as if the address were your heart” (Alvarez, 1996). As she describes their planned route through the house, the reader can feel the child’s frustration with the sigh she expresses at hearing her “friends outside” (Alvarez, 1996).  She expresses her frustration with having to sweep until her mother was satisfied.  But she still refers to it as art[A8] .

If it is unclear to the reader what the narrator is feeling, in line nine she simply sates that she felt “like a prisoner in her housebound heart”.  Even still, her complaint seems warm and hardly worthy of “prisoner”.  The narrator appears to be complaining but soon refers to herself as “[her] masterpiece” and “smart” (Alvarez, 1996).  The narrator, the daughter – shows a positive outlook on her mother’s woman’s work because she knows it for what it is. Difficult.  She not only respects the woman, she also respects her work.  The narrator goes on to express the direction and advice given by her mother but proclaims that she “did not want to be her counterpart” (Alvarez, 1996)! Having “struck out” (Alvarez, 1996) the narrator “became her mother’s child” (Alvarez, 1996) and even though she tried to do something else, be something else… she returned to the familiar territory of art[A9] .

The author uses end rhyming stanzas to set the tone. The word “heart” or “art” is present in every stanza and both are present in the final four lines.  This follows with the theme that home is where the heart is.  The narrator and author seem to be one in [A10] the same.  She writes from a familiar first person point of view that pulls the reader directly into her shoes.  [A11] Or the shoes she has created. 

The author pulls the reader in with short, but vivid, descriptions of her mother’s hard work.  She begins with the bathroom tiles.  The two words alone bring to mind the scrubbing and cleaning of grout and fixtures, all requiring a different substance and tool to get the job done.  A subtle fact not mentioned or credited when discussing a woman’s work. 

The narrator’s mention of cleaning the upstairs before the down is also remnant of a first person perspective.  Most people don’t put much thought to the cleaning[A12]  process but this woman has specific directions.  The sigh that is mentioned can be heard by the reader. And feel the humidity of the exhale and the vibration of the low, guttural half-sigh, half-growl that would escape the mouth of a child that would be listening to their friends instead of interacting with them.  [A13] 

The reader is almost apt to believe that the child narrator is inexplicably sad and oppressed by the cleanliness of her mother, but each line reveals love, adoration and respect.  The author shares a daughter’s perspective of the “hard art”, the “art”, the “art” (Alvarez, 1996).  The author and narrator are amazed.  The narrator would love to deny her love for the clean but matures only to find her own form of heart-art. 

There have been and always will be gender roles and gender specific expectations.  The lines between these things has[A14]  merged and diluted over time.  Some lines don’t [A15] need to merge or dilute, some lines need to be recognized and respected for exactly what they are.  It might look like simple housekeeping to you[A16] , but to the narrator of Julia Alvarez’s “Woman’s Work”, it’s hard art.  For the young female narrator, the guidelines provided for her mother serve their purpose in the years to come.  The author eludes[A17]  to the fact that she may be the narrator and that her mother’s art came from her heart in the form of a clean home.  The narrator’s art is the art of the heart and is most likely the words in this poem.    [A18] 

References

 

Barnet, S., Burto, W., & Cain, W. E. (2011). Literature for Composition (9th ed.). New York, New York: Longman.


 [A1]This is a good title that suggests the focus of your essay.   Thank you.

 [A2]Hi Tanisha, the title page meets the APA guidelines.  Good job.

 [A3]This is an important remark.  Consider how you may rephrase it with fewer words for greater clarity.  Consider for example, “In the past, the classically defined role of women in the home earned little recognition/respect…”

 [A4]‘looked after’ or ‘took care of the…’

 [A5]How may you clarify the use of this word in this context?

 [A6]Great introductory paragraph.  It states the central thought of the poem and your own point of view.  Good job, Tanisha.

 [A7]Rephrase for clarity.  Consider, ‘The concept of ‘house-husband’ was …’

 [A8]This is an important comment.  The narrator appears to be torn between the two apparently contradictory roles – social and personal roles!

 [A9]You demonstrate a great sense of analysis, Tanisha.  I love your interpretation of the narrator’s push and pull dilemma.

 [A10]Remove.

 [A11]This is a thoughtful interpretation of the poet’s use of the first person narrative!  Thank you.

 [A12]Insert, ‘house cleaning’

 [A13]This is a perceptive interpretation of the poet’s use of imagery to convey her ideas about a woman’s work that was previously overlooked or ignored.

 [A14]have

 [A15]Try to avoid the use of contractions in an academic paper unless when they are absolutely necessary.

 [A16]Remove.  It is not desirable to use conversational tone in an academic paper.

 [A17]How may you explain the use of this word in this context?  Consider ‘alludes’

 [A18]You are trying to make an important point here.  How may you rephrase it for clarity?

This is a very good essay.  It demonstrates a good understanding of the main points of the poem and your interpretation of the poet’s central thought is credible.  The paper has a definite structure and it is focused on the celebration of the woman’s work as an art.

You discussion on the poet’s use of literary devices to express her thoughts is good.  The use of quotations from the poem to support your views is remarkable.

The paper is well laid out. The introduction is comprehensive and previews the main points of the essay.  The conclusion is logical and flows from the introduction and body of the paper.

Your writing skill is outstanding and the formatting style is generally consistent with the APA guidelines.

Try to proofread your essay to address minor issues of word choice and ambiguity.  Good job.

Feedback from Instructor (Published: Sat 09/29/2012 01:51 PM MST)

Earned Points: 9.7/10
Comments:
Hi Tanisha, thank you for your paper on Close Reading of a Poem. I enjoyed reading it. I have provided more specific feedback in the paper and grading rubric. Please review my comments for details and let me know if you have any questions. Great job!

Additional Comments:

Hi Tanisha, your paper on “Close Reading of a Poem” covered the basic requirements for this assignment.

You selected  “Woman’s Work” by Julia Alvarez from our reading list as required, and you also met the word count requirement.

Your paper demonstrates a good understanding of the central thought of the poem and a grasp of the writer’s purpose and strategies.

Your analysis of the narrator’s dilemma and ultimate acceptance of the value of ‘woman’s work’ is thoughtful and credible.

Additional Comments:

The paper has a definite structure. The introduction previews the main points of the poem and defines its central idea or theme.

The conclusion is logical and  flows from the introduction, giving the paper its sense of unity and coherence.

Continue to maintain the professional tone of your essay by avoiding the use of conversational words and expressions.

Additional Comments:

The paper is well laid out. Your writing skill is outstanding, and the sentences are generally clear.

Try to proofread your essay to address minor issues of word choice, punctuation and ambiguity.

page 1 of my handwritten notes

page 2 – graphic organizer and all

The Verbal Key to the City

The Verbal Key to the City

Tanisha Ware

ENG / 125

Monday, September 17, 2012

O. A., Ph.D[A1] .

The complex character of Emily Grierson in William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” is an explorative delve into the troubled world of an aging southern woman, lost behind her own eyes and always staring out.  The story is a gentle request to pause for a moment and mourn the death of an honorable woman no matter how crazy she may have seemed or proved to be. The narrative takes place in a reverse sequence by beginning with her ending… at her funeral.  Faulkner seductively unwraps a few layers of her life and her relationships, turning the reader into a detective inquiring as to what it was exactly that led her to reclusive behavior and then the grave. There are flashes and glimpses of little things that cause the reader to question, but with the closing the reader suddenly finds themselves fully invested in Emily’s state of mind.  That interest creates a desire to understand the intricate design of her overwhelming tragedy[A2] .

The town described is booming with southern charm as is the community within.  But, Emily is a recluse.  Her presence is tolerated more than it is appreciated or enjoyed.  For reasons that can only be contemplated, Emily is set with a home, apparent servant and tax-free living. The specifics of this arrangement are questioned as the southern way of living gets phased out with the northern way of winning.  Over many decades the only interaction with Emily is on a professional basis.  The city harasses her for taxes.  But she stands strong with her firmly repeated six word defense: “I have no taxes in Jefferson” (Faulkner, 1930).  While city officials did not understand why she had no taxes, they were escorted from her home “vanquished” (Faulkner, 1930[A3] ).

The story flashes back [A4] in time to the last time city officials got involved with Miss Emily and for whatever reason, their actions then were just as puzzling as the non-action of tax collecting.  There were three reports within two days of a smell and finally, for reasons unknown, a Judge was involved.  No legal action was taken, and in fact, it was assumed that the smell was from the kitchen not being kept properly (Faulkner, 1930).  Four men crept out into the middle of the night “broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there” (Faulkner, 1930).  Oddly, the problem was considered solved[A5] .

The dynamics of the relationship between Emily and her father is ripe with suggestions but remains lacking as there is nothing sufficient to prove there was anything perverse within their relationship.  Her father thought his daughter too good (as most do) and he kept her would-be suitors at bay. This piques the interest of the reader and alludes to more than a parental-like relationship when Emily refuses to release her father’s body.  After three days, she eventually does, and the narrator informs us:

“We did not say she was crazy then.  We believed she had to do that.  We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we knew that with nothing left, she would have to cling to that which had robbed her, as people will” (Faulkner, 1930[A6] ).

Miss Emily goes on to entertain a relationship with a man by the name of Homer Barron after her father passes away.  The purchasing of monogrammed items and some men’s clothing leads the narrator to say “They are married” (Faulkner, 1930).  The community seems to have a love-hate relationship for Emily.  Wanting her to experience some happiness here and there, but openly disappointed when her heart wasn’t broken, publicly. Homer left, but soon returned.  He wasn’t seen after that, and again, the community expressed sympathy for the life she had succumbed to and her father having “thwarted her woman’s life so many times” (Faulkner, 1930[A7] ).

From what is available to the reader, we find that Miss Emily lost and buried her father, loved and lost a lover and lived a life of extreme solitude.  The author describes Emily as “a duty, and a care” (Faulkner, 1930).  She was considered an obligation and her family “held themselves a little too high for what they really were” (Faulkner, 1930).  What they were is never revealed, but what she went through and dealt with cannot possibly be imagined.  The town attended her funeral, but not because they cared for her.  They did not celebrate her well-lived life.  They attended her funeral because they were bound by both self-imposed southern-style hospitality-like obligation and unadulterated curiosity.  Her home, her land and her war-time inheritances afforded her a certain anonymity and solitude that was not appreciated[A8] .

Emily Grierson is a character that knows no bounds.  She proves to be a complex, inept, depressed, ill, woman with an insatiably hollow heart and a dark consuming secret.  Above all of these things, I think she is misunderstood.  Her father loved her, perhaps a little too hard, but she lived to love again.  Sadly he died too, near her, next to her, holding and loving her.  Her heart shattered for all time.  Her patriotism and her existence are celebrated and will remain timeless in a short story that the reader will read, analyze, and question for many years in this Verbal Key to the City[A9] .

References[A10]

Barnet, S., Burto, W., & Cain, W. E. (2011). Literature for Composition (9th ed.). New York, New York: Longman.


 [A1]Hi Tanisha, the title page meets the APA standards.  Good job.

 [A2]Great introductory paragraph, Tanisha.  It previews the key elements of your essay from the author’s central thought to the strategies to express his idea.  I appreciate your outstanding writing skill!

 [A3]Excellent analysis!  Emily’s character stands in direct contrast to the ‘booming’ southern town.   Consider how Faulkner presents these conflicting images to the reader.

 [A4]This is an important aspect of the writer’s technique to create meaning in this dark story.

 [A5]You demonstrate an excellent understanding of the character interactions in this story and the use of appropriate quotations to support your points is remarkable.

 [A6]Your interpretation of   Emily’s relationship with her father is perceptive.  Part of Faulkner’s strategy is to leave room for the reader’s imagination to fill the gaps!

 [A7]Emily’s relationship with Homer is equally complex.  Why do you think Faulkner created this tragic relationship?  Can we find the theme of this story in the interactions between Emily and Homer?

 [A8]What may be Faulkner’s view of society as expressed in this story?

 [A9]This is a great concluding paragraph.  It is logical and flows from the introduction.  Overall, this is a great essay.  Your writing skill is outstanding and the paper is virtually error free.  You demonstrate a thorough understanding of the story and your analysis of Faulkner’s literary technique to convey his idea is commendable.  The use of quotations from the story to support your main points is equally remarkable.

Consider how you may structure your paper to include a discussion on the author’s purpose and possible audience.

How may you describe the theme of this work with   greater clarity and what’s your reaction to it?

Your title page and in-text citations are consistent with the APA formatting guidelines.  Review the reference page format to meet the APA standards.

 [A10]Try to check the Reference page  examples document in the Tutorials & Guides section of the Center for Writing Excellence for examples of correct formatting.

chasing crystal cove

it’s no secret that my son and i spend a majority of our time with our best friends: affectionately referred to as the bestie and the babies.  last weekend we made our seasonal debut trip to the beach.  we’d talked about it for weeks and were finally able to bring it to fruition. an afternoon with three kids and two snackin’ SuperMamas can run pretty costly so if and when we find something budget friendly, we’re in.

we all love the water.  our trips to the beach have become pretty status quo over the years. visiting at least two or three times in the summer months.  kids are so amazed and enamored with the sea. i have come to discover that my own love of the sea is long standing and strong. i have always been attracted to the sound, the sand, the shells and the animals. we have previously visited more popular and populated beaches… where finding your own sand station for the day is challenging. with the magic of four wireless digital devices a few traffic setbacks and this:

the “are we there yet?” trio. available in loud, louder and screeching.
SuperBoy, SweetHeart and The MadMan respectively.

we were steered to crystal cove. a state park.

after paying what we thought was an enormous amount to park and speaking with a very pleasant but slow talking park representative, we were advised that the beach itself was about an approximate half-mile walk away. we pressed on.

we decided to take a tour first to determine whether or not we wanted to set up camp. we gathered the children and the keys, trekked through the tall wildflowery path and voiced our skepticism and hunger along the way. there was a vantage point that allowed us to survey the cove itself.  it was quiet and serene. there were beach-goers, but plenty of space.

we decided to set up camp. i went back to the car and gathered everything we had determined to be necessary and required (remind me never to volunteer for that duty again).

with the help of passersby i managed to navigate the hill in the picture below with a packed ice chest, duffle bag, back pack, two more bags, two buckets, an over-sized shovel and all the while, wearing flip flops. this is also the main reason that our little camp is located right here. right in front. we didn’t realize it then, but we were right in the way of the state park beach cruising truck.

the hill of death. and that’s our camp. and that’s callie: my SweetHeart.

after setting everything in it’s place, applying sunblock and giving the sand toys, the kids scampered off until we managed to make our sandwiches and set everyone up to finally be able to eat. and we all ate. some of us (us mamas) standing, some of us (our babies) sitting and most of us quiet as a mouse.

turkey sandwiches, cheetos, grapes and gatorade.
it’s what future CHAMPIONS are made of.

we were all so happy that we stumbled upon this little place.  we had a great time.  i don’t really have a lot to say about it because i think i took some good pictures.

The MadMan, enjoying his own section of sand…

we ate, we played, we danced in the water. we fought off a very aggressive fearless seagull that pecked his way through a few paper towels (my guess is he was looking for crumbs and scraps, but all he got was paper — and probably some mild constipation).

the boys and i started the most non-sandcastle-like sandcastle compound, but the princess of the pack decided to completely mow over our hard work to construct a sand turtle safe ground:

sand turtle safe ground complete with seaweed retaining wall

eventually the sand got boring and the waves got interesting… the water was NOT hot, or even warm, but that doesn’t deter children very much. they ran into and out of the waves, with goosebumps on their arms and legs and teeth a-chattering. cute as can be.

watching the waves and poised for their attack!

look at him (AJ on the left), bent down low like a mouse-chasing cat! ready to pounce.

The MadMan never let the water catch him.. not once. but he had insurmountable fun waiting for the waves to TRY. and he threw sand at it. i still haven’t figured out why.

they got cold from time to time and i created a nice little “warming station”:

on a warm towel, under a warm towel, refueling with some fruit
(and sand “what’s crunchy, mommy?”)

or we buried them… … what? why are you looking at me like that? oh, ha! yeah, we BURIED THEM in the sand!

isn’t that the best expression? he looks like he heard the same thing “let’s bury him”… withOUT the “in the sand” part… 😀

that was pretty much our entire day. shannon took the kids down to the tide pools to see the sea critters. i held down the camp and had words with some birds. the SuperHeroes saw some things, touched some things and mistook a crab for a rock!! we all got sunburnt and the ride home was 300% quieter than the ride there. but what a day. and now… for my three favorite pictures:

seagulls. about every half hour for the duration of our stay…

via instagram: my SuperBoy just absolutely enjoying himself.

via instagram: my “disney” photo finish. the MadMan had just warmed himself in the sand next to me. when he jumped up and ran away, i got this shot. ❤ it.

the only thing i can’t really share is the look on their faces as they ran from the waves, shared with me the amazements they saw in the tide pools and how much it made me melt. they are all such good kids. these are the moments that will never leave our minds. “the little things”. a trip to the beach, some sand castles and free waves. it’s times like these that prove how amazing friendship can be and precious it is. we are all blessed.. and i will never let them forget it.

air hockey hindrance

i’ve been a parent for a little more than five years. the fact that my son and i are both still breathing, eating and conversing let’s me know that i may, MAY, be slightly successful at it. but don’t hold me to it…. just yet. everyday my son absorbs and learns something new. and so do i.

sometimes teaching a “concept” is not as easy as it seems. for instance: learning about his physical self was something he had to experience on his own. i could (and did) warn him a hundred times over that he could bump his head while passing the kitchen table. but it didn’t matter until he actually bumped his head. he looked at the table and then looked at me with a certifiable look of “why? why didn’t you tell me it would hurt?” this was more prevalent and far more serious when he ran into the arm of the recliner and mashed his little man business. he was horrified, upset, hurt and suddenly aware. you get my drift? no amount of conversation was going to bring to light what he was feeling. he had to experience it in order to know that he never wanted to experience it again.

it is almost impossible to teach something without simultaneously learning. most times it’s just a shortcut to the end result or maybe cutting out something unnecessary. yes, parenting is a torturous lesson in teaching lessons. all the while we must maintain simultaneous levels of care, concern, fairness, equality, just, discipline, fun, guidance, respect, admiration, and sprinkle it all with a little friendship. just a little now, we don’t want them getting the wrong idea.

yesterday we went to Balboa Beach. a classic beach town with a very seventies nostalgic feel. we went to a vintage candy store specializing in salt water taffy and items that are not stocked at the local liquor store. we walked and talked and oogled the standard beach related fare. we saw some crabs, some barnacles and too many birds. we found a tall ropey-climby thing:

the ropey-climby thing

i cannot resist climbing… i was at the top before my son took his shoes off.

my son is five, so his world revolves around him. good thing there was that strategically placed arcade. my aunt got some tokens and he played a few games. he was mostly interested in riding a fake motorcycle. it took a few minutes but i was finally able to convince him to play skeeball. you remember skeeball don’t you?

skeeball!!

probably the most classic arcade game ever. besides pinball, of course.

after a round or two of good ole skeeball, my son bounced about on silly little token wasters. those store front rides that barely move, a game or two with buttons that didn’t really work… but, hey, what’s that in the corner? is that an air hockey game???? well sweet potato pie from the sky!! cut off my legs and call me shorty…. WHO WANTS TO PLAY? my son accepted the challenge… poor little human.

air. hockey.

let the tail-whoopin’ commence! i don’t care if you are 5!! oops.. did i say that out loud?

now. we, obviously had to get more tokens. and when the plastic puck was ejected and the soft blanket of air was on…. I lost all of my parenting skills. all of them. i was not interested in teaching fairness, sportsmanship or rules. i wanted to whoop some five year old ass and walk away with an I-WON-WITH-ALL-FIVE-TO-YOUR-ABSOLUTELY-NO-SCORE victory. i really did. and with the first few volleys of the puck, my PARENTING senses came back and i knew that it was my job to do the exact opposite of that. but i’ll be truthful, it was difficult.

you might think that i’m exaggerating, but i’m not. NOT. i spent years at the local skating rink playing air hockey, frogger, and 1942. i would consider myself an air hockey semi-pro. true story. so, you understand how difficult it was for me to hit softly, ignore his pulling the puck back to”try again” and the worst of the worst… to leave my goal wide open????? it hurt. it was painful. i actually had to look away to LET him score because if my eyes were to see the puck hurling toward the goal my arms and hands would instinctively smack the holy bajeezus out of that plastic green puck and send it in reverse at five times the speed and fifteen times the velocity and watch it crash into the back of the goal faster than my son could focus.. but ARGH! i was not allowed to and i DID NOT commit this travesty against childhood. but dammitalltohell if it wasn’t hard!!!

here’s the end result. he won. he smiled. we all cheered for him. shortly thereafter we left and i can’t seem to shake the fact that i HAD to LET him win. isn’t that just awful? I can tell you this… he better practice because when he’s old enough to THINK he can beat me, the tail whoopin’ will commence, and when it gets down to the wire, i’m gonna hafta dig real deep to possibly let him win. sad? I know. at least i’m truthful.

here’s something to smile about:

i’m part pirate.


baking blog ~ 2: lena b’s banana nut bread

 

i love to bake.  particularly desserts, but if you can put it in the oven — i’ll give it a try. my favorite things to bake are stand alone favorites: several types of cookies, a killer chicken pot pie, cupcakes and banana bread. i think we all (except for those that are allergic) love banana bread, don’t we? well i have a story to share about some banana bread and it is going to knock your socks off. the bread is divine. but the story, well, the story makes it better.

outside of the facts learned in school, i got (most of) my intelligence, my humor and my county-girl charm from my grandmother. she was a phenomenal person. she also taught me respect. the born-and-raised in the south and we-don’t-take-none-of-that-backtalk-’round-here respect. she taught me about personal space, real friends and why you should never keep your car and house keys in the same place. she taught me how to sew, bake and gave me Kitchen 101.

it was during our time in the kitchen that she shared with me her many recipes.  i have lots of hand written recipes and notes from her.  i have newspaper clippings, magazine pages and even some word search puzzle entries that contain recipes that she enjoyed. or at least, wanted to enjoy. of all the years and all the recipes, one of them outweighs the rest. it is her recipe for banana bread. here is an image (the measurements have been eliminated to protect the integrity of the recipe and elude the plagiarizers):

when i was in high school, the upper left corner fell off and i laminated it in an after school print shop program. we determined from the writing on the back that she had written it down in approximately 1956. *mumbling* minus the …  carry the .. and then move the… hey, yeah! that’s fifty-six years ago. that is about the same age as my parents. 🙂 i cannot provide you with any more historical information than that. she gave me the recipe and told me to hold tight to it. and i have.

i made it from time to time. not really enjoying the process or the outcome. she gave me compliments and critique along the way. if i had known, then, what i know now — i would have spent every day, since the day she gave it to me, perfecting it and honing the recipe into exactly what it is today: a legend. it’s that good.

my high school spanish teacher, used to purchase loaves from me at two dollars a piece. that was a nice little allowance until she got a loaf that wasn’t quite done in the middle and she gave up on me. understandable. i don’t remember making them too often during my college days either. what bread i did make was for my grandmother, at her request. i enjoyed it, but not enough at that time. she once told me “you make it better than i ever could”, which of course warmed my heart. i would make it for her and never think more about it.

eventually i grew up and moved out. i got a few jobs and when the spirit moved me, i would bake and share the famous bread. as time passed, i came to find that it was a certifiable crowd pleaser. it has never failed me. it has been mixed incorrectly and undercooked, but that’s user error, you see. the recipe, itself, remains consistent and predictable. exactly what a baked good should be. it has always been moist, delicious and impressive. at least, that’s what my fans tell me. 😀

i made it when i worked as a police dispatcher and have been reminded of how much it is missed.  i have made it for people along the way and always received compliments on it. i also made it for my friends at the hotel. i remember taking a loaf to the housekeeping department who promptly grabbed their morning cups of coffee and sat in silence enjoying the bread. it wasn’t until a few days later that i learned the bread was the topic of discussion that day.

i have been asked for the recipe many times to which i reply “i’m sorry, that recipe is going to make me famous. it’s a secret.” a certifiable look of disappointment comes at me followed by “well, if you change your mind”. i’ve only shared the recipe three times:

  1. after many years, my grandmother told me that she wanted to share the recipe with someone she worked with. i don’t know if you’ll believe this, but i actually refused to give it back to her. she scolded me. i retorted with my standard “make me famous” line. she didn’t buy it. i gave her the recipe. she was the author, after all.
  2. to my best friend’s grandmother (Nanny). she’s a sweet old bird who used to share “our grandkids are crazy” laughs, cured salt pork and southern lady conversation with my gramma. i made the bread, she loved it and i gave her the recipe. hesitantly.
  3. earlier today, after a little more than three weeks of deliberation and a few pleadings i shared the recipe with two of my coworkers.
    1. cee-dub (cw or coworker)one is a fellow baker who has promised me three things: a) a secret family recipe of her own, b) her help and her kitchen in creating a new baking masterpiece and c) her first-born grandchild. i intend to collect on all three.
    2. cee-dub two saved my rump last week and if my gramma were alive she would have said “you better give that girl the recipe, she helped you when she didn’t have to”… i can actually hear my gramma saying it. ugh.
    3. i started this entry a couple of months ago and have actually shared the recipe with several other people. now, you might be saying “but you didn’t share it with aaaaaaaaaaaall of those other people from way back when” and you’re right. but the fact of the matter is that i don’t follow the recipe. 😀 it’s true. i know it by heart, can predict it’s outcome and have tweaked it just enough to call it my own, so sharing it — is just a formality. it stands true, always delivers a quality product and those that have received the recipe and followed it’s instructions have yet to stop thanking me. it’s that good.

as you can see, i’m stingy. this legend of a recipe is going to put my son through college. maybe. speaking of son, he’s the number one fan. he loves the banana bread and can hardly wait for it to get out of the oven. seriously. he’s touched several hot loaf pans and stolen countless HANDFULS and slices of the bread. it is his favorite breakfast treat.

but wait, there’s more. my job recently had a bake sale. naturally, i agreed to bake. i originally intended on making cookies. but when it got down to crunch time, i didn’t have the ingredients that i needed to make the cookies i wanted to make and then i remembered the dozen-and-a-half bananas in the garage freezer. they were provided to me by a coworker after our annual benefits fair. the bananas had been a little abused from travel and were almost prime bread making real estate. she came to my section of CubicleWorld and stated “hey baker, you should take those bananas home” (thanks, Paula, i miss your smile). perfect. the recipe is simple and doesn’t require special ingredients. so i decided to make banana bread.

the sale required that all foods be individually wrapped and labeled for sale. i was completely oblivious to this fact, but decided to make mini banana bread bundts. they are just so cute and so perfect for a bake sale. i only have three mini pans, so i had to bake in shifts. grease and flour the pans, bake three breads, allow them to cool, wash the pans and then start anew. it took me six hours to bake a dozen mini bundts. and i still had batter left over.

i let them cool and sealed them up in my handy-dandy cake saver and travel container. a God send of a gift from my aunt, Martha Stewart and the fantastic folks at Wilton. the next morning i trotted off to work, proud and excited. when i got to the bake sale area, i had forgotten to wrap and label the cakes. i hurried back to the break room… found some clear plastic plates, white paper doilies and saran wrap. i printed up some labels and priced the pretty little breads at $3.50 each. the packaging was so simple and cute. the only thing that would have made them better was ribbon and instead of labels, vintage shabby chic graphic art tags. i started with twelve, took ten to work because my aunt and son claimed one each. ten mini bundts.

as i was preparing my food fare for sale, one of the potential patrons walked by. she saw the bread under the cake saver cover and was drawn in by its sheer beauty. she approached the table, eyes wide, inquiring

“what are those?”

and me, being me, went into my whole schpiel like i’ve just shared with you. she asked about my grandmother and i had to tell her that she had passed away several years ago and how my aunt and i had taken care of her those last few years and so forth and so on… well, the story ended in with the two of us hugging, and in tears. she had shown an interest in the bread from the start but revealed to me:

“the story makes the bread that much better. i can’t wait to taste it.”

the bake sale opened about thirty minutes later. she bought six of the twelve. i received an email at 9:26 in the morning stating that the bread sold out in twenty minutes. the entire sale was over about forty minutes after it started. almost one hundred dollars was made and thirty-five of it was from my breads. yay!

as the day progressed, i received many compliments and three requests for the recipe. consensus on the terms “moist and delicious”. another coworker poked her head around my cubicle wall stating:

“you’re the one who made the banana bread, right? well… i heard about them but i didn’t get one.”

i made her some a few weeks later. she returned the favor by making a Thomas the Train blanket for my son. he loves it. i have seen the “buyer of six” as well who shared how the bread was already a family favorite and she had also made mental note of my pan situation and was keeping her eye out for additional mini pans. sweet, right? she told me that day and every time that i have seen her since that the bread is “to die for”, but “the story makes it better”. all of the folks that i have “met” since the bake sale, whether in the cafeteria, break room, ladies’ room or in the walkway have said “you’re the one who makes the banana bread, right?” a great reputation to have, if i do say so myself.

i have made the bread regularly and always get smiles and hugs. we had a special meeting and presentation in our department last week and as part of the surprise, i made banana bread. jackie couldn’t contain herself and was ready to devour it upon sight. she sent an email around and within minutes the majority of a large bundt bread was gone. it was fantastic to watch. everyone passing my cubicle, eyes rolled back in their head with butter stained fingers saying “mmmmf, it’s so good”. i cut a few pieces and shared them with other work friends and received more warm and loving compliments. SuperBoy and The MadMan are known for asking for “MUUUUH” (that’s ‘moooooore’) while still having a mouthful.

some of us have no talents. some of us have one or two. some of us have a million different things that we’re “kinda” good at. i have one certifiable talent and it is recreating and baking my grandmother’s recipe banana bread. it’s a simple recipe, hand written by the queen herself. it’s a favorite of all family and friends, a crowd pleaser and has stood the test of time for more than fifty years. the kids, ALL kids, love it. i take pride in it. when i bake it, i use my heart. i concentrate, infuse and incorporate love in every bite (thanks, ma!). what i can tell you for fact is this: 1) the smell is divine and will attract hungry bears, or neighbors — whichever is closer. 2) i get more joy from baking it than i do from eating it. 3) i get more joy from sharing it than i do from baking it. 4) you hope, wish and pray that you might ever be close enough to watch, listen and smell it bake. if you are, i guarantee that you will never want to be far away again.

to my grandmother:

thanks, gertrude. i love you. i miss you and i wish you were here so i could bake for you. thank you for sharing and entrusting me with something so special and wonderful. it’s almost as special and wonderful as you.

XOXOO ~T