View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hi again

I used to be really active on this blog. Closed it to the public 5 years ago - and went to a different one where my identity was less obvious (as a teacher, have to be careful) . Thinking of bringing this one back, though.

Friday, September 02, 2011

a test

This is a test

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Good bye

Per the advice of my principal, this blog is closing down. Thanks to everyone who has read it over the years!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


The Ramones on ukulele. Amazing.

Ismene lives?

Years ago I taught the play Antigone by Sophocles. One of the characters is Ismene, the sister of Antigone. Ismene at first refused to join Antigone in breaking the law, but she was later willing to die with Antigone, who had been sentenced to death. Antigone rejected her offer, and Ismene was spared. We never learn in the play what ultimately happened to Ismene.

There is mention by a later Greek writer that she was murdered, but there are no other mentions of this in other myths and stories from that time.

So what happened to Ismene?She lingered in the back of my mind long after I left that school and no longer taught the play. I felt bad for her. She was not a bad person. I could understand the choices she made. I thought that she was unfairly overshadowed by her more dramatic sister. And I thought Antigone treated her shabbily when Ismene loyally and bravely offered to die with her. I also wondered about how the tragic curse on Oedipus' family would ultimately affect her.

About a decade ago, I actually got an idea for a play focusing on what became of her in the years after the events in Antigone. I even gathered a few notes and scribbled a few lines of dialogue.

Then life intervened.

In the form of other plays.

I began teaching at a school where I wrote all the school plays and dramatic performances. Stone Soup. Robin Hood. The Sick King. Two collections of skits. A draft of a play about the Erie Canal.

No Ismene.

While cleaning a filing cabinet this summer I stumbled across some of my Ismene notes. And this past week at my new school I discovered I was going to be teaching Antigone again after nearly 25 years.

The thought hit me: Maybe its time to finish that play.

Ismene may just get her chance to take center stage!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Working with a smile

At my new school, we are in the process of doing curriculum mapping.

What that means is basically planning out the entire year - all the major works and projects - listing the class content for each course, the skills we plan to help the students develop, and how we will assess their work. This will help all the teachers teaching the same courses to be consistent. It also helps us to better coordinate the Regents-level (i.e. regular)classes with the Honors and AP ones. In previous years, two teachers could be teaching the same class, but cover different literary works, give different assignments, and required different workloads. And because all the teachers are mapping together this summer, it helps up to plan better what material and skills will be covered at the different grade levels, and to build on what the students have had in previous years.

It sounds reasonable and logical to do this, but in many schools this sort of joint planning and cooperation is not the rule. My new school is committed to seeking ways to provide our students with better educations. Awesome.

The process is forcing us to spell out more clearly what we are trying to do and how we will do it. It also means some give and take. If we are going to coordinate, then we have to do the same major works at each grade level. Some teachers are dropping works that they've done for years. We're adding works that we are all agreeing on.

We've been at it for five days. Six plus hours a day. Six hours is about all we can handle before our brains start to flat line.

I love it.

I'm coming from a small Christian school where I WAS the English Department - and the Social Studies Department - and where what we could teach was severely limited because the denomination that runs that school is very strict about what can be discussed and what can be read.

Good people who dearly love their children - I understand what they are trying to do - but their rules and beliefs were often onerous. I still shudder at the thought of the books that had pages cut out because of "objectionable" content. And I sigh as I recall the ruling that came down that said we could no longer stage plays because they were too "entertaining."

But now, instead of working solo, at my new school I'm with a group of English teachers doing the planning. We talk and joke as we work. We make literary references - and everybody gets them.

And the works I can teach again. Old favorites like Antigone. Julius Caesar. Macbeth. Pride and Prejudice. The Glass Menagerie.


I'm tired.

But I'm smiling.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Still mulling: Kill the blog

I'm still trying to figure out what to do with this blog.

I'm going to be teaching at a school where the students are computer savvy, so I wonder how long it will be before one or more of them find me here. I haven't written anything scandalous, and there are no explicit or really embarrassing photos (though that one of me in a green suit playing guitar is scary!). But I do deal with political and social issues. Will my activities or opinions offend? I don't know.

I have made some changes. My Facebook account is now open only to friends, and I've made some changes here to make it harder to find me. But will that be enough?

Another concern is lack of time. My new school will require a lot more work. Will I even have time to blog? And shouldn't I be putting my time and energy into more serious writing? (Look how much time I wasted typing this instead of doing some lesson plans or reading work for school!)

Maybe I'll wait to see if I get "discovered."

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Praying at Planned Parenthood

As usual, we gathered outside the Planned Parenthood office in Greece, N.Y., this morning to pray.

The clinic had been closed on Saturdays throughout July (per a note on their door). But it has also been closed the first two Saturdays in August - with no note of explanation.

I asked someone praying with us if the clinic is still open weekdays: It is.

So ... what's going on? Short staffed? Budget issues? They got fed up with seeing us every Saturday?

After all, after years of vigils, prayers, and protests, the main Rochester office shut down on Saturdays. Perhaps our prayers are having an effect at this clinic?

Of course, it could just be a temporary thing and they will be open next Saturday.

But for the past few weeks, seeing no women going in to be harmed adds a bit of joy to our prayers.

Church Rocks (2011)

Church Rocks (2011) was last night. I thought we did well, as did the other three groups. The audience seemed to appreciate the music.

And I don't think I didn't hit too many bad chords on my ukulele debut!

Next year we need to work on better promoting the event to let more people know about it.

I was sad, though, that it may be the last time we'll play with our drummer, Don. He has moved to another city. I gave him a hug after.

I even smiled on stage a couple of times, and chatted with a few people after - trying to keep on becoming more friendly and social.

Maybe next time I'll smile and chat at the same time!

Who needs Lady Gaga's version? (Telephone)