Keeping It Quick While Circling the Seasons

Hi all. School is back in session, making this a shorter, much busier week. All our snow days threw off the report card schedule, so things have to be done a li’l bit faster. (Annoying when you have to use the district’s network to get some work done. I’m not a fan of bringing the day job home, but I could have paced some stuff out. Just sayin’.)

Anyway, I’m a huge fan of spring and have been wanting to rerun my second-ever blog post for a while now.  Back in that day  I was ridiculously green and afraid to hit PUBLISH. Now you lovely, loyal faithful, who are kind enough to show up post after post, are subject to anything that comes through the fingers. Bless you. Bless you.

Rather than subject you to the whole post from May 2009, I decided to include here only the part that connects to writing, as well as to many things in life in general. I think of this often:

Several years ago my husband and I purchased a cottage about three hours away from my home. Built on an old Christian campground situated in the woods, we have access to it year round, but really use it only six months because the pipes supplying water are too superficial to not freeze during the winter months. This translates into having running water from mid-April through mid-October, which means during our travels we get to watch nature as it moves through three seasons.

Summer is always gorgeous but pretty consistent in its green. Fall is positively glorious in its array of golds, oranges, browns, reds, maroons, yellows and even some shades of purple. Spring is traditionally known for its pinks, lilacs and paler greens. What caught my attention, however, on one of our spring trips out there, were the very, very early spring colors. I was surprised at how many paler versions of fall colors I saw.

That took my thoughts in a totally different direction, to a workshop given by Jane Porter. She opened her talk by stating that the beginning of a book should always point to the ending. Some books are absolutely blatant in that. Peruse the opening of Phillippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl as an excellent example of such. And everywhere in nature I happen to look, I see other ready illustrations, ranging from as relatively simple as the life cycle of a leaf to as complex as the stages of a human life.

Okay. ‘Nuf said on that. Thank you for indulging me.

Just for fun, here are links to two great photos I came across this week:

Love this one!  (Cat and/or animal lovers will too. Too cute!)

For the tennis fans. (It’s not Rafa. But it’s a great photo just the same, lol.)

A final aside: I’m excited to be presenting on point-of-view to a teacher-friend’s fifth graders this Friday. Wish me luck!

Have a great one, folks.

Joanna

Are We Giving It Away? (Part 3)

Welcome back, you brave souls! Personal matters have been eating up most of my time, so please accept my apologies for having gone missing two weeks or so now.

For those of you catching up, I’ve been spouting off about TV ads running in languages other than English. If you dare, feel free to read those thoughts here and here. (Wonder of wonders, fingers are crossed you’ll return after that! :D)

And back to what annoys me most in all this: responsibility.

Have you any idea how many times I’ll walk into a store—especially in the town where I grew up—and am greeted in non-English? I doubt that happened in my parents’ day. Nor can I tell you how often my mom gets mail; the envelope is stuffed so that the recipient opens it to non-English. On a good day, the same note is printed in English on the reverse side.

As Americans, we’re giving our country away by allowing subtle, seemingly harmless things like advertising and foreign language mailings slip by without a complaint. It’s like we’re too many generations in—the rich kids who inherited the fat of our forefathers (and foremothers) quest for freedom, which we just always assume we’ll have. We don’t appreciate it because we didn’t earn it. We take it for granted and assume it will always be there.

Final case in point then I’ll leave this alone. (Of course we’re open it up to comments.) Hubby worked for a company that was built from the ground up. Senior CEO founded it and grew it into a formidable force in the industry of its type. People worked there for years and retired from it, many satisfied with the work they did and the pensions they earned. (Yes, I realize the economic climate was significantly different ten to twenty years ago.)

Senior’s son, Junior, inherited the company. Hubby often came home with stories that strongly suggested Junior didn’t value the company. He was born into and grew up in wealth already there. I’ll assume that was all he knew.

Long story short, through a set and/or series of not-so-great financial moves, Junior put the company up for sale. (Sounds like he used the inherited conglomerate as collateral and eventually killed the company’s credit rating.) That was almost ten years ago. Those who took over, didn’t do so in a very nice way. And those who might have still been around since Senior’s reign had little choice but to watch and shake their heads in disbelief, each who stayed put in a position to do the work of three people and stories of stress like I’d never heard from hubby before. About six months in, hubby’s department—of which he was supervisor and very happy in his position—was eliminated. He was one of the last to get a good severance package. Those got cut in half starting a few months after he was dismissed.

Some sixth sense tells me Americans aren’t necessarily valuing our homeland. Makes me very sad, to say the least. Scared too, when I see news articles related to key political figures telling college students to not celebrate our country’s birthday; supporting apparently archaic laws towards women, and proposing the notion of imposing fines on companies who hire an American-born citizen over someone who immigrated here illegally, among others.

Anyway, I’m not going there. The purpose of this post wasn’t to point fingers. It was to vent and throw out some awareness of how important it is to protect the America our foreparents fought to create.

Have a great day, friends!

Joanna 

Are We Giving It Away? (Part 2)

Hi all,

Hope today is a good day! Just getting back from a couple of days at my li’l cottage in the woods. Not wishing my life away–or the kids’ teen years for that matter–but looking forward to being able to go and STAY there for a while. Love my internet but I like being able to focus on fiction when the availability of the world wide web is highly limited.

Love. It. Here.
Love. It. Here.

Thanks for coming back for more thoughts from moi on my previous discussion. I should have just run this three-part piece last week and gotten it done. (Will do that this week. Then we’ll get back to easy recipes or something a bit lighter.) Sorry folks, I can’t  let this one go. (I appreciated your patience and tolerance. Besides, it’s written already. ;))

We left off here:

Shakes head @_____. Little by little this country is giving itself away. One day, you might wake up and not have a clue what language is coming at you. Sad. Go to other countries. You’ll find everything written in THEIR language first, usually English second. (And BTW, plenty of people from around the world speak better English than many Americans. What’s up with that?) Here, we don’t care. Just cater to the masses, who aren’t being put into a position to learn the language of the country they came to. Again, just sayin’.

See the first boldface part of the comment? You notice that reflected at airports, hotels—heck, go to the French Open Tennis Championships. Announcements AND the live scores are said FIRST in French THEN in English. Same is true at any Olympics: language of the host country first, English second, French (official language of any Olympics) third.

Other countries get it! Sports venues get it! What’s wrong with the United States?????

Second section in bold letters makes me think of my parents and so many immigrants who came before them. My mom went to night school to learn English. Mom had more opportunity (a.k.a. necessity) to speak it in her work settings, so she’s pretty darned functional. (Hearing loss impacts her ability to understand more than does the language barrier. She also reads English better than she realizes.)

My dad was a tailor and either worked alone or with other Italians. His hearing was worse than my mom’s, but even his limited, conversational English had a certain degree of functionality to it. And once, when he found himself in the middle of some kind of misunderstanding at his job, he went off on whomever he spoke to in English. Broken as it was, it was fluent enough to communicate his situation. I just remember washing dishes while Dad was on the phone, going on and on and never hesitating to come up with words. I kept wondering, “Wow. Dad’s English is a lot better than I thought.”

And perhaps that’s what is annoying me most: responsibility. At the risk of sounding petty and lacking for compassion (which I am not), I feel our country is not necessarily challenging its newcomers to learn what should be its primary language.

Again, IMHO, I’m just sayin’.  (Teach every kid and adult as many languages as you want after that. I swear I whizzed medical vocabulary in college b/c of the Italian and Spanish I was already highly familiar with. A second language (or more) under one’s belt is rarely a hindrance.)

For the sake of staying-shorter winded I’ll continue this next time. (Then I’ll be done. Pinky swear.)

Once more, I invite your thoughts and/or opinions on this topic. Or, if you’d rather list what you’re making for dinner tonight, if/where you plan on going on vacation, etc, go for it! All family-friendly interaction welcome here!

Have a great day,

Joanna

To Seed or Not to Seed: Wimbledon 2013

Hi all. Hope all of you are doing well.

My apologies for having gone missing these past weeks. The 2012-13 school year should have been done, but we earned the better part of an extra week in to make up for Superstorm Sandy lost days. (She will haunt us for a very long time, on many levels.)

Not that I’m off for the summer. Extended school year (a.k.a. “summer program”) starts June 30th  and runs through July. What can I say? It helps cover August and September bills when cash flow is definitely “out” with very little “in”. Then again, one needs a whole lot of $$$ to buy time.

Anyway…

Wimbledon, considered the most prestigious of professional tennis’ Grand Slam Championships, starts today.

The seeds are seeded. (Translation for non-tennis fans: Based on their world ranking and likelihood to win a particular tournament, professional players are “seeded.” At the grand slams, 32 spots in each of the women’s and men’s draws are considered.

So: The draw has been drawn. (Translation: This would be the line-up of who will be playing whom for the first round, which of course, will impact to some degree, who will play whom in subsequent rounds).

Maybe—just maybe—the powers that be who seed the players ought to take another look at the system. And I, who like to believe the best about anyone and everyone, wonder if there wasn’t some inside fan of a particular top male player who wanted to make that player’s road a little easier. Seems as though three of the other top names have a much harder road to the final based on the seeding and the draw.

But what do I know? I am merely a fan. The articles I’ve read though, bring out my cynical side.

Fine. I AM BIASED.  In the words of Michael Baisden, “I said it. Yes I did.” And because this is my blog and I can grump if I want to, I will. 0:-)

My favorite, Rafael Nadal got seeded 5th, partly because he went out in the 2nd round last year. That means he’ll go head-to-head with a higher seed (most likely Roger Federer, who is seeded third) in the quarterfinals. This will result in a major fan favorite top player eliminated one round shy of the semis, and with no chance at the final. Andy Murray won at Wimbledon at the Olympics, but has technically never won this tournament, yet he’s seeded ahead of Fed (who only won 7 measly Wimbledons, let’s get real, people). David Ferrar is 4th, which is fair enough given he’s been fairly consistent, but he’s NEVER won ANY slam, let alone the one considered most prestigious among the men’s and women’s game.

Truth is, no matter the seeding, whoever plays his game and possibly has a bit of luck on his side will come through.

But…

Who is the ONLY guy besides Fed and Novak Djokovic (current World Number One who has only won it once, thank you very much) who’s won it in the past ten years???? Oh yeah! (Slaps self in head.) Rafa! The number five seed, who, BTW, is currently ranked NUMBER ONE for this year in finals and titles (9 and 7, respectively) and the first to qualify for the Barclays ATP Men’s Tour Finals, despite being ranked Number 5 in the Emirates/ATP rankings.

Just sayin’.

Have a great week and happy Wimbledon to those of you who love the slams as much as I do! Special thanks too, to ESPN and Tennis Channel, for awesome coverage! Beats how it was once-upon-a-time when coverage was kind of limited to weekends and quarterfinal-and-on action.

Joanna