Sunday, October 2, 2016

The ethics of accepting gifts

One of the training aspects of my recent library job was viewing a very dull video about ethics. It was created by some branch of the state of Louisiana and was required viewing by all state employees. It presented unclear examples of what could be accepted and not accepted. One thing I remember is that one could accept a gift of food only if one ate it in the presence of the giver.

As for the library an employee could accept nothing, not one thing, not even a single dime. I had been working at the library for two and one half months when a situation arose which nearly cost me my job. The branch where I worked is downtown with downtown parking woes. I had three choices for parking: six blocks in a free lot and walk to the library, in an expensive lot, or on the street next to the library with a feed-the-meter syndrome. One day I neglected to bring enough change for the meter and was asking to borrow from fellow employees (a fact that spoke little of my responsibility to be prepared). A patron overheard me and placed some quarters on the counter. I took one. Although it was not anyone's duty to touch me on the shoulder to say no or advise me not to take it, I would have done so in their place. Anyway, I told my supervisor what I had done. She had an apoplectic fit. I volunteered to quit, but she ignored me and continued to chew me out, and said I would be written up in no uncertain terms. I had already been written up for something else. She asked if I had ethics training as a teacher. I said yes, but we were allowed to accept gifts. She didn't believe me. I have since researched ethical training for teachers. Yes, teachers are allowed to accept gifts under $25.  

I returned to my desk and restrained myself. The supervisor said things that totally surprised me. She was displeased, blah, blah, blah. The desire to get up and go home was overpowering, but I stayed. I quit three days later and by some miracle found a teaching job in a high school where I know the rules.

Just a last note. I worked closing at the library one night a week. The doors closed at 7 pm. All library workers were out by 7:05 pm. The first time that happened I didn't understand what was going on. Does a teacher leave the building five minutes after the last bell? Ha! And I had to sign in exactly on time and sign out exactly on time.  

Working at the library,

I always wanted to  be a public librarian. A few years back I worked a second job in the evenings at my local branch library. That lasted three months. I had to quit because I could not follow the supervisor's rules. When I came on at 4 pm everyone in my department had their places at the counter with a computer. I had nowhere to go and had to stand behind them in case they all became busy simultaneously and I could step in and help a patron. Well, my mother taught us not to be idle. "If you don't have something to do, find something." So I did. One of our tasks was to "read the shelves," that is, check for alphabetical misplacements. I not only read my section, but other staffers' shelves as well. Eventually, the supervisor would send someone to get me, chew me out for deserting my post, and tell me to stay put. Yes, I know I was wrong. Following orders was part of the job.

On the other hand, I had problems with another staffer, a young man who was very bitter. He could not get a teaching position although he had a degree in education. I can probably say why: he looked like a serial killer. He exuded such bad vibes. The thing is, he was highly resentful of me because I made more money than he did. The fact that I had library certification and he didn't did not matter at all to him. One night he set me up to look incompetent. Because he was the supervisor's favorite, she believed him and would not even entertain the idea of hearing my version.

I quit after three months. Ten years later when I couldn't get a job teaching (I'm old), I tried the library again. I wish I hadn't. Now I know that I am not librarian material. I don't like the job. Basically, a librarian is a servant. There is no working with books. It's entering data, constantly walking the aisles to make sure every book is in place and no trash is stuffed in cubby holes. It's picking up after patrons.

And the issue of favoritism just smacks one in the face. For the first couple of weeks, each of the staff showed me how to maintain each of their station posts.
Then that was it. Go away, they more or less told me. Wha-a-a-? I would say, like a minion. Could I take six months of this? And the answer was no, I could not, so I quit.

I already had a new job lined up--subbing in this new school near my house. I couldn't get a teaching position there, but maybe as a sub. Today was my first day. What horror show did I get into? The kids were out of control. I called security time after time and all they did was get them quiet, then leave. I simply could not do it. And so, the school never called me again.

I began a new search and out of the blue, a friend from the past, now the foreign language supervisor called and asked me to teach French. So I am. Finally, a full time job. Now my goal is to get debt free before time is up and I am out of work again. (A retired teacher is terminated at the end of each school year and a need must exist in certain fields before she can be hired again. Foreign language is always the case.) 

I am really looking forward to this new job!


Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Donald

Dear Donald:

Bless you. You came out of your chrysalis, a painful experience, I'm sure. Twisting and shouting and acting odd and strange. But now, what a glorious creature you've become--a first rate candidate for POTUS. Bless Kelly Ann. I surmise she is responsible for the Better a nd Improved Trump.

I am pleased, well pleased, with the current Trump. God speed with the debate.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dear Donald

Dear Donald:

What are we to do with you? You were a parody to begin with. Now, good grief, you have made yourself a parody of your own parody! Frankly, Donald, I am embarrassed by you.

You began as someone riding out of the plains, your banners raised high. Oh, we were counting on you, hoping you were the savior of our country, ruined and degraded by the One in Office, the One we fear because of his devious plans. Oh, Donald, we cried in the darkness, do come and save us! You were majestic early on in your wild cries and challenges and bizarre behavior.

Now that behavior has become a huge, no, a gigantic obsurdity. What is wrong with you? After one of your latest rants, Paul Ryan spoke against your comments. My gosh, he sounded so reasonable after you. 

Yikes, Donald, hire a new strategist who can guide you. And, Donald, listen to him!!

Wish I could be more positive, but you don't give much to work with. Good luck. People really do wish they could back you with more enthusiasm. Please, change your behavior!!

An embarrassed follower

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hidden human horror

Note: This blog was taken from a sister blog of mine. I want it to get more exposure.... It was originated in 2009.

Warning: This post bleeds...

What is a mother?

"You fat!" Words of love to her tween daughter, oh so cold, so reprehensible, so scathing of human value, her own, her daughter's. She's just out of jail, this one, this mother. She slithers back into the domicile--can it be so wilfully called a home?--and spits her poison, first in one corner, then another, on one child, then another. How many of these f....ers, do I have? Just don't hang on me. I need air to breathe. I need a little fun after three months of cooped up hell.
I'll tell you one damn thing, you hag, I am someone in jail. They know my name. They know who I am. They like me in jail. You hag, you m.....-f...... You call yourself a mother? You can die right now. Who would care? All my little f....ers and me--we hate you. Ask any of 'em. They would slit your throat in a second. That's what I'm teaching my chilren--how to cope, how to survive. You selfish b----! Where the f... is my child support money? Give me my child support!!I need some things. Gotta get a pedicure and manicure, get my hair cut. Gotta take a long bath, get out of these f----ing clothes.
If that f----ing G--- calls, tell him to F--- off! He's been shackin with that f---ing b---- the whole time I was in jail! He better not be tellin' my f----ing kids they have a new mother. Hey, baby, bring your f----ing mama a glass of water. I need to get rid of this headache.

In horror they watch her slip to the floor, water glass crashing, the two-year old clinging to her legs, gasping, Mamamamamamamamama! The oldest child, the 11-year-old must stand there and drink in her own horror. He mother used her to commit suicide. Used her like nothing, as if she were some perverse stranger on some perverse island caught in some perverse drama.

Call 9-1-1, the girl gags on her own horror!

Leave her. We're not calling anyone.

At just the opportune moment, the fallen lump, the wasted wreck of breath, the useless container of self-parody, self-pity, self-regard, self-importance opens her eyes. "Tell G---that I tried to kill myself. Tell him I can't live without him. Tell him to dump that B----. She's nothing! I'm the one he wants.

The diahrrea begins dramatically. After all, it's the drama queen at the center. Her children were so excited to see her, despite her selfish cruelty, her sporadic indulgence toward them, her frequent explosive display of fat, vile words she spews all about them.

Then she walks out, taking herself to the hospital. G--- will know how important he is to her. He must let her come back. He must.

What are the options for this woman who has gone so far astray? Government hand-outs? To get them, she must take her children. How is this fair and just? Children must be punished to have this kind of "mother"? Whose justice is this? They have a home with the grandparents, although it is not very loving, but it's clean. There's food and clean clothes. There's room. Reduce these children to a one-room apartment just so this wanton can get hand-outs? Why? By whose authority?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Wow, a good day!

Finally, I sold stuff. Besides the thrill of having people buy what was made with love, thought, and creativity, meeting new people and seeing old friends is a real bonus for participating as a vendor at Bossier Farmers Market. I love this venue!
One customer bought several items and in the course of conversation I discovered her two children were former library students when I was librarian at a private Catholic school, When I looked at those faces, I was transported back in time. The son was one of my favorite students. The mom and I chatted quite a while about the school
Another customer made a request for a particular quilt and laid down money so I would make one. I truly enjoyed meeting him and his wife and son. Go Raiders!
One of my neighbor vendors gave me ice cold water--I felt dehydrated. It was really hot out there, even under a tent.
Speaking of tents--if I didn't have good vendor neighbors I couldn't put up my little tent. Someone helps me put up and take down. Every week I am reminded of this Tennessee Williams line: "Oh for the kindness of strangers" (who are becoming my friends).
Lastly, the husband of one of my employee/friends at a local fabric shop came by to meet me. He loves his wife. I found him endearing. I didn't know that she is from the Ukraine (she speaks English really well which she studied all her life) and that they met on an online dating service!

No, here's the last comment: the CEO of this farmers market, understands how to promote his website and his market. Check out what he does on Bossier Farmers Market
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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bossier Farmers Market

I've found a new market for my crafts--Bossier Farmers Market and it opens in two days--Saturday, April 2, 9-2 pm, at Pierre Bossier Mall. 

Truly, I am excited and look forward to trying this new venue! Here are some photos of what I have to sell                       

Thursday, March 10, 2016

White privilege

According to a recent, brief news segment on Fox Network, "white privilege" refers to those doors opened to an elite group of Americans: white males. Any woman can explain it. Any white male, except the poorest and most uneducated group, knows it intuitively. There's no need to explain it.

"White privilege." However, allow me to attempt an explanation. On the final episode of "American Crime" on ABC, a leader in a well-respected business was explaining to Regina King's character why "they" were transferring her. She had used the term "white trash" in a personal email written on the business network. The use of the term was a "hate crime." She struggled to explain to him why her term meant little as a hate crime--to her its use was a way of negating hate terms used against her race. Oh? I failed to mention she is black and the man is "white privilege." There is no way he could understand, she tried to explain--and, because he could not, he kept the transfer in place. She had no choice.

Here's another way to explain "white privilege." February means Black History Month in the nation's schools. I dreaded the assembly every February. It meant white tempers would flare. "Why do they get a month dedicated to them ?" My answer should have shut their mouths but, of course, did not. "Look at your history books," I would say. "Whose pictures dominate the pages?" Their comeback: "That's because we do things. They don't" (with some negative comments thrown in). This occurrence aptly explains King's comment. If you're not us, you cannot truly understand us.

Back to Fox and "white privilege." This "establishment" part of  the Republican party is scrambling to find a way to eliminate the threat to their power-Donald Trump. Why isn't he establishment with his billions? He's white, of course, but he isn't part of their power elite and that's precisely what terrifies them. What's an elite without power? And how do you control an elite if he is not 100%? You don't have power over him.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What Is Fishing? A Winter Report

This is an update to my fishing reports over the summer and fall. 

Bottom line: Fish don't bite during cold weather, at least not in bayous, more specifically, the bayou behind my house. Not a nibble all winter. Not in blowing cold winds. Not during the rain. Not on overcast days. Not on sunny days. Not even during warm weather kind of days (we have those in Louisiana).

However the change-over is coming. It is, after all, February. If Phil sees his shadow, we have more winter. If not, spring is not far behind (or vice-versa--I can never remember which is which for ol' Phil!) Anyway, a few days ago, I started getting little jumping nibbles, actually more hopping than jumping. The cork kind of hops. I've hooked him/her twice, but s/he lets go before surfacing. I thought at first it was a turtle, but turtles are more resolute. They grab a worm and don't let go until they get good and ready. I'll think I'm hung up, but eventually the cork is set free.

Oh, I am so eager for the fish to swim out of their dark lairs and come closer to shore for spring catching!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super Bowl Memories

Truly, is this really the 50th Super Bowl? Fact is, I remember the First Super Bowl! I don't remember who played--the Saints?--naw, just kidding--no, I don't remember--just a sec--Green Bay vs. Kansas City, 35-10.

I remember the Steelers with Terry Bradshaw as QB. Those were fantastical passing games. Some of those early games were won in the last seconds. More recent games were incredibly one-sided (and boring). Then there was the year that the Saints won the Super Bowl (vs Indianapolis Colts 31-17). There was delirium in New Orleans that night--in fact, all of Louisiana! Would love to see that happen again.

It's early afternoon. I'm just waiting for the game to start. I am supporting Peyton Manning's Broncos. Why? Just listen to this excellent reason: I love Peyton's commercial: Hmmm hmmm hmmmhmmmm! 

Addendum: I want to share how I and the first ex watched that first Super Bowl. We were poor: he was still in college and I made a young teacher's salary back in the 70's ($4,990--yes, can you believe it? ). So, we were poor. We had two television sets: one for the picture, one for the sound. Yes, we were poor.

Post note: Well, the Broncos did it with Peyton scoring the last two points with a pass into end zone for the 2-point conversion. Final score: Denver 24 and Carolina 10. Whew, it was close for a while. Note the low score for a Super Bowl game. Both defense teams really worked it with various sacks, fumbles, and turnovers.  However, the Broncos prevailed. I'm not gloating--my sister was supporting the Patriots. Yet! I'm so glad for Peyton!!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The mighty commorant

The first January I was in this house, one Sunday morning I heard this awful sound outside. I went out back and there, in my cypress tree and in the neighbor's pecan tree was a flock of these huge black birds with yellow beaks. 

I called my brother and asked what they were. A veteran watcher of informative television programs about nature, he knew right away that comorants were visiting. 

They visit every year on their way to wherever they are going. They visit a week, then they're gone again. Yesterday I took pictures and counted their numbers: 31 in one tree and a dozen in my tree. They were leary of me, of course.

Oh yes, in addition to their distinctive sounds, they also do a display of their wings. Actually, they spread out their wings after being in the water in order to dry them. 

Here's a link  that shows their size and coloring and wing span. Look at the bottom and click on the audibles to hear their croakings.

Post Note: 2-8-16
In recent conversations my brother informed me that commorants could swim as well as fly and that a flock of hundreds can decimate the fish in a body of water in no time. I already knew that they were a destroyer of salmon beds. Anyway, I told him that I had not seen them in the water at all. However, today, I did see six commorants come up out of the water (they were below the surface) and fly off. They probably ate our bayou fish. I'll know soon enough if they ate too many. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Art of Sewing

"Sewing" -- when you read that word, what comes to mind? What's your mental picture? The first one?

Here's mine: My grandmother sitting at her old Singer with her foot against the treadle, working it to provide new clothes for my only doll. 

I started sewing early, age eight or so, with micro lessons here and there from both my mother and grandmother. In Puritan days-- pre-America and afterward-- girls learned directly from their mothers and relatives, a  pass-on skill both utilitarian and aesthetic: utilitarian in the production of the practical--clothes and house wares, aesthetic in the making of trousseau items kept pristine until the young wife carried them off with her other new household goods.

Sewing is a tradition and a very worthy one. As circumstances should find me, I am involved in this passing on of traditions. Because I took two years of home economics in high school and made a garment each year, I feel I learned all the basic techniques that have served me well over the years. But now, in retirement, I am seeking more. I have been making and selling all kinds of sewing at local craft events, but I want more skills. I want finesse. To that end, I am taking various sewing classes at this particular fabric and sewing machine store. 

Fabric Boutique is owned by Shirley Warren and is located in Bossier City, Louisiana, just across Red River from where I live. Two years ago I bought one of her machines but did not take it out of the box for a year. I was intimidated by it. I would sit and stare at it. Oh, sure, I could do the basics: plug it, turn it on, thread it (there's a guide on the machine), wind a bobbin, and run it. But all those buttons and knobs--nope, wouldn't touch them.

Well, yesterday, Shirley assigned one of her teachers to show new owners beyond the basics. Yay! I learned so much! Then Carolynne (teacher) had us make a little make-up type bag, requiring the use of almost half of our feet. (A sewing foot is a specialized tool that aids, enhances, and celebrates the art of sewing.) So much fun and a nice project at the end!

So, what is sewing? defines sewing as: joining or attaching by stitches, making or repairing a garment, and enclosing or securing by stitches. Do you see where I'm going with this? Yes, this definition suggest that sewing is utilitarian. 

Now let's look at the British Dictionary's more inclusive definition(s):

"To join or decorate (pieces of fabric, etc) by means of  a thread repeatedly passed 
through with needle or similar implement." 

This definition suggests the other use of sewing: "decorate" or the aesthetic. That's what I aim for--the aesthetic. The women who gather at this sewing establishment (Fabric Boutique in the northwest corner of Louisiana) are artisans, or working at becoming artisans. That includes me, novice though I am at the more delicate and intricate aspects of sewing. I am returning to the beginning to the first classes: Beginning Sewing, Beginning Quilting, Making a Tote, and so on. Each class is infused with those pass-on skills and artwork, the basic stitches, the crafted stitches, the artful stitches. Soon a class in Heirloom Sewing will be offered. That's what I mean.

I have taken several classes now with Sherry, who does not mind that I move several steps past the real beginning quilters in the current class. She has given me numerous tips to improve my sewing and glad I am that she is so tolerant. 

I just finished my 4-square quilt (It's called something else, but I can never remember what). Frankly, it is quite beautiful. 

There are other teachers. Phyllis, a polio survivor thus wheelchair-bound, yet  fiercely independent, is an amazing sewer. Amazing! She demonstrates techniques and stitches, really an amazing array of artistry. My favorite class, so far, was hers in which we took a block of fabric and turned it into a work of art through stitchery. One day I will turn my finished piece into a purse.

Shirley, the owner, is also a teacher and a veritable task master. I have learned so many sewing secrets which I've seen worked into other teachers' classes. That's how the pass-on tradition works. From one to the other.

Oh yes, the first Saturday of every month is the Bernina Club (half the shop is dedicated to those wonderful Berninas). What I love about this sewing club is the Show-and-Tell activity. Each person can show what she made recently. I LOVE this aspect because I love to show my own work.  

One more thing about this fabric store. Shirley has created a work space, a haven, a place to ponder and create, a place of work and creativity and beauty, and for some, a refuge. There is no other place like it in our two cities. The various other fabric stores in the area offer fabric and crafting products, but not classes, not this passing down of a skill and art form.

Note: the shop's web address:

A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.