Carleen
A group of our friends meets once a month for dinner at a local, and quite popular, Chinese restaurant. The Amazing Egyptian Dude and I don't join them very often, simply because we're usually too busy working on the days when they meet. But last night, we decided to skip working and enjoy ourselves with friends instead.


Jokingly, I call this group the Old Farts Club (Plus Wives at the monthly meetings). On Friday nights, the Amazing Egyptian Dude joins his fellow ex-pats at a local Egyptian style coffee shop to drink tea, tell jokes, play backgammon and chess, reminisce about the good old days, smoke hookah, and talk politics. They call it "going to school"; their wives call it "bliss."

I'm the only non-Egyptian in the group, the youngest member, and the only one of the women to be retired. Among the women, we have an OB/GYN (who happens also to be one of my bestest friends), a university librarian, a housewife, an accountant, an engineer, and me. The men are mostly retired engineers, except for the Amazing Egyptian Dude, who happens to have a degree in accounting, but whose chances of retirement look slimmer and slimmer as our business gets busier and busier.

One of the ladies had just returned from a 3 months stay in Egypt and, as is customary for Egyptians, she had gifts for everyone. She gave each of the men a tarboosh (fez) which, just in case you didn't know, was normal head wear in Egypt some 50 years ago. They were thrilled and wore them throughout the meal:


Jamillah, the owner of the restaurant, takes our order.
The Amazing Egyptian Dude is on her right.



We had a delicious meal that included this amazing sesame and green onion bread.



The official monthly meeting of the Old Farts Club Plus Wives was filled with fun, laughter, and good food shared among friends. What could be better?


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Carleen
1. Name one person who made you smile today: I haven't seen anyone yet.

2. What were you doing at 8am this morning? It's just now 5am, so I haven't done anything yet.

3. What were you doing 45 minutes ago? Sleeping.

4. What is your favorite candy bar? Skor

5. Have you ever been to a strip club? No

6. What was the last thing you had to drink? Squirt

7. What was the last thing you ate? Chinese food at dinner last night

8. The last sporting event you watched? The last World Cup final game

9. Do you go to church every Sunday? I'm a Muslim, so I don't go to church at all

10. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza? Yes

11. What are you doing tomorrow? Finishing up the retirement paperwork to be prepared for a meeting on Tuesday

12. What do you think of when you hear Australia? Rick Springfield

13. Biggest annoyance right now? Answering questions before I've had my first cup of coffee

14. Last song listened to? "All I Ask of You" from Phantom of the Opera

15. Do you have a maid service clean your house? Not unless I put on a uniform

16. Are you jealous of anyone? Not that I can think of

17. Is anyone jealous of you? I hope not!

18. What do you usually do during the day? Work, nap, read

19. Do you hate anyone that you know right now? Hatred takes way too much energy; I just ignore people I dislike

20. Are you thinking about someone right now? Juan Valdez, the Colombian coffee dude


To see other entries or play along, visit here.

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Carleen
Way back in the day, I began this blog as way to distract myself from the daily ups and downs of living with a degenerative illness that sometimes knocks me soundly on my butt. It took some time, but it has now become a much enjoyed part of my daily routine -- except on the days when headaches and seizures plague me like they have for most of this week.

I have made a conscious decision to avoid life on the pity pot. In this regard, I am absolutely Stoic. We often associate a lack of emotion with the Stoics, but these guys were far from emotionless; they just chose to avoid emotionalism through the use of logic, reason, and reflection. Like the Stoics, I know that I have no control over Chiari or what it does to me; however, I do have control over how I deal with it. I can make a conscious decision to perch perpetually on the pity pot, or I can choose to plop on the pity pot only as needed and to work with what I have and who I am now to the best of my ability the rest of the time. I nearly always choose the latter.

This past week, however, has seriously tried my determination to avoid feeling sorry for myself. I've had the hurts-to-breathe headaches every single day since Sunday. Thankfully, the medication has helped to bring them under control fairly quickly; however, they are so debilitating that it's hard for me to clear my head of the fog they bring and to focus on tasks. Add seizures, which I had on Tuesday and Wednesday, to the mix, and I become a real mess, really quickly.

To deal with the down time, I've learned to write my meme posts way ahead of time whenever possible and to schedule them to go live on the appropriate days. This makes my blog look like all is peachy keen in my little world, even when I'm curled up in a fetal position on the couch trying desperately to make the world go away. Unfortunately, what I can't do is respond to comments from the couch. And that is the whole purpose behind this post.

Peeps, it's been a miserable week, and I haven't been able to respond with any regularity to your comments. I am truly sorry. I know how important comments are in the blogosphere, really I do, and I appreciate every single one that is left for me. Please don't think that I'm not grateful or that I am ignoring what you have to say; this is not the case. If I don't reply to comments, it's because I'm looking for the toilet paper while I sit on the pity pot or because I'm playing roly-poly on the couch and haven't found a way to uncurl myself and still breathe.

So, here's to the end of the week:





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Carleen
For the past year or two, I required my students to set up and maintain a blog as a way to interest them in the habit of writing regularly. They were instructed to establish an anonymous identity so that not even their classmates would know who they were unless they told; I was the only person who knew which blog was whose. I linked all of the student blogs to a main class blog, where I posted a discussion question to which they all had to respond on their own blogs and then comment on the responses of two of their classmates' posts. Some of them kept their blogs going after the class ended, and others started a whole new blog that had nothing to do with our class. Such is the case of Carrie, a student from the Spring '09 semester.

Carrie and her brother, John, are cycling around the North Sea this summer. When she told me about the adventure that they were about to embark on, I jokingly told Carrie that I hoped she would blog about it so that I could follow along with their progress. Much to my delight and surprise, Carrie told me that she had already set up a blog for that exact purpose, then she thanked me for teaching her how to set up and use this most amazing of online communication platforms.

Well on their way around the North Sea, Carrie and John have traversed Germany and are currently in Denmark. In her most recent post, Carrie relates that she and John have been interviewed for the local newspaper in the 5th Century Viking village where they are currently camping. I hope that some of my readers will pay a visit to Carrie's blog and follow the bicycle ride of a lifetime!

Cycling the North Sea with John and Carrie


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Carleen
Header from samulli
Click here to see other entries or to play along.

Since the time of summer vacations is rapidly approaching, I decided to take a virtual vacation by making a list, with pictures and learning links, of some of the Amazing Natural Wonders found in the United States. They aren't listed in any particular order, nor are they only Amazing Natural Wonders -- I could easily make another list of 13! I hope that you enjoy the trip!


1. The Grand Canyon
Location: Arizona
Learn more about it here.


2. Pike's
Peak
Location: Colorado
Learn more about "America's Mountain" here.



3. La Brea Tar Pits
Location: Los Angeles, California
Did you know that right in the middle of the city of Los Angeles is an area of black tar lakes? In prehistoric times, those lakes trapped and killed several animals like the woolly mammoth, the giant sloth, and the sabre-tooth tiger. Their skeletons were preserved in the tar, making it easy for scientists to put them back together and study them. I've been to this place at least a dozen times, and I'm amazed with each visit! Learn more about it here.



4. Yellowstone National Park
Location: Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho
Learn more about it here.



5. Death Valley
Location: California
Learn more about it here.
Learn more about the mysterious moving rocks here.



6. Everglades
Location: Florida
Learn more about it here.



7. Kilauea
Location: Hawaii
Learn more about it here.



8. Arches National Park
Location: Utah
Learn more about it here.



9. Atchafalaya Basin Swamp
Location: Louisiana
Learn more about it here.



10. Mt. McKinley
Location: Alaska
Learn more about it here.



11. Ruby Falls
Location: Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Learn more about it here.


12. Niagara Falls
Location: New York
Learn more about it here.



13. California Giant Redwood Forest
Location: California
Did you know that the Giant Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world or that a grove of about 135 of them, all measuring more than 350 feet (107 meters), is also home to 3 trees that measure higher than 370 feet (113 meters)?
Learn more about it here.

Did you enjoy the trip?




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Carleen

As long as people have been around, they have tried to communicate with each other. As a means of getting the message across as clearly as possible, idioms and sayings have found their way into our language. Now, because "a picture paints a thousand words", I thought it would be nice to make this a new photo challenge. The idea is to choose an idiom, or a saying, ( even slang is allowed) and illustrate it with a picture. Each week we'll co ver two letters of the alphabet, okay? To play along, click here.




In a pickle
When you find yourself in a pickle, you're in trouble.


Jack-of-all-trades
A jack-of-all-trades is someone who is capable of doing many different things.



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Carleen
My dad and me, 1959.

For more Wordless Wednesday entries, click here.

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Carleen

  • Sunday was the belated birthday celebration with the family. We had lunch at a really good Chinese restaurant, then cake and coffee at my house. I now have some new books to read (yeah!), new documentaries to watch, and a whole bunch of games to play on the computer.
  • Today is starting as a continuation of yesterday with The Brain acting all bossy and me trying to control it with Ibuprofen. If the Ibuprofen doesn't work before too long, I'll call in the big guns -- Cafergot -- because I can't spend another day befuddled, miserable, and glued to the couch. Besides, I've still got some essays to grade.
  • We don't see hummingbirds in the city very often, so it was thrilling for me when one flew to the jasmine the grows on our fence while I was out watering the yard earlier. It has been at least a year since the last time I saw one here. You'd think with all the grapes starting to take their shape that we'd have lots more birds than we do. They must be getting their food from someone else's yard. Note to self: take a picture of the grapevine!
  • Fourth Grade BFF Peggy made it safely back to Luxembourg. I don't feel quite so bad about not remembering to take pictures because she admitted to having her camera beside us the whole time, LOL! And people say it's me who has a problem with memory. . .
  • This morning's paper has an article about CALPERS, the California Public Employees Retirement System, the agency in charge of my retirement and pension. I already knew that I live in the wealthiest county in the state, but now the OC can add to its noteriety the fact that it's also home to the highest paid pensions in the state. I must have gotten into the system at the wrong time because I won't be able to join the $200,000 club or even the $100,000 club. Yes, folks, those are annual pension numbers!
Happy Tuesday, y'all!

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Carleen
Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service to our country. Although celebrated in several places before it became official, the first military celebration of Memorial Day was on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington Cemetary.

Did you know that Memorial Day actually began as a military edict meant to honor specifically the Civil War dead? New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873, and by 1890, all of the Northern states were on board. The Southern states wanted no part of a day honoring all the Civil War dead and opted to honor only the Confederate dead. The Southern states had no unifying date for this memorial, though, so for many years they remembered on various days from one state to another. After World War I, when Memorial Day became a time to honor all fallen soldiers and not just those from the Civil War, the Southern states acquiesced and once again joined the Union. Finally, in 1971, Memorial Day became a national holiday celebrated on the last Monday in May.

Sadly, not many Americans know the significance of Memorial Day, its rich history, or the traditions associated with it. What the average person knows is that Memorial Day is a 3-day weekend, a time for barbeques, camping, heading off to the beach, picnics, and general fun to kick off the summer. Instead of cleaning, maintaining, and placing flowers on the graves of America's fallen soldiers, the ones for whom this day was intended, we've turned a day of remembrance into the penultimate of selfish holidays.

Today, I want to honor the service of my family members. We've been really lucky in that, to the best of my knowledge, although plenty of the men have served, we haven't suffered a war casualty that I know of.


My parents met because my dad was in the Navy and stationed in California, where my mom's family had recently moved from New York. In fact, my dad and both of his brothers were all in the Navy at the same time but because of the law passed after the attack on Pearl Harbor, they were not allowed to serve on the same ship at the same time. The photo on the left shows the Willett boys in their uniforms. They are, from left to right and youngest to oldest, my dad, Bill, Uncle Jerry, and Uncle Ronnie (he's the uncle I wrote about on Blogging Against Disablism Day). I think my dad was 18 at the time. There are probably lots of other family members on my dad's side who served in the military and perhaps now that I am retired, I can start investigating that side of my family to see what long-lost information I can uncover.


My mom's family came to America in 1621. They settled in New York and Pennsylvania. I know more about the miliary service of this side of my family because of my fascination with the Civil War, thanks to my maternal Grandfather. Papa took a great deal of pride in the knowledge that his great grandfather's name is on the Pennsylvania monument in Gettysburg and nearly every time we went back East on vacation, he would take me there. The plaque with his name, William R. Van Cise, is on the right. If you click here, you can see the full plaque and my g-g-grandfather's name listed under Company D. As if this weren't cool enough, William and his 8 brothers earned a special honor, called the Most Notable Record, from the government because all 8 of them served simultaneously in the Union army. How cool is that? If I wanted to, I could be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution based on my maternal grandfather's ancestry:
John Cornelius Vancise was born in Holland, 1756. When about 8 years of age, his parents being dead, he and a brother were brought to America by friends. His early life was spent in the vicinity of Schoharie. Upon the breaking out of the Revolutionary war, he immediately joined the American army and served seven years in the struggle for Independence. He fought at Bunker Hill, Trenton, Princeton, Monmouth, crossed the Delaware with Washington and was present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown. At the battle of Monmouth he was badly wounded in the right leg below the knee. In his old age he enjoyed recounting his war experiences, always speaking of Washington with the greatest reverence. Mr. Vancise was a weaver by occupation, skilled in the art and wove many fancy articles. He married Deborah Murray, an Irish woman, and removed to Masonville, N.Y. They had six children, John, Simon, Samuel, Abraham, Peggy and Nancy. John and Simon were soldiers in the War of 1812. Samuel and Abraham settled in Sheshequin, where the father came also and spent his last days. As the result of his wounds, he lost nearly all use of his legs and went about on crutches. The government gave him a pension of $96 per year. He died Oct. 30, 1849, aged 93 years and his remains rest in the Sheshequin cemetery. In the Civil War, nine sons of Abraham and three sons of Samuel served the Union--the former being the most notable record in the county. (Source)

Next Memorial Day, instead of making it about picnics and potato salad, do some research and learn what we ought to be doing on this day. Volunteer to clean up the gravesite of a soldier in your town, or place some flowers on the grave of a soldier. Remember what they have done for you and your family.

P.S. I'm sorry if this post seems more disjointed than usual. It's been one of those days when The Brain has decided to let me know who's really in charge, and staying focused on anything has been challenging at best.


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Carleen
If you play along with this weekly meme then obviously you enjoy movies. But how do you watch them? Do you wait in line for the big premier at the theater? Do you savor trips to the local video store perusing the titles up and down the aisle? Or maybe you only watch them from home as they arrive in your mailbox, inbox, or on T.V. And maybe who you watch them with dictates how you watch them. Here's what I do - share your methods on your blog and link back to The Bumbles.

So, how do I watch movies?
  • DVD Collection: Since I like to see really good movies more than once, I've got a pretty good collection of DVDs. When I want to watch a movie or a documentary (that's what I watch most of the time), this is where I start. This is also where I go to get my "cleaning" movie -- the one that I put on to provide background noise and entertainment while I clean the house. It's a tradition that I started with my daughter when she was really young, so most of the time I choose an old animated Disney favorite like Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid.
  • At the Theater: I have sleeping issues, and a dark theater helps me to fall asleep fairly easily; therefore, seeing a movie at the theater is not a very common thing for me. I hate to pay $10 or more for a ticket just to fall asleep before the opening credits have finished! I do, however, go to the theater for the Harry Potter films; everything else has to wait until it's either on satellite or DVD.
  • Satellite: Hubby and I are basically homebodies, which means that we watch movies from the comfort of our couches most of the time. We've got 3 satellite dishes on our roof and between them, we have gazillions of channels, both American and international, from which to choose. It's much cheaper for us to pay the satellite bill than it would be for us to buy theater tickets for all of the movies we watch. Besides, the Amazing Egyptian Dude gets to watch Arabic movies from the satellites. I watch many of them with him, but the Dude gets so caught up in the movies that he often forgets to translate some of the more complex dialogue for me.

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Carleen
I decided to go international today and chose a really cute song and video from Egypt. Even if you don't understand the words, the music and kids in the video will hook you.

Without translating all the lyrics, the basic story of the song goes like this: a man calls his friend's house and when the son answers the phone, the man asks, "Where's your dad" (Baba fein in Arabic). The little boy responds, "My dad is here, right here. Who is speaking? Tell me who I'm talking to" (Baba henna, henna ho. Olu meen? A oulu mene kalemu.). The man tells the boy that it is Amu (uncle, a title of respect given to elders who may or may not be a blood uncle). The boy responds with, "Uncle who?" and begins a conversation. Instead of getting his father to take the call, the boy passes the phone off to his sister who introduces herself first with her name, then as the sister of the boy who answered the phone, and finally, as the daughter of the man the caller wants to speak with. The poor man grows increasingly frustrated and asks the girl where her father is only to have the same sequence of events with the boy repeated with the girl. The girl passes off the phone to her brother' friend, and the whole thing starts all over again. In the end, the poor caller just gives up.






For more Music Monday entries, click here. To see the Musical Monday entries, visit here.

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Carleen
A
• Are you available? For a job interview?
• What is your age? 50
• What annoys you? People who ask too many questions.

B
• Do you know anyone named Billy? My dad
• When is your birthday? May 19
• Who is your best friend? the Amazing Egyptian Dude

C
• What's your favorite candy? Gummy Bears
• Crush? Pineapple, in a bottle not a can
• When was the last time you cried? A couple of days ago

D
• Do you daydream? Doesn't everyone?
• What's your favorite kind of dog? I'm a cat person, but I think the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is cute.
• What day of the week is it? I hope it's Sunday, because this is the Sunday Stealing meme!

E
• How do you like your eggs? Scrambled
• Have you ever been in the emergency room? I used to own the ER
• Ever pet an elephant? Elephants don't have enough hair to pet.

F
• Do you use fly swatters? No -- wooden spoons are more effective
• Have you ever used a foghorn? I've been told that I sound like one.
• Is there a fan in your room? Other than the Amazing Egyptian Dude, you mean? Yes.

G
• Do you chew gum? Sometimes
• Do you like gummy candies? See the letter C
• Do you like gory movies? No

H
• How are you? Ask me again when I've finished my first cup of coffee.
• What's your height? Short, really short
• What color is your hair? I don't remember the name on the box of dye.

I
• What's your favorite ice cream? Rite-Aid's brand of Butter Pecan
• Have you ever ice skated? On purpose, you mean?
• Ever been in an igloo? No, but I've never been in a Coleman, either.

J
• What's your favorite Jelly Bean? Jelly Belly Pina Colada
• Have you ever heard a really hilarious joke? Yep
• Do you wear jewelry? My wedding ring

K
• Who do you want to kill? Is this a trick question?
• Have you ever flown a kite? Yes, while singing the song from Mary Poppins!
• Do you think kangaroos are cute? Interesting, but not cute.

L
• Are you laid back? Most of the time
• Lions or Tigers? or Bears, oh my!
• Do you like black licorice? Yes

M
• Favorite movie as a kid? The Three Lives of Thomasina
• Ever shopped at Moosejaw? No. Have you ever shopped at Deerknee?
• Favorite store at the mall? I don't do malls.


N
• Do you have a nickname? A couple
• Whats your favorite number? 4
• Do you prefer night or day? Very early morning, when it's still technically night but will be day in a couple of hours.

O
• What's your one wish? That I will get my grading done and grades turned in by Tuesday.
• Are you an only child? No, but I am the oldest.
• Do you like the color orange? For safety vests.

P
• What are you most paranoid about? People who are paranoid.
• Piercings? Ears
• Do you know anyone named Penelope? Only Odysseus' wife.

Q
• Are you quick to judge people? To judge, no; to assess or size-up, sometimes.
• Do you like Quaker Oats? Yes
• Know anyone that makes quilts? Yes
• Do you think you're always right? Are you implying that I'm not?!
• Do you watch reality TV? Unashamedly, YES
• Reason to cry? Hallmark commercials

S
• Do you prefer sun or rain? Rain
• Do you like snow? As long as I don't have to live in it.
• What's your favorite season? Autumn

T
• time is it? 5:35 AM
• What time did you wake up? 4:15 AM

U
• Can you ride a unicycle? Yes
• Do you know anyone with a unibrow? Yes
• Uncles do you have? Still living, 1 uncle and 1 great uncle

V
• What’s the worst vegetable? Brussels sprouts
• Did you ever watch Veggie Tales? No
• Ever considered being vegan? Not even!

W
• What's your worst habit? Refusing to discuss my bad habits.
• Do you like water rides? No
• Ever been inside a windmill? No

X
• Have you ever had an x-ray? So many that I'm almost radioactive.
• Ever used a Xerox machine? Yes

Y
• Do you like the color yellow? Yes
• What year were you born in? 1959
• Do you yell when you're angry? No

Z
• Do you believe in the zodiac? No; it's astronomically off because the galaxy orbits, too, and is in a different position now than it was when the whole zodiac thing was mapped out.
• What's your zodiac sign? Taurus
• When was the last time you went to the zoo? About 20 years ago.


To see other entries or play along, visit here.

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Carleen

Thom, a very friendly blogger whose reponses to comments absolutely amaze me, has honored me with a friendship award! Thank you, Thom! I'd love to be able to call you friend in Hawaiian, but since I am challenged in the language of the Islands, Arabic will have to do: Shukran, sahbi!


The following rules came with this prize: These blogs are exceedingly charming.These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends.They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

Please check out these amazing bloggers with whom I would like to pass along the Friends Award:

Rosidah at Music of My Life
The Goldfish at Diary of a Goldfish
OSM at One Sick Mother
Dave at Chewing the Fat

These blogs are all part of my daily reading list, and I can't recommend them highly enough to all of my readers. And thanks again to Thom for honoring me.



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Carleen

Hootin'-Anni, who has an amazing (and very funny) blog that y'all should visit, tagged me! Whoohoo -- this is my first ever tag, so I must have finally made it in the blogosphere. I feel so special! Now just keep your fingers crossed that I do this correctly...

Here's how this works. I mention the person who tagged me -- see above. Then I list 6 unimportant things that make me happy. When I'm done with that, I tag 6 more bloggers. So let's see how I do!

6 Unimportant Things that Make Me Happy
  1. Getting my first cup of coffee before the whole pot has finished brewing.
  2. Watering the lawn.
  3. Eating some Black Forest Gummy Bears.
  4. Hearing Maggie, Queen of the World, meowing for me as soon as I open my car door and finding her waiting for me in the entry when I get inside the house. (That's a picture of Maggie when she was 13 weeks old ; she will be 7 in December. Isn't she a cutie?)
  5. Smelling our orange tree when it is in full bloom.
  6. Pomegranate and Mango scented body wash.

Now, I get to tag 6 people:

  1. Dad (mine)
  2. Iman (my daughter)
  3. Sherlock
  4. Flaredblond (my cousin)
  5. One Sick Mother
  6. Shauna


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Carleen
It's a quarter past 3 in the morning, and my first day as a retiree has begun. Honestly, I thought that I would feel far more celebratory than I do. But as I sip my first cup of the coffee for the day and recall the last class of my teaching career, I don't feel like celebrating nearly as much as I feel like crying.

Last night, my students honored me with the gorgeous bouquet in the photo on the left. And as they wrote their exams, the fragrance from the flowers floated around my desk as a macabre reminder that I was attending the funeral of my teaching career. Before I could model one of my favorite literary characters, Anne of Green Gables, and slip into the "depths of despair," I read the messages in the cards that lined my desk:
"Thank you for everything. From day one I thought you were an amazing person we could all learn from. Continue to be amazing!"
"I have loved your class. I want to be just like you when I grow up. Thanks for everything."
"Thanks so much for all of your knowledge you shared with us. My writing has improved drastically, and I am so much more aware of my bad habits. I love writing, so what I learned here will stay with me forever. You are awesome, and I will miss you so much!"
As the exams came in one by one and students began to leave, I couldn't help but feel a profound sense of loss. The excitement of having plenty of free time to pursue things that had been collecting dust in the vault of The Brain turned into the realization that those pursuits all had something to do with teaching and learning! My life, and nearly everything in it, is inextricably linked somehow to education. I am the quintessential geek and wear the badge with honor. I am what I hope I've influenced my students to become -- a lifelong learner.

Among the beautifully wrapped gifts on my desk last night was a package that made me think of a CD or DVD based on its shape. When the class had dwindled down to just four students hastily scribbling in their test books, I began to pack up my things. I picked up the package to put it in my bag but was interrupted by the student who had given it. She asked me to open the gift before we left. As I peeled away the paper, something green came into view. "Green is the color of hope," I thought to myself as I recalled how I had revealed last week that my laptop is green and that I use a color coordinated mouse. Much to my surprise and delight, the package contained the hand-painted sign in the image to the right. "Green is the color of hope," my student reiterated as if she had read my mind.

This simple sign is yet another example of why I love teaching. Midway through the semester, my students had the assignment to analyze a picture book that deals with a controversial topic such as death, adoption, divorce, gay marriage, AIDS, etc. To prepare them for the essay that they would write, I had my students bring to class the book they wanted to work with for an analysis activity using the illustrations. We talked about color symbolism and how the use of color evokes emotion. I wrote several colors on the board -- white, red, black, green, blue -- and we listed the feelings associated with them: white is the color of innocence, purity, goodness, and ignorance; red is the color of love, anger, rage, and wickedness; black is the color of death, evil, and villany; green is the color of greed, jealousy, progress, and hope. In terms of symbolic meanings, especially in medieval literature, green is the color of hope, the promise of things to come like the first green bud poking its head through the frozen mantle. Yes, green is the color of hope. In this case, though, it is the color of hope realized because my student remembered and had found a way to apply her knowledge in the real world. What more could an educator want?

Although I have no more classes to teach or exams to give, my connection to teaching hasn't ended just yet; I still have grading to finish and final grades to calculate and post. When the grading is done, I will close the door on my years of teaching at California State University, Fullerton. It will be over.

Elvis Presley




Though I may flounder as I try to reshape myself in an non-academic setting, I need only remember my own lesson to become a successful retiree:

Green is the color of hope.



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