Cowboys and Pears

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I have been writing something about this black trucker/cowboy from around here for oh, say about 10 years. I got my stuff together last year and did quite a bit of research, talking to people and such. This fall I put together a couple of pages, including an excellent opening paragraph.

When I write it is like putting together a puzzle. I get the pieces down in writing, sometimes they are sentences or phrases or maybe just ideas, then I move them around to see where each fits best. Then I looked at this and thought to myself, “This is not a story, it is a report, and a boring one at that.” Arrgh. I had Mom look at it, and I think I know how to put things together, I just wish I had more to work with.

Ed (the rodeo guy) gave me a huge list of people I should ask, so I spent the last hour and a half calling people and getting very little information. I did get a couple interesting stories about my dad… one of the side effects of living in your hometown. Note to self: If you are planning to do primary research on a person, start before they have been dead 20 years. If Sharyn McCrumb can write The Rosewood Coffin while she is in grad school and has a job and two or three babies, you had no excuse. None.

I do have a couple of good leads, if they will only call me back. Heck, the guy at the funeral home told me he could tell me stories about him. That is my project tomorrow morning. Call these people. Then Monday work on getting my puzzle pieces all right side up and organized by color and border etc.

Is there anything better than pears with blue cheese? My kids even eat the stuff, and this was real blue cheese not just dressing!

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The test of an education

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I feel a rant coming on. I am frustrated with the local
attitude towards education. We had an entire class of 20 students come to the
library yesterday. Their school no longer allows them to have field trips so
they walked to the library and spent an hour. No more field trips? Seriously?
It is a crime! They didn’t want a tour, they just wanted to get out of the
classroom for a little while. When I was a kid in the dark ages of education we
went to the local potato chip factory, McDonalds, the radio and TV stations and
the gravesite of Rebecca Winters (extra credit if you know who she is) as well
as our local national monument, the place somebody signed an Indian treaty
which they probably broke right away and down to the canal to catch frogs. We
also went a museum to watch some high school boys build a sod house. This is
what I remember off the top of my head after 30 years.

From these field trips I learned about how a production line
works, that McDonalds has a creepy basement, that a blind man can be a DJ on
the radio and how he used Braille, how a green screen works, that the family of
a woman who died on the Mormon Trail cared enough to use a precious piece of
iron to mark her grave, that our local monument is eroding every year, that
wars were fought right in our back yard and that you can catch and dissect your
own frogs without having to buy them from a warehouse somewhere. We also
learned that you can catch 8 male frogs and one female frog even though the
odds of that are slim and that sod is darn heavy.

 

And we want to deprive our children of this? It is what
makes school fun. It is like those overnight conferences I used to complain
about a little but I really loved because I got to network with other people
who were tackling the same problems I was at work. I came back refreshed and
energized.

 

It is the difference between applying knowledge and being
tested about knowledge. You can’t learn about nature by reading. Not really. I
know this from a college field trip. We took field trips in most of my college
classes and nearly once a week in some classes. We stepped out of the van onto
a high mountain meadow and the prof asked us if the area had been grazed
recently. I looked around and decided yes. I watched my classmates investigate
grass length and laughed as they tip-toed around fresh cow pies to do so. What
was obvious to me from my experience with nature was completely beyond them.
You won’t read about that in a book folks, not even The Principles of Range
Management
(which was an excellent text by the way).

 

This is why kids hate school. It becomes boring. Grade
schoolers especially need field trips every bit as much as they need recess and
lunch, just maybe not as often. That test isn’t going to get them anywhere in
life. It will not bring light to any subject, it will not make them think about
what they can be when they grow up, it will not give them any practical
applications of their knowledge, it will not incite compassion for others, it
will not help them understand that fresh cow poop comes from freshly grazed
grass.

I have not noticed a field trip scheduled for my daughters
this year. I am going to quiz their teachers about this. And I am gonna raise
hell if there isn’t one planned. Then I am gonna think about the school board,
because they cut teachers in the middle school and are now unable to offer HAL
classes. And I think I have at least two or three of those coming up. I
probably should also quit using the word gonna, but I like it for emphasis. I
also like ain’t for what that is worth, and I ain’t gonna stand for this.

 

In other exciting news, I typed this in Word then cut and pasted it. I cannot change the font size and for some reason it took my soft returns as hard returns. I am not gonna fight with it, but I have lost too many blogs because Xanga ate them before I got them posted. I am not sure what the answer is unless it is Blogspot or something like that. I am currently an unsatisfied customer.

Tulips

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I love spring flowers. My garden was full of tulips and daffodils and hyacinths. I did not take the time to dig them up when I took off in August. Grandma raised beautiful roses and I have maybe 20 or more rose bushes around the house including a lovely yellow climbing rose I intend to encourage next summer by killing the vine that had nearly choked it out last summer. She used to have raspberries and pussywillows too. They are long gone, but I would like to replace them. Does anyone grow pussywillows anymore? I am hoping to find some bulbs pushing up in the next few weeks. I can’t really spend much money on flowers. She does have a nice-sized small garden I am excited to play in this spring. I have visions of beans and tomatoes dancing in my head.

I survived the date with the guy who wanted to watch TGWTDT. It was actually fun, and he brought me….yellow tulips! We have plans to watch TGWPWF next. I mean read the movie, not watch it.