Thursday, September 27, 2007

Get those outdoor posts to Julie!

The October edition of Learning in the Great Outdoors, the Carnival of Environmental Education, is just a few days away! Our guest host for October is Julie Dunlap at Pines Above Snow. Have you written a nature-related post? Have you found a website useful for teaching about the environment? Have you got a nomination for a Children's Virtual Outdoors Site of the Month. Please make a submission and get your submissions in soon! Submit your blog article to the October edition by using our carnival submission form or send it directly to Julie at juliedunlap[at]excite[dot]com

Thanks to Julie at Pines Above Snow, for hosting the October edition. Learning in the Great Outdoors will be back home here on the Limb for November. If you would like to host a future edition of the carnival please let me know! Send a note to Terrell at thelimb[at]mac[dot]com

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Poetry Stretch: Bouts-Rimés 2

Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect asks us to write a poem every Monday, using a form that she chooses. This week she has provided a short list of rhyming words. Your job, should you accept the challenge, is to write a poem using the given end rhymes in the order given.

Here are the rhymes:
hour, tower, thought, fought, hand, grand, teem, dream
For me this poem stubbornly refused to smile. I don't know why. I feel pretty good.


I climbed the trail for a solid hour,
then up the ladder of the old fire tower.
Strange that tears should come, I thought.
Damned despair and wild wonder fought.
I shaded my eyes with a lifted hand,
Weeping and laughing at a sight so grand -
A clinging leaf among billions that teem
and drift through this autumn dream.
- Terrell Shaw

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday Concert: Autumn Leaves

Today is the fall equinox - autumn has begun. The late Eva Cassidy is one of my favorite singers. She managed to take classic songs and make them her own. Who would think someone could sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and have the audience hear it as something fresh and new. Hers is not Judy Garland's. And "Autumn Leaves" - in her mournful, crystal clear voice - is definitely all her own.

What a pity that this beautiful voice was stilled so soon by cancer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Midweek Classic - 2/06: Why I am a Democrat

This is my first Midweek Classic Post. Mid-week is a tough time to come up with a post -- and keep my job. And I'd like to have a chance to repost a few of my early posts that got even less readership than current posts. So how about a rerun.

This was first posted on St. Valentine's Day in 2006.
It still applies.

Still Democratic After All These Years

My party is held in a big tent with no burly security guards at the flap. I am a Democrat because my party looks like America. It is not crowded with one race, ethnic group, religion, etc. You don't need an expensive ticket to get in. Everyone's invited. There are some there I won't ask to dance. There are some who are a little too wild for my tastes. There are some who dance with Democrats but, you can tell, are really just slumming: they'll sip champagne with the fat cats next week. There are some who begin as the life of the party but end up hogging the hors d'oeuvres or even robbing the cloakroom... er, the table in the corner piled with coats and purses. But I find the revelers here, in general, more congenial to my beliefs and inclinations than those corvorting at the country clubs. And ours are much better dancers.

Admittedly, I have some negative reasons for my party choice. I am a Democrat because I believe there are, among the other guys, more politicians who are rotten guys. McCarthy, Atwater, Schlafly, Limbaugh, Nixon, Agnew, Bush, Cheney, Starr, Rove, Ashcroft, Coulter, Robertson, Chambliss, Delay, Falwell. Those who look to the worst in human nature. Those who are greedy and arrogant. Those who see themselves as intellectually superior and therefore more deserving. Those who think that those worse off than themselves are deservedly so. Those who are dismissive of, unconcerned for, arrogant toward people of lesser wealth, lesser ability, lesser intelligence. Those who have little or no respect for honest laborers. Those who trust the free enterprise system to cure all ills. Those who demand self-sufficiency from the poor but welcome government perks themselves. There are, of course, many at the other party who do not fit those negative stereotypes.

My choice is primarily a positive one, though. I am a Democrat because I believe my party has, over the the years, most closely supported my political ideals: civil rights and equality of rights, collective stewardship of the environment, strong public schools, separation of church and state, a role for the government in promoting the general welfare of all its citizens, a strong, sensible, diplomatic foreign policy.

I am a Democrat because, as I review my life, I find that my votes have proven right much more often than not. My party adopted the civil rights movement that is accepted as the correct position by almost everyone now, even some who fought it tooth and nail 40 years ago. It was primarily members of my party who led opposition to the Vietnam war and virtually all Americans eventually came to see that war as the mistake that it was. Democrats saw Richard Nixon for the fraud he was when he was the darling of the Republicans. My party opposed Ronald Reagan’s economic policies and those policies nearly bankrupted our nation. Many in my party told America that George W. Bush was the blustering little bully he has turned out to be. They told America his policies would divide us, derail our economy, lose us our allies, and make the world a more dangerous place. They were right.

I am a Democrat because I revere so many of our party leaders of the past and present: Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J.Q. Adams, Jackson (blemished though he was), Cleveland, Wilson (warts and all), FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, Truman, Stevenson, Marshall,
Humphrey, JFK, LBJ, (despite Vietnam)
Russell (warts and all),
Ellis Arnall,
Charles Weltner, Fulbright, Scoop Jackson, Robert Byrd, John Lewis, RFK,
McGovern, Nunn, Carter,
Andrew Young, Christopher, Mondale,
Wyche Fowler, Kerry,
Al Gore, Bill Clinton (warts and all),
Hillary Clinton, Allbright,
John Edwards,
Obama, Warner,
Bayh, Bo Ginn
(despite the mistakes of his last years),
Rockefeller, Cleland,
Buddy Childers,
Mildred Greear...

Not that our Democratic heroes don’t have faults. We have our share of charlatans and lechers. But in general I prefer our flaws to those of the opposition. I recognized Bill Clinton as the blemished genius he is. I was not surprised that he disappointed us in his personal life (he is a member of the sexually undisciplined baby boom), but his public decisions and appointments were right on target. It seems that, in our history, those who make the most show of public piety often turn out to be rats, while those who acknowledge their sinful natures often have the most saintly public records. I’ll take Cleveland over Blaine. And I’ll take the lustful Clinton over the surface piety of Bush any day.

It seems to me that our forefathers understood that it is perfectly legitimate for us to covenant together as a society to do things for the common welfare. My party understands that. These days it is in our interest as a nation for all our citizens have good opportunities for education and good medical care. We need to have opera, art, folk music, storytelling, serious and civilized radio and TV discussion: none of which will survive a “free-market” that prefers sentimental, or sexy, or “reality”, or flamboyant programming. It is important to have a reasonably intact passenger rail capability, even if the market won’t support it in the short term. It is in our national interest that big business be regulated; that laborers receive a fair wage; that the difference between the rich and the poor not be so extreme that it foments hatred and revolution. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet deserve to make good profits from their hard work, and smart investments and should not be so severely taxed that they do not want to keep building the economy; but no one “deserves” the money those guys make as long as poverty exists in the world. A progressive tax is NOT unfair to those of us in the top twenty percent of the household income scale. We are incredibly fortunate to have been born with the brains, energy, health, sanity, emotional stability, connections, and luck to have climbed over more than 80% of the population.

I chose my party carefully and I have never been sorry for the choice. The choice has never been clearer. It is the right one for me. I am clearly, proudly, plainly, undeniably, comfortably, to my yellow-dog marrow, a Democrat.


I would argue that most, if not all, the views I have expressed are majority opinions in the United States. On the Liberal Quotient scale, I couldn't be more than one standard deviation above the norm. Maybe a 115 L.Q. or so. (I realize that there are those among my readers who would prefer to express this as 85 C.Q.) Therefore I will continue to lay claim to the label of moderate. I have liberal friends whom I admire, and there is no disgrace in that label, but I don’t think I qualify for it. But I’ll save that discussion for another post. By the way, here is the thesaurus's take on "liberal". So if liberal is the label you, dear reader, want me to don, I'll wear it with pride.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Wealth of Candidates

Have we ever had such a wealth of candidates for President in the Democratic party?

I am honestly disappointed to think of any one of these candidates bowing out. I would be thrilled and honored to campaign for any one of them. They are all brilliant thinkers and high-minded, principled statemen. They each seem to have a comfort in him/herself. Each has dealt day in and day out with the issues as a member of the Senate. There seems nothing in these guys of the bluster and bullying that mark lesser lights like Bush or Nixon.

Of course, as senators, they have long voting records that can be picked, parsed, and pummeled by Republican slimers. We rarely elect senators as President and maybe that's why. Every senator who has voted to approve a final budget has made major compromises and can be shown to have voted for something outrageous.

Somehow, I think each of these guys is more ready for the Swiftboaters than were Dukakis and Kerry.

And I think each of these will heed Sen. Jim Webb's Iraq advice:
"We got into this war recklessly, we need to get out of it carefully"

Joe Biden
- has a strong foreign policy background and a realistic plan for Iraq.

Hillary Clinton
- worked side by side with Bill Clinton in the White House for eight years and she would be an inspiring role model for little girls in our country.

Chris Dodd
- like Biden, has strong foreign policy credentials and real experience

John Edwards
- has fire in the belly, eloquence, comfort in his own skin --just a dynamic leader

Barack Obama
- exudes charisma, self-assurance, reasonableness, eloquence, and what a potential for inspiring minorities in our country.

I may vote for the last one I hear before I enter the booth early in 2008. Can you imagine America passing on any one of these candidates for a Guiliani or Thompson or Romney?

I'll be interested to hear how some of my fellow Democrats rank the candidates three months away from the first caucus.

Sunday Concert: Time turns the pages - life goes so fast

After he was a vaudevillian, after he was a stand-up comedian, after he was Gracie's straightman on radio, and then on TV, after Gracie was gone, after he was a serious actor, after he was "God", George Burns took up another career: singer.

During the last 15 years of his remarkable life, George Burns added yet another career: Professional Spry Old Guy.

I actually enjoyed hearing George Burns sing. I remember my daddy enjoying George and Gracie on TV.

I Wish I Was Eighteen Again

At a bar down in Dallas

An old man chimed in
And they thought he was out of his head
And all being young men
They just laughed it off
When they heard what this old man said

He said I'll never again
Turn the young ladies' heads
Or go running off into the wind
I'm three quarters home
From the start to the end
And I wish I was eighteen again

Oh I wish I was eighteen again
And going where I've never been
Now old folks and old oaks
Standing tall, just pretend
I wish I was eighteen again

Time turns the pages
And life goes so fast
The years turn the dark hair all grey
I talk to some young folks
But they don't understand
The words this old man's got to say

Oh I wish I was eighteen again
And going where I've never been
Now old folks and old oaks
Standing tall, just pretend
I wish I was eightee-een again
Oh I wish I was eighteen again...
by Ray Price

Maybe it is my recent visits with Wint Barton, another unbowed nonagenarian, that turned my thoughts to George Burns.

Here are a few George Burns quotes. (There are more here.)

Acting is all about honesty. If you can fake that, you've got it made.

Age to me means nothing. I can't get old; I'm working. I was old when I was twenty-one and out of work. As long as you're working, you stay young. When I'm in front of an audience, all that love and vitality sweeps over me and I forget my age.

I was always taught to respect my elders and I've now reached the age when I don't have anybody to respect.

I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.

If you live to be one hundred, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age.

Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five I still had pimples.

[ And finally one for the new Associate Pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church, Rome, Georgia -- remember this, Jim!]

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible.
-George Burns (1896-1996)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Check Out the Carnivals

I haven't done a promotion for favorite carnivals lately. Shame on me. So I've added links to several great carnivals to the sidebar. Look to the right and all the way down to find links to these guys day in and day out. In the meantime here they are right here -- leading off with my very favorite of course:

  • Learning in the Great Outdoors
  • All things related to environmental education.

  • Carnival of Children's Literature
  • Anything to do with books for the kids (and us!)

  • I and the Bird
  • Birds, birds, birds!

  • Oekologie
  • The lowdown of environmental science.

  • The Boneyard
  • PaleoPosts from all over. Do you dig dinosaurs?

  • The Georgia Carnival
  • Anything and everything apropos the Empire State of the South.

  • Carnival of Education
  • The weekly digest of the edublogs.

  • Festival of the Trees
  • Arboreal posts from around the blogosphere.

  • Garden Fest
  • A carnival for home gardeners.

  • Tangled Bank
  • A weekly science carnival.

  • Field Day
  • A carnival of nature study.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Monday Poetry Stretch: Pantoum

    Tricia at the Miss Rumphius Effect has given us a challenge this week: Write a "pantoum". To get the lowdown on pantouns check out Tricia's post. Then write your own and join the fun!

    The Cliff Swallow

    He dips and dives and soars and swings
    from bank to bank and bridge to stream.
    He stops to dip his muddy beak
    and sculpt from mud his cozy home.

    From bank to bank and bridge to stream
    he snaps his food and dips again,
    and sculpts from mud his cozy home
    up high and sheer on concrete face.

    He snaps up food and dips again.
    A hundred hundred times or more
    up high and sheer on concrete face,
    he dabs the mud and flies again.

    A hundred hundred times or more
    he stops to dip his muddy beak,
    and dabs the mud and flies again,
    to dip and dive and soar and swing.
    by Terrell Shaw

    I have written before about our cliff swallows.

    Monday, September 10, 2007

    PTSW: The Spider and the Fly

    Beware the flatterers, younguns!!

    A didactic poem...

    The Spider and the Fly

    "Will you walk into my parlor?" said the spider to the fly;
    "'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you may spy.
    The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
    And I have many curious things to show when you are there."
    "Oh no, no," said the little fly; "to ask me is in vain,
    For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."
    "I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high.
    Well you rest upon my little bed?" said the spider to the fly.
    "There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
    And if you like to rest a while, I'll snugly tuck you in!"
    "Oh no, no," said the little fly, "for I've often heard it said,
    They never, never wake again who sleep upon your bed!"

    Said the cunning spider to the fly: "Dear friend, what can I do
    To prove the warm affection I've always felt for you?
    I have within my pantry good store of all that's nice;
    I'm sure you're very welcome - will you please to take a slice?
    "Oh no, no," said the little fly; "kind sir, that cannot be:
    I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!"

    "Sweet creature!" said the spider, "you're witty and you're wise;
    How handsome are your gauzy wings; how brilliant are your eyes!
    I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf;
    If you'd step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."
    "I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "for what you're pleased to say,
    And, bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day."

    The spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
    For well he knew the silly fly would soon come back again:
    So he wove a subtle web in a little corner sly,
    And set his table ready to dine upon the fly;
    Then came out to his door again and merrily did sing:
    "Come hither, hither, pretty fly, with pearl and silver wing;
    Your robes are green and purple; there's a crest upon your head;
    Your eyes are like diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!"

    Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little fly,
    Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
    With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer grew,
    Thinking only of her brilliant eyes and green and purple hue,
    Thinking only of her crested head. Poor, foolish thing! at last
    Up jumped the cunning spider, and fiercely held her fast;
    He dragged her up his winding stair, into the dismal den -
    Within his little parlor - but she ne'er came out again!

    And now, dear little children, who may this story read,
    To idle, silly flattering words I pray you ne'er give heed;
    Unto an evil counselor close heart and ear and eye,
    And take a lesson from this tale of the spider and the fly.
    - Mary Howitt

    Sunday, September 09, 2007

    Learning in the Great Outdoors - September 2007

    School is off and running here in Armuchee, Georgia. The triple-digit heat wave has finally broken. It feels downright cool in the nineties and eighties. And our nature study project has officially kicked off with a Rivers Alive! clean-up of our woods, stream, and campus. So it's time for the Back-To-School Edition of Learning in the Great Outdoors, the Carnival of Environmental Education.

    Welcome Back to School the Great Outdoors!

    The September 2007 edition of
    Learning in the Great Outdoors
    The Carnival of Environmental Education

    Back to the Library
    Find a tree for shade, an apple for a snack, and a good book...

    Tricia of The Miss Rumphius Effect has a group of books on animal migration to recommend and even a group of poems on the topic, including this acrostic of her own:
    Flapping, flying, flitting
    nite! Blanketing vast landscapes
    housands swoop and swarm
    raveling southward
    ngaged in the migration dance
    eplaying the cycle of life
    - Tricia Stohr-Hunt

    Barb is Sketching in Nature at The Heart of Harmony. Well, she reviews the book, anyway. She says it is a "Great book for help with your nature journal"

    Julie Dunlap wonders What's More Fun than a Free Book? at Pines Above Snow. She says, "What better way to start the new school year than contributing to a nonprofit organization that sends free books to need children? And strike a blow for environmental literacy by donating favorite "green" titles whenever you can."

    Back to the Classroom

    Stephanie decorates with Wild carrot blossums -- Queen Anne's Lace. Read about it at Stop the Ride!

    Barb asks Do you Know Your State Insect? at The Heart of Harmony. This is a lesson on the

    Your host invited a 95-year-old native of the school community to talk with his classes and learned a bit about the connection of people to the environment 85 years ago.

    Silvia has posted Monarchs at Po Moyemu--In My Opinion. She has been busy raising Monarch caterpillars inside and includes some links to other resources.
    Speaking of butterflies, Terrell at Aloneonalimb plans to participate with his students in a University of Georgia study of Monarch parasites this year. Check that out at the Monarch Butterfly Parasites Web Page.

    Karen Bastille declares I Know That Tree! at At Home With Grandmother Wren.
    Grandmother Wren suggests a hands-on lesson, introducing children to individual trees.

    And there are the obligatory classroom reports on "What I Did this Summer" ---

    By Sun and Candlelight has gotten back from the beach with some good shots of the shoreline habitat.

    Cloudscome at Sandy Cove Trail has also been off to the shore.

    Cool Virtual Outdoors Children's Website Award: Each time I host this carnival I try to hunt up a great kid friendly website related to the outdoors. I invite guest hosts to choose such an award as well. The only requirement is that the host think the site will be interesting to students. The first designee in July was EEK!

    This month the award goes to a personal favorite. Frank and Victoria Logue and their little daughter, Griffin, were our neighbors for several years. Frank taught me what little I know about HTML. He and Victoria are wonderful writers with a number of books about the out of doors. Frank helped Griffin set up a web page about animals when she was only five. It has grown into an award winning little endeavor and now has one more award to its credit. Griffin is now a beautiful young woman. She probably doesn't put a lot of time into her Wild Animal Page these days. But it is an excellent example of what one talented little girl can do with the internet.

    Back to the School Garden...
    Christine Gowen presents DIY Bug Catchers, Nets and Boxes posted at The Crafty Teacher.
    (Your host likes those clear, hard plastic, parmesan cheese containers for temporary bug barns. Put a little panty hose or mesh over the shaker holes and you're in business.)

    Back to the Nature Trail...
    Your host and his class had a bit of a Surprise on a Watershed Walk posted at Alone on a Limb. He also has enjoyed playing with the macro feature on a new camera and has captured some super close-ups in the outdoors recently.

    So there's a little birdlet peeping for its Mom at the base of the hawthorn. What should you do? Mike Bergin presents Handling Birds: Yea or Nay? posted at 10,000 Birds, saying, "Is it OK to handle baby birds in need of help? Yes!"

    Back on the Magic School Bus...
    Speaking of birds, Hop aboard the Magic School bus and take a field trip with the Bird Study Ecology Group in Singapore. Tricia introduced us to it last month. It's a great resource for gorgeous nature pics.

    Dana at Southern Gal Goes North gives a photo tour of Roaring Fork Nature Trail.

    Jim at Decorabilia has posted pics of the Woodard Bay nature trail.

    Check out the most recent updates on the River Ribble in the old country.

    Back to the In-service Meetings...
    Dana at Backyard Birding wonders Who Should Pay for Conservatiom Efforts? Perhaps this would be a good debate question for a middle or high school group.

    Kevin Bedell suggests a simple step you can take toward living green Eat more locally grown food posted at 21st Century Citizen.

    Nature Moms smell fall in the air and give lots of tips for greening the home, including your finances.

    In the weird zoology department check out this story in the New York Times:
    Most spiders are solitary creatures. So the discovery of a vast web crawling with millions of spiders that is spreading across several acres of a North Texas park is causing a stir among scientists, and park visitors. (read more)
    -from the New York Times
    Kevin Bedell presents Steve Loo is Changing the World posted at 21st Century Citizen.

    Check out some of the other outdoors oriented Blog Carnivals:
    Festival of the Trees
    I and the Bird
    Circus of the Spineless
    Carnival of the Green

    There's the bell. School's out. LIGO will be back here on the Limb in November. If you are interested in taking a turn at hosting Learning in the Great Outdoors please drop me a note at thelimb[at]mac[dot]com. In the meantime Julie Dunlap at Pines Above Snow will host the October edition. Julie would "love to be hiking through a pine forest right now" but she also finds time to do some excellent writing, mostly on environmental issues. Please support her with lots of submissions this month. Submit your blog article to the next edition of
    Learning in the Great Outdoors
    using our
    carnival submission form.
    Past posts and future hosts can be found on our
    blog carnival index page

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    (Monarch butterfly photos copyright 2005 by Terrell Shaw)

    Sunday Seven: Blessed Coworkers

    Today I celebrate those who do their part!

    Yesterday a bunch of my coworkers gave up their Saturday morning to get dirty and sweaty and itchy to help kick off our Big Project with a campus clean up. Here's to..

    1. Stacy who organized the clean-up, hauled the cases and cases of water (donated by her husband's business) to school, set up sign-in/release sheets, hauled off trash, stationed workers, and more.
    2. Newlywed Sarah who worked with Stacy.
    3. Marsha who signed us up with Rivers Alive and came despite some major health issues to sweat with the rest of us.
    4. Dependable Avis who drove down from Summerville and kept watch on the "between the wings" workers.
    5. Allien (pronounced Alan) who brought truck and loppers and slipped and slid on the steepest section and had to gather the yuckiest stuff.
    6. Rachel, who brought along her new fiance, and made quick work of the south hillside, then joined my crew at the back.
    7. and for number seven -- the other teachers who worked out of my sight, mostly -- on the main campus, playground, and along the roads. This included Ann Marie, Tammie, and several others whose names I don't have right now. I know the campus looks great!
    In addition to these co-workers, of course, were students, parents, grandparents, and a big group of Shorter College volunteers.

    Thank you!!

    Sunday Concert: Lily's Eyes

    Lily's Eyes
    The Secret Garden

    I have had the privilege of singing this duet in two productions. I sang the Archibald Craven role as part of Prospect Theater Company's Broadway Revue at DeSoto Theater in Rome, Georgia, probably ten years ago now.

    Then just four years ago we did a full staging of the play at Rome City Auditorium, under the auspices of Rome's Own Musical Ensemble. It was a particular joy to sing the role of Archibald in this production because both of my daughters also had major roles. Brannon had gorgeous solos and a wonderful dramatic part as Martha, and Lillian sang beautifully as Rose.

    Here Phillip Quast as Neville (I know him primarily as Javert in Les Miserable, though I have heard the Australian Les Mis recording in which he played Valjean) and Anthony Warlow as Archibald sing one of the most dramatic and beautiful duets in musical theater.

    Saturday, September 08, 2007

    Clean Up

    A "before" picture of overgrown piles of junk: crossties, assorted planks, siltfence, aluminum strips, broken concrete border blocks, gravel, and lots of ants.

    Today we gathered at the school with our trucks, loppers, trashbags, work gloves, clippers. With the help of parents, grandparents, teachers, students, and nine science club volunteers from Shorter College, we pulled out --

    * yards and yards of half-buried fabric silt fencing left over from the construction of the school, 15 years ago
    * a table lamp and a shade
    * several tires and one wheel
    * broken-up concrete picnic table
    * old tetherball poles
    * railroad ties
    * multiple plactic pots, baskets
    * the detritus of muliple visits of raccoon families to our school dumpster
    * several good treated planks
    * a bunch of aluminum siding
    * a basketball
    * assorted bottles and cans
    * a couple of unmentionables

    The local "remote" recycling center won't take the tires so they are still on my truck!

    What a difference a few dozen willing volunteers and a couple or three hours of sweat can do! I am especially glad to have the hillside behind our cafeteria free of the raccoon litter! It is extremely steep, full of blackberry brambles, blaspheme vine, poison ivy, and close-packed pine saplings. Thanks to our intrepid, slipping, sliding, scratched, and bug-bit crew our hillside is clear of litter.

    Two students work on a less wild clean-up site.

    And the ugly black swaths of silt fences are gone from the woods and the stream..

    The Rivers Alive! clean-up is the first public event of our year-long Watchable Wildlife nature study project. It is also part of our Adopt-a-Stream program.

    Thank you to everyone who helped out!

    I was too busy working to take many pictures. Here's one of our hardest-working families of workers with an extra they brought along.

    Now our nature studies will commense in pristine woods and stream.

    Friday, September 07, 2007

    Our Nature Study Project

    Saturday will be the first public activity of our year-long project of nature study at Armuchee Elementary School. We are sponsoring a Rivers Alive! Clean-up of our little watershed. If you are in the area come join us.

    Those of you who have put up with my ruminations and machinations as I worked at planning and writing up the grant proposals for the project might be interested in seeing this presentation about the project.

    My daughter, Lillian, helped me put this together back in July for our Meet the Teacher night at school. Take a look:

    Thursday, September 06, 2007

    Monday Poetry Stretch: Acrostic

    A Labor Day Acrostic

    It seems to me there is less respect today than at anytime in my life for the labor of common folk. The air of entitlement among some folk only a generation or two removed from "linthead" and "clodbuster" ancestors is downright shocking. People who would still be tied to farm or mill had there been no union movement or New Deal or GI Bill are adamantly anti-union, anti-Democratic, anti-government programs period. There is very little awareness or appreciation for the incredible number of hands responsible for each little luxury and convenience we partially consume and largely consign to metastasizing landfills. There is great disdain for those whose labor is necessary to our wasteful lifestyles. And how dare our tax dollars be used to provide health insurance to common laborers who contribute less than us to the tax coffers.

    On Labor Day this year I had the rare privilege of listening as several of my older relatives discussed the work their parents did in the cotton mills of Georgia and South Carolina. I am very proud of those folks. They sacrificed much to give their children better lives.

    One interesting story was about how, when the small Methodist Church (the graveyard of which holds my grandparents) in Porterdale was used for a union organizing meeting it was burned down.

    On the 1900 census of Spaulding County Georgia you will find my 10 year old Uncle Ervin listed as "elevator boy" and my fifteen year old grandmother as "mill worker". Think about that my young friends as you clip on your iPods and head to the gym to workout in your 75 dollar Nikes.

    I interviewed Uncle Ervin when he was in his nineties back about 1981. He mentioned visiting Ashland, Alabama (from Griffin, Georgia) in his youth. I asked him how he got there. I thought perhaps he took a horse or wagon or maybe a train. No. "I got there the same way I got anywhere else," he said, "I walked."

    I'm sure it was good exercise. I do not think he wore Nikes.

    So here's my response to Tricia's Monday Poetry Stretch, an acrostic for Labor Day.

    Little Uncle Irvin, ten-years-old,
    A new employee, runs the mill's
    Big elevator, up and down, hour after hour --
    Our grandmother, fifteen and fatherless, an old hand upstairs --
    Raising the bosses and the bossed,

    Day after 1900 day,
    And Will, and Fanny, and Molly, and Cora,
    Year after non-union year.

    by Terrell Shaw

    Back online!

    I am just off the phone after several hours with some very patient troubleshooters in North Carolina (BellSouth) and India (Linksys). And I am reconnected to the internet! It has been a frustrating two or three days.

    If you have a Mac DO NOT buy a Linksys router. They are not just ignorant of Macs, they seem to me antagonistic toward Macs. Why is that? Despite their silly multiple warnings that they DO NOT support Macs, in the end connecting the Macs was a piece of cake. It was the usual PC folderol that took forever. And the third Linksys fellow, though it was difficult to understand his lovely Indian singsong accent, was very patient, knowledgeable, and helpful.

    I am sorry to be so late with the September edition of Learning in the Great Outdoors. It may not be up till Saturday: bed beckons me now and - this IS September -- there's football tomorrow night.

    Monday, September 03, 2007

    PTSW : Back to School

    The first day of school.

    It is actually one of my favorite days of the year. Such promise. All the students are wonderful possibilities. Each is full full of promise. And I believe the promise to my toes.

    Even though my first midterm grades go out this week, here are some good beginning the year poems. The first soothes the conscience of this disorganized, messy, teacher.

    Miss Lee and Mrs. Fuller

    Miss Lee’s rows are straight
    and her cabinets are dusted.
    Her blotter is fresh
    and her shades are adjusted.
    She always has staples
    and Elmer’s and tissues.
    She never misplaces
    a pass that she issues.

    Mrs. Fuller does.

    Miss Lee’s books have covers;
    she hasn’t lost any.
    Her milk money forms
    come out right to the penny.
    Her class in assemblies
    is quite in control.
    She never miscounts
    or forgets to take roll.

    Mrs. Fuller does.

    Miss Lee has a gradebook that’s neat,
    not a smear.
    Her lesson plan book
    is complete for the year.
    Her duties for playground
    or lunch never tire her.
    She never has principals
    trying to fire her.

    Mrs. Fuller does.

    Miss Lee sees no value
    in things that don’t fit.
    Her warmest remarks
    run to “Quiet” and “Sit.”
    She never sparks passion,
    excitement or dreams-
    She never sees minds that are
    bursting their seams.

    Mrs. Fuller does.

    by Cheryl Miller Thurston


    Close the barbecue.
    Close the sun.
    Close the home-run games we won.
    Close the picnic.
    Close the pool.
    Close the summer.
    Open school.
    by Prince Redcloud

    Read To Me

    Read to me riddles and read to me rhymes,
    Read to me stories of magical times.
    Read to me tales about castles and kings.
    Read to me stories of fabulous things.
    Read to me pirates and read to me knights,
    Read to me dragons and dragon-book fights.
    Read to me spaceships and cowboys and then,
    When you are finished -- please read them again.
    By Jane Yolen

    The series of posts, A Poem to Start the Week, is my little anthology of poetry, many of which I have used with my students in elementary schools during 27 years of teaching.

    Previous Poems to Start the Week:
    The Inchcape RockOgden NashTrash
    Hearts, Like DoorsCasey at the BatAlways a RoseHome at Last
    Bag of ToolsCarpe DiemPoems About PoetryMan's Best Friend
    Spelling is Tough Stough!
    Blue MarbleTacks, Splinters, Apples and Stars
    Oh, Captain, My Captain!MetaphorIntroducion to Poetry
    Loveliest of TreesFlax-Golden TalesThe Dinosaurs Are Not All Dead
    Owl PelletsMummy Slept LateJust My Size
    The Kindest Things I KnowMiles to GoLove that Brother
    Oh, Frabjous Day!

    Other Posts about Children's Literature:

    The Lion's Paw top kid's OOP book!
    Aslan is Dead!
    Multiplying People, Rice, and Readers
    A Teacher's Life

    You can read some of my own efforts at poetry here.
    And then there's Alien Invasion.

    A weblog dedicated to Poetry for Children.
    Watch Sonja Cole's reviews of children's books at
    The PBS series Favorite Poem Project