Thursday, August 26, 2010

Insignificant memories 2

So my students shared some of their insignificant moments today:

1. "I have three. The first is when my dad let me help him skin and butcher a bear he had killed. The second is when he let me help him slaughter a pig."

2. "The day I super-glued one of my eyes shut."

3. "My Uncle was supposed to be baby-sitting me, but invited some of my friends over and they all got drunk. They went out to the barn where the pigs were. I heard this squealing. Then they came out and built a fire and started cooking the pig they had just slaughtered. My mom came home and got really mad."

4. "When I was a little kid, I asked my mom if I could go next door to my cousin's house. She said yes. When I got there, two ladies answered the door. Nobody had told me that my cousin had moved. The two ladies made me a sandwich and let me watch TV."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Insignificant Memories

Today, my sophomores finished watching Act Two of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. Afterwards, as a lead-in to tomorrow’s viewing of Act Three, I had them write a about a memory of an insignificant day in their lives—one that may or may not have turned out to be significant later on. I gave two examples from my own life to show them what I meant, both involving my grandpa.

Both take me back to when Grandpa and Grandma lived on a ranch. I call it a ranch—we all called it a ranch—but I don’t recall any livestock or crops. All I remember is a couple of ducks…maybe a dog. There was a house and a barn.
The first memory is about those ducks. I must have been around four. My brother Billy C got the tall white duck. I got the little green duck. I use the term “got” loosely because, after all, they belonged to Grandpa and they lived on his ranch…for awhile anyway. For that matter, I don’t know that either of the ducks liked my brother or me because they only saw us when we came visiting. We’d drive up into the yard and there they’d be, flapping their wings, quacking. I suspect they flapped and quacked even when we weren’t around.

But in our minds, they belonged to us.

Then, one day we arrived at Grandpa and Grandma’s ranch and the ducks didn’t flap or quack. They were gone. If I remember correctly, no one came up with any euphemistic story about our ducks’ fate. I’m pretty sure that Grandpa just explained that he had them slaughtered and that he and Grandma had them for dinner one night.

Poor ducks.

The second memory is of how we used to fly kites there. Billy C, our cousin Byron, and I took our kites to a field next to Grandpa’s ranch and, with the help of Grandpa, Dad, and Uncle Bill, would get them flying. Once they sailed high into the sky, we’d send them “notes.” We’d take scraps of paper and tear them halfway and scribble messages to our kites. Then, we’d each slip our note onto our kite string and watch it glide up the string, spinning all the way, until it reached our kite. It was a wide, empty field, so the kites would stay up a long time without getting caught on any trees or telephone poles.

I must be pretty close to Grandpa’s age at that time, though he seemed ancient to me. Now, when I look at pictures from those times, we all seem endlessly young.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Things I Saw Today

Two cats lurking around my mother's cat's food dish while my mother's cat sat under the tree, hoping they'd just leave.

Outside the grocery store, a toddler who called me Grampa. Cute kid, I thought. Later, in the store, she started one of those nuclear, screeching tantrums that shot through the store. How quickly they turn.

A tattered page from an old short story I had written.

A text from Billy C saying that Liam was on his way to PA.

My dryer full of wet clothes I thought I had dried a week ago. Ahhhh..mildew!

A student from last year walking into Wal Mart with her parents.

A bumper sticker with a picture of George Bush that said "Miss me yet?" I don't. Never will. Who would? Why?

A note from Emily asking me why I never write on her Facebook wall. I love you Emily.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


First night of the new semester back at the Writing and Reading Center at the local Community College. As I walked through the door, I first thought that we had a new Instructional Aide, but I was wrong. The lady I have always worked with was wearing a purple scarf wrapped around her head so as to cover her hair. Not an attractive scarf. And it wasn't arranged very attractively--just sort of wound around her head and held in place by a couple of bobby pins.

The last time I had seen her, before break, she had cropped her long blond hair very short--but again, it was not stylish--just short.

And now, her head was covered. Had she converted to Islam? Well, she still wore her big wooden cross around her neck. Had she become a nun? I don't think nuns wear purple. Cancer? Maybe she wore the scarf to cover hair loss. But, unlike most people I know who have gone through chemo, she seemed pretty energetic.

I thought about asking her, but changed my mind because I thought she had probably explained her reasons a hundred times to others and was either sick of explaining and just wanted to get on with normalcy or that she'd offer an explanation eventually or I would just find out through the usual information grapevine.