Winter Woes

22 Feb 2015

2/21/15

Winter Woes

I hate winter! It turns my body into alien territory. My skin crawls and creeps, itches in places I can’t reach because of the heavy layers of cloth between my nails and the afflicted area.
I hate getting out of a perfectly warm cocoon of a bed, stripping out of warm PJs, and putting cold, rigid cloth against my tender, warm skin. Every hair on my body stands at attention each morning as I dress!
I hate wrapping layer upon layer around my face and my body so I can go out into Siberia. And still there is always an unprotected place the wind finds to slide into. Can’t tighten that secret passageway because my hands are bundled, too, in Frankenstein gloves. So I’m at the whim of the Wind!
I hate how my nose gets dry and I sniff incessantly as the membranes dry and crinkle like balled up tissue paper. I should have bought stock in Kleenex and Ocean saline solution. Nothing stops the drying and then the nose bleeds. I even pray for summer and Virginia humidity to arrive!
I hate sliding off the couch, then touching the dog, only to see her light up from the small bolt of lightning I’ve generated with the friction of my butt and the fabric. Feel like a walking science experiment: a danger to pets and my husband.
Winter! A time for hot tea, tasty soups, cuddly sweaters, sexy boots, staying indoors and darkness at five o’clock. The most fantastic thing about Winter is the Spring that follows it!

BAMorris

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Snow

22 Feb 2015

2/21/15

Snow

Snow is happy. Watching the fall of ivory flakes lightens one’s mood. There is the newness of life in a snowfall. All the ugliness of life, of earth, of winter, is layered over with a blanket of forgiveness. For a short period of time, before snow plows and feet turn the white to sordidness, for a brief moment all is pure in the world. Looking out one’s window is like looking into a fairyland, an icy wonderland. For a flash of time, we are all children again and it’s time to marvel at snow!

BAMorris

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February Sky

22 Feb 2015

2/21/15

February Sky

The sky is the color of lead: heavy and cold. There is no welcoming moon to light the way. It is hidden by the damp carpet of clouds. There are no twinkling stars giggling and twittering like school girls sharing the secrets of the sky. There is nothing but the endless expanse of dull, dark foretelling. They say it is going to snow. But this morning is the dawning of a dreary day; there is no joy hiding in this grayness that speaks of the forming of perfect snow crystals. This sky warns of coldness and wetness and misery.

BAMorris

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Linda McCann Nordin

22 Feb 2015

February 18, 2015

Linda McCann Nordin
February 22, 1950 to February 14, 2015

My roommate from college died after a heart attack on Saturday. I am stunned. In total, we spent five years as off-and-on roommates: four years as best friends. We spent the years of evolving into young women together. I have so many memories of Linda! We were polar opposites when we were assigned to be roommates in 1968. She was a more worldly person, and I was a shy, Bible toting country girl. She hated me and did everything she could think of to get me to ask for a new roommate. I prayed daily for acceptance and was determined to make it work. And it did. Over the years I absorbed some of who she was, and she became more like me. We became best friends. We went through boyfriends (her falling in love with a Jewish boy who could never take her home, and me with an older graduate student who ended up marrying his long time girlfriend); midnights writing papers and/or studying for exams; listening to The Association and Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Jimmy Hendricks and Janis Joplin; working together at the college library; friends in common and wonderful parties at their apartments (Jimmy and Harry); early morning drives to Krispie Kreme for the first donuts of the day and late night runs to Zeros for fresh submarine sandwiches; classes we loved and classes we hated; the year we both had young English professors with whom we were half in love; the years she wore rose colored glasses all the time and looked at the world in softer tones; miniskirts, hot pants, and Virginia Slims; and finally a marriage which took her to Arkansas, and my engagement to a Naval man which kept me in Norfolk. That’s when we separated and moved half a country apart. We remained friends, however.
And now she is gone. She was only sixty-four. That’s too young. She has a new granddaughter whom she adored. She should have been around to play with that baby and watch her grow; to see her off to her first day of school and her first dance. She should have had another trip to the East Coast so she and I could sit and eat pizza one more time, and laugh at how young we were back then, and innocent and cocky. There should have been more time. But there wasn’t.
Farewell to my best friend from girlhood to adulthood. I miss you, Linda.

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Linda

22 Feb 2015

2/19/15

Linda

You went off to Arkansas
To become a social
Worker: save the world that way.
I stayed behind in VA.
Going to teach my way to a
Better world: save the children.
In our separate ways we did
Just what we set out to do.
No one said it would be hard.
But it was. The world, it did
Not always want to be saved.
Not so unlike, what we did.
Trying to put people’s lives back
Together when fell apart.
Had we lived in the same state,
We would have shared our clients.
So the unlikelyness of
Our friendship evolved into
A common goal of service
To humankind through our jobs.
I am only sorry we
Didn’t have more time for stories
Of those years we saved the world.

BAMorris

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Red

22 Feb 2015

2/19/15
Red

Vibrant as a flame tree
Framed against a blue sky.
We stepped into woman-
Hood together: tasted
Newness of adulthood.
She led and I followed.
It was a time for new
Ideas, dreams, futures,
Changing the world we knew.
Flower children. Mini-
Skirts. Free love. Civil Rights.
We were all on a Quest.
She blazed bright in the sky
Of our solar system.
My glow dull in her light.
Her nickname said it all.
Quite simply, she was – Red.

BAMorris

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A Factory School

12 Feb 2015

2/6/15

A Factory School

Once, when I was a house parent in Colorado at a group home for delinquent girls, I had to deal with a principal who told me this: “I run my school like a factory. I produce a product and defective products have no place here.”
Needless to say, I was shocked and angered. At the time I was in a graduate program in Special Education, so I took his comment personally. Of course, he probably meant children who did not follow his rules, but I took it that he had no place in his school for children who were less than perfect.
He constantly suspended my girls, whether for fighting (justified) or not respecting the teacher (I had a hard time respecting that teacher, too!) Every day I had at least one of my six girls home because they didn’t fit into the assembly line program at the high school. Although they had to be punished for getting suspended, they also got to spend quality time at home with me. I think my teaching techniques worked far better than the ones the paid teachers used at school. My Special Education students got better test grades when they learned a concept with me. That I know for a fact!
Come forward forty years, to today. The focus on “the test”, on SOL scores, Benchmarks and MAPs tests, seems to me to be like the assembly line that principal believed in. There is little room in public schools today for “defective products.” Where does that leave the child who is not like everyone else? Where in this assembly line mentality is there a place for a child who doesn’t fit the mold?

BAMorris

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Teaching Is

12 Feb 2015

2/6/15

Teaching Is

Teaching is like pouring your wisdom into a bottle and casting it into the ocean. You have no idea where it will go, if anywhere.
Teachers seldom know the impact they’ve had on a student because the student moves on, grows up, and they lose track of them. Those special students that I either developed a close bond with and who become almost more my child then my own children, and those into whom I poured so much energy, attention, and many sleepless nights: those are the ones I wonder about.
For the child who became the child of my heart, I wonder if my attention and the sharing of parts of myself somehow gave them the tools to go out and attempt more than they would have without my being in their lives. Did my presence for a short year or two make a real difference to them?
For the child who was my greatest challenge, who I worried over and designed special plans for to try to reach, I wonder if they even remember my name. Could they ever have a glimpse of all I tried to do for them in the time they were in my class? Does it even matter that someone once cared deeply for and about them?
Teaching is a practice of faith: faith that what we do matters in some way we can never know about.

BAMorris

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2/6/15

Early Morning Reflection

As I sit at my dining room table in the early morning I can see the main road. Each morning I observe the dark shape of the school bus with its flashing light on top as it travels on the road and slows down to stop at the end of my driveway. I know my neighbors’ children are standing there waiting to begin their day as students as they step on to that bus.
And I am aware that all around me in the county parents are hurrying children to finish breakfast, packing lunches and tucking them into book bags, and looking yet again at their watches. I am also aware of teachers driving to their assigned schools, checking off mentally the things they must do before the children arrive. Or, if they are like me, they have arrived extra early at school to get work done in the quiet of an empty building: they are sitting at their desk checking papers, working on IEPs, answering e-mails from the day before, or taking a few minutes to relax before the pandemonium of a school day starts.
I bow my head and thank the Lord for my 30+ years of walking that path, and then another thank you that I am done!

BAMorris

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Hard Frost

08 Feb 2015

2/6/15

Hard Frost

The sky was perfectly clear this morning at 5:30. When I stepped onto the field across from my house, it was as if I was the connection for some unseen circuit. With each step I took, hundreds of tiny lights flashed. Each movement I made revealed a new wave of flickerings. It was as if there were thousands of tiny pieces of glass scattered across the field reflecting the moon’s glow back at me. Walking was surreal, like I was strolling across the stars yet on the ground.

BAMorris

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