The Complete Idiot’s Guide to U.S. Government & Politics

The following is brought to you as a completely bipartisan assessment.




Market Day

Yesterday my friend Denise and I went to visit her daughter who is a sophomore at one of the local state colleges.

We visited the farmers’ market, which is the biggest I have ever been to.  It was a beautiful fall day, and the colors just exploded everywhere.






After we were done wandering around the market and that area of town, we had lunch at a Turkish restaurant, visited the local yarn shop, and waited in line for ice cream.

After driving home I spent the evening with my sister, who was in town for a grand total of 29 hours.  All in all, it was one of the most perfect Saturdays in a long, long time.

The Shooting Star

I was taking the 11-year-old daughter of a friend of mine home tonight from a cookout.  We were driving through the town square of our small-town county seat.  “There’s a shooting star!” she said.  It went right over the courthouse dome.

It’s the first one I can remember seeing.  Ever.

Thanks Taylor.  I’m glad I got to share it with you.

My Little Lizard Friend

I was standing in the hall taking a picture of the 2nd grade work on display.  (Please excuse the blurry photo; it’s from my phone and I was trying to be as discreet as possible.)


A little voice behind me says, “Do you like that one?  It’s mine.”

I looked around and there was only one little girl.  Although I wasn’t sure why she was out in the hall by herself, I told her I did like it and in fact that’s why I was taking pictures.  She then unfolded the following story, all in one run-on breath.

“He belonged to some people in my neighborhood who were moving to the North Pole and it was too cold for the lizard there so they were going up and down the street asking people if they wanted a lizard for free and my mom said it was okay so we got to keep him.  But he died.”

Have I mentioned that one never knows what will come out of their mouths?


Hidden Depths

I never cease to be amazed by the things I discover about my students.  Sometimes they’re frustrating, sometimes they’re sad, sometimes they’re inspiring, and sometimes they’re just unexpected.  Take the conversation I had with a seemingly typical third grader today as he was checking out his books.

Me:  You like the Knicks?  They usually put the [local team] out of the playoffs, don’t they?
Third grader (wearing a Knicks shirt):  I usually watch them with my grandpa at my house.
Me:  Is your grandpa from New York?
Third grader:  No.  He’s from here.  So’s my dad. (Walks away, but comes back.)  But he only went to Rio one time and met my mom there.
Me:  So, he was visiting Rio and he met your mom?
Third grader:  Yeah. She’s from Poland. (Walks away, but comes back.)  So am I.
Me:  You were born in Poland?
Third grader:  Yes.

His teacher confirmed this and informed me the kid actually still speaks Polish.  Who knew?

A Day in the Life of a Builder

One of my friend’s young son was playing Legos with his little sister.  His mom overheard the conversation.

Boy: I don’t want to fill in that whole spot. Just a little bit.
Sister: Why?
Boy: I just don’t. I need it to stay empty.
Sister: You are ruining my life.
Boy: What????
Sister: I said, you are ruining my life!
Boy (quietly): No I’m not.
Sister: Oh.
**Happy playing ensues.

It’s so hard to find good help these days.


Every year this small town in which I live has a sort of Founders’ Day parade and festival.  The parade goes right past my house, so I can watch from my front porch with coffee cup in hand.  This morning was no exception.

There were all the elements of a small town parade.

Fire engines.


Marching band.




Old cars and trucks.

old car



Corporate sponsorship. (Moo.)


And most importantly, kids by the dozens.  Boy scouts, girl scouts, gymnastics, cheerleaders, soccer.  It’s always fun to see and hear the exact moment when my students spot me watching them.


And today there was perfect weather to top it all off.

The Sharpest Tool in the Shed

So I may have mentioned a time or two (dozen) that I have lunch duty this year.  Today I was trying to help a first grader with her foil wrapped drink (think Capri Sun).  She didn’t have one of those pointy straws you need to push into it, so asked me for a straw.

Me:  Well, a regular straw won’t go in, we need something sharp.
Girl next to her:  I have a quarter you could use!


The Case of the Missing Books

Checking a kindergartener out this afternoon, I stop him before he scans his book.

Me:  “The computer says you still have a book out.”
Him:  “Uh-huh.”
Me:  “Do you know where it is?”
Him:  “At my house.”
Me:  “Do you know where it is at your house?”
Him:  “On my toaster.”

I’ve been teaching them to keep books away from food and drink; I just didn’t think it was necessary to teach them to keep from treating books as food and drink.