Monday, December 20, 2010

A joke Dagi would have loved

In memory of my aunt, who died last April. This joke is so very much her style. Jokes are big in my family. I tend to only remember one at a time. This will be my standard joke for the next few months.

A mama and daughter are sitting at the seashore. A big wave comes crashing in and carries the daughter away. Mama is beside herself and beats her chest and screams, "God, how could you do that? My only daughter! I was always good, and so was she. Ai-ai-ai-ai-ai!"

Soon thereafter, a second wave comes in and brings the daughter back. The mama cries, "Oh, my God, I knew you were good, I am so happy you returned her, I will be ever grateful to you, and I am going to pray to you all the time!"

Then mama starts looking around everywhere, under the bench and in the bushes. She turns to the ocean and yells, "God? There was also a hat?"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I love a good white elephant gift exchange

As previously mentioned, book club had the annual white elephant gift exchange (WEGE) and a toy/book/clothing swap (very successful -- only 3 little items left over that no one wanted).

The WEGE requires some back story, as, sadly, so many good practical jokes do. I wrote a note on Facebook recently entitled "Books you hated. Really loathed." Here it is:

  • The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Book written by a total hack. Contains plot holes you could drive a truck through.
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole. Just hated the damn narrator. Repeatedly used all the words I hate, like "munch" and "toothsome." How I finished this piece of crap is beyond me.
  • The Firm by John Grisham. GAH. Drivel.
  • Bridges of Madison County by some damn fool who I'm not even going to look up. Worst grammar ever in a best seller. The clich├ęs are thick on the ground.
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Of all the damn narcissistic, shallow, useless idiots, this one decides to write a book.

This lead to some very lively literary discussion, in which the word "crap" was, perhaps, over-used. In the comments, people added:

  • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
  • Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  • The Teachings of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda
  • Twilight
  • Loving Frank
  • Vanity Fair
  • Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead
  • All the Berenstein Bears books
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • The Life of Pi
  • Everything ever written by Debbie Macomber, Virginia Wolf, and Emily Dickinson
  • And ALL contemporary realist American fiction
So. Back to the WEGE. We gathered and drew numbers. When it was my turn, I picked a present and unwrapped it. It was a table-top fountain that I said I'd like to keep if possible. The next person stole it from me, as is allowed under the rules. I picked another present. The wrapped box contained 3 wrapped items. The first one turned out to be the same ugly stuffed scarecrow I got in this exchange last year. Groan! The other two looked like books, so I happily turned to them. First one? A Confederacy of Dunces! Ugh! The second one? The Da Vinci Code! Argh!

So hat's off to Margaret! Well played, friend. Well played.

The next book for book club will be
The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Progress on improving the school lunch program

So, a few weeks ago I presented the school board with the petitions that I and my many helpers canvassed around, collecting 428 signatures. Our district has about 3200 students in 7 schools, so I feel like that was a respectable amount.

Despite having my partner-in-change (Laura) with me and our friend and ally (Dana the village trustee) and one other mom who came to support the cause, I was nervous. Hate the public speaking. There were lots of other people there, though! If you've never been to a board of education meeting, I have to say there's a lot you can learn there. It was "The State of the District" presentation night, so there were teachers, the middle school principal (who I didn't know and didn't recognize, which is just as well, which you will see if you read my speech, below), some AAUW people asking for a grant, the local newspaper reporter who was there to do an article on LAURA AND ME, WOOOO, WE ARE FAMOUS, MAN - front page article! Lots of people.

So as always when I'm nervous, I had to read straight off the page. Sigh. Oh well, I am proud of the positive tone, which did not go unnoticed by the superintendent, who remarked on it and on the fact that this was the first grassroots initiative brought to him in his seven years at the district.

This evening I meet with the Asst. Superintendent for Finance and Operations to discuss who will be on the committee. I can't believe this is really moving forward!

Here's my speech:

[introductions]


We believe the district's wellness policy has done a great job of eliminating junk food as a teacher reward, in fundraising, and at school functions. In the latest [district newsletter] it states that the district is prioritizing wellness. It seems like the next logical step is to address the inadequacies of the lunch program.

As you are perhaps have heard, we put together a petition to show you that our community is interested in improving the quality of the lunches served at our schools. PRESENT PETITIONS and DECLARE NUMBER (428 signatures). [Read text of petition]

During discussions that were sparked by this effort, we have learned that we have a community filled with people who want to volunteer their time to improve various aspects of the school nutrition program.
  • We have an executive chef who wants to partner with the schools (chefs move to school program that Michelle Obama started).
  • We also have parents at several schools who would love to start a school vegetable garden, which would enable students to try truly fresh and local foods.

Have a committee to oversee applying for grants and other programs that would benefit the nutritional and physical well-being of the students. We propose that the committee should consist of

  • the middle school principal
  • one of the elementary school principals
  • parents from each school
  • the Food Service Director
  • and a Board of Education representative

The first set of goals includes:

  • Increase the amount of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Decrease the amount of HFCS and hydrogenated oils
  • Give input when the new lunch contract is under discussion
  • Enforce the Wellness Policy during lunch at the middle school
We are also interested in expanding the role of the school district in promoting fitness, including walk and bike to school initiatives and a district-level wellness fair to showcase ideas for healthier families.

We know that solving this problem will entail creativity and flexibility to meet the nutritional guidelines and not overshoot the budget, but we are confident that large improvements can be made without straining the district's finances.

Thank you.