Monthly Archives: January 2014

Reading.

Published / by Tim / 1 Comment on Reading.

“I don’t read.” That’s what he said as I sat across from him waiting for the next question.Books

I was interviewing for a teaching job and the interviewer had asked me, “What is the greatest gift you’ve been given?” I admit, I had considered saying that Smartwool socks were it. I love Smartwool socks. But I went with what seemed like the better, more honest answer.

“I love to read. Learning to read is the greatest gift I’ve been given. My mom worked hard to make sure that I would be able to interact with a world where much of what we need to know is written.” That was my answer.

“I don’t read” is all he said. And really, it was that moment when I knew the interview was over. I don’t know that he felt that way, he kept asking questions. I really don’t remember much about the rest of the experience. I just couldn’t figure out how a vice-principal could casually state that he doesn’t read. The shocker was that it didn’t seem like a problem to him. In a way, I ended up feeling like the weirdo in the room.

He said he doesn’t read and I have to believe that it’s not a matter of his ability, but more a matter of his attitude or desire for reading. Either way, how can an educator NOT READ? How can a citizen in a powerful country expect to be successful without reading? How can someone responsible for ensuring the success of children NOT READ?

This moment in time stood out for me. Not because I didn’t get the job. I probably didn’t really want that job. I ended up working in a school where the principal read, the staff read, and students were challenged to read. I immersed my classes in words. Some of those students read even more than I. At least one of them has degrees more advanced than mine (not that it would be hard to get degrees more advanced than mine, but it would require a bit of reading). I think I ended up where I was supposed to be.

Things have come full circle. I’m now the interviewer and the questions I ask are, “What’s the last book you read?” and “What are you planning on reading next?” You can tell a lot about a person by what they read, or not, as the case may be.

What are you reading?

Tea for two…

Published / by Tim

I was out with Mrs. during the Christmas holiday and we ran across a vendor of teas at a local artisan fair. It was a brisk evening and we were both wrapped up in layers of warmth and it seemed that even still, the cold was getting through. The fine young man behind the counter offered us a small cup of “Harmony” tea. I am not really a tea guy. I like coffee, good coffee, strong coffee. However, at that moment, I was happy to have anything warm to drink.

I took the cup and as I sipped gingerly, so as not to burn my mouth, I noticed the smell of honey mingled with mint. It dazzled my senses. As I drank a bit deeper I noted lavender and hints of lemon. I also detected an apple undertone that I later found out may have been the chamomile that is in the blend. Above all, I noted that the tea was delightfully sweet right out of the pot.

There is something comforting about a warm beverage on a cold night, but this was not only comforting, it was thrilling. It was a lively blend that, while bright and cheerfully sweet, was not overstimulating. It was brilliantly calming and soothing. We spoke to the vendor about the where and the who and the what of their teas and eventually succumbed to the cold. We headed back to the room and the warmth of the fire. I could not stop thinking of the tea.

As with many things in my life, the next morning I could not quite remember the name of the vendor, but I could remember that he said they are based in Scotts Mills, Oregon. I knew I had heard of Scotts Mills, but I had no idea where it was. It was the thing that would lead me back to find the vendor. The Tippin Teacup.

The next morning, after a lovely breakfast at the Oregon Garden Resort restaurant, and some quick google work, I found a number that I hoped would get me in contact with these purveyors of  this mystical, magical, Harmony tea. We called and spoke to a friendly woman, Cindy, if I recall correctly. She was delightfully helpful in answering our questions. I promised that I would go to the website and order some tea.

Tonight, three weeks later, I went to http://www.thetippinteacup.com and ordered Harmony and numerous other interesting blends of tea.

I’ll follow up on this and let you know how the experience turns out. I am excited. The tea is a link to the memory of that evening, in the woods and the artisan fair with Mrs. and the lovely time we had. I am a coffee guy, but I think I can make a place in my repertoire of beverage enjoyment for tea, shared with my love and my friends. It’s less about what you drink and more about with whom you are sharing the beverage and the experience. I feel the same way about beer and wine. All good things are better, shared with friends.

If you are curious about The Tippin’ Teacup I can heartily recommend the Harmony Tea. I do not get a kick back or any sort of promotional consideration, I just really like their tea. Slàinte!

An obligatory New Years post?

Published / by Tim

Well, it’s 2014 and I made no resolutions, but there are five things I’m going to do this year to help promote my health and sanity.

5. Read a book each month. This is not to say that I will only read one book per month, but it is to say that I will choose a book that interests me and read it each month. Last year I read about 44 books and 2 of those were because I wanted to. Well, I suppose that all of them had the element of “want to” otherwise I wouldn’t have read them, but most of them were because someone else said I should. I didn’t choose them.

4. Limit my coffee and beer intake. Most of the time, around the new year, you see people “quitting” beer or coffee or soda or smoking or whatever it is that they enjoy but isn’t necessarily good for them. I am not a quitter. I can, however, work on self-discipline. Quitting something that you enjoy seems silly to me. I severely limited my intake of Coca-cola in the last 6 months and now I rarely miss it and I no longer crave it like I once did. I do enjoy a Coke every so often and I have a new appreciation for it. One cup of coffee per day is adequate and 3 pints of beer a week is plenty.

3. Keep a journal. I have been an on again, off again journaler over the last several years. I often attribute my lack of journaling to being too busy. I am of the mind that keeping a journal would have more benefits to me than this busy lifestyle I am leading. I see this as a way to slow down, reflect, enjoy and savor my life. This has become more important to me recently. I have felt like I miss a lot and what I don’t miss I can’t always remember. A journal can help.

2. Save some money. I like buying Christmas gifts for my family. I also like not having to pay a credit card bill. I did a good job of keeping spending under control in 2013, which is a minor victory for me. In 2014 I’d like to have 100% cash to fund my Christmas shopping. I have an idea about how I’ll attack this and perhaps in another post I’ll tell you how I plan to get there.

1. Exercise. I have two bikes and I am hoping to acquire a third this year. I like riding my bikes. I do not really have a “plan” for this, but I do have  couple programs I’d like to try out. Again, I’ll talk more about those in future posts (with this 500 words per day thing I’m doing, these “other” topics are precious).

Additionally, I am going to continue using Duolingo to pursue learning a second language. I am learning, or maybe I should say “relearning” Spanish. Once I feel adept I will begin learning German. Why? Well, why not?

So, What things are you going to do this year to promote your health and sanity? Share in the comments… I’d love to know.

Geocaching and Writing

Published / by Tim
There must be a cache here somewhere.

There must be a cache here somewhere.

On the day before the new year, I regularly go with friends out into the woods to look for geocaches. Every year we plan a route and then take off early in the morning to set a “most found” record. This year was no different. One of the brethren picked an area to search that had a lot of little caches.

We drive all over looking for containers in the woods. Most of the containers are small and ordinary. They usually contain a log to sign and some other little trinket. Every once in a while though, we find a larger, more interesting container. A container that itself has a story. A container that the owner obviously put some thought and care into building and placing in the woods. These containers often hold interesting treasures. Items that we want to trade. Items that are traveling the world. Items with a story.

As the day wears on, we come across a string of small green containers that are all hidden essentially the same way and all look identical. None of them have much in the way of treasure .The descriptions ask for detailed logs, but the caches themselves were boring like prepackaged gingerbread men. Good to eat, but not terribly interesting. In the early afternoon we all begin to lose interest. We all grow restless for the bigger and better containers. We want something more.

For me, writing is kind of like that.

I start out sort of knowing where I want to go, but not really knowing what to expect when I get there. I’m looking for little treasures that catch my attention. Usually I find a lot of things that are functional but not always interesting. I wander around the page, looking for the thing that clicks, the thing that will take the story in a new and wonderful direction.

As I poke around the tulies looking for treasure, every once in a while I find a “container” that holds some real treasure. It is one that holds the right phrase or image or metaphor that takes the story in a direction that makes me tingle. I find myself taking some time with that find, exploring it a little more fully. It’s these “containers” that keep me writing to find the next one.

In geocaching, having friends along makes the experience better. It gives a sense of safety. Sharing in the find makes each one a small celebration. Writing is more of a solitary sport when the hunt is going on. Writing, for me, feels safer when there is no one watching over your shoulder. So it goes in writing, having an audience is both risky, but it’s comforting as well. It gives us the opportunity to share and celebrate along the way.

After searching for hundreds of caches it has become clear that the creators who spend some time preparing the containers or finding great settings in which to hide their treasures tend to capture the imaginations of those who search. In that regard, it is also clear that as we create here we need to take some time and care in preparing and giving our audience a memorable experience that brings them back, anxiously looking for more.