March 15, 2016: Fifth Grade


My fifth grade teacher was a tall, imposing, angular man who happened to have a background in oceanography. I’m certain that he inspired in me a lifelong interest in science and nature. I always knew that retiring before I turned 60 meant that I had a lot more in me to give; I just wasn’t sure what form it might take. Of course I wanted to turn inward and devote myself to becoming the best cyclocross racer possible given my inherent limitations. I also wanted to finish writing my third novel. However, when I allowed myself to turn outward for a moment, I quickly rediscovered the amazing world of teaching young kids.

I applied to become a substitute teacher for the town that I live in as well as three other towns that are part of this Pre K-6 school district. I thought it would be a great way to justify my next bike purchase with the meager stipend that subs receive. In the first week, I got two assignments – one in the 6th grade followed by another in the 5th grade in the same school. After a week away on vacation and a week of illness, I was given the opportunity to sub again in the same 5th grade class for two days in a row. This was followed by a request from the principal that I consider becoming a full time, long-term sub for that class until the end of the school year in June due to a maternity leave and some creative staff shuffling.

The bottom line is that these kids are nothing short of amazing! The class is small but it has a full spectrum of kids with a wide range of abilities. I am definitely drawn to the super-bright kids that are totally on top of their game but find myself even more drawn to the kids that struggle. There are kids that are at least several grades behind in certain subjects; there are kids that don’t want to be a part of any of the academic action and live for recess; there are the quiet kids that prefer to work on their own; there are the kids with huge personalities; and there are the wise-asses and jokesters. In a way, I can relate to each and every one of them.

So for the next three months, I’ll be giving up some training time to focus on something even more satisfying. It surprises me how much I’ve gotten to know these people after such a short time. It also surprises me that they have accepted me for who I am. All I really had to do was be a warm body and pass a CORI check and not have fingerprints that tipped off the authorities that I had some dreadful, nasty past. Maybe I’ll even discover that this is what I should have been doing with my life all along. Maybe it’s not too late for this old dog because I feel a few new tricks coming!


March 5, 2016: Smoothies



Is it possible that a properly constructed smoothie is the perfect food source – like humans might be considered the ideal food source for a visiting carnivorous alien race? You can throw all sorts of nasty tasting things together that you might not consume individually and it can still taste really good and be really healthy. Plus, you get the satisfaction of thinking that you are a stronger person for having drunk one. Here’s what I’ve been blending up and drinking most every morning for the last year or so:

Essential Fatty Acids (omega 3-6-9) from a blend of fish and plant oils. The health benefits of EFA’s are staggering. It might be easier to list the things that they won’t help with, namely; the control of nose hair, resting bitch face and saying something inappropriate in front of someone that you didn’t know was a member of the clergy. Pretty much everything else is potentially improved by a daily squirt of EFAs.

Green superfood powder is a crazy mix of dried grasses, spirulina (algae), veggies, fruits, digestive enzymes, more EFAs, probiotics and a bunch of other things. These powders are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They’ll also help your body to maintain a proper pH balance, will supercharge your immune system and give you a great energy base to start your day from. If you just mixed a scoop of this powder into some water and drank it, you might think that you were drinking grass that you scraped off the bottom of your lawnmower. Kind of nasty.

Yogurt, well, just because of the probiotics bacteria and protein.

Orange juice for a liquid base with some vitamin C (as if you needed more) and fiber.

Turmeric for inflammation. It’s also an antioxidant. Oh, and it will also counterbalance unexpected rectal discharge it you eat some potato chips made with olestra (not recommended) but this is just anecdotal.

Apple cider vinegar is another super food in terms of its health benefits. When I was a kid, my mom had a book written by D. C. Jarvis called Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health, extolling the multitude of too-good-to-be true health benefits of apple cider vinegar and honey. I actually loved drinking straight vinegar and I would have contests with my sisters to see who could drink the most. I almost always won. Pickle juice is good too.

Banana and/or berries and whatever fresh or frozen fruit you might have on hand.

Four ice cubes – any more and the smoothie becomes too cold and will take on slushie properties.

Blend all the ingredients, drink with your normal breakfast and just sit around waiting for the aliens to show up. If you give them a small glass maybe they won’t eat you.