Category Archives: pen and ink paffoonies

Pirates Sell Insurance as an Act of Evil

Raygun RonnyIt is now official.  I hate health insurance companies more than I hate the high cost of health care.  I appreciate the emergency room that saved my son’s life a year ago in February.  But I am still trying to pay for it.  I am practically bankrupted by five ER visits in the last four years.  Only one of those was mine.  Health insurance does not approve ER costs for a whole list of health problems.  And that was a better insurance than we have this school year.

In order to get my son out of the Health Facility that the ER sent him to, I had to arrange a doctor and a therapist before they would even discuss releasing him.  I did that.  My son reached a level of recovery that they could have authorized his release after one three-day weekend, but of course, the kept him for ten days… all of which I had to pay for out of pocket at hospital rates.  The doctor I arranged for saw my son every three months after that to maintain his recovery and prescribe the best possible medicine.  He was one of the best doctors in his field and he helped immensely.  The therapist was even more helpful, being able to teach my son how to handle the symptoms and complications of his condition.  He was also worth his weight in gold.

But then the State of Texas decided the health insurance that teachers got through their school districts on State funding’s dime was much too good.  The wise and noble Emperor Perry of Texas decided to hand State employee health care over to Faetna ( a fake name that rhymes precisely with the corporation’s real name if you just drop the letter F).  Wonderful doctor does not even deal with the pirates of Faetna.  They swing into any and all health care situations on boarding ropes and slash at anything that moves with their cutlasses of problem-making.  So I had to get a new doctor.  The doctors in this particular field of medicine are not abundant to begin with.  Aetna… er, I mean Faetna, decided that we could only use doctors that were associated with the same hospital where we visited the ER.  Well, I asked them to give me names of the doctors who qualified.  I got three names.  I made an appointment.  We were filling out the paperwork in the doctor’s office twenty minutes before seeing the doctor.  The receptionist interrupted after I had half-way finished the mountainous paperwork to tell me the insurance had rejected payment.  This doctor that THEY had recommended to me was not a part of the approved network.  They took Faetna insurance, but Faetna refused to pay.  The same day I called the other doctors on the list.  No doctor recommended to me by the insurance company was part of the required plan.  There were no doctors in the city who did qualify.

Okay.  It can’t get worse.  We still had the therapist who was working miracles for my son.  He took Faetna insurance.  There was no problem there, right?  But wait.  The pirate captains of Faetna took another look.  They started rejecting his claims too.  Soon there was a huge yellow envelope full of demands for clinical records to justify the need for the therapist.  I went to the ER, to the wonderful doctor, to the hospital in Denton where they were still taking my money away from me, and to the therapist himself.  We gathered documents.  The lovely hospital charged me $50 for paperwork and made me drive all the way there to Denton twice to accomplish it.  I got all the materials compiled, overnighted them to the insurance company’s disapproval department, and everything should’ve been fine.  But. of course, it wasn’t.   The claims for services were denied.  I am expected to pay out of pocket.  They found no clinical evidence that the services were essential and they insisted I pay the bills without help from them.

So, I am left marveling at the ingenuity of the insurance-pirate racket.  Every month we pay for all five us, hefty premiums because we have health issues that need to be prepared for, and when the problems arise, and we ask them to pay their promised share…  we have issues, and we get denied.  I have been shanghaied by the pirates of Aetna… er, I mean Faetna.

pirates of insurance

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Magic Flowers

There are magical flowers in Mrs. Pennywhistle’s garden.

And what do I mean by that?

She grows snapdragons, pansies, and nasturtiums like any good granny-gardener would.

But amongst the children of our little town, the rumor is that she’s actually a witch.

A good witch.

Not a bad witch.

Her spells only fascinate, never glammer, never take over your little-boy or little-girl mind.

This is the magical blossom she got from old Dr. Mirabilis. He’s a wizard from Peru that she found in the nursing home in Belle City. He gave it to her as a gift when his arthritic hands could no longer keep it alive on the hospital window sill. She cares for it like it was her own baby.

It’s magical power is as an aid to contemplation. It’s gentle purplish-pink color is calming when you stare at it. Its odor is mesmerizing. She uses it to talk to the doctor now that he is gone, and she can no longer visit him to talk about her flower garden.

These pretty posies are planted all around the edges of the garden.

Especially around the carrots and cabbage.

Do not stick your little noses between the pink and white petals.

They have an awful smell.

But their magic is keeping the rabbits out.

Especially from the cabbages and carrots.

And the pansies are the clowns and punchinellos of the flower bed.

See their angry eyes under bushy-black eyebrows? And their too-serious little broomlike moustaches?

How can you do anything but laugh?

And the White Rose…

That’s the avatar of Mrs. Pennywhistle herself.

When she can no longer keep that one growing, it means the gardener has gone.

And the garden will soon be gone for good as well.

And then where will the children go?

For magic flowers?

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Mangaphile

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My wife brought treasure back from the Philippines for my kids and me.  She spent over a thousand Filipino pesos at a book store over there and apparently bought out the store’s entire supply of “How-to-Draw-Manga/Anime” (though the amount she spent is not so impressive when you realize the exchange rate for a Filipino peso is .025 of an American dollar).  Anyway, I happen to love the Japanese anime-style cartoons.  I have since I was a kid in the 60’s watching Astroboy in black and white on the old Motorola TV set.  So, just as you would expect, I had to go on a drawing binge, copying ideas from the books, but putting my own spin on them.

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It is not the first time I have gone on anime-drawing binges.  Let me provide some proof of that from past posts;

So, there’s my original content for today.  The day after the 4th of July, I am celebrating one of the ways that Japan conquered the United States after World War II.  Yes, manga-style cartoons have far more kids carefully copying a cartoon style with big, cute eyes than probably ever tried to draw like Walt Kelly or Al Capp.

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Truthfully…

Truthfully… for a fiction writer, a humorist, a former school teacher of junior-high-aged kids, telling the truth is hard.  But in this post I intend to try it, and I will see if I can stand the castor-oil flavor of it on my tongue.

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  • The simple truth is, I rarely tell the unvarnished truth.  And I firmly believe I am not alone in this.
  • Yesterday I battled pirates.  (While this is not literally true, it is metaphorically true.)  They were the scurvy scum o’ the Bank-o’-Merricka Pirates who are suing me for over ten thousand dollars despite my efforts of the last two years to settle 40 thousand dollars worth of credit card debt.
  • I hired a lawyer, but in spite of what he told me, I expect to lose the lawsuit and be wiped out financially.  I also believe Donald Trump will win as President.
  • I am a pessimist.  And it helps me through life.  I am always prepared for the worst, and I can only be surprised by happy and pleasant surprises.
  • My son in the Marines has developed an interest in survivalist gear and chaos-contingency plans.  We are now apparently preparing for the coming zombie apocalypse.
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  • I like to draw nudes.  I have drawn them from real-life models who were paid for their participation.  But no bad things happened.  It was all done with professional integrity even though I am an amateur artist.  Chaperones were a part of every session.
  • In high school I identified as a Republican like my father.  In college I became a Democrat (Thanks, Richard Nixon) and voted for Jimmy Carter.  I argued with my father for eight years of Ronald Reagan and four years of George H.W. Bush.
  • My father has now voted for Barack Obama twice and will vote for Hillary this fall if he is still able.  We spent most of our conversations this summer exchanging “Can you believe its?” about Donald Trump.
  • Blue Dawn
  • I have been collecting pictures of sunrises for three years now.  I stole the idea from my childhood friend who now lives in Florida and takes beautiful ocean sunrise pictures over the Atlantic.  But I do it because I know I don’t have many more sunrises to go.  I have six incurable diseases, including diabetes, hypertension, and COPD.  I could go “BOOM! …dead” at any given moment.  I believe in savoring it while I have it.
  • I was sexually assaulted when I was ten years old.  I can only tell you this particular truth because the man who assaulted me and inflicted physical and emotional pain on me is now dead.  It is liberating to be able to say that.  But I regret forty years’ worth of treating it is a terrible secret that I could never tell anyone.
  • Telling that last truth made me cry.  Now you know why telling the truth is not easy.
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  • I really do love and admire all things having to do with Disney.  And when I was young, I really did want to find a picture of Annette naked.  There was no internet back then.  That quest helped me learn to draw the human form.  I know how bad that sounds… but, hey, I was a normal boy in many ways.  And I don’t draw her naked any more.
  • Finally, I have to say… in all honesty… I don’t know for sure that everything I have told you today is absolutely true.  Truth is a perception, even an opinion.  And I may be wrong about the facts as I know them.  The human mind works in mysterious ways.  I sometimes think I may simply be bedbug crazy.
  • (P.S.) Bedbugs are insects with very limited intelligence.  They cannot, in fact, be crazy or insane.  Their little brains are not complicated enough for that.  But it is a metaphor, and metaphors can be more truthful than literal statements.

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Filed under commentary, Disney, drawing, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, healing, humor, mental health, nudes, Paffooney, pen and ink paffoonies, pessimism, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Magic Flowers

There are magical flowers in Mrs. Pennywhistle’s garden.

And what do I mean by that?

She grows snapdragons, pansies, and nasturtiums like any good granny-gardener would.

But amongst the children of our little town, the rumor is that she’s actually a witch.

A good witch.

Not a bad witch.

Her spells only fascinate, never glammer, never take over your little-boy or little-girl mind.

This is the magical blossom she got from old Dr. Mirabilis. He’s a wizard from Peru that she found in the nursing home in Belle City. He gave it to her as a gift when his arthritic hands could no longer keep it alive on the hospital window sill. She cares for it like it was her own baby.

It’s magical power is as an aid to contemplation. It’s gentle purplish-pink color is calming when you stare at it. Its odor is mesmerizing. She uses it to talk to the doctor now that he is gone, and she can no longer visit him to talk about her flower garden.

These pretty posies are planted all around the edges of the garden.

Especially around the carrots and cabbage.

Do not stick your little noses between the pink and white petals.

They have an awful smell.

But their magic is keeping the rabbits out.

Especially from the cabbages and carrots.

And the pansies are the clowns and punchinellos of the flower bed.

See their angry eyes under bushy-black eyebrows? And their too-serious little broomlike moustaches?

How can you do anything but laugh?

And the White Rose…

That’s the avatar of Mrs. Pennywhistle herself.

When she can no longer keep that one growing, it means the gardener has gone.

And the garden will soon be gone for good as well.

And then where will the children go?

For magic flowers?

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Filed under flowers, foolishness, humor, Paffooney, pen and ink paffoonies, poetry, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Illustration Exaggerations

This will be used for several things. Most importantly it will become a part of the cover I make for my Work In Progress, The Boy… Forever.

The villain of this story claims to be an undead Chinese wizard. It is a claim that may be totally bogus, but it is a part of the idea of his villainy that needs to be illustrated to help me get to the roots of my theme; “No man lives forever. But if they accidentally do, it helps to be secretly a dragon in human form.”

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Surviving Good Luck

Good things are happening right along. I got the job as a substitute teacher. The IRS investigation turned in my favor. I got money back from them because they charged me penalties I didn’t actually owe. It was THEIR fault that they didn’t register my previous $400.00 check. I dutifully made demanded payments during the 90-day investigation. Even though it hurt economically. And, miraculously, they admitted the mistake was theirs. I have been able to write more fluidly and well than I have in a long time.

You can see that I have had some success making illustrations for the next AeroQuest re-write book in spite of arthritis in my hands.

But everything has a price. I have had to scramble to do the online testing for qualifying to be a substitute teacher while the internet access in our house has been going in and out of order. I called the provider and scheduled a technician’s visit. But the thing fixed itself mysteriously before the date of the work arrived. I finished my testing even before I called Spectrum to cancel my appointment.

I ended up having to split the refund check with my wife. The bank would not let me put the check entirely in my personal account unless she was there in person to okay it. So, even though the penalty payment came 100% from my account, I had to give her 40% of the money because her bank will let her do what my bank would not. It’s not like that was a major fight between us, or anything. But she had originally agreed to sign the check over to me 100%, and then bank rules fudged up that agreement for me.

And this morning, the Princess had a nosebleed on the way to school. I was picturing a major emergency-room expense wiping out everything. There were, after all gushers of blood enough to soak five paper towels before the bleeding stopped. She made it to school on time in spite of the necessary clean-up-and-stop-bleeding time we had to put in.

So, I am not cursed with only the blackest of bad luck. But I am not blessed with purest white of the good luck either. And for those of you who will remind me, “Mickey, you don’t believe in luck!” I will remind you that, “Yes, I don’t, but you have to explain these bizarre random rewards and punishments somehow.”

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Aeroquest… Canto22

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Canto 22 – Flying by Pinwheel

The Conference Room onboard the corsair flagship was spacious.  It was one of the largest in Tron’s fleet.  The most famous corsairs in the Imperial Rim Worlds were gathering there for a meeting.

“I missed you, Uncle Goofy,” said a cherub-faced little boy to Trav Dalgoda.

“I missed you too, Artran.  I wouldn’t have left, but two of my very best friends from Questor needed my help.”

“The Aero Brothers?” asked Artran, eyes opening wide like brown blooms in a sunny field.

“Yes,” Trav nodded.  “And your father got rather mad at me too.”

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“He’s always like that.  He always forgives me, though.”

Trav nodded at the boy.  Artran was no more than seven years old.  He was a very open-faced, trusting little man.  It was difficult to believe his parents were two of the most infamous space pirates in known space.

The sour-faced pirate known as the King of Killers came into the room and sat down opposite Trav.  He was a thin, bitter man with no sense of humor.  Trav liked him anyway.

“How’s the pirate business, King, old Jester?”

“Shut up, Goofy, or I’ll rip your head off and stuff it in your… er…”  He looked at Artran, “mouth.”

“That’s not very nice, Mr. Killer,” muttered Artran softly.

“Oh, I know, boy.  I don’t mean it.  It’s just that this clown and thief has caused us too much trouble.”

“I apologize, King.  I had to help my friends, didn’t I?”

“I respect Ged Aero,” shot back the King.  “If you’da said that he needed the artifact, I’da voted to give it to him.  You don’t just steal stuff from Tron.  Where’s your sense of honor?”

“I’m not sure I ever had one.  If I did, I probably sold it and forgot about it.”

“The Aero Brothers are colonizing a planet?” King asked for conformation.

“No.  It already had a really cool civilization on it when we found it. They are merely taking ownership.”

Just then, Elvis the Cruel walked into the room, his guitar slung over his back.  He walked with a swagger and wore a dirty white muscle shirt.  He was combing his greasy black pompadour with a practically toothless comb.  Beside him walked the gorgeous lady pirate called Sheherazade.  She wore a Princess Leia-style bronze slave bikini, though no one remembered why the heck such clothing was called that.  It had something to do with a former emperor’s favorite comic book or something.  Her skin, and she was showing practically all of it, was a deep ebony color.  She sat down next to Artran and motioned Elvis to sit beside her.

“Thank you, thank you very much,” said Elvis.

“So, Trav,” said the sultry Sheherazade, “How did you get Tron to let you live?”

“Oh, Sheherry-baby, you know I’m Tron’s best buddy.  The old Jester could never kill me.”

The beautiful lady laughed with a charm made more elegant by her tawdry companions.  She seemed a regal Egyptian goddess.  The King of Killers watched her longingly.

Elvis took out a cigarette butt and lit it, letting it hang on the slack part of his lower lip.

Pirates from other corsair fleets began to arrive.  Razor Conn of the Black Hawk fleet showed up wearing a white cowboy hat and sunglasses with his second in command, the mysterious oriental, Shad Blackstone, by his side.  The Degenerate, one-eyed Captain of the Corsair Frigate Palace of Foul Odors showed up in his crusty Lancer Battle Suit.  The dwarf that traveled with him was named Stinky because of his unique ability to produce overpowering flatulence on cue.  Several other Lancer Corsair captains were also there.   Fez Amin of the dreaded Monopoly Brigade was there.  His bald, tattooed head was skull-like and menacing.  Arkin Cloudstalker was there with seven of his beautiful Lady Knights, captains of the White Sword Corsairs.

Tron came in with both his beautiful wife Maggie the Knife and Dana Cole.  They both sat with him at the head of the conference table.

Tron held up a hand for silence and attention.  All eyes fixed on the man with the scar.  He had a commanding presence above and beyond the many forceful personalities gathered on the ship.

“You’ve heard the word circulated already,” began Tron.  “News travels fast among the Corsair Brotherhood of Gentlemen Adventurers.”  Everyone laughed at the high-tone name for the scum of the universe.  “I have come here to declare war.  We have been double-crossed by the smuggler prince and planetary duke of the planet White Palm.  Count Nefaria tried to take us all out by acquiring ancient artifacts of incredible power.  The Pinwheel Corsairs intend to take him on in his own system and take him out.  I am not asking you to help me, though help is welcome.  I am asking you to refuse any call for help he might make.”

“And what happens if we decide we like Count Nefaria more than we like you?” growled Fez Amin.

Elvis stood up and glared across the table at Amin.  “Then we bust you up like a bunch of Louisiana hound dawgs!”

Fez Amin laughed.  “What does that mean?”

Tron stared at the Monopoly Brigade’s tattooed leader.  “Are you taking me on?”

“Naw,” said Fez Amin.  “I’m just asking what if?  Goober there gave me a funny enough answer to satisfy my need to laugh.”

There was a lot of nervous laughter.  Everyone feared Fez Amin.  He was dangerously insane and full of bloodlust.  They feared Tron and his ace pilots as well.  Few openly laughed at the eccentric behavior of a pilot like Elvis the Cruel.  The possible consequences of such disrespect made everyone with a sane brain nervous.

“You tell me now,” said Tron to the group, “Who has a contract with Count Nefaria?”

No one raised a hand.

“Who is against my plan?”

Again, no hands went up.

“We hear you met a group of Corsairs called the Wraiths,” said Razor Conn.  “You know much about them?”

“No,” said Tron.  “But we beat them hard.”

“Let me give you this to help your cause,” said Conn, tossing a computer log core onto the table.  “That is proof that the Wraith Corsairs work for both Nefaria and Syn Corporation.”

Everyone gasped but Tron and Maggie.

“Robots?” asked Tron.

“That’s my guess,” said Conn, smiling beneath his mirrored sunglasses and white cowboy hat.  “It cost me forty fighters and one Black Hawk Frigate to get that bit of evidence.  I’m not gonna help you kill Nefaria, but I mean to bet on you and the Pinwheels to succeed.”

“I thank you for that,” said Tron with a gracious nod.

Arkin Cloudstalker spoke up then.  “We hear you helped Ged Aero escape the Imperium in return for your so-called Crown of Stars ancient artifact.  And we hear Ged now owns a planet.”

“I won’t deny it,” said Tron.

“What part does that Crown play in all of this?” asked Cloudstalker.  “That’s what I’d like to know.”

“You know the Crown has the power of the Ancients,” said Tron.  “If we knew how to use it, we would tell you what we plan, but we need to research it more.”

“So, if we throw in with you, does that mean we are also supporting Ged Aero?”  Cloudstalker’s face was grim as he got to the crucial question.

“I haven’t negotiated with the Aero Brothers yet.  You can see I have their friend Trav Dalgoda as a member of my team already,” said Tron, indicating Goofy who was playing with Artran and oblivious to all around him.  “I think it’s safe to say we respect Ged Aero and intend to throw our support behind him as he opens new systems in unknown space.”

“Well,” said Cloudstalker, “I believe Ged Aero is the one man who can solve our problems with the Imperium.  I believe only true integrity can undo the Gordian Knots of Galtorr.  I’m adding the White Swords to the Pinwheel Corsairs in this attack on Nefaria.  I say one less nasty old spider in the Galtorr Imperium is a good thing!”

Most of the corsairs applauded Cloudstalker.  Fez Amin growled.

“Ged Aero is a Werewolf!” shouted Amin’s tattooed second in command.

“Your foolishness is good for business!” mocked Fez Amin.  He jabbed a large polished knife intao the conference table.  “If you kill or capture Nefaria, Admiral Brona Tang will be hunting you down like the dogs you are.  The Imperial Navy hasn’t paid any attention to you before now.  That will change.  I’ll be the only corsair still operating with a reasonably valid Letter of Marque.  I’ll be laughing at your cold, dead corpses floating in endless space!”

Fez Amin and the Monopoly Brigade stormed out of the conference as if in anger.  Tron frowned.  It was more likely a tactical retreat.  Amin was now part of the enemy.

Trav reached across the table to retrieve the fancy toad-sticker.  “Sorry about the table, Maggie,” he said sweetly to Artran’s fierce mother.  “I’ll just keep this cool knife.”

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Role-Playing Games in the Classroom

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Zeus, the god of Storms and the Sky

In the early 90’s a fellow teacher became acutely aware of the effect the role-playing games I was playing at home after school had on the cognitive abilities of the fatherless boys I was constantly entertaining.  She suggested that maybe, if it was working at home with a few students and former students, it could also work in the classroom with all students.

This, of course was a daunting classroom activity to carry out, but enough of a creative challenge to my story telling abilities that I simply had to try.

I began with a cheap RPG book about adventuring D&D style with characters from Greek Myth.  This was an opportunity not only to play adventure games, but to teach a little bit about history and a lot about mythology.

So I created generic character sheets using my own personal copier, my own copy paper, and my own overhead projector plastic overlays.

I created adventures that could be conducted on the overhead with dice and each kid having their own set of skills and useful items.  We conducted Olympic games and included mythological creatures like Tritons and Centaurs as player characters.  We learned about the city of Olympia, the city of Argos, the city of Corinth, Athens, Sparta, and even Atlantis.

I let students draw their character from a hat on strips of paper that contained a boy option and a girl option.  I even let students trade for the character they wanted and we learned negotiating skills along with problem-solving skills.

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                                                                                     Demeter, goddess of fertility (which you can’t say in a junior high classroom, so goddess of crops and farming.)

Most of the stories were driven by a kidnapping where the beautiful daughter of one of the players was kidnapped immediately after the Olympic medals were awarded.  The villain would take her to his evil island base, and the players would have to work together to buy or steal a boat.  Gods and goddesses could be called on to intervene, and sometimes they actually did.  Another story line began with the sack of Troy, during which the players either murder or witness the death of a young Trojan boy who just happens to be Heracles’ son.

That story took the players on a quest of penance to visit the underworld and retrieve the boy in the same way that Orpheus tried to rescue his lady love Eurydice.  Potentially, Heracles would even join the quest himself if none of the player characters were the actual killer.  And, of course, all sorts of encounters with monsters would ensue.

 

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I ended up using about as much of my personal resources as a story-teller and a cartoonist to create those adventures as I had available.  But I had students tell me that the week of classroom time spent playing that problem-solving myth game was one of the most memorable learning experiences they ever had.  I never tried it with a high school class, only middle school, and then mostly with 7th graders.  But I think the experiment was very successful from about 1992 to 2004, and it taught me even more about teaching than it ever taught them about mythology.

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Grandma Frozenfield

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In order to understand this story, you have to have a little bit of background first… a solid sense of context, in order to avoid anyone feeling that I might be ridiculing someone in an unfair or unloving way.  So here’s a bit of context.  I was a teacher for 31 years.  I was considered a good teacher, in fact, a master teacher by something like 28 different principals and assistant principals, while only 3 felt like I was an incompetent mess, and two of those were eventually fired themselves.  I only got fired once.  So it can be safely assumed I know what incompetence in teaching is and can reliably identify it in others.  Further, incompetence in teaching does not make you a bad person.  Far too many people who believe they could be a good teacher have traits that would torpedo their own boat if they actually set sail on the sea of education.  So, even though Grandma Frozenfield was a horrible teacher, she was actually a very nice and caring person, and makes a wonderful character for stories that lovingly make fun of bad teaching.  And I should remind you, I don’t use real names when talking about people from my past so that their privacy is not violated by whatever my artist’s eye might reveal about them.  The portrait I added to this post does not even look like her.

Grandma Frozenfield was a mid-year emergency hire who filled the position of 8th grade math teacher during my first year of teaching.   She was already sixty-eight years old when she came to Cotulla, Texas, and she had five years of previous teaching experience in schools up north.  How she survived five years in schools more competently run than Texas schools in the 80’s, I will never be able to figure out.  She was able to hang on in our school for several years only because we were desperately strapped for warm bodies to teach Math classes in Texas junior high schools.  Only idiots and coaches ever took on the job willingly.

Grandma Frozenfield had seventeen dogs and ninety-nine cats at home.  That right there tells you something about which stereotype she easily fits into.  But she was also a woman of great mystery.  Her father had been a famous college professor in Minnesota.  She had inherited a number of very valuable books from him, and kept them in random boxes stacked in dusty corners of the old run-down house she bought in town.  She was actually quite bright, and though she would have spells of foggy thinking and confusion, she could capably discuss mathematics and physics and other sciences with me.  She had a daughter who showed up during her third year of teaching at our school, and the daughter had a cute little son of about seven years old.  Neither she nor her daughter had ever been married.  In fact, rumor had it the daughter was telling people she was adopted.  And her daughter and grandson disappeared from her life about four years after they started living with Grandma.

But the old lady was a spectacularly bad teacher.  As bright as she was, she could never talk to kids or relate to kids in ways that kids could understand.  She seemed to sincerely hate kids, calling them bad names in the classroom and telling them in detail how they would one day die in prison (a prediction that unfortunately came true for a couple of them).  She would come into the teacher’s workroom after class plastered with spitballs on her back and in her hair.

A couple of the sweeter and more pro-active girls in her classes tried to protect her a bit from vandals and explained lessons to others in class to mitigate the chaos a bit.

She did not engage with students.  Other than a few of the sweeter girls, she did not talk to them about anything but math.  They didn’t understand her, and so they didn’t like her.  She did not know how to monitor a classroom, so the infidels were on a rampage all the time in her room.  It would definitely have felt like being in Hell to be her, teaching in that classroom.  Why she ever wanted to be a teacher, she never said.  I know it was in her family history.  I know she was a caring, lovely individual.  But when she died of throat cancer at 77 it was a lonely and sad thing.  She had been forced to teach until two years before the end because of medical bills.  She was never happy as a teacher that I observed.  But she never missed a day without good reason, either.  Good people don’t necessarily make good teachers.  But she taught me things far beyond the 8th grade math she tried and failed to teach to students.  I don’t think of her often.  But I do think of her.  She and her 17 dogs and 99 cats are all gone now.  But not forgotten.

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