Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Pine State of mind

I started off my Memorial Day weekend 'summering' in Maine here in my very own backyard.

Thanks to an invite from the mother of a former student, I was tipped off to the inaugural Moxie festival at the A La Carte Catering on First Avenue North in Jacksonville Beach.

Although I teach middle school at the beach, it is usually a rare treat for me to cross the 'ditch' (More formally, the Intracoastal Waterway or San Pablo River to partake in some New England cuisine and camaraderie.

Upon my arrival, I was greeted by Jennifer Lobrano Plouff, the event coordinator/chef/owner. She made me feel at home and like a member of the family as she regaled me with some fun facts about the oldest soft drink in America. She also treated me to a taste of Moxie barbecue riblets and complimentary sips of Moxie.

After I placed my order for lunch and entered their raffle for some Moxie memorabilia, I picked up an application to join the Moxie fan club, er, New England Moxie Congress. For only $10 a year, I get a subscription to their 'Nerve Food News' and stay in the loop on all things Moxie.

Speaking of the New England Moxie Congress, this 'loosely-knit band of Moxie enthusiasts' said that the A La Carte Moxie festival is the first one of the year. Kudos to A La Carte!

As I dined on my lobster roll, chips and Moxie (natch), executive chef/owner Roger Plouff gave an interesting talk on the history of Moxie. It am sure that my fellow patrons were as enlightened by this lecture as I was. For one thing, I learned of how the 'Moxie man' depicted on their cans and bottles was the inspiration for Uncle Sam's famous 'I Want You!' recruitment posters and how there is a tragic Moxie connection at the old Aragon Hotel in downtown Jacksonville (Forsyth and Julia Streets, in case you want to know where...)

It was a fun lunch and learn as I heard one patron speak of taking a regimen of Moxie mixed with milk to gain enough weight to play high school football. We also related how to find Moxie in local stores (e.g. Fresh Market)

Now that I am back home, I am ready to spread the good news about this unique place here in North Florida. A Boston transplant or New England exile would find the best cure for homesickness at A La Carte. This definitely tides me over until I return to Maine to see my big sister and her family up in Bath!

For more information on A La Carte Catering, click here!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Radio Free Spirit: Mad Men edition

Having seen the latest episode of Mad Men, I was once again reminded why they have such an awesome soundtrack on this popular television series.

Take a look at this gem from the "Man With a Plan" episode. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

She will always be there to kiss it better.

Our mothers know the right thing to say and the right thing to do for us to heal when we are young. Their healing words and deeds help to create happy, healthy and whole lives for us as we move from scrapes and cuts to greater challenges that we face.

This is what makes motherhood a sacred part of our society. Besides the American flag and apple pie, it is our mothers we celebrate as part and parcel of our very existence as citizens. But what is it about our mothers that inspires such heartfelt emotions and causes us to shout “Hi, Mom!” when we are on camera. What is it about our mothers that allows us to fight to the death should someone besmirch their reputations?

Wherever we stand with our mothers or where they reside in this universe, we are their living legacy. Whether because of them or in spite of them, it is up to us to create a new world for us and our children.

They nursed us. They fed us. They clothed us. They introduced us to all we know about ourselves and our humanity. They truly do work for a higher power. Even when they feel powerless to fight the greater challenges in our lives, they continue to help in whatever way they can.

We are their pride and joy and they are our foundation forevermore. And the greatest gift a mother can receive in return is gratitude expressed for their labors, their sacrifices and their love on our behalf.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Playing games with teachers is not very fun

It is time to stop playing games with teachers.

The politics of public education today reminds me of Calvinball.

I learned about the art of absurdity from the old Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Although I was in junior high school at the time, I still remember the game in which Calvin and his imaginary tiger friend changed the rules as their game progressed.

This is how education reformers are handling teachers and the work of teaching in public schools. We believe that, by repeatedly changing education, we will finally arrive at the panacea. Instead, we continue to discard failed plans and replace them with temporary fixes that end up failing in the end.

If we truly appreciate teachers, as we should this Teacher Appreciation Week, we can craft policy that really works for our public schools.