Monthly Archives: May 2020

The story of Roy’s stepchildren

IMG_1791Okay, I bet I know what you’re thinking, “When did Roy get stepchildren and what do these tomatoes have to do with anything?” I promise you, it all fits together and I’ll explain.

I have never claimed to be a master gardener or anything like that. I have, over the years, started many plants from seed, pretty much all of which barely made it out of the “popping out of the ground” stage. At the present moment, I have an outside garden in which radishes and peas are making a sporadic appearance and beans and carrots have apparently elected not to appear at all. The tomatoes and peppers were bought as mature plants and have been holding nightly meetings to come up with new lists of demands—not enough sun, too much water, etc. I don’t think they like the neighborhood!

This is not necessarily a discouraging thing for me. I am used to failures on the gardening front. I have even come to accept and embrace those failings. I admire the flowers and plants of other people with a big smile on my face and a silent curse on their green thumbs stuck in the back of my throat…okay, maybe I am a little bitter.

But this spring, things are different. As you can see from the picture, I, me, Jackie Fauth, the plant killer, have raised six tomato plants from seed! These little girls are all mine due to my diligence, tender care, and maybe even the lullabies I have been singing them. That’s right, they LIKE my singing!

Every day, I go out to the garage to the table by the window with just the right amount of warmth and sun and I give water to them and I praise them–obviously, Prunella is the biggest and most beautiful, but I try not to have favorites, because Jammy and Saucy (the most size-impaired ones) get very jealous.

Roy has been watching this development with pretty much no comment. He does keep pointing out in a carefully logical voice that they are way behind the others and probably will never reach the point where they will squeeze out a tomato before the frost hits. He doesn’t know that I plan to keep them in the house this winter…maybe on his side of the bed!

I have been taking my girls out each day for a little sun. We have a visit; I tell them what I’ve been doing (yes, it HAS been a long pandemic, why do you ask?) and they show me their new leaves and the rate at which their roots are growing. We have a wonderful relationship and I really feel like a Master Gardener.

This week, however, I have begun to realize that Roy has perhaps unknowingly (but I don’t think so) been abusing my girls. I go outside and find them sitting ON THE GROUND with no thought to their well-being. When I complained that he was not providing them with the proper amount of moisture, he SPRAYED them with water! I went out to check on them and they were laying over, looking so sad.

“What did you do to them?” I raged. “Look at them! They are distraught!”

“I watered them, along with all the other plants,” he said, looking as though I’d lost my mind.

“You don’t dump water on their heads!” I was outraged. “You sprinkle some water GENTLY around their roots, or better still, put it in the bottom of the tray and they can use it when they are ready. They are traumatized; it will take me hours to get them comforted and back to normal.”

“Something’s not normal around here, that’s for sure,” he muttered as he started to walk away.

“Another thing,” I had just remembered, “I came out here yesterday when the wind was whipping and found these girls, BENT OVER, they were so terrified of the wind. How could you do that?”

It was then that he made reference to three things: 1) My gardening was a trifle obsessed; 2) Mental health needs to be carefully nurtured and 3) He didn’t sign on to this marriage to play stepfather to a bunch of tomatoes.

Some people are just selfish!

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Yoga not what I envisioned

woman in black tank top and black leggings standing near wall
Photo by Retha Ferguson on

Jackie Wells-Fauth

In case anyone is having problems with their eyesight, no, the woman in the picture is not me. I put it in because when I think of yoga, this is what I always envisioned. A beautiful, graceful stand on only one leg. My yoga is as similar to this as a flying cow is to a fairy (me being the cow, of course).

I have to admit I’ve come to the world of yoga rather late in the game and I may not be looking for the same things out of it that others are. I was told that if I did yoga, my balance would improve, my overall body toning would be better and I would experience things I never had before. One of those is true, but not exactly in the way they may have intended. The experiences have been profound!

Since I started late, I started slow, with a yoga for seniors routine. Now, the woman who was demonstrating the procedures had gray hair, but she didn’t bend like any senior I have ever seen and I certainly didn’t bend anything like her. She would demonstrate a move with precision and grace and I would follow with inaccuracy and imbalance. My eyes bulged, my joints popped and my body moved with all the beauty of a hog in the mud waller.

I was determined, however, and little by little, I began to master the moves she showed me. And most days, I am able to put my body in regular motion within a few hours of having done my yoga. I haven’t mastered that standing with my hands folded and one leg up, though. Oh, I can fold my hands all right, but that makes it difficult to grab the things around me when I attempt to bring my leg up and balance on only one limb! Now there’s an experience I never had before, so maybe all that hype is right!

Starting small was the theme of this project and so I am learning to do squats and body twists and ankle lifts. Well, I think I’m doing the squats correctly, as long as I don’t watch myself on the bends. I do a fair job of body twists, but when it comes to arching my back and staring upwards, I still see spots before my eyes…although maybe not as many;  I haven’t counted. The ankle lifts have been very helpful, but there again, I don’t like to watch that move. I think I’m being very graceful and ballet-like and a look in the mirror tells me that one wrong twist and the ballerina will be permanently scarred…not to mention the damage to things surrounding me if I go down.

So, the yoga actually has helped me with balance, and I know my body moves a little better and definitely I’ve experienced things I never did before, so I may have to amend my previous statement and admit that yoga has been beneficial. And if I ever master that standing on one leg with my hands folded, it’ll probably be because I’m actually leaning on the kitchen counter behind me. Happy yoga to you all!



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Put a mask on it…

94590223_3061795107192232_1116854340645027840_oI remember seeing world news over the years where in large, metropolitan areas, people wore masks. Either there was a lot of illness (although not like now) or a lot of smog or someone was just susceptible. I always felt bad for those people. Imagine my surprise to wake up one morning and discover that WE are those people!

Now, I’m not really here to debate the subject of whether we should wear masks or not. If you want to go without a mask, do so, but as for me and mine, I think we’ll wear masks. Our choice.

The real issue here, of course, is what kind of mask to wear. I have heard a thousand debates and a thousand types of masks touted and I am still not quite sure. I know we are not to wear the N-95 masks, as our medical people need them far worse. Since the 3-Ms and other mask-making businesses of the world are busy making those masks, we must fend for ourselves.

Now, I spend way too much time on Facebook and that has never been more apparent than now. If you spend five minutes on Facebook, someone will be showing you a new and more clever way to make masks. There are patterns and tutorials for every conceivable style of mask. And it changes quickly. Straight across the face masks soon gave way to a more fitted mask, which gave way to masks you didn’t have to sew. I like those best.

There is the heel of a sock mask, but I had problems with that. First of all, you have to cut up a perfectly good sock or you have to use one of the mis-mated old ones in the back of your drawer. I didn’t have any new socks, so I tried the mis-mated one. Now, I KNOW the sock was clean, but there is something about putting my nose in a sock that has been on my foot, that makes me very reluctant. I know there’s no smell, but trust me, there’s a smell!

My husband had a similar problem after I came up with the idea to use an old padded bra. I saw a great tutorial on cutting the cups apart and even using the elastic from the straps to secure it. Then my husband weighed in: he would not appear in public with half a bra strapped across his face! Some people are so fussy, but lucky for him, I couldn’t breathe in it, so I couldn’t wear it either.

In the end, after trying paper towels with staples, coffee filters and those neat ones you can make with a handkerchief and two pony tail holders (I couldn’t) I was getting ready to buy one made to look like a Minnesota Vikings poster or a cow licking its lips or even the one that looks like you have your faced shoved in the front zipper of your jeans.

My lovely daughter rescued us from that by making us some wonderful, durable masks. She sent them to us, along with a batch of delicious cookies, so we couldn’t resist showing our ingratitude with the picture I have included. We figured out how to eat the cookies and use the masks, but I will never again take for granted the simple act of drawing a deep, unimpeded breath…if I ever feel safe enough to go out without a mask again!

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Cleaning ditches causes b…., well, you know

There’s a little tradition that we have in rural America that I think is relatively unique to our small-town existence. It is the tradition of cleaning the ditches…twice a year civic groups, church groups, youth groups, etc., trudge through the ditches of our major highways, picking up the things that someone thoughtlessly or accidentally sent out a car window as they were traveling.

Now if you have ever done this, you know what an adventure it is. You have your giant garbage bag which is so large it trails out behind you, your gloves that will hopefully withstand anything up to and including Superman’s x-ray eyes, and sharp vision, ready to sort out those semi-decomposed pizza boxes hiding in the weeds.

It is my firm belief that beer and soda pop companies should be required to package their beverages in loud, patterned cans so they are easily discernible in the grass. As I’m staggering along, I sometimes don’t see those cans or bottles because their general makeup camouflages them. And there are some people out there who should seriously think about joining the baseball major leagues, because from a moving vehicle, they managed to pitch some of those things quite a distance. I rescued a number of them from the fence line on the far side of the ditch. I’d be impressed..except I probably shouldn’t be impressed by the people who throw their trash out the windows.

It’s true that you just never know what you might find. Last night’s haul included a lot of pizza boxes, a disquieting number of beer cans, some huge pieces of corrugated cardboard that didn’t want to fit in my bag and a number of latex gloves which were designed to cover not just the hand, but the whole arm; like something a woman might wear with a formal. I’m sure there’s a legitimate purpose to those gloves, but my imagination is working overtime on what they might have been protecting the hand and arm from. Needless to say, I handled those with the all the delicacy of a box of nitro-glycerin! The most exciting thing I found was a small calendar with a nude man decorating the top. And there was I, wondering what I was going to hang in that little nook in my hallway!

Things we are picking up are only half the fun. That mile and a half walk on uneven ground, through long grass which feels like sand or snow drifts is always fun. I like to think I’m fairly attuned to walking, but after ditch cleaning, I’m always humbled. The grass and sloping ground is hard enough, but add to that the fact that there are many holes dug by some animal or another, which make the possibility of shoving your foot down one and twisting an ankle very exciting. I have to admit to you that by the time I have drug through those ditches, I am so tired, that I sincerely believe that I would not notice a dead body lying in the weeds unless I trod directly upon it…and then I’d be too tired to put it in my sack!

Besides the trash in the ditches, there is always the adventure of the critters who actually live there. Nothing is such a thrill as picking up  a piece of plastic or cardboard only to uncover the snake or mouse that is living under it. They are understandably outraged by the disturbance and they are also not too crazy about the shrieking and stomping around that I do!

Ditch cleaning is over for the spring and in truth, I’m happy to do what I can to increase our environmental beauty. All that’s left for me now is to decide what to do with the trash. I mean, I know that the majority should just hit the dump, but I DID find a cigarette pack with four cigarettes in it. I mean, it IS finders keepers, right?


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How to be Teacher of the Year in the middle of a pandemic

Forgive the huge title, but I just can’t express the nature of this blog in any shorter or easier way. This year of “unprecedented, uncertain, unexplored, uncharted” experiences, has one more for me: how do you make it as Teacher of the Year in the middle of a pandemic?


First of all, just let me say that being selected as teacher of the year for my school is the greatest honor I can achieve. Any teacher who tells you that they don’t want to be teacher of the year is lying. Being Teacher of the Year is the educator’s Academy Award. And as you can see, the hardware is a whole lot cooler!

So, we’ve established: I wanted to be Teacher of the Year. I just never visualized it in quite this way before. Because to be Teacher of the Year on a normal year means honors and acknowledgement and recognition at graduation…along with the cool hardware. You are confident in your skills and you know just what to do in acknowledging the honor.

Now let’s cut to this year. I am going along, teaching my classes, boring some, inspiring others and generally lighting little fires under all of them…face-to-face, in the same old, teacher of the year way. Until the Pandemic hit. Suddenly, life has a whole new edge and so does the so-called Teacher of the Year.

While we were still in school, the Teacher of the Year was yanking her pens, paper, stapler, tape, you name it, out of the hands of startled students yelling, “I’ll do it! Don’t touch it!” And then taking the fore-named article over to the container by the door to douse them in hand sanitizer, while the unimpressed students were wondering to themselves just when the old girl had gone around the bend. Not very noble or sharing, but quite the germ-fighting strategy.

In addition, there was that added layer of Teacher of the Year finesse displayed every time a student coughed or sneezed. “I want that boy out of here, he just coughed for third time this week, and I’m convinced he’s infected!” Somehow, you might have expected the teacher of the year to be a little more sympathetic and a lot less pathetic, but the times, they are a-changing.

Now we come to that plague even greater than the coronavirus: remote learning. The teacher of the year is now reduced to sending out mind-numbingly long e-mails begging for those assignments not yet handed in…no, not from this week–you’re missing the one that I assigned a month ago–before school got out? Check the instructions I very carefully laid out for you in the remote classroom site! What? They’re not there? Hang on a minute!

Then, there are the endless videos. Until this pandemic struck, I had never videoed myself in any classroom environment because the wiggling and squirming I have to do to watch myself on film was just too painful. It does not become the Teacher of the Year. No matter, suddenly, I making videos on how to join classroom discussions or how to sew on buttons…”okay, you knot that thread like this, oops, that didn’t work, well, let’s try again…for the fourth time.” In case you’re interested, this year’s Teacher of the Year never did get it right!

I know there are many things out there much more difficult than having to navigate the waters of Teacher of the Year in a year where every teacher was pretty much teacher of the year…I just can’t think of any right now. So, I’ll put my beautiful hardware on the shelf where it catches the most sun, I’ll bask in the pleasure of receiving the honor and I will always remember it as unique. But if you see me standing stock still, looking out, as if at a large audience and smiling and nodding, you will know that I am envisioning the applause I would have received at graduation had those poor seniors had a normal one. Hey, even the Teacher of the Year can dream, right?

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May 9, 2020 · 5:00 pm