Saturday, November 16, 2013

Metro Foodie Tajnik

What's a Tajnik you ask? It is Polish for a secret hiding place. However, V & M Polish Kitchen on 13 Mile Road in Royal Oak should not be a secret. It should be on every food lover's frequent flyer route. It is especially great for comfort dinners and breakfast.

I am not a food writer in general. Though I love to eat, this blog isn't really about food but it is about the things that I appreciate and notice in life and V and M restaurant is one of them. Unfortunately, it is also often nearly empty. I do not want to see it go away.

All the food is homemade by a woman who looks like the quintessential Polish Granny. We often stop in to buy her pierogi to take home and parcel out as if they were golden truffles....only better. They come with your choice of four fillings; bacon and potato, sauerkraut, farmer's cheese, and cheese and spinach. They are all worthy endeavors.

I highly recommend the Polish Omelette for breakfast. It comes with smoked kielbasa, sauerkraut and swiss cheese, a delightfully decadent combination that is so gosh-darn good my mouth waters every time I drive past the place. For dinner you simply must try the combo so that you get all the delicious things I already mentioned, smoke kielbasa, sauerkraut, perogi along with a luscious, tasty stuffed cabbage.

I've been told the true test of Polish cooking is the pickle soup. V & M's pickle soup is a deep, tangy salty balanced perfection. The wait staff is incredibly attentive and friendly. Basically, the restaurant makes you feel right at home. I highly recommend it on a cold winter's night, if not before.

Monday, July 29, 2013


yellow conesI need grease to livewhat is leftthrough the lauraparkedGarden on many faiths
for them or for uscaught in teethburning pathbroken treesbeatrice is not happyOutside looking in
entering the ceremonyjournal burningmagnificentlabyrinthin the labyrithflowers for our enemies
seed cloudblue bfwindhillforgiveness

Forgiveness, a set on Flickr.
“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”
― C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

We went to GilChrist with intention. Burn our journals. Forgive our past. We knew the pipeline construction would be in full swing but deliberately went anyway.

We did the work we came to do. The ceremony was easy. Bearing witness...awful. You can see some of the wreckage in the pictures but photos seldom do justice to the enormity of any landscape and these are no different.

I should have recorded the sounds. There were two that still haunt. A hawk that circled and cried out over and over again. The screams were somewhere between outrage and heartbreak. That was my interpretation anyway. Hawks seldom announce their presence. It kind of defeats their purpose. The other was heard on and off all day Friday and Saturday. The breaking of trees. Cracking them off at their roots. It seemed more violent than if they took a chainsaw or ax to them. Instead they bulldozed them. Most splintered as they fell. At the end of each day they burned the stumps and left over, unusable pieces in immense, smoky fires. Up and down the corridor. It was sort of like the burning of Fangorn Forest in Lord of the Rings, except more open, more machinery, no evil wizards. Humans, not Orcs.

The sky was full of dark, heavy clouds, for the most part. The weather turned cold. Coincidence? I think not.

But it wasn't all gloomy. The bees still went about their business. The sun broke through on occasion. The journals burned. All my reckoning and bad poetry. It felt, not good, but somehow right. They were 30 years of repeating myself to myself.

It is easy to be mad at the men who carry out this task. But, I must own my place in it. I drove to GilChrist. A Chevy Malibu. 30 miles to the gallon at best. We left flowers on their trucks. It was a peace offering but also a hope that we, and they, can be conscious of the price of convenience. I know the earth will forgive. Me?... I'm working on it.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer Learning, Sunshine, and Theta

Photo by Megan Black
Summer Learning Loss? Hogwash, I say. Bananas. Balderdash.  As if learning something different isn't learning. There are a million ways to grow your brain in the summer, none of which has to do with memorizing math facts. Not that I am against math fact memorization. I'm old school when it comes to some things and that is one of them. Unless of course you try and try and it just doesn't happen for you and then I say, no sense spitting into the wind. Use a calculator.

We all need a rest. We need to get bored. Remember that? It was when I actually slowed down enough in summer as a kid that I discovered what I really liked to do. And, I noticed things I never noticed in my hustle and bustle. As an adult, one of the benefits of being a teacher is that I get this same opportunity every year. It isn't that I stop learning. Au Contraire. I prefer to believe that my mind works differently. Deeper. More creatively. 

Energy Psychology, one of the interests I plan to investigate this summer, says that when our brains are in Theta state there is a free flow of learning that not only enters our brains but flows right into our nervous system all the way down to our cells and DNA. Theta is the primary brainwave pattern when we are born until we are nearly 6 or 7. It is the pattern of immersive play. After the age of reason, so to speak, we only enter Theta phase just before sleep, just upon waking, in deep hypnosis, or deep meditation. I hope to spend a lot of time in Theta and sunshine for the next several weeks. 

When visiting the alpha or beta states I may attend one of these Professional Developments. Maybe you might wish to as well.

Edutopia Virtual Workshops
Brainpop Webinars
Discovery Education Network Webinars

If you are a Michigan Educator please check out Learnport's offerings. Some of  the folks I admire the most are hosting classes with Michigan's Virtual Learning in conjunction with Learnport

Summer is a great time to plan, practice, and play with technology integration. In fact, a couple years ago my Specials teammates and I made a cheesy, but fun, silent movie that demonstrates training and planning are the meat and potatoes of successful integration. The brief but hopefully entertaining, silent film is embedded below for your enjoyment with apologies to Chaplin and du Fresnay. 

In the meantime....

The Teacher will be able to:
  • Sleep late
  • Lay down in the soft grass and watch the clouds roll by
  • Grow tomatoes
  • Put your feet in a cool stream
  • Read
  • Watch the doings at a pond
  • Climb a tree
  • Listen to the birds
  • Breathe
  • Notice 
  • Appreciate

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Splits Baratta: Adaptive Tech and the Maker's Movement

Contrary to what you may be thinking, Splits Baratta is not an Atlantic City show girl. She is a special needs duckling. Hatched just this Memorial Day, Splits is a champion for the Maker's Movement. She was born with a duck form of hip dysplasia. Hence the name. Other duckling Moms may have given up on Splits but not Angeline Baratta and her duckling mom mentor Beth Ahee. Beth suggested Ang move Splits in with the healthier ducklings when Splits and her sibling, affectionately known as Tumor, were languishing in the incubator. Splits went to Ang. Tumor to Beth. Both were welcomed into their brood. Tumor began to thrive within hours. So much so he was renamed Butterball. Splits made her way to the food dish where she spread out and stayed, making her none too popular.

Cut to Rosemary Barker, the Grosse Pointe Academy's consistently cheerful, ever determined, school nurse. She looked into the duck defect and discovered that it can be corrected with physical therapy. It was suggested that the duckling's legs be taped together. Splits was not at all happy with this arrangement. (Her outrage was adorable though.) So, Rosemary tenasciously tried a number of different everyday objects to force Splits' legs together including a tiny condiment cup and a toilet paper roll. This combo seemed to do the trick. When Splits is in the cup she can move her little winglets to balance and stand. When she is in the toilet paper roll she is calmer but it holds her legs in place. After just a couple of sessions, Splits was walking more normally. We are confident after a few days of physical therapy she has a fighting chance at a quacking good life. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

The maker's movement is founded on playful inquiry.  Rosemary's quest was born of necessity. This makes a powerful combination. Jay Silver, wearer of merry pants and inventor of Makey Makey, An Invention Kit for Everyone talks about all the uses of his whimsical kit in his fascinating TED Talk: Hack a Banana.  Jay shares the story of a father who used his kit to make computers more accessible for his child with Cerebral Palsy. Depending on the nature of the spasticity, many people with CP are limited to a single switch for communication with a computer. This resourceful Dad put the Makey Makey Kit into a glove and used Conductive Paint to create a circuit along the thumb and first finger. Viola! His child now has multiple entry options. The Makey Makey Kit along with Conductive Paint opens adaptive technologies to a whole universe of possibilities.

We will have an Innovation and Design Center at GPA next year, filled with fun things like Makey Makey, Conductive Paint, A MakerBot 3D Printer, and littleBits. I can't wait to see what they invent!

MaKey MaKey - An Invention Kit for Everyone from jay silver on Vimeo.

What is littleBits? from littleBits on Vimeo.

Ayah Bdeir is the inventor of littleBits. She is also the wearer of some cool and funky boots.