It’s all a Hodge-Pourri-Podge!


It is mid-July again, synonymous with mid-summer as far as I am concerned. During my teaching years, that was when I tried to unwind, knowing school would begin the next month. It was actually when I repeatedly yelled “Yikes!” precisely because school would begin the next month!

These lazy-crazy-hazy days of summer, whenever they occur, are characterized by a certain random quality. A little reading, a little TV, a little napping – that’s how I usually anticipate the even more random dog days of summer. But wait! I just googled “dog days.” They have a specific date: this year July 3 through August 11. That’s not random at all!

In my current scattered state, I even created a new word for this week’s title by combining “hodgepodge” and “potpourri”! Prepare to be totally randomized by what follows here!

Allow me to first share a couple anecdotes omitted from previous articles because of space limitations. Describing the layers of generations populating my classroom over the years, I did not mention the modest success I achieved in not addressing students by the names of their siblings – something my sisters hated when we were in school. I also did not confess the abject failure I suffered when addressing students by the names of their parents. Embarrassingly, I called Jaclyn Vulgamore by her mother’s name more often than not!

I also recently wrote about obvious age differences that arose while working with younger teachers. Marching band director Matt Cool, back when the Dancin’ Band from Falconland was also known as Cool and the Gang – provided enough youthful innovation to keep things interesting. I was particularly entertained one evening by the band’s performance of “Rhapsody in Blue.” Still swooning the next Monday, I congratulated band members in my class – and wilted at their explanation: “Since it was Homecoming, Mr. Cool said we had to play something for the old people.”

There are times when family members inadvertently contribute to the randomness in my life. Although our tastes in reading often differ, my sister and I occasionally enjoy the same book. Based on her description of a novel she had recently finished, I asked her to pick it up for me at the library when she had time. Based on its checked-out status, twice she attempted – unsuccessfully – to place a hold on the book. Finally it dawned on her that the book was still checked out to her! By the way, it was a great read, absolutely worth the brief delay.

If that incident represents a “senior moment,” my entire life has consisted of a succession of such occurrences. A few decades ago, art teacher John Zeilman placed a pair of glasses in a baggie which he taped to the office window with a sign: “Found in the art room.” The baggie hung there, unclaimed for an astonishing three days. The entire time I wondered how someone could not need their glasses for so long – until I realized they were mine! In my defense, those were the days when my eyewear was more accessory than necessity. Still…

As is customary, I spent the entire fortnight of Wimbledon glued to the TV. I missed the recovering Roger Federson, bemoaned the injury withdrawal of Rafael Nadal, and didn’t even recognize either finalist on the ladies’ side. But I did learn something about Wimbledon’s all-white dress code, in effect since the first tournament there in 1877. Long-ago fashion dictates ruled that any show of perspiration was to be avoided, and white clothing provided the best invisibility of such unwanted stains. These days everyone drips sweat all over the place – but they are still wearing white.

There was sort of a connection to dress codes when the year of Shirley’s house began in April; my dryer vent required cleaning and rerouting. I was pleased with the professionalism of the repairman, less so with his uniform choice of khakis and a windbreaker. Despite the word wizard in his company name, I observed nary a robe nor wand nor pointy hat. So disappointing…

The second event on the agenda of how Shirley has spent money on her house occurred shortly before America’s birthday. A member of a family-owned pest control company in West Liberty diagnosed the plethora of tiny wings covering my kitchen floor as termites. The good news, that I noticed the problem before damage had been inflicted, was followed by a tutorial on the life and times of these wood-gobbling insects. As I understand it, they cannot grow if they do not molt – which is why the “food” in the green canisters now surrounding my house will be effective. One further Google discovery: when a male termite finds a female he likes, they break off their wings to symbolize they are a couple. Believe me, I don’t want to know what went on in my kitchen!

Today’s final bit of randomness stems from my long-time fascination with odd names: an Otterbein student, Candy Sweet; an Urbana man, Harry Legge; a German teacher from Sidney, Richard Richards. My own niece is doubly blessed by outstanding algebra-teaching skills and her name of Miss Rambo. But what can I say about the current Jeopardy! champion. Her name: Emily Fiasco!

Well, it’s time to close out my hodge-pourri-podge. Feel free to use my new word whenever the opportunity presents itself: in casual conversation, at cocktail parties, around the water fountain…

Boomer Blog

Shirley Scott

Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.

No posts to display