About This Blog

For the next 365 days, I am focusing on KARMA as my resolution to 2010. I'm open for stories, ideas and kismet. EMAIL ME.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Night Fingers

Friday nights are supposed to be about unwinding, getting out on the town and prepping for the weekend.

Nope. Not mine. I spent it in preparation for the mucho work that is arriving next week. I problem solved, however, and knowing my niece was at home by herself with no friends to play with - and no one would take her to the mall (such a sad, sad story) - I decided I would fine dine with her and treat her to Tully's chicken fingers and a salad if she would share her wireless internet with me at her home.

We ate, gossiped about her teachers, then set ourselves at opposite sides of the living room and did our homework in silence. She worked on math and I worked on research journals taking notes over the last five years as I prepare for my upcoming examinations.

I have this image, however, of all these chickens running around without any fingers. Not good karma for them. But my stomach appreciates the donation of their phalanges.

Another Karma Cartoon

And the illustrations continue. You've just wasted a moment of your life. It's all good, though. You deserved it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Slammin' the words

In the early 90s, I dragged my mom to a coffee house for a poetry reading. Some kid read a poem about "bloody turds in the toilet" like the day his girlfriend left him. I will never forget my introduction to a coffee house. What the heck was this poetry thing?

Fast forward to Kelly Ruff. She started a coffee house tradition at the Brown and that took off into student writing that got better and better every year. Anthologies were written. It evolved into Michael Turner doing spoken work, an invitation to Improv4Quarterbacks, a play with ten-minute scripts, and a fusion of the power of words.

I met word artists of many ages, and now I am seeing it alive, locally, as new schools try to begin such traditions. Open a mic and see what young people have to say. This, I believe, is the seed planted within me by my Grannie Annie of yesteryear. She taught me the art of words and the color purple. I found Alice Walker's novel on my mom's shelf and read it.

There's so much still needing to be written.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

WVMR: Students Create Play Based on Pocahontas County Stories (2010-04-26)

WVMR: Students Create Play Based on Pocahontas County Stories (2010-04-26)

My student, Emily Newton, who has now moved on with life, has carried a little of the Brown School 10-Minute plays with her and is doing community theater work in West Virginia. I am so proud of her work and feel the karma burst back in my direction when she sent this story to me. Her energy and enthusiasm for life was always something I truly admired and that I currently channel to keep my steps a little more peppy.

Awesome, Emily.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Give me an H

My cousin sent me a video he shot in S. Africa of four girls giving a shout out to Hoops4Hope and, towards the end, you can here a little Crandall harmonizing as well. It is good to see the work he is doing in Africa and connecting his cause to cyberspace so others can feel the energy of the karma his organization provides. Youth in every country deserve the support that promotes their future in positive, educational, and transitional ways.

Monday, April 26, 2010


As I transition from the role as a teacher (and at times a sub), I am given opportunities to cover classes and to offer what I've learned at Syracuse University and the world of teaching, including the use of digital stories. Students in English Methods at Syracuse University are given the task of creating a three-minute tale of their six-week placement and, whereas I am a "sub" of sorts for the class, I chose to use this as a karmic opportunity to try a new one myself. I talk way too fast to get the words onto screen in three minutes, but as a National Writing Project teacher, I know it is always best to attempt the task myself. This quirky little vignette is what I quickly came up with. Oi Vay.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

go figure

If you google "moving a mattress" I would expect one or two images to pop up. Nope. Try thousands of worldly human beings posting photographs of their old mattresses and technique for moving them. You've got to love the 21st Century.

Yesterday, after the morning cow project, Lino, Maurino and I stood in the parking lot enjoying the air and sun. We caught up on lives, goals, the American experience, etc., when two women pulled up and asked if we were at St. Vincents, which we were. They had furniture. including a mattress, to drop off for a garage sale. The two ladies proceeded to ask us if we could help move their bounty into the church. The entire time we did, one kept telling the other, "See, I told you God looks out for us. You wanted to know how we were supposed to carry this ourselves, and look what was waiting for us. Three kind men."

It was a karmic coincidence and we were glad to help. Small favors are enormous gifts.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

It's in the blood

It was a Friday night and this means it is time to unwind and be stupid. My nephew picked up my phone and proceeded to make a movie from his eye's view. Karma works to return back to me all the odd movies I've chosen to shoot over the years. I have learned that my nephew, too, has aspirations to communicate with the world in a filmic way. This through the eyes of a ten year old....

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's still April

And it is still National Poetry Month.

I attended a Spoken Word Slam sponsored by Verbal Blend at Syracuse University and was witness to several rounds of an open mic and University kids spitting their words. The talent was great and the impression left on me was enormous.

And in the audience was Omanii Abdullah, whose poetry I used to teach to students back at Brown and who took me to lunch when I first came to Syracuse - I didn't know he was from Central, New York. One of the judges at the slam was Giles Li who brought his poetic karma (a piece featured above) to represent Boston and his marvelous ability with words.

The energy brought to the Sheraton was an energy that can't be harnesses by wind turbines or nuclear plants. It was the energy of youth and their power of words. It reminded me of what I believe in most...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

World's Cheapest Man

I am unsure how much karma there is to this, but I am the world's cheapest American. Maybe not, but I am pretty cheap (I recall a man who split his toilet paper into two rolls by dividing the sheets - that is beyond cheap and I'm not that bad).

But I am frugal and yesterday, I replaced three shirts that were stained during the coffee pot explosion from last week. I went to Kohl's with the coupons they sent in the mail, and then did my clearance rack thing. I believe I spent $30 and the woman at the register laughed at me. Because of my bargain hunting and coupons, she said, "Well, you saved $179 today." I imagined she whispered under her breath, "you cheap bastard."


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

lawn art

In memory of Juliette Catherine Alanis Madonna Potatohead Scrappy Doo Olivia Houdini Dennis, Sue McV bought me a bowl where I kept the dog biscuits.

This bowl quickly became the Juliette bowl and after her death, she sat on my counter as a reminder of the crazy karma my first dog, so ugly she was cute, brought to my life.

Recently, the dog bowl plummeted to the ground and could not be saved. My sister took the head of the bowl and planted it in the garden at the front of my house where she greets guests, family and friends.

Last night, I noticed she was smiling at the April sun and this, in return, made me smile. Today, Juliette Catherine Alannis Madonna Potatohead Scrappy Doo Olivia Houdini Dennis smiles at you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

the drumming in my head

I wish I had more of an everyday cadence that I marched to, but I don't. Instead, I rely on the occasions where I hear the beats of drums that make my movement a little more rhythmic.

A good karma day has background noise, which made me recall the years of drum and bugle appreciation instilled in me by my parents and the days where Cynderballs marched with the Northstars. In occasional flashbacks, I can remember the exact music that was thumped (including Teddy Mascari's cadence performed before the 1998 George M. Cohen show).

A good drum beat makes for a good day, and so today, I display the battle from the movie Drumline. Perhaps it will be noise to help you move about your Tuesday.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Another great experience

I spent last night at the ANDAZ performance at Syracuse University where the Somali Bantu Community Association performed "Healing Song" for the South Asian Students' Association. Dr. Felicia McMahon was in attendance and they joined comedian Vijay Nathan to bring a cultural experience to the University community.

Luana Ramcharran from my summer's SAY YES experience was a host to the Somali singers and dancers and did an excellent job introducing the contributions these recent arrivals bring to Central New York.

They played traditional instruments and did a dance that was designed to bring a spirit out of a man underneath a silk sheet. The Somali Bantu have been arriving from Kakuma refugee camp since 2005 and are attending local schools.

In addition to the music and the comedian, the Indian Student Association performed a piece called "Fusion" that syncopated drums, traditional Indian instruments and voice that created awesome rhythms and sounds.

We had to leave before SU Zinda group performed a piece called KARMA. My loss.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I wanted to mow the lawn in the snow-threatening air, but I couldn't get my tractor to start. I bought a new battery, and it would slowly churn, but it wouldn't kick over. I changed the spark plug, adjusted the wires, and cleaned the engine, and it now won't even kick over a little bit.

Today is about trying to get on top of this. My lawn needs to be mowed.

Grass is summer's karma of keeping us busy (even when it's still spring a way too cold).


Saturday, April 17, 2010


I attended a local high school's multicultural festival today that celebrated the richness of its student body. Over 69 flags were hung around the school to represent the culture that is the school.

Students sang songs, danced, and displayed posters to represent their homelands, languages and memories. In addition, tables lined the school where food was available for taste testing and sharing.

As a suburbanite who grew up north of this school, I am amazed at
the spectacular display of global traditions that were set for others to view at this school. There is a bit of irony, too, that schools five miles north are most likely oblivious to the realities of America's demographics that are changing across the country. I started thinking about who is cheated more by the way we school our adolescents - those who arrive with limits in their education or those who have been schooled in the U.S. all along, but who are not placed in classrooms with the pastiche of cultures that are, as Mary Pipher has written, occuring In the Middle of Everywhere.

I think the most exciting parts of the day were when students of other cultures began dancing to the music of cultures unlike their own - a fusion of break dancing meets oral traditions, and traditional dancing meets the music of modernity.

What struck me above all else, however, is how much karma was in the gym and the total appreciation that this student body had for itself as a miraculous example of the early 21st century in Syracuse. Young men from the Dinka tribes of Sudan danced in their hip hop jackets with young boys from Iraq demonstrating their traditional harvest moves.

And it all makes me want to sing America with Walt Whitman.

Friday, April 16, 2010

air traffic control

I live directly north of the airport so I shouldn't complain. I haven't noticed this reality, however, until I think the local airlines have shifted their runways and now all flights are landing over my head. A few times in the last week, I've actually walked outside because I thought a plane was going to crash in the field behind my house - the noise was that loud. No crash, though (not even ashes from Icelandic volcanoes).

Nope. I have engines running in my ears because this is the karma of living near an aviation field. Like the train tracks of St. Mathews that used to buzz choos choos during my sleep, now I will adjust to 747s and their ear harmonicas. Oif.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Keys to Spoken Word

Many teachers are working with young writers for National Poetry Month. Last night, I put together a c.d. of poetry from my ITunes as a karmic gift and additional resource for teachers creating revolutions in their classroom.

I remember hearing Alicia Keys recite "P.O.W." - Prisoner of Words, and thought it would be a good post for a Thursday morning.
Find something to say, and say it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

duck, duck, Goose...ye lovers of spring

Last week, when the weather was gorgeous and I was driving to the city, I saw a young man who was apparently skipping school to enjoy the sun and warmth. He was coasting down a hill rather quickly with his invincible quest to be alive. He had his feet on his handlebars and was enjoying the clip of gravity, flying down the sidewalk at a rapid speed. I was at a yield sign, so I yielded his right of way. I thought to myself, "That is risky. There's traffic in every direction."

Then the goose attacked.

They cyclist zoomed by me and and I was envious of his freedom and carefree day. He was doing spring in a way that I wish I was brave enough - totally playing hooky! Yet, after he flashed by and my eyes watched him in envy, a Canadian Goose appeared out of the bushes and totally attacked his bike. The kid flipped over his handlebars and landed in the grass.

I wanted to laugh, but chalked it up to karma. He got back on and pedaled away, but I thought to myself, "You can't make this up." I'm sure he now has a story for life.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I am slow with pop culture and I apologize if Yo Gabba Gabba is old school. Watching the program with my nephews over the weekend, however, I found a striking resemblance, if not karmic, between my old student Andrew Pillow (class of 2007) and DJ Lance. Although Andrew never donned orange hair and spandex, his behaviors in room 301 of the Brown School are canning to the emcee of this Nickelodeon television show.

For some reason, I can totally see him as an actor climbing to the top of Hollywood finding his culmination as a Yo Gabba Dabba performer. The smarminess is there and I believe, full-heartedly, he should be DJ Lance for Halloween.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Music

Ah, Monday.

Why not welcome it with a little Dexy's Midnite Runners from the 1980s?

It's peppy, fun, and a decent way to get back into the grind (not that the weekend ever ended the grind). I thought of the song last night and it put a karmic smile on my face. I will need it to kick myself in gear this morning.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Moose and Syracuse

One of the father's of a goalie, Matt, whose son, Dan, keeps for CNS, is known as a phenomenal supporter and believer in all the athletes in the CNY area. I met Matt during many winter practices in a soccer arena while some of the young kids I've been working with played with his son. He was great company during the cold practices and talked passionately about his desire to see these kids achieve great things.

Yesterday, I attended a benefit for Matt at the Moose Lodge on the west side of Syracuse. Matt has brain cancer and the day was designed to raise funds for his treatment and future. The place was packed with hundreds of people - many of them young athletes showing Matt and his son that they care about all he's given them. It was a beautiful event and inspirational.

During times like this, I see such possibility in what we are able to do.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

for Ulla

In 1998, when I first went to Copenhagen, Ulla Okby brought me on a boat tour of her youth. We went to Christiania and talked about her squatting days and then traveled by a light post that had an angel on top. She told me that an old boyfriend gave that angel to her as a gift and every time she saw it, she remembered her youth. It was a cheap, flattering gift that still stands as a monument (and that was placed there by someone else)

I knew Ulla as the zany, witty, and dedicated teacher she was for the young people at the Roskilde Lile Skole in Denmark. She came often to Kentucky and I cherished our talks and get-togethers. In Denmark, she cooked me brilliant food and kept my spirits alive. In my home, she marked every book in my library that she's read with a Danish flag sticker. She and I both had a love for Douglas Coupland.

When she passed, I bought the wooden angel as a memory I could keep in my home of her friendship. Whenever I see angels I think of her and the karmic influence she had on my life. I think of her often and the impression she made on me. I was thinking about her last night and write this post in her memory.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What's leftover, is a new day of hope

This is an aftermath post of food in my fridge and new company. A fellow doctoral student came over to debrief life and I happened to have ham, potatoes, green bean casserole and salad in the fridge. She fell in love with my mom's horseradish sauce and it was nice to have refrigerated contents to share. There was no bread to break (that was eaten), but were able to eat a dinner that wasn't from a drive through or that came with microwave instruction. And we had great conversation.

Leftovers are a karmic kiss for a weekday night and I am thankful.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

No use crying over spilt coffee

Okay, so I cried a little. I got up yesterday and thought I'd drink my coffee and get right to work, but my cracked coffee pot decided to leak all over the kitchen while I took a shower. No coffee.

So, I took it as a cosmic sign that it was time to buy another one and I now have a coffee pot that shouldn't leak every time I'm in need of caffeine. What's this have to do with karma? I'm not sure, but if I add caramel, I might be able to have a caramel late' of sorts. karma coffee - it's a stretch.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

oh, love

I was asked today to help a student write a love poem. He met a girl and wanted to impress her. I told him, I'm not sure poetry will do the trick. I typed "World's worst love poem" into google and came up with is poem written by a teenager for his English teacher. This young man probably has all the ladies. That's the way karma works

If I were you, in love with me I would be,
While we're together, I rarely go pee.
The only reason that I must restrain,
For when I'm left from you, I feel so much pain.
But not the pain like a kick in the junk,
More like the pain when I lose at Kerplunk.
If we every broke up, I'd be oh so lost,
Probably from all the pornography costs.
As much as I love to watch women get wild,
You're the woman I want to carry my child.

You're more gorgeous than vomit, your hair is so straight.
Together forever, wouldn't that be great?
For my feelings for you, how powerful are,
I'd drive a kilometer...isn't that far?
The way that you smile while we eat our meals,
Nicer than Eskimos murdering seals.
Your hunchback is pretty, so pleasant and plump,
Unlike the hemorrhoid that covers your rump.
I can look past that, the pusing and spewing,
As long as the kinky dates don't involve chewing!

I think now, my love, you know how I feel.
I'd rather kiss you than watch human flesh peel.
If I could take you out for one more night on the town,
It would be more fun than guessing who's poop has more brown.
So give it some thought and then let me know,
If you love me as well, if so we will go.
We'll leave this place fast and go travel together,
Please pardon my package, as it must be cold weather.
The thing that I find I love most about you,
Is your humour is funnier than Winnie The Pooh.
Well, maybe not Winnie himself, exactly.
But possibly where he gets honey from...that tree!
Yes, it is true, your humour excels,
That of inanimate objects or wells.

More compliments, yes, I could go on for hours,
But after thinking of you, I must take a cold shower.
Not for those perverted reasons you think,
But merely because it feels good when I blink.
I'll end this poetry session right now,
I truly do love you, more than a cow.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Paying It Forward

I've never seen the movie, Pay It Forward, but I have heard references to it quite often since I moved to Syracuse. The moral of the movie is by choosing to do good for three people, and they, in return, will do good for three people, and then the goodness will spread.

I thought about this today when I stopped by a bookstore. Casey and Dave had bought me a gift card and I knew how I wanted it to be spent. One was to by a young man the book, THE BLIND SIDE, by Michael Lewis. After watching it, I knew he needed to read it (he made this an important point). The other was to make Mike Lupica come to life. I met him at Mark's Hoops4Hope fundraiser in Long Island and knew he wrote books for young adults. I found his book, HEAT, about a young Cuban man who pitches for a baseball team, but who lives in fear of foster families and deportation. I bought two copies of this book to read. One is for me and the other is for a young man from Somalia who is a first-year pitcher for a JV team. He likes to read, he says, but the books at school don't appeal to him. Earlier, I gave him a book on Mohammed Ali and he loved it.

So, paying it forward is finding a need and trying to fill it. It can be a massage, a letter, a dinner, or even a new rug with furniture (hint hint, BUTCH). The karma goes forth in stereo.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter, Part Three

For the third year in a row, I hosted the Crandall/Isgar/Barnwell posse at my house for Easter Sunday dinner. Although we didn't find the time to say our grace before we dug in, I am very thankful and fortunate to have such an opportunity to eat good food with those I love and to share my home for an opportunity of togetherness. The addition of Jacob this year, with the Nikki, Dylan and Sean explosion makes the ritual that much more special.

The Easter Bunny went a' hoppin in the back yard and left eggs, straws and gifts for those with Easter Sombreros. The day was also beautiful and the fresh air of a spring day was a total delight. The ham, the creamed potatoes, the breads, the green bean casserole, the salad, the cheese cake, the Birthday cake for Dave, the deviled eggs, the vegetables and the asparagus were a welcomed feast for hungry stomachs. Having run in the morning, I also appreciated the late lunch to share with all angles of my bloodline. Karma is being able to break bread with those we love and that is why yesterday, once again, was perfect.

Sunday, April 4, 2010



When paddleboarder, Jodie Nelson, chose to do something BIG for her best friend who was fighting cancer, she decided to paddle along the Pacific to raise money. She had a few donations, but then Larry arrived.

Larry was a minke whale and rare for the California shores. Even so, he found Jodie and traveled along side her for three hours. She named him Larry and said, 'I bet you'll bring $100,000 for my cause,' and he did. The donations poured in. This miraculous coincidence is too beautiful to make up. Let the energy go as the energy wishes to flow.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Karma Candles

During Amy's sleep over, Cynde found ear wax candles and bought a set. As disgusting as they are, they really do clean out a clogged ear and Dylan said, "I can hear better. This is great." Of course, you look like a human birthday cake when they are in process, but they are worth the wait.

Many moons ago, my Aunt Bobbie introduced me to the candles and for a few years, they are what people got for Christmas. Those introduced to the Crandalls often found themselves lying on their side and being lit up.

The karma returned, however, when I was given a candle treatment myself. If you've never done it, I highly recommend it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

We're famous...in Sherburne

And here is why I love small town press. Our presence for dinner in Sherburne, New York, made the news and the celebration of Pat Lemery's 90th birthday has been made historical. We go for the famous garlic pizza and a flashback in time (with wonderful company of a witty, beautiful piece of Sherburne history) and our names go up in lights. That is brilliant, if not quirky, indeed!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Karen's Karma - Not a foolish post (sorry)

For Christmas, Karen painted a mailbox for my parents so they would have an original piece of artwork at the end of the driveway. I took a photograph of it several months ago, but noticed my dad had installed it now that the weather has turned. I decided it is time for a post.

I like to think of this as a karmic gesture not only for my parents (any piece of art work is a gift, in my opinion, especially because it is created by the hands of someone important), but also for the mail people. I'm sure they go through their paper-load routine and notice any slight change along the route, like this original mailbox that is truly unique.

There are some who drive around neighborhoods and smash mailboxes with a baseball bats. Others drive around in an adolescent stupor and accidentally run over mailboxes (like my friend Carrie did to ours in high school). Then there are the Karen's of the world that see the potential for making our streets a little more colorful and special.

I prefer the Karens.