Walking in Sunshine

wonders of whisps

In the Pacific Northwest, especially in the Willamette Valley, rain is often called Oregon Sunshine. But after day and days of off and on rain, when a true sunny day comes around, it’s impossible to not go out in it.


If work wasn’t looming, I probably would have skipped the walk with the dogs and cat and gotten out the weed whacker and baby chainsaw and continued to work on paths I’ve been working on off and on. There’s a lot of off and on in my life.

trail blazers. Three tails ahead.


With some time left before having to leave for my noon job, a walk seemed like the best choice, especially since I’m trying to reincorporate that as part of my daily routine. It doesn’t seem that hard to squeeze in at least one walk a day.

Ying’s spot

Ying loves walking with us. She sits on the hot tub and waits for us to come out. I could go days and days without walking, but Ying always is ready for that day. It’s also possible that Ying is able to wait for mice to come out from the blackberries, thinking the coast is clear. I’ve seen Ying sit in this spot and not move for hours. Cat meditation? Of course, the picture just confirms that I have these blackberries to clear if we’re ever going to get the hot tub hooked up. It’s only been sitting there as yard art for several years. Back to the walk.



Ricky and Abby are ready

It’s very unusual that I make the time to walk the dogs before dashing off to school, so the dogs were a bit shocked. If they could talk, they probably would have asked why I was wearing school clothes on a walk. Maybe the kids won’t notice the  stray mud spots on my white cords. (If I had more time, I’d look up the word cordoroy, but for now I’ll just keep it phonetic. Maybe Bex, my faithful reader will do that for me.



Abby and a stick

Earlier today I was practically confessing my sin of hoarding. I hoard books and paper and information. As I look through the pictures I took on the walk, perhaps fifty or so in less than a half an hour walk, I realize that I don’t have a filter to discriminate. I try to point and click the camera even without looking to see what’s in the screen, hoping to capture something that I couldn’t have gotten if I took the time to look, but usually I’m off target. At least this blog is helping me take the time to delete those photos. If you are looking for off-centered atypical shots, I’ve got plenty.


img_4495Sometimes I notice the things that people don’t find interesting. It’s almost impossible for me to pass by nature’s art. Not only did the splotch of yellow catch my eye, but the texture of the other plants.


Lovely Lucy Labrador

When I take pictures of Lucy, I have to work hard to get her looking at the camera. After eleven years of having flashes in her face, she’s rather camera shy. There are some walks that she doesn’t join us, so when she does, I  feel all the more pressed to document her still being on the planet with us.


Once again, I’m caught looking at the clock, calculating traveling time, getting the dogs in for the afternoon, and fix a cup of coffee for the road. I remind myself that it’s better to be early than late. So I’ll end with what I think was the best photo of our walk.




Hoarder of Email

As with my collection of books, the same goes with my email; If I devoted every single minute of time just reading or just looking at email, I probably still won’t be able to get through what I have. Does this stop me from buying books, getting books out of the library? Does this prevent me from signing up for email notices or following way too many bloggers on WordPress? The premise was if I spent all my time doing these things. Today’s out of the question since I will be teaching fifth graders today. The only reason I’m even writing this is because I got out of bed an hour prior to my alarm clock, so I have some bonus time.

logoA few years ago, while searching for Christmas presents, back when I actually sent presents and cards, I came across The Animal Rescue Site. It’s a really cool place to not only get cute gifts, but some of the proceeds goes to save animals. Best of  both worlds. Even though I’ve not bought anything from them in a couple of years, I have found myself reluctant to unsubscribe. I could just add a favorite to explorer or firefox or Chrome. But my favorites are a unmanageable list of too many items as well. I suppose it’s worth a try. I’d rather have an overfilling favorites list than my email inbox, especially since my new Lenovo lap top is a piece of shit when it comes to finding things. This has got to be the stupidest computer I have ever had.

So much for that attempt in reducing incoming emails. As I was managing my subscriptions, I discovered that this site has a bunch of other interesting things to read. After unsubscribing to the Animal Rescue, I subscribed to Literacy. How can a reading teacher pass this opportunity by?

I just remembered that my Farmer’s car insurance company is expecting a email response to follow up with my last transaction; it would help if that email weren’t buried in a heap. To give you an idea how quickly my inbox has swelled, I have fifty new emails just since 7:25 a.m. I’m supposed to find an email that was sent yesterday evening? It’s going to take more than a bonus hour to get this done.

Being an information junkie, I subscribed to TIME. If I can convince myself to let go of this, I would be able to get rid of almost half of those fifty emails that I’ve gotten since 7:25, but then I would not have gotten a chance to read about Play-doh…

Play-Doh’s New App Lets Kids 3D-Scan Their Creations

by Alex Fitzpatrick

Not only would I have missed out on learning about Play-Doh’s new App, but I would have missed out on a well-written article. I won’t copy the entire column here, but here’s the second paragraph:

“Before I explain Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio, it’s worth sharing my household’s digital policy when it comes to the little-fingered folks. We pay strict attention to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ screen time rules, which hold that kids under two-years-old should get no tech time, while older kids can get just an hour per day. That said, my mini-me is a digitally adept toddler, using FaceTime to visit with far-flung family, HBO Go to watch Sesame Street, and even enjoying some silly Snapchat filters — all while supervised, of course. “

Instead of merely playing with play-doh, after a shape is created, you scan the object into the app. Alex goes on to say that this step needs some adult supervision:

“Probably the most challenging thing about Play-Doh Touch is scanning the sculptures into the app. Rather than using a boring old camera interface, the app’s design makes it seem like you’re sucking these little clay creatures into an iPad through a magical portal. It’s fun, but it makes the scanning process a little more difficult than it should be. As a circular aura floats around the screen defining the scannable space, cramming your whole creature into the window can be hard. Of course the further away from the sculpture you hold the iPad, the easier the scanning gets. But if you’re playing with Play-Doh Touch on a table, that means the kid needs to stand on a chair to snap the picture. That’s not a good parenting decision. So prepare to chaperone this activity.”

As I sat down with my hour of bonus time, I imagined getting rid of emails, but instead I got sucked into reading a couple of articles, and didn’t even get a chance to finish the play-doh one. Maybe when I get home from work…


For the Love of the Game

The Doobie Brothers have me drumming along with them. “I don’t care what they might say” gives me permission to flail all over the place and have fun regardless whether I had a steady rhythm. Some times I can keep something going, though there’s a lot to be interpreted. A judge of one has all sorts of flexibility.

When I was young, the boys in my life played the drums. All two of them. Both redheads and younger. Jon was six days younger. Brian four years.

Amy Crafts was the first girl I had ever heard of playing the drums. She played in the school bands as ferociously as she played field hockey, lacrosse, basketball, and hockey.

She didn’t live very far from my home and was in the same grade, but for many years our paths didn’t cross. Basically she was my polar opposite. She was at the top of our class probably from the get go. She probably ought to have skipped a lot of grades since her intelligence was so high. Sometimes I  had to have her translate what she said into a language that I could understand.

Even though both of us were extremely competitive, our paths didn’t cross there. By the time I had realized that there were organized sports for girls,  I discriminated against those sports that required kilts, and Amy took all sports on regardless of uniform. She was always the captain and the best player on the team and in the district, perhaps in the state.

And then our paths crossed. My dad must have been complaining to his lawyer that he was struggling with my anger issues and was at a loss. Fred Crafts probably tossed out the idea that I start to play hockey with his daughter Amy.

I could skate, but I had never been on a rink, and organized hockey is  so different than on a pond without any equipment.

I wonder what has come of Amy Crafts. We shared many years of ice time together and traveling to tournaments. After graduating from Weston High School, our courses went in different directions. She continued breaking sports records at Brown University while I destroyed my knee during my first collegiate lacrosse game.

I went home for one high school reunion; Amy didn’t attend, but she was back living with her parents in Weston, so we were able to get caught up. If we have seen each other since then, I have no recollection.

When I think about Amy Crafts, I think about a woman who was born way before her time. With her intelligence and athletic prowess, she could easily have been a Heisman Trophy candidate and would have had a lucrative professional career. Yes, we had more opportunity than women before us, but equity in female opportunities lag way behind males.

Regardless, I will always relish these flash in the pan memories that pop into my life, continuing to appreciate and be Thankful of my life, especially for doing things just for the love of the game.

A Day in the Life of Me

Yesterday my back was talking to me in loud overtones. Low back stiffness gripped and snarled. My brain kicked in and demanded a review of what I had been doing to cause such debilitation.

Bowling tends to be the culprit. I did bowl Friday with the seniors and I did use my fifteen pound ball almost as much as the fourteen, but could that have caused pain two days later? this the start of the chatter in my head. Problem-solving 101.

With the long weekend, I did spend more time than usual in my comfy green recliner. However, while in that green chair, my back didn’t complain at all.

img_4444Inspiration finally stepped in and got my mind thinking that it didn’t really matter what caused all of my lower back muscles to constrict. It would be more constructive to solve the problem to wonder if the cutting of blackberries may have aggravating my back or the last tug-o-war with the dogs.

I was at choice point. I could head for the shelves and add more pain relievers into my systems or I could do some moving around. It didn’t occur to me at the time of the third choice.

img_4399I got lucky in that it wasn’t raining and it wasn’t really that cold. The vibrant green that contrasts the white/grey skies. So much is dying, the brown and gold leaves; the withered blackberries. But so much is growing and coming back to life.

img_4442Walking, especially after consecutive days of constant rain, adds vinegar to dog play between Ricky and Abby the Labby Number Nine. Without saying anything, the dogs knew we were going on a walk perhaps even before I knew. Maybe they had sent me the thought. I’m a firm believer that animals can control our minds better than we control theirs. Maybe it was the rain pants. I don’t ever wear them and not walk. That was the signal that flipped the switch; she started running up and down the stairs. Like a three-domino set, Abby’s behavior ignited Ricky’s engine as he must chase Abby and nip at her. The third domino, Lovely Lucy, was outside.

I wonder how crazy a loose jack-in-the-box would be? Abby and Ricky were out of the starting gates with vigor. Mostly all I had to do was pray that their speed course wasn’t going to intersect with my knees.

img_4419For this walk, I had grabbed my big camera. My cell phone still has too many photos on it. One of these days I’ll take care of that problem. I tried to grab a picture of the playing dogs. Seeing Abby’s ears standing up is a good example of a moving Labrador. The sound effects of the play was extra loud. All for my benefit.

I did notice that  just after a few minutes of walking and stretching, my back was merely grumbling and no longer screaming at me. Endorphins from walking and laughing at the dogs. I can thank my short attention span. Once I started looking for photos, I forgot all about my back.img_4428

Stray Pictures

I tend to take a lot of pictures. Most I never see for the second time. My phone is currently at a stand-still and can’t update anything until I delete some files. Life would be so much easier if I could get my phone to speak to my stupid Lenovo laptop. I should not blame the Lenovo as it was I who was the idiot and thought I could handle a PC after six or seven Apple computers.

While working on problem-solving the task of sending photos from my phone to the lap top, I discovered some photos that I have never seen before on my laptop.

June 2, 2015. I think we were in London. I’m thankful that I didn’t have to do any driving with the way cars were zipping aroundimg_8216. It would have taken me forever to get used to the drivers side being on the right and the cars on the wrong side of the road. Maybe my brain and my reflexes could have handled one of those changes, but not too. I wouldn’t want to have to explain to the police officer why I didn’t yield or why I thought I had the right of way.

img_8215Regardless of where I was in Europe, I felt a sense to record the number of Mini Coopers I saw. Sylvia’s adamant that I took the picture of the same Mini Cooper while thinking that I was adding to my collection.


img_8218As I study these photos, I’m starting to doubt that we were in London at img_8219this time. (I just realized I got a two-for-one Mini Cooper photo op in one shot. I wonder if I saw the oncoming silver one as I chased the black one.)  Yes, I cheated. Even with a small thumb print of a photo, I could tell that the sign wasn’t going to be in English. We must have been on our way to London. We’ve already decided that when we go to the next Sandoz family reunion, we won’t be trying to squeeze so img_8220much in; sometimes it felt we were just constantly chasing trains.

I’m so confused. This picture reminds me of a small cemetery we took a stroll through on our way to one of Virginia Woolf’s homes outside of London. I had never been in a  cemetery so  well taken care off. It’s possible the pictures in this file aren’t sequential. I’m not even sure how they even got onto this new and inadequate device. For the sake of exploration, I’ll continue. I tend to take a lot of pictures of cemeteries, especially when one is so user-friendly, even the watering jugs are prim and proper.img_8222

My memory and the photos continue to battle as to where I was exactly when I took these pictures. Germany looks to be a more logical choice.

img_8223 For as old as Europe is, I’m surprised they have room to bury people. It wasn’t long before we realized that this was not for distant relatives, but still welcomed the img_8224recently departed. Obviously, I find img_8225cemeteries fascinating. I could have slowly meandered  through for hours, and for the amount of photos I have taken, I may have. img_8226This photo has me scratching my head. I have no idea what it is or whether I’m still in the graveyard. The img_8227next photo should give me a clue. Sylvia was able to drag me away from the gravestones. What was I thinking when I shot that photo? A day in the life of a typical person? It is rather strange to be looking at photos img_8228I’ve not ever looked at. One of these days I should line up all of the pictures I took as we traveled around Switzerland, Germany, and England to see how many Mini Coopers I did catch.

I could easily have stopped the blog with the cute little Mini, but curiosity impelled me to look at another photo. This  grave img_8229stone is so old and odd looking, I would have thought it would have jarred some sort of memory, but there’s nothing but this wonderment of where this was.

img_8230When I am walking around with my camera, everything looks interesting. A casual stroll with a black Labrador is definitely worth the shot. A typical day in the life of whoever.

Before starting this blog, I didn’t have the slightest idea what kind of pictures I was going to find. I probably had more phone putting this together than you had reading it, but maybe not. I am looking forward to doing this again, especially if I can figure out how to get the photos off of my phone.


To all the agenarians

Friday I was thankful to having another opportunity to bowl in a senior league. To be surrounded by septuagenarians, octogenarians, and nonagenarians. I wonder how many nons are nosing into the cent catagory.

Being on the younger end of the spectrum, helps my psychological fears of the aging process. Sometimes. The realty of having lived more than half of my life is stark, especially with feeling that the years are passing quickly. I long for those times when time stood still, though I would also have to take the boredom as well, making that not a great deal afterall.

I have been giving my younger self more attention lately by reading journals and stories written to my future self, though can I be sure what I was thinking as a nineteen-year-old. I probably wasn’t sure if I would make it into my fifties, and I certainly had no insight as to what my life would be like at 56.

After spending a couple of hours with my elders, I feel inspired to write to my nonagenarian self. Will I be lucky enough to still be bowling? I hope so.

Perfect Spot

Quiet, slow-paced day. As I passed through the kitchen to pick up coffee for my bath, 12:34 reaffirmed that I was in the correct spot as if there is a script written some where or perhaps the script is known, part of an oral traditions.

Most of the time, I feel out of chronological order, and that somewhere along the yellow brick road, I took a wrong turn and no longer was heading off to battle a witch. Maybe I wasn’t on the wrong path. Maybe I knew I could take the witch West on, but I just wasn’t in the mood to do that dance. Mostly I wanted to avoid the monkeys. How dare they make such a cute animal so evil?

As I lounge and savor the hot bath, I feel thanks and blessings to all the people in and out of my life. Perhaps I had a recollection that my mom enjoyed hot baths, a place to escape.

I wish my mom could have celebrated more than forty-nine Thanksgiving, but I am Thankful for the twelve years. If I had to choose between having Ruth Preston Stanley Honthumb for just twelve years or another mother for more than fifty-six, I would take the twelve years hands down.

My mom was a subtle rebel rouser. She could have forced me to wear skirts and dresses, but instead she sewed together coulottes, and I am not in the mood to care if I spell the skirt-like shorts. Skorts, I don’t think had been invented.

My mom pushed the envelope by making me pants that went with dresses. I was elated when pant suits came into fashion. I hated the polyester, but I detested the lack of pockets. Where was I going to keep my stuff?

My mom and I had a wonderful relationship. She didn’t mind my being her baby, and I loved playing that role. Perhaps in a previous life I was from royalty and always got my way. My mom didn’t seem to mind my Royal temperament, and don’t dare to make me do anything I don’t want to do.

I am sure my mom left me all sorts of hints to get around rules and expectations.

When I was at camp, my mom sent me my glove, which I loaned to a friend. In addition to the glove, my mom had hidden gum in the fingers. The soggy and wrinkled gum didn’t keep me from eating it, such probably disgusted most of my cabin mates.

My mom knew gum couldn’t be kept in the cabins. Earlier she had smuggled pistachios. It didn’t occur to me that red fingertips would give me away. My pockets probably were making percussion noises as the shells put out a rhythm.

All of you by now have heard me write about my forty-four-year-old drumsticks. My last present from my mom. Right after my dad denied my seeing Buddy Rich, and denying my desire to play drums, my mom gave me these eight months before she died. Thanks mom.

Why I do The Things I do, Especially

when I was only 19 years-old. I’m looking at a journal entry I wrote back  in May of 1979, nearing the end of my freshman year at Ithaca College. In my first and only game for The Bomber’s lacrosse team, I ripped up my right knee. After a short spell in a hip to ankle cast, I was given a brace, but I wasn’t given a diagnosis. The first doctor I saw wanted to do surgery right away, but the idea of having surgery four hundred miles from home didn’t seem appealing. Meanwhile, I limped along. My main problem, aside from not being able to run and skate, I couldn’t participate in most of my physical education major classes.

I was determined that this injury wasn’t going to slow me down. I took up bowling while in the leg cast and found that it actually improved my form, though I probably didn’t get into the hundred’s that often. The school happened to have lanes and I needed something to do.

In my journal, I wrote how nothing was going to stop me. There would always be a sport for me to play in, and I would never take it easy whether I played in a game or in practice or just for fun.

I should have listened to the first doctor and gotten my knee taken care of then and there or at least the following summer, but I couldn’t find a doctor that would take my injury seriously. It either would lock up or go out of joint, but doctors kept saying it was just a sprain.

By the time I had surgery, and this was pre scope days, the damage was probably worse after being on it and trying to pretend nothing was wrong. There were two of us having knee surgery that morning and neither of us knew what was going to be the final verdict. I remember being told that if I wake up with a bandage on, all is okay and the problem is with cartilage. If I wake with a cast on, it’s major problems with ligaments.

The football player woke up with a bandage on. You must be looking forward to getting back onto the field next year; he shook his head and said that he was giving it up; he didn’t want to end up like me. The hip to tip of my toes cast was going to be with me for a while, and even with rehab, the odds of coming back from an ACL and MCL were not in my favors. Not back then.

When I wrote in my journal that I am too addicted to sports to ever stop, I didn’t know that just a few years down the road, I would be playing wheelchair basketball or that I would be bowling in a league.

I tried to play lacrosse when the University of Oregon formed a club team; the reconstructive surgery did keep my knee from buckling, but it wasn’t stable and it hurt all of the time. Moving away from the East Coast helped me give up hockey, which was the hardest thing to do, but by then the rest of my body started complaining about all that I had done to beat it up.

I tried to continue to play soccer, though I swore off playing goal. I was starting to get smarter in my twenties and realized that my body wasn’t as resilient as it was before. I wanted to be able to walk when I got to my forties, though that seemed like so far into the future.

This is my favorite sport story. I’ve probably written about it before, but there’s nothing wrong with repeating stories in blogs, is there? Soccer saved my life. There was a game when the team needed me to play goal. I had played goal in high school and played recklessly. Concussions. Broken fingers. Lots of bruises and scrapes.

I told my team that I would play goal just this one time, and in that game I got kicked in the stomach taking a ball away just as she launched in to kick. I did have to come out of the game. I had gotten the wind knocked out of me, but I went to work that night. I remember asking people if they had ever experienced bleeding internally? I made an appointment with a doctor thinking that perhaps I broke a rib or something.

The Xrays didn’t show anything, but the pain increased. An Ultra Sound was taken. Something is wrong with your kidney. Maybe when I got hit by a car back in ’72, could that have caused the damage?

Increased pain and increased fever caused the doctors to act and ended up performing a radical nephrectomy. Turns out I had Wilms Kidney Cancer, though at 28 I was about thirteen years too old to have that kind of cancer. It’s possible I was born with it and it just took a soccer game to get it diagnosed. It’s also possible that if I hadn’t been kicked that eventually it could have spread. Isn’t that a cool story?

I still bowl, though not nearly as much as I used to. When I wrote about being addicted to sports back in 1979, that didn’t change until somewhere in the 2000s; first I had to get so compulsive with bowling that I bowled on the average of a hundred games a week. Again, the repetition took its toll; now I’m lucky if I get three games in a week.

If I could live this life of sports all over again, I probably would have insisted on having knee surgery sooner and worked harder to convince the world that I could have come back, especially with the knowledge that it no longer is a career ending injury.

My Short Hair

Recently a sweet Kinder child asked me if I were a boy or a girl. There was nothing to suggest my gender. She had studied my clothes, my short hair, and make-up-less face and nails. I had just stepped into the classroom and hadn’t said a word.

There was something that stuck an or in her brain. She was curious. She merely said okay to my reply and went among her watercoloring work. There was no judgment.

I like short hair

More to smile about than not

I discovered a blog, Trent’s World that was looking for things that have made me smile.

Yang Cat was just on my lap while I watched football. Pure sweetness.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to work with amazing educators and educators-to-be with the common goal of creating equity and social justice in our schools.Inspiring.

On my way to the lanes for Friday Night League, two Does picked up their heads to look at me. It was as if they were wishing me a good evening. I always smile when I see animals.


Living on The Dead-End

I grew up on an amazing neighbor hood. 77 Pinecroft Road. The second part. The last part. Unsuspecting and stupid drivers occasionally didn’t notice the Dead End Sign, especially in the winter when they could slide further and create more damage. The stonewall was always under repair.

I remember the summer Mark Lange built a stonewall. It was as if he talked to the rocks as he artistically built the wall. Maybe Trump can be satisfied with a well-built stonewall. They have established boundaries and territories for centuries. Every some wall I visited in Europe, especially Stone Henge, I feel the civility and the working together.

Past the stonewall of my childhood, this was freedom. I loved walking in the woods, climbing trees, and playing. I could be anyone I wanted to be. No judge or jury on that side. The side with the creek, frogs, and salamanders. Blueberries from a fire that happened before my birth. There was a chronological bookmark back there. Time before my existence to an unimaginable time. Beginning of time. 

Life is unimaginable. I hope that people will rise as they did with Martin Luther King or Jackie Robinson. The first man. The first woman. The pressure is unimaginable.

When someone was lamenting that President Obama has legally ordered more Orders than any president. This person didn’t vote for Hillary because President Obama hasn’t accomplished much. How can people ignore the three places of power and how badly Congress has acted. They have acted like three-year old’s having a temper tantrum. There was absolutely no reason to not look at the Supreme Court candidate. Obama, I am told has the power to appoint the judge, but being a constitutional lawyer, he won’t go against tradition.

How will society change with the Trump judge. Are women’s rights about to take a serious backslide?

American Dream

The American Dream didn’t make it out of the Leave-it-to Beaver or Father Knows Best fifties. The Korean Conflict was the first to inflict the initial blow, but by time of the Vietnam Conflict, the notion of living the American Dream was dead to many. There are so many of us who have lived in the shadows of those who could dream of of doing anything, anything that only required determination and opportunity. Inequality is a rugged road to walk and I learned early that I better watch my step.

As soon as my little brain started putting together patterns, I noticed gender inequalities. Maybe I wouldn’t have hated dresses if I had a choice. Why did boys get away with such casual attire mask for what constitutes as being dressed up. From the get go I have fought the dress code and the unwritten rules of what a female is supposed to look.

A few weeks ago I was reminded on how important gender identification is while I was in a kindergarten class. I had never been in this class before; the kids didn’t know my name or anything about me. I probably had just gotten my “I’m sick of my hair” cut. I usually tell the hairdresser to cut it short enough that I don’t have to come back for four months. Anyway, I step inside this class and meet a student; she studied me for a minute or two and then asked if I were a boy or a girl. I really wanted to say, “Does it matter?”

Why does it matter? As long as there are different expectations between the genders, the American Dream will never be a reality. How can you tell little girls that they can grow up and be president when it never has happened. I wonder how this election will be treated in history books?

There are so many things that I grew up dreaming about the things that have never happened. I was not allowed to play baseball when I was a kid. And yes, girls can now play baseball, Little League is the top of the staircase.

Not too many people know of Jackie Mitchell. In 1937, at the age of 17, she struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. She was coached by a hall of fame pitcher and not had the variety of pitches, but she had deadly aim. She proved it enough to get a minor league contract, which is how she came head-to-head against the most fear duo in all of baseball, and to do it at such a young age and without any experience. If I were to go up against any of the Red Sox, I’d be so nervous, my pitches probably wouldn’t have been close to the target. The stadium was packed when Jackie took the hill. There are clips of her powdering her nose before making her very first pitch. Maybe she was able to put something on the ball.

Jackie never made it to the big leagues.The commissioner of baseball vetoed her contract, saying that professional baseball is too hard on women. Yes, science and testimony proves that men are stronger than women. But when it comes to agility and ability, women can do so much more than we’re allowed to.

One commentator about Jackie Mitchell had to remind us that this was a period where there were no helmets or that when the ball came back, it was going to do more than leave a mark. There was more concern of her physical welfare due to her being female. Why would a woman risk getting a black eye or worse? The question isn’t even asked of the men who had been playing that way their entire lives. Why suddenly the concern.

I experienced this when I played ice hockey in junior high. Girls had to wear more gear, especially head gear. Professionals didn’t wear helmets. Boys had to wear helmets, but not face guards. Why are female faces more important to protect? Our bodies were protected as well since we weren’t allowed to check. Can’t allow girls to get too physical.

Gender inequality in sports has gotten a lot better, but the pace of change has been so slow. One of my American Dreams was to be a professional athlete. The Boston Bruins weren’t eager to bring on a female in the seventies. I was too short for basketball, though there have been a couple of five four men who have made it, there is hope that a woman gets a chance to break that barrier. The main female sports back then were tennis and golf, but the idea that I would have to wear a skirt bugged me. I had even turned away from lacrosse because of the dress code, but learned that goalies didn’t have to wear one.

And then I had to wear one. Many years ago, almost a lifetime, I did have the opportunity to be a professional athlete. I never got good enough to give the LBPT or WPBA national or regional members a run for their money, but I did have a lot of fun trying. And I had to learn how to have fun while wearing walking shorts, which wasn’t the problem, but I also had to wear panty hose. I almost stopped bowling just because I thought the rule was so stupid.

It’s hard to make change if I’m on the other side of the door, though it sure took me a long time to learn this lesson. Eventually the dress code relaxed, but by then Professional Bowling was no longer an opportunity to women. I’d hate to think that there’s a correlation.

The other day I was talking to a woman about her daughter who wore my favorite number eleven while playing football. I always feel so much hope when I hear about girls playing “not traditional” sports, but her story didn’t have a happy ending. She could have played on the middle school team, but her mom would have had to have provided a chaperon for her daughter at all practices and games, especially involving transportation. That’s one way to prevent participation.

I’ll never forget going door-to-door raising money for my hockey team’s transportation to only be told that girls belonged in the kitchen right before getting the door slammed in my face. We all struggled against the tide, but my team was good in a ground-breaking ways. The Waltham Angels, which then became the Waltham Wings, was one of the best teams in the Assabett Valley League. I wasn’t one of the stellar players, but my heart was in playing and I played constantly, working on becoming better. I’ll never forget playing in tournaments, especially Nationals, and feeling as though I were playing for the Stanley Cup. It really didn’t matter that we had to be self-supported and rubbed people the wrong way; the love of the game was all the motivation I needed.

My Fear of Lessons Learned from the Trump election

I have bigger fears than the next four years with a Trump/Pence presidency. My fears are with what we just learned and what lessons our young have learned, especially the Caucasian male.

The president of the United States is supposed to represent the people. Hillary won that election hands down; if we could emphasize the Democracy in our government, but the representatives are supposed to balance things out since it’s impossible to hear a million voices and get anything done. The system of Representation is a disaster. Trump and Pence don’t represent at least two million of us.

Once again, I have learned that my voice doesn’t count and I’m not talking about just this election. I’m talking about my life. I have experienced hate and discrimination more times than I can count; the events range from an almost daily dose of profanity thrown at me by  not too far off neighbors as they sped by my house to a student from the military academy wrote hateful things about me on a YouTube post seen by millions; ironically, it was a YouTube about the Constitution. The School merely gave him an in school suspension and forced me to see him on a daily basis.

The crimes against women, against people of color, of people outside of the powerful inner circle are too high as they are, but didn’t Trump’s election tell us that this is okay? It’s okay that our president-elect discriminates against everyone that’s different than he. It’s okay to grab women by the genitals, and it’s also okay to make unwanted sexual advances.

The other day someone told me that they had voted for Trump based on the Trump family and what model citizens they are. It wasn’t specifically said that President Obama has broken laws, but this person’s opinion said that President-elect Trump will enforce laws. I’m thinking he’ll enforce the laws that suit his welfare. He admitted that he uses steel made in other countries, but blamed Hillary for not making him buy USA steel. Is he going to make his business and other businesses not import steel to increase jobs? Trump business will probably get a discount.

And if President-elect, though Dictator-elect would be more fitting thinks that Hillary ever had the power to make laws all by herself, he has a lot to learn about our government.

If one is to look at a family that can represent a presidential candidate, President Obama and the Real President-elect Clinton families represent good, functional people.

I hope that Hillary Clinton realizes that the people are behind her; from what I hear about the Marches that are mobilizing for the Swearing day to remind Dictator Trump that he may be in the position of power, this is a country that is all about We The People and We The Peeps aren’t going to let you forget it. We certainly are not going to let you file for bankruptcy.

A Simple Search Can Say a Lot About a Book

A year or so ago, in a short stretch of time, I saw the book title, The Girl On The Train time after time. It seemed like everyone was reading it. I have a vague recollection of seeing it advertised in the tunnels of London. I lack proof and I definitely don’t trust my memory. If a story depended upon a particular fact, tweaking is understandable as well as accepted.

I could say I saw a man reading this book on a train, but it was a plane, and I am not sure if it was a man.

I hadn’t given the book any thoughts for quite a while  when it presented itself to me at the Eugene Public Library. They have bookshelves near the checkout. Lucky Day books: books that can’t go back on their shelves because there’s not enough room.

Maybe the book was so popular, they couldn’t keep the books on the shelf, but now that the fame and newness has faded, there’s no room for the book to roost.

When I typed in the author’s name, Paula Hawkins, in Goodreads, 69 books came up. But, the”psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives” was her debut book, and it came out only in 2015.

Most of the other books are books about the book. Synopsis. Abbreviated ideas of what the book is about for those people who don’t want to read the book, but perhaps they were assigned to either read it or teach it.

Time to dig in. At least I know that there is a plethora of books I can turn to if I don’t understand it. Wish me luck. 

Forty-four Years Ago

Now  I have two elections that cause me to lose sleep. The recent bizarre and sudden election of Donald. J. T. Rump the other day and the re-election of Richard Nixon.

Forty-four Years Ago my mom died suddenly the night Tricky Ricky retained his seat of power until his crookedness was brought to the light. I was twelve and could care less. I didn’t like watching the Vietnam War unfold in my kitchen, but after my mom died, I didn’t like much of anything. Except for the concept of death.

For a immature pre-teen I didn’t really have a good concept of death. I was too young for grandparent deaths to effect me, and the death of a close friend, Gayland Gates, mostly fed me the emotions that other people go through, especially the severe pain.

Stoicism was what was called for. My dad was lost. He didn’t eat or work. I didn’t do school work, though I was heading in that direction anyway as the transition from elementary to junior high wasn’t going so well. 

In fact, for years I blamed myself for my mom’s death since we were arguing over my school work. We had never argued before, and this was what caused her heart to give out. That and high cholesterol, cigarettes, and alcohol.

Death became my trump card. Adults, especially therapists and school counselors turned to jelly by mentioning the S word. I am surprised I wasn’t institutionalized, but I was watched.

The idea of death was my escape route just in case my floundering became to painful. I had the social graces of a new born colt.

In college I learned all the ways to cover up and drown negative feelings, though I eventually learned that the feelings will eventually sound and take over everything as they surge.

Forty-four Years Ago was a few lifetimes ago. I often wonder what kind of relationship I would have had with my mom had she lived past fifty. The optimist within me says it would have survived the Rocky times that would have bound to have happened.

Filtered Writing

I am not at liberty to speak my mind unless I am the only audience, which is most of the time. The status of “teacher” sets a standard, as it should be, and as long as any of my words are heard by another, the brake is on.  There’s no off-duty when it comes to living up to a persona.

I struggle with free-speech as if free-speech is my shadow and my words are my identity, my reputation. Every so often a teacher will get caught doing the unthinkable. I take it personally when someone betrays the trust of a student. In these cases, it’s a no brainer; I am talking about my not being able to speak my mind. I’m not supposed to tell the kids who I am voting for.

For me, I really have to worry about speaking my mind. Getting fired less than nine hours after posting a Facebook comment about my school using teacher’s illegally proclaimed that I have no freedom of speech.

As I filter my story ideas, I think about how I ought to be able to talk about my past. But I don’t. It’s like someone is whispering in my ear that certain topics are off the table. But It’s my past. How can someone judge me on what I did in my twenties? I have these arguments often and the winning side concludes that when I am fully retired, the gloves can come off. That cliche doesn’t quite work, but that’s the best I have at the moment.

I used to be a parakeet in a previous life

I have not met anyone, young or old, who is not amazed at how well I speak Parakeetinese. I am fluent in the budgerigar, aka budgie, aka parakeet, language.

How else could I have learned to speak its language? Sometimes I think it’s my native language.

I tell students that I was a parakeet in a previous life. I wonder why I sometimes don’t get called back to the same class.

I tell them about the little yellow parakeet I had in high school. Toby. I sometimes get yellow parakeet number one and yellow parakeet number two confused. I think Troy was my college and terrible twenties parakeet.

parakeetI tell the older kids how Toby fell in love with me. She would sit on my shoulder, and after a lengthy conversation, my not really knowing what I said to her, she would bob her head up and down and lightly peck me in the nose. If she were feeling especially affectionate, she worked on my ears. She would sing a little song, though the notes were too intrinsic for me to copy, as she gently cleaned my ears.

Troy also fell in love with me. I only realized this after I brought Wilbur home. Wilbur made the exact gestures to Troy as Troy and Toby had has done to me. In turn Troy got mean and screamed at him. I did not take advantage of learning how to swear in Parakeetinese.

My mom, or was it was sister Barbara , had blue parakeets. There were at least Peter one and Peter two. I remember we had a .45 album that said “pretty bird” over and over ad nauseam. (Did I really spell that wrong? adnauseam?) Neither Peters were interested in speaking English. Maybe it was the sentence. Maybe they did not know what being pretty meant or even if  they were pretty. Of course they knew it; parakeets spend most of their lives preening and primping. The mirror in the cage didn’t hurt their self-image either since they were adamant the reflection was a bird that had infiltrated their territory. Bird fight bird-reflection is not a pretty picture.

As I reflect upon how I learned how to speak Parakeetinese, I have a new theory. Since I was in my firmative and formative years, all the repetition of the Peters, I absorbed their language. What does it suggest that the same tactic didn’t work on the Peters but worked on me?

This is me when as a bird. I’m guessing I was ten or eleven.i

Mind-numbing jobs

I just started reading The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland for my book group. Because the main character day dreams, I noticed my mind was also wandering as I read it.

I worked for The Register-Guard newspaper. My B.A in English got me the title: Clerk-Typist B. I wasn’t even at the A-level, though I think by my time, the A job had been eliminated. I had predicted that degree in English wasn’t worth the paper the degree was printed on. I was right.

I had never worked in such a mind-numbing position. For four hours of the day I wrote, The bride is the daughter of… . The groom is the son of… . Sometimes my mind was so numb that I would reverse the genders and family role and not even notice during my editing. I was accused of not editing my work on more than one occasion. I tried to mix things up, to liven up the writing, but there’s just so much that can be done. It wasn’t like the old days when people could describe their wedding dress and list special guests. But that was when a cat getting stuck in a tree made news. Or when someone came visiting town.

I don’t get the paper nor read it, so I’m only guessing that weddings and anniversaries, my writing specialty, are no longer printed. Since I was only at the paper a mere ten years, I never graduated to the obituary side of writing, another specialty snuffed out.

At least my mind-numbing Clerk-B Typist job allowed me to numb my mind in two manners instead of one long tedious method. In the afternoons, I was under the eyes of someone who never did take a liking to me. I made the mistake of changing things up after my first couple of weeks of fiche-making. Four four hours a week, my job was to cut newspaper articles out of the paper and glue them into books. I was supposed to do this quickly, but I couldn’t help but read the stories as I ripped the columns, pasted them in the book. I did work faster when I had to rip that same story out four or five times since it was being cross-categorized. That’s when I had to be on super alert with being mind-numbed. If you ever read a microfiche from my tenure and a paragraph is upside down, you can blame me.

One of my first stories

I’m reading a collection of bits and pieces of my life that I keep in a three-ring notebook. Interspersed between report cards, I have things I have written, reminding myself how long my love affair with writing has been going on.

While in elementary school, I wrote stories whenever possible. Bored with sentences with vocabulary words, I twisted stories to fit around vocabulary words. Instead of writing six to seven sentences, establishing my understanding of words like mute or valiant, I wrote a page and a half  of small and somewhat messy handwriting.  I wish I had dated the assignment other than Unit 9 or written down the name of the teacher; it looks as though they had spent a lot of time marking my paper. I had by this time gotten a hang of paragraphs, a concept that eluded me for quite a few years, but I didn’t really have a clue what a sentence was or how words were spelled; the teacher told me that I was “wonderfully daft and gave me a check plus; it was also suggested that I needed to make the corrections. I probably have not read this story since I wrote it forty-something years ago. To keep with the spirit of my young self, I will write it as I wrote it.

“Along time ago there lived a man whose name was Henry Sloan. Henry Sloan was not just an ordinary person. Henry was a bankrobber He placed in the top ten amongst all the other thieves. Amazingly enough, henry held up thirty-seven banks without saying one word. Henry was a mute and could do nothing but write. It was amazing, he would go into a bank and hold up a sign that said ‘This is a Holdup.’

I remember the first time I saw Henry Sloan. I was standing outside the bank where he had just killed my father Henry looked so valiant sitting on his dapple grey poney. I looked at him, and he looked at me with his small wiley eyes He then rode of laughing. I was so excited about meeting him, I ran over to the library to find more about him.

Henry Sloan was born on April 27, 1867. Back in those days it was hard to gut all the help a handicapped needs. Henry felt neglected and became wild. He wanted more attention, but still couldn’t get it. Being an obstinate little fellow, Henry left home.

At the age of fifteen, Henry robbed his first bank. He withdrew, in a manner of speaking, $13,376. Immediatly the sheriff was hot on his tracks. For days and days the  chase went on. Being discouraged the sheriff relinquished the chase.

Two months later Henry struck again but this time he got away with 30,000 and a bullet in his leg. This promoted him to the top tens, most wanted list. Unfortunally at this point wanted posters were being handed out. The City of Utah was willing to require 10,00 for the body of Henry Sloan.

Henry kept striking bank after bank flashing his sign coast to coast. no one seemed to beable to catch him. Att one time he was almost caught.

He was trapped in a mine after days of battle Henry was able to get the pose to recede back into the hills.

Once Henry pulled off a job in San Juarto in Mexico. Unfortunatly for him he was caught. There must have been something about him. Henry pleaded and begged forgiveness and the mexico government actually did. They forgave him and liberated him.

The stories go on and on but Henry finally terminated at the ripe old age of 76. Henry died. To tally his score he robbed thirty-seven banks (collecting over a million dollars! While doing this he shot 25 people killing all but one. He  something. (I can’t read my own writing) seven would, (the teacher guessed wounds?) including one from himself, when he shot his foot.”

It was strange reading this story, especially about the part about killing off my father and not having any sense of sadness; this was before I had a sense of what death was all about. I’m sure I had experienced Gerbil deaths. Perhaps this was before one of my best friend,  Gayland Gates’ death. I’m also thinking that I wrote about such far-fetched things that I was able to separate reality from my story. Come to think about, this wouldn’t be such a bad skill to have.

Up to then, writing was a place of pure joy. It wasn’t a place to escape from reality, but a place to create a different reality. I’m not saying that my life was perfect. I’m saying that I was not a joy to be around at times. There was a reason my sister nicknamed me Monster. Perhaps my temper tantrums wouldn’t have happened if I weren’t so spoiled. I was the last. My mom spoiled me. How is that my fault?

Sometimes I think that my mom gave me so much attention because she knew her time in life would be fleeting, though not because she wanted to. I also have thought that she has had a much easier time protecting me in the spirit world than she would have been able to in physical form.

I love the way writing can turn cathartic. On the turn of the letter n, I can whiplash my reader into a different level of emotion. I get a whip lash as well.

What Sense Could I Live Without?

Dream Big Dream Often posed a question: If you had to give up one of your senses which sense would you sacrifice and why?

1477823800784My question would include why not. I can’t imagine giving up sight. I love reading. I have tried to listen to books, but I have a hard time concentrating. I imagine that I would adapt if I couldn’t see, but to not be able to see faces, especially the eyes of my fur family members, this would be hard.

20160806_180927Taste. I often tell people that I am in a See Food diet: I see food, and I eat it. I am not that particular and enjoy a wide range of foods, but I especially like good food. Processed and store-bought food isn’t as satisfying. I can’t imagine never being able to taste fresh veggies from my garden, especially the tomatoes. Fresh corn on the cobb makes my mouth water. Mostly,  I could not imagine ever being able to taste lobster again.lobster

Hearing. I don’t think I could live without music. Music impacts my moods whether it motivates or calms. I can’t imagine being able to sing if I couldn’t hear myself sing, though some people in my choir may suggest this a good thing. When it comes to singing my part, I often sing other parts if I hear them. And of course it is possible I am tone deaf and don’t know it. I would like to think I am not tone deaf. Would I be able to chirp like a parakeet and talk to other birds if I no longer could hear? I don’t think I could voluntarily give this sense up.

Touch. At first, I thought that this sense would be one I could sacrifice. Today I have been cold all day. Would sense of touchremove too cold or too hot? I asked a student, and she observed it would be similar to being paralyzed. How could I walk if I couldn’t feel my feet under me. I wouldn’t be able to bowl or wrestle with my dogs.

Sense of smell would be the one I could sacrifice as long as it didn’t interfere with my sense of taste. Yes, I would miss the smell o the ocean or the smells of pungent flowers, but if I had to pick one sense, this would be the one I would choose to sacrifice.