Deaths of Celebrities

jfkjrI never used to pay attention to the deaths of celebrities. Every so often, I’d cry over the death of someone who invested their energies into making this world a better place. I might now remember what year or what I was doing when I heard of Lady Diana’s sad and unnecessary death. John F. Kennedy Jr. caused the same response. I was only thirteen when Joseph P. Kennedy II died in a car crash. I don’t know if he was a fault as if that should matter.

The only reason I remember the Kennedy assassinations is because of the impact of the people around me, and that I’ve seen the replays, especially of John F. Kennedy. Perhaps living in the Boston area accented the ripple effect, but people from other parts of the world would beg to differ. I definitely had no concept of death when I was three and eight.

The older I get, the more I notice death. They are starting to effect me. Life’s like Jenga.jengaPieces start to come out, rocking our  foundation. Sometimes it doesn’t take much. It shocked the world when Carrie Fisher died at the age of 60. It doesn’t help that she was only four years older than I; the same age as my sister Deb. The aftershock of her mom, Debbie Reynolds, dying a few days after, dropped people in their tracks not because she was 84, and past “the average life expectancy for American women.”

johnglennPeople die every second, obviously, the people close to our inner circles get our attention. And then there are those who make us marvel at their tenacity; the nose-to-the-grindstone people, the ones who do the things that no one has ever done before. John Glenn. But John Glenn was lucky. White Male was a key ingredient for his success. John credits his parents for” instilling the belief that everyone is given certain talents and has a duty to use them to the fullest.  I don’t know anything about his sister Jean, but I’m wondering if she had the opportunity to live her life to the fullest. I’m not saying that being a wife and a mother cancels out living up to one’s abilities, but choices back then were extremely limited.

tam-sallyWomen in Space was limited to the Russians. Cosmonaut Valentina spent three days in space June 16, 1963. Sally Ride, a name known to most didn’t go up until twenty years after the Russians. When it comes to women’s rights, the United States of America has been way behind the rest of the world.

It wasn’t that long ago that Sally Ride died. I’m sure it made “the list” of important people who died in 2012. Mostly what I remember is learning that Sally’s partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaugnessy, did not receive any benefits. Heterosexual people automatically get this benefit:

“Defense of Marriage Act enacted in 1996, prevents same-sex married couples from receiving benefits. And while 60% of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic-partnership benefits to employees — so unmarried same- or opposite-sex partners qualify for health insurance, paid family leave and more — the federal government does not.”

It seems as though the list is longer in 2016 with  just two days to go than in prior years, though 2012 lost many amazing people. Even though I love Fleetwood Mac, I had forgotten that Bob Weston had died. It’s too bad that Joe Paterno didn’t die before the Penn State rape scandal surfaced, stripping him away from a legacy of being one of the best coaches in college football. I can’t hear a Whitney Houston song without thinking how sad her premature self-induced death, which also took the life of her daughter, but I hadn’t remembered it was 2012.

My Jenga pieces are the people that played a role in my life. I grew up with television. Granted the channels were limited and most channels, perhaps all, went off the air. Patty Duke. Florence Henderson. Gene Wilder, though I thought his wife, Gilda Radnar was funnier. Robert Vaughn. Muhammad Ali.

And then there are the deaths that cause me to shake my head and say “Huh?” For all of the lists I’ve seen for the people who died this year, I didn’t know that Pat Summit died. Did you know that? Do you even know who she is. I had meeting her on my bucket list. What an amazing coach, the winningest NCAA coach ever.

Unless my life changes radically between now and the time I died, my odds of making “the list” are zero to nil, but I’d like to think that if I did my best, that’s all that counted. And I’m the only one who knows if this is true or not.


Baying Comes with Playing

img_5571Luke, Bugle Beagle Boy, my great-nephew dawg, a temporary member of the pack, has stirred things up. Abby the Labby Number Nine has done her best to keep up with the little guy, but he’s just too small and too quick.

img_5660But bigger doesn’t mean anything when it comes to being the Alpha dog. Abby ends up running to me for protection; You are twice as big, I tell her, but her easy going lackadaisical manner isn’t a match against the tenacity of the hound. If got an ear full of bark and my paws snapped at, I’d go running for my mama as well.

img_5584-3What a beautiful day for a walk and a romp. Lucy even got involved in the play. Luke  has been kind enough to antagonize only Abby and Ricky, though Lucy’s hundred pounds might have something to do with this.

img_5598With Luke in the picture, I don’t have to do much to exercise the dogs. He’s like a wind up Everready bunny that just takes off full speed and there’s nothing the other dogs can do.img_5597

I can’t speaks for the dogs, though I know the cats will be happy to see Luke return to Portland and can come out from their hiding places. I know I’ll miss his kisses and his conversations.img_5650

Goal for 2017

img_5305Yard Art.  The flattest part of the yard. Can’t judge how long the hot tub has been planted. It’s not been that long. It wasn’t that long ago. I remember mowing around it. That task slipped off the chore ritual right about the time I started gardening. Everything fell off the to-do list once Spring came around. After giving up on having a lawn, I tried to keep the blackberries at bay, but then this nasty weed moved in and could cause skin abrasion, though mostly I needed an excuse. Perhaps cow parsley. If I really want to know how long this hot has been out of service, which I don’t, I could ask my friend Heidee.

img_5306It doesn’t take long before the blackberries, thistle, and Scotchbroom take over. Every so often, motivation takes over and I’m ready to battle. My main problem is that there are so many areas that I’ve been fighting.

In an earlier blog, I wrote how I’m slowly acclimating to cold weather. The colder it gets, the better I can handle it. After the frigid and frozen week,  it only takes a peek from the sun to get me eager to do yard work. And after a few days of rain and bleakness, sunshine easily takes me away reading. I didn’t even care that it was cold enough to keep frost on the ground; the warmth of the rays felt so good. I didn’t even care that it was Christmas. I don’t think I’ve ever done yard work on Christmas.

img_5497I really don’t mind getting the weed whacker out. Not quite as much fun as working a chainsaw, but this thing has metal blades and if I thump enough times, I can take take young scotchbroom and  thick blackberry stalks. Too bad I couldn’t  sell this stuff.

img_5476Clearing the blackberries is the least of my problems to get this project done by the end of 2017, if not sooner. Water is probably not that much of an issue, but power has to be run from the house. There’s probably another step before that, but I don’t want to reveal my ignorance.

And then there’s a deck that’s got to be done and some landscaping to make an hasty exit into the house when temperatures aren’t so kind. I’d like to think that a year is enough to accomplish this task. Maybe I could ask for help?

Little Shit Rebounds Quickly

20161227_145724Just a day after losing his testicles, Luke is back to his old tricks. When I brought him home yesterday afternoon, he could barely walk. Good thing he’s portable. The last time I had a dog that weighed twenty-five pounds was Abby at six months old. Luke slept all afternoon and all night. Zonked. So out of it that he didn’t even realize that Ying Cat was sleeping on the bed with us, but the cone blocked his view, must have blocked his nose as well.

img_5455A day later, and  Luke, which I sometimes think is short for Lucifer,  aka Little shit, was back to his shenanigans. His only limitation was he could no longer fit through the cat door. That didn’t stop him from finding a cat. I had been outside, cutting blackberries; usually when I am outside, working or walking, img_5557Ying is with me. I had hoped that perhaps the sound of his own baying bouncing around in the cone would stop him. Perhaps I ought to have left his ears inside the cone.

img_5525Aaron, and hopefully Kristin, come down in two days to retrieve their little baby boy. I don’t know how the dogs feel about him; they have played a lot, but they have let Luke have the Alpha position. Ricky’s flat out scared of Luke. And Luke loves to give Abby a hard time, biting at her paws; the cone didn’t stop him from chasing either dog around.

Beagles have always had a soft spot in my heart since I was practically raised by one before I got a chance to raise one myself. Maybe I had been a beagle in a previous life or at least experienced. The things I did in play seem to work. We wrestled a lot. I would declare myself the winner after turning P-Dog over on his back and pinning him. I am the boss. If he growled at me, I let him know that this was not going to fly and told him that if he bit me, I’d bite him back even harder. If he did something bad, I would send him to his room, which was my room; after a little bit, I’d ask him if he were sorry, and he would be, and he would tell me with the sounds he’d make and the kisses. There was always a reprieve before he got into mischief again. He just couldn’t help himself.

img_5568While writing this, Luke was whining, so I sent him out, thinking that Ying Cat had enough sense to move from the place Luke had found him, but within minutes I heard the baying. I called Luke to come. Selective hearing tuned me out. Even with the cone on, he’s still much quicker than I am. Pretending that I didn’t care, I walked away, hiding his leash. img_5483Using Abby and  Ricky as decoys, I grabbed the munchkin and clamped his leash on him. He resisted, planting all twenty-five pounds, hoping that I’d not tug the pathetic little conehead dog, but that wasn’t going to happen.

Even with his trouble-making, jumping up to counters that he has no chance of reaching, harassing the cats, and  getting into things he’s not supposed to, I am going to miss the little fella and look forward to his next visit.img_5186


Life’s Adjustments

Luke, aka Little Shit, is my Great-Nephew Beagle Dawg. He’s a beagle. What’s there to not love? His cuteness and intelligence and sweetness vetoes his stubbornness and ornery behavior. There’s no malice in his mischief-making. I can see it in his eyes. But I don’t let him get away with anything. If I can help it.

img_5018I knew that there wouldn’t be a problem folding Luke into my pack of three Labradors. The house big enough for the cats to hideout. What I hadn’t predicted was how his willfulness  would effect me. It’s like having a five-year-old puppy with a treasure-trove of experience.

Luke’s got a play-book of different maneuvers to get around my defense, and if he can get me to start chasing him, he rakes up the points.

Phase one: Puppy-proofing. Trash cans that had been down and not a problem with the Labradors. Luke took a liking to a toilet-bowl cleaner, so I had to hide that. He found things that he should have.

Phase two: boundaries. I blindly filled dog bowls for dinner, not thinking about Luke’s superspecies skill of inhaling food. If Luke were at home, his food bowl would almost always have food in it as Luke was a grazer. I had never heard of a beagle who didn’t eat his or her meal at one time and being extremely fast. Luke took advantage of a turned back and he dove for the kibble. I don’t know how many kibbles Luke inhaled before I yelled “Luke, No!!!”

Solving that problem was easy: don’t put food in Lucy’s bowl until Lucy’s there to stand guard. Now that Luke had gotten a taste of the forbidden, he was extra interested to get more. Lovely Lucy hasn’t been the grouchy old dog that I thought might happen, but when food entered the picture, loveliness went out the window. A low growl with a show of a canine tooth was all it took to send Luke back on his heels.

Lucy’s lip-service didn’t prevent Luke from trying two more times. I had to step-in to keep Luke from binge-eating Abby and Ricky’s food. img_5388

Luke didn’t want to eat his own food. He looked at me, communicating his distaste with a pleading look of can’t I have what they are having? I caved and threw in a few. I put his leftovers up when he walked away. Every time we were in the room, I gave him some grazing time.

Fourteen meals later, and Luke is no longer a grazer. He eats everything in his bowl. It might be a  Rome thing. Copy the locals. He might go back to grazing when he returns to Portland as he won’t be surrounded by Labradors that would eat his unattended food in a second, perhaps not as quickly as Luke, but fast enough that it would be gone.

img_5383Phase three: A tired beagle is a good beagle. When I was a kid, we lived in a dog’s heaven. We lived next to a large wooded area, but best of all there was no leash-law. Our beagles went wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Our current property is close enough to doggy nirvana. Enough is fenced in to keep them safe, and there’s woods to keep the exploring interesting. I’m noticing the more walks and play sessions, the more Luke sleeps and his nose doesn’t have a chance to get him into trouble. It was one of his first days here when he poked his nose into a closet. Canine encounter with feline fury sent him running and he didn’t go down into the basement without me for a few days.img_5372

Unfortunately that fear wore off. Phase four: Close doors and eliminate exits and  eliminate unsupervised visits with Ying and Yang. Before getting the bejesus scared out of him, I could leave the door to the basement open; he wanted to go down there so badly, but would only put his nose on the threshold. Time either induces lost memories or builds courage, as it wasn’t long before I had to close the door to the basement, saving me a lot of  grief.

I live in a round house,  and there are a lot of doors that connect the rooms in a circular manner. For example, there are two doors for the  main floor and basement floor bathrooms. Kitchen side and living room side on the main floor When all the doors are open, which Luke figured out quickly, it is impossible for me to catch a very fast beagle. Chasing a beagle around in  circles gets old quickly. I started closing doors to give him dead-ends.img_5413

Phase five: Make adjustments when needed. Mr. Luke is a smart dog, and when one door closes, he looks for another opening. He’d been watching the dogs coming and going through the dog door. I even pushed Luke through the door. I don’t know if he’s tried and just not big enough to push a large dog door flap. And then he discovered the cat door. When Abby was a puppy, the cat door worked for a while. Shortly after she  outgrew it, yet was still a pup and not trusted to be alone in the house, I put her in the animal room. She was so determined to get out that she did some remodeling. First she  ripped up the cat door frame, and then she took the linoleum off of the wall. I wouldn’t have wanted to see what she would have done next.

img_5455Once Luke figured out that he could come and go via the cat door, I shut the two doors leading into the animal room or leading into the main house. Now when Luke comes inside, he’s got nowhere to go and there are no cats in the animal room for him to bay at.

Phase six: The taking of the testicles. I don’t know if Luke’s neutering appointment tomorrow will effect his behavior. I’ve never had a dog get to adulthood without being altered. Luke’s got five years of testosterone in his system. I suspect that’s not enough to slow a  beagle’s obstinate nature.

Phase seven: Enjoy the talks. I have had dogs talk to me, but Luke reminds me of the conversations I would have with Pippey the Beagle; he would tell me about his dreams and just go on and on. Luke, if given the time and the right scratches, he will tell me all sorts of stories, punctuated by rapid dog kisses. Sometimes I have to fight to get a breath inj.

Having Luke visit for Christmas has been one of the best Christmas presents.


Stories I make up

Obviously, I lack World War II  memories. Stories told over and over change, especially after my brain has sliced and chopped and dissected.
A World War II blouse belonging to my dad, Richard Walter Honthumb, bears Sergeant stripes. According to a history page my dad enlisted:

“Richard W Honthumb – WWII Enlistment RecordSuffolk County, MassachusettsEnlisting at the age of approximately 20 on December 31, 1942, Richard W Honthumb was a private in the Branch Immaterial or General Officers branch of the Selectees during World War II. At the time of enlistment, Richard W Honthumb was single, without dependents, stood 68 inches tall, weighed 126 pounds, and had an education level of 4 years of high school. Richard W Honthumb was born in 1922, and identified as white.”

My story does see my dad was enlisting, at least trying to, but blind without his glasses was not a characteristic the Air Force were looking for; they sent him packing.

Desperate times eventually expanded who were drafted, and that is how my dad ended up as a Supply Sergeant. I wish I had his photo album of those days, the cover made from a plane’s window or the bullet casing turned into a cigarette lighter. How long was he stationed in Puerto Rico? 

He married my mom, Ruth Prescott Stanley in 1948 or earlier. Maybe a search can find that date.

I can’t identify this picture. It would be beyond amazing if this was my grandmother, Anita Pollock Honthumb, my dad,  and aunt, Doris Honthumb Mahoney. I doubt it, but it is an interesting old photo.

Add a Beagle to the Mix

20161112_193324I’ve had three Labradors for the past five years and it was rather crazy; Lovely Lucy hadn’t started showing her eleven years, going on  twelve, until recently.20160802_123414


Abby the Labby Number Nine and Rambunctious Ricky have made up for Lucy’s inactivity. They do most of their running and chasing outdoors. Our house is rather big, but not big enough for  doggy tag.

20161218_103456Yesterday I drove up to Portland to pick up Luke,  my Great-Nephew Beagle.

Crazy. Crazy. It has  been many years since I have lived with a beagle. Baying. Stubborness. I have spent more time chasing Luke around the house. He doesn’t like the ice and the rain and refuses to go outside. I had to put a leash on him to help him find his motivation! At least the house is big enough to give him plenty of running around room.


The College Writing Class that Hooked Me on Journaling

I don’t know if it’s  because I was in school between the mid sixties and the late seventies or if I hit the Weston Public School District in a very generous and creative curriculum steering away from rules and regulations. I remember being encouraged to be creative rather than structurally perfect.

Grain of Salt. There were many teachers who tried to teach me how to use paragraphs and sentences. Not my speed. I also have a way of checking out on things I get bored in. I highly doubt I was able to do that in an entire year of diagraming sentences. Antiquated perhaps.

Here and there, high school teachers like Mr. Williams, the most beloved Social Studies teacher on the planet, assigned us journals. They were especially effective for me. I didn’t know that I had started in the best form of counseling.

When I went to Ithaca College in 1978, I had not a clue what I was supposed to do. I had been away from home at hockey tournaments, but I didn’t know anyone at I.C. It was like jumping into the deep end of a very cold pool. The transition took my breath away, and I had to work very hard to get it back.

You might be wondering what caused me to go down this rabbit hole? In a notebook, I come across stray journals. I had tried to do some blogging about Weston High School Alumni, but that fell flat on its face.

Typed on onion skin paper. Some of you can’t even fathom this image. I can see the typewriter. My high school graduation gift; it was a Honthumb tradition. Each typewriter got better and  better. Not sure if the cost was as dramatic as the abilities. Barbara and Pam’s were probably not electric. Deb’s might have had a return handle that you had to hit to return. Mine was four years newer and had the button return. It used a cartridge for ink. I got rather good at ejecting the ink, throwing in the correction tape, typing over and over the mistake, ejecting it, throwing the ink one back in. Big clunky things that didn’t seem to always have a full thing of ink. I couldn’t see through it. I’m thinking that the company at three letters, and they may come to me as I write about typing on a very old type writing. SRA or SRC.

The thing that burned me about my typewriter was that I was faster than it was and sometimes keys would jam on top of them. I had learned to type on a manual typewriter, so the selectric was so much smoother. In trying to type quickly on a manual typewriter, my fingers often slipped inbetween the keys. Not a fun feeling.

In my second semester at Ithaca College, I chose a personal essay class. I had been toying with the idea of keeping a journal, just didn’t know how to start. What I am reading is written strictly for my eyes, and I’ve not even seen this page in many years.

Finals were breathing hard. I really, really needed to improve my grades or coming back wouldn’t be an option. I thought I was making the adjustments, but most of the time I struggled. I wanted to be in so many places at the same time. I learned how to stretch time.

I should have been coasting as most of my classes  had been stamped incomplete the second I torn my ACL. It’s really hard to do gymnastics or basketball or swimming with a leg in a brace.

I wonder if I am writing this 5- 5-79 journal in the middle of the night after everyone has gone to bed. I used to set up in the rec room to my typing wouldn’t keep my roommate awake. I’m sure people could still hear me tap tapping away. I’ve always been a loud typist.

So, I’m reading about my 19-year-old self. Par for the course, I waited until the last minute to read a textbook; that had been my modus operandi in high school. I squeezed by. Since my strategy just barely worked in high school, it sure wasn’t working in the big leagues.

Chances are I’m writing this in the wee hours on a Saturday, though I’m in a dorm, so I can’t imagine anytime being quiet. Maybe that’s why I became a loud typist. Can’t I be a typer instead?

When I dug academic holes, I dug deep ones. On this night I’m lamenting that Monday’s final in the History of Sport was going to be a gigantic hurdle to get over. I had read the first three chapter  assignments, but had let ten others slip through my fingers. And it’s not like I was going to totally immerse myself into the book from sun up to sun down. I had other things to do.

And then there was biology, “I am not even sure what to think.” My solution to a boring teacher was to simply not go to class. Great plan my nineteen-year-old self.

The thing that I really enjoy about re-reading my own words is that I get to chew up the words and spit them out. In this journal, I admit that I’m banking a passing grade out of Personal Essay that she feels sorry for me.

It just happens that I have one of those lives that every so often a really sad event happens. My mom’s death at twelve trumped them all, but they tried. Losing an ACL for an athlete and physical education student devastated me. This was back when there wasn’t an easy fix. The surgery wasn’t a guarantee that I’d have much mobility. I took in all of the doubts and begged for pity. It sometimes worked. I’d have to look back at my transcripts to see if it worked in Personal Essay, but my so much older self is just laughing. If I had to snake my way through a cake-walk class as that, I must have had slacking down to a science.

There was one class that I was so glad I got out of the final. Stunts and Tumbling. I think I called it bumps and fumbling. Put me in a leotard and all my athleticism goes right out the gym. Maybe I felt too  naked. I didn’t have trouble wearing bathing suits. I do have a note that I got a solid B in social round dance, another class that wasn’t my favorite.

I did return to Ithaca for my sophomore year, or at least the first term, but my knee wasn’t stable enough for vaulting a horse, and since the philosophy was if you couldn’t participate in an activity, I wouldn’t be able to teach the activity.

Now that I have someone else’s ACL, I sometimes dream of going back to Ithaca and finish my degree, but since I can’t even carry the laundry two flights of stairs without resting, I don’t think I could handle the multiple activity classes, and with my lack of balance, I’d not stand a chance on the  balance beam. Maybe next life.


Mantra for 2017

wp-image-725110065jpg.jpgI’m a New Year’s person. I don’t necessarily achieve my goals within the year, but there are things I do on a regular basis that may not have started without New Year’s Eve.

As I was looking for something in Facebook, I stumbled upon a post that I liked two years ago. I couldn’t figure out how to share such an old link, so I figured I could just create my own. It comes from a quote by a person I’ve never heard of, Bob Moawad;

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologizes or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The Gift is yours–it is an amazing journey–and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life  really begins.” ~ Bob Moawad

I hope that Bob doesn’t mind a slight tweak:

“The best day of my life is the one on which I decide my life is my own. No apologizes or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on,  or blame. The Gift is mine–it is an amazing journey–and I alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day my life really begins.”



Worst Ice Storm in Forty-Five Years

Wednesday, late morning, I crept off the hill to teach. I was hoping for more than a two-hour delay. The roads may have been clear down in the valley, but not up here. To top it off, Sometimes the Subaru was in the shop. A sometimes radio is doable, but not a sometime defroster.

Mini Coopers, at least mine, isn’t All=Wheel Drive like Sometimes, but it’s a solid little car. I don’t think icy roads care if a car is practically touching the ice as this  low-rider. I didn’t take any chances and went the back route. Sliding down Chambers in a free-fall will probably never make my bucket-list.

While working, the world just kept freezing and rain didn’t help. I couldn’t wait to book out of there and get back up the hill while it was still relatively safe.

I built a fire after I heard a transformer blow. Neighbors right across the street, P&C lost their power. Our fourteen-year-old house has wires running under ground. I better knock on wood as transformers have nothing to do with where the wires are; it was just a few years ago when we lost our power for several days. You know it’s bad when I had to take showers at schools. We had to d rive off the hill to eat. But we did have heat.


I wonder if this ice storm has a name. It sure is not stopping to take names. Most of ther trees haven’t seen this much ice in their existence, though there are several that have probably seen worse, but they aren’t talking. They are sloughing though, getting rid of lots of limbs in the middle that stopped working a long time ago.

wp-image-159185456jpg.jpgThe crack is what I would imagine the start of a avalanche. Hearing one of those is also probably never going to make my bucket-list. Maybe virtual  reality, but not the  real McCoy. We’ve already had ice or something falling from the dome roof. It took me a minute or two to even find my heart. I don’t do well with sudden noises. Some students have figured out to get me to swear by sneaking up on me, but luckily not too many know or even remember.

wp-image-1416432425jpg.jpgAs I  walk around my property, taking pictures, I feel like I am on unchartered territory. We may never see the likes of these. At least that’s what we’re all hoping for.

Sometimes I’m A Little Slow

Without Comcast, the house has been shut down from many electronic devices; the ones internet leashed. No television. No phone. No internet.

After messing around with my phone, perhaps day two, I figured out how to jump ship from the dead home line and get onto the internet. My little Samsung has been the heart-beat of the house, especially for me. I could continue emailing, journaling, and blogging. Well the blogging has been a bit sporadic. I have gotten to go through a new experience. Blog to its entirely, think that it has been saved, pictures included, but alas I find no sign of them. Etch-a Sketch gone. I have the pictures, but not the words; it will be interesting to see if I ever come close to the blogs I lost.

Anyway, in the slow department, I  remembered using my phone as a hot-spot for my table. Maybe, just maybe I could get it to talk to my Lenovo Laptop. It’s acting like I have the internet, though I’m hoping this is one of those blogs that actually save.

A few hours before remembering how to wii-fi my way around the world, I almost got frustrated with myself in knowing that the problem can be solved, but I couldn’t remember how.  Minor little hick ups that sometimes find resolution and other times the mystery questions end up in a queue in my head; it’s a rather long line.

This is basically a test to see if I really did cross-over. Writing, especially blogging on my smart phone is time-consuming and not always following ergonomic laws of common sense. I ought to at least add one picture of the wonder winterland we’re having without any snow.



It is only twenty-six degrees in Eugene. Day four of the worst ice-storm in forty-five years. Our neighbors, P&C, have been without electricity. We’ve been without Comcast. No phone, internet, television. My world exists in my cell phone.

I was supposed to go to my Nephew and Niece-in-law, A&K, Thursday. I Started my Winter Break early to have some hanging-out time with my Portland family. Schools between here and there closed after Wednesday’s ice slithered into town, The North West Tundra. I have not touched a car since and just can’t imagine going anywhere until it is above freezing.

Meanwhile, A&K are on pins and needles. Is Auntie S going to make it to Portland to pick up Lukester, my Great-Nephew Beagle Boy today or tomorrow. Forty-one is predicted…

Winter Wonderland

A wild winter storm crept into my world Wednesday. Ice that looks like snow covered my property.
The person at school told me the roads were fine. Maybe the roads four hundred feet less in altitude below my home. 

I crept down the hill, skipping Chambers, a roller coaster of a road. Of all times for my All-wheel drive to be in the shop, but the name Sometimes Subaru was starting to stick.

At least the Mini Cooper is a solid car… We made it to school. Instead of a two-hour delay, they should have cancelled school like they did the last two days. The world was in a deep, deep freeze. The worst in Forty-five years.
Knocking on wood as we have power. Across-the-street-neighbors have been without for three days. I brought on wood just in case.

The avalanche-like cracking of large fir branches and tops that then thunder to the ground. Hopefully to an empty space.

This particular tree landed on a car.

The ice had been doing damage all by itself before trees started coming down. I think I heard at least three transformers blowing. Wires have no chance, which is why we are without cable. No phone. No television. No internet. I am not complaining.

Today, the sun is out, but the twenty-eight temperatures are just refreezing what melts. As long as I don’t have to drive, I consider it beautiful.

The New Life

Where did I leave off the last time I read to you from Orhan Pamuk’s book, The New Life? 

We’re heading into chapter four and the main character is still nameless. He had a premonition that something was about to happen. The bus crashed into a cement truck. 

“One end of this arid and limitless garden was the asphalt highway that now lay covered with shards of glass, the other end a realm from which there was no return. I proceeded fearlessly into the velvet night, convinced that this was the halcyon land which had for weeks wafted balmy as paradise in my imagination.”

Halcyon? I like that word. I have to figure out how to incorporate it into my writing vocabulary.

Stepping away from the death and destruction, he imagined himself as being new or someone who hadn’t seen the stars for a long time. Time and silence are the only things on his mind. “Time is three-dimensional silence, The book said.”

For those of you who have not read previous blogs about the book, The New Life, the book I am reading, it is about a twenty-two year old who had discovered a powerful book and love; these two things propel him to start riding buses. Day after day, without knowing where or why, he gets on and off buses. And then the crash occurs.

Blood trickling from his forehead is a sign that he is alive and all of his senses come to the forefront of his mind. This is the scene he returns to:

“Hapless passengers who were still alive and others who would not stay alive much longer were coming out of the rear exit, cautiously as if stepping on the surface of a strange planet. Minn, Mom, you’re still in there, but I got out. Mom, Mom, blood, blood is filling my pockets like coins.”

He goes on to wish he could talk to these people like the “avuncular man crawling along the ground, his hat on his head, a plastic bag in his hand.”

Plastic bags seem to play an integral role in this story.

He watches a soldier, “the fastidious soldier who was bent over carefully examining the rip in his trousers.”

He watches an old lady talking to God. He desperately wants to “impart the significance of this unique and impeccable time to the impeccable time to the virulent insurance agent who was counting the stars.”

He returns to his seat, side stepping the dead driver who is still holding a bottle. Not only is the bus engine still running, but the movie is still playing. The anticipated kiss happens on screen.

He and the other “prudent” survivors, along with the dead, are transported. He gets stitches in his knee and head, wondering if the nurse is married to someone working in Germany. Why Germany? I don’t even know where the bus accident happened. 

Șairinyer is in Turkey. It seems very appropriate that the anonymous young man lands in the New Light Hotel. When not sleeping, which is most of the time, he continues to people watch. “Distracted old men hang out near the Atatűrk Statue.”

Russell Westbrook

As I watched the Boston Celtics hand over a win to the Oklahoma Thunder, I did some exploring about Russell Westbrook, one of the best players in the NBA. Too bad he doesn’t play for my team.

Even though I seldom watch basketball, I recognized this house-old name. He’s a phenomenal player. That’s not only been the case. The light-switch of motivation flipped on  late into his high-school career.

In high school only a small handful of college recruits looked at Westbrook to play collegiate basketball; however,  his inseparable childhood friend, Khelcey Barrs, was recruited by almost everyone. A true Blue Chipper. to compare their lopsided abilities, and size; ten inches and sixty pounds to a teeter-totter, the playground fixture is never getting off the ground.

Motivation is a mystery. It’s not like Westbrook wasn’t trying; he just didn’t know he had room to work even harder.

Westbrook had always been a hard worker, but Barrs’ death triggered a fire inside of him that continues to burn. He saw firsthand how quickly life can be taken from you, and he would never again question himself or his ability. He wanted to become the best point guard on the planet. It seemed like an unlikely goal for a kid who wasn’t even a starter on his high school varsity team until he was a junior, didn’t receive his first college recruiting letter until the summer before his senior year and wasn’t able to dunk until midway through his senior season. But any time someone doubted Westbrook, his response was simple and to the point:

“Why not?”

“Westbrook not only doubled up his effort on the court as if he were now playing for two people; he also doubled up on his chores off the court. He began taking the trash out for Barrs’ grandmother, who lived across the street, every week as Khelcey had done.”

And that’s what fueled the fire. Westbook doesn’t look like he’s ready to slow down any time soon. Not only did he work at being a better player, but he worked at being a better son and person. This is a good way to describe Westbrook from the article:

Every superhero has an origin story. With any good hero, reluctance is expected—just so long as it gives way to ambition and resolve.

My question is what causes reluctance to give way to ambition and resolve?  As a teacher, I’m always looking for that light switch or what ever it takes to change a students complacent attitude to  where motivation steps up to the plate and puts the pedal to the floor.

I’ve seen miracles. Students coming to claim their identity, their life. It seems to happen out of the blue, though it could very well have been a gradual change as students grow up. I love witnessing the about face in behavior, though when a Golden Star falls, a student who gets tired of being good and starts to choose disruptive behavior. I’ve had that happen a couple of times at the military school where bad behavior is corrected strictly until good choices become a habit. When a good student falls from  grace,  that first detention catches everyone by surprise. It takes a lot of displays of good behavior to surprise the judges that surround a permanent juvenile delinquent. Not many second chances are thrown their way.

Some of us aren’t like Westbrook in terms of answering the wake-up call so quickly and to the extent that he’s gone. But need I remind myself that wake up calls have no expiration date; this statue of limitations is limitless.


Tuba Ensemble

My wp-image-1418100370jpg.jpgPrep for listening to Christmas music worked. I’m enjoying listening to the  Eugene Tuba Ensemble


Coming from a very quiet domicile, the cacophony of a wide range of sounds is hard on my ears and my mind. Music from a variety of sources between piped in music, a cello and a violin, and a bunch of Tubas. Throw in hundreds and hundreds of people talking.

wp-image-1153006994jpg.jpgThe Lane County Fairgrounds hosts the Holiday Market, which is the Saturday Market moved indoors.

Moving around is difficult with  the place packed with arts and crafts booths as well as food booths. People are milling about, looking and talking. I get to practice patience when people just decide to stop and talk regardless of their daming up the walkway. Most people are rather oblivious of their surroundings and when I’m trying to go from point a to point b and have to detour to c, d, and e just to get to b, I get a bit anxious.

wp-image-214120579jpg.jpgAfter looking at all my food choices, my time to do the milling about,  I settled on a crépe. It was good, though not worth the nine bucks. Ham, egg, cheese, and spinach. When they first handed it to me, it was in a cardboard sleeve that looked like a icecream cone. I went back and asked for a plate. Maybe I should have studied how other people at their crepes ice cream cone style.

wp-image-977700962jpg.jpgI did have a great time listening to the Tuba Ensemble. I also got a chance to talk to several people that I had never met before. I knew I was in the right spot when I happened to sit down surrounded by teachers. The next person who sat down had journaling in common, though she has burned her earlier journals. I can’t imagine doing that. I have given letters back, but I’ve never destroyed any journals.

wp-image-1811068439jpg.jpgRight after sitting down, I saw this shirt. I had never seen anything so intricate and beautiful. Right after I snapped the photo, he put another shirt on.


Talking to People

Talking to people, especially in a group-setting, is like dancing. Who’s leading? Timing is critical. When two people begin to talk at the same time, there’s the polite conversation about who should go first. Who has the right of way?

All the pussy footing around I do with my thoughts, first editing them, though some days are better than others and there are days the editor is out to lunch; who knows what I’ll say on those days.

I think of the Abott and Costello’s Who’s on First routine. Costello would get so frustrated and angry.

I do a much better job writing what I mean rather than speaking them. When I’m not understood and when my explanations aren’t even understood, I notice my ears start to turn a little red. I can feel them start to heat up. Frustration does it. It seems as though there are some days I shouldn’t even try to converse. Those are the days I’m made up of two left feet or could two right feet. Stepping on toes and tripping doesn’t make a good dancing experience.

On other days, I enjoy yakking with people and enjoy the adjustments, especially with people I’m just getting to know. Some people don’t like being asked too many questions and others prefer to do most of the talking.

Communicating with my dogs is always interesting. Right now I have Abby the Labby Number Nine nuzzling my left cheek. She’s been staring at me for a while, though since the basement is dark and she’s black, I can only hear her. She’s trying to tell me that it’s five o’clock. It’s only 4:23 I tell her, but she only believes her stomach. regardless of the time I feed her, she’s always a half an hour or  so from five. I cxould feed her at 7 or 11, and around   four thirty, she’ll start to pester me. At least this time she didn’t paw at me. Maybe that method of communication, a bad one at that, has been eliminated from her repertoire.

Christmas Music

December 11th and I am already listening to Christmas music. This could be a record.

While listening to music in the car, I usually  hit scan or another pre-set station at the first recognition of a carol.

On Pandora I have the Nutcracker station playing. I am not familiar with the Waltz of the Snowflake.

It is a lot easier to make a gradual adjustment to the holiday season, especially Christmas.

I can’t stand the season beginning before Thanksgiving is over. How can we truly be thankful for what we have, but the next day frenzied to get more stuff, practically unfriending all the stuff you previously worshipped?

Eventually, the Christmas Spirit envelopes my soul, and all carols, even the cute ones with animated rodents take over what I listen to.

Since I am only listening to classical music, Winter Dreams from T’s Symphony 1, I don’t know if I am ready for Frosty the Snowman or if it will crawl under my skin, causing itching. Some years I am never ready for it, but I am always ready for Barry White or Bing Cosby.

In about a half an hour or so, I’ll be listening to Sylvia play the Uphonia. I was hoping autocorrect would hero my cause and fix it. Second guess. Euphonium. The phone didn’t ask me to replace the word. That is a good sign.


I’m reading an essay by Robert Boyers, Imagining Influence, where he’s expressing Natalia Ginzburg’s influence on his writing. And then I hit this phrase:

“An aspect of her importance for me will come clear when I  say that I do not think of her as the author of works comprehensively ambitious or virtuosic. Her sentences are not sublimely quotable, and her narrative virtues have principally to do with clarity of observation, resistance to frivolous embellishments, taut pacing, and unfailing quotidian specificity.”

Quotidian specificity?

Tub Time

Post bowling days are not always the best. Having a backbone is not necessarily a good thing. Mine is angry today.

Last night I was introduced to a new bowling ball. I have never had a pinkish bowling ball. Pink and black. I don’t remember the name. DV8 is the make. Sometimes it would hook, like surfing. Other times dangerously straight. You don’t have to be a bowler to know splits are bad.

Three times, or more times than I can count, I tried to force the issue with the bowling ball, making it do what I want it to do. Doesn’t always work that way. Soft hands are better.

Last night I may have not scored well, but I had fun. Once I had this uglier than usual split, one that typically wins the dual. I backed the ball up. It is spinning in reverse down the five board on the left. Real surfing. The ball touched the pin. I don’t remember if the pin stayed standing or toppled over. I didn’t make the spare, but the anticipation of possibility was worthwhile.

Titles don’t always match my blog

If you have read more than one of my blogs, chances are you will see that many times tangents take over and I never do return to my intentioned target of recourse. I think that’s the word I want.

My last blog was supposed to be about my high school graduation class. I did mention the fantastic principal we had; I tried to find info on when he died, but there are too many Donald Garlands; some from places in Massachusetts that I didn’t know existed.

I was going to take on the task of researching every classmate from Weston High School. I can’t seem to take on just one bite, like look for the classmates that I was friends with, a task that would only take an hour or two, but no. I have to start with Paul David Abercrombie.

I couldn’t find anything directed toward Paul, but I had become Facebook Friends with Jan. With reservation, I asked her about Paul.

And I thought I had a rare name. Ara Steven Aftandilian beats me for the easiest internet search. I didn’t get a lot of info, but the numbers match:

Ara Aftandilian was born in 1960. Ara currently lives in Topsfield . Before that, she lived in Topsfield , MA from 2004 to 2013.

Of course, if any of my classmates happen to read this, a response would be welcomed, especially if someone said they saw so and so or talked to so and so.

Mark J. Alberding is a name that has left no footprint in my memory of school.

christmas-cactusThe worst problem in searching the internet is that I get distracted quite easily. I came across a Bonnie Alberding, though no clue if she’s related; nothing suggests it. But a picture of a blooming Christmas Cactus drew me to her page.

I tried to kill the two or three Christmas Cacti. As I recall, one was rather large and old. I thought some summer sunshine would do them some good. It saddened me to watch it waste away, branch by branch. However, I had some parts that could be rooted; they’ve not been planted yet; that might be a good project for this coming Winter Break.

Weston High Class of 1978

Maybe after being thrown back fifteen years by my computer, romanticism swept me off my feet and I found myself exploring a notebook full of records of my past. A note of a vaccine when I was two years old, but it’s in my mom’s writing, so that’s why this small piece of paper has been kept for 54 years. Yes, I’m a pack-rat, especially when it comes to memories.

Larry Schwartz

How many people, for example have the program to their high school graduation exercises?

If they had a category for the person who was most likely forgotten, it would have been me. Even though I attended public schools from the start with Mrs. Parker’s Nursery School. I used to remember the street. Conant is coming to mind, but the only thing I really remember was how twisty and narrow it was; there was a small bridge right before the Nursery school on the left. I wonder if the creek or small body of water, that ran under the bridge had a name?

When I shook Principal Garland’s hand, he said “Thank God you are the last Honthumb.” His handshake was meaningful and his teasing showed he really meant the opposite. I can’t speak for my sisters, but it’s not like I lit the board up in my fourteen years in the school system. We were a quite family that lived on the end of a dead-end road. My dad parents worked hard to give my sisters and I a solid childhood in the suburbs of Boston. I was a good athlete, but I played the wrong sports. Soccer was just coming on. Weston didn’t even have a girls hockey team; I went to the town next door, Waltham.

I fought against everything society was throwing at me in terms of what girls were supposed to be like and learned to hide like a turtle. I crawled deeper into my shell after my mom died. As long as I had a dog, I was set; that’s all I needed.

It’s not like I ever was an extrovert. Is there a gene for shyness? My dad fought through his shyness by being in sales. I did the same thing. I was always going door to door selling something or asking for donations. For the most part, I kept to my self. I played goalie in soccer and spent more time with Keifer the Jack Russell Terrier than my teammates.

I wonder how many of my classmates remember me? How many of them do I remember? Many names are familiar, but I faces are blurry or non-existent. I wonder how many are my Facebook friends or how many either have left no footprint or their names are so common, I can’t find them. The good part, or perhaps the bad part of having a very uncommon name, is my sisters and nieces are easily found. I will say that every time I look on the internet for Honthumb, something new pops up. My sister and her daughter are all about the first two rounds of Google searches. Real estate does have a way of getting a name out.

Today I came across a book I’ve not seen before. Lena Honthumb is mentioned of always being with the family.:

Hold Dear, as Always: Jette, a German Immigrant Life in Letters

By Adolf E. Schroeder, Carla Schulz-Geisberg


Maybe next blog I’ll continue the path of looking up classmates…

How many problems do I have to solve today?

My antique MacBook Pro, my journaling machine, got untethered and was dead after a week of neglect. I always worry that the old computer will just refuse to turn on one of these days.

I’m in luck. Maybe. It tells me that it’s Sunday afternoon even though it is Saturday and morning. I looked to see which Sunday. December 31, 2000. I wouldn’t mind being given fifteen years back; kind of like winning the best lottery. I’d take time over money any day. I wouldn’t be fifty yet, and that would be a great deal.

But then a time change for just me and not the rest of the world just doesn’t work. I’d not be able to communicate with the present. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to communicate with the past either since I’m not supposed to be there.

And that’s probably why I started to have problems. First it wouldn’t accept my rather long password for home internet. Problem solving attempts don’t work, so I move on.

Email program won’t show me anything newer than 2015. Why that date and not 2000 especially since when I changed the date to 2016, emails from 2016 showed up, and there are a lot of them! Problem solved.

Couldn’t send an email caused some problem-solving. I guessed right the first time. I wonder how many other problems are out there lurking on this grey and rainy Saturday afternoon.

Blogger’s Kitty Needs Help

Let’s spread the word.


Please help. My friend, met through blogging many years ago and now someone I would call a real friend, like so many of you

Despite never having met in person, I love this woman. With all the hardships she has had over the last year with car troubles and housing issues – her cat suddenly becoming sick with no clear diagnosis is her top priority. Even a few dollars will help.

Guardian kitty.

Methos looking out for his new human. Guardian Kitty.

And now – same precious kitty and same beloved girl. They have been best friends for her whole life. Please help, even 5 or 10 will add up. She misses her friend while he is in the veterinarian hospital, trying to find out what is wrong.

Please help my friend take care of her good kitty, and keep her daughter’s best friend around as long as possible.

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The New Life

thenewlifeThe New Life by Orhan Pamuk is a book that I can’t stand it, but I love it. Sometimes at the same time, but mostly at separate times and different parts of the book.

Maybe it was the out of body experience the character has while reading a book that has changed his entire life. Nothing will ever be the same. I knew that the book would have an impact on me and from that early page or two, I assumed a positive one.

The first time I read, I plugged through and got to page a hundred. Not quite half way. Not a thick tome. Just chewy. No carbs. No sugar. No gluten. No meat. What else is there that tastes good but we’re not supposed to eat anymore? Lots and lots of fibers. words that I had never heard of before or used in such a manner. I reminded myself that this was a translation. Maybe if I were to read the work in the original. I remind myself that I have a hard enough time with English. Today I told a class that my English was so bad in  high school I had to major in English to get it right. I’m so much better than I had been.

One hundred pages and I didn’t have a clue what I had  just read. There was this 22-year-old Architecture student who still lived with his mom. He discovered a book. By a hundred pages, I thought that by then, I’d know the name of the book. He becomes entranced by this book that he thinks was written just for him; that the words on the page were his words, his story.

He starts traveling on buses, going day after day getting on and off buses haphazardly. And then he’s in bus versus cement truck disaster and sees death and destruction. He steals the wallet of his dead seatmate.

He continues this lifestyle. After many bus rides, there’s always another crash with more death.

Not knowing his name or where he lives and some of the jargon distracted me and I couldn’t follow the text. I’d read it, but it didn’t seem like it was written in English any more; it wasn’t written in a language I could comprehend. That’s when I opted to start again. I don’t think I have given up on two many books in my life. One or two. I know that eventually in this lifetime, I will finish Great Expectations. I promise.

When I started The New Life again, I took it paragraph by paragraph. I had fun writing passages. I’m sure I had more fun than my friend Bex who got copied text into emails. Even when she didn’t say anything, make a comment or a question, I sent her more passages. Sometimes I wrote them to myself.

I’ve always done this since I first began to write. If I didn’t understand something, I would copy it down. When I learned how to type, typing things was a multifaceted event. If I wanted to practice typing, especially speed, I would copy books. And it gave me something to do. And it helped me understand things I didn’t understand. Maybe that’s why I have journaled most of my life. I write things down in order for me to understand it later on.

While reading the book the second time, I absorbed more of the story and the plot took off in my head. Reading is almost like flying, but the conditions have to be just right. Any noise and I can’t ever get off the ground.

On the second time around, I picked up how critical it was to find the person who showed him the book; it was a happenstance; she had her hands full, so she put her book down on the table he just happened to be sitting at and he just happened to ghet a book at the title. She walked off. He went back to his teach and didn’t think anything off it, at least that’s my interpretation.

The second time of the mystery man become infatuated with the book, I was surprised he didn’t have to be hospitalized for third degree burns; the radiance and blistering incandescence from the glow of the book dazzled him so. Blinding.

A fleeting look at the cover of a book that I hadn’t read would not stick to my brain, but this young man not only remembered the book name long enough to buy it at the corner store, but he remembered where he first saw it and the color of the young woman’s hair who had once held her own copy.

Adventure to find her. He becomes obsessed, though he doesn’t really know the meaning of that word until he finds her and then loses her again. What’s the typical plot: Boy meets girl. boy loses girl. boy finds girl again.

In less than a hundred pages, he meets the girl, loses her, finds her, loses her again. There’s still another hundred or so, the losing and finding could go on a few more times.

Now, I will say that the book warns me that since the book contains death and violence, I wasn’t quite ready for the frequency of the violence and death.

When the boy finds Janen, the girl, he insists he talk to someone who has read the book, to see if their lives were turned upside down as his. She kisses him on the mouth; he’d never been kissed before. You would think that if the book turned him upside down, the kiss would have turned him right side up. This just got him turned upside down even more. In love with a book. In love with a girl he didn’t even have a name for. Maybe that’s why I don’t know his name. Just a thought.

She asks him if he would talk to her boyfriend; her boyfriend used to be a believer, but upon taking the trip suggested in the book, he came back without his faith. He warned the younger lad to not waste his time; all he will see is destruction and death. We’ve both been warned, though he only once.

And then they disappear into class. The main character loses track of both of them; he tries to forget that the man warned him that he could be killed for reading such a book. How can a book kill me, he thought, but that was when he was just an architectural student.

A short while later, he just happens to look out a window when he catches a lookof the young woman and the man without  faith; he remembers the color of her coat. I just remembered that it was December. I don’t know if it’s cold in the Middle East. Another clue I should have given you earlier.

He watches from a closed window the two characters look like they are having a fight. Earlier the author helped the plot along by showing a man with a plastic bag in his hand across the way; nothing unusual; earlier in the book, I was told that everyone in this country carried around plastic bags; never told me why. In this particular case, it was a convenient way to hold a gun. The gun that was used to shoot the man without faith. Shot him twice, dropped the plastic bag, and bounded into the park. After two readings, I picked up the image of the assassin running “like a clown through the park.” children and dogs chased him as he playfully ran through the park. No one was chasing him. Well, the kid infatuated with the dead guy’s girl friend took chase. But by the time he got to where the shooting happened, nothing was there. No body. No blood. No girlfriend. Not even a plastic bag.

I was so wrong about how many times he loses the girl, unless the fact that she never saw him or if she never really was there, the loss might not count.

He searches frantically for them. No one heard anything. No hospitals had a gunshut wound; they had everything else, described somewhat graphically. He searches campus around and around; he stops going to classes. Structural physics. How does that apply to his new life? Maybe more than he realizes. He finds out from her friends, who he just happens to remember who she hung out with, a part of him reader’s aren’t shown. He goes to her house; her parents are worried, but they don’t want to call the police and figure she’s a smart girl; she can handle herself; she’s probably being used in a political game of chess. I wonder why they are afraid of the police officers? After the guy witnessed the shooting, he ran past the police officers. I didn’t notice the first time I read.

By this time, the guy has stopped eating for the most part and no longer sleeps; he decides that he must take a lot of buses to find the world that he read about in the book.

In a mere page or two, he’s already been on his trek for three weeks. Of and on of busses, never stopping, sleeping on buses; eating food that people sell on busses. On page 44, he has a revelation. He’s watching a love story on a little screen above the bus driver’s head; the characters aren’t kissing like the entire bus is expecting. The kid starts to feel “overwhelmed by an astonishingly powerful feeling of incompleteness, of apprehension and expectation.”
(Sounds like some of my days as a substitute teacher.)

One paragraph later, he happens to be in a bad wreck. It is here the author starts to lose me again. Right before the  accident, the character is looking at the movie and listening to the silence on the bus while the tv characters don’t kiss. He compares the silence to the coronation of a King, the moment when the crown is placed and a pair of wings are released over the royal scene. Not being English or from any country that has royalty, this wouldn’t be the image that would pop inside my head.

At the exact time he’s feeling panic, the bus collapses like bellows; everyone in the front rows,  aside from the young bus driver, have disappeared. “Disintegrated into smithereens and disappeared.”

Sleep deprivation and a concussion might have caused him to say this,

“It must have been this that I had been looking for; it was what I wanted. How aware I was of what I discovered in my heart! Peace, sleep, death, time! I was both here and there, in peace and waging a bloody war, insomniac as a restless ghost and also interminably somnolent, present in an eternal night and also in time that flowed away inexorably.”

I think I need to eat something with sugar or fat to go with the fiber. I’ll be back later.



Getting used to temperature shifts

I don’t like the cold. I don’t miss the biting Boston temperatures that go right to my bone, especially the backbone.

But maybe I never had the chance of acclimating to the cold. It didn’t bother me when I was a kid, so what’s up with that? I suppose the fact that I never stood still may have had something to do with it. Moving. Mostly running. Skating. Climbing. Definitely throwing, trying to hit things was my passion.

img_4610Right before sitting down to write a blog, probably not this one, Abby gave me that look. Can you say no to this face?

Yesterday was so cold that not even Abby asked to go out. I took pictures of the img_4595outdoors, but I opened the sliding glass door just enough to stick the nose of the camera out. I did try to take a picture through a window, but that didn’t work so great. Not even close; the only thing is create some space.

Today is still cold by my fifties standard, but it doesn’t feel as bad as yesterday. Low forties and so much better than thirties.

img_4609This is why I really don’t mind the rain; if it’s warm enough to rain, it’s warm enough to walk in. It’s just a bit of a pain as I prefer staying dry, so I dig out the rain pants, and bundle up. Once I have most of  my body covered, going out for a walk isn’t so bad.

I had just sat down in front of the computer to write a blog, definitely not this one, when Abby sat down and stared at me. I told her that it was too cold to go outside. It hadn’t started raining yet. Ricky came running over to me. He had heard me say, “Okay muttlies, it’s a great day for a walk; do you wanna go?”

Must be my accent. The dogs are constantly  confusing the things I say to them. No, it’s not dinner time means “I’m sorry for neglecting you poor starving darling “which oimg_4611only  causes longer and more emphatic stares.

By the time I got my extra layers of protection on, I asked Lucy if she were ready. I’ve not seen Lucy this ecstatic in years. The three of them couldn’t get out the door quick enough. Literally; three Labs that measure wider than the entrance isn’t a pretty site; usually Lucy’s in the middle taking up most of the space.

img_4615It wasn’t pouring, so I grabbed my camera. Of course she did. I might miss taking this picture for the 100th time. I don’t know what it’s called. People have told me, but I never can seem to remember.

wp-image-1937199796jpg.jpgI do remember that Virginia Woolf had this same kind of plant at The Monks House. I wonder if I’d be able to find a picture from that trip…One of the many Woolfian gardeners hadn’t gotten to trimming up the walkways. I don’t recall if Virginia or What’s his face were particular about Paths.

wp-image-420224122jpg.jpgGoing to VW’s house in the country was the highlight of the trip. I could have stayed their for hours, if not days. To think that Virginia and Leonard had walked on the exact path I walked, looking at the same scene. Not the same horses, but another generation or two.

wp-image-1801322400jpg.jpgWalking is something I share with the Woolfs or perhaps all Europeans. I’m taking a guess that they walk a lot more than Americans. They certain walk faster.

I really wanted to see the river Virginia Woolf looked at perhaps hundreds if not a thousand times before she used it as a weapon to take her life. There were trail markers that told us how long it should take for us to get there. People would catch up to us and pass us and then pass us on their way back. We never did make it to the river.

img_4620Ying is such a trooper. She probably watches us leave the house and thinks, “Well, if Susan can walk in the rain, I can as well.” Thought, at the time of this picture, Ying is  under the tractor shed eave, hoping that I’ll change my mind. And then she took off running.img_4624 She tried to find shelter under blackberry vines…img_4628

Now I’m really glad that I took this walk and look forward to the next one.img_4622-2



Just In Case

Things looked rather bleak last night: the weather img_4605report predicted icy-rain or snow; the trusty Forester steed’s defroster was acting wonky last night. So, just in case, I cancelled my eight in the morning half a day job at a school that I really, really like. I didn’t want to wait until another sub couldn’t be found. Maybe someone living on the valley floor would have an easier time getting to work.

img_4606This morning did seem okay when I peaked out the upstairs bathroom window. I didn’t see ice on the  cars or the driveway. I probably would have made it to work without a problem. Since then the temperatures, or it seems, has fallen, and things look icy. Getting home would have been the problem coming home, maneuvering up hills, especially if I were in my Mini Cooper. Ice or no ice on the road, not being able to defrost makes the Forester undriveable.

img_4597Instead of walking around the yard, I took a mini walk around the house with my camera. Sweet Yang.

As I keep looking at the greenhouse frame as the icicles grow, I’m thinking that today would be a good day to lay low and putter about.

My Subaru is dying

Twelve years old. Low mileage. Great car in the winter.

The Forester has been falling apart slowly. The little clock was the first to go. It might light up once or twice a year for perhaps an hour. Too expensive and not critical.

Plastic cup holder bit the dust after slammed on breaks caused Ricky to collide with it. He was fine. I still find pieces of debris years later. Again, too expensive. I use the middle consol as a makeshift holder. The back holders fell apart just because I asked the flimsy plastic to hold my travel mug.

The radio had been on the fritz. On my way to bowling Friday, it wouldn’t turn on. Turned on on my way home.

This evening the weather is supposed to make driving treacherous with either snow or frozen rain or both. Sylvia’s truck doesn’t have her studded tires. Never needed them last year. 

Last thing I heard on her way out the door: the Subaru sounds awful and the defrost isn’t working…


Hell is a place where time stands still and there’s nothing to do. In addition to my having nothing to do, but I am bored. Bored out of my mind. Give me physical pain, but don’t bore me. 

Today I was at a school that in prior years have given me trouble as I tried and failed to control kids from talking.

When kids are being mean and malicious, I have no problem lowering the boom, but I have a difficult time getting students to stop talking.

If a teacher specifically tells me the class needs to be pin drop quiet, I try. I beg. I plead. I come up with agreements that they have to shake on. At the high school level, fifteen minutes is about max.

Earlier this week, an aide went to another teacher. The other second grade teacher turned the lights off and then read them the riot act. They were a little loud, but I wasn’t told that we had to pretend we were in a Church.

Before my hour and a half class, I waited a half an hour. I tried to read, but some students were where I thought was a quiet get away. Turns out they weren’t supposed to be there. 

One Freshmen entertained me and another teacher. Two students came in with their math teacher to take  test. When they talked, I gave them the mean teacher look, which from me means I am disappointed and stop distracting me. A yo-yo comes in, hits one of the test-takers and starts to talk loudly. A math teacher comes in and asks if I am supervising the students. Technically, no. The two kids soiree their tests, verifying permission. Yo-yo raises his voice and says he was allowed to be there. No test ir homework to show. The teacher told him to move away from the test-takers and stop with the attitude.

As he moved to sit by himself, his brain, which perhaps had never been engaged with his mouth, said that t was F-ing rediculous. The Math teacher took him to the office, figuratively with her fist holding onto his ear.

Maybe the kid was a warning of what was to come, though his behavior made my job harder. Even though the four students gave me a run for my money, I could forgive them and couldn’t imagine them being like the non-thinking Frosh. They were bored. 

I tried to immerse myself into my book, but I couldn’t get past a paragraph. I stopped sitting down to make getting up easier. I hear better when I try to read.

The hour and a half class felt as if it were never going to end. Why does this only happen when I am hopelessly bored?

A Walk With the Furry Ones

img_4569I was content to sit in front of my computer and write. Abby had other plans for me. I call her my PIB. Pain in the Butt. She’ll jump on me and paw me until I give in. Yes, she has me trained well.

Lucy is doing remarkably well for  going on twelve. It’s always a good day when she comes on our walks. Sometimes she takes short cuts.

img_4577She’s an amazingly adaptive. Stairs are hard for her, and we have two flights. She’ll scoot on her butt down each step, and she’s quick. She usually beats me.img_4576

The temperatures are still a bit low for my likes, but it was good to get out with the pack before heading off to work.

It may be a while before I am able to get the weed whacker out and work on the path some more. I’m a fair-weather worker.img_4572


First Snow

img_4559It’s hard to call it snow, but it’s more than frost. When I first looked at the window, a few hours ago, there was more, but my sole desire to return to the warmth of my bed and the really good book I am reading, The Fault in Our Stars; the book is one of those books that only take one or two or in my case three sittings.

img_4560The school administrations around here have gotten better about not cancelling snow; this smattering in the past would have cancelled school. I remember a time when all it took was the threat of snow.

img_4561While on the phone with my insurance agent, I asked her how she liked the snow. What snow? she asked. Being on a hill has it’s advantages and disadvantages.

I’m especially content in that I didn’t have to be at school at eight like yesterday; yesterday I found my car windows and doors and windshield wipers frozen solid. The snow on the cars just adds a little bit more time with the defroster.

IMG_4564.JPGI think this is the first time that I recall that Oregon has had snow before Massachusetts, though Mass’ers would not call our dusting snow.

By now I’m hoping that the roads off the hill have melted, though taking the all-wheel drive Subaru and give my Mini Cooper the day off.



The New Life

For those of you who are enjoying the tidbits and comments about Orhan Pamuk’s book, The New Life, this blog is for you.

The unnamed man is reading an unnamed book and is convinced that the book is all about him. His ideas. His words.

“So it was that as I read my point of view was transformed by the book, and the book was transformed by my point of view. My dazzled eyes could no longer distinguish the world that existed within the book from the book that existed within the world. It was as if a singular world, a complete creation with all its colors and objects, were contained in the words that existed in the book; thus I could read into it with joy and wonder all the possibilities in my own mind. I began to understand that everything the book had initially  whispered to me, then pounded into me, and eventually forced on me relentlessly had always been present, there, lying deep in my soul.”

Is this an example of how multiplicity works? The character says the same thing over and over, but really doesn’t say anything new? Why am I so compelled to keep reading a book about a book that I know nothing about?


This and That in Ten

I have ten minutes to write before the second graders spill into the class and swallow up all the quiet time. Second graders tend to be a noisy group, but when the teacher warns me, I am guessing the noise level could give Seattle Seahawk stadium a run for their money.

Making the transition from a quiet home to an elementary classroom takes a bit to transition. I could wish for a gradual increase in sound…

Recess time. Short break, but the buzzing in my head continues. Reverberations.

Another day is done. I can’t believe that it was seven hours ago that I was listening to the Wild Boar problem in the Pacific Northwest. Washington middle. A different kind of swine epidemic. They project that the Wild Pig population could cause billions of dollars of damage in crop destruction, especially apples. Is that why cooked pigs often have an Apple in their mouth? I wonder what wild boar bacon tastes like?


More from the book I’m reading

I’m five pages into this book and the only thing I know is this guy is mesmerized over a book. I don’t know the guy’s name or age. He does live with his mother.

After  reading a hundred pages of a book, I don’t know why I am still reading it. I like the sentence, the creative way the author or perhaps in this case, the way the translator puts words together, but the ideas are a bit vague.

I thought that if I perhaps read it slowly from the beginning, I might come up with a reason why I like the book and even understand what it is about.

More of that book with the man and the book.

“The more I turned the pages, the more a world that I could have never imagined, or perceived, pervaded my being and took hold of my soul. All the things I had known or considered previously had now become trivial details, but things I had not been aware of before now emerged from their hiding places and sent me signals. Had I been asked to say what these were, it seemed I couldn’t have given an answer while I still read on; I knew I was slowly making progress on a road that had no return, aware that my former interest in and curiosity for things were now closing behind me, but I was so excited and exhilarated by the new life that opened before me that all creation seemed worthy of my attention.”

What is the book? What were the signals? Strange voices? Morse code?  Is the book that I’m reading about the book the book?

“I was shuddering and swinging my legs with the excitement of this  insight when the wealth, the multiplicity, and the complexity of possibilities turned into a kind of terror.”

What does it mean by multiplicity? I first heard that word in graduate school and thought that there’s no point using five dollar words when ten cent words work better. Multiplicity  is a good way to describe complex possibilities. There are more possibilities than we can ever imagine. Terrifying? Perhaps. Could also be exciting.

“In the light that surged from the book into my face, I was terrified to see shabby rooms, frenetic buses, bedraggled people, faint letters, lost towns, lost lives, phantoms.”

Were the shabby rooms in the book? In his life? If so, he’s not describe much of the house he lives in with his mother. How did the brightness of the book cause the reader to think of  lost lives and phantoms. The story plot line got bleak in a hurry.

Human versus Nature

Yesterday the weather was so wonderful, I had to be out. One of the paths was almost impassable, and even then my coat would snag a few times.

Yesterday I charged to slay the giants, the blackberry vines. Metal-teethed weed whacker my chariot. 

All I saw were blackberries and fir branches. I buzzed a few low hanging. Love the smell of evergreens. One of these days I will learn the difference between fir and pine.

At one point of my slicing and cutting, I thought how I could slay the wilderness, at least the blackberries, but it is going to take a lot of work.

Today’s far from a good day to be out there. Heavy rain puts a damper on out door activities. The sky looks angry.

A short while ago, while lounging in a hot bath, I learned that sometimes the wilderness attacks back. Little bumps on the left side of my face. Just because I didn’t see any poison oak, that doesn’t mean… .

Broken record. I run head first into blackberries knowing full well where if there is one, there is the other. How could I have not thought about it.

There is a protocol for contamination. Tecnu Lotion will get rid of most of the poison oak oils. Now I will be reaching for the other Tecnu to get rid of the rash and hope it hasn’t spread.

In the world of me versus me, my back is not happy with me. There was the little voice that said, “That is not a good idea.” Take back the  word little. Common Sense has been yelling commands at me for many years. Sometimes I eventually learn, but sometimes I don’t want to.

I felt invigorated as I whacked, raked, stuffed, walked, and carried. I slept well.

I have hope that my bath will make my back forgive me and let me walk with out hearing it scream and nag. Common Sense, at least mine, sometimes acts like a little kid and does I told you so’s and a figurative raspberry.

I better go take care of my face…

The New Life

I am reading a book that I thought I was enjoying, but after about page a hundred, I realized I didn’t know what the book is about. I copied a couple of passages to my bf. I’ve always enjoyed typing books.

“This was the kind of light within which I could recast myself; I could lose my way in this light; I already sensed  in the light the shadows of an existence I had yet to know and embrace. I sat at the table, turning the pages, my mind barely aware that I was reading, and my whole life was changing as I read the new words on each new page. I felt so unprepared for everything that was to befall me, and so helpless, that after a while I moved my face away instinctively as if to protect myself from the power that surged from the pages. It was with dread that I became aware of the complete transformation of the world around me, and I was overtaken by a feeling of loneliness. I had never before experienced-as if I had been stranded in a country where I knew neither the lay of the land nor the language and the customs.”

In the first page and some of The New Life by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Guneili Gun, I only know that the main character has read a book. I  don’t know the character’s name nor the book. I don’t know where the story takes place. After a hundred pages, I don’t know much more, though the book has had an impact on other people. He falls in love with a woman, but she disappears. Many bus trips and many bus accidents, that include fatalities, he finds her, but they continue taking bus trips around the Middle East and people continue to die in bus accidents. Every so often, he manages to take a wallet off of one of the dead passengers. Once they help a young woman before she dies.

After a hundred pages of not really going anywhere, I put the book down. I never walk away from a book. I will do everything I can to lumber through it, but I’m starting to have my doubts that this is a useful strategy since there are so many books out there that I want to read.  What do you think? Maybe I ought to give you another taste of the book:

“I fastened onto the book even more intensely in the face of the helplessness brought on by that feeling of isolation. Nothing besides the book could reveal to me what was my necessary course of action, what it was that I might believe in, or observe, and what path my life was to take in the new country in which I found myself. I read on, turning the pages now as if I were reading a guidebook which would lead me  through a strange and savage land. Help me, I felt like saying, help me find the new life, safe and unscathed by any mishap. Yet I knew the new life was built on words in the guidebook. I read it word for word, trying to find my path, but at the same time I was also imagining, to my own amazement, wonders upon wonders which would surely lead me astray.”

Pope Francis and his opinion about President Elect Teump

So many people I know began to panic the day T. RUMP stole the election from the people. We worried about the damage the political Grinch could do when he took the power next year. I tried to focus on the rest of 2016. Enjoy it while it lasts.

No one imagined what his grimy and slimy paws could do before he even moved in. His admits there is no conflict of interest between his business and being president. Just like his pussy grabbing days, he still feels like he can do anything.

Maybe he is going to put up a hotel in Tawain, even if it means ticking off China.

Can’t we admit that he won the Monopoly Game. Couldn’t we start again with the colored money. No one has been to jail; no one owns property, houses, or hotels. All of those bankrupted business deals will be forgiven.

Sometimes I start a blog with an idea and then I meander so far away, I never get around to writing what I meant to write. The headline for this blog is about Pope Francis. I had read a blog about his meeting with Fortune 500 leaders and other people around the world to solve world problems. I was thinking about what does Pope Francis think of President-elect Trump. I imagine that the Pope has been praying a lot for the man and for the United States.

This is what got me thinking:

“Our world today is marked by great unrest,” Pope Francis told the delegates upon receiving the report. “Inequality between peoples continues to rise, and many communities are impacted directly by war and poverty, or the migration and displacement which flow from them…. Your very presence here today is a sign of such hope, because it shows that you recognize the issues before us and the imperative to act decisively.”

Good News, Bad News

This blog may cause nausea. The topic has my stomach flip-flopping. It is about insurance. Some of you need not read any further. You may have your own gut-wrenching stories to discuss.

When I was single and had only my  teacher’s salary to declare, I qualified for The Oregon Health Care. For some things, it covered costs a hundred percent. Other things, not a thing.

The restrictions have been potentially costly. I could only go to a pre prescribed doctor. I got lucky as I like Doctor Hacker a lot. Easy name to remember. The doc I had for over twenty years works at Oregon Medical Group, which won’t touch clients with The OHP.

When I talked to the doctor about getting Prolia, the only drug I can use for Osteoporosis, she said OHP won’t cover it. What do I do? Get better insurance was her advice.

Now that I am married, I can pay for Sylvia’s insurance at about a grand a month. More than half of my income will go to paying for insurance.

Today I found out that Moda covers Prolia. Good News, you would be thinking, but then I asked how much would be coming out of my pocket. For a one mg shot, which is a twice a year affair for the rest of my life. 

$411.00. I have had a few if of these shots, but never had to take a hit like that in the wallet.

What it’s happening to the grand I am giving the insurance doing? Waiting for an accident or heart attack that could clean me out, though the daily stuff is already doing that, though at a slow rate.

Not Firing on All Cylinders

The inability to do some basic tasks with the computer has me a little concerned. Perhaps I’ll remember how to do these things later on in the day or later on in the week. There’s always the chance the memory could be gone completely. I’m just saying.

img_4555I solved the problem with the camera card. Took a smaller one out of my older Cannon Camera, put it in my go-to camera. I knew that downloading 837 pictures were going to take a while to download, just in case I went on another walk. I didn’t take a walk, but I did take a few pictures of Ricky. I didn’t want him to feel left out.

img_4483One of my puttering tasks got put on hold. I was making banana nut muffins for Sylvia, but I didn’t have any oil. She’s at the store as I write this, perhaps she’s on her way back. I wonder if I have time to cut some blackberries…The Never-ending supply.

No Wonder my Cannon was Belching

I took the card out of my refusing to work Cannon Camera, saying that the card was suddenly full. I’ve been dutifully deleting pictures from the camera as I download them, but it looks like the card was backing up pictures.

img_4518_face0When I loaded the card into my Lexmark printer, it asked my old Macbook Pro if it could download some pictures. 837 pictures to be exact. Took me over a year to fill the card. The early pictures are the ones I just happened to find on my Lenovo laptop without knowing how they got there. My mind is a mystery in the way it works or doesn’t work sometimes. I had been doing a blog about those pictures, pictures from our 2015 Spring European tour. Twenty-fifteen doesn’t seem that far away, though 2016 is less than a hop and a skip away.

Maybe since I have my brain flitting all over the place, I’m having a cosmic hangup. I know were to find pictures on my MacBook Pro, especially when 837 just were downloaded, but my brain isn’t processing the steps; the only thing I could find were names. No thumbprint to tell me what I was about to open. I vaguely recall taking this picture of Ying. img_0002It’s kind of cool to not have the slightest idea what picture is about to pop in.Another Ying. If there are two in a row of Ms. Photogenic, I’ll probably have fifty sequeimg_0031ntial photos. Maybe I’ll look at number 51… The eyes have it. Obviously I was in a half-way mood. Lovely Lucy. She’s hanging in there.

img_3350I tried to scroll through the 387 files, and I randomly landed on another Lovely Lucy photo. I am predictable; most of the 387 pictures will be dogs, cats, and life at the dome. What can I say that I’m in love with my life and typically I take pictures while walking. img_9999Maybe one of these days I’ll convince Sylvia to join us on our short little romps. The romps around the property used to be longer, but the blackberries have reduced the paths. I wonder if that’s on the list of things to do as I putter around. As I look out my office window, the grey sky isn’t as inviting as it was this morning. I could just put on long johns and just be dressed for the cold.



Writing Day

I have a strange obsession about time. I always time-stamp emails and journals. It took me a year of blogging to stop doing it there. Perhaps I didn’t want an expiration date; the program already keeps the dates organized.

Time gives me a sense of reassurance that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be when I start having ideas that I’m off-schedule or am feeling the tug of expectations. Mental tug-o-war games. But when I saw the time 12:34 p.m. on the oven clock, there was a sense of relief as I sunk back into my chair. The sun has all the crap on my desk illumined, and that’s fine. The junk that is. Eventually I’ll get my desk squared away. Perhaps in my  fits of puttering, I’ll get around to it.

What an amazing writing day it’s been. Two blogs, and it’s only a tic or so past one. Three or four emails. It’s been a great puttering day as well. Nice dog walk. My camera has decided that the  card is full; even though I delete pictures from the camera every time I download, now it’s asking for a new card and is refusing to be of use. Maybe when I loaned the camera to the group of fifth graders, they changed the setting of something. They were having a great time messing around with the features.

Today couldn’t be a better weather day. Yesterday was so cold that when I wasn’t working, all I wanted to do is crawl under the covers and read, though I did get the impulse to bake banana bread. There’s something about wonderful scents in the house on a cold day. Right now I’ve got Hubbard squash from my garden baking, along with some yams for a future supper, but it’s got the kitchen smelling so homey.

Without a camera to focus my brain as I walked, I listened. I listened to the rooster from up the road. It tends to carry on all day long. I don’t hear him unless I’m out walking on the nearest part of the property. I think I heard a Kestral, though I’m not sure. The neighborhood was rather quiet; no machines, not even a leaf blower. No building noises. I did hear a couple of voices of people walking; the day is so clear, voices carry.

By now, my first load of laundry is probably dry, and the second needs to be transferred. Yup, back to some puttering.


Yesterday I had a delightful, as well as maddening, time with second graders at Howard Elementary School in Eugene. Eugene ought to be proud of the new buildings that are popping up. Lots of windows and light; the buildings are so open and spacious.

Second graders haven’t grown into the part of their brain that appreciates things. I remind myself that there’s so much more growth ahead of them, though I don’t want to put any of them in a box; there are always one or two that are ahead of their peers as are the ones that are behind the general population.

Curiosity is the forefront of their thinking. They aren’t that far ahead of the toddler on the ground that insists on finding out what things taste like. For example, in the hallway of this brand new facility, there was a display of two elves having a snowball fight. Little bitty marshmallows were spread all over the place. I was the first one to see the display and knew to step around them. Even though I told the kids to not step on them, these words were soon forgotten or perhaps seen as a challenge. I probably gave the idea to step on them to some students who hadn’t thought of it.

Towards the end of the day, the snowballs were flattened. And then I was given a report. Second grader’s favorite problem-solving strategy, perhaps their sole strategy is to tell on each other; this is  the most tiring thing. One girl announced to the class that so and so ate one of the  marshmallows, which the student vehemently denied. The accuser brought in testimony, “You just whispered in my ear that you ate one and asked me to not tell anyone.” The little girl with the long light red hair didn’t look like a student that caused problems. The other girl was so delighted in telling on her might have been making it up to give her something to crow about. I had never met these kids before.

Now when Anthony’s name came up, for the millionth time of the day, I wasn’t surprised that he was being accused of eating a marshmallow off the ground. I had already seen him in action all day, doing things that he had no clue why he did them, or least that was his story and he stuck to it every time. So I went back to the little girl, and that’s when she stepped into the trap. “But Anthony ate one, too” as if that was a reasonable reason.

Curiosity got one little guy in trouble in science class. They were given rocks and little plastic magnify glasses. They were looking at Chrystals. He was probably wondering what would happen if he slammed two rocks  together. A prehistoric thought. He had no notion that if I slam these two rocks together and they break, I might get into trouble. Too many thoughts for this  little guy, but in a matter of a minute or two he had made several rocks and a bit of rock dust. Instead of being rewarded for his creativity and investigative mission, he was banned from participating.

Another managed to break the little fifty cent magnify glass, but has no idea how it happened. Thinking backward is a skill that’s just forming.

I’m realizing that I struggle with classroom management at this age because I have a hard time getting mad at them; when it gets loud, they are engaged. Usually an aide or another staff member will tell the class to stop talking. It hadn’t occurred to me that the open and spacious classrooms would not be conducive to energetic classrooms. Maybe I have more in common with the second graders brain development than I realized.

From Another Perspective

I’m taking the afternoon off to process the crazy roller-coaster ride of a week. Monday’s right was exhilarating high; straight up, intense.  I was at Riverbend Elementary School in Springfield. They were working on a film project, so when I found a couple of kids on the outskirts, I handed them my gigantic Cannon camera; I showed them the zoom, the taking a picture mode, and the off-on. I just happened to bring my camera with me; something I rarely do.


Typical Middler expression

For one young lad, this made a world of difference; he went from angry and defiant, to having fun and participating. My camera then became a great positive reward. Get your work done, and you can take pictures. Of course, we made sure that all kiddos had a signature on file for photos. This is the first time I have looked at the ninety pictures.



I hope that the next time I work with the kids, I get them for an entire day instead of half a day.

And then there was yesterday. Wednesday. Hump Day. Heart drops quickly into my gut and threatens to leave my body. Perhaps the drop wouldn’t have been so bad if I had just an okay day, but I was soaring, and when I ran smack into the wall called Middle Schoolers.

But the first class was so good. I ler them listen to music; they were working on their projects. Life was great. Yeah, I set myself up to get the rug pulled out from under me. Third period was a big class. I don’t even remember the subject. My biggest weakness in the classroom is being really strict and expecting everyone to tow the line. But when that line is crossed and crossed with intention, I feel bullied, especially when I become the butt of their jokes.

Maybe it’s my very short hair and my casual style that some kids can’t handle. In each class there were two or three, typically boys, who were constantly testing me. The teacher specifically told me to keep them off of graphics, and that they needed to do research.  I started circling the room like a shark, waiting for a defenseless seal pup; that metaphor doesn’t work as the faces I looked at weren’t cute at all. They looked at me as if I were a challenge. Let’s make the teacher’s ears turn red. I lost track after four being sent to the quiet room. I told one staff member that perhaps I ought to write a note sending myself to the quiet room.

When I got home, I crawled into bed as soon as possible, curled up around a good book and under a warm blanket.

That was just yesterday. This morning I had a hard time getting out of bed. Different school. Back to elementary.  Yujin Gauen Alternative Elementary, a school where I’ve always wanted to frequent more. Before the kids even showed up, I could feel that roller coaster start to turn around and reverse the plummet to below earth’s core, away from the depths of despair and the questioning of why am I in this profession.

The second-graders were having the exact same problem the middlers were having. Some found that being funny and making your classmates laugh is more important than reading about jellyfish. Others had absolutely no interest in jelly fish until boredom took over their body and they no longer had control of sitting still. Some could have written a much better book about jelly fish and were bored with not learning something new.

For me, it’s a lot easier to correct a second-grader about raising their hands or not calling out the answer or not paying attention or not being to keep their hands and feet to themselves than middlers; this is so not their first rodeo.

Every year in being a substitute, I clear the slate most schools, and I accept jobs at most schools. Each year I’m hoping that my teaching style continues to develop and grow and that some situations I would be able to handle differently than in the past. That’s my hope anyhow. I’m sure there are areas I’m at a standstill, but don’t realize I’m not moving forward.

What amazes me about this roller-coaster ride, is how much harder it is for me to process and let go of the bad days. The good news is that as the years pass, those bad days are fewer and farther apart. Who knows I may have a different middle school next week and I’ll have a great time.