What If’s

Sometimes I believe that by my spending precious time chasing what ifs from the past, I loose sight of the present. But then what is the purpose of my journaling for the past forty years?

The What If that looms over my head most often, a What If that is never far from mind is What would my life be like if my mom had lived. Maybe by surviving a heart attack at fifty was a wake-up call. Maybe she would have learned to lean on other things for support rather than a bottle. Maybe Barbara wouldn’t have been given the huge burden of taking care of her younger sisters as well as her mother.

I probably would not have been given a hockey stick and a pair of skates. Emergency intervention wouldn’t have been necessary. 

Maybe I wouldn’t have learned to play soccer. Without that fateful day in 1988, my Wilm’s Kidney Cancer wouldn’t have been discovered, and as a result, would it have killed me later on, spreading to my left kidney or my brain?

What if the cancer was diagnosed in 1965 when statistics of survival wasn’t so great. Maybe my death could have been my mom’s wake-up call. Afterall, her clutch included a 15, 11, and 9-year-old. Of course, the loss of her precious baby might have caused to crawl deeper into that bottle. Was she a Scotch drinker like my father? I didn’t even know she was an alcoholic until a few years after her death. The secret got spilled while feuding with my father and hurtful words were thrown at each other. What if I never said or even felt that I had wished he had died instead of my mom. Chances are my dad had parallel thoughts.

If I hadn’t been introduced to sports to rescue this drowning pup, would I have gone to Ithaca College to be a gym teacher and coach? Better yet, What if I weren’t on drugs when I played lacrosse on that fateful day? Maybe I would not have ripped up my knee in my first collegiate lacrosse game. My mindset was always to do anything with my body to prevent a goal, so I am thinking this What If would still be in the books. Being told at nineteen that my knee was toast when sports was my entire world. Maybe if my mother was still alive in 1979, my path would have been so different, though I suppose I would not have gone four hundred miles from my mom, especially if 77 Pinecroft hadn’t been sold out from under me. At least my dad gave me his forwarding address while I was at college.

I wouldn’t be in this bath tub, living in a beautiful dome. I wouldn’t be married to my supportive wife. So many wouldn’ts would not have happened, cancelling out the woulds.

Tonight as I get ready to head out to bowling, I think about the great things and great people, I wouldn’t have experienced if I hadn’t run away from home, driving the three thousand miles away to try to escape my life as if I could get away from the bad things and bad decisions instead of embracing them and just move on.

My love of Hawks and other birds of prey

I have always admired and loved Hawks, Falcons, and other majestic birds of prey.

Seeing Red-Tailed Hawks sitting in trees along I-5 are omens of positive road experiences.

The other day I heard a crow’s commotion about something. Before I could dismiss it, I saw a large bird, high up in a Fir tree. I tried to get a picture. (I really do need a longer lens.)

The crow looked at least half the size of the bird it was pestering by dive bombing and squawking.

I always hear kestrals long before seeing their lazy air surfing.

mabelfromside_2986687eThis evening I started a new book. H is for Hawk. In just one page I have developed a fondness for Helen Macdonald’s writing. Look at the great description of how she felt one early morning when she found herself wide awake instead of sleep.

” I felt odd: overtired overwrought, unpleasantly like my brain had been removed and my skull stuffed with something like microwaved aluminum foil dinted, charred and shorting with Sparks.”

The word dinted reminds me that the author is from across the pond. When I first started the book, I thought the Cambridge mentioned was near Boston, but Germany never bombed Massachusetts.

bb-goshawk-440_2987072cAs the author begins to search for the elusive Goshawk, she comes across a pond made from a German bomb.

Macdonald seeks refuge in an unlikely area:

” 45 minutes Northeast of Cambridge is a landscape I’ve come to love very much indeed. It’s where wet fen gives way to parched sand. It’s a land of twisted pine trees, burned-out cars, shotgun-peppered road signs and US Air Force bases. There are ghosts here: houses crumble inside number blocks of pine forestry. There are spaces built for air-delivered nukes inside grassy tumuli behind twelve-foot fences, tattoo parlors and US Air Force golf courses.”

All sorts of Pain

Pain, whether it be emotional or physical, always teaches me about perspectives. Shades of Pain.

Monday I worked with probably the worst class of middle schoolers in my dozen years of teaching. I felt bullied. I bowed out of a job for the next day in an effort to save my sanity.

Tuesday I was relieved to go to one of my favorite elementary school. This Eugene school, right down the road from my house, has a great staff, and I was relieved to be working with first graders. Big step from sixth. And then I saw the list of students with behavioral programs. Small class, high percentage. And then I met the kids. They weren’t snarky with me that much, but they were horrible to each other. Charlie and Deja just barked and growled and hissed at each other, and it didn’t matter where the kids sat as the message of the tongue out can be sent from all over the room. Behind one another, with a lot of space between might be, but I wouldn’t be able to control the quick head swivel. 

By lunch, I was feeling stress, so much that I thought I had an ulcer springing to life. Pain started increasing. I told a few of the teachers that I had an ulcer. I had to run out of the room a few times, handing over the lesson plan to Charlie just because he was the closest, so I could prevent from throwing up in front of the kids or on them. 

Waves of pain continued and I begged the school to let me go. I was only a few blocks away from my doctor. I could make it to there. I did, but the Brookside clinic said that I had to go to Urgent Care or the hospital. Since I was right next door to Oregon Medical Group, and I had Sylvia Emory for a doctor for at least twenty years. I came in clutching my side, practically panting. Nope. I was told they didn’t do walk-ins. Really, I could have been having an acute condition and the receptionist suggested I get back into my car and drive some more.

If I only had the Oregon Medical Insurance, I wouldn’t have been able to drive to the nearest location; I would have had to find one I’ve never seen before.

While in traffic on Willamette, I prayed that I could make it and that I didn’t lose my lunch in the MIni Cooper. I couldn’t imagine sticking my head out the window and being able to miss the car.

I’m the kind of person that doesn’t admit to pain or let it slow me down, but this pain had me on my knees. The pain that I experienced twenty-eight years ago that required emergency surgery that would remove my right kidney was bad, but I don’t think as bad as this. Hot knife cutting into my back versus someone trying to rip my gut out. 

I managed a very small drop for my urine sample, and that sample didn’t look so great. It’s not a good sign when I suddenly get a lot of attention all at once. Which hospital did I want? Could they convince me to take an ambulance? A person with one kidney doesn’t like to hear the words renal failure. Even with three sisters vowing to give me one of theirs, this is not something on my bucket list.

I hadn’t been in an ambulance since I was twelve when I rode my bike in front of a car. My sister Pam was the only one I would could, though its not like I could avoid my dad just by not inviting him to the hospital. Pam would have preferred I had called my dad just because she hates hospitals.

At least this trip in the ambulance didn’t require lights and sirens, though speeding around on all of those pain meds they gave me, and still be conscious, might have been fun, at least the speeding part. I chatted with Mike, an EMT all the way to McKenzie-Willamette. I was no longer in pain.

Soon I got the VIP treatment. IV and warm blankets. Lots of time to sit and do nothing. My phone had died, so I hadn’t been able to contact my wife. And then it occurred to me that I could use my watch, but the only number I knew was her old work number. Knowing the woman who took over Sylvia’s job and hence phone number, perhaps could help me. Murphy’s Law wasn’t helping me as she was away from her desk. When it doubt hit zero and hope that I’ll be directed to a live person. Barbara, God Bless her soul, dug up Sylvia’s new number and transferred me. Murphy showed up again.

After a little while of being stark-crazy bored. Nothing to do while waiting. I tried Sylvia’s number again. Murphy had finally taken a break. I’m on my way.

My boredom was interrupted long enough to have a CT-Scan, but that didn’t take long. I was trying to listen in on conversations outside my curtain. Must have been over twenty voices all speaking over each other or to each other. Mix in the beeps and the rings and other sounds that you’ll never hear if you’ve never been in a hospital. How many people had cuffs that constantly puffed up and then released? I heard one guy say, “Only one kidney. It was how big? Thanks.” How many people in a small emergency room could have just one kidney? How big got me thinking about the cyst my urologist has been monitoring on my poor widowed kidney, telling me that this is normal, though they could never untell me that they thought the cancer from 1998 was thought to be “just a cyst.” I watched under the curtain, expecting to see those paper covered shoes.

To keep from boring you, I’ll cut to the chase. The pain was the result of my having a kidney stone and my giving birth to it. The CT scan showed a four mm. stone in my bladder. They gave me my discharge papers and some filters that I was to use to try to catch the stone.

Today I was back with the first graders and they were crazy, but when I asked myself would I rather be in this kind of mental anguish kind of pain or thrashing around while holding a vomit bag, I was more than content to be in the classroom, but I’ll admit that the relief of them walking to parents open arms or up the steps to a school bus, I felt a major relief.

Share Your World


I am answering questions  from Cees Photography.

Share Your World – February 20, 2017

why-are-you-chewing-on-your-pencilWhen you cut something with scissors, do you move your jaw (as if you were about to chew)?

No one has ever told me that I do anything with my jaw while using scissors. I don’t recall feeling anything.

Do you chew your pens and pencils?

I don’t chew on pencils on a regular basis.

Are you a collector of anything?  If so what?

Christmas candles, though they haven’t been out of their boxes in several years. I have a collection of bowling balls but only in an attempt to stay current with technology.

What size is your bed? 

California King. The three Labradors and Ying Cat take up most of the room.

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

I am grateful that I can still bowl, and that I had the luxury of choosing to bowl instead of working.

Cee’s note: If you adore challenges as much as I do, please check out WordPress’s Blog Event Listing for other challenges.

041514 sywbanner


  1. Create a SYW  post.  Then post the link to your blog in my comment box or leave your answers in the comments box of my blog.
  2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Share Your World” or “SYW” tag.
  3. Remember to Follow My Blog to get your weekly reminders.

I usually will respond to your entry on your blog, rather than on my page.


coverWhen you cut something with scissors, do you move your jaw (as if you were about to chew)?  I don’t think I do.  I found this photo with a google search and love the intensity on the kids face.

Do you chew your pens and pencils?  When thinking I sometime will put the tip to my lips like the photo I found for the top of the paper, but I don’t actually chew them.

Are you a collector of anything?  If so what?  Not so much anymore.  Cameras and lenses perhaps.  But as I get new equipment as I upgrade, I usually resell my old equipment.  When I was younger I collected dolphins for many many years.  And in school I collected butterflies.

What size is your bed? We have a king bed and it is far to small.  We’ve got a pug who will oftentimes sleep right in the middle and we are forced to our separate sides.  Then there are the two cats.

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?   Last week was a nice week.  Nothing spectacular happened.  It was just a good week.  I would like the same for this week but perhaps a little warmer.

Qi (energy) hugs



mv5bmja2ndyxoti1mv5bml5banbnxkftztgwotgymju3nje-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Another Meryl Streep movie, though I think her role is rather small.

This is what I dug up about the movie:

“Carey Mulligan plays Maud Watts, an ordinary and anonymous working woman who progressively gets sucked into the anarchic rabble-rousing of an East-end branch of the Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). With operations run out of a chemist’s shop by Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter) and her sympathetic husband, Maud risks a criminal record and the shame associated with that to pursue her ideals. Police pressure is applied by special forces copper Arthur Steed (Harry Potter’s Brendan Gleeson) and personal pressure is put on her by her husband (played by Ben Whishaw, soon to be seen again as ‘Q’) and her alleged fitness to be a mother to their young son George (Adam Michael Dodd). As politicians continue to ignore the issue, the actions build to one of the most historic events of the period.”

Reminders of what women did, what they sacrificed causes my blood to boil.  The women in England fought for more than fifty years to get the vote. Emmeline Pankhurst is Meryl’s character.

“Women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom became a national movement in 1872. Women were not explicitly banned from voting in Great Britain until the 1832 Reform Act and the 1835 Municipal Corporations Act.”

mv5bmtq4otc4ntmzmv5bml5banbnxkftztgwodqwmtawnze-_v1_sy1000_cr006661000_al_How many young girls know of the history of their own gender and what women did to get the right to vote, something that so many take for granted. Women were beaten, jailed, ridiculed. Women fought back and stopped eating. They were force fed. The scene where the woman’s young son is taken away from her, and the little boy has been told that his mother is sick in the head. Her husband has the authority to have the boy adopted. Definite tear jerker.hannah-mitchell

Hannah Mitchell, the daughter of John Webster, a small farmer in Derbyshire, was born in 1871. Hannah received only two weeks of formal schooling and was kept busy on the farm and with domestic duties. Her three brothers did not have to work at home and she grew up with a strong awareness of gender inequalities.

emily_davison_portraitjpg“Like Emmeline Pankhurst, Emily Wilding Davison is a real-life figure who appears in Suffragette. Also like Pankhurst, Davison’s actions ended up having a great impact on the women’s suffrage movement.

Davison was jailed nine times for her militancy. During her time behind bars, she was subjected to 49 force feedings (many suffragettes were force fed when they started hunger strikes in prison). In an article, she wrote that these feedings were a ‘hideous torture.’

Davison’s last militant act took place at the Epsom Derby in June 1913. There, she ran in front of, and was subsequently trampled by, the king’s horse; she died a few days later.”

Her death was filmed and obtained worldwide news. It got people’s attention.

Emily Wilding Davison's funeral


Fabulous Day For A

img_6755Fabulous day for a walk.

img_6746Yang wanted nothing of it. Her sister Ying is always game for a romp with the dogs. Abby’s one of her closest of friends, though maybe it’s more like being part of the pack or clowder. I had to go searching for that term for a collection of cats.




Lucy, the poor old girl, isn’t always game for a walk, so it’s an extra special romp.

February is the time of year that a small little img_6760daisy-like plant gets my attention.

Possibilities are budding. I will survive the winter.img_6766-2



More about Nutshell

In one of my blog experiments, I created a page where I could blog just about the book Nutshell by Ian McEwan. Not sure if what I wrote was even seen by anyone. My computer abilities don’t always get the best results.

I’ve been referring to Ian’s novel as chewy, especially since most of what is said is coming from a being not even born yet. Once I get over the hurdle of a fetus being a plausable narrator, the writing is majestic, though sometimes concepts are over my head. If  a fetus is smarter than me, I’m thinking I’ve got a problem. The book isn’t long enough for the reader’s to get to know the almost child. Maybe McEwan ought to write a series.

The following is when the womb resident witnesses his mother having to talk to the girlfriend of the baby’s father, who now is dead because his wife, baby’s mother killed him so she could be with the murdered almost-father’s brother, the baby’s uncle:

“She’s determined. Her braids tightly conceal her thoughts from all but me, while her underwear—cotton, not silk, I sense—and a short summer print dress, correctly loose but not voluminous, are freshly in place. Her bare, pink arms and legs, her purple-painted toenails, her full, unarguable beauty are on intimidating display. Her aspect is of a ship of the line, fully though reluctantly rigged, gun hatches lowered. A woman-of-war, of which I’m the bow’s proud Figurehead.”



WordPress Manure

WordPress has an excellent filter and catches a lot of Scam. Every so often, I look at the scat to see if there might be a legit reply. Replies are what I live for.

But I also live for interesting material. In this particular piece of garbage, I came across this line:

“Men and women who’ re a new comers to the sort are able to quite simply fall good wow’s chop not to mention reduce kind play…”

Now we all know that user identities mean diddly squat. This identifer, GvxwhDspnq

A very long response was given to one of my blogs. I hadn’t really looked at it. I knew it was pure horse puckey. On further review, I noticed this little gem in the opening paragraph:

“Multiuser circumstances on the net keep typically also ended up thought to be utopian schemes from which people would probably product your consciousness. The second communities perhaps may be designed in just a hybrid car memory…”

What the heck? There was a bunch of garbley-gook of information that I couldn’t understand, so I skimmed many sentences until another intriguing passage:

“Francis is recognized for its calmness and / or relaxed atmosphere. The latest windows except personal title, Gi joe: The existing Republic is able to provide internet professional feel the battles of sunshine and as a result dingy…”

Maybe this is all code and I just allowed some secret information passed between two Jackals. Isn’t Francis the pope? Not sure what the windows reference to titles means. The last sentence makes absolutely no sense at all. Give a monkey some words, and it’ll create something. I’d not want to battle sunshine. Now glare is another thing altogether.

“…think of the capabilities along with classes in taste movement. Similar to here is so the simple way tastes stipulate the meaning development and simply friendships of most heroes in their monster e large sense recreation collection of…”

Only a sentence separated the last two chunks of cryptic nonsensical who knows what. A taste movement? friendships of most heroes in their monster?

All good blogs, long ones at least, need numbers. Makes the document more official. Also makes readers like myself skip on to something else. I wonder if these really are patents, obviously I’m clueless:

“Were straight in infringing around the place attached to patents(6,219,045; 7,181,690; 7,493,558; 7,945,856; 8,082,501; 8,145,998 8,161,385) Held written by the worldwide corporation.Is together with each other commonly known”Application on top of that enlargement method for permitting owners that will help get along really essential place,”

Searching for patent 6,219,045, I came up with:

Scalable virtual world chat client-server system
US 6219045 B1
The present invention provides a highly scalable architecture for a three-dimensional graphical, multi-user, interactive virtual world system.
us06219045-20010417-d00000It even comes with a picture, though once again I’m clueless. Facebook for penguins?
This delightful bit of spam ends with:
“Keita gets possession of a secret check out and / or befriends a cat servant known as sound. Sound displays to Keita that this timpiece delivers your guy to get to unnatural wildlife both reasonable and moreover wicked that he wasn’t able to see recently in daily life. Utilizing sound remarkable all some other half Jibanya, Keita looks at her or the puppy’s smaller population center just with respect to different kinds of ghouls to fight. christian louboutin pas cher”
A cat servant known as sound. First of, I know of no cat who would subject him or herself to being a servant. Cats are so soundless when they want to me. Not Ying. Ying’s been talking up a storm lately. What timepiece? I was just recently reading Alice & Wonderland, though I only got to where’s chasing that darn rabbit all over the place. (Must have taken me four tries to get rabbit spelled correctly.) What would a puppy’s population center look like and does this mean the puppies would have to fight the ghouls?
Today’s lesson; sometimes things grow from manure. Other times, the manure just spreads out.

Can’t Sleep I might as well

I can’t sleep I might as well get out of bed and write. Reading wasn’t doing it. I managed to take a few cat naps, but kept waking up.

parakeetMy brain is still doing flips over reading a journal entry by my nineteen year old self. I thought about making this photo smaller, but maybe if I look into my own eyes. I’m trying to match the ugly bathrobe to college. I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t tell if the bird was Troy or Toby. One died, crushing me. Thirty-nine years later, and I still cry when I think of my first bird. Second bird went to college with me. Doubt any dorm would do that now, but Ithaca allowed small animals. There was a hamster that roamed the hallways in a ball; it survived some Frat boy pushing it down the stairs.

A dorm neighbor bought a parakeet after I moved in with mine. If we were both home, we’d leave our doors open and each bird would fly down the hall and go into the right room. Birds are great for hide and go seek. I’d come home from school, and the first thing I would do is open Toby’s cage as she’d be practically turning herself inside out while in the catch, so frantic to get out and to be with me. I had gotten very quick at opening her cage so I could run out of my room and into one of the other rooms in the hall. She would fly in every room until she found me. I could be hiding in the shower and she’d find me. One time she found me in the shower, but I was taking a shower and she got soaked. Too bad I didn’t get a picture of her. Her feathers were sticking up in all directions. I tried to dry her off with a washcloth, but she was pissed at me. It was my fault. I almost felt the bite through the cloth.

Most of the time, Tobias had an even temper. She didn’t like being in her cage, but as long as I was home, the cage wasn’t closed. But when she did get mad, and perhaps I’m starting to think of bird two, Troy, now that bird had a nasty temper. Sometimes she would throw back her head and then launch into a bit of the sweet spot on a hand. That little fold of skin between thumb and forefinger. She never drew blood, but I was sure she was going to give me my first piercing. Hey, I could have been ahead of the time.

I’m guessing my high school bird was Toby, or Tobias. When I got Tobias, I hadn’t a clue how to sex a parakeet. Had the same problem with gerbils when I was in fourth grade. Great way to learn about sex. Gerbils, at least, display their gender obviously and in the traditional manner. With parakeets it’s all about the bridge of their nose. It changes colors, and the parakeet is not that young when it changes.

I didn’t know any of that and just liked the name Tobias. I didn’t care if it were a male or female. My sister Barbara had at least one bird, blue ones. Peter. I don’t recall it out of the cage, though birds at one point had been allowed to fly around the house as one met the unfortunate demise after being stepped on by the beagle. It happened before I knew what a bird or a beagle was. Long before I knew I would fall in love with birds and all sorts of dogs.

When I moved away from Massachusetts, I drove to Oregon. I didn’t know how long it was going to take and I thought a packed car with a top UHall carrier, I figured a dog would be enough and leave the birds in the capable Mrs. Kossak, my ex’s mother; she had had birds of her own, so I knew Troy and Wilbur would be in loving hands. I used to be in touch with Phyllis, but enough time has washed away traces. I’m assuming she’s retired from the Massachusetts State Police. Her wedding must have been newsworthy as I did find mention of a gay trooper was getting hitched. And then there was an article about her wife’s dog; I can’t remember if it was stolen or what. Other than that a search for a Phyllis Kossak doesn’t help me much as the name is common. I’d also think that law enforcement profession would cause her to live under the radar. I couldn’t picture Phyllis being on Facebook, though people do change, and I did move away thirty-two years ago.

Wow, time sure does fly by.


My homebody ways started young. I didn’t mind going to the Bahamas or to Washington D.C, but for most of my young life, I stuck close to home. Yes, I went on overnight trips to skate in Nationals with Waltham, but other than that my family didn’t take many trips. When my parents shipped me off to camp, that was an experience that backfired. When my parents came to visit, they had to pry me out of the car so they could go home. I still can’t eat frozen fish sticks without thinking about being sick to my stomach after intense crying. My one and only time I experienced home sickness.

When my time came to be nudged out of the nest, it didn’t take much. My dad gave me a four hundred mile radius. This distance would keep me from coming home very often, but it was close enough where I could return easily.

Ithaca College was exactly four hundred miles away from Weston, Massachusetts.. And since the nest was sold, I didn’t return very often. There was a short period of time where I tried to make my home at my dad’s house in Wayland, but it never became more than a perch for me to light upon until I figured out which direction I needed to take off for.

Ithaca may not have been a place for me to flex my academic muscles, but I met some incredible people along the way. Even during my rockiest times, there was always someone to help hold me up.

If I were able to have a conversation with my 18-year-old self, the one packed my bags for Ithaca College, I wouldn’t have been able to imagine what I would experience just in a year and a half’s time. Hockey and classes were the only things on my mind. I didn’t spend any time thinking about how I would cope with two roommates instead of the typically one. That was a particular good year for incoming freshman, but by the next semester, the numbers had dwindled down. I was barely holding onto my enrollment at that time and knew things had to change.

If I were to think of the one thing that I’m most grateful for in my Ithaca College experience, I’d have to say the ability to leave my old skin behind. I wasn’t going to school with people who had known me since I was five, the people that were never going to become my friends for who knows what reason. Going to a place where not a soul knew me gave me a chance to reinvent who I wanted to be.

I will be the first to admit that I was trying on so many different personas that I lost myself. There was the athlete. The struggling student. Those personas were my ball back outfits I could run back to as I experienced new characteristics. Once I let go of being shy, I was able to work on friendships.

As my freshman year started to ride into the sunset and call an end, I learned amazing lessons. Lessons that continue to pay dividends year after year. The first has to do with life’s unpredictability. Good, Bad, and all of the in between happen.

I didn’t know much about the Ithaca Bomber women’s hockey team. I didn’t mind that the team wasn’t very good. I didn’t even mind the ludicrous ice time we had at Cornell University. Skating on an open rink in the middle of the night was conducive to my getting frost bite on my big toe.

Maybe if the team had been more competitive, Candis Russell wouldn’t have been able to play on the team. I don’t think she had skated much. Like a gazelle on skates. I wish I had gotten some pictures. Put a gazelle on grass, and she ran circles around me.

In return for my helping Candy out on the ice, she offered to teach me how to play lacrosse. She promised that I didn’t have to wear a skirt or anything that slightly resembled a skirt. Since I loved being a soccer goalie, I had no reason to turn down being a lacrosse goalie. Got me out of wearing the uniform.

I’m reading a journal I wrote May 11, 1979. In so many ways, my world was crashing down all around me. Saying goodbye to Candis and the rest of the graduate students was tearing my heart apart. Little did I know that Mrs. Russell Parry 14573015_10154558959756460_8875562207217876677_nwould come back into my life. Maybe I ought to steal a picture from her Facebook.

So many years have passed since I played lacrosse for Candis. She had to have known that I would have walked on fire for her, but in so many ways she saved me from myself. If she had known what I had been doing to my body, I’m sure we would have had a good talk. The running joke was whenever some one did something stupid, her main comments had something to do with being on drugs or being a lunch pail.

Considering my right leg was a mess and needed to be drained on a regular basis, I was on drugs, some not prescribed and some not. I had so many questions and so clueless that it would be such a long road to recovery after tearing the majority of the knee ligaments. I wasn’t ready to let go of being an athlete and a physical education major.

Being able to look at my nineteen-year-old self thirty-eight years later is something that not too many people can do. I thank myself for taking the time and will remind me to keep writing to my future self.



me1960sI am one of my closest friends. Time alone gave me plenty of opportunity to get to know myself. We get along very well. Of course, there was always a few animals to keep me company. It would have been totally ridiculous to play Monopoly by myself. I always planted the board near a sleeping beagle. The P-Dawgs gave me my money’s worth when I played against them.

I probably can count on my hands the number of child hood friends. Jon Clifton. Gayland Gates. Patty Monroe. Brian Harvey. Joan Harrison. Kelly Dawson. (I had to do quite a bit of digging to come up with her name. I never did find out why she stopped speaking to me.) Jean Wren. Leslie Hall. I don’t think I missed anyone.

And then I had all of these penpals. I had a dozen or so. I remember telling an English pen pal that I thought David Cassidy was a jerk. She didn’t understand my slang. I loved stamps at the time, so I requested as many pen pals from other countries. The original Facebook. And people wonder how I managed to get five thousand facebook friends. I don’t know the majority of people. Facebook used to scold me for asking people that I don’t know for friendships; sometimes Facebook would ban me from asking for friends. Each offense extended the ban. I managed to get to five thousand anyway.

I was reading in my journal from three years ago. Emily Dyer. Mz. Em. I met Emily through an online writer’s chat group. Might even have been with AOL. I don’t remember. We both worked as peons at newspapers. I’d whine about my experiences as a grunt at The Register-Guard and she would express similar feelings at a paper in California. It is such a small world that one of my co-workers, a young hotshot journalist, who wouldn’t give me the time of day, applied for a job at Emily’s newspaper. I don’t know if my negative comments during her tenure as a big fish in a little pond had any impact, but she didn’t get the job.

Emily and I became close friends. We had a lot in common. Both of us loved to write, but hadn’t found the courage to show our work to anyone. Early on in my ten year time at the RG, when I believed that anyone could work hard enough and rise in ranks, there was a writing seminar that I wanted to go to. I asked if I could go. My boss at the time, Jim Godbold told me that sending me to a writer’s workshop would be like sending me to a welder’s class. God had spoken. Actually God hit me with a sizzling lightening bolt. Onced was enough. I knew my place and I stayed for a decade.

Emily and I had enough to say to each other that sometimes we wrote a few times during the day, especially when we both worked at mind-numbing jobs. Four hours a day I pasted newspaper articles into books that could then be used for microfiche. Making sure I had the paragraphs right side up was my main goal. I failed at times. Just like the time I wrote the Bride is the son of … . My brain was telling me that it was time to move on.

I would have to look up in my journal when Emily decided she had enough with life and shot herself. Less than three. We had been friends since 1993, though we never met. There wasn’t anything that either couldn’t say to each other. Those kinds of friends do not come around very often.

My life as a soccer goalie

Organized sports saved my life. My dad knew I was drowning, but didn’t have anything to throw out to me. Mr. Crafts, one of my dad’s business associates suggested I play hockey on his daughters ice hockey team, the Waltham Angels.

Looks like I need to change the title of this blog. Don’t worry, I’ll eventually write about soccer. Hockey came first.

I had been taught that people from Waltham were different than people from Weston. Being totally submersed in Weston and only Weston, I didn’t know that there were different “kinds” of people. Of course, it didn’t help that I have always been a home body. Everyone in my life lived in my neighborhood. I got the impression that my dad feared for my safety. The whole Country Mouse visits the big City, though Waltham was country in comparison to Boston proper.

Hell, now this blog title is so far from working. I never know what kinds of tangents my brain throws my way, especially when I am listening to music.

Somehow I’ll work my way back from  Boston and settle back to those sweet innocent Weston years.

I was twelve years old when my mom suddenly died. That’s the reason for my drowning. Remember how Alice in Wonderland almost drowned in her own tears after she shrank. Was she the one who made “don’t cry over spilled milk” into a cliché?

My dad agreed to let me play hockey. I had been skating on skates that were too big for me; all of my skating experience was on a small pond down the street. Getting nice skates that fit and released onto a rink. To this day I can feel my spirit soar as skating was like flying, the faster the better. Maybe I ought to go skating tomorrow…

Amy Crafts was one of the stars of the Waltham Angels, the team would eventually become the Waltham Wings. I don’t know when the organization folded. Amy also hailed from Weston and was in my class, though our paths never crossed. She and I were polar opposite academically. She graduated first or second in my high school class. Sometimes I had to have Amy downshift when she talked to me so I could understand what she was saying. What an amazing athlete. I don’t know what happened to her.

I played hockey from the time I was thirteen until twenty or so. Maybe one of these days I’ll play again.

I don’t know how I was introduced to soccer. Not a clue. It could have been going into my sophomore year. Might even have been junior year. Hockey helped my, but the anger of being robbed of my mother was only building all that time. When I wasn’t skating or getting penalties, I had a hard time finding other sources for release. I had always had an anger issue, but when I blew it wasn’t pretty. Luckily I leaved next to woods where I would smash branches and push over rotten trees. Destruction that didn’t make anyone mad at me. My dad regretted installing push button light switches. I don’t know how many I smashed. My door got slammed so often, the doorknob fell off.

My dad may not have been able to toss me a life preserver, but I could. Something got me looking at what other sports opportunities were out there and soccer got my attention. I came in without an ounce of experience. No one wanted to be the goal, so I said sure.

I wish I could remember the first coach I had. He or She was incredible, lighting the torch. They worked with me before practice, after practice. I wanted to get better. I don’t think it was a matter of being better than someone else; it was more a matter that I hated to lose.

In my effort to  eliminate anger, I had to eliminate defeat. I believed it possible. I                through everything I had into not losing. I had already learned from baseball days that in order to throw far, I had to sacrifice my shoulder, though I didn’t know the concept and definitely didn’t know that all of the things I did to my body would come back to haunt me in my later years. Broken bones, lots of sprains, a few concussions, miles and miles of bruises. Raspberry knees that would be so hard to clean; I’d soak in the bathtub for hours trying to gently remove dirt and grass from skin abrasions. I wince when I think of it. I don’t know what made me have the ability to tough it out. Landing on those knees. The knee pads back then didn’t do much but just delay the inevitable that my skin would be back scraping against dirt. I am relieved to have switched from soccer to lacrosse during my college days as artificial turf would have killed me.

Maybe I was giving my brain a chance to feel different pain. I could handle physical pain much better than emotional pain. Emotionally I was a wreck, and with sports I was able to push that pain aside.

I didn’t play soccer for that many years, but I had some amazing coaches. Betsy Janzen is another person that I wonder what she’s up to. My first soccer experience was on a town league where everyone played; there weren’t any tryouts. Good thing as I was clueless. My height didn’t help, but my speed helped as well as quick reflexes. What took over was my enthusiasm. I studied the game. I didn’t have films, but I watched it on television as much as possible. I learned to always be ready. I never let my body stay still even when the ball was on the other end of the field. And I never let myself think that I was good enough. There was always work to do.

That following fall I was ready to try out for my high school team. I was an unknown, never having played sports for my high school. There was already a goal ready to step into the varsity starting position; she had waited patiently in the wings the year before while the senior keep played her final year.

My tenacity stepped right in front of her senior status and not only took the job away from her, but bumped her down to Junior Varsity. She became my first enemy, but she was also a reminder that I needed to keep the work up.

So, I told you that I would end up writing about how soccer saved my life. It saved me later on in my life, but now it is time for me to go bowling. Bowling never saved my life.

My Birds are Happy


Some of the wild birds that I’m now feeding are happier than others. The competition is fierce, especially when the bigger birds move in. The Juncos seem to be happiest when I scatter the seed along the ground. Wasn’t sure what to do when the ice and snow covered the ground.

I love seeing the wrens and the chickadees. I 20170205_flicker20170205_roomwithviewdon’t even mind the Flicker. though the little birds scatter to the winds.

One of these days I’ll treat myself to a better lens for my Canon Rebel xti. It’s a sad state when my cell phone zooms in better than the “real” camera.

parakeetI’m crazy about birds. Not a surprise to those who know me. Kids who meet me just think I’m crazy. Cuckoo crazy, especially when I tell them that I talk paraketenese, and especially after I share I was a parakeet in a previous life. How else would I be able to talk to them. My proof was when my parakeets feel in love with me. You would have thought I would have learned my lesson after the first one, but I didn’t know what her bobbing head gestures or pokes in the nose meant until I brought home Wilbur. That poor boy. He never warmed to me, and never could get Toby warmed to him.

For now I’ll have to settle on calling the wild birds my birds and try to keep the feeders full.

Rainy Day Inspires Reflection

My office looks like control station. On my roll top desk, I’ve got an ancient Mac desktop. I’m writing on a fairly old MacBook Pro. Lenovo, my new non mac laptop does a great job playing New Age music from Pandora.

In between blogs, I jot down notes on the MacBook in my journal for this month. I’ve got last year’s February journal opened on the desk top.

20170204_birdsI had briefly thought about doing some yard work. At least cut 20170204_131809back some of the blackberries and Scotch broom that keeps me from easily seeing birds at the bird feeders. But the rains cause me to balk. It wouldn’t take much to put enough layers on, and I wouldn’t even be bothered by the rain and the cold. I resist.

The warmth of the house,  soothing sounds of “Thunder Beings” by Robert Tree Cody, which has thunder sounds in the soundtrack that goes so well with the Native American Flute. I’m guessing that he is speaking the Maricopa language in this song.

All of this adds up to my spending some time reflecting. I didn’t mention that not only am I surrounded by the last few years of journals stashed away on various computers, but I have a couple of volumes from “the good ole’ years; journals written by hand or typed or printed from computers, computers that would belong to museums if I still had them, like my Amiga. Printing documents was the best way to back up data.

I had just started to back up data last year when my MacBook Air sizzled after I spilled a few drops of water. Unless I can get information from the drive, there will be gaps in my journal where I won’t have a clue what was happening in my life. Not a big deal except for the various story starts that had been waiting for me to get around to working on, and I suppose if I hadn’t gotten around to them, that must mean they weren’t meant to be gotten around to.

My life, in terms of what is and what isn’t exciting, isn’t exciting, but I manage to write and pull in text from other sources to the tune of two hundred and some pages. Some years I’m motivated to beat the page count, though last year’s two hundred and seventy odd pages didn’t come close to the year before’s almost four hundred pages.

I like being able to flip back and time, even if it’s just a year, and look at my notes as who did I substitute for, what grade, what school, what I taught. Most importantly, I sometimes give myself clues as to what worked and what didn’t so I get a chance to iron some teaching skills out.

Sometimes I get lucky while looking back just a year and get a bonus were I’m journaling from further back in my life. Last year I had been reading my very early journals of my twenties from when I was young and rather reckless. I’ve had lots of angels in my corner and perhaps a lot of luck, though mostly I attribute my getting to this day in time, more than thirty years later are all of the people that I’ve met along the way. People I never see anymore, but they still are anchors in my life. Good anchors. It’s more of a feeling of stability rather than being weighed down.

For the years that I have stuffed into three ring notebooks, I’m able to add Christmas cards and letters, but as I got better and better about journaling and emails and blogs, the longer it took to print pages, which also required a lot of pages and a lot of ink, especially since I love adding photos. I’m trying to convince myself to going back to those days, but that would mean I’d have five or six years worth of catching up to do…

If any of my readers have thought about keeping a journal, I’d recommend it. I’m sure I’m the only one who finds it entertaining, but it reminds me that not only do I have a lot to still learn about this life, but it will always get better even when it doesn’t seem like that’s possible. Give it a try. You have nothing to lose.ying-looking-at-rain-actually-looking-at-a-deer

Premature itch

Sometimes I don’t think I am in control of my body or my mind. More like my brain doesn’t necessary talk to my body. Sometimes I even get the cold shoulder from my thought-machine. Yesterday was a great example.

I was driving home from a half day with third graders and since I was going to pass Bi-Mart, I thought about stopping by for  birdseed and maybe a birdfeeder to tend my latest obsession. I didn’t bring in a bag. (Around here you have to pay five cents for paper bags.) Yet, I grabbed a large cart. I wasn’t paying attention to the hints.

One turn, and I ran smack into starts. Before I had a clue what I was doing, I was pulling one of each until my large grocery cart was almost full and I hadn’t even gotten to the bird seed and perhaps a birdfeeder.

I noticed a woman stocking up on the suet feeders. She had no advice for me about keeping the big birds from eating them up in a couple of  sessions. I just buy more is what she said. I showed her my bounty of plants, and she said she was on her way there and that tomorrow she would start her asparagus bed. A bed of asparagus sounds nice. I’ve got two spindly things; they manage to come up e very year even when I don’t get around to weeding them very often. Not much luck with them, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.

On way out of the store, it started raining. Figures. It rained rather hard all the way up the hill. Another day to read or write.

img_6726While fixing up some lunch, I noticed the sun. I put my lunch away as I had to jump at the opportunity since they don’t come around that often. I was just going to move the starts from the Mini Coop to the garden shed. By the time I got to the shed, I was feeling so warm that I thought I could at least dig up the part of the strawberry patch that didn’t survive the frost.

img_6725I don’t go out into the garden very often in the winter except to dump the compost, so I was surprised to see what had become of a pumpkin that I had set upon a chair, thinking that I would do something with it someday. Someday never came, but it didn’t discourage birds and who knows what from enjoying such a massive pumpkin.

There really wasn’t much left of it. Of course, I can’t find the picture that I know I took a few months ago when I first gave the pumpkin a chair to sit out fall. I figured I had a better chance of saving it from rotting up off the ground. Okay, so I have learned my lesson. Maybe.img_6724

I was running low in bird feed and wanted to get another feeder. I’ve been enjoying having the song birds around, and they did appreciate the helping hand during that ice and snow.

I wrote a blog a while back saying how it takes my body some time acclimating to colder temperatures. I was outside gardening in probably forty-degree weather. Slight my breathe was. As I dug my fingers into the dirt, there was a coldness to the soil’s winter’s temperature. Everything was telling me that it wasn’t quite time to start, but I had to. Just the strawberries was the compromise, and the fact that my fingers were getting kind of numb.

A Day Later

I don’t think the woman I talked to at Bi-Mart will be working on her asparagus bed. This morning as I watched my dogs slip and slide along the footbridge and noticed the pine trees sagging with ice, I felt as if I had somehow stepped into the Twilight Zone. Was I really thinking I was going to continue gardening today?

I think some reading under warm covers is more appropriate for this time of year.


Going to the Birds

birdquoteWhile I write this, I’m eating sunflower seeds. In the shell. One at a time. My last addiction. Sometimes it’s hard to get myself to pause just long enough to write a sentence or two.

img_6658-2Back when parts of Oregon were slammed with ice and snow, I cleaned a birdfeeder that’s  seed had molded after a bee’s nest took over. I don’t know how many years it hung. I bought a couple more feeders and a couple of the suet holders.

Now that I don’t have to feed them, I continue to do so, and continue to add to my bird feeder collection. If anyone know of inexpensive feeders, let me know.

I had to move the suet away from out in the open after watching a  blue jay eat almost the entire thing in just a couple of sessions. I asked a woman shopping at Bi-Mart, after I noticed she was stocking up on suets that were on sale. She told me she hadn’t figured out to stop the big birds; she just kept putting them out.

Maya Angelou


Sometimes I can be a bird-brain. The large feeder in the above picture, wasn’t getting any business. zero. I took it down. I rolled it around and none of the seeds came out. Duh. I bet you have figured out the problem. I used that seed for the other feeders; today I filled it with thistle seeds. Maybe I ought to learn how to harvest the thistle from all the thistles in my yard and  garden.

Perhaps because it is the Massachusetts state bird, but the nonmigratory Black-capped Chickadee is one of my favorite birds. Wikapedia tells me it’s a passerine bird and I’m guessing that since it’s part of the tit family Paridae, it might be related to the Tufted Titmouse, another favorite of MA birds.

Sun is out. Time to start mapping out next year’s garden…



Who I am Today

Sometimes a better question to ask me of my disposition, I think who more than how. I don’t know about you, but I’ve gathered a couple a dozen little personas almost every year. Some years less than others.

Today I felt a little bit like Superhero and just your run of the mill folk, if there is such a thing. I was at one of my favorite elementary schools, right down the road from my house. I didn’t know what grade, so I was looking forward to the surprise. I had had these kiddos before; they remembered my chirp. They all do. Sometimes they call me the bird lady. My internal parakeet didn’t have to chirp that often today, but these amazing third graders listened; they had to be reminded a lot, but even adults have a hard time not talking out or side-talking.

I felt like a superhero a couple of times when I was able to combat tears of frustration. I wished my superhero power was  stretching.  Beyond flexibility. Being so elastic that I would be able to work with the  slowest student and the fastest and all the others that fit along that scale.

If I had my own school, I’d have curriculum that fit  each student. One size doesn’t fit all in the classroom, but I’ve seen it work.

Believe it or not, but my favorite teaching experience was at the Willamette Leadership Academy. Yes, this is where I was abruptly fired, but I did mend the bridge. I think.

When I walked through the WLA doors in Veneta, I had no clue what kind of world I was walking into. I was a new teacher and classroom discipline was my weak suit. Military-style school and undisciplined are not likely dance partners, but the cool part about the school is that they have a sergeant in the room who’s job is  all about discipline. Having two adults in the classroom is really the only way to go. I learned so much about what worked and what didn’t from those five years.

I learned, almost immediately after watching an out of control class, that curriculum is the backbone to hold everything together and prevent classroom misbehavior in the first place.  If everyone not only has something to do, but if it’s interesting, problems will almost disappear completely. I’d like to think that the perfect curriculum can create a hundred percent productive room.

My first year at WLA, I was shocked when I found out that I had to create a curriculum from scratch for a wide range of high school classes. My life outside of teaching dissolved as all of my waking hours were spent planning and grading. But I fell in love with the style of the school and how a few pushups can interrupt patterns of bad behavior. Mostly having an amazing sergeant, Paul. I miss you Paul! We worked together so well that we must have won all the awards for most if not all cycles.

I also fell in love with curriculum planning. A lot of trial and error. As I became a proficient  teacher, at least faster in prepping, I was able to cut down to a 60 to 80 hour work week, but my problem is that I was always mixing up my lessons, trying to figure out what worked best.

I thought that independent work mixed in with group projects worked. Bringing in small computers was the very best thing I was able to do. Finding a non-profit credit  recovery program was extremely beneficial for Language arts. For some kids, they work well in group-reading; they enjoy talking about the book. But for others, they want to read on their own and answer the questions on their own.

I wanted to see what would happen if half the class did their work on the computer and the other half worked with a textbook. It just happened that my textbooks matched the online credit classes. Worked, didn’t work, and didn’t make any difference for the class. But there was one freshman that was doing so well with the English nine class, I was having a hard time keeping up with him. I was taking the classes along with all the other kids to look for errors and to know what they were doing!

Some schools don’t like change. Word got out that I was using the online program for students outside of credit-recovery as the school desperately needed to reduce their number of super seniors and increase the low graduation rates. I had to shut it down with the freshmen. Once we were back in our books and working at a much slower pace, the cadet was back to distracting behaviors. He was probably painfully bored. Maybe I could relate with him. I don’t do boredom well at all. Makes time go so slow, which is odd since most of the time I wish it would move so slow, especially during the summer days.

Since I’m in my happy place, I might as well continue by saying if I had my own school, there would be more people in the classroom, especially in grade school. There are too many needs not being met.

Patrick Ness

indexPatrick Ness is an amazing author. Just after  reading one book, The Knife of Never Letting Go, my only hope is Ness just happens to be a prolific writer that I’ve never heard of.

I don’t remember the last time a book ended left me  hanging with suspense. I have to read the second  book, which I had started before realizing it was book two. Four hundred and something  pages of knife  helped me to forget those early pages; the sneak didn’t ruin the suspense, though now that I have finished and am standing on the ledge of a precipice, a narrow ledge I might add, I wish I had my hands on the second book. Having learned that this first book is going on nine years old, it’s possible my hope for a prolific author may have come true.

Like clockwork, or a contract for yearly deadlines, Ness published The Ask and the Answer, patrick-ness-226x300continuing the Chaos Walking series. He finished the trilogy with Monsters of Men. Sort of finished. In the same year of Monsters, he wrote The New World being Chaos Walking #0.5.

It doesn’t surprise me that the Chaos Walking Series either won awards or came very close. Now that I have learned that he reviews books for The Guardian, I may have to take a gander to see his style.

I just found out that I don’t have to steal the second book from Sylvia. She’s done, which means only one thing…

Trying to balance out baloney (bologna)

I don’t know if that’s how baloney is spelled. I’m not getting a red squiggle, so I’ll call it good.

I don’t listen to enough music. I forget how soothing and calming music is, and then I think of it, it’s a metaphorical slap to the head in, “why haven’t you been doing this every day, especially that horrendous day when Trump took Power.

Instead of getting choked up, I ought to sing along with Hall & Oats. I’m torn whether to give “Maneater” a thumbs up. I like the song, but I don’t need to hear that particular song for the rest of the year. I’m not sure why.

Yet, I could listen to “I can’t go for that” every day. Maybe.

I love singing along with music while I write, though some songs take all of my attention, especially if Pandora provides the words.

Almost any Eagle song will cause me to stop. I’m trying to write while listening to “I can’t tell you why” I don’t really need the words as I’ve listening to this song more times than I count.  Pandora is giving me the live version. It is impossible to not get tangled in the lyrics. I don’t think I knew that Don Henley is a drummer. The Eagles made the seventies worthwhile.

“Minute by Minute” is another song that puts me to my knees. There aren’t too many Doobie Brothers songs that don’t envelope me and I think of nothing other than the lyrics and the musicians. Sometimes the drum will catch my attention or a guitar.

Phil Collins always brings out the drummer in me. I’ve got my special pair of forty-five year old drumsticks. I do the math. I got them when I was twelve, and I’m nearing to 57. I think the math is right. I don’t want it to be. I don’t like the idea of getting old.

Back to “Against All Odds.” I can hear the Genesis influence. I’ve been reading what Pandora offers about the artists and show similar music. I’m scratching my head over the Features section. For Collin’s song, “Against all odds,” Pandora says the song features Basic Rock Song Structure. I’m guessing that this has something to do with the traditional beat. Four-four is coming to mind, but I don’t know if I’m just making something up.

What would be the difference between “Basic Rock Song Structure” and “Pop Rock Influences?” which was one of the features of the song “Can’t Go For That. Both songs had attributes of being influenced by R & B. I have a skiff of experience in that genre, so I couldn’t begin to say anything about influences.

“Another Day in Paradise” is one of the strongest political songs that I know by Collins. I always sing along.

The strangest thing about music and memory is how selective my memory is. I know the song “Lovely Day” inside and out, but I wouldn’t be able to say that Bill Withers sang this song.  Before his music career took off, he had a job making toilets for Boeing. That song featured Classical Soul Qualities. I’m a bit sketchy on the difference between R & B and Soul.

The feature that has me stumped is: A Vocal-Centric Aesthetic. Huh. Steve Winwood, another favorite, has his song, “The Finer Things” classified as such. “Too Much Heaven” also falls in that feature. When I sing along with the Bee Gees, I try to sing the falsetto with them, but it probably doesn’t sound so great; good thing that I only do this when no other human ears are with range. I do notice that my dogs sometimes give me more space, though sometimes my singing attracts them, especially  Ricky. I love playing dog guitar when he’s on my lap, or at least half on my lap. He doesn’t mind being used for percussion either.

The hardest part about listening to music is that I don’t get much done. I have a book that I’d like to finish, but I don’t have a mind that can focus on two things at the same time. Music has to be wordless, and sometimes I prefer silence. I’ll go right after Journey finishes “Don’t Stop Believin.” There’s no way I can turn this song off before it’s done. The feature for Journey’s amazing hit,  if you are curious is “Intricate Use Melodic Phrasing” Not sure what that means, but if that’s what drew me in, sounds good to me.