How to Destroy

A Teaching Career

I’m a C-SPAN2 Book discussion from last September on Banned Books.

As I have written several blogs about my sudden firing from the Willamette Leadership Academy almost five years ago, I have to come up with my own reasons as to why a former teacher of the year and one of  the hardest workers  wasn’t going to have my contract renewed. It was sudden in my mind, but I’m thinking that the signs were there, but I failed to see them. I often prefer my own World and ignore reality. If I think someone doesn’t like me or has a problem with me, I tend to ignore this and pretend these feelings don’t exist.

But, as I listen to the panel of authors who discuss how their books have been challenged and banned in schools, I start to think about my last Film as Literature course. Color Purple is one of my favorite books. Not only is it a great book, but the movie is just as  outstanding, but the book and the movie are night and day.

My class was upperclass students, Juniors and Seniors, in high school. I asked for a class set, which was approved. I got a really good deal at Smith Family Bookstore for the Pulitzer Prize winning novel. I was  excited and had worked so hard on pulling together lesson plans.

Somehow the School Board President, a very conservative Christian, got wind of my kids reading Alice Walker’s book. All she had to do was read the first page of the novel to the Colonel, and all hands on board distress signal was given. By the time it subject  was brought to the board’s attention and they declared this book not worthy for this Public, but Charter school, we were just finishing up with the book. I was told I could never teacher  that book  again.

I was angry. In the five years that I had taught at WLA, the only perk, aside from the free uniform and cheap haircuts, I had one hundred percent control of what I taught. Now that a red flag was raised on my choice of literature, I was told that from now on, I would have to ask the  board’s permission.

I did not ask permission for the next book my kids were reading, but again they had already bought Fahrenheit 451, the banned book about burning books. I was pissed that I was getting censured especially when the middle schoolers during this same time were reading Hunger Games. It’s okay for young kids to read about kids killing kids, but Heaven forbid that an older student read about incest and coping with the situation.

I was extremely vocal about my frustration and probably vented a lot on Facebook. That is, after all, the main reason I was fired.

The irony about my losing my job when I lost it was I had been struggling with depression and was just getting a handle on the problem. As a result, I was probably the realest and truest with the students than ever before. I stopped hiding the fact that I was gay, but unless you are totally blind, it’s really hard to not make this guess. I was spending more time with the kids than grading I was refusing to take on all the extraneous meetings and fundraising that was eating up a lot of my personal time. I had spoiled the school by working eighty hours a week, but I thought it was the right thing to do at the time. The Friday evening after school benefit, after so many hours, or the all day Saturday to supervise cadets at a football game only added to my eighty hours. No, I won’t put together the school newsletter anymore.

It was my last year that I volunteered to run a credit recovery program that was a huge success and also time-consuming, but since kids were getting something out to it, It was worth it. I even took on the role of doing all class scheduling for all the high school kids that involved requesting and studying transcripts. Still time consuming, but also important to the student. We were such a small staff that we all had to pitch in. The second in-charge teacher, Major Cheney, had the task of mapping out all of the FTX schedules on top of her course load.

I guess my last blog in venting about WLA wasn’t my last. Maybe this one will be. Maybe. It is a very tender spot in my heart.

Zero to Hero day 11

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Day 11: Be a good neighbor — leave comments on three new blogs.

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p>What a strange coincidence. Today I spent the day at Firs Bowl, a bowling alley in Eugene, Bowling in an eight-game tournament. This tournament requires teams to bowl position rounds where first place bowls second, third bowls fourth, and so on. Calculations require time and in turn, I turned to responding to emails in between games.To make a short story long, I get a lot of emails regarding WordPress, and typically I don’t spend much time attending to them, but today I was drawn like a moth to the flame. I hadn’t even realized that my responding to the posts would be the assignment. How cool is that: to do an assignment before even knowing.

One of the sites I enjoyed was the ranting chef. I especially liked how he stirred in stories of his kids’ eating history along with recipes that caused my mouth to water.

Maggie Monday: Scallops and Shrimp Casserole

 

Being a tangential person, often times one blog will lead me to another blog and that will lead me to another. I came across this one that demonstrated evocative and creative writing. 

 

 

http://cylithria.me/

 

I have always had a fondness for photography, and this blogger, Sonya Lira Photography, has recently earned a few awards, like the Sunshine Award. 

 

http://sonyaliraphotography.com/author/captureyouphotography/

Image

 

 

 

 

Waiting and Wondering

It’s just been a little over twenty-four hours since I finished the MRI. Getting results back so soon isn’t really expected, but there’s no problem with hoping, right?

Since I have time to meander in distant retrospection, I came across a letter my sister Barbara wrote to me May 7, 1980. I had just gotten my knee done and that I could finally get my shit together. Thirty-seven years later, her letter is still appropriate, though she did admit that she was only half serious.

The hardest part about keeping a journal that includes letters and cards that go back thirty or more years is that it is a lot easier to hold onto a piece a paper than it is to hold onto friends.

My first collegiate experience, Ithaca College, was a whirl wind of an experience. In my year and a half in upstate New York, I met more friends than in all of my previous eighteen years.

I had my teammates. My Weston soccer teammates, my Waltham Angels/Wings friends, some of whom I’m back in touch with.

But Ithaca was different. Maybe it was the four hundred miles away from my dad’s expectations that helped create an atmosphere where I could let more of my personality out. I had friends from all walk of life.

I just read a hysterical letter written by Emily Lyon. She hated Ithaca and not only was anxious to move out, but wished she had never gone to Ithaca College, though she did share my same sentiment of finding some of the best friends.

It’s too bad her name is so common. I tried to find her on facebook. It’s also been thirty-seven years, and who knows if she is even going by Lyon. It’s hard to say when and who was the first to stop writing. Back in “those” days, letter-writing was one of my major compulsions. I wrote a lot of letters. I have them all and then some. Every so often, people will send me back my letters so I can keep them. Maybe my sister Barbara would like her card back.

Getting back to getting my shit together. I wonder how many times I have blogged this line: I moved/ran away to Eugene from the Boston area to get my shit together. I’m still in Eugene. I suppose the definition of having my act together has changed over the years, but I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel when I get to that destination. How will I know?

Yes, it took me a long time to get my first degree. Two weeks prior to turning thirty, I turned in my last incomplete paper to earn my BA in English from the University of Oregon. I didn’t do the walk. My diploma lived in the cardboard mailer that the UO used to send to me for about ten years while I worked at a dead-end job at The Register-Guard.

By then it didn’t matter that I wasn’t bringing in the dough as I was making enough to keep me in bowling tournaments and could have as many bowling balls as I wanted. My compulsion to bowl did distract me from my compulsion to write letters, but I did write a lot of postcards from my exciting travels up and down the I-5 corridor. May even had written one from Drain, Oregon, while at a very little tournament or practicing. I always kept bowling balls in the Subaru just in case I came across lanes I hadn’t bowled in before.

When I become compulsive about something, I become a fanatic. Obviously, the more I bowled, the better I got. But the better I got only created this insane idea of bowling even more. Left shoulder. Right Shoulder. Scoping of the right knee. Replacing the ACL in same knee. All of these things were done simply to extend my time bowling.

But there was a moment when I had gotten my act together. It helped that The RG newspapers were liquidating personnel. I had applied to graduate school before given the pink slip and was accepted a few weeks later.

I did continue to bowl while in graduate school, but I was so consumed in being a good student that bowling just had to take a back seat. And then I got a teaching job at the Willamette Leadership Academy and kept my act together for a little over five years. Oh, that school had become my next compulsion. Eighty and then some hours a week. I taught everything under the sun. My first year to only teach English, the only thing I was licensed to teach, would have come my sixth year, but I went my separate ways by then.

I have seen glimpses of having my act together, but I’ve never lived a very balanced life. Something always seems to get the short end of the stick. For the last dozen years, the house has been neglected. I’ve lost track of how many years I’ll tell myself that this is the year I am going to get my act together and get the basement under control.

Damn Murphy’s Law. Now that I have time on my hands since I can’t work, I can’t be on my leg long enough to make a dent. I’ve been trying to motivate myself to write more. Who said that there’s no trying, there’s just doing. I’m writing now, aren’t I? Doesn’t this count for something?

I sure would like to hear from you on whether you think you have your act together and how it feels.

 

Technology

Today I spent a half an hour half immersed in a Magnetic Resonating Instrument. I’m guessing. MRI. I have been around the block a few times with this noisy, but amazing bit of technology. It’s my favorite test by far. No injections or icky stuff to drink. It’s loud, but at least I had Pandora’s Fleetwood Mac station to keep me busy.

Too bad the MRI wasn’t around, at least not where I was, in the early 1980s, when I had my first knee surgery. Newton Wellesley Hospital, a pretty good hospital in the area didn’t really have much to diagnose knee problems. Scoping was used for diagnosing, but even then the doctor wouldn’t know what was wrong until he actually opened up my knee. Back then they called it reconstruction.

There were two of us undergoing knee surgery that morning. We were told that if we woke up with a light bandage on our leg, it was just meniscus and we’d be golden. I wasn’t golden; I was plastered in a cast that ran from the tips of my toes to the top of my thigh. Immobilization. By the time my right leg was paroled from prison, my leg was pathetic with atrophy. But my knee had been a mess. In fact, when I got a chance to talk to the other surgery victim, a soon to be former football player, I was surprised that he was hanging up his cleats; he simply said he didn’t want to be like me.

20170523_kneeI learned quickly that even though my knee had been put back together again and I earned a nice fancy scar, that my knee was toast.  The doctor really was an artist with his scar; I’ve seen some nasty knee scars.

While working with some very good athletic trainers at Northeastern, my knee was used to show the athletic trainer trainees what a large draw was. Put one hand on the inside of my knee, and the other on the outside and push, and that knee joint would open up as if it were saying ahhh. Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears meant the end of the road for most athletes.

No matter how much work I did in getting back into shape, I couldn’t run as much and was hardly ever without pain.

Shortly after moving to Eugene, I qualified to play wheelchair basketball; the team, The Shooting Stars, didn’t live up to our name. I think in the three years we were together, we might have won one game. But I had fun.

And then I had a long love affair with bowling. My knee was okay at first, but the toll of bowling a hundred games a week started to plague my entire body. I became a frequent visitor at Slocum Orthopedic.

The doctor let me watch him scope out my knee; it looked like he  were sucking up cob webs out of my knee. He filed down some bone and took out some fragments. It wasn’t that bad of a rehab either, not in comparison to the first “procedure.”

I had fallen in love with the scope. What an incredible tool. Fixed my frozen left shoulder. Fixed my arthritic right shoulder.

In the second knee scoping procedure, Doctor Walton gave me a new ACL. My older tendons were no longer viable, and so I was given the gift of a doner. I really wanted to watch the surgery, but the doc admitted that he was tweaking his style a bit and probably didn’t want me in on his trade secret, though the real reason is it is probably a lot easier to operate when the patient isn’t asking too many questions.

Last April 21st, when my dog Abby tripped me going down the stairs, I was getting ready for a bowling tournament. I had worked so hard. As I fell, my knee and my ankle went in directions that no joints ought to go. All I could do was yell a zillion F bombs. I couldn’t believe it.  Out of the blue.

Xrays at the emergency room established that nothing was broken, but I’ve never really trusted xrays for diagnosing structural damage. I couldn’t convince the attending physician to ask for an MRI.

Every so often, I think that perhaps I’m off my rocker and that nothing serious is wrong and maybe it’s just a sprain. I don’t have much motion and the shooting pain is telling me that it’s probably my ACL again. In the five minutes that I spent with Chris Walton, he was guessing that it was my ACL. Emergency room X-rays and Slocum X-rays couldn’t confirm the diagnosis.

After this morning’s MRI, which will paint a better picture, I’ll know where I stand and what I need to do to get back onto the lanes. Perhaps I’ll start to keep a rehab blog. I do know I have a lot of work ahead of me; that is when I’m given the green light.

Gardening

I lived off of River Road in a small one bedroom apartment when I began my love affair with gardening. I had just been diagnosed with Wilm’s Kidney Cancer stage III. Between the radical nephrectomy, the removal of a kidney, the chemotherapy and the radiation, I had a lot of recovering to do. During the worst of times, merely picking one weed gave me a sense of accomplishment.

We’ve been in the dome for fourteen years now. I don’t remember when I put in the first garden. Sylvia first had to deer-proof a large area. Blackberries had to be cut back. The first garden had a large tree in the middle. Maybe after a few years of rototilling around it, the tree gave up and fell over, giving me an  even bigger space. The stump of the tree, pictured below, keeps trying to grow, sending shoots.

IMG_7046Once the sun starts making an appearance, I get antsy and just have to get out in the dirt. March gave me some days where I planted potatoes, and they are just going crazy.

IMG_7050 (2)Between March and April, in between Spring showers I worked with the onions, working around the ones from last year, and adding some new ones. I hadn’t grown peas in that area, so I thought I’d give them a try in a new spot. Some parts of the garden area are fickle with clay soil. Every year, I was constantly amending the soil. I think it was last year that I didn’t have Sylvia rototill the ground with her tractor; this way I didn’t have to wait for the things to dry out, though the only problem with this method is I have quite a few large clay balls as a result of my digging.

IMG_7052For my birthday, Sylvia bought me four raised beds. I had always wanted raised beds. I managed to get three of them into the garden and planted before Abby the Labby Number Nine tripped me down the stairs.

IMG_7110 (2)I’ve never been much of a planner, especially when it comes to gardening. I just put things here and there, rotating crops to stay ahead of the pests, especially the western spotted and western striped cucumber beetles, my nemesis. Maybe the raised beds will help. I had a couple of Brussels Sprout plants winter over and the honey bees are especially thankful for the yellow flowers.

If you have ever gardened, you know that the tasks are endless. Now that I’ve been hobbled for more than a month, gardening is all that more challenging. I’m always telling myself that if I can just get things planted, I can sit back and watch things unfold and spread out. Having raised beds will make weeding easier, but as long as I keep throwing things in the ground, I’ll have plenty of weeding to do.

IMG_7070Most of the time, I’m not supposed to be limping around the garden. I compromised when I weeded the raspberries by sitting on the ground or lying on my side. It took me forever, but I got it done.

Now the strawberries are another story. I may need someone to come and pick them for me when all of these flowers start producing.

Once again, gardening has become my salvation. I earn my gardening time by staying off of my leg, and I feel so much better about going through another trying time of healing.

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The Universe Provides

I believe in my heart and soul that everything in this life happens for a reason. Good and Bad. Though often I find that I fight against the tide. Perhaps I was a  salmon in a previous life and still have that instinct to swim against the currents.

Four weeks ago I messed up my knee and my ankle. My knee has already been fixed three times. I’m supposed to be taking it easy, staying off of it. I know the drill. But there are things that need to be done. I’m sure many of you can relate.

I’ve been given a gift of time. Time to write and read and just be. When I “allow” myself to write, I have a lot of fun, and many times I learn something about myself during the process. In the four weeks I’m to be laying low, I’ve not blogged hardly at all. I worked on a story twice and not for very long.

It doesn’t help that the sun is finally out, and the urge to garden is stronger than the urge to sit inside and write. And the urge is stronger than those voices that say don’t do it or you shouldn’t do it.

I started writing this about an hour or so ago. Yesterday while in the  garden, I saw one of my starts, a little lemon cucumber plant, looking pathetic. The image came into my head as I was writing, and I had to do something about it.

I can’t shovel, but I can swing a pick axe. Pick axe makes a great crutch I have found. One thing led to another and  by the time I knew I needed to be off of my feet, I had planted two squash, a pumpkin, and six Cosmos.

It felt good at the time. Perfect temperature for gardening. Psychologically I felt uplifted. Doing something productive. Doing something with my hands.

But I am back on the couch with ice on my ankle and my knee. Unfortunately, I failed to plug my lap top in while outside, so I have a choice of saving this and continuing or publishing something short. My track record for coming back to something I’ve partially written isn’t very good…

So, the question at hand is how to do I make myself write more. How do you do it? (This question also implies that I’ll get more feedback from others, which also leads to the question of why do I bother to blog if people don’t reply.)

 

The Road To Recovery

More than two weeks ago, my dog Abby tripped me on the stairs. Emergency room doc ordered Xrays on my ankle and knee. Even though I have had three knee surgeries, and Xrays are a waste of time to diagnose ligament damage, I couldn’t get them to do an MRI. See your doctor if you continue to have problems. The doctor said that since nothing was broken, let pain be your advisor and that I probably couldn’t cause more harm.

meanwhile, I had an appointment to see a pain specialist about my back. Made it perhaps a month or two ago. I was looking forward to seeing Doctor Phillips again as he has treated my back before, but it has been awhile. Things change. My insurance had changed.

After losing my school insurance through Eugene 4j, I picked up Oregon Health plan. What a nightmare that has been. I had been using Oregon Medical Group, but they don’t take OHP patients. When I finally found a doctor who did take OHP, Doctor Hacker said I couldn’t get Fentanyl patches on OHP. What am I supposed to do? Get better insurance. So I got married. Romantic, right?

A few months ago, I ended up at an urgent care place. They did not take OHP, but gladly took my primary insurance. Ended up in the Emergency room at McKenzie Willamette. Kidney stones. Could easily have been a life or death situation since I have only one kidney.

As I said, I was looking forward to seeing Dr. Phillips today as he was going to take over my pain meds, and I had hoped he could shed some light on why my lower leg, knee, and ankle were giving me so much trouble. I was turned away from Neuro Spine Institute. I am sorry the receptionist said, even putting her hand on my shoulder, but we can’t take Trillium. Even though we take your primary insurance, because of the OHP insurance, we cannot offer you services. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry, scream, or both. Damn. Can they really discriminate against someone in pain, especially when there aren’t that many pain specialists in Eugene?

So, why are we paying a grand a month for my insurance?

I have been waiting seventeen days to get a diagnosis. I see my Orthopedic surgeon, Chris Walton, at Slocum Orthopedics, Thursday. Now I am paranoid about the OHP insurance. Am I supposed to just not show it to them?

Have to scratch the itch

The temp reached seventy before noon. 

I did visit my little greenhouse on the deck to water seedlings.

Posting most of my weight on my left leg allowed tinkering and a break from being on my butt.

I have never done injured well. And the doctor did say I could not do any harm. I just needed to let pain be my guiding hand. Don’t be like what some people do and stop doing things. The ER doc said that to me. Gotta keep moving if you can.

Injuries and me have been synonymous. Pushing the envelope, pushing my body. I wanted to throw a baseball, a football, whatever hard. My shoulder would sublux. Fancy weird word for almost dislocating. Automatic reflex put the joint ball back in socket. A few windmills and I could throw again and even farther. It didn’t hurt in the beginning.

By high school, I had adapted to side arm as almost any over hand throw or over shoulder move would cause subluxation. I tried avoiding the sling as much as possible. 

I could throw regularly now since my orthopedic surgeon performed his magic scoping and fixed me, but I prefer the sidearm delivery. 

Hockey, lacrosse, and physical education courses compounded my problems. Preexisting conditions. The second I came off the ice, ice would be shoved down my shorts free my four to five minute break from the action. My ortho guy said I had arthritis on top of my curvature of the spine. I slept on the floor with my knees up on a chair, though soon I have up on sleep altogether. Different story. It was college. I was busy. I didn’t have time.

Sometimes I would get injured and not even know it. I was in the trainers room supporting a friend as she thought she broke her thumb. Lacrosse balls hurt like a son of a bitch. Back then, goalies didn’t wear gloves. Not women’s lacrosse. Someone caught sight of my thumb. Mine was broken. My friend was okay. 

I kept playing. Played with broken fingers in high school as a soccer goalie. Tape is the solution to everything.

When I bulldozed my way into an offensive lacrosse attacker on a one-on-one, my ortho doc slapped a cast on me just tip slow me down. He told me that I would probably need surgery. I did not slow down. I threw at lacrosse practice. I even took up bowling. Amazing what a cast can do for slowing down an approach and keep a pivot leg straight.

I am not as bad as I used to be. I have iced this injury more than any other. I am doing everything I am supposed to do. 

I had to go to the garden today. I slowly ambled up the freshly cut path between house and garden, thanks to Sylvia Sandoz. Barefooted. Crutching gave me freedom of using support in between tests of what I can and can’t do. Most twinges come on the inside of my knee with some on top of the knee.

My lower leg talks a lot. Almost seems like parts of my body talk to each other. An instance of pain in my ankle creates a response by my knee. Morse code. Sometimes my body curses me.


But I had to go to the garden. My sanity depended upon it. Now I know that some of you question if there is any sanity left. You might be right. 

My pilgrimage of crutch, step, crutch, step was slow and steady. Slow enough for spiders and beetles to scurry in front of me. Rain has been good to the grass. Great for big dogs to lurk. 
I picked up a weeding tool just in case. Meanwhile, the mind chatter was like a busy bee hive. You shouldn’t be doing this. But I have my crutches. I am even using them. Mostly. No point in lying to myself, but I try. Rationalization veils, thinly veils the truth. I need the exercise. This is good for me. It did feel good. The sun. The cool grass under many barefeet. Listening to the birds. You’ll pay the price later. My friend Jeff said I paid the price in spades the other day. 

I better start to keep my grievances to myself.

The problem is I don’t know what is wrong. I don’t know what I did to myself two Fridays ago after Abby the Labby Number Nine tripped me going down stairs.

ER doc said nothing was broken. There’s a slight chance Xrays wouldn’t detect slight fractures. I have broken digits and my nose, but big bones aren’t on my list. I want to keep it that way.


Once I got into the garden I let go of the crutches and weeding tool. Just get my body down onto the ground. It didn’t matter that I had no plan on how to get back up again. One thing at a time. 


My mission was simple: weed the garden. At least a few of them. Weeding has always been therapeutic. A good day during chemo days meant  I could pull a weed. Productivity, however small, does wonders for the disheartened heart. 

The raspberries needed some breathing room and might even thank me profusely to eliminating the choking weeds. And I would feel better.


I promised myself that I wouldn’t do too much, and I didn’t. I figure if I do more to help the healing than testing the limits, I am on the positive side of things.

A week of rain

 

It’s actually been just five days of rain.

Seven days ago, it was beautiful out. I remember thinking about how much gardening I was going to do. I was going to fill a raised bed full of the good soil, which meant I would be pushing a wheelbarrow six times from the pile of newly purchased soil to the garden. IMG_7011

I even had the  starts that were ready to be planted…IMG_7021 I had gotten up early. I had lots to do. Garden. Pack. Go. I was supposed to be gone for nine days.

Maybe that’s why Abby tripped me on the stairs, nixing all the plans. No bowling tournament. No gardening. Just a trip to the hospital. Not sure why I bothered going to the Emergency Room.

Nothing was broken, but my ankle and knee are far from fine.

When it started to rain, I didn’t mind. I didn’t have to worry about having to water the garden. The rain gave me another excuse for not being out there, as if I really had a choice.

Today, I just had to get out of the house.  It took me about twenty minutes to meander at a snail’s pace to the garden. Just a week and my trodden path has been covered with grass. I had to walk gingerly, taking care of my ankle. It’s not wobbling, but it’s not feeling very strong. I’m used to having a bad knee, but I’ve never had an IMG_7019injured knee and ankle at the same time.

After being house bounIMG_6977d for a week, everything fascinated me. I figured that was going to be the case, which is why I brought my camera. Lucy’s so cute.

Of course, many pictures just reminded me of all IMG_6976the work that needs to be done. Stanley’s garden could use some weeding, but that’s so far down at the bottom of the list, it might not happen this year.

The weeds are enjoying their time since the ground is still too wet for the tractor to coIMG_6985me out. I like the splash of color, though the tall grass is harder for me to walk through, especially with my current stiff leg shuffle. How can I create paths to save the flowers?IMG_6986

IMG_6998The garden is doing pretty good. Three of the four beds are growing the starts I planted when I still was able, though it looks like the birds IMG_7000

transplanted some of my carrots.  It was a good to get outside and into the sun; it makes being on the couch with ice on my now not so happy joints.

IMG_6981

Who Gets A Heart

I’m reading an article in the Register-Guard, Heart and Soul, and impressed that this guy bought thirty extra years to live after two heart transplants.

According to Webmd.com, “More than 2,000 heart transplants are performed each year in the U.S. Each year thousands more would benefit from a heart transplant if more donated hearts were available.”

Two thousand isn’t many, a mere drop in the bucket. (My driver’s license tells the world that I’m a donor, are you?

For every person that gets a renewal of life, two people don’t.  Twenty-five percent don’t live long enough, though the definition of  how long enough is the question that comes to mind. In the article, it sounded like Mr. Hickey didn’t have to wait very long for a heart. He had to have bypassed some people on the list or maybe that long ago there wasn’t a list. I imagine that there’s not much time between finding a “viable” heart and getting it into a matching recipient. Maybe it’s got something to do with location.

Even though, Mr Hickey was  declared brain dead, he wasn’t ready to give up and sent a message to his wife as his finger moved enough to relay that he was still there. How could a hospital have made such a diagnosis? “He was flown to University of Utah Health Sciences Center in Salt Lake City. He soon after received his first transplanted heart from a 38-year-old carpenter who died in a job-related accident.”

To go from brain-dead to being back to work took a lot of effort, and with the heart of the carpenter, he built a foundation at work that would help save his life in just eight months later. Since he had trained people at work how to perform CPR, when he had a second heart attack, his work mates bought him some time.

“Although doctors had cautioned that it might be three months before he could undergo another transplant, a suitable heart was located two weeks later, and he had his second heart transplant in Utah on Aug. 27, 1987.” http://registerguard.com/rg/news/local/35408533-75/a-change-of-heart.html.csp

It was impossible for me to not think about the young men who had donated their hearts to a 51-year-old. I think about their families and the loss of their sons so early. Maybe it carpenter’s family had to make the choice, though the 27-year-old man from Portland had checked the donor box on his driver’s license.  According to Wikipedia, the same percentage of people who die waiting, is the percentage of families who refuse to donate their dearly departed organs.

And even if a heart becomes available, who is going to pay the few hundred short of a million-dollar medical bill.

“Organ transplants can be very costly. In 2008, the first year costs for a heart transplant was $787,700, according to Transplant Living.org.”

I’m guessing that Hickey had a great medical insurance package while “a self-described federal bureaucrat with the Economic Development Administration — chief of regional planning for a 10-state area.”

I have known people who have lost their lives due to being on assisted medical insurance relief. I experienced it myself while going through cancer treatment when I ran out of school insurance and had to have the state help me out; the different ways people treated me was obvious.

At least Mr. Hickey has made the most of his bonus thirty years and has taken great care of his borrowed heart.

Reading Dangerously

wp-1490237333254.jpgRecently, for my birthday, my friend Bex sent me a book for my birthday. Actually, she sent me three books. The last one has something to do with fifty books that changed the life the author, Andrew Miller. Even though I have read the lengthy introduction and the first chapter, I can’t remember the title except the part about Reading Dangerously. I only remember the author’s name because the author has the same name as a former Red Sox pitcher, which was mentioned in the lengthy introduction as well as the many other people who share the author’s common names. I wonder what fifty books Andrew MIller the baseball player would have suggested. I don’t remember any of the other Andrew Millers that were mentioned.

So far, I haven’t been given a clear picture on how the books he read in a year’s time saved his life except that the mere privilege of dedicating a year to reading is powerful and gave him an opportunity to move beyond the mundane and ritualistic life.

I like the notion of writing about books that I am reading, though Miller does make a distinction between blogging and writing a book as if blogging doesn’t count. Perhaps he’s right as I have attempted to write about books in the past, but those are the blogs that go unnoticed, and my motivation stops midstream. Maybe this is the book that will encourage me to blog to the end of the book and the other books that follow. I might even follow Miller’s path and see if those fifty books can alter my life. Don’t we all need a little bit of saving?

I know from experience that determining a Great book creates endless possibilities. As an English Major at the University, most of the Great books that fit into the Literary Canon were mostly if not all, Dead White Guys, I used up my electives quickly if I wanted to read women or authors of color or authors still alive.

One summer I had to bribe myself with a Bear Claw if I managed to get to Chaucer class. I barely passed the class. I wonder if Chaucer made it on Andrew’s list.

In Andrew Miller’s lengthy introduction, he describes the Western Canon as “‘Great books’ of this kind may be important but they are not always straightforward or entertaining. Some, such as Under the Volcano or Ulysses, may require other great books to help make sense of them…”

I have a hard time reading books that I don’t understand or are not entertaining, which is why Dan Brown books are not included in the fifty great books. Too easy and too entertaining.

Because the definition of what constitutes a Great Book, I am asking for reader participation. What book or books would you suggest for my list of fifty books I’ll read in a year? There’s also the list of books can I read in the next thirty-three years, my optimistic number of years left on this earth. Living to ninety is not out of the question, though I have a slight fear that my mind and body are going to age drastically differently, but I can only hope to keep my faculties until the end.

glenny68The first book I’ll slowly examine will be the first book that Andrew Miller started with, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Stay tuned for the next segment, and please let me know what other books you think will make an impact on my life.

 

 

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Does Happy Community Make Happy Residents?

Or do happy residents make a happy Community?

According to Gallup and Healthways, “Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Florida, residents had the highest well-being of the 189 communities  in 2015-2016, claiming the top spot for the second year in a row.”

Now who wouldn’t want to live in a reduced stress environment. Today goes on to say, “Residents there have the lowest levels of stress in the country, report little depression and eat healthy on a daily basis, the report found. Many of them like their daily activities and enjoy an intellectually lively culture, telling interviewers they learn or do something interesting every day.”

So, I say to myself, “I wonder what the percentage of retired folks live in this area? What’s the average income? How many people live there?

Now if I were to compare Eugene, Oregon to Napa, Florida, Napa already has a leg up with the weather. Eugene had amazing summers, but “Naples has 11.3% less rainy days and 52.0% more Sunny Days than Eugene.” It’s possible that only Washington and Alaska top Eugene suicide rates

I would think that the population of a community effects a citizen’s well-being and Naples population is quite a bit smaller than Eugene.

The 2016 Naples, Florida, population is 21,512. There are 1,746 people per square mile (population density). Eugene’s 163,460 population towers over Naples. Eugene’s population density is 3,736 people per square mile. I would think that it would be harder to feel part of a community in Eugene than in Naples.

Naples is probably the best place to retire to. I’m thinking about doing this myself if I get a chance to retire. “The median age is 64.6. (in Naples). The US median is 37.4. 63.37% of people in Naples, Florida, are married. 13.79% are divorced.”

Eugene is close to the US median. “The median age is 34. 39.95% of people in Eugene, Oregon, are married. 12.55% are divorced.” Maybe marriage, especially among the older crowd plays a part in whether someone tells a pollster whether they are thriving or not. We’ve got a heck of a lot of single people in Eugene. Of course, the only thing that this proves is my bias. I’m sure that there are plenty of happy and content single people.

Being a productive part of society is part of the survey in what makes a great community to live in, and Eugene’s 5.60% unemployment versus 4% makes a difference. But what really puts the icing on the cake is the income. For Naples, “the income per capita is $84,721, which includes all adults and children. The median household income is $80,571.” Now granted that the Naples is made up of older people, and experience can increase salary, but Eugene’s “income per capita is $26,313, which includes all adults and children. The median household income is $42,715.”

I just discovered bestplaces.net that will compare Naples and Eugene for me and I don’t have to flip around to different web sites to get information.

Naples is 11.6% more expensive than Eugene.
Naples housing costs are 27.8% more than Eugene housing costs.
Health related expenses are 15.0% less in Naples.

Crime is higher in Eugene, but that might have to do with unemployment and the  rat race of “city” living. Naples spends less money per student for education, but has smaller classes and higher graduation rates than Eugene.

 

Eugene, Oregon Taxes
Eugene, Oregon,sales tax rate is 0.00%. Income tax is 9.00%.

 

 

Another night of not sleeping

It doesn’t help that my body is ganging up against my brain in an attempted coup of my brain. Even my clavicle is screaming in pain. Every so often a different part will vehemently yell at the disparity of how my body is used or abused.

I thought I was over my bowling obsession. After more than five years of mostly once-a-week bowling, the sleeping giant has awoken. A mere month and some of bowling three to five times a week could be merely the giant coughing and that the giant will resume its docile ways.

But maybe not. My first time snake-bit by bowling, I built my addiction slowly. My first tournament was at the Gay Games in Vancouver, B.C. I practiced so much that my right thumb looked like hamburger. I had built calluses, but blisters were a problem.

I surprised myself to make the first cut, though my bleeding thumb was making it very difficult. Searing pain on every ball.

And then I met Skeeter Lee from Washington. Even though we were bowling against each other, she patched my thumb. No one at Firs Bowl, my main place to bowl, bothered to introduce me to new skin. I wasn’t shy about showing off my big fat thumb as a demonstration of my hard work. I had already become a bowling alley rat. 

I was like that person with the reputation of costing all you can eat joints money.  In return for volunteering my Saturday to coach junior bowlers, I was given free bowling. My eyes must have grown rather large when I was told it was unlimited. 

I was still rather young. My right knee was shot, but the left knee was ready to take the brunt of big knee bends and planting all my weight. Good thing it wasn’t much then. Ray Anderson, one of the best drillers I have worked with, insisted that I only use a twelve pound ball. Gradually I worked my way up to fifteen pounds.

My mind running away with this blog has been a good thing, but the mention of my working my way up in bowling just got my right shoulder screaming about my lack of ergonomics. Writing on my back in bed on my phone using swype will always get the ire of my shoulder. 

It is time for me to attempt a trip to snooze land. I have a bowling clinic in the morning.

Tom Brady and Dustin Pedroia are two of my favorite present-day athletes. Is it a coincidence that they are neighbors. I don’t know if Tom’s mansion in Brookline is a new residence or an old one.

What I most admire of these two New England athletes is their tenacity and gumption. Being told that they can’t do something, inspires them to work as hard and then some to prove that person wrong.

The making of amazing athletes. Most of the time, an athlete comes to the sport as a complete package. They have the skills, and they have the perfect body type. But sometimes their ego is what trips them up. They start to believe that can walk on water because that is all they heard. These are the athletes that often reach for the steroids and the quick fixes rather than do the work that it takes to either recover or better yet prevent career-injuries. I am sure that after I  tore my knee to shreds while playing lacrosse, I would have done any drug to come back from that career-ender if given the chance.

And then there are those who don’t measure up physically. Too short, not strong enough, not fast enough. They are told that they could never make it. For some people that’s enough to make them quit, but for others, these words are the spark to light the fire. For some, the chip on their shoulder inspires them to prove those naysayers wrong. Seventeen years ago, twenty-two-year-old Tom Brady began his NFL career on shaky ground. Scouts declared that he didn’t have the right build; he wasn’t quick; his arm lacked strength. “Gets knocked down easily.”

Say what you want about Tom Brady and the deflate gate garbage, but no one can say he’s not one of the best quarterbacks to ever play football. What they didn’t see from this skinny young man was that yes, he did get knocked down easily, but he also got back up easily. What they didn’t see was the size of his heart and his ability to work hard.

Determination and psychological makeup are not as quantifiable as height, weight, and speed. Add some experience, and Tom Brady demonstrated that someone drafted in the sixth round and the 199th pick can become a Super Bowl MVP champion multiple times.

What I admire most about Tom Brady is the way he has resisted resting on his laurels. He has done what no other quarterback has done. Five Super Bowl championships. Multiple Most Valuable Player awards. He’s done it all. Instead of quitting after all goals have been achieved, he’s determined to keep going. I’m not sure that the thirty-nine-year-old imagined he’d be still playing football at this age, but most importantly that he would keep getting better.

Ibio_mini-bios_0_tom-brady_0_sf_hd_768x432-16x9 don’t know Tom Brady, though meeting him would be an exhilarating experience; I don’t know whether his ego interferes with interacting with other people. I’d like to think not. I’d like to think that he doesn’t think that he’s better than anyone else because he’s still working on being better than himself. Perhaps his humble beginning has kept him humble.  He has, after all, kept his NFL Combine shirt that will forever remind him of the number 199.

pedroiaDustin Pedroia is another athlete that was told over and over that he was too small, and that he would never be a professional baseball player. I didn’t realize before starting this blog that Dustin, aka Pedey, was a quarterback his freshman year in high school. I can only imagine that he hadn’t reached his five foot seven inches and really was too small to play football, especially when he was playing against guys that would in fact go on to play in the National Football League. He had baseball to fall back on. pedroiaflies

Pedroia demonstrated his prowess in high school, earning the Most Valuable Player; the coaches at Arizona State University noticed his ability and gave him a scholarship. In his junior year, Pedroia gave up his scholarship in order to recruit pitchers onto the team. I don’t know too many people who would have sacrificed that much money even for the good of the team.

It’s impossible to compare baseball to football. Pedroia’s amazing statistics in high school and college helped his stock in the draft rise; the Red Sox drafted him in the second round, 65th overall. His collegiate teammate, Ian Kinsler, a four-time All-Star, wasn’t drafted until the 17th round, though this was his third time being drafted. The first time he was drafted right out of high school in the 29th round. He could have taken the contract and the signing bonus, but instead he opted to go the collegiate route. He knew he wasn’t ready. He knew he had a better chance of getting more playing time and in turn stand a chance to be an even better ball player if he went to college.

After playing for Central Arizona College, the Arizona Diamondbacks came calling again and drafted him in the 26th round, but again he turned them down for more collegiate experience. A degree in his pocket would at least give him something to fall back on. Such a wise man. By staying in school and working on his game, he was drafted in the 17th round the third time around. Since the MLB has an incredible farm system, it’s possible that Kinsler would have become the great player that he is today without the work he did in college.iankinsler

The bottom line is that in order to be at the top of any game, which encompasses so many facets of life, I am reminded that satisfaction only comes along only after investing time and energy in working hard.

Ideas

I am blogging in the bathtub. I have to be prepared when an idea strikes. This is why I have so many gadgets and various computers.

Sometimes ideas strike and there’s an immediacy, a surge of adrenalin. I know that if I don’t put a cover on that idea, it may not return again. Double di while landing on Go. Kaching. 

Other ideas waltz into my mind. Most of the time, they weren’t detected until they spilled out into the paper. Most of what I write constitutes that Idea Specie. Specicum. Some days, like today, I don’t allow edited except for the things that will interfere with the fluidity of my thoughts.

I used to play a game where if I paused to think, I had to start the next sentence with the last letter of that sentences. Good thing I never write the word suq inbetween .

I utilize the who -nows-what-it-means word in Words With Friends as often as I can. 

Sometimes I pick words to use in my writing for their sound. Soft brush strokes of percussion or a crash of a symbol. 

I know I don’t spend nearly enough time writing. Ideas aren’t like fleas, though if they jump on and off quickly, I won’t notice. Ideas are not always around. Some are shy and have to be enticed to come out of the shadows. Characters are even worse, but that is for another blog. 

Today’s idea. Since I hardly ever have the opportunity to plan lessons, maybe I could put on a writing workshop.

Now that more and more computers and tablets are in the hands of students, mostly Macs, nothing else is required but imagination.

At first I was thinking that two to four students would have their picture taken. Then that picture will be cartoonized. The class would develop characterization. Kid gloves will be worn the entire time to prevent deliberate and accidental bullying. I might characterize myself as a little slow sometimes. It’s a fact not a good or bad judgment. But if someone else said that, my feelings may be crushed. I can’t help it since I am also super soft.

And then I thought, why not have everyone do a self characterization. I would suggest exaggerated characteristics. Maybe people who ride horses, walk kind of bow-legged. No one has ever classified my walk as graceful or lady-like. I lumber. Now how can I show my particular walk? Women who wear high hills take little bird or poodle steps. The clickety clicks would awaken my ADHD and that is all I would be paying attention to. Of course, if I were wearing high heels, all my thoughts would be focused on not falling. Reminds me of my gymnastics days. Forced via collegiate physical education courses. I am afraid of heights. Even just the height of a balance beam sent my brain swirling and so much adrenalin surged as I panicked. That is what caused the wobbling. My brain screamed for me to take flight. I am very athletic, but getting on to the beam, hopping up and down on a piece of board almost the width of my foot. Never did make it to the cartwheel on the beam. I couldn’t even do cartwheels on the floor.

Where was I? The downside of stream of consciousness writing, I have a hard time staying on target. Mental wobbling.

My bath time expired about a half an hour ago. Work looms. This is one of those days where I wish I could continue writing. I have so much left to write about bringing my writing workshop to a achool. Kids, especially younger kiddos, would or could get crazy.

Yesterday’s fifth graders did a doodle drawing: a squiggle was given to them on a piece of paper. They had to turn it into something or someone and then in their Diary of a Wimpy Class, they had to write about it. I let kids share using the doc camera. One boy’s story of the Google’s was so funny, he kept cracking up laughing.

At least I have cornered some ideas in this blog and have the opportunity to revisit and see what else they have to say.

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.

HERE ARE MY ANSWERS

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

Cee

Suffragette

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.

 

img_6764-2

img_6754-2

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
b13118685290@gmail.com
91.200.12.97

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
Abstract
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.

1978

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.

 

Friends

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

http://eugenebirds.blogspot.com/
http://eugenebirds.blogspot.com/

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.

stock-photo-inspirational-quote-on-nature-by-maya-angelo-with-an-antitique-textured-image-of-a-little-chickadee-200613077
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.

 

Patterns in my writing

I   write to write. I write when I am angry, bored, lonely, and curious.

As a young child, once I understood the correlation between the letters in a book and the words spoken by a reader, I had to solve the puzzle. After discovering Curious George, my first attempts in writing cursive ought to have suggested I would have made a great doctor based on the squiggles.

Mrs. Tinker was a little old lady who straightened out my squiggles with her intensive  cursive writing program. That’s all she taught, and from the looks of it, she had been teaching forever, perhaps even before time was created. Even though almost fifty years has passed since Mrs. Tinker would always start class with our putting on our thinking caps; she preferred the tying it on since zipping or buttoning imaginary hats takes away the seriousness of the activity.

Most of our writing was done in the air. We would write and write and then have to erase the air when we were done. Writing well was my first accomplishment. Because I passed her stringent handwriting requrement, I was promoted to Ink. Not only was I first in my class to earn writing in ink, I was the first to lose the privilege.

My first written word was monster. Big Sister B told me I was writing Susan I was excited to be able to write my name. The name monster fit me to a T.

Through the years my journal has been my confidante, a sounding board; it gives me a place where I can play around with words and ideas. I have characters that I visit like old friends.

Sometimes the words I write are too shy to be seen by anyone but me, and that’s okay.

Blending of Realities

I have been thinking about Reality a lot recently with the political storm brewing. Mostly I have taken it in stride and not given Reality much thought. My Realty tends to be black and white. Literally and Figuratively. Right and Wrong. Life is a lot easier when things are just so. No one encouraged me to read inbetween the lines. 

I often wonder how my realty was affected by growing up with a black and white television instead of color.

And then I think about my sisters who came before me. By my 1960 birth, television was in ninety percent of homes, but at the time of B’s birth, the percentage of televisions in a home was only nine percent.

I am going to predict that reading performance took a tumble by the time I toddled around. And I am only talking about one television in the house, not one in every room or on every device.

No wonder people can’t read. Maybe we wouldn’t be in such a political upheaval if people believed that knowledge is power. Money is power. Money trumps knowledge. With the pending appointees, this Reality demonstrates what is in the driver’s seat. Knowledge isn’t even given passage in the back seat. Knowledge is on its keister. Keester? (Something like that) on the side walk after getting booted from the chariot. Big difference between a Wise guy and a wise-guy.

My Body’s Defenses

I am sick with a cold. A bery bery bad head cold. I work with kids. I’m bound to catch a cold or the crud, especially since I’m a substitute that works for sick teachers. Gonna happen. Sneeze. Cough. Sniffle.

I was going to check out what Louise Hays had to say about colds; if she contributes it to mean that I’ve been on the go a lot, and the cold is telling me to take it easy. I’ve got taking it easy down to a science and do as little on the go.

I was feeling a little on the tired side when I showed up at the lanes to bowl, but a day of subbing usually has me feeling that way.

As I stop and pause and reflect, it’s almost as if my cold is talking to me. Since I can’t turn inside out like a turtle or crawl inside a cave and hibernate, my body has decided that enough bad shit has been coming down the pike. The cold is making me having a hard time hearing. My eyes hurt and do better closed. I’m cold, so huddled under my covers is the best place. Okay, so I can hibernate

If I could draw I’d draw The Donald with a King Kong body, but King Kong had a heart. What’s that giant dinosaur that at Japan? Or I’d draw a big baby that’s throwing temper tantrums when no one will change the monster-size’s poopy diaper.  I think the March with the Pussy hats made me mad and he’s lashing out at everyone.

I try to not talk politics, though this year it’s impossible not to. Two of my teammates voted for this incompetent fool. Just give him a chance. Oh, he’s made changes. He’s set the record for causing the most protests in the first week of office.

Of course, I don’t like it when people disagree with me, but when someone’s entire opinion of someone is based and biased on not one iota of fact.  My teammate has told me that she didn’t ever like President Obama because she didn’t think he loved the United States. She probably had believed he wasn’t born here. I was ready to let that go, but when she told me that she never heard President Obama say he loved this country. Well, once she heard or read or was told that Rudi said that Obama didn’t love this country, she probably never heard him in the past eight years say how much he loves this country. There’s a great clip of him saying how much he loves this country over and over and over.

She believes T. Rump even though he’s got a different definition of what a fact is. There are our facts, like this country is going to Hell in a hand basket, and his facts, alternative facts, that more people than ever favor him than any other president, and soon he’ll be running for the office to take over the world.

I’ve had friends who have made stupid decisions and I have stuck by their sides, but I’m not sure if this a hurdle I can get over. Maybe I’ll just go back to bed and not think about anything.

Luck of the Draw

 

I used to think that my sole desire in coming a month early was to avoid being an Aries and that Pisces was going to serve my personality better. But now I’m wondering if my goal was to be born on Saint Patrick. From what I have been told, I don’t think that there’s an ounce of Irish blood in either side of my family, so St. Paddy’s would have to due. I must have mis diagnosed the wind and the celestial formations as I came up a tad bit short.

I’m not grumbling about being born on Pi Day. I love sharing my birthdate with Albert Einstein. I know that this is why I prefer pie over cake.

To not be a full-term baby with parents of opposite blood, if I were betting against the house, the odds wouldn’t be great. I’m proud to say that all of my sisters rode the dice and came up Lucky. Deb, the third born, set the stage for coming early. I figured that if she could do it, I could do it better. I have no recollection if she were smaller or larger than I at birth. I don’t remember what I weighed in at, but I know that it took me a month in the hospital to get to that magic number five. Five pounds and I could go home.

I try to imagine my mom carting My ten, six, and three year-old-sisters to the hospital from Weston to Boston in the winter. I suspect Gram held court at our house and her apartment. I have a vague recollection that my mom’s mom was going through failing health. The family at 77 Pinecroft Road was not business as usual for a while.

I don’t know if my premature birth had anything to do with the Wilm’s Kidney Cancer that I had when I was twenty-eight, but I do know that my odds of surviving were much better in 1988 than in 1965. And I was extremely lucky in being diagnosed in the first place. I’ve told that story a multitude of times. Ask if you want me to tell you of how soccer saved my life.

I had Luck by the tail from the beginning of my life. I was lucky that my father worked with intensity to give us at least he had in his youth and perhaps more. He might have had motivation to prove to my mother’s family that she had not married below her rank.

Think Stepford Wives and that was my formative years. Close knit community. Neighbors watched each other’s kids. By the time I came along, our neighbors were done raising kids. I still took advantage of the Brodrick’s tennis court, though I did spend a lot of time fetching tennis balls from the woods. I enjoyed wonderful years with the Harvey’s and with Jill’s horses. There were two baseball diamonds with pickup games going most of the time. The best was the Barconia’s pound. The good doctor even put flood lights up for them we played hockey.

Gender is the only area where luck robbed me. My early dreams of playing hockey for the Boston Bruins or baseball with the Red Sox were dashed early.

And then I stepped outside of the Weston bubble when played hockey for the Waltham Angels, which then became the Waltham Wings. The world was different. Waltham was more of a city; Weston was more of a cocoon. I was so protected, naïve, and a bit lagging developmentally.

My teammates gave me a hard time about being from Weston, but that only made me work that much harder. There was a lot for me to learn. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn to hold my temper and spent the majority of the time in the penalty box. Terry O’Reilly was my favorite player, right there with Bobby Orr.

In a perfect world, I would have been lucky to have had my mom by my side longer than twelve years, but the only reason why I experienced hockey and everything else since then was because of my mom’s death.

After yesterday’s powerful march, I ask myself if I have made the most of my Lucky Life, but before I even finish writing the question, I realize that I’d be lying if I said yes. I have a lot of work to do to pay that luck back.

 

 

Now What

20170121_113943Yesterday, I experienced true power. Human power. When used is more powerful than wind, water, or even solar power. Nothing in my 56 years compares to what after being swept up by the tidal wave of people. Transformational energy. Simultaneous Combustion. The spark of Washington, D.C. spark simultaneously spread world-wide. Has this ever happened? The Olympics compares and my Ninteen Ninety Something Gay Games in Vancouver, B.C. counts, but people came together in one spot; more time spent organizing. Even Antarctica came out to show their support.img_6628

Before leaving for the Eugene March, I watched with fascination the Washington, D.C. March. Alicia Keyes lit me on fire and  the Indigo Girls poured on gas. Inferno! What is that saying about Hell Hath No Fury Like a Woman’s Scorn? Trump ought to know this fury as he has no problem instigating the ire of women. Well, anyone who’s not Caucasian and male.

Lee,Chang W. -  from camera serial number                              NYTCREDIT: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
Lee,Chang W. – from camera serial number NYTCREDIT: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Seeing is not believing. Television img_6655pictures of world-wide crowds excited me, but swimming in a sea of people in Eugene invigorated me. It didn’t matter that sometimes it was cold and rainy, more often than not, being shoulder to shoulder I felt a King Penguin. I just recently saw March of the Penguins. I felt that I was marching to help save our species. Our rights mean nothing if we don’t have a healthy planet to live on.

It was a strange omen when one of the main free parking structure eliminated half of the parking and no one bothered to put a sign out stating it was full. Once in the hive,  you had to go up two floors before having to come down. Conspiracy theory?

img_6656We filed in amongst the walkers, I not really knowing where we were going, Sylvia with a map or two in her pocket. I’m good at following. Sylvia carried an umbrella, a foldable stool, and water. I wore my water bottle on my belt. I had my hands free for taking pictures. Not looking are my favorite kinds of pictures to take, though usually I miss hitting the target. Any target.

img_6622By the time we hit the apex of the mass at the New Federal Courthouse, it was impossible to know where the beginning of the March was going to be. Since Soromundi img_6631Lesbian Choir of Eugene was singing, we swam like Salmon. Surprisingly, even though most of my friends were there, I only crossed paths with a small handful. After glomming onto a pair of Mundi’s, we jumped off the lily pad to find a group gathered at Whole Foods, a very appropriate meeting place. Once the Soromundi sign is found our focus to enliven the crowds, to light them up.

img_6618We finished at the Workers Of the World where we continued to sing out and demonstrate that if we stand up, shout out, and stand out, we’ll be able to stamp out whatever Not My Presi-dent Donald Trump throws our way. No matter how much he wants to pretend that he drew the largest crowd in Presidential history also is pretending that he is wearing clothes and has a brain. We do not have to accept is alternative facts. If we could someone convince someone that he is a danger to himself and to those around him, we could have him and the litany of asskissers that have followed him locked up or at least medicated.

img_6637Love does Trump Hate. But the only way this game is going to work is if we keeping ponying up and continue to anti up.

I started this blog while on my butt, watching football. Since the Patriots aren’t playing yet, I was only sort of watching. The more I wrote, the less I watched. I’m assuming the Falcons are still beating the socks off of the Packers, but I’m not even in the same room anymore.wp-image-594232296jpg.jpg

I suspect that the next time the cry is heard to gather, the numbers will be larger; every time Not My President opens his mouth or some mealy mouse puppet speaks for him, the numbers will inflate. With our numbers we could stop the world! Now this gives me hope.img_6647

 

 

 

 

Donald Little Trump

Everything about our new presi-dent demonstrates his littleness. Little hands. Little mind. Sub little experience. Everything about him is little. Except for his mouth and his hair.

Now he’s complaining about the small size of the crowd on the  mall and Spicer, accused the media of getting the numbers wrong.  Are they saying that the photos were doctored to make it look like there were fewer people.  Sean Spicer said that numbers couldn’t be verified and went on to say that this was the largest crowd ever to  witness and celebrate an inauguration.

Is this the worst of the problems the white house ought to be concerned about?

Watching the news coverage of the Marches around the country brought me hope; our country has been worse. Together we can do more than merely surviving. We are the We the People.

img_6626And we the people marched and demonstrated our might, our unity. Eugene people poured from all directions, filling the streets.

Hillary Clinton had the support of three million more people than the current Pre-sident. If all of the people around the world who gathered to show solidarity, I wonder if the number was even larger.img_6645

All in a Day’s Work

Two days of working with third graders has me feeling as if I have worked five complete days. It doesn’t help that I had to be at work at 7:30 and getting up in the dark is not my favorite; at least the ice and snow are in our rear view mirrors. Hopefully, though I did see the weather report; why do they want to mess up my parade. Today was flat out balmy. I didn’t care that it rained cats and dogs.

The third graders learned quite early in our two-day relationship that I’m a big softy. I let them come in my room instead of being outside. I had to draw the line at lunch as I wouldn’t survive the day if I didn’t have at least a twenty minute break. They suck me dry of all of my energy; it’s the constant go-go. Lots of drama as the kids work around relationships. I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day for this reason. Kids don’t have a filter and will just blurt out who is and who is not their friend, and that status can turn on a penny. Tears and sad looks got them anything. First day that is.

On the second day, I start asking for paybacks of those little things I “gave” them. Today my expectations were a little higher. Yesterday’s math class was hard as I didn’t know where the class range was. In order for me to figure out the average, I have to sort out those who are advanced and those who are behind. I use the behinders as my barometer.

Today’s math lesson was great knowing what I knew about the kids. I had the privilege of starting a unit for fractions. I started with a student’s paper. It had been in the recycling.

I showed the class the paper and asked the class what I had. It took a couple of tries to get a student who said I had a piece of paper. These days I’ll get a kid who will raise their hand, and then when I call on them they say, “they forgot.” I don’t remember this happening when I was in school. Most of the kids I hung out with never raised their hands. Why call attention to yourself?

I shocked the class when I ripped the paper in half. I then ask the student who’s paper it was whether he needed me to tape it back together or not; he panicked for minute before realizing he had done another. The kids were shocked. I was able to hook them after that, especially when I not only kept ripping the paper and talking about smaller fractions, but I threw the pieces up in the air.

I apologized to the janitor since that kind of modeling, only got the room looking like a ticker tape parade. I don’t think Trump will ever have one of those; no one would attend.

My own third grade teacher is probably rolling in her grave hearing me say that I did an amazing job teaching the unit on fractions. I had my brilliant way ahead of the game kid I could go to so I didn’t have to do do any computations, and I had the stragglers who started to get it. I didn’t let up. If I asked what three over three was to a student who didn’t get the answer right, and I would show here on the board and she got it, I would ask the kid right next to them and ask the same question. I had to explain it again. Went through that entire row and the fifth in the row got it. Different numbers, but same answer I started that same row again, and they got it. Every single one.

I noticed that every time I said You Got it, more and more kids were participating. Instead of a couple of white boards held high with the answer, by the end I had an entire class of boards held high.

On my first day with these eight-year-olds, I drank all of my travel mug as well as most of my thermos, and I was still exhausted. I apologize to my choir mates for yawning for two hours. Every time I’d open my mouth to sing, a yawn would take over. Today I didn’t even finish my travel mug. Instead of being drained of energy, I was revitalized. This doesn’t mean that I’m sorry that I have two half days of elementary kids to finish the week. I will enjoy my afternoons off. I have, after all, earned it.

When to let up on the Accelerator

I earned the title of Hollow Legs early on in life; I could even say before that. I count the fact that my March birth wasn’t supposed to be until April, my Mom’s birthday, but I got out of there as soon as I could. I might have wanted to be out of the warm fluid-filled days even earlier, but then I would have started my life under a slide rather than in an incubator. though when I put it that way, I’m regretting I didn’t stay several more months instead.

There were medical reasons for an emergency evacuating, but I like to think that  it was the food in the  real world. I smelled my Grandmother’s Lasagna. I could taste Lobster, but a Lobster Smoothie isn’t the same, not from what I could hear when the Honthumb Clan got together for Lobster and Steam Clambake. I wanted to get my choppers on an ear of corn dripping with butter. By the time my Mom ate the corn and her body processed it for me to consumer, it was worse than Creamed Corn.

But then again, I’m imagining  what life in-vitro would be like. No, I’ve not done any research. I’m just guessing. What an incredible life-style. I can’t imagine a better way to go. The Wonderful Womb. Not a care in the world. I wouldn’t mind kicking back and living leisurely. Food was delivered, and if I kicked hard enough or caused some indigestion, I had some control of what Mom ate. I didn’t even have to go anywhere to did myself of waste. I imagine it would be an amazing way to create new ideas and thoughts. I think it would be cool if I could remember my very first idea stored in my brain. Food or my beagle.

My fast getaway from my Mother’s Womb was the first building block that would then become my personality. I earned the title of Lead Foot upon my gaining opportunity to drive. Maybe if my first car hadn’t been a V-8 Buick Riveria and had been my sister’s Ford Pinto. I never got to drive my Grandmother’s Ford Mustang. Maybe she had a lead foot as well, at least earlier in her years of driving. By the time I experienced her driving, I am positive that driving with Gram was punishment. Anything besides that. Not only was she slow, but she had a hard time staying on her side of the road. By the time they took her license away, that poor Maroon Mustang was all banged up. The final straw was when she ran into a lawn mower and didn’t know it. It was one of those Park-size mower. Did she know it? The rest of my memory of the story is sketchy. I do believe it was a hit and run, though it’s possible she received a citation. I know that right after she traded in the messed up Mustang and brought home a Chevy. I want to say it was a Nova, but the car’s name that I used to know has escaped me, a notice requesting her re-taking a driving test arrived in the mail. She never got to drive her very new car.

I still speed when I think I can get away with it. My Mini Cooper’s Super-charged engine makes me feel as if I am flying or perhaps slalom skiing. Is there a twelve-step program for those who put the petal to the metal as I have tried to stick to the speed limit, though once I am around other people who are pushing the limit, I can’t help but join the party.

One of the in-my-head New Year’s Resolution is to start to pay attention to patterns. What do I do to promote having the best years of the rest of my life. What am I doing to sabotage that goal. I think it was yesterday that I was telling Sylvia that my back was feeling better than usual. So what did I do? First I went bowling.  That wasn’t enough to tip the scale. I had to do some vacuuming. Sure. Why not?

I’m paying the price now and have had to hit the medicine cabinet. One or the other. I know better, but this comes from a person who at one point used to boast of bowling an average of a hundred games a week. I knew no other way if I wanted to become an accomplished bowler. Push through the pain. Do what it takes.

Now that I’ve noticed a characteristic that needs adjustments, I’ve earned a hot bath with a good book or perhaps I can dream of those glorious eight months being joined to my mom.

There are a variety of ways of getting off the Hill

img_6384We live on a hill. Normally there’s not a problem, but this winter has been anything but normal for the Eugene area.

img_6391Ice and snow have caused power outages and dangerous driving conditions. Typically, I lay low and just stay home. These are the days when the only way I am concerned with are the ways around the property I walk the dogs.  Not long ago, I was clearing blackberry vines that had been choking the various paths.img_6507

Schools have been closing their doors exchanging ice-drenched days for potential sun-roasting classrooms. There aren’t enough plows or chains on buses to adequately deal and the hazards are not worth it.

And then there is the difference between the altitude where I live and the altitude on the Willamette Valley floor; we’ll get snow, and they’ll get nothing. In our recent storms, it’s the difference between our snow and ice not melting and their roads becomes safer.

Abandoning my Mini Cooper, I rely on my trusty All-Wheel Drive Subaru Forester to getimg_6275 me down the hill, and even though I have no doubt it could handle the steepest of challenges, I don’t gamble and I take the back route, the long way off the hill.

Now I’ve got SuperTramp’s song, the Long Way Home stuck into my head, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as long as I’m not living the life of the lyrics.img_6006 Becoming part of the furniture is not my idea of living a good life.

So, when need be to get to work, I crept and crawled  on the roads that don’t get as much traffic, but are flatter, going slow enough that I didn’t get out of second gear very often. Sometimes the way isn’t as important as the getting there, and most importantly, getting home again.

 

 

I may have to borrow words

I may have to borrow words from the Eskimo’s to describe the various snow/ice/rain combinations that I’ve experienced the last few weeks, but according to Wikipedia, it isn’t true that the Eskimo’s have a broader vocabulary to describe snow.

img_6457Due to low temperatures, the five and a half inches of powdery snow has stuck around.  The sun would come out, encourage snow melt, but merely morph the molecules into different configurations. Icicles.

img_6384Yesterday was my first day of driving off the hill since it snowed. I swore that I would avoid the Chamber’s hill and shaded area, adding another twenty minutes of creep-along driving. Subaru Forester didn’t get that many opportunities to even get into third gear with the going so slow.

img_6383Typically the valley floor has better road conditions than the hills, but I fish-tailed more down there than I did closer to home.

From the jam-packed Albertson’s yesterday afternoon, img_6476everyone in the vicinity were preparing to hunker down this weekend and wait out another wild-weather storm. Ice. Rain. Snow. And various combinations. The sky is almost as white as the snow, though the snow is whiter and brighter. It’s a loud weather day. I can hear the ice mixed in with the snow, hitting against the sagging tree limbs.

img_4667I’ve not heard the sound of transformers blowing or limbs and trees snapping. Hopefully we won’t have a repeat from a several weeks ago or so.

From the looks and sounds of it, there might be a lull in the storm that’s supposed to be with us all weekend, this may be a good time to done the apparel and hang up some suet for the birds. The dogs would appreciate some time out; the Labradors couldn’t care less about the cold and wet. They just want to play.img_6336

Love Stories

I usually don’t read romance novels. You will never catch me with a Harlequin for example, but I won’t criticize those who read them. Any kind of reading is good for the gander.

artworks-000164261503-tf3hio-t500x500I just started a new book. “The Rules of Love & Grammar” by Mary Simses. I have no idea how 0000014953207_p0_v1_s260x185it got onto my Library list. If a book or an author is mentioned in the New Yorker, or if a friend recommends a book or author, I’ll throw it on the list. I order books from the library without having a clue what the book is about.

In the case of Rules of Love & Grammar, I’m an English teacher; of course, I’ll be attracted to a title with the word grammar; grammar has not been my strong suit for most of my life. Another great grammar book is “Eats. Shoots. And Leaves” was a great book. I don’t remember if the title had periods, commas, or nothing. Eats, shoots, and leaves?

6878217I’m a hundred and twenty-one pages into the book, and all of the characters are jumbled up in my mind. It doesn’t help that the most recent book I read,  Lost Dogs & Lonely Hearts, has a similar beginning to the plot line. Girl loses job, house/flat, and job. Lost dogs and Lonely hearts must have done well in publishing as there are several  different covers. The book I was reading: 9780425238875_p0_v1_s260x420

I’m going to have to backtrack on the book. I also have a hard time with first-person books that take a while to give me the I’s identity. Two books back, maybe three, “New Life” the I was anonymous for most of the book. I can’t remember the character’s name, though the number of times the name was mentioned might only have a small reason for my not remembering.

After 121 pages, I know the character has returned to her parents home in Connecticut after she lost her job, lost her boyfriend, and her ceiling collapsed. I don’t remember the city she had been living in. In Lost Dogs, she had been living the life of leisure in London, but she lost her job, her boyfriend, who had been a married man that she worked with, and the flat that was her boyfriend’s. I don’t know which came first, but her aunt died and left her a house and dog kennels and not any money to pay for anything, like estate taxes…

In Rules, she’s grumbling about roofers waking her up. I don’t know why she’s wearing Christmas pj’s; something to do with she didn’t have time to grab much before she had to vacate the apartment premises. She lists all of the things she would be doing on a Normal Thursday, going to the Hamptons with Scott would have been one of them. Someone has money. She can’t really call herself homeless since she’s with her parents in a nice house and on the waterfront. But going back to a small town where everyone knows your business, is a shock than being in the city. What city, I’m not sure.

It just happens that her best friend from elementary school has moved back to town and has forced my mystery first-person character from eating all four or so gallons of icecream in the freezer and getting her out of the house. And it just happens that her old flame from middle school has returned to town and has grown up to be a famous movie director. There’s another classmate who has moved back to town that is the antagonist.

I don’t know how old the character is. Parents, in their early sixties, still work. Mom’s an architecture that has this compulsion to create little shrines in other people’s homes to honor a dead daughter. I’ve read that an accident happened, but what happened and how long ago, I’m not sure. Every year, and yes, it just happens that her move back home,  lands on the anniversary of her sister’s death as well as her dad’s sixty-fifth birthday; they are having a very large party, inviting hundreds of people. The dad is a poet and Literature professor. I don’t know where, though in the list of poets, Wallace Stevens, W.H. Auden, e.e. Cummings and Anne Sexton, the Sexton name pops up. She killed herself when I was a small child, and lived in my hometown. Weston, Massachusetts is a very small town.

Cluny is the name of her best friend from the first day of school at Smithridge  Elementary. I was wrong about the best friend; she didn’t come back to the little town that I’ve already forgotten; she never left. Something Connecticut on a river. Cluny’s got it all, a soaring business creating greeting cards, a  husband, two daughters,  two dogs, two cats, and a canary. I wonder if I’ll meet the canary…

Sometimes I wonder if adding specific  names to items helps or hinders the reader. My main character is leaning against a Chippendale chest. The only Chippendales I know are those male strippers. (I used to bowl on a team that used Chippendale cards. I’ve been on teams, majority male, that use playboy bunnies for their  cards.)

I did mention that her parents had ice cream, didn’t I? Chocolate Chip, mint chocolate chip, cookie crunch, banana swirl, strawberry cheesecake. I still don’t know her name, but I’m only nine pages in as I re-read. Cluny will eventually say her name. Actually, in a re-re-read, I found her name.  Mom had written her a note in her neat architecture manner and started it with Grace. If my daughter came home and I was writing a note about my going to work, I probably wouldn’t have written my daughter’s name. Grace would have known it was from her and who it was from even though it wasn’t signed. Actually, I would have dated the note, written my daughter’s name, and signed it mom, but this note felt like an easy way to tell the reader the name of the  character, and it was only page four. I also missed Cluny saying Grace’s name in her excitement, and that was just three pages later. I’m guessing that they haven’t seen each other in a long time. I do remember the parents lamenting that they don’t see Grace nearly enough.

I think I’ll continue analyzing the book after I eat some lasagna.

 

 

Wonder Winter Land in Eugene

img_5833While at choir last night, I heard a rumor that snow was in the forecast. I’m not one to pay much attention to weather reports.

img_5838I wasn’t scheduled to work, but I was looking forward to bowling with seniors. When I saw that school was cancelled, I knew bowling would be cancelled as well. I still hadn’t seen the white, though Sylvia pointed out that the sky light was covered with snow.img_5575

At least it didn’t take much to get the dogs outside. I imagine if Luke the Beagle were here, I’d have to drag or carry him out into the snow. I do miss the little guy.

img_5864Once I put my long johns on and layered, I was ready to play in the snow while it was still snowing. I don’t remember if it was snowing that much to cover Abby or if I just happened to kick some snow on img_5866her.

Lucy and Ricky found what was in the snow img_5938more interesting than anything else, though Ricky was thorough in his investigation and did quite a bit of digging.

img_6180Even though it was still snowing, I had a great time taking pictures of the romping dogs and the wonderful winter scenery. Until my battery died. I borrowed Sylvia’s little camera, but my hands were a bit too shakey. I’ve not seen the photos to see if any came out.  And then her camera died as well.

img_5924By the time my Cannon battery was charged, the sun came out, and with the blue sky, I just had to go out again.img_6281

Even though I’ve barely scratched the surface in sharing the pictures I took today, I’m sure there will be plenty of white winter wonderland to explore tomorrow.

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.