Wednesday, March 30, 2016

In between worlds...

Druids Trees, Scotland:
Druid tree

Magical places truly exist, for I have seen them.
My children and I explored forests in Ireland where ancient trees reached a thousand feet up to the sky.   Rain fell as mists through thick branches upon uplifted faces and open mouths, children catching raindrops.  Fallen leaves renewed the earth beneath, turning into damp forest floors, churned about by my children's feet. 

Scents from long ago filtered up and around trees as if from between the worlds.

Light dappled through breaks where branches opened then closed, then it danced to another hidden patch of ground.  Light then dark.  Dark then light.  My children chased to hop on light circles as each appeared, "Mine!..No, mine!..."

Johnny discovered a flat stone table resting on three ragged granite stones.  He claimed this table with its stones and laid leaves and sticks upon it.  Mary and Erin danced around and around it, laughing and singing. Tossing leaves up into fresh air, they sang Happy Birthday and Alphabet Song.

As for me, a flat stone table, kept steady with three jagged table legs hidden within ancient trees in a cleared round space, held bygone and mystic secrets. People whose feet pressed into the ground have faded away, leaving only stones from which blood had poured from a still body.  Hidden words through long dead lips whispered and swayed through the branches, and then disappeared in the mist.
Irish Ghosts Are Many.
Ocean Born Mary
My children raced away down an old path, calling each other names.  Me?

I wrapped my wool jacket close to my body, shivering and cold.  I did not race away, but I hurried with eyes on my feet, not turning my head to see the stones or hazy shapes manifest and then merge with shadows. 

Yes.  I have seen magic, both light and dark. Dark and light.

Monday, March 28, 2016

C is for Change, 4/3/12, re-posted on 3/26/16

Let's see...spring forward...fall back...dammit.

The day this was written was the “time change day”, the spring forward an hour.  Everyone and their brothers hate this one.  The fall back day is fine with most people, but it takes weeks to adjust to this new hour forward change.

Most people aren’t happy with change in any form.  As a people, we like our schedules and routines:  Coffee at a certain time;  Leaving work at the right time;  Eating our comfort foods. 
Pretty straight forward

We are creatures of habit, and change is an irritant, a grain of sand in a place that can’t be reached.

Years ago at a school where I taught, a new math curriculum was introduced.  “Changing to conceptual understanding will help students…”

A fellow teacher stated (about the integration of that fancy new math curriculum), “Change is good!”  Trying to be positive, I guess.
I'm with 'ya, kid.

After two years of using an expensive, cutting-edge curriculum, students couldn’t add or subtract.  Another program quietly took its place.

Change is sometimes painful.  And expensive.

Okay...I see where you're going with this....not sure I want to...
My mother died one year ago today.  Yes, April 3rd, 2011.  I had received a photo of Mom on Valentine’s Day when she was voted “Queen of Valentine’s Day” at her care facility.  She glowed with joy and pleasure, and she was beautiful. 

Then, six weeks later, I stood by her bedside, holding her hand.  The woman in the bed was my mother, but she wasn’t.  Pneumonia combined with COPD had melted her down to a pale faded leaf, ready to be blown away.  When Mom took her final breaths, change happened.

Her generation is leaving the stage, and now my generation has moved up to take its place.  The whole damn queue is moving up with us, waiting in the wings for their turn.

No, change is inevitable.

How about you?  Are you one who thrives with change?  Or one who fights, kicking and screaming, when change happens?

At the time of this posting, I knew NOTHING about copyright and crediting photos to providers.  NOTHING.  So, I hope and pray that I have offended no one.  I know a lot more now.

Also, this was a post for April 3, 2012:  C is for Change during the A to Z Challenge. April 1st is only a few days away, with some awesome talented bloggers meeting other awesome talented bloggers.  This is the first time I haven't participated in five years.  Lots of family events going on, so I'll stop by at my beloved bloggers to see what they are thinking!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Finish Line

One shelf of many shelves

My husband and his siblings are reaching a slide into the finish line.  Mom's house has been sold (for full price) and house must be emptied in two weeks. So much to do by then, but at each step forward in removal, a closet is opened and more boxes are there.

From Wales which goes to ????
They have not headed up into the attic.  I know what is up there:  A box of sentimental items, a chest of her mother's letters, and a silk wedding dress from 1920.  More of this and that lying in layers of dust, will be assessed as value vs. sentimental value. 
Apparently a very small city

One of twelve + boxes of photos, nicely arranged and scrap-booked.

Consequently, I am re-posting for a few days here and there.  AND I invite readers to head over to my other blog: Long Road Back Home

Wish us all luck.  It is hoped boxing gloves will not be needed.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Diving for Books: Thrill of Victory

Toppling books
Tackle it!
Becoming a mentor teacher in charge of selecting curriculum and class reading was a daunting assignment, one that I welcomed.  After teaching for many years in public schools, I wanted a change, something that would not be teaching students and writing lesson plans.  It meant I would work with teachers as they worked to become better teachers.

This private Christian school was on verge of closing when the principal called me and asked for help. It was an exciting experience: bring in books and state standards, and help teachers achieve credentials.  

First were books. My own teaching library were dozens of boxes of 1st through 4th grade levels.  The school had very little to claim, almost none of all. I donated most of the boxes (heart breaking) to the primary grades.

The middle school grades had none, no, not a single piece of literature. Blessed me!  Book hunts with someone else's money!

Every year (it seemed) a discount book store roved through city to city. A Crown Discount Bookstore would appear in an empty big store building.  So many treasures, but I had never sought appropriate books for older children.The  Newberry** award winners were high on my list of books-to-find.  
Do you have more?  The owner led me to the store room where cardboard bin-dumpster-sized boxes.  He handed me a step stool, then pointed to an industrial flatbed cart.

I dived in, literally dived in feet first, digging my way, and creating a personal space. Heaven, it was like being in Heaven. Surrounded by books, (fortunately I was thin then) inhaling that indefinable book smell, feeling textures of pages: that truly is Heaven.  Had to keep from hyperventilating. 

I culled through thousands of books, trying to keep my hands from grabbing third grade books was an experience that was both addictive and exhilarating. My heart pounded in indescribable joy.

As I found books and tossed good candidates to my teenage daughter who said, "Enough,Mom.  Enough."  I would not allow her to do the diving; book avalanches became highly probable.  Book after book were tossed to her from me, now almost invisible in these monstrous  boxes, an unknown number of them.

These bins stretched from one end of warehouse to the other, ending in dark shadows. A question was asked. "Mom...isn't this a little obsessive?" By now there were stacks and stacks of complete class sets of awesome pieces of literature and amazing individual books. 

I needed to read, like a lot.  Then I needed to teach teachers how to integrate curriculum around and through these wonderful literature treasures.

Amazing book

The Giver - book cover
Lois Lowry

***Newberry  Awards are highest awards given to books with exceptional illustrations and writing. 

These books are aimed at 5/6 grades, appropriate topics, well written, great to segue into writing projects.
by Avi

It is heaven, right?

This is a re-post from November 2014.  
Tweeked and upgraded version.

P.S.  The school tripled in enrollment, new 
portable classrooms had to be brought
in, teachers were credentialed. State
Frameworks became important.  It
was awesome.  Then I retired.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Any port

Allied troops trapped on Dunkirk beach
Before Edmund left for service in France, Martha kissed his golden hair and smashed his cap over it.  "Now, keep it under your hat!"  They both laughed as the train left the station.

After Edward’s death at Dunkirk, Martha made a reluctant pilgrimage to the strand each day.  She stared, with tears drifting down her cheeks, at rough stormy seas.  Debris from broken and destroyed ships washed into the dilapidated port. 

“Where else could it go?” She whispered bitterly.  “I guess it truly is any port in a storm.”

She turned and slowly walked away on wet sand.

This week the words are provided by Margaret Adamson.

Every week, we are given a selection of prompts; what we do with those prompts is up to the blogger.  Try a short story, poem, song, prose, or nothing at all.
Some of us share our creations in the post’s comment section, while others post on their own blog. IF you choose to post on your own blog, please write that in the comment section, in order that readers can hunt you down, and enjoy your creation.
This week there are two phase prompts with which to work, underlined above.  Let your fingers do the typing!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Are you PC?

Add caption
This issue has gone too far.  I refused to be politically correct since before President Clinton was president.

In this PC (politically correct) generation and country, more words and more will emerge.  Anything that even hints as a criticism of anyone, race, sexual name it and it is not PC.

Recently the word "person" is under attack by students at a Washington State University (maybe).  The second syllable "son" is objectable: it is gender offensive.  Now "son" should be "perx" or "perxn"? 

Did you know that calling a person/perxn "crazy" is offensive.  It should be "albeist slur" which refers to a person who is mentally deficient.

Did you know that at a recent SyFy convention, the organizers could not create a food choice for space aliens?  They chose to serve Mexican food because this had never been served at previous conventions.  It was offensive because it could be construed as a reference to Mexican immigrants or "aliens".

"Homosexual" is offensive and should be "same gender loving"..."elderly" is "people of advanced age"..."healthy" is "non-disabled individuals"...

A commemoration of the Holocaust was cancelled because "it was too Euro-centric."

The above were found on

Opinions by Jim Freeman
How many more words will be under attack by these spoiled and self-serving university students?  Can you think of some?

Parents: If you are paying for your student to attend a school of this nature, jerk the money rug from beneath them.  Community colleges are excellent; two years of required classes there will save money. And, insist on a part-time job to help pay for gas and car insurance.

There.  I feel much better.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Lice Go Marching, One by One...

Head lice and nits in hair

I have not given lice much thought lately.  

My first year teaching second grade was an eye opener.  For the first time, I looked down at students' papers and top of their heads.  Well, let me tell you.  

Looking down at Alejandro's papers, my eyes were drawn to his short hair.  I could have sworn his hair was moving.  But, no.  His hair was thoroughly infesting with lice.  

That meant I had to march my class to the nurse's office, where each student would have a hair-lice check.  Alejandro was pulled out immediately, followed by a few other students.  

Also, any sibling of the lice-infected child would be checked, along with his/her class. That child probably had lice as well.

The bewildered students were sent home where mothers would buy special shampoo to treat the vermin.  Every place the child's head might have been also had to be thoroughly cleaned: beds and linens, furniture, stuffed animals, clothing, etc. Using a special very fined toothed comb, parents would have to meticulously remove lice, to ensure louse removal.

The below video may answer any questions you might have.

This was a massive undertaking, which not every parent did, or at least did completely.

Alejandro came back with a nearly shaved head, and some girls came back with short hair.  Then hair would again be checked for any nits/eggs left behind.  This process could take a full week.

Even though my hair was short, it always felt itchy after that.  The nurse checked me out--always fine.

What brought this odd subject up?  

Last night, when attending my granddaughter's band concert, a kindergarten boy was sitting on his mother's lap in front of me, when his aunt pulled a louse from his hair.  Mom grabbed his head and searched through it, bit by bit. 

I don't know if this was a one-off event, but it sure made me remember.

So, there you are. If you are curious and want to know more, please watch this YouTube video.  Very enlightening and entertaining, much more so than the video above.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Crossing the line

Wednesday Challenge
Betty examined that line everyday, every single day.  Cars and trucks passed in a hurry to be somewhere.  In blurring speed, those cars and trucks terrified her.

 It has to be done! Betty determined. It is finally time to conquer that white line.

With a burst of speed, Betty raced, crossing "white line" to the other side of a busy road.  Huzzah! Betty hopped around. It is done!  I have crossed the road!  With that, Betty clucked and pecked at the green grass.

But how long would her happiness last?

The above chicken story is brought to you as my take on the Wednesday Word challenge to provide a break in your writing routine, take a chance on leaping across genres. Wednesday Word day was initially started by Delores at Under the Porchlight who is taking a break from computers (and I don't blame her at all).

The baton was passed on to a variety of bloggers.  This month Elephant's Child will be posting this week's challenge provided by  Margaret Adamson and her friend Sue.   You may write your take on the two photo prompts in E.C.'s comment section or write it at your own site.  Please link it back to  Elephant's Child, so we can find you!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Ashes to Tree

another option
Having had a memorial for my mother-in-law recently, we all asked about what to do:  cremation (Mom's wishes); full-on fancy coffin; a pine box coffin; or, what.

It set us all thinking about arranging our own wishes for that day.  

My husband and I signed our Living Trust and Will yesterday.  It was not painful, but the legalities are heavy.  We are glad a friend recommended a very competent and compassionate estate lawyer, who specializes in trusts and wills.

So there.  Done and Done.  

We have decided on cremation, so far.  However, photos below are intriguing: Bye, Bye Coffins!  Organic burial pods will turn your loved ones into trees. 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Wednesday Words from last week, Feb. 29 to Marcy 4

Random Observations with last week's Wed. Words


Seek and you shall find...unless you don't go looking in the first place.

Connect the 37 to 38 to the last number. You may not decipher the resulting drawing, but you will be pleased that you can remember all those numbers.

join the dots from 1 to 100 and more

It's impossible to enhance what is already wonderful. Trying to improve on what is already wonderful usually messes it all up.

Be an instrument of peace. Even if you are out of tune, still be an instrument of peace.
Look far and wide for what you desire. Looking straight ahead limits possibilities. 

Be energetic until energy runs out. It won't take long.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What? The photos didn't show?....

Apparently, Tuesday's photos did not show up!!  

One of the three piles of toys we mounded up after Benjamin McKinley (and our daughter Mary & husband Richard) returned to the far side of the earth, Switzerland.
Benjamin McKinley LOVED this T-Rex.  He carried it everywhere by its tail.  He loved it sooo much that the thing was coming apart at its plastic seams.  But, at the beginning, it walked, roared, swung its head side-to-side.  Even the dinky forearms moved and the jaws opened.  A thing of beauty to behold and it broke.  I ordered another one, just in case, but did not give it to him. I think we bought it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  $$ There is always FedEx.
Our three gr-kids.  Clara (looks like her mother, my daughter) and Lily (looks like her father), with cousin Benjamin McKinley (parents are both blonde, tall). The girls (they are sisters, 18 months difference in age) live 40 miles away. We have indulged them lovingly and outrageously.

I hope these make it.  Can't figure out why they didn't yesterday.
Grandpa reading one of our B & N purchases to daughter Mary and gr-son, Benjamin.  He is perfecting his nose-picking skills.

We had a wonderful time together.  Exhausting but marvelous.  I didn't not post photos of our three grown-up off-spring.  They are boring by comparison.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Christmas is over

Christmas is done and gone.  Praise be to God!
Christmas lights:  check

Outdoor Christmas glitz: check

Indoor Christmas memorabilia: check

Fake tree: check

Ornaments: check

Nativity set: check

Poinsettia--almost dead: check

Unsent Christmas Cards: check

Pretty much everything that starts with Christmas is put away in some logical place which we will forget this December.

But still remaining is a Shrine to Benjamin (our grandson from Switzerland)---we cannot bear to put away.  It took sooo long to create, hammer and nail, sew and stitch, blanket and pillow, and even two lamb skins from CostCo (bought years ago). 

We had three baskets of toys, some with toys left over from our gr-daughters who are now in double-digits, additional toys we bought with "Oh, he'll love this!"
Grandpa reading one of our B/N purchases
Barnes & Noble love us.

So it is that, now, February 29, a Leap Year, we are packing it all up.

One of the three piles of toys
Although 1:3 baskets of toys have yet to be completely bagged and sealed.  And Benjamin's favorite toy--a magnificent T-Rex that roars, walks, and moves it jaws--remained here because Benjamin loved it way too much.
Benjamin loved it, carried it everywhere by the tail.