Sunday, March 31, 2013

Last Day of Challenge but... More Adventure to Come!

Ah...the last day of the challenge!  I wonder how many others will write about this...or at least think it?  I must admit...when I began this challenge I was not sure how stressed I would be...and being truthful...I did have a few tense days....wondering what to write...or searching for a picture.  Yes, I'm  glad Cathy 'encouraged' to take the plunge...and no, Cathy, I did not curse your name... ever.

I plan to continue writing this blog weekly and join the weekly group if that is possible.  I think that Ruth and Stacey have done an amazing feat in getting so many people blogging and commenting on other blogs...and doing this everyday for a whole month...and not a short month like February...but a month with 31 days in it. 

So, it is Easter Day...a day of renewal...of new beginnings...and yet this is the last day of the Challenge....but I intend to make it the beginning of scheduling a blog a week.  I had begun this blog to tell family stories....and encouraged family members to write their stories as well.  Last spring, our family began a long and sad journey when my sister's husband, Geoff, was diagnosed with cancer, spending two long periods in the hospital...30 days the first time...and over 70 days the last time...and died in November. 

My sister amazed me at her determination to be by his side at all be his advocate as well as his wife.  I have always admired my sister's strength, intelligence, humor, sensitivity...but mostly her love of family...and after spending those months together with her I know how fortunte I am to be her sister. 

I did not write any posts for the blog from April until March 1st.  Feeling were too raw. But writing that first post kicked me back into action.  My
mourning continued, but knowing Geoff's sense of humor, I know he would have appreciated some of the Maxine stories as he would encourage  Maxine to tell her stories.  So each day my writing became less of a task and more of an adventure. 

I thank those who have read this blog and I hope you continue to do so.  I will post it on Facebook for those of you not in the Slice of Life.   It has meant a lot to read your comments and to realize that some of you actually looked forward to another story.   There are still many Maxine and Rae stories to tell...and of course, a sprinkling of others.  Seems a lot enjoyed the story Water Fall with Rae and me trying to move a waterbed. 

Of course, I thank my mother, Maxine, who remains with us in spirit and who was my inspiration to begin this tell her how she and my father met...that will take a number of posts though.

Maxine(Nana) with Nathan and Maggie

I want to also thank Rae...for being a good sport and letting me tell stories about her. Those of you who know her know what a super person she is...and wait until you hear the story of wall papering her bathroom.... But that will be later post.

And, yes, I thank my husband Ray. Ray has watched me stress...has been the tech support for me, solving all my computer problems...encouraged me to take the challenge...searched for pictures I could not find....helped me title the posts and proof read the posts before I clicked on 'publish'  and...well, many more ways to support this endeavor. 
Ray and Rae on Pirate Ship in Clearwater Beach

I love doing the those who read my posts....and those who comment which lets me know there are people out there reading.  Have I said 'love' too many times?  I can't help is just how I feel right I think I will listen to LOVE by the Beatles!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Something for Your Rusty Bucket List

The idea of today's post comes to me as I look out the kitchen window to our back yard and see this ugly rusted bucket resting upside down between our garage and one of the big maple trees.  From the picture you can see that it would not be a chosen yard ornament for most....well really all...people.  But there it is...and there it will stay.

A little background is needed here...and I will try to be brief because there are a few stories to how my husband and I met and eventually got married 40 years later.

I lived in Columbus...Ray lived in Toledo.  He would come visit me on the weekends.  Since my mother, Maxine, lived with me it made it easier to have him visit since I did not want Maxine staying alone.  Anyway...there came a time that I needed to visit Ray...and so arranged for some friends, to come stay with Maxine.

 Before my trip to Toledo Ray seemed hesitant to tell me something....something I should know....that if I really did not like it he would remove it....  What could it be?  When I arrived at his house I saw it...the ugly rusted bucket.  I knew that is what he meant.

"So...this is it?  That bucket?"  I asked.

"When I moved here ten years ago, the bucket got tossed there.  I left it temporarily...well it sat there all winter.  When spring came I decided to move it...and when I lifted it here is what I found."

He lifted the bucket.  Hundreds of ants went into emergency mode...rushing in chaotic patterns, workers carrying their eggs to tunnels of safety.  He quickly replaced the bucket.
This was taken before the colony got really big.  The eggs have already been taken to safety.

"It's been here for ten years and I don't have the heart to move it and destroy their colony," he said, hoping I would understand.

"Ray,  this is one more reason of the millions of reasons that I love you." 

And so...the bucket remains....I have looked into getting some kind of dome for it...but have not found one large enough.  I don't know if he knew that I find ants fascinating.  I am reminded of a biography of Albert Schweitzer I read when I was in the third of those blue (Ray said his were reddish orange) covered books...a whole series of biographies that kept me busy...but my favorite one was of Albert Schweitzer...where he said that even the ants have a right to walk upon this earth.  There was more to it...but that stuck with me.
Bucket with ants crawling on it...spring time...winged ants.

I have a lot more I could write about Albert Schweitzer's influence on me....but that will have to wait another time.  (Oh...and one more thing....Ray has spider jars where he will catch spiders that are inside the house...and he returns them outside...unless it is winter...and then they are safely placed in the basement....another reason of the many reasons I love him.)
Ray with ugly rusted ant bucket.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Letterboxing...Another Obsession?

A close up of Camel Rock
Camel Rock from a distance
I had told my friend, Cathy, (the one who got me into the Slice of Life Challenge) that I planned to write about another obsession I almost had.  I think it was replaced with the Where's George obsession...but I intend to get involved again.  It is called Letterboxing.  I read a post yesterday about Geocaching...and these two are similar (in fact, I think I want to try that too!)...but they are different.  Geocaching is more high tech where Letterboxing reminds me of playing pirates in search of a treasure. (Maybe that's why getting married on Talk Like a Pirate Day was so appealing to me.)

"Letterboxing is an intriguing pastime combining artistic ability with "treasure-hunts" in parks, forests, and cities around the world. Participants seek out hidden letterboxes by cracking codes and following clues. The prize: an image from a miniature piece of art known as a rubber stamp—usually a unique, hand-carved creation.
Letterboxers stamp their discoveries in a personal journal, then use their own rubber stamp, called a signature stamp, to stamp into the letterbox's logbook."  From

Letterboxing has a long history...beginning in 1854 in England.  Go to this site for more info on the history.

I am including videos of two times the I recorded the find!  One Letterbox was found at Swan Creek Park in Toledo, OH where I seemed more concerned about moving a spider.  My husband, Ray came with me for this find.  We follow a treasure map...and hopefully find a box with a logbook and stamp in it.  This one was not a box but a strong plastic bag.  Sorry...the videos don't work on my iPad or iPhone. (Darn Apple not allowing Flash Player!)

 The other box was found at Camel Rock just north of Santa Fe, NM.  My friend, Stephanie was with me.  We did not have a stamp (which you need to stamp the logbook) and we were on our way to pick up a friend in Santa we bought a stamp there, returned and made sure we left our mark.  It is a silly video that gets shaky sometimes...but that must be from the excitement felt by Stephanie and me.

 After we picked up Belinda, we returned to Camel Rock to put our stamp in the logbook.  This was Belinda's first experience with Letterboxing. that it is spring and the days are getting warmer....I see some Letterboxing travels in the future....and maybe some Geocaching too.  Maybe, when we travel to the United Kingdom this fall, we can go to Dartmoor, England to where James Perrot left his first message in a bottle.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maxine...Fashion Is What It's All About

My mother, Maxine, loved fashion and design.  I have noticed that many people my age...whose mothers were or are part of what Tom Brokow named the Greatest Generation.... many of those women were great seamstresses, often making their own patterns.  Three years ago my mother died at the age of 90.  Part of my reason for having this blog is to carry on her stories.  Here are a few pictures from a book of fashions that my mother drew when she was young.

These are kind of light, but you can get the idea.  I am not sure if this is the wedding dress she had planned to make.  She ordered a parachute from the U.S. Army with the intention of using the silk for the dress.  When she got the parachute she found it was sewn in panels too small to make the pattern she wanted to make...and  'U.S. Army' was printed all over it. 
If my father looks was 107 degrees the day they got married.  They had to snuff out the candles because they were melting...looking  more like canes.
Note the seamed stockings.
She signed her sketches 'Mack'
I am amazed at the talent she had creating suits, dresses, coats, and later made puppets, and dolls.  One year she made Annie and Sandy dolls for my niece and nephew.
Maggie with Annie and Sandy.
I want to thank Stacey and Ruth for hosting the Slice of Life.  It has been a positive experience and I am glad that I decided to take part in it.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Water Fall

How many of you have a friend whose relationship with you is much like Lucy and Ethel...or Laverne and Shirley?   My friend, Rae, Sew What-A Tale of Tape  and I have such a friendship. Rae lives at Buckeye Lake part of the year and in Clearwater Beach, FL most of the year.  This incident happened many years ago when she FIRST moved to Buckeye Lake. 

Rae informed me that she had bought a new bed and needed help emptying the water from her waterbed that was on the second floor of her cottage.  It was a spring day...kind of like what we are having in Ohio right now...reluctant to arrive and cold and windy...but sunny.  Of course, I was glad to help.  How difficult would that be....attach a hose to the waterbed and drain the water out of the window.

The first obstacle was the was painted shut.  So we had to find a longer hose that would reach the only window that we could open...which was down the hall and through the other bedroom.  While I was searching the shed for a longer hose, Rae was searching for the attachment for the hose to hook on to the waterbed.  The only hose I could find was curled up in the corner looking as if it had not been used in years.  It had to be 100 feet...two hoses rusted together.  I couldn't budge the connection so I dragged it into the cottage...grumbling about how anyone could leave a hose together...growl, growl, growl...I guess I should have been glad that the previous owner had left it.

I was really impressed that Rae had found the attachment...things were looking what if the hose was too long.  We got it attached and poked it out the window.  Of course, we had to put plastic garbage bags on the floor because the hose was so dirty from spending its time in the shed.  What do we do next?  The water wasn't moving?

"Maybe we have to syphon it to get it started?" was my bright idea.

"How the hell do we do that?" was Rae's reply.  Things were getting a bit testy because the hose  (probably angry that I woke it from its peaceful hibernation) was not cooperating...kept unrolling...avoiding the plastic bags... and getting dirt on the floor and the bed spread in the other room.

"Did you have a pump come with the water bed?"  I knew the answer before I asked...and the look on her face reinforced that.  If there was a pump...she had no idea where it was.

"One of us could suck the end of the hose and get it started," was Rae's suggestion.  But before she volunteered me to do that she realized that the hose was not air tight.  Oh no!! It must be leaking!

We rushed to the waterbed and found that the hose was leaking in a number of places.  Black oily water was dripping onto the plastic bags and rolling onto the carpet.  Colorful words sprang from Rae's mouth....well, mine too.  Franticly, we unscrewed the hose...slopping more water onto the floor, but at least stopped the flow.  Turned out, the hose was so old it had rotted out.  We needed to get it out of the window before it leaked anymore goo.  It is really difficult to maneuver such a long hose after it had spent years wound up...but I did manage to throw it out the window.  Rae had put the cap back on the bed.  What to do next?

I hate to admit this...but the next idea was mine.  There was that nagging thought....attempting to get through...but I discarded it.  Time was running short...her new bed was being delivered soon...and we had to drain the waterbed.

"Why don't we just roll the bladder down the stairs?"  I said.  "We could then roll it out of the living room into the kitchen and out the back door."

I don't know why Rae did not question that idea....but at the time we both wondered...Wow! how come we had not thought of that in the first place!  The stairs were the divided kind....go down about eight steps with a wrought iron railing...a small landing...turn and then about four steps that opened into the living room.   We even thought about moving some of the furniture so that we would be able to roll the bladder easier.

(Note: The  mattress size  measures 60x.80 inches and is 9 inches deep holding approximately 187 gallons of water...weighing over 1000 pounds)  For some reason, we did not consider this a problem.

It was with much sweat and more colorful words that we got the bladder out of the bed.  We were both a lot younger and stronger then.  We got on one side and rolled it just enough to step inside the bed and kept rolling the bladder with our legs and arms.  Finally it landed on the floor.  The rest was easy...well, squeezing it through the door took some effort, but we just kept kicking it through. 

I went to the landing on the stairs to help "guide' the bladder down the steps.  Rae was at the top and gave it one last shove.  This once slow moving bladder, with a burst of energy found the shortest distance to the floor of the living room.  (Suddenly I remembered the theory of gravity...or is it law of gravity!) The mattress pushed me into the corner of the landing, rolled over the railing, breaking it from the wall....bounced on the chair...and knocked over the lamp. (one of Rae's favorites....specially crafted from Utah with ancient petroglyphs on it)...breaking lamp...cutting into the bladder and creating small geysers with one big 'Old Faithful' spouting and spraying water all over the living room.  

It's one of those times that happen so fast there is no time to react to the danger until afterward.  Even though the bladder was quickly losing water it was still too heavy to drag into the kitchen.  More colorful language...and then my urge to laugh...knowing it was not the right time...but it came.  Rae saw no humor.  We continued giggling and Rae growling...rolling the edges of the bladder and finally dragged it through the door and out the kitchen to the back yard.

The rest of the day was spent cleaning and repairing.  The lamp was lost...shards of pottery found its home with the bladder, out the back door.  The old bed was taken apart making room for the new one that was delivered much later than the time given.  At the end of the day one of her neighbors stopped by wondering what was in the back yard.

"It's a long story," said Rae.  "It is embarrassing. Who would think that two people, both having two degrees,  both advisors to the Future Problem Solvers, most would consider us fairly intelligent...but...well, there is no explanation."
Rae and I (I'm the pale one wearing the pirate hat)...still friends.

Most Important School Employee....What Do You Think?

A wise woman asked me who I thought was the most important person in the school that children would encounter. My first thought was....everyone...each has a different role. But no, she would not accept that answer...too one person.

The school secretary...this person runs the school, knows how to solve problems, is the first person to greet an angry parent...lots of reasons. But no...this wise woman said she did not agree. "The most important person a child encounters for the school day is the bus driver. The bus driver is the first person to greet the student...and that could determine the rest of the day. It makes a difference if the bus driver opens that door and welcomes the student with a smile and genuine greeting."

 I pondered that and thought about the two bus drivers I had when I was in school. There was Mr. Lane. He was perfect. I only remember him stopping the bus one time because we got too rowdy. He spoke in a quiet voice and explained the reason we needed to stay in our seats. And then he drove us to school. ( He also gave each of us a huge Hershey bar for Christmas.)

 When Mr. Lane retired the next driver was Mr. Smith (not his real name). He was a grouch and yelled every day. I could usually expect a miserable ride to and from school. He drove too fast, stopped too fast and got angry too fast. Once he turned the corner near a corn field too fast and slid into a deep ditch. The big boys (high school kids...I was probably in 7th grade...well the big boys started rocking the bus and chanting "Smithy, Smithy, Smithy" as the bus would rock precariously to the side. I knew we were going to land in the ditch, and fortunately the bus was deep enough in so that when we did fall to the side we were at an angle and not flat on the side.   We all crawled out and waited for another bus to come get us. Of course, that was before buses could communicate for help, so Mr. Smith had to leave us and call for help at the next house. I can't imagine that happening today.

   I think of the bus drivers at the school where I taught...and Jaci comes to mind.  She always smiled and knew all of the students' names. That was because she also worked in the cafeteria as the cashier, greeting each student by name, with a smile and an encouraging word. What a wonderful way to begin the school day...stepping onto the bus to the smiling face of Jaci.
Jaci with her husband (note: beautiful smile)

Yes, the wise woman was right...that school bus drivers are an important beginning and ending to the students' day.  But we must not forget each part of the fabric of the school...custodians, cooks, counselors, teachers, media specialists, secretaries, principals....on and on....So many I will not even try to continue.  Each has an important role in the education of our students.  But for today...I say 'thanks' to the school bus drivers out there who greet each child with a smile....and a special thanks to Jaci.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Some Friends Are Really Family

I am in Indianapolis now.  It is Sunday night and snowing and blowing....many of the schools have already been closed for tomorrow.  I am writing this now because I don't think I will have time to write tomorrow...we hope to be driving back to Toledo.

I am glad we came here though...we met my sister at our family friend's home.  It is the same family that took in Peppy the Chicken. Peppy the Chicken...or Cat?...Of course, all of us...(kids no more) are grown and some retired.  Three of our elders have died...first my father (Mort)...then Charlie...then my mother (Maxine).  How fortunate that the other Maxine (yes, there were two...such good friends) still lives on the farm and opens her home to us.  The farm has been in the family for over 150 years.
My parents Mort & Maxine on left
Our friends Charlie and Maxine on right

So, this post will be short today.  I had a wonderful afternoon visitng with old family...laughing about old times and thinking of ideas for blog posts. Ray and I took a short walk around the farm though the wind was bitter cold.  We saw a coyote loping through the field...and then returned to the warmth of the house.

Tomorrow (Monday) we will be on the road...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

How I Spent My Time at the Chili Cook Off...When I Don't Like Chili

For the past few years my husband, Ray, and I have gone to the Mobile Meals CHILI COOK OFF.  That might surprise many of my friends because they know that I really don't like chili.  I don't like chili beans or any other kind of bean that sneaks into the chili.  I really don't like spicy hot either.  I   pick out the beans, peppers and anything else that looks suspicious and then eat the rest.  Ray's  son, Eric, did make chili for us when we visited him last summer...but he had two hot and one mild for me.  It was perfect...and I thank him for thinking to do that.
Ray's 2nd tray of chili cups

Dancing Fork (the Spoon is in the back wearing green hat)
Dancing Knife
Most of the time I take one bite of that...and then let Ray eat the he ends up eating a lot while I get more cups of chili to taste letting him have the rest.  This year I found out that they have hot dogs there, so I tried walking around searching for the hot dogs staying clear of the dancing knife, fork and spoon.  When I finally found the hot dog place, I paused to search for money in my pocket...looked up and a man got in front of me... buying the last two hot dogs.  Okay...I am not much of a fan of hot dogs...but since Ray was making a meal of the chili cups I thought I would find my meal there too.  Thus...the only other choice was a cup of Moose Tracks ice cream. Yummy!
My tray ready for Ray to eat.  Moose Tracks ice cream for me.

I have to admit that I did find a chili that I liked!!!   I walked up to a table full of smiles...a young woman offered me my cup of chili...another young lady added cheese...another added sour cream...then onions...and last... Frito Chips.  Each was smiling and seemed to be having fun.  I took the cup back to the table ready for my bite and then putting the cup in Ray's tray.  But tasted good...even the could that be!  I used the Frito Chip to scoop the last bit of it from the cup.  Dare I go back for another cup?
Look at these beautiful young women!!

I went back for a second cup and dropped a few dollars in their bucket.  The table with the most money wins the cook off...and this table deserved to win.  I took a picture of these smiling young ladies and asked if I could put their picture in my blog.

They represent "MY SISTER'S HOUSE." My Sister's House is an organization for mentoring, enriching and empowering the lives of young women.  I enjoyed the enthusiasm, smiles and the cooperation they had while greeting people and offering their chili.  If this is an indication of the work of 'My Sister's House' then I am impressed and hope that each of these woman will thrive and reach her full potential to become a positive example for future young girls. 

It's is amazing what one discovers at a chili cook off...not only did I find I could enjoy some chili, I also met some enthusiastic young women who are discovering their own journeys in life.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Maxine Overdrive: Sequel

Today I think I will continue some of the stories of Maxine's adventures in driving. Maxine Overdrive  It seems a lot of my Facebook friends, especially those who knew her, have enjoyed Maxine stories, so I will do a few more.

Maxine and car...but looks like she was not the driver.

By the time we moved to Ohio when I was thirteen...Maxine had given up driving (after getting the car stuck on the big rock).   She did not drive for many years.  After my father's first heart attack he  encouraged mother to get a learner's permit.  He knew she needed to be able to drive if something happened to him.  She had many learner's permits.  Each time the real driver's test came, Maxine would freeze and refuse to do it.  She took a driver's lesson course and prided herself that her reflexes were better than the teenagers in her class.  She always got 100% on the written tests, but when it came to getting in the car for the driving part...she just couldn't do it.

 Since I had a small VW Dasher that was the right size for her to maneuver the city streets I would often take her on her practice drives.  It made me a bit nervous that she liked to drive the freeways.... "Because there were not stop lights . Stop lights are too confusing. Especially when they have arrows," she would say.

 Once, driving down Kenwood Blvd in Toledo...going a little too fast for my comfort level...she turned to me and said, "Did you see that bird on that sidewalk just sitting there?  It had a huge yellow beak and its tail looked way too long for its body, and I have never seen such colors of red, black and white in that size of a bird..."

"Watch the road, watch the road," was all I could squeak out as my grip on the handhold was stopping my circulation and my right foot searched for the nonexistent  brake.  How could she see all those details on a bird?  She wasn't the passenger...she was the driver!!!

My father was known for his patience.  He was determined that Maxine would get her driver's license.  He had made poles for parallel parking practice...just like the kind they would use for her test.  We decided to practice in the parking lot of a school one Sunday.  He would drive in his car carrying the poles and Maxine and I would follow in the Dasher...she would drive...and then use my car for parking practice.  We were following my dad...Maxine was doing great...not too close...I was feeling good.  Dad put on his turning signal to turn left and slowed down.  Maxine kept driving...did not slow down. 

"Slow down, he's turning...slow down...slow...STOP!"  (It is really difficult to calmly tell someone to stop in fear of getting her upset....I voice was....BOOM!!! )  We smacked into my dad's car pushing it into the parking lot as Maxine took the corner on what felt like two wheels.  She did an abrupt stop inches from his car.

He jumps out of his car, checks for damage. I'm out of the car before she puts it in park...shaking, but glad there was no big damage and we all survived.  What I could not believe was listening to my dad.

"Maxine, it's was my fault...I should have turned faster."   So, the lesson of when you ram into the back of the car in front of you it is your fault lesson was lost.

Once she got brave and tried the driving part of the test.  I knew when she stormed from the parking lot ahead of the officer that she had failed it.  "He knew all along I was not going to pass," she said. "When I hit the curb trying to parallel park I asked him if I could go around the block and try again....and he said to me, 'ma'm, it's not going to help, you failed it back at the first light.'"

There are many more incidents...but she finally got her license after my father died.  She was 67.  It took a few times...but with the help of family and friends she finally succeeded.

Maxine and Mort (I don't have a picture of her driving)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Maxine Overdrive

I think it is time for another Maxine story.  I know people wonder why I call my mother, Maxine, but when I am telling one of her stories...or one about her...she becomes Maxine to me...and not the Hallmark card Maxine with the rollers in hair, smoking a cigarette while holding a glass of wine.  No way!  My Maxine was a "never let a drop of liquor pass my lips" type of woman...."God put us on this Earth to look nice for others" (yes, she said that...usually when I was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.) she would NEVER leave the house without her makeup applied correctly and she was always wearing a matching outfit.
Maxine and Mort

Maxine did not like to drive.  When we were young...I was five and Linda was eight, my father went to school in Philadelphia for a few weeks and would only be home on the weekends.  He told mother that she really needed to drive since we lived out in the country and she may not be able to depend on the few neighbors all of the time.  He bought this big old car...I don't know what kind...but it had the split front windshield and an electric choke...and the back seat (where I spent most of the time on the floor praying we would make it to our destination) was huge.
This is not the car...but this is what it looked like.

There is not enough time and space to write all of her driving misadventures so I will just tell of three.
  • Picking up her friend on her way to get her license...(yes, she had to drive one country road to the house and thought that would be okay...since she was getting her license that day)...gets to the house, drives down the drive way...stops and sings out of the window, "I have arrived!"... and Alberta steps out of her house, looks at the garage door and says, "I see you have!"...the front of the car has gone through the garage...Maxine was totally unaware.
  • Then there was picking up my sister and her friend  from a Brownie meeting.  Somehow, probably driving out of the driveway after dropping off Linda's friend...Mother could not get the car in forward.  No worry though!  Maxine was a problem solver. She just drove us all the way home in reverse...that's one of the times I was on the floor in the back.
  • One more....we had a big rock at the end of the drive way....yes...she did...she drove right over it and got the car stuck. She jumped out of the car...stormed past my father...handed him the keys...and said she would never drive again.  It took him hours (with the help of a few neighbors with tractors and tools) to get that old car off the rock.  All the time some of the young neighborhood boys watching and asking, "Mr. did you get your car on that rock?"

 Soon after, the big old car was sold and Maxine did not drive again...until she was 67 after my dad died...but I will write about those adventures on another post.

Maxine had a life filled with laughter...she would always make an experience into a funny story...even if it was not funny at the her adventure of chasing the purse thief, Stop Thief! , or the bumble bees, Attack of the Bumble Bees! , or the wild animal in the house, Wild Animal in the House .   If you have time and haven't read these, you might enjoy.

Travels of Cy the Cylon

Before I started dating my husband (about five years ago) I had never heard of a Cylon or ever watched the show Battlestar Galactica.  Most of my television viewing was the news and Jeopardy.  Enter Ray, Sci-Fi fan, who tried to enlighten me...encouraging me to at least try to watch Battlestar Galactica.   So, I agreed to do this as long as he agreed to see CATS the next time it came to town. (Can you believe he has never seen it!!  The thought of people dressed as cats dancing and singing appealed to him as much as space creatures using lasers to kill each other appealed to me.) (Oh gee...Ray just told me they don't use lasers on Battlestar...that would be Star Wars...Battlestar just uses projectile weapons...guns and missiles....but on the OLD Battlestar they did use lasers.)  Of course, it all sounds alike the same thing to me...and I have diverted from my topic of Cy our Cylon.

I bought Ray the complete series of BG for Christmas a few years ago and accompanying it was this robot looking thing called a Cylon.  We picked the original name, Cy, for him and decided to take him with us on our honeymoon.  It was the beginning of travels with Cy.  Cy travels with us whenever we travel and poses for pictures in various places.  These pictures will show some of the places he has traveled.  When we are at home, Cy travels here too.  I will hide him...maybe peeking out of the shamrock plant,...when Ray finds him...he will hide the little robot and wait to see how long it takes me to find him.  It's just a fun thing we do.
This is Cy at Sedona, AZ (our honeymoon)
Cy pushing a rock at Sedona
Cy sitting on top of rock.
Cy enjoying sunset in New Mexico
Cy on the Pirate Ship in Clearwater, FL
Cy at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL
           This is Cy at our wedding reception which was at the Toledo Zoo.  We happened to get married on Talk Like a Pirate Day....thus the pirate theme.  Cy is watching from behind.

Cy hiding in rocks at Sedona, AZ
Cy at Roswell, NM

Cy at Dodge City, KS (He is under the N in Information)

A closer look at Cy.
Cy sitting on railing on cruise ship...Carnival Dream...and we made it back before the ship began having problems...very lucky!
We have had a few....well a lot...of strange looks as Cy is posing for his next picture...but as I said... it's just a fun thing for us to do.
One last look at Monticello.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Can America Learn from the Finland Education System?

My husband found this article about education in Finland and thought I would be interested in it.  It is a long read so I will try to capture a bit of it, but encourage all of you to read this.

This article from The Atlantic follows Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education's Center for International Mobility and author of the new book Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? .

I will use a few bullet points.
  • America needs to improve its education system.
  • Finland's students are turning out some of the best scores in the world.
  • What America keeps ignoring about Finland's successful educational system.
  • Finnish schools assign less homework and engage children in creative play.
  • There are no private schools in Finland (only a small number of independent schools that are publicly funded.
  • None is allowed to charge tuition fees...this goes for the universities too.
  • There are no standardized tests, except the National Matriculation Exam given at the end of what would be our high school.
  • Teachers are trained to assess their students in their own classrooms.
  • Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted.
  • In Finland all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay, and a lot of responsibility.
  • There are no lists of best schools or teachers in Finland. The main driver of education policy is not competition between teachers and between schools, but cooperation.
  • The goal of the education system in Finland, resulting in so much success today, is not  excellence. It is equity.
The article does mention that Finland is not at all like the United States...that some of the ideas would never work in the United States.  But I wonder....Why not?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

One of These Nights...I Might Finish What I Started

My plan tonight (Monday) was to write a post that I could use for the next day so that I could wake up and just 'poof' add it to the list for Day 19. In the evening my husband and I often  watch a show that we have recorded.  He thought I had a good idea about writing my post so he suggested we don't watch anything...or if we do...let it be something where I would not have to focus much...more of a background.  Good idea!

"How about the History of the Eagles?"  he said...thinking that some music in the background would be good for creative thoughts.

It is now 10:02 in the evening and the show has ended...all three hours and fifteen minutes....and the story about my Uncle Frank has yet to be written. Take It Easy sang the Eagles...and that is just what I did.  I can not believe that I watched this show and did not bother getting on line, reading the newspaper, writing my post...or any other various things I do while watching television.  That Peaceful Easy Feeling of finishing a post for my blog is  Already Gone.  

So...was it a good documentary?  Yes...if you like the Eagle's it...just don't count on getting much done when it is on. :-)    Now, I hear my cat approaching...and you all know... It's Difficlt to Type wit a Cat on Your Lap  So I will Take It Easy and enjoy the rest of the evening.  You know....I no longer feel like The New Kid in Town with this Slice of Life Challenge.  Thanks for all your comments and support.  Thanks Stacey and Ruth for organizing the Slice.  I think I am in for The Long Run.

Monday, March 18, 2013

You Have Geen Eyes...You Have Yellow Eyes

"You have geen have yellow eyes...Close your eyes!....Open your eyes!!!! You have GEEN eyes!!!"

"Oh no," my sister, Linda, said when I spoke those words.  "Do you remember that game?"

Those words are some of my first memories.  I remember sitting on my dad's lap, facing him, and saying those words.  I figured it was a little game we played that he so kindly tolerated.  It never made any sense to me though....he had hazel eyes...and why would I say yellow eyes? 

Now Linda was about to solve this mystery for me.   She, being two and a half years older,  was able to fill in the holes of this story.  (It's great having an older sister with such a good memory.) 

My mother worked at a small boutique a couple evenings a week.  She was in her element there, helping women pick the right dress for a gala and spending all the money she earned buying clothing for herself or her two little girls.  My memories of this are fuzzy.  I do know that my dad would drive her there and pick her up, since she did not drive. (at that time...but that is a whole other Maxine story...getting her driver's license)  Of course, Linda and I would go with my dad as we were too young to stay at home.  I remember stopping at a nearby ice cream those trips to take and pick up my mom were fun.

When we would go pick up my mom, it was usually dark.  Sometimes we'd get there early, or sometimes she would be with a customer and would be late.  That is where this little game was invented.  Linda said that there was a flashing neon sign nearby. (I am not sure what it was advertising....maybe Linda remembers.)  It was flashing yellow and then green...yellow and then green.  The light would reflect from my dad's eyes. 

Linda said that she got so tired of listening to me play this game, but my dad patiently opened and closed his eyes, entertaining his two year old daughter.

"You have geen have yellow eyes...Close your eyes!...Open your eyes!!  You have GEEN eyes!"  Such a simple way to pass the time and show love for your daughter.

Thank you, Linda, (the best sister in the world) for making this story complete for me.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Semper Fidelis (Felis?)

I waited for him to exit his pickup truck
It was big
So was he
A Semper fidelis decal was on the back window
Tattoos of snakes, barbed wire and symbols unknown to me
       decorated his arms.
It was winter
He wore no coat
Everything about him was a bit intimidating...
      his walk
      his face
      his no nonsense expression.
      total control....don't mess with me
Yes, I got the message.
Once in the grocery I tended to my shopping.
Turning down the pet food aisle I saw him.
I imagined his big dog, Spike.
He turned to me

"My kitty won't eat anything but Frisky's Pate."
I smiled and said mine liked chunks with gravey.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Unexpected Answers

As a guidance counselor in a middle school I also taught one class that we called social skills.   This was a sixth grade class and was a great way to get to know all of the students.  We discussed things such as peer pressure, bullying, time management...etc.  Our school had four sixth grade classes, so I taught one group each nine weeks and then rotated to a new class the next nine weeks.

My third group of sixth graders were seated and ready for their first class with me.  I always began with 'class rules' which can be a bit tiresome but needed to be done.  Since it was a small school, most of the students knew me as I would work with teachers, conduct small groups, and made myself as visible as possible.  But this was the first time they would have me as a teacher.

"What classroom rules do you think I have?"  I asked.

A young boy, was waving his hand with such enthusiasm that I had to call on him. 

"We are not allowed to kill bugs,"  he stated. I was a bit taken aback wondering how to segway from bugs to showing respect...which was the rule I had intended to have as discussion.  Then I remembered that I had stopped a boy in one of the former classes when he was about to stomp on a spider.   I am sure I had given a lecture about all creatures have a purpose....etc...and for some reason the word was out..."Don't kill bugs in Ms. Haworth's class!"

I know that all of you as teachers or parents have had such experiences....where the answer to your question is so wrong...yet so right.  I am interested in what some of yours are!

Oh...and one more.... Our music teacher (sixth grade again) asked if there were any questions after a lesson on reading music....knowing this lesson was probably not the most interesting to these young students....imagine her surprise when 'Johnny's' hand shot up....wiggling in his seat like a puppy dog.  Ah...she had hooked someone's interest...maybe he will join the in the musical...and yes, she smiled and called on him.

"Do you only have three toes?"  (Her shoes had open toes and only three of her toes were showing.)

I could go on....but it is Saturday morning and I have lots to do.  So please, let me know some of your students' comments to your questions.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Lesson in Honesty...(from Snapper the Turtle)

The summer before my fifth grade year was the summer my friend, Karen, and I went to church camp together...Pine Creek....close to Gnaw Bone, Indiana.  We had chosen Pine Creek because we wanted to 'rough it' in tents, eating at a mess tent, no running water, and living in the woods.   It was here I learned an important lesson in honesty.

Our time at camp was spent doing typical camp things...hiking, learning about nature, swinging on grape vines over a creek, building a 'home in the woods', and camp fires with songs and Bible lessons.  On the day before we were to go home, there was going be a scavenger hunt.  Each tent would work as a team and the tent with the most items found would be the winner.  I am not sure what the prize was...but this was a competition...and we girls wanted to beat the boys.

We had a plan....divide and conquer!   We would get the list and assign each girl a few items and then bring in our loot.  There were six of us in our tent.  We kept track of all the leaves, rocks, tree bark and anything else that might be included on the list. 

The evening before the big scavenger hunt Karen and I happened to be hanging around the mess tent when we heard the counselors planning the hunt.  They had the list...right there...if only we could see it.  Imagine the joy when one of the counselors threw her list in the trash!   Sneaking  back to our tent we gathered around that night, flashlights shining on THE LIST.  Most of the items were ones we already figured would be there...but at the bottom was the prize....worth 100 point....a turtle.!!!
Karen and I knew the hang out of a turtle.  We had seen him a number of times, sunning himself on a log in the small pool where the creek changed direction.

Scavenger Hunt Time!!!....the next day.  We waited in groups as the counselors passed out the lists.  Karen and I did not even bother to look at ours as we headed for the creek.  We had to run as it was not nearby and we only had half an hour.  Oh...that turtle better be there sunning himself like he had been the days before....and yes....there he was....but he looked bigger now.  We crept closer....the turtle seemed unaware...basking in the sun...on a log near the bank of the creek.

"This can't be the same turtle," whispered Karen.  "It's huge."

"We have to get it...this is our part of the of us can grab its tail."  That was my great idea as I measured the turtle to be a little smaller than a car's hub cap.

No time for planning...I made a quick leap and grabbed the tail.   I guess I had not figured that this would upset the turtle.  He turned his head toward me and lunged...with a snap of his mouth.  That was close....I lifted him from the log before his mouth reached my leg.  As long as I held him straight out, my leg was safe.  He would swing his body getting inches from my leg.

"Let him loose!  That's a snapper!!" Karen cried...backing away.

"I can't....he's going to bite me.  He's really mad.  If I hold him like this all the way back to the camp, maybe we can put him in the trash can and bring him back here."  I still wanted to get those 100 I knew that the second I put  Snapper  (I already named him) down he would turn on me and attack.... down deep, I thought I deserved it.  I knew I would do the same if I was him.

The hike back was lllloooonnnngggg.  My arm was getting so tired and each time I lowered it a bit, I could feel the brush of Snapper's mouth.  Karen could not get close enough to help.  I knew Snapper was mad and I wanted to let him go, but fear kept my arm perpendicular from my body.  By the time we got close to the camp my arm was shaking. We only had five minutes before time was up.  Karen ran ahead shouting that we had a turtle.   I half burst and half stumbled to the center of camp, dropping the poor turtle and running the opposite direction.  Everyone scattered...Snapper was waving his head, mouth open wide.   Finally, a couple of counselors got a broom and put the handle in front of him.   He clamped on that handle and they carried him back to the creek.

Karen and I felt quite proud... until we were informed that they had crossed the turtle off the scavenger hunt list, so the 100 points would not count.  Before I uttered the words, "Not Fair!!" I realized that it was fair.  We were the ones who had been unfair.  Shame surged through me and I could feel my face turning red.  I had not even thought that we had been cheating.  We thought we were being resourceful and clever.  If we had just played fair we would have had all the other items easily. 

Ol' Snapper flashed through my mind often while growing up...whenever I was tempted to 'bend the rules.'   Snapper taught me an important lesson about being fair and how hollow a win is, or a good grade is if it is gained by dishonesty.

But....I have to admit...that when camp was over...and we were greeting parents for rides home...I overheard a boy say to his mother as they passed us..."She's the girl that carried this big snapping turtle the size of a tire all the way into camp!!"  (I did not correct him...because by the time I let go of Snapper's tail he felt like he was ten feet long.)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

When All Else Fails....Make It Up

I have read so many posts filled with the works of students and I find I miss that interaction between a student and teacher.  I have many memories though...and here is a short one.

During the school year my students created a poetry notebook...spending one day a week really focusing on it....but expected to do a lot on their own.  One part was to find a poem they liked, tell why they liked it, and then write about the author of the poem.

I can't remember the poem  this one young boy chose...but I do remember the author and the short biography he wrote about this author.

"The days author of my poem is Anon. Anon was born in England in 1925. She had three brothers and two sisters and loved them very much. She could not find a space to write her poems. She would go to the park and swing on the swings and look at the clouds in the sky. That is where she got her ideas to write about. Sometimes she had sad but most of the time she was happy.  Her family loved her."

We had a chat and I explained to him that 'anon' meant that the author was unknown.  "No wonder I couldn't find anything about her,"  he said with a sigh.
It was not easy to stifle a smile...but I did.  I could imagine his frustration in searching for this author.  He probably waited until the last minute and had run out of time to find a new poem.

The two of us had a short lesson on being truthful and the importance of asking for assistance when something stumps you.  I appreiated his resourcefulness... creativity...and his problem solving skills but  hoped that he had learned his lesson about honesty.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Chicken Casserole to Serve Thirty

Below is the recipe mother wrote for her friends and family.  She continued to have dinner parties (thus the 'serve thirty') after my father died.  You can skim the ingredients, but read her instructions.
This was the only picture I could find of Maxine
in the kitchen.  She was not the cook in our family.
My father and sister did most of the cooking.

30 slices of day-old bread, cubed
8 cups cubed chicken (I used the breasts)
2 small green peppers -- chopped fine
2 small onions             -- chopped fine
1 1/2 cub celery           -- chopped fine

6 eggs, well beaten
1 cup milk
chicken broth to make 6 cups
Mix eggs, milk and chicken broth together and put small amount in bottom of pan

Add 1/2 of cubed bread -- next chicken, vegetables and rest of bread
Pour remaining liquid over and let let stand overnight (refrigerate).
Bake 15 minutes at 325 degrees

Mix following and spread over top:
     2 cans cream of chicken soup (do not delute)
     2 cans cream of celery soup    (do not delute)
     3/4 cup mayonaise or Miracle Whip
Over this add 2 cups grated mild cheddar cheese
Bake 1 hour, 15 minutes at 350 degrees

Due to an error, I added more chicken than the recipe called for but I feel it improved the taste.  I thought I was using a four cup measure and afterwards found that it was an eight cup.

Also, I found that I had omitted the cheese--didn't find it until 15 minutes before the casserole was to come from the oven.  I added it at that time and really think it was best to not have the cheese topping on the entire baking time, as it turns brown.  Mine stayed yellow with just a little browning.

I must have had several things on my mind while preparing this casserole as I tripped on the basement stairs and fell flat, holding the casserole aloft and with only two bread cubes bouncing out.  Needless to say, I have several bruises and a twisted ankle to prove I had the fall.

Also, I had  not measured the oven to see if the larger throw-away aluminum pan I was using would fit in it----it didn't.  So I had to transfer, spoon by spoon into a narrower pan.

My paragraph concerning my fall is rather disconnected--I was taking the casserole to the basement refrigerator for overnight.

Guess it was all worth it as everyone liked the finished product.
                                                                      Maxine Haworth

This is typical of how my mother's cooking went.  I wish I had other recipes that she many of them are similar to the one above...with her unique changes to recipes.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What's Cookin', Maxine?...Beets Me...

I know what it feels like to walk into a brutal murder scene....the faint feeling, gasp of breath and hand covering my face. I had returned from a day at work at school, walked into the kitchen and saw a red hand print dripping down the refrigerator. The same hand prints were on the cabinets, stove and sink. Red drops pooled on the floor.
"I made beets today," my mother sang out to me from her chair in the living room. "Oh...that's nice," I said, wiping clean all beet evidence...after catching my breath. I don't want to make light of anyone who has experienced a real crime scene...but for a few short seconds...I think I could relate to that feeling. My mother lived with me the last twelve years of her life. Her health was medication...just something for her indigestion and a vitamin for her macular degeneration. Some of you may know, from earlier posts, that she was an excellent seamstress. She was NOT a good cook. People at school did look forward for her banana bread...until one loaf was full of paper clips. Maxine, (my mom) had dropped a box of paper clips on the counter...I guess...I did not have the heart to tell her about the ruined bread...and I did find stray clips on the floor and counter. It is difficult to write about her cooking without making this way too long. There was the time she made jelly for a brunch my parents were having for guests. My father did 99% of the cooking (he said Maxine was better at entertaining), but she wanted to contribute she made jelly. She proudly set a few small bowls with the proper silver spoon in each bowl. By the time brunch was served, the jelly had solidified becoming one with the bowl and spoon. Picking up the spoon would result in the whole bowl being lifted from the table. One more example and I will end...for now.... I think this picture of the fudge she made needs no words of description. (Tomorrow I will write her recipe for Chicken won't want to miss it!)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Something Fishy? A True Story!

Cats fed, breakfast finished, and tickets to the Happy Together Concert have been purchased. Those of you non-baby boomers may not appreciate the joy my husband and I have singing along with Mark Lindsey from Paul Revere and the Raiders, or Flo and Eddie from the Turtles...and a few other 1960s bands at these concerts. I won't even try to explain because my topic this morning is about being lucky. I have to admit, a got this idea from Cathy...after reading her post from yesterday about being unlucky...but actually winning something. Cathy, I hope you don't mind that I will piggyback your idea.I have always considered myself a lucky person...even when I was young I felt that. But the strangest 'luck' I had can not be explained. It has to do with my license plates. Way back in 2000 when I purchased my lime green Beetle I decided to get license tags to support the Scenic Rivers. The blue heron flying across the top of the plate looked pretty and would look good on the back of my Beetle. My Uncle Frank was visiting when the plates arrived. Imagine my dismay when I ripped open the thick envelope and locked eyes with a fish. A FISH! No blue heron! I don't eat fish...I don't go fishing...and I did not want a fish on my license plate. Uncle Frank just sat there with a grin on his face while my mother (who lived with me) hoped that my ranting would subside. How can I drive around with a fish on my tags!About five minutes into my rage I noticed that the fish looked exactly like the fish engraved on my fathers grave stone. (He liked to fish...poor guy, neither of his daughters liked to fish...hmmm, but maybe it was his way of escaping to a quiet place.) Yes, mother agreed that the fish did look the same. Hmmm...that fish did not look all that bad...made me feel like my father was driving with me. Then I checked the rest of the plate. The numbers were father's birthday. I hugged the plates and knew I would never return these plates...not ever...and oh how childish I had been about that lovely fish. "Now you have to play those numbers on the lottery." Uncle Frank said to me. So, I did. I knew that people played three numbers, but I had never done that...and felt a bit awkward when buying them. I can't remember how I bought them...being asked if I wanted them 'boxed'...and had no clue what that was. I just know I played the numbers 517. That night we watched the lottery drawing...the numbers were...1...7...5. Wow!! Not the right order, but the same numbers. Uncle Frank told me that even thought the numbers were out of order, I probably won something. He was right! I won $80! The fish is still traveling with me...attached to the back of its third car...and many times when approaching the car, I swear, it winks at me.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Waiting for the Conference Call...daydreaming...

It is Sunday morning (well 11:16) and I have a conference call at noon. How will I get my post finished!!! I hear one of my elderly cats caterwauling in her guttural voice informing me that she is not satisfied with her morning meal. I feel the pressure...will I be able to finish this....need to focus...don't think about Star...ahhh...Ray just scooted her to the kitchen and is feeding her a new and different can of Fancy Feast. He tells me that they like variety and so they never get the same kind of food two days in a row. Yes, we spoil them...but they are 22 and 23 years they feel they are entitled.
The conference call is soon and I should get prepared. I am the secretary of a nonprofit, Cuyamungue Institute, that is based in New Mexico. Every summer I travel to New Mexico for a board meeting and usually to present a workshop. I will write more about it in another blog. It is important to select the right words to describe the beauty of the Land and the transformation I feel every time I go there. So, instead of writing about it, this time I will share a few pictures. Sunset at Cuyamungue Walking up to the ridge to greet the sun in the morning. The road into Cuyamungue Institute The Casita and the Kiva.