Friday, May 31, 2013

A Little Break

My job this week has been somewhat like juggling live grenades. The students are about ready to blast off. We brought it on ourselves. On Friday, a week ago, there was a staff development day. The students were off, the teachers mostly worked. Then it was a three-day weekend to celebrate Memorial Day. So the children had four long days to realize that summer is here and they want to be FREE!!!
I don't blame them. I really, really didn't want to return to school on Tuesday. What a drag...However, we had a lot of things to do and we jumped back into the harnesses and shouted, "Giddy-up!"

The key word there being "giddy"....Everyone is just so over the school year. Good news for me---I'm going to Oregon tomorrow morning to visit my daughter and watch her graduate with her master's degree in nursing practice. The graduation is actually on Monday, so we return to Nevada late Monday night. I don't have to deal with the wild people on Monday! My poor substitute....

When I get back, we'll be very busy. On Tuesday, it is clean out your desk day, put together our Memory Books day, awards assembly day, Memory Book/Yearbook signing party. Then, on Wednesday it is Pancake Breakfast day. It's my end of year tradition started in my poverty school when I realized that some of my students might not get any lunch when they went home at noon. Plus, it really burns up that final three hours, especially now that I have 96 fourth graders to shovel pancakes into. It's fun and I have help and, seriously, the day just zooms past till---suddenly---it's 12:15 and everyone can go home.

Except the teachers. But, finally, we can put everything away and pack up and stack up and take a deep breath. I keep reading these proposals to make all schools into year-round or some other version that eliminates the ten week summer break. And I say " don't know how intense it is to be a teacher. We really need that break, so that we can recover and generate enthusiasm for the next fall." Seriously. I was in a year-round school for two years. I was exhausted. There was never an "end"---it just went on  and on. Three weeks is simply not enough time to regenerate and recover.

I stayed tonight until 8:30 to finish copying the Memory Book pages so lovingly written and illustrated by my students. The copy machines were ridiculous and obstreperous, but I finally managed to outwit them. Three class sets from 33 students in each room. They're so awesome, too. Each student wrote about an event or a class from fourth grade, then drew a little picture. I copy them back to back, and we assemble the books in class. Then, everyone gets a memento from our year. You'd be impressed how grateful they are, too, because many of them can't afford a yearbook. So the "free" Memory Book (card stock bought by me, hours of copying done by me on my time) is a wonderful gift.

So, off to Portland I go tomorrow. I'll eat the succulent food we always find up there. I'll cheer on my amazing daughter for her awesome accomplishment. I'll relax and I won't even think about my class for three whole days. Whew...I just hope none of the grenades go off for the substitute. She is my hero this weekend.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

When I was a child, Memorial Day was May 30th. The Federal Holiday act was passed in 1971, the year I graduated from high school. That moved the official celebration to the last Monday of May. Memorial Day was always the first event of summer vacation--school was over. Since so many people in our community back then had farms, the students were needed at home that time of  year to work with their parents. The calendar said Spring, but in the Rocky Mountain valley where we grew up, that just meant that the storms were less likely to leave snow that lasted more than a day. Many Memorial Days of my childhood featured cold rain and, occasionally, sleet or actual snow.

My mom had several cemeteries to visit and many relatives to whom she paid homage with flowers. I especially liked to be present when our visit coincided with the Presentation of The Colors by the local chapter of the VFW.  A bugler played "Taps" and the (usually) older men would stand at attention with the flags whipping around in the wind, or lying wet and still against the flagpoles.

I'm proud to be part of a family who served our country in the military. I have a veteran grandfather, father, husband and son. Several uncles, brothers-in-law, both my father & mother-in-law, nephews and one niece are veterans. So Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and honor in our family. We do miss those who have left this life, but I also like this quote from General Patton:

"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived."

Lynn Ray Welch
U.S. Navy 1941-1945

Kelly C. Frome
 U.S. Navy 1972-1986

Peter Kelly Frome
 U.S. Navy 2011-present
Sonar Technician

Thursday, May 23, 2013

They Say It's Your Birthday

You know I always have to write about my sister on her birthday. This year she would have been 59 and I'm sure her platinum blonde hair would have had to have started showing some gray, finally. But, it would be hard to see. I know that many people thought she colored that hair, but she didn't. It was just a fabulous blonde all bestowed on her by Mother Nature. Clairol and L'Oreal should be so lucky.

I thought about her all day. We were on a field trip and the bus driver was an especially nice woman. Trish was a bus driver, too. She loved that she had the same job that our dad had all those years. It was a great day for her when she got to drive him on her route. My parents were visiting, and she invited him along. Isn't is fun when we can treat our parents to an experience of our own childhood?

I've probably told all the stories about her too many times. But, if we don't keep telling the history of loved ones, then someone might forget. This winter when I went to Oregon to visit my daughter, one of our fun adventures was to visit the Tillamook cheese factory. I got to recount cow milking adventures, and in the gift shop, I found an awesome mouse pad with a beautiful photo of a doe-eyed Jersey cow that looked just like my sister's pet cow Malice. So, of course I bought it. I wanted so much to be able to mail it to her, and then call her on the phone and laugh with her about it. It sits on my souvenir shelf in my bedroom because no one else can appreciate it quite like she would have.

Her grandchildren are growing up and are so delightful. I know she can admire and guide them from heaven, but I still feel so sad that they are missing out on her love and adoration in person. Not to mention her fantastic culinary treats. I never eat baklava without thinking of her.

So, that's pretty much it. Another birthday comes and goes and I can't send a snarky card, or call her up to chat. I can't drop by her house and admire her flower beds and marvel at how she kept everything so astonishingly clean and neat (I have obvious dust on my furniture and I need to hire someone to come and really scrub my kitchen cabinets.) No one gets zucchini bread---with homegrown zucchini--anymore. And no one can pronounce the name of that wacky cat she loved when we milked cows. I can't even spell it because it wasn't a real word.

On the field trip, we went into an old barn that is part of a whole group of buildings that tell the history of the county, and there was a stall with an old automatic milker, some milk cans and a cream separator. The students were asking me what it was and how it was used. I tried to tell them in as few words as possible, because even when I explained, they weren't sure what I meant. But, Trish and I would have looked at that paraphernalia and been transported back to teenager life where we spent so many hours bonding in the barn. Maybe that's part of the reason we felt so close---shared drudgery. We carefully didn't marry dairy farmers, either of us. But, I know she felt like I felt: all that hard work turned us into the women we became who were never afraid of hard work or a big challenge. Maybe that's the beauty of sisters. You don't have to explain yourself, ever.

Here's how loyal she was: in the photo, she is being held up by our brother and our mom because she was only a fews days out of a surgery to replace her knee joint. Why was she hobbling off to the temple with a newly reconstructed knee?? Because my daughter was getting married, and CoolGuy and I were being sealed to our children. She wouldn't have missed it. She would have come on a stretcher if she'd had to. That's just what sisters do---this one for sure. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pomp and Circumstance

This is me, standing with around 1300 other people at the UNLV graduation ceremony this afternoon. (Another ceremony graduated 1300 other people in the morning.) Yeah!!!  I graduated from college today with a master's degree in Educational Psychology. It's all about research---consuming and performing and writing about it. I learned a lot of great stuff, met a lot of wonderful people and persisted until I finally finished the whole thing. And I do mean persisted...I had both of the stupid feet operated on during my course work. I also taught fourth grade, and, for two years, I taught a four month long course to instructional aides most Saturdays. I took a class every semester -- including summers -- and finally, today, a professor read my name and I crossed the stage and shook hands with another professor and went back down to my seat. Done, done, done!
My son and his family surprised us by coming to town last night to join the celebration. Our daughter came down from Oregon to attend too, and in two weeks, I'm heading up to Portland to attend her graduation for her master's degree in nursing practice. So we're just celebrating, celebrating and celebrating this spring in our family!
Weird note: Jimmy Kimmel was awarded an honorary doctorate during my graduation today...he attended years ago, and has been a generous humanitarian to the high school from which he graduated here in Las Vegas. So, it was a Bright Lights, Big City kind of day, after all.
Here is my fan club.

CoolGuy and I

I wish I'd had a mirror....Oh, well. It's the real me, sans sunglasses. The lapel pin commemorates the 50th graduation that the college has held. Also, one of us today represented the 100,000th alumni of the university. They declared that we all represent that person, so they didn't single someone out, like at Disneyland.

Friday, May 17, 2013


We got married today. In 1974. In Wyoming. The next day, it snowed three inches. Aw...Springtime in the Rockies! So when I got home this afternoon from a rollicking day with fourth grade ---it was Field Day!!!--we decided to go out on a date. It was pretty low-key because we're going to eat out at a really nice place tomorrow night with our daughter who is coming for a short visit.

But, it was such a fabulous night here in the desert that we just wanted a little motorcycle ride and a quick meal. What a gorgeous evening for a ride, too. It's about 80 degrees, and the air is perfectly clear from the breeze that was going all day. After we ate some yummy Mexican chicken, we drove up over the hill and down into the desert that is on the north shore of Lake Mead. It's a great ride, through a little canyon and down and around past huge rocks and the hardy little plants that somehow survive out there. We stopped at a turnout and just looked up at the stars that were finally starting to pop out into view.

CoolGuy asked me if I remembered my first ride on his motorcycle., actually, neither of us could recall it. We figure it was probably to the beach. That was a favorite place to ride because both of us couldn't get enough of looking at the ocean. We often drove down to the beach and then headed up along the edge of the tall cliffs that overlooked the ocean a little south of that beach. So, it could have been there. Here are some photos of motorcycle rides through the years.

1974:  This is the first motorcycle we shared, and this is the year we got married. We were on Mount Palomar in San Diego. SoCal was just the best place ever to ride a motorcycle. (1938 Knucklehead)
1975:  This was after we were married, before we had kids. I think I was on my way to a night class to learn shorthand or something. I didn't end up pursuing that career. But I really liked riding this motorcycle, too. (1950 Panhead) (my favorite motor)
1980: We'd been married long enough to create three kids when we had this motorcycle. We shared babysitting with some friends and this time they had our kids overnight while we went to a camping/biker event. We watched their girls while they went to a dental convention in L.A. for a weekend. (1961 Panhead with Shovel top end)

1982: Everyone liked to ride the motorcycle. There was a Saturday tradition that each week someone got their turn to ride down to Denny's and have breakfast with Daddy.
(1961 Panhead with Shovel top end)
1983: One year we decided that we needed a Christmas picture. Three rolls of film later, we managed to finally get one that had everyone smiling, looking at the camera, and no dogs were running through the shot. (1961 Panhead with Shovel top end)
1987:  We moved to Idaho after thirteen years in San Diego, and immediately realized that we actually didn't like winter anymore. We lasted there about two and a half years and then CoolGuy got a transfer back to California. In the meantime, he bought this bike from his late friend's estate. A good memory of a life-long, almost-brother. 
 (1969 Shovelhead)

1992:  It's so much nicer to ride when the grass is always green and the sky is usually blue. We lived near the ocean for six years, and I don't think he took the truck to work more than a few days. Contrary to a really old song: It does rain in Southern California, every once in a while. (1969 Shovelhead)
1997: From the Pacific to the Atlantic...well, the Chesapeake Bay, at least. We got transferred again. It's very, very green on the East Coast. There are an amazing number of bugs,too. So, keep your lips closed when you ride, or you'll be scraping insects off your teeth when  you get home.
(1969 Shovelhead with a new paint job.)
2010: After ten years in the East, we came home to the West. Although we live in the desert, sometimes we take the bike to SoCal and visit our old haunts. My favorite ride is still Pacific Coast Highway.
(1969 Shovelhead)
2011:  This is an old tradition, too--the New Year's Day ride. We do it because we can...I hope to keep this tradition going till I'm older and grayer. (1969 Shovelhead) (still...)
2012:  Now we've got grandchildren who join in the fun. Everyone likes a motorcycle ride. You can't beat it! CoolGuy has been wrenching and improving and refining this same bike for over twenty years. It'll be the one we drive for the next 39 years, probably. And if we can't keep riding together on two wheels, then we'll just have to wear our leather jackets in our wheelchairs.
Happy Anniversary to us.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Last Class

Tonight, I walked down the stairs after class, and with each step I thought, "Last time I have to walk on these stairs!" I walked across the campus and admired the beautiful trees, and realized that I don't need to walk across that quad any more. I decided to stop off at Seafood City and pick up some shrimp to serve at a celebratory "Last Class" dinner.

I've finished the master's degree. YEAH!! It was the last class tonight. I'm walking in the graduation on Sunday afternoon. (after I play for Sacrament meeting...) YEAH!! I started in  2009 and now I get to graduate. I'm getting a master of science degree in Educational Psychology. It's mostly about research and how to do it and how to be an intelligent consumer. So, I don't know exactly what I'll do with this new cool credential, but I'm so relieved to have achieved it. Ta Da.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

A Beautiful Song

Does the journey seem long, the path rugged and steep?
Are there briars and thorns on the way?
Do sharp stones cut your feet as you struggle to rise
To the heights thru the heat of the day?
Is your heart faint and sad, your soul weary within,
As you toil 'neath your burden of care?
Does the load heavy seem you are forced now to lift?
Is there no one your burden to share?
Let your heart be not faint now the journey's begun;
There is One who still beckons to you.
So look upward in joy and take hold of His hand;
He will lead you to heights that are new.
A land holy and pure, where all trouble doth end,
And your life shall be free from all sin,
Where no tears shall be shed, for no sorrows remain.
Take His hand and with Him enter in.
Written by Joseph Fielding Smith
I read this song today during the sacrament service, and it felt like a warm, comfortable arm had been placed around my shoulders. It isn't used much in church for singing, so it isn't familiar to many. However there was a really gentle version performed by the Tabernacle Choir in conference last fall that is faithful to the quiet spirit of the poem. It made me think of a few dear ones -- family and friends -- and I wanted to post this so that they might read the words, then listen to the performance, and feel that comfortable hug that I felt today. I recognize that the "joy" in the song may be referencing the Eternal Joy to be experienced when we return to our home in heaven. But, it is my experience that we can feel joy now, too, as we toil 'neath our burdens of care. I'm sharing your burden, too. I know you share you mine, dear friends. So together, let's just send out those good thoughts to one another and look upward in joy. Take His hand, now. 

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Happy Birthday To Her

It's a birthday post again. Our second child, first daughter, is celebrating today. I heard that she's rubbing off on her daughter who got up and made a delicious pancake breakfast for her mother to celebrate! Being a good cook is a family tradition for them. I remember my daughter started to bake cookies when she was about that age, too--fourth grade--because, she told me, "I wanted cookies more often than you had time to make them. So I thought I'd just start making them myself." It was a success.

Now, she is a college graduate (all paid for by scholarships) and has just started a superb new job in a university library in acquisitions. It is probably the most appropriate match-up of interest to vocation I could ever imagine. Her----Library---New Books.  Here are some adorable photos to celebrate her life.
One of her first cooking successes: Christmas cookie decorating.

Ballet dancer

 Carousel riding in Seaport Village, San Diego

This is the branch from which she fell that resulted in that broken wrist.

So adorable...

This is not a particularly flattering photo...but it is a true rendition: reading all the time, regardless of whatever else needed done. (Such as finishing dressing.) She taught herself to read at three and a half and has never looked back. Her new job as a university librarian is exactly the right career.

In Praise of Modern Medicine

I'm lying here on couch, with a four inch long bandage taped to my shin. My leg is still orange from the betadine wash, and the word "yes" in permanent purple marker on the leg just below my knee.  I'm typing on my iPad. The surgery went very well, it didn't last long, the recovery will just be a couple of days. I have a deep incision in the muscle so he could get to the nerve, so it aches quite a bit. But...I have a really nice little pill that knocks that back effectively.

But...prepare the trumpets...when I stood to walk to the bathroom this morning, my foot did not have an ice pick jabbing into the side!!  So far, so good.  I'll test it again several more times as the weekend progresses. My leg is quite sore, so I don't feel comfortable really putting my foot through the paces.  So I'll let the surgical site heal up.but...looks good so far...I'm cautiously optimistic.

(And thank you so much for all the kind words, thoughts and prayers.)