Monday, May 28, 2012

Because They Gave Their Best

Today is Memorial Day.  I'm a Michigan girl, and in Michigan, Memorial Day Weekend, above all else, meant you went to your lake cottage (if you were lucky to have one) and open it up for the official start of SUMMER!!!

There is still a part of me, that for every Memorial Day Weekend that passes here in Kentucky, wishes she could be part of the masses that travel 23 and 75, heading Up North for a relaxing weekend at the lake.

Aahhh, but there is another reason for Memorial Day Weekend ... a more sobering one ... it's a weekend to remember all that gave their lives, and often times, their souls, for the cause of freedom.  From the American Revolution to the War in Afghanistan, there are veterans all over this great land that have and  are reliving the memories each and every day of the moments they gave their best for the freedom you and I enjoy.

My mind wanders to my grandfather, Charles Murray, who was a veteran of WWII, Pacific Theater, who was one of the lucky ones.  He came back, but I never realized, until I was an adult, and he was gone, that while he hadn't given his life, he had given his best.

My grandfather never talked about his time in the war, other than to mention the nasty c-rations or the jungle rot he got there or boot camp in California.  Occasionally, he would talk about being in Japan after the atomic bombs were dropped and seeing some of the atrocities, but he never went into any detail.  I never heard him talk about battles or the men he served with or the time that he spent away from his family.  As a young high school girl, learning about this history, I could never understand why he wasn't willing to share his history with me ... I even asked my dad once, and his answer was a simple one, "It is just too painful."

As a teenager, whenever I did ask questions, my grandfather always got agitated.  My grandmother seemed to be the one to change the subject, calming him down, and while I thought I got it, it still frustrated me.  I was reading about it in history books, but it wasn't the same as being with an individual that was actually there ... had lived it.

As an adult, I became interested in his story from a writer's point of view.  I even asked my grandmother once if I could read the letters he sent her while he was away, thinking perhaps I could write something from that point of view.  She told me that when he got home, he made her burn every last one them.

"Grandpa, that was such a rich legacy.  Why did you make her do that?"  I asked.

"Who wants to keep all that crap!?"  He practically shouted.  And then, more quietly, "It was just not worth keeping."

It was the closest he'd ever come to talking to me about the war.

I remember being Up North with my grandparents and parents ... we were all at church ... it was probably during Memorial Day Weekend ... maybe Fourth of July ... and the pastor announced that they were going to recognize our veterans. As they called for Army veterans to stand, my grandfather reluctantly stood, and I watched my grandmother dab her eyes with a Kleenex.  She had given her best as well.

My grandfather was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star a few years back.  We are not completely sure why -- I guess the Veterans Affairs folks are so back-logged, they don't have time to hand out the specifics. I doubt Grandpa would have ever discussed anything that he or his platoon did to achieve such an honor.

I believe my grandfather's goal, when he finally set foot on US soil again, was to just to live a normal life ... as normal a life as one can live when the scenes of war are constantly on replay in your memory.  He did as good a job as I think he was able to given the circumstances.  He was part of the Greatest Generation.

He and my grandmother are both in Heaven now, and I know that his memories of war are all gone.  He has true and complete peace, and he has finally realized his eternal best.

This Memorial Day, among the grilling and picnics and fun and water, take a moment to tip your hat to the Greatest Generation, and those generations that came after, all of whom gave their physical best.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


You know when you're somewhere and you hear something or smell something, and you're all of a sudden transported back to a certain happy memory?

Yeah.  That's been happening a lot to me lately.

For instance, today, as I was standing out in the middle of the strawberry field, the sweet smell of hay swirled in the sticky heat of the morning ... and I was transported to the days of Swim Lessons at the Skrocki's.  They lived out in the country, right across the road from a good sized dairy farm, and I remember those hot, humid days filled with the scent of hay.

My mom made us go to swim lessons every summer, not that it was much of a sacrifice for me.  I LOVED swim lessons. I could have lived in the water full-time, if my parents would have let me.  Every time I drive past a field with hay, the sweet smell sends me back to the Skrocki's pool, and I'm 11 years old once more.

Plucking the juicy strawberries, and occasionally popping a few in my mouth, I was reminded of my mom's words:  "We're here to pick strawberries not eat them.  You need to pick more than your're eating."

She said that to me when we picked green beans as well.  I wonder if she regretted dragging me along on those excursions, but I did learn a lot about organic food.  There isn't anything better in this world that a bowl full of fresh from the field strawberries. Nature's Sugar Candy!

Watering my plants in my yard and smelling the damp, wet ground reminds me of the hot summer days spent running through the sprinkler, squealing partly from delight ... partly from the ice cold water squirting from that old rusty oscillating sprinkler.

The smell of lilacs always take me back to my bedroom on Bennett Street ... the room with a view, overlooking our dear, sweet neighbor, Mr. Averill's yard.  His wife was quite the gardener, and she filled their corner lot with all varieties of lilacs, roses and flowers.  Going to bed while it was still light out was much more palatable when the heavy scent of lilacs floating through that old bedroom window.

Ahhh ... the memories ...

Friday, May 25, 2012

9 Days Left

After today, there are 9 days left of school ... and yes!  I am counting.

On the scale of 1 to heinous, this has been as close to heinous as I've gotten in my ten years of knocking around in this teaching gig. 

I need a break.  And oh how I wished it was a good, long one!  But alas, it will be no more thank six weeks, and then I get to hit it hard all over again. 

But for six glorious weeks, I will have a pretty chilled out schedule ... minus the week of professional development ... oh!  And those three days I said I would help to lead the Technology Workshop.  Yeah, minus those two things, I will be chillin' like a villain.

What does that phrase even mean, people!?  I don't understand it.

I have some specific things I would like to accomplish in those six weeks.
  1. Finish my novel.
  2. Shop my novel around.
  3. Finally organize my office and figure out how to create a craft room/office area.
  4. Clean my house from top to bottom and purge, purge, purge.
  5. Organize my classroom and purge, purge, purge.
  6. Read, read, read, read, and read some more
  7. Oh yeah, and graduate from grad school!
I want it to be an amazing summer of finding all kinds of things to do and see ... go to crazy places and lose tons of weight because I am so busy hiking and walking and being crazy.

Bring on the fun, people!  Bring on the fun!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

End of the School Year Black and Blues

This seems to be crazy time of year for me, and every single year, I lose my mind. Seriously.  Stark-raving, lunacy.  I'm telling you.  It isn't pretty.

The more years I teach, the worse the mind-losing gets. 

Yes, stress.  That is probably the largest contributing factor to said "CRAZY."  I mean, after all, we've got state testing, report cards, last-minute-WHAT-DO-YOU-MEAN-YOU-DON'T-KNOW-WHAT-A-FRACTION-IS, petty cliquey stuff, I-DIDN'T-SAY-THAT-YES-YOU-DID stuff, kids that decide they no longer have to follow rules, and that, all rolled up together, equals me wanting to just LOSE IT all over everyone! 

Last night, I took my frustrations out on my lawn, and I have to tell you, it looks good. Other than some weeds that I do battle with this weekend, when it's suppose to be one hundred and SUPER HOT degrees, my yard looks neat and tidy and not at all like the yard of someone that belongs in the loony bin.

Somewhere along the line, I have got to find my humor again.  It's hiding from me ...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mid-Week Confessions

Okay, okay, I am jumping on the MIDWEEK CONFESSIONAL band wagon.  I will take it as a purging of the soul for the evening ... or a rationalization of all the things I've screwed up this week.

  1. I have worn the same work-out clothes for three days in a row.  I'm pretty sure there's some sort of memorandum at the Center for Disease Control about that, but whatever.  At least, I am exercising!
  2. I got mad when I weighed in at Weight Watchers last night and discovered I'd gained 1.4 lbs, and I, yes, admittedly, pouted.  A 40 year old woman does, in fact, pout.  I've done it frequently this week ... and last week ... and the week after that.
  3. I've secretly harbored the desire to punch people in the face for no other reason than it would make me feel better.
  4. I have washed the same load of laundry five times because I keep forgetting it in the washing machine.
  5. I resent people who are spending inordinate amounts of time explaining, in detail, their anticipated beach vacations.  I can barely afford a wading pool for my side yard.  
  6. I wanted to punch the WEED MAN representative out knocking on doors this evening.  His mere existence and need to make money, made me want to really do bodily harm.  I have been bugged all day long.  
  7. I worked on my graduate school project during a time I should have been organizing and cleaning my classroom.  Shoot me!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Things I've Taken Pictures Of

The Rotunda at the Capitol ... beautiful!

Oven "fried" Cod, Creamed Corn, and a Tossed Salad

LUNCH!!!  A roast beef and cheddar sandwich with fresh, juicy, HUGE raspberries.
Why, yes!  I have been taking photos of food lately.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I was reading a post by someone last night that made me stop and pause (read the article here).  The article spelled out the difference between happy people and disgruntled, miserable people, and it made me stop and think about my gloomy mood of recent days.

Okay, well, gloomy perhaps doesn't catch the true essence of the mood.  More like storm of the century storm clouds brewing off in the horizon, slowly moving this direction in an ominous swirling, rolling formation.

And then I was reminded about a coworker, who is in the last stages of cancer.  The doctors have told him there is nothing left they can do.  It hit me ... I bet he would give anything to be able to get up at the crack of dawn every single day and work out ... and have his foot kill him ... or his knee kill him ... or feel all the aches and pains of general "body in motion" sort of stuff.  

Given his situation, would I sweat all of the small stuff I've been sweating lately?  The office politics that drive me to want to drink or strangle someone or both?

I am complaining ... I am whining ... I am generally weepy about stuff that I shouldn't really be weepy about.

If I had a limited time to live ... say 30 days, would I care so much about the things I am currently caring about?  Hopefully, I would be in a place of acceptance and love rather than a place of resistance and criticizing.  Hopefully, I would seek the positive and shed the negative.  Hopefully, I would focus on the things I have, my abundance, rather than the things I don't have.  Hopefully, I would be in a place of thanksgiving rather than a place of regret.

Today, for just one day, I will attempt to try the impossible.  Today, I plan to focus on the positive.  Yes, I have weight to lose, but I WILL lose it, if I put the work into it.  Laziness is not an option. 

I will focus on what doesn't hurt.  I will focus on what is beautiful in my life, what is meaningful, what are the most important parts of this life I've been given. 

I will work on being thankful and working on the positives.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I was bitten by the 5k run/walk bug the first year I lived here when I found out about the BLACK CAT CHASE.  I didn't do it my first year, but I was bound and determined to do it my second year living here.  I intended to train for it, I really did.  But alas, life and laziness got in the way, and I didn't.

It didn't end well.  In fact, it ended in a rather swollen knee and a subsequent spring of physical therapy.  My insurance company HATED me that year. 

The following year, I did the Black Cat Chase again, and my knee was much healthier.  I beat my original walk time by a few minutes, and I had a lot of fun.  So, why not go from a 5k to a Half Marathon?  I signed my naive self up for the Kentucky Derby Half Marathon ... 13.1 miles of walking through places in Louisville that most people zip through via their cars.  I was confident -- for the most part -- that I would make it ... hopefully.  And I really didn't get too whiny until mile 9 ... when we entered Churchill Downs ... when I heard the woman behind me actually crying because she couldn't make it any further.  I wanted to cry, but I certainly wasn't going to do it in public.  NO WAY!  NO HOW!

So I pounded the pavement all the way to the finish line and slept the rest of the day away!

I didn't do any more races after that one ... until this year, when once again, I felt the calling to walk in a 5k. I've trained ... sorta, but here's the thing.  I have this problem with my foot.  I've ignored it for a while, but now, with just days away from the run/walk, there is an odd pain that hasn't been there before.

My mother taught me not to waste good money, and I've paid 10 whole buckaroos to do this thing, and so, due to my sheer lunacy and stubbornness, I am going to walk the three miles on Friday.  The end result, will more than likely, be a visit to my doctor in the future to figure out what is wrong with my foot. 

Might I just say that I get really irritated with my body.  When I get the least little bit active ... when I get the least little bit "in better shape," it decides to fall apart on me, little bits at a time.  It's annoying, but I will try to push and power through. 

I have 60+ more pounds to go before I am at my goal weight.  A long, long journey ahead, paved with BenGay and copious amounts of ibuprofen, I am sure.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Silence is golden, and, in my case, something that I needed to do here.  Otherwise, I was going to rant and rave endlessly about a myriad of items that have been causing a general malaise in my writer's mind, and the end result would have been to make any number of folks mad just on general purposes.

The end of the school year is not my friend.  Ever.  The older I get, the bumpier the road for the two of us is. 

People annoy me. It's a broad statement, I know.  It's true, though.  Don't bother whining to me about your insignificant problems like not being able to schedule a proper mani and pedi appointment.  I don't care to know that you are mad at your neighbor due to the sheer volume of Republican candidates' yard signs they have in their yard -- those misguided dinguses, you say.  I am unconcerned with the bad service you received at your local fast food joint. Frankly, I don't give a ... well, you know where I'm headed with this one.  Rhett Butler was one articulate SOB, no?

I am tired ... I am cranky ... I am out of sorts, and I'm not to be bothered with trivial items like the color of your socks.  It just doesn't matter to me.

It might be necessary to sequester myself yet again this weekend ... not fit for human interaction ...

But first I get to go and get my hair 'did, wherein, I will sit with a sour expression on my face, arms crossed in front of me, and will dream of mean and nasty ways to annoy children ... because that's what my students all think I do anyway.