Friday, November 27, 2015

Bang and Fizzle

Thanksgiving started out with its usual bang, but ended with a bit of a fizzle.  My sister and her family showed up Wednesday afternoon to start the party. Toby and I had spent the day cleaning and getting ready for the crowd. At one point I unearthed some T-Day decorations that belong to my Mom. If I remember correctly,  she used a pumpkin to make this turkey decoration, but I didn't have a pumpkin. I did have an old butternut squash. I thought it worked well, and it made me lol.

Thanksgiving Eve has taken on a life of its own the past several years. We usually buy tamales and have Mexican food. I made a huge pot of white chili, which may be an Okie thang. It is chicken, green chilies, and white beans. I used some green chilies that we bought in NM. When we bought them, we asked for mild chilies. Of course the guy at the roadside stand said they were mild, but he lied! Anyway, my white chili cleared our sinuses.  My brother-in-law made special margaritas. He used fresh squeezed limes. Now, I usually drink wine or beer, but I love a good margarita. I'm not going to say these margaritas were good, but they were powerful - like a bit of lime with your tequila. Things got silly pretty fast, and the party was fun. Jesse had stayed in WF and was planning on coming up Thursday morning and bringing Mom. Although the party was fun, it was not the same without Jesse and some of the other cousins. And I had made way too much white chili.

I woke up really early Thursday thinking of all I had to do to cook for the crowd. I got up, took my shower, drank coffee, and had the turkey cooking by 5:30.  In fact, I was cookin' with gas all day. I've often thought I would make a good cruise director.  My son says I would make a good cruise sergeant. Let's just say I like to direct (different than being bossy) and I like to have fun and I can gett'er done. Today cooking with my sister was lots of fun. My BIL is always a big help in the kitchen. And Toby cooked the turkey to perfection. The whole meal came together smoothly and right on time. The crowd showed up about 10:30 and things picked up speed and volume.

The downside was the rain. It came down steady all day long. We moved the turkey frying to the carport, but it was miserable outside. The kids inside were not happy either. The big dogs were wet and it was difficult to keep them outside, but it was a must.  My nephew brought his husky puppy, Kevin. Kevin was very excited to be out on the farm with other dogs...and chickens. It's a good thing the chickens were in a pen or Kevin would have "played" rough with them. Kevin drove my nephew and the chickens crazy.

After a wonderful meal (if I do say so myself) my brother and nephew decided to leave and take Kevin, the bad dog, home. His wife stayed another hour, but then gathered my other nephews and my mom and went home. Then my sister, who had planned on staying the night, decided that the weather might get bad, so they left too. With everyone going home, my son and his family decided to take the grand-kids home for naps and such. And there we were with enough food to feed an army, but the army all went home early.

Fizzle. So Jesse, Toby, and I sat around watching football and eating pie. I'll figure out what to do with all this food later.

Friday has been more rain. The yard looks like a lake. The internet has been slow. We are slow.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Shipping Routes

Since I posted about my Marine cousin, I thought I'd share this with you. It is an email from Jim's mother sharing how mail gets to a ship:

Our youngest GRANDson, Josh, asked Uncle Jim how mail gets to his ship. Jim says,
"probably route your package took
-left TX and went to New York
-New York to Rota, Spain where it boarded a US Navy transport plane of some type and flew to Bahrain (or it went straight to Bahrain from east coast)
-From Bahrain it gets put onto a resupply ship that meets us out in the Arabian Gulf
-while we do our replenishment at sea, helicopters fly stuff back/forth between the ships
-once on ship 50+ Marines make a long bucket brigade that snakes through the ship and takes the mail from the hanger bay to a collection area where it’s sorted (massive job…we had over 100 pallets of mail today)
-my mail will make its way to the battalion HQ office and then someone brings it down to me.
-I open and eat chocolate bombs….
Does that answer the question?

Since so many of you have mailed him things I thought it would be interesting to you to see how it arrives. 100 pallets of mail!!!! Ariel asked him to take some pictures of that process so she could post them in the Battalion newsletter. The chocolate bombs are made by an Aggie friend who makes cookie bombs!

Thanksgiving blessings to each of you for praying for our world leaders AND OUR MARINES. More Marines just went to the Embassy in Paris. I have visited with them there. They are the finest. Blessings. pj

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Favorite Marine

Years ago, I wrote a few posts on my Marine cousin, Jim.  Today he is a Lt. Col. and is in charge of lots of Marines. Here is a copy of an email sent from his mom at the end of September: Jim deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to the Mediterranean. He commands 1500 Marines and Sailors in the 2nd Battalion/26th Marines. They will be gone for 7 months. His Marines/Navy Corpman & Chaplain will be residing on 3 ships. After landing in Portugal, Turkey and Romania in the Black Sea, they will travel through the Suez Canal, Arabian Sea, and Persian Gulf. We have a presence in these waters 12 months out of the year. Certainly the news headlines emphasize the need for prayer for our finest warriors.  

I could have picked out a photo of him looking very much the Marine, but I like this one of him with his daughter on her first day of school this year. Here is another photo of him (with his lovely wife) getting a Bronze Star a few years ago:

Happy Birthday, Marines! Have a great Veteran's Day! And thank you.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I like mornings. This morning the dogs started their dog ritual a bit early.  One of the little house dogs decides he wants out. Then the big outside dogs decide they want in. While that little dog is out, the other little dog gets in bed with us. Then the little dog wants in. Now the other little dog wants out. By this time, I am usually wide awake and might as well take my shower. After my shower, all dogs are ready for their morning treat. Then they want out again. It is like "Give a Mouse a Cookie."

Actually it was a pretty standard morning. My mind had already turned on and was running strong when the dogs decided to start the ritual. I often wonder if I woke them or did they wake me. Whatever! My mind clicked on - thinking about the school day. And why? It is all ready and no problems, but my mind decided to run through it. That may be the hardest thing about this teaching. I can deal with kids and such. I can deal with art. But there is something about teaching and being prepared that makes me work and think like I have not had to do in the past 20 years.

I remember when I stopped teaching when we moved to NM and opened up a restaurant. The food business is hard work, but the relief of the pressure of teaching was awesome. Everyday being responsible for classrooms full of willful teenagers is a lot of pressure. There is no saying, "Excuse me while I go to the bathroom...or make a phone call...or time out."  I'm not I am aware of the responsibility until later. While at school, you just deal with things. Later, you realize the pressure. It's not that I can't deal with it or handle it; it is just that it has been a while since I had to do it.

When I saw the video-gone-viral of the officer tumping the student out of the desk and struggling to get her out of the room, I saw things totally differently than the public. I saw a teacher struggling for control of his classroom. I saw parents who have failed to teach their child respect for authority. I would want that kid gone - as in don't come back to my classroom or any other classroom at this school. But that won't happen. As a fellow teacher once said, "We are just toothless tigers in a zoo of wild animals. We can roar, but we have no power, and the other animals know it."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Beautiful Peace

It is the perfect morning. The weather has finally cooled somewhat. We got some needed rain. The wind is not howling. The sun is gonna shine. I slept in til 7 this morning. Life is good.

School is going well. We had a little fall break with Monday off and the previous Friday. Two short weeks - it was a nice break of the routine. Although I was hoping to go on a little mini vacation - maybe Austin, Ft. Worth, Amarillo, etc. But that didn't happen. Toby took off work also, and we worked on the house. It was hard work, but necessary. I was good with that. Sometimes not going somewhere is a good vacation too. Well, Dallas would have been nice...

The two boys who almost fought in my class are back to being friends. Their conversation has to be monitored closely, because they can easily erupt into macho words and on into macho actions. I really like the one boy, although he is a smart-Alec and is a bit volatile. I will call him Rooster. Rooster makes me laugh with his smart-A words, but he has no idea how far to take something. We have had several private conversation on this. I explained to him that his words effect others in the class. He may mean them to be funny, but they cause problems. When I can get the flood of words coming from his mouth to stop and his ears to open, his brain usually kicks in and he stops. Often he apologizes.  But one day while I was presenting a lesson, he started in on my teaching method and poured out his words. My class and lesson was totally ruined. I was furious. Steam coming out my ears. He stayed after class to continue explaining himself  - mouth running - big mistake. I told him, " I love you, man. You have great potential, but if you keep destroying my class, I will sacrifice you." Being a smart kid, he knew exactly what I was saying. He came back with, "I was gonna get out of this class anyway." Tough-guy talk.  I said, "Great." Lots of steam coming out of my ears by this time.  Rooster left. I went to see the counselor - to see if I really could get rid of him if it came to that.

Later when I got home and shared my story with Toby, I told him that I thought the counselor was as useless as tits on a boar hog. He seemed like a good-ole-boy, but not very helpful. I had to work to get my peace back and mull over my next actions concerning Rooster.  It turned out that the counselor did great. He had words with Rooster. Rooster came and apologized to me the next day. Still, I am leery. I don't think Rooster will make it through the year. He may be charming and talented, but his mouth gets him in trouble and his absences will cause him to fail. He was gone three of the four days this week. It was a calm, peaceful, easy week. Friday he was back. Words, lots of words - very little action and effort.

I am thankful for the beautiful Sunday morning. I like the peace. I like the cool weather. My Saturday with my mom went well. I am very thankful for the peace.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fightin' Friday

Years ago when I was teaching in Questa, NM, I was on morning bus duty when a fight broke out between two girls. Although both girls had steady boyfriends, one girl had been seen holding hands with the other girl's boyfriend - hence the fight. After escorting the girls to the office, it dawned on me that the boyfriends would be getting off the buses soon. I ran the length of the school, down the hall to the bus area. Sure enough I got there as one boyfriend took a swing at the other boyfriend. A male teacher caught one of the boys around the waist and held him while I grabbed the other and dragged him away. I sent him to my office to wait on me.

I didn't really care much for the girls, but the boys were two of my favorites - all time favorites. The boys were as different as night and day. One boy was from an old, well-to-do Questa family. He was smart and fun and always pleasant. He has done well in the world - as I knew he would. The other boy from a broken home, poor, on his own, but charming and easy to like. His life would always be hard, but I felt like with encouragement, he could make it.

It was the second boy that I sent to my office to wait on me. It was his girlfriend who had cheated on him with the other guy. When I got there, there were big tears in his eyes, and he said, "I just wanted someone to love me." It broke my heart. I wanted to take him home and mother him and love him as his mother should have done. But I couldn't and didn't, because he was a grown man. I still think of him often and worry about him.

Last Friday a fight nearly broke out in my fourth hour class.  Silly talk went from silly to mouthy to fightin' words very quickly. I wanted them out of my classroom since they were a danger to everyone in the room. I called the office and told the principal that I was sending them to him. And off they went. My adrenaline was pumping - probably not as much as theirs, but it took a while to settle everyone down. 

One of the boys is the deputy county sheriff's son. He is big kid. I like him well enough. The other kid is from a druggie, broken home. He is on his own doing the best he can. He is smart and charming. I like him. But I worry that he won't make it. I worry that he will be swept away by the awfulness in his life.

It was the second boy who came back to my room. He apologized. He cried. I encouraged him to keep going - that lots of teachers want to see him do well. I don't know if he will make it. It's tough to be on your own. When both of your parents are losers, there is no one to teach you a better way. Teachers, counselors, administrators, etc, try to encourage these kids, but there is really only so much we can do. After all, those kids are not ours. Kids are only with us for a few hours a day. Ultimately, they have to make the right decisions on their own. Very few make it like in "The Blind Side." It breaks my heart.