Seven Wonders…

…from today’s point of view

(Quest to write posts with numbers in the title to ten.)

Wonder-full World

I often talk think to myself, what a wonderful world. Honestly, I do. I saw an actual rainbow on the drive home from my beach vacation. A rain shower had begun as I drove around a bend; suddenly, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & purple.

Although at this late stage of the game in life I do know how a rainbow occurs, it is still a magnificent wonder. I almost felt it had been placed there in front of me for a reason unknown. As I continued to drive, I said a little prayer which found me thanking not only God but both of my parents and sister ( I assume all are in Heaven together) for having just experienced a fabulous full vacation with my husband and “framily”.

Reading Wonder

More a book intended for ‘tweens, I highly recommend.

My first experiences with reading as a child were much like having a tooth drilled without a painkiller. I wrote a whole post on becoming a reader several years ago, but I won’t bore you with the details. ( if curious Summer, 1977) The above book is required reading for my 4th/5th-grade students. Its message and theme could easily be stated as “Choose Kindness”.

Today, I ponder the many who read the written headline, article, op-ed, news story, Facebook post, email chains, & so on that proclaim some sort of negativity toward others or the reader deems offensive to self. Once read or in many cases sometimes half read; the reader becomes enraged. So much so, he/she then writes, finds or creates a meme to post, or tweets to the world another bitter feeling. I do not discount another person’s feelings for I walk only in my shoes, but I’m frequently in awe…

Not quite how I looked on my recent beach trip, but the expression on her face speaks volumes to my mood under my beach umbrella.

 

Wonder vs. Worry

Although my Son-sters are well into their twenties (one will be 30 this year) and living on their own, I do still wonder about their well-being. The truth is I should replace the word wonder with worry. I do my best to hide the worry (if they are reading this, cue the rolling their eyes and mumbling “baloney sandwiches” under their breath because they know I would tell them to watch their language). More than anything, it is my hope Hubster and I have prepared them to be men who care for others, are kind, respectful, responsible, and of course, watch their credit scores & mind their health care benefits.

Sometimes I still wish, this was us.

 

They are in the stage of their life where friends often take precedence over family. They don’t need me as much I need to still hear about their lives. They try to ease my worry and I try to believe…

 

Wonder Bread

I was a thin child and up until about 10 years ago never thought very much about my weight as my clothing size only changed during pregnancy and bounced right back afterward.

Proof of thinness:

Thanks for indulging my proof.

Today, when my yearly doctor’s appointment rolls around, I find myself trying not to eat too much in the days leading up and indulging in plenty of fiber to remove all the extra food living in my body. I don’t like it when my doctor, in her subtle tone of condemnation, states, “You really want to be about 15 to 20 pounds lighter.”

Wonder Bread was a staple of childhood. It was inexpensive to eat toast for breakfast or to enjoy as the base for a sandwich. Fortunately, as evidenced by my very younger self in photos, it didn’t stick to my bones. In addition, by the time I was about 11 or 12, my mother had switched to a healthier version of wheat or rye loaves of bread as there weren’t as many mouths to feed, although it probably cost more. My metabolism was keeping me thin, while my Milkman father’s conversion of food intake was expanding his waistline and my mother recognized his growth spurt. He came home every day at about 2- 3 pm, after delivering milk beginning in the pre-dawn hours. Supper was a few hours away so he made himself a peanut butter and banana (PB&B) sandwich. I can still smell the combination and feel the warmth of the sunlight as it shone through the kitchen window when he offered to make one for me.

I am the newborn. Exhaustion was the current trend in family photography. My father in his trim state.

 

The early 1980s, a wider version of the Milkman, although a healthier glow & disposition.

He lived to be 84 years old, with challenging health difficulties beginning at age 59. I’m sure the PB&B was not the sole fault in the health of his heart, but as I approach (many years from now) his age, I wonder will I inherit the same fate. He was not a smoker, only a social drinker (while many men in the neighborhood went to the local stag bar, my father was at home helping us with homework), and very faithful toward Catholicism. He arrived at marriage and family life having lived a childhood with Dickensian undertones, so I am certain stress contributed to the recipe in PB&B’s. I am hopeful that the happy life provided to me by my parents and the one I have been afforded since marriage to Mr. Wonderful (aka Hubster) has kept some of the heartaches away from the four chambers that make-up the beats that keep me dancing.

Stevie Wonder

Although I know many of my tens of readers know my real name, I still enjoy the slight anonymity this blog brings to my ability to write as freely as legally possible. I know the First Amendment states I have certain rights to speech, but I still need to maintain employment, keep confidential those who may not wish to have their lives all of the pages of A  Milkman’s Daughter (AMD), and honestly, I find great joy in creating the persona of others through the names I employ to protect those innocents mentioned here at AMD. As a matter of fact, frequent readers and those who become content, often want their own naming rights. (My blog, I choose your name.)

My first real job out of college was in human resources. I was newly married. There were no cell phones or email to distract me from my job. On the rare occasions when Hubster tried to reach me at work, he had to call through a switchboard. My company of about 100 full-time employees and thousands of temporary employees had to call through this switchboard if they were out of the building. Joy (her real name because it is so fitting) was our switchboard operator. She was on-time every day, friendly & professional on the phone and exact at messaging, especially from clients. If I happened to be away from my desk when Hubster would call, Joy wrote a message from him on her pink message pad and left it on my desk. Joy always thought it sweet when Hubster called, probably because he authored a book on cordial, kind, & flirtatious phone etiquette (unless you’re a telemarketer, then the book starts and finishes much differently). Although Hubster, was all those things on the phone, I know it was Joy who translated his message of just touching base with me to a sweeter version of…

A play on his “real” name. She thought him wonderful and I still do.

One Pit Wonders

The avocado, peach, and plum …three of my favorite one pit wonders. I will let these photos from Pinterest speak for themselves.

 

 

Wonder Years

The truth is…

  • I know where my car is parked because I write it in the notes of my phone, just in case.

  • I do my best to never silence my phone so it can be called if I misplace (usually under a pile of graded papers).

  • My glasses are typically worn as a hair accessory if not on my face.

  • I only wonder what day it is in the summer because during the school year I always know exactly how many days until the next weekend.

Wonder no more, this post is finally done.

8, 9, & 10 still to come,

 

 

Six word…

…Stories.

(Quest to write posts with numbers in the title to ten.)

This post was supposed to be titled Six Pack Abs Flabs but given no one is much interested in my body mass index or the jelly-like substance surrounding the core of my body, I have passed on the subject matter. Instead, I searched for other intriguing ideas with the number six. All topics left me indifferent or in the spirit of the numbered posts, six of one, half a dozen of the other.

I happened upon the title of my post on Pinterest. It seems there are many authors who have indeed written stories with just six words. I regard myself as a story-teller so I thought how could it be possible to write an entire story with just six words. By the time I start a story, sixty words have already been wasted put to type. In addition, if I am telling the story aloud (for the 6th time) Hubster sometimes falls asleep.

The six-word stories I found have an abundance of themes including heartbreak, grief, love, inspiration, self-worth, and so much more. Six Six Word Stories I enjoyed the most:

Six-Word Memoir: dear older me: don't look back

When I assume, I'm usually right.

Backbone. Wishbone. Funny bone

six word memoirs. … More

I too have written a six-word story although someone else may claim I have plagiarized my text. Indeed, you have heard it before and you may believe it is your own story so I am happy to share it with you.

OMG! My mother was right about everything!

The OMG! takes it over the six-word maximum, but once in a while colorful interjection makes a story much more interesting. Son-sters, take note!

Until we meet again at seven,

High Five for…

…Summer

I hope everyone is making the most of summer. When you consider the reality of summer counting for 91.25 days of our year we have to pack in as much as possible. I don’t want to count the number of my days off as a teacher because I know it is less than the 90+ mentioned.

The method I employ to avoid facing reality.

It is difficult to breathe when your head is in the sand so every once in a while I pop out and try something new or something I haven’t done in a while.

Here are my high five for summer, so far…

#5

Technically, this show ends up being a low for me. After the first season, which was very binge-worthy, I had high expectations for the next season. The second season left me feeling stumped (you’ll get the bad taste in the word choice if you watch it). Hubster and I watched the entire second season hoping to find redemption. The last scenes of the second season actually haunted my sleep for several nights.

#4

Prize Winning Blueberry Coffee Cake

Several years ago I misplaced the paper copy of this recipe. I had lost touch with the friend from college who shared it with me. Truly the best coffee cake on the planet. I searched all the usual internet places…Google, Food Network, etc. I tried a few of the recipes that seemed similar, but it was not the same.

A few months ago, I ran into my college chum… we didn’t talk about the cake but caught up on other details of life. Fortunately, we exchanged phone numbers again. I did have a few friends over for coffee and backyard deck time last week. I texted her to see if she would share the recipe. It was also my intention that when she returned my text, I would invite her to coffee to enjoy her recipe.

Here was the response to my text:

Instead of the beautiful coffee cake above, I made my Award Winning Banana Bread recipe for the gals who came to coffee…

Award Winning because it is my mother’s recipe and she said so.

Deck time coffee with friends came and went…I had not deleted the text I sent to my chum even though it was over a week old, but I was about to delete when I wondered…

Here is the actual text with a minor edit for my blog name.

Just as I was about to hit delete, something about the name at the top hit me. No…I couldn’t have done that, could I?

Indeed, I did. My sister, Susan has been dead for two years. I texted the wrong SUSAN. It is no wonder the response was dead silence. Needless to say, I have remedied two wrongs. I deleted my sister’s number from my phone ( it was time) and I texted the correct Susan who returned my message instantly. We still haven’t “gotten together”, but I did make the Prize Winning Blueberry Coffee Cake…don’t know who won the prize and still plenty of summer 2018 to make a planned get together.

#3

 

Tim Allen had a show years ago, Home Improvement… I was never a fan. He then went on to make the Santa Claus movies. I attended one with the family, but I believe I fell asleep so don’t much remember. There may have been one or two more Claus movies, but since I could sleep at home for a lot less money, I never returned to the theater for either.

One night, early on in our summer’s eves in our sunroom, Hubster was perusing Netflix or Hulu. He does the browsing, I sit back and critique.

Not my hairy arm on the right, sometimes I pretend to let Hubster have a say in the TV watching.

He happened upon Last Man Standing, my thumb was forcibly in the downward position, but then I remembered one of my colleagues telling me how funny the show was so I turned my thumb half-way in the other direction. The interpretation of the “half-way” move since none of you have been married to me for 32 years means…“We’ll see or I’ll be the judge of its future.”

I have had several belly-laughs through most of the episodes and we have completed the entire series.

#2

Peggy Anne (details about P.A. here) invited me to join her and her son, Jackson to attend the Kenny Chesney concert in Philadelphia back in June. I am not much of a concert goer, but I said yes. (She asked me last October if I wanted to attend…I told her I thought I would be washing my car in the rain that day so I passed. When her Dad passed away in March, in a moment of weakness, I decided the car washing would have to wait.)

This was an all-day extravaganza. Kenny is known for many popular country songs. His most popular No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems is the foundation of his No Shoes Nation following. I will use the title to help you understand the day.

No Shoes: Please wear shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. While most of the young women under 25 were wearing cowboy boots with their cut-off denim shorts, I was certainly glad I had opted for my older Nike tennis shoes. The tailgate in a parking lot outside Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on a hot day in June means the coed port-a-potties will have some unpleasant wetness on the floor. When you eventually make it home from the concert those shoes you didn’t mind getting wet now enter the trashcan at lightning speed, thus the reason for No Shoes.

No Shirt: We are ladies, Peggy Anne and I kept our shirts on at all times…to those who were with us and strangers also attending the concert. You’re welcome.

No Problems: Peggy Anne and  I had No Problems singing along to so many of Kenny’s songs. Don’t be shocked if Kenny scoops us up as backup singers…it’s tough to find two hot gals, especially one who looks amazing in a straw cowboy hat.

#1

Family is #1. My nephew and his wife do not live very far from us. We do not get together as much as we should. This summer I promised myself we would get together. Their kids joined the swim team at their pool this year and last week Hubster and I went to one of their swim meets. Honestly, it was a thrill to cheer them on as their team won the meet.

Go WAVES!!!

Still, plenty of summer 2018 to come,

 

THE RECIPE

Prize Blueberry Coffee Cake

 

Preheat oven to 375°

 

Cake

¾ Cup sugar

¼ Cup margarine

1 egg

½ Cup milk

2 Cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 Cups Blueberries

 

Topping

½ Cup sugar

1/3 Cup flour

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ Cup margarine

 

Cake

Mix together ¾ cup sugar, ¼ cup margarine, and egg. Stir in milk, 2 Cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend in blueberries. Spread in the greased 8-inch baking dish.

 

Topping

Using a fork, mix together sugar, flour cinnamon and margarine until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle on top of the cake.

Bake at 375° for 45 to 50 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four-Letter…

…words

My last two posts have had the numbers Two and Three, consecutively in the titles, so I wondered if I could write posts with number titles to ten (and not bore every one of my tens of readers to click away from my blog).

Do not fear this post! You will find it has absolutely nothing to do with cursing, swearing, or cussing.

I wrote two posts about those four-letter words several years ago. (If interested here & here.)

I have chosen four, four-letter words:

HOME, HELP, HEAP, HEAL

 

HOME:

This is the empty nest where the Hubster and I reside.

 

We aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and a few things need fixing. We need a new driveway as the roots from an oak tree (not seen to the right and not ours) has really caused it to crack. Each year it gets worse.

We may have some new landscape by next spring because we won a landscape design package at my school auction this year. The designer comes in August to create the plan. We’re hoping our bank accounts approve of what’s in store.

Our kitchens and baths are all functional and clean. Tile and grout are set in the stone age so I find it hard to justify redoing just so we can have the latest design features. (Also, I have my heart set on a beach place so I want to keep my the funds moving in that direction.)

The kitchen floor is another matter…white vinyl. Enough said…My smoke and mirrors method of keeping it looking great is to encourage everyone to look up at the pretty plates on the wall or out the kitchen window to the backyard when they enter the room. Another method of distraction is dimming the lights; it saves money.

While trying to locate a photo of an ugly kitchen floor and because I don’t want to put my floor on the internet, I found this blog. She painted her floor. Hmm, maybe a project!

The Nester

Our backyard and sunroom are wonderful features in the spring, summer, and fall. I have spent most of my summer thus far sitting in the sunroom, no matter the temperature and gazing toward the yard.

I tend to get a bit annoyed when I spot deer grazing while I am gazing. I do my best to scare them away, but they come back while I sleep.

This used to be glorious hosta.

I know I promised no uncouth four-letter words, but I did think it in my head. Time for a reapplication of Liquid Fence.

HELP:

In my last post, I mentioned I met someone who writes a blog. She is Sue Batton Leonard. Her blog is Sow the Heart. She is very sweet and the blog is filled with charming stories. She is a published author. I decided to buy one of her books for my Kindle. It’s a memoir she wrote about her family which included a wonderful woman by the name of Fanny. Although Fanny was hired by the family as help for the author’s mother, she became an endearing and loving part of their lives.

Amazon

I am not affiliated with Sue or her blog, but I just thought it was such a sweet book that I had to let everyone know.

HEAP:

I am happy to report the heap of fabric which resided in my garage closet is gone. It wasn’t actually a heap. All was washed, folded, and color sorted for projects, but the fact is there has been no time for all the ideas in my head or on my Pinterest boards. I donated all of the fabric with the exception of one plastic container.

I am glad to have this heap off my back. Next, I will delete the projects from my Pinterest boards.

Don’t worry dog bandana friends the fabric I kept in the plastic container is for dog bandanas.

A few of my dog bandana friends:

Zoey

 

Todd

Millie

 

Chowdah’ and Chili…Preppy Empty Nester’s two hooligans.

 

Hershel

 

If I left your dog out it’s because I don’t have a recent photo of your dog sporting its stylish bandana or I wasn’t able to swipe it off of an Instagram post.

HEAL:

There are no deep wounds requiring therapy, but finding these long days of summer to feel like I am achieving something for me is invigorating. The teacher in me knows the academic lessons and my patience, tolerance, kindness, and did I mention patience are permitted to enjoy a respite. Please let the summer move slowly from here forward. I need the sunlight on my “sunscreened” shoulders, my toes in the sand (perhaps a cool umbrella beverage in hand), and time to read a book I choose to keep me on an even keel for the 190 days of the year that belong to someone else.

One of the other books I’ve read this summer and highly recommend:

AMAZON

One of my colleagues who follows me on Instagram spotted it in one of my Insta-posts and invited me to their book club dinner to discuss. It was wonderful because the conversation steered clear of school…Keep Calm and Heal.

I read it while I was visiting the Family Matriarch and the Kitchen King….an excellent spot to heal.

Until next time,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Nuns…

…got on a bus.

In the last few months, I have told this story when I ran into a college classmate in Goodwill, met with my financial advisor, and made a donation of fabric to someone who happens to have a blog (her blog here). Try not be jealous of this glamorous life I lead, most days are actually quite boring.

Pinterest

The story is about how I came to Maryland.

Way back in the fall of 1980, I was a senior in high school. Basketball practice was underway for the season.

My small Catholic high school was located in Roxbury’s Mission Hill.  The school did not have its own full gymnasium. Our gym was a room which once housed the coal used to fuel the old boiler. When a new boiler was purchased the room was converted to a half gym. Our basketball teams, both boys, and girls, usually made it to tournament play after the regular season. We did have access to the Tobin Gym (we heard the Celtics used to practice at this gym back in the day) just a couple of blocks from our school, but we couldn’t use it immediately after school, on most days our practices and home games began around 5 pm.

View from the back of the convent facing Mission Church on Tremont Street…the gym was on the same street as the church.

One evening after practice, my teammates and I took our usual walk up Tremont Street from the gym toward Huntington Ave. This intersection was normally quite busy even during the evening hours because there were multiple hospitals in the location, in addition to Harvard Medical School, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Boston State College. Most of my teammates worked in the dietary departments of the hospitals. I was a dietary worker as well, but I worked in Jamaica  Plain at the Faulkner Hospital. I had also held jobs as the evening secretary in our church’s rectory and counter-girl at Dunkin’ Donuts. I think all of my teammates had a part-time job year round and I believe like myself, many were paying their own tuition at our school.

Some of my teammates lived only a short distance from the intersection, but a few of us had to take public transportation when family members couldn’t give us a ride.  Typically, there was a group of 10-12 waiting at the T stop. Most nights, we weren’t sure if the trolleys were running (never-ending construction) or if a bus would come in its place. While waiting we would chat and shiver, none of us wearing a hat because we were too cool. Boston in December was cold, so I can add not only were we cool (reality: freezing), we were foolish. I think many of my former classmates would also never describe me as cool, but since I am writing this creative non-fiction, I am identifying my high school self as “cool”.

No trolley ever came that night, instead, it was the bus. Those of us who were beginning our commute home stepped onto the bus. Most nights, when we flashed our MTA student IDs we didn’t have to argue with the driver about our 10 cents fare, but on occasion and because we had long shed the school uniforms we did. This night found us showing our book bags and pointing to our letter jackets. Of course, the other riders “loved” it when this would delay the movement of the bus toward their destinations.  It didn’t take much, but the driver finally relented and our dimes went into the till.

We were fortunate that night because there were seats. So down we flopped on the last remaining seats and the slouching began. At the next stop, only a few blocks away entered the next passengers. The driver began another verbal altercation only this time it was with three nuns from our high school. I can’t say I remember the exact fare for adults in 1980, but 25 cents sounds correct. Sister M.F. (her actual initials and the Assistant Principal of my school) asked the bus driver if she could ask a passenger for change as it was just the three of them and she didn’t want to use the whole $1.oo bill in the till.

“I don’t make change,” grumbled the driver.

“No, I know, I was going to check with a passenger if they could make the change.”

In order to clarify his position of “lack of coins for bills,” he barked, “J.C.”. He didn’t use the initials for the Man upstairs, he flat-out used His first and last name. I’m sure he didn’t realize he was in the company of representatives for the Man, thus the name calling in vain.

This photo was found on Pinterest after searching for nuns, no habits. The three on the left are about the age of the nuns who got on the bus that night and they dressed like the nuns I had in high school, most not wearing a traditional habit; a few still wore the habit like the nun on the right. (Nun second to the left bears a scary resemblance to my former self, see newspaper clipping in this post...I assure you it’s not me.)

Nuns of my younger grade school years

The last two nuns I had who were this habit were my 2nd and 3rd-grade teachers.

Pinterest

Just then one of my teammates offered the change. Having only 75 cents, she told Sister M.F. she could pay her back in school tomorrow.

Thank goodness they didn’t ask for a transfer from the driver, he was in no mood.

The three nuns were grateful and offered their hellos or good evenings to us or whatever was the typical polite greeting on a bus to students.

I did a Pinterest search for Nuns on a Bus and look at some of the images…

 

Pinterest

Most of you may know that nuns typically reside in convents. However, during the summer between my junior and senior year of high school, the nuns who rode the bus on my commute home that night moved into an apartment in Jamaica Plain, my childhood home section of Boston. Only one T stop separated me from the nuns.  One of them, I think Sister J.C.(not to be confused with the Man and her actual initials…my high school Principal) owned or had use of a car. I don’t know where the car was that night and I didn’t ask.

We offered our seats to the standing Sisters. Naturally, they took our coveted seats. As the ride continued conversation spilled into college applications.  I told them I had applied to Boston State and a few others, nothing remarkable. I had always dreamed of going away to school, but I knew with my family’s income (not a factor as the name of my blog states = very little money) I would probably go to Boston State and that would be just fine.

“No, you need to broaden your scope,” Sister J.C. urged.

“How about our college in Baltimore?” Sister M.F. suggested.

Sister K. or C. (her Irish name began with one of those two letters) who I didn’t know well, was new to our school that year. I didn’t have her for any classes, but she nearly jumped out of the seat we had given her to exclaim, “Yes, I have a friend who is a professor there, I will contact her!”

“Uh, no thanks…Boston State will be just fine. I am the youngest of seven, my father is a milkman, my mother a homemaker who recently survived cancer, they both practically qualify for Social Security, I pay my own tuition now, and I am NOT going to be a NUN!

I never actually verbalized, the NUN part, but I thought it extremely loud in my head.

Those three nuns were positively giddy.

See what I mean!

By the time we reached the end of the line, they had it all figured out. They were going to talk to the guidance counselor, Sister K. or C. was going to contact her friend, and Sister J.C. & Sister M.F. was going to contact the Motherhouse. I was disgruntled and quick to distance myself from this bus whose final stop seemed not to be my home, but rather the nunnery.

Within days of that fateful bus ride, I received a call at my home from the basketball coach at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.  When I met with the guidance counselor, she handed me the Notre Dame catalog.

After seeing a photo of the basketball coach, who had young Paul Newman good looks…

…and begging my father to let me see his tax forms so I could complete the financial aid forms, the rest was history.

To be honest, I am a wee bit not that shallow  …I did have to beg my Milkman father for his tax forms because he honestly thought I would not qualify for financial aid. My mother was a harder sell because she never wanted me to turn 18, … her words, “I will go into mourning when you turn 18.”

She lived to 91 and most days didn’t appear to be in mourning.

Obviously, I am still here in Maryland today and given the husband and sons, the convent was definitely not the future I had before me back then, but I am eternally grateful and truly believe I am here today because…

Three Nuns Got on a Bus.*

Two of those nuns were my coaches during my junior year in high school. L: Sister J.C. – R: Sister M.F. We went to states only to be eaten between two slices by the team from Sandwich High School on Cape Cod.

See you soon…

 

*Should divine intervention cause this post to become viral, I suppose my donation to the yearly college fund will have to be more than the current lackluster amount.  

 

Two words…

… neither of which is lottery winner.

     I started this post over a year ago when I was working on my boring series of alphabetical posts. Don’t worry I won’t link any of those 26 posts here.

     It all began with a vocabulary game I have my students play in class every day. The game is much like the Heads-Up game which is an app on Android phones/iPhones. My game is quite similar although the technology is much savvier shabbier.  One player holds an unseen word to his/her head while the other gives clues to help the player determine the correct word. The goal is to correctly name as many words as possible in one minute. If the cardholder identifies the correct word, a point is scored. The clue giver can also tell the player holding the word to pass. The team with the most points after one-minute wins.

     Instead of using an iPhone, my students use a low tech device called an iCard. In case you’re new to the latter form of technology and because visual learning usually produces excellent comprehension, let me elaborate using my photo-journalism skills.

 

When it comes to technology, I am frugal…I can get two iCards for the price of one. The former name index card for iCard, not so trendy to 5th graders.

 I started this game with math vocabulary, specifically for the geometry unit. Watching the game face of a student holding the card fixed on the forehead while the clue giver stretches both arms above the head in true touchdown fashion…

     “You know this …when straight edges stay the exact same distance apart and continue to infinity & beyond…thank you Buzz Lightyear.”    

Guess:  “PARALLEL LINES”

It was indeed like a touchdown, and I truly believe this genuine gameplay increased their understanding.

I soon introduced the game into my written language lessons when we were told we could no longer teach vocabulary in isolation. While I tend to agree with the premise of memorizing words and definitions on a list does not necessarily increase true understanding, I thought there has got to be a way to include building vocabulary as students had significant deficits. The game engaged them and it didn’t feel like pencil and paper learning. In many ways, they were creating their own understandings by trying to communicate the definition to another.

I did have to set some rules for the game…for instance, when the game was played in Math the clue giver couldn’t describe the word as…

  “…a boys name”

     Guess: “RAY”   (Insert annoying wrong answer buzzer sound.) ….the definition had to resemble,  “a line with an endpoint that extends infinitely in one direction.”

Now that you understand the game, I would like you to refer back to the two words written on the iCards in the photo.

The first word …dawdle

What a glorious word and one that was new to 100% of my 5th grade students. I like it when my students can use context clues to determine a definition of a word, so a sentence to paint a picture for them… I watched a student dawdle back to the classroom after using the restroom down the hall.

“The learning will wait, I have locker tags to read”…says every student who discovers the amount of time they can spend outside of the classroom in the hall.

They knew exactly what the word meant and began to use it similarly when playing the game.

Before you knew it they themselves were heard in discussions with each other, “Please stop dawdling at the pencil sharpener, I need to sharpen pencils too.” In my mind, they said please, but that may not have always been the case.

Needless to say (and probably, once again only in my mind) my game was a success.

The other word in the photo above is kettle. When I learned students had not a clue of this word, I honestly was shocked. They had no life experience with a kettle.

I inquired if anyone drank tea or had a parent who drinks tea. All could state they knew about tea…whew. Finally, one of the girls shouted, “I think my grandmother has a tea kettle.”

Well now that we have established that I am of the generation of her grandmother, my tea may now have a bitter taste.

Scary, but I may see an actual resemblance to myself.

     It seems a tea kettle may no longer be a thing in most homes. We own a tea kettle, but we are not big tea drinkers. In the summer months, we usually make a few batches of iced tea using our kettle,  but otherwise, it just sits on its throne (the back burner of our stove top) in a state of “shiny-ness”.

     Most of the students thought making tea meant boiling water in the microwave…obviously, this is a method that does produce steamed water so I wasn’t about to split hairs, but I knew the word kettle would find its way into one of the many literary texts life may impose upon them so they would need to learn the word kettle.

The gameplay would continue and I had to put up with a year of listening to:

“You know, that pot with a handle and spout that your grandmother or Mrs. Beemie puts water in to boil and then make tea.”

Guess: “Kettle”

    I am not a big tea drinker.  Hubster and I are mostly coffee drinkers, usually in the morning and an occasional Irish decaf coffee over the holidays. Over the years we have purchased and used a variety of coffee makers. I am pretty sure our first coffee maker was this beauty…

mr coffee

 Since this original maker, we have probably killed about one dozen coffee makers. We don’t do a lot of research when buying a coffee maker because we are usually buying a brand new coffee maker under duress…approximately 10 minutes after we discover the one sitting on the counter has died.

With the death of a coffee maker comes an immediate quick trip (no dawdling involved) to Dunkin’ Donuts for medicinal purposes so we remain on an even keel in the wee hours of the morning and the rest of the day.

Our current coffee maker is a Black & Decker. I wish I had bought two of them when our last one died because then I would have a replacement that I actually like and brews decent coffee, but alas I did not.

At present, the kettle is brewing for summer tea and I will dawdle about the house now that I have finished some summer purge. The gentleman who has been helping me unload at the Goodwill and I are becoming fast friends…I may bring him some sweet tea, not that he has time to dawdle. Some people still work in the summer.

So I managed to write a post about two words, hopefully, I didn’t put you to sleep.

One of my molars chipped off this morning so to the dentist I go… and the convenience store because even though I do have dental insurance, I’m pretty sure I may need some lottery winnings.

Until next time,

 

An Honest Review…

…A stay with the Family Matriarch & the Kitchen King

  

Photos of the house decked out for the 4th of July from a couple of years ago.

When the family gets together it is always a great thing especially if you are the houseguest. I recently spent a week at the home of my sister, the Family Matriarch (FM) and her husband of almost 49 years, the Kitchen King (KK). Whenever I stay with them, the KK always jokes about the review I will leave when I check-out so here it is because you asked for it.

Check-in: *****

…any hour, day or night, friendly staff willing to hold your wallet for the entire stay

Besides the fact that they have difficulty making eye contact with their free-loading favorite guest, they are typically quite cordial and humorous.

Price: *****

…where else can a relative mooch for free

This doormat made me feel right at home.

Cleanliness: *****

…as long as you clean up after yourself, the owners will give you 5 stars (I have used this video in a post a while back, but it is always one of my favorites when it comes to cleanliness being next to Godliness.)

Food: ***** + *****

…a previous guest◊ stated “restaurant quality” food on demand and I concur with this guest. The menu selection is too vast to list, but trust me, no one goes hungry, just ask my hips.

Pizza for three…now you know why my hips can talk.

 

Accommodations: *****  and      Location:*****

… room with a view of the Atlantic Ocean… fortunately, no upcharge as long as you tell them it was foggy and you couldn’t enjoy your view. (SHH! There was no fog…see photo below.)

…footsteps away from the Atlantic Ocean (depending on the season, this can be good or bad)

GOOD

By the dawns early light…I am going to tell them this photo was from a few years back…don’t want the pesky upcharge.

BAD

Same view…Still from a video taken this past January…scary and the reason I visit them in Florida during the winter.

Activities: *****

…never a dull moment (some of my posts from visits past… here, here, here)

…walking on the beach, enjoying the sun, reading on the porch, wide-screen TV, free wi-fi, shopping close-by, bike riding through the neighborhood, annual clambake (held in my honor after all that’s why they call me “greatest”), and new this year moving furniture from three rooms and clothes in closets from the second floor to the third floor so that the hardwood floors could be installed. #12,000steps #IthoughtIwasaguest #ifyouareluckyenoughbeatthebeachyouareluckyenough #freehelp #thatiswhatmakesafamily

The New Floors

This is my claimed room. It is called the blue room because of its usual blue and white decor. No blue and white decor because I carried it to the third floor.

 

The green room, if you’re catching on you can infer that decor in this room is normally green. Yes, I schelped it up to the third floor.

 

The bunk room, pre-sanding, and overcoat. Due to my journalistic integrity, I must confess, I did almost no lifting from this room, but I was excellent moral support, which is what really matters.

A little word of advice if you are ever invited to stay with them for longer than 24 hours…do not share too much of your skill set because before you know it you’re bringing your own sewing machine to make slip covers. 

My Guest Project 2017 

And just in case you think you can tell them you will be arriving with no special talent…beware, they believe everyone can hold a paintbrush.

Those balusters and pickets aren’t going to paint themselves…truth be told those are vinyl, but the first picture in this post is the beach side of the house. Everyone in my immediate family has painted those balusters and rails.

 

Check out: *****

…always bittersweet, but at least they give you back your wallet. (Strange… I have mysterious charges on my credit card…Hmm, boat repairs?)

Now I know why they were so anxious to get the boat in the water while I was visiting.

This quote is always a winner when it comes to time spent with the FM & the KK.

 

Until next time,

 

◊ My Sons-ster #2 wrote a thank you note to the Family Matriarch & Kitchen King when he was about 15 years old, thanking them for his visit to their home. In his thank you, he wrote that their food was “restaurant quality”… the description is so fitting and true…we use the term quite frequently.

The Country Cousins…

…a memory from a Country Home

In the last several days, I have been experiencing a bit of nostalgia hanging over my mood. One of my cousin’s daughter’s posted a family photo from 1963 on her Facebook page. While I am a baby in the photo and have no memory from that exact day, it stirred in me a time when life was so much simpler.

The photo posted was a black & white version of this one. Aunt Claudette* sits in the center front with my cousin, Joanne* standing at her legs.

Every time I see a photo like this from my youth I recognize the importance my parents placed on having an extended family when both of them had childhoods that at times resembled chapters in a Dickens novel. ( you can read about them here & here). It seems strange to think I am older now than my parents in this photo and many of my cousins & siblings are older than the great-uncle and his second wife also in the photo.

A day like the one above usually began as a Sunday excursion via our family station wagon after Mass to visit the country cousins. They lived 40 miles outside of Boston in Grafton. Typically, we played outside all day; piling into their rowboat (no life vests), trekking through the surrounding woods (no tick checks), riding their bikes (no helmets), and we didn’t return home until it was dark. Oddly, when we played hide and seek my cousin Joanne (closest in age to me) and I always had the best hiding place because the older cousins never wanted to find us found us until it was time for the city cousins to go home. We were the city cousins because well, we lived in the city.

Our Ride

Not our wagon and this is not us….we resembled models in a magazine and the four best models girls are missing.  credit: gearpatrol.com

My Aunt Claudette was a gentle soul who never ever wanted controversy and looked for the good in everyone. She was two years older than her brother, my father, the Milkman. Aunt Claudette and my father shared a birthday. She and her husband, Uncle William* married sometime around the start of WWII. I only know this because my aunt wrote letters to my father while he was in the Army Air Corp during the war and described the milestones her firstborn child, my cousin, Janine* was making.

In addition to writing about sewing, baby teeth and a birthday, she cautiously penned her concerns for my Uncle William, who I believe was serving in Europe. My own mother told me that Uncle W. was a driver for General Patton. Although I have never been able to verify the Patton information to be true, if in fact true, then it would explain a lot about my Uncle W.’s outward “crusty” and at times abrupt personality. While I mean no disrespect toward my Uncle, it was my first impression.

I suppose those first impressions are firmly in place, but my time spent in their country home with vast lands along the edge of the Blackstone River were some of my fondest memories and chipped away the “crust” of my initial impressions.

Aunt & Uncle had seven children. My own parents noting the stress, anxiety, expense, & 24/7 work involved fun Aunt & Uncle had with all those children went ahead and matched them with seven children of their own. Honestly, I believe their enthusiasm toward their Catholic faith played more a role in the large families for both. From 1947 to 1965 there was a toddler roaming underfoot at the family gatherings.

Long before I was born, I count 11 of the 14 cousins. My father holding my brother, Baby Boy, and Pépé, my paternal grandfather, his arm around the waist of my brother, Piano Man. Pépé died six months after I was born.

I can remember the excitement just getting into our car for the hour-long ride. Seating arrangements in the vehicle were determined by the person who yelled the loudest, so that meant my mother told us where we would sit. My father took mostly back roads although the Massachusetts Turnpike was literally a border of my Uncle & Aunt’s property. As I understand it, my Uncle and Aunt once owned the land that the section of highway crosses.

As we drove into Grafton, my father would point out various landmarks; like the firehouse where his cousin’s husband was the town fire chief, his Uncle Raoul’s residence, and the lakeside home where his father and step-mother had resided for a time. Once the lake was sighted, I knew my country cousins homestead was just about to be in view.

The house set back from the road. A large circular gravel drive met our approach from the street. A barn (not pictured in this photo of unknown origin) was to the right. The barn housed Uncle’s tractor, a very old pick-up truck, the fleet of family bicycles, and a menagerie of bunnies, one named Thumper.  In front of the barn was a flagpole. The Blackstone River, out of view in this photo is to the left of the front of the house. A giant swing set sat only yards away from the river. I could never swing as high as I wished on my own, I always required a push to reach the lower branches of the towering trees.

The swing set with six tall swings, two smaller swings hung from the bar to the left ( I don’t see them in this photo), and a see-saw to the right. The barn is shown on the background from this view of the house.

I seem to remember visiting the country cousins at least four to five times per year, but I also spent several lengthy stays when I was four and five because my mother had surgery that kept her hospitalized for several weeks and another time my mother went to Canada to settle my Aunt Gabrielle’s (another of my father’s sisters) estate after she died in a car accident in 1968. My father had to work and the older siblings were all in school during the day so I was shipped off to stay with Aunt Claudette and Uncle William. Although I missed my family, I loved staying there.

One morning, as I sat eating breakfast at the long kitchen table I gazed out the door to the side of the house, as Uncle walked toward the flagpole. His army boots (he wore every day) created a glistening spray of mist around his feet as he stepped through the dewy grass. Once at the pole, he carefully unfurled the red, white, and blue flag; he clasped the snap hooks through the grommets and raised the flag in the rays of the morning sun. He did this every day.

The famous flagpole

I know Uncle worked in a factory, but I don’t know what he did. He rose early not only for work and the flag, but Uncle raised ducks and geese to sell the eggs. Their kitchen housed an extra refrigerator just for the eggs and loaves of bread in the freezer to feed the birds. The duck coop was set back to the left of the swing set. It was built by Uncle of salvaged wood, covered in tar paper, and windows at the front. Several mornings I had begged to go help him with the eggs. My offer of assistance was refused.  Being quite precocious and not one for accepting no for an answer, I implored him with the fact the Make Way for Ducklings was my favorite book.

He finally obliged.

As I mentioned earlier, I was one of the city cousins so I was unprepared for the “fowl” odor that was about to greet my delicate nostrils inside the coop. The hay and nests were clean, but ducks beings living things not only produced eggs, they yielded a significant amount of morning malodorous waste along the straw at the floorboards. As Uncle plucked the eggs from the nests and encouraged me to do the same, my body convulsed in the aroma. I danced around the coop gagging and heaving.  The ducks and geese quacked and squawked at my intrusion on their morning routine. Knowing I had pleaded with Uncle the opportunity to join him, I desperately tried to reach for one of the oval wonders that sat poised for the taking.  I pinched my nose with one hand and stretched the other toward the nest. Just as my fingers were about to surround the warmth of the elliptical sphere, one of the geese snapped at my thumb. I whaled, cried, and continued the nauseous two-step around the fetid floor. I shuffled my sneakers through duck poop and ran toward the house. Uncle could barely keep control over his fragile load in the basket as he roared with laughter. At the time, I thought it was mean of him to laugh at my pain, but thinking back I know my behavior must have created quite a comic sideshow.

Not me, but I did enjoy a bowl of Cheerios. credit: Pinterest.

Aunt Claudette and my cousin, Joanne greeted me at the kitchen door. Aunt Claudette hugged me. She tended to my dented thumbnail and wounded pride, while Joanne and Uncle deposited the eggs in the refrigerator. Once safely refrigerated, Uncle would pull two frozen loaves of bread from the freezer to thaw for the day. He would walk back out to the coop and open the door. The ducks waddled behind him as he made his way toward the river’s edge. One by one, each would dive into the river with Olympic precision and synchronicity. When Uncle returned from work at the end of the day, he would stride to the bank of the Blackstone and begin quacking, within minutes the ducks and geese would return. Uncle broke the bread and tossed the bits toward the hungry ducks. With greedy quacks, the ducks consumed their meal without hesitation. Since this activity amongst the waterfowl involved an open-air environment, it was one in which I could continue to participate. Uncle would then march his flock back to the coop for the night and repeat the next day. I don’t remember the year there were no more ducks, but I never went into the duck coop again.

Uncle in the cap, note the army boots. …the Milkman enjoying time with his brother-in-law.

The house and lands which my Aunt and Uncle owned have been vacant for many years. My Uncle died in 1991 and my Aunt in 1992. The house and land were sold in 1993. I have just learned that back in December 2017 the house, which still sat empty on the land, was burned in a fire which continues to be investigated.  While the house may be in ruins, the memories are forever blazoned fondly in me.

When I stayed for long stints at the homestead my bed was just below the right front window on the second floor under sloped eaves.

I hope to write a few more posts about my visits to the country cousins…so stay tuned.

*names changed to protect the innocent

Article about the house and fire…real names included, here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Re-post because….

…it’s National Siblings Day!

I had no idea this holiday even existed as sibling rivalry love was evident every day with my own two Son-sters.

They are grown and flown …living many miles apart, but I do hope they take this message with them wherever they go. It was the same message my mother instilled to my siblings and me.

siblingsA blast from the past:

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Hard to believe that #2 is taller than #1 now...

Here’s another message to my Son-sters and my own siblings:

big family

Here is a kindergarten view of my family:

 

family art

We were quite a good-looking bunch back in 1967…It is evident that I knew shoulder pads would be the “in” thing someday.

A dead ringer for the above artwork.

the crew

Just over twenty years ago…The Milkman’s 75th.

If you have a sibling reach out and touch him or her, you might just make his/her (and in my case, their) day.

Happy National Siblings Day.

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PS: I know I keep promising new posts, the pesky full-time job always seems to come first. I have several in the works, cross your fingers I manage to complete one soon.

Play Ball…

…an Ode to the Milkman.

This is an essay written by me several years ago. At the time, I shared it with family and friends who urged me to continue writing.  Today I re-post because so many have asked for it…who am I to say “no”. 

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My outfit for the one game I attend every year …I leave the baseballs at home…The Pete Rose baseball was obtained by Hubster in the 80’s.

Opening Day

I am not exactly a true blue or in “Baltimorese”, orange and black baseball fan, but there is something about Opening Day that signals the beginning of a new year. It may be spring or the thought of a renewed chance to win it all. This could be the year for the Baltimore Orioles and perhaps, we just need to believe, Hon.

For many years of my childhood, I watched as my father had once again believed that our beloved Boston Red Sox might finally have their year. The last time the Red Sox had won the World Series was in 1918. My father was born in 1919. He was a life-long fan.

 

When I found letters he wrote to my mother during World War II he penned his devotion to the team even while stationed across the country with a bombardier squadron in the United States Army Air Corp. As we know, most major league baseball teams were disbanded during the war, but he still had faith. I am sure this mention of the team in their love letters was what finally convinced my mother he was the man for her. Truthfully, she was not a sports fan, but thankfully for my sisters, brothers, and me; she somehow managed to forgive him his baseball transgressions and marry him anyway. He loved all sports actually, but there was a true allegiance to the Boston Red Sox.

corinne076

Many childhood memories for me include the smell of summer air with the kitchen windows open and my father listening to the game on the radio within earshot of the occasional train passing by on the elevated Orange Line. I would often ask for an interpretation of some of the commentary, “Swung on and miss.”

He was so engrossed that sometimes he didn’t hear my question. Fortunately, I figured out the lingo on my own.

clock radio

As a very young child, I had no concept of the past, I asked my mother, a devout Catholic if she lived at the same time as Jesus Christ, her response was a resounding, “NO”. I then went to my father, the dedicated Red Sox fan, and inquired if he was alive when Babe Ruth played baseball. He spoke of watching the “Babe” play at Fenway Park for the Yankees. Who knew that someday I would reside in the town where “Babe” was born. These baseball conversations were some of the sweetest because he was not often a man of many words, but I can hear his voice name Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski like it is happening now.

yaz

One of the Milkman’s favorite players…I remember there was a song about Carl Yastzemski

I attended college in Baltimore when in 1983 the Baltimore Orioles won the World Series. It was so exciting to be in a town where a team had taken the coveted trophy. The day after the Orioles clinched the World Series, my father reached me on my dorm room phone to talk about the win. Because I was living where a team had won he was just as excited even though it wasn’t his team.

bleacher report

I don’t know for certain if this is the winning moment.

Baseball was dear to him. He did not have season tickets as it was too costly for a man with seven children, but he was the proud owner of a club level seat in front of the small black and white TV that eventually took the place of the radio in the kitchen. The glow of the game would sometimes continue late into the evenings even though my milkman father had to get up before dawn to deliver the milk. He believed every year would be their year. In 1975, against the Cincinnati Reds, the Red Sox went to the seventh game of the World Series. The disappointing loss only brought stronger conviction that his team could someday win it all.

tv in dark

When I graduated from college in 1985 and returned to Boston the year before I married, he was still watching the game, only someone had upgraded the TV and now he was watching in living color.  Because this man had done right by his children, he was fortunate to have been the beneficiary of game tickets, now and then, facing Fenway’s “Green Monstah” and even took a grandson on occasion. He still believed they would win.

green mostah

One evening in the spring of 1986, only a few months from my wedding he sat in his aforementioned seat in the kitchen watching the game. A young pitcher by the name of Roger Clemens was striking out opposing batters with ease. The fans at Fenway were frenzied and began posting K’s somewhere out near the “Green Monstah”. As I paused to watch the game, I was confused by the K’s. The posted K’s stood for strikeouts my father explained. Clemens was on his way to striking out a record number of batters. It was history in the making. I took a seat with my father by the kitchen table with only the radiance from the screen giving light to our nervous excitement of the moment. We didn’t speak but just basked in the glory that this might be the year. Roger Clemens went on to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning game. He was the first to do so and I watched it with my father.

the ks

A few months later my father walked me down the aisle to my wonderful husband who according to my mother, stole me from my hometown. The only thing that concerned my father was what baseball team would I be “rooting for.” Of course, with crossed fingers, I stated, “the Boston Red Sox.” I think he knew my allegiance may change, even though through birthright I am forever connected to the Boston Red Sox.

Back in Boston and later that year, the Red Sox once again went on to the World Series. The New York Mets won. He would not be disillusioned by the loss and continued to cheer for the home team. Like most Boston fans, he was once again, left to suffer in silence.

On March 26, 2004, with only days away from Opening Day my father died. In the fall of 2004, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. It was 84 years of Opening Days never to witness this unbelievable event. However, I do believe his divine intervention may have played a role in their unbelievable four games to none in the best of seven wins against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Present day: A few Red Sox souvenirs adorn my classroom.

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After sharing this essay with other several years ago a friend found this mint condition t-shirt in a thrift store here in Baltimore and she gave it to me.

 

Fourteen years and three World Series wins for the Boston Red Sox have passed since he was buried on March 29, 2004.  My family sang the Star Spangled Banner and Oh Canada, for his native country by his graveside that day and I can’t help but think he was watching down on us. If he could have spoken, his words would have been, “Play Ball.”

corinne120

In loving memory of my father, the Milkman, he embodied the love of God, family, country and the Boston Red Sox. Wishing all baseball fans, no matter the team, the love of a father I called my own.

newest costume

Fall costume parade 2013…the day after the Red Sox won the World Series.

This fabulous photo of my two sons, a son-in-law, and a nephew…at Fenway Park last summer. #1 Son-ster standing pointing to his friend who is a Red Sox photographer and deserves credit for this great photo (B. Weiss, credit) The legacy continues.

Go Orioles! (Sorry Dad, but I know you’ll forgive me)…and if not then, Go Red Sox!..or any other team, with the exception of the New York Yankees*. Some things never change.

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*no offense to my Yankees friends, but enough already.