Wednesday, August 25, 2010

To the Educators in My Life

Today is the first day of school, and I'm not there. But for 49 of my 57 years I was, so I don't feel a bit guilty. Still, I am 150% supportive of those who continue daily in the trenches, many of whom are personal friends. I believe they are doing the most important work in our society, surpassing that of the politicians, lawmakers, athletes, financial wizards, cooks. . . well, maybe not COOKS!

A school, much like a church, is just a building. It's the people who faithfully toil there that give it life and meaning. It's not just the teachers, it includes the vast family of educational support personnel who make good things happen, and smart, caring leaders that bring it all together. I found a little poem I'd like to dedicate to all the educators who are carrying on their crucial work, even as I type. This is written by Caron Loveless, and is found in A Little Book of Hugs for Teachers.

A Teacher Is

You're a banker and an artist.

You're a sprinter and a florist.

You're an actor. You're a juggler.

You're a queen.

You're a lawyer.

You're a manager.

You're a nurse,

and you're a counselor.

You do more by noon

than most have ever seen.

You're a driver and a poet.

A politician (don't you know it!)

You're a botanist, a strategist,

and a judge.

You're a mother and a father.

You're a runner

and a tightrope walker.

You're a soldier fighting

in the war on drugs.

You're a diplomat

and an acrobat.

You're a farmer.

You're a friend.

You tell stories.

You mend fences.

You build dreams.

You're an instructor

and a trainer,

a communicator

and demonstrator.

You're a teacher!

You're incredible!

You're supreme!

Please have a great year. If YOU do, the children will!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

34 Great Years Together: Part I

Last Saturday, August 14, Judy and I celebrated our 34th year of marriage. As in the last two years, our special anniversary dinner was out of town. That's not something we really planned strategically, it just happened. Two years ago we enjoyed dinner and music at The General Store in Pittsboro. Last year, we were at the Key Falls Inn in Brevard.

And this year, we headed off to The Ford Place. Yes, that's right, only now it's a fine restaurant, not an auto dealership. This unique eatery is located in Mt. Gilead, NC (I thought I'd better specify the state-- not everybody's heard of it). It's just a few miles past the Town Creek Indian Mound, which is well known locally. In all of our travels, neither Judy nor I could recall ever passing through this nice little town. Interestingly, our route followed NC Hwy. 73 West, the same path we had taken to Hickory on our wedding night in 1976.

I was always a Ford/Mercury guy, until I became a Toyota guy. So the decor was comfortable and nostalgic to me. And Judy didn't mind eating in a former grease pit too much. : )

I don't really know why Topps Baseball Cards were ever advertised in a car dealership, but this reminded me of the baseball card collection I accumulated in my first season of little league. Strange coincidence, but that was 1965, a mere 10 years before Judy and I first met!

We ate near the buffet in the Sports Bar area, but it was comfortable and quiet. This picture is of the Thunderbird Room, where meetings are apparently held by community groups. There was also a large dining area where the old showroom was, facing the main street.

They even had a classic '57 T-bird, with the trademark porthole window. But it wasn't in the Thunderbird Room, it overlooked the buffet.

Judy enjoyed her shrimp and grits and I had a variety of seafood from the buffet. We were both stuffed. We would highly recommend the place to someone curious about different kinds of dining venues. The drive from our house was about 50 minutes, but it was beautiful countryside and we had plenty of time to talk.

Here are a couple of vintage billboards that adorned the adjacent building. We drove all around the town since we didn't know when we'd be back. It was a slice of Americana, complete with live music at The Music Barn, right up the street. In fact, that may have been why the restaurant wasn't more crowded.

Yes, The Ford Place is our kind of place. For an anniversary or any other special occasion.
But this is just Part I of our anniversary celebration. Sometime after Labor Day, we are planning a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee. I'll fill you in then.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Staples Teacher Rewards: That was easy!

I'm a big believer in Staples Teacher Rewards. When you save your reward points until great sales come along, you can really rack up savings. My biggest success has been when I printed dozens of copies of my book (Mystery at the Loyd Homeplace), then got 40% back in rewards. That has kept me well-stocked on items like storage tubs, binders (for my books), and even a heavy duty folding table.

But as the ladies in my family will attest, you don't have to save big bucks to get a very satisfying feeling. If you get something you really want or have been looking all over for, at a bargain basement price, even a small purchase gives you "shopper's high."

For me, the latest episode came about from a $6.00 coupon from recycling two ink cartridges.
I was a little surprised how far my six dollars went. This is how it went down.
  • My most expensive item was a $7.99 notebook marked down to $3.00. This is for keeping some of my sheet music I carry to rest homes and the hospital.
  • 3 containers of Fruit and Berry Trail Mix and 2 containers of Yogurt Trail Mix. The regular price was $5.99 each. But I found them on the "marked-down" shelf. So they were marked $2.99. But I knew from previous experience that they might be reduced even further. After confirming this at the front register, I got ALL FIVE at fifty cents apiece! At that price, I would have bought them even if they they had a little pinestraw or twigs mixed in. Hey, I've eaten REAL trail mix at Camp Cherokee!
  • This left me with another fifty cents to dispose of (there were no more trail mixes). Spiral notebooks were 15 cents (I know, they were a mere penny last week, but the limit was 2), so I got three. The nice cashier told me I had to use the entire $6.00. So, not being able to find anything for a nickel, I got another notebook and had to ante-up ten cents.

Spending the dime didn't dampen my euphoria. I immediately came home, bragged to Judy (Coupon Queen emeritus), and took a picture of my booty. At regular price I got $38.54 worth of merchandise for a dime. And that's counting the notebooks at 15 cents, which I know is not their regular price, but they were not marked.

Hey, come to think of it, it's about time I broke into some of that trail mix! See ya later.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Return of the BLOG!

That title sounds like a 50's B movie, doesn't it. Well, after not posting since July 28 I'm back in blogger heaven. Just took me a while to remember my password. Don't worry, I haven't decided to give up blogging after 300+ posts. But I have a litany of excuses for falling behind:
  • I left for Atlanta right after my last post and was without a computer, much less the Internet. But with the wonderful time I had with my family and friends there, I wouldn't have had time to blog anyway. In fact, I didn't get a single picture! (This is where you pretend to faint).
  • When I got home there were papers to read, grass to cut, and most important of all, BABIES TO SIT. Or whatever.
  • I could use my excuse that Blogspot is still infernally slow at loading my pictures, if it loads them at all. Me and Judy are both tired of seeing that page that comes up after the modem has been doing its best for 15 minutes, "Internet Explorer cannot display the page." Then I either start all over or go to bed.

But I finally got enough pictures loaded last night to start a new post and here it is.

Both Jennifer and Amanda were thoughtful enough to have lunch with me and Judy at 195 the day after I returned from Atlanta. They knew I was going through baby withdrawal. That made it all better, plus Brianna and Claire made a host of new friends at the restaurant and health food store.

During the following week we had more quality time at our house. Brianna uses this magnetic construction set to see if she truly has the magnetic personality people keep mentioning around her.

And speaking of magnetic personalities, Claire and Kitty Cat have a fascinating attraction for one another. Let's just hope it's not a fatal attraction.

The babies agree that this Kitty Cat is just the best. As far as we know, there hasn't been one solitary cat scratch yet. And I think we'd hear about it. : )

Tuesday of that week Judy and I had a long-awaited get together with friends Debi and Doug, both dedicated educators in the St. Pauls area. We visited at their lovely home and lunched at Tar Packers for the second year in a row. Let's keep that streak going! (And Debi has been my biggest encourager to get my blog going again, so Debi, this one's for you).
That night we grilled hamburgers in honor of Stephen's birthday (and his recent promotion to Master Sergeant). So naturally, we invited Stephen. : ) Amanda and Bri came along, too.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Claire's in training on using a comb. She's the only one in our family with notably curly hair. In fact, I have just revised an old folk song and will sing it to Claire tomorrow. It's called "My Curly-headed Baby."
Here's the original:
She's my curly-headed baby,
Used to sit on daddy's knee.
She's my curly-headed baby,
Comes from sunny Tennessee.
Now here's MY version:
Claire's my curly-headed baby,
Comes from sunny Caroline,
She's my curly-headed baby,
Claire, that pretty baby mine.
All I can say is thank goodness I didn't have to rhyme with Georgia.

We had outdoor pool time with both gals, but as Claire demonstrates, reading continues to be a favorite indoor activity. We've been very thankful for that love during this hotter than usual summer.

Saturday provided a special treat. We babysat at Brianna's house while Amanda and Jennifer conducted a yard sale. Bri demonstrated her prowess on the harmonica that I had given her a while back.

And nothing makes a little song better than a little dance.
If I get real brave I'll attempt to load the cutest video of her little performance.

YES!! It has apparently loaded, so sit back and enjoy! Be sure to notice how deftly she manages the pickup of the pacifier and the switcheroo. : )

My next blog will be about my and Judy's 34th anniversary. And yeah, that's another reason I haven't blogged.