Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Sentry Alarm is on Duty

I enjoy being alone. Because I am handicapped I am unable to be totally alone, so I relish the time when I can be alone. I always thought if I wasn't handicapped, I would be one of those reclusive old ladies that lives alone in an isolated cabin in the woods where I would, talk to the animals, read books, and bake bread.

Janet always worries when she leaves me alone. She leaves an arsenal of snacks and drinks on the table that resembles a Salt Lake City pantry. When she leaves she always tells me to call if I need anything and I always reply, "The body will keep and the Sentry Alarm is armed."

The Sentry Alarm keeps the bad guys out guarding the doors ready to let out a shrill cry, if the doors are compromised. No one can can come within fifty feet of the house without me knowing. I only have to give it a snack every once in awhile. The Sentry Alarm is not the house alarm system; it is my chihuahua, Paco.

When I am in my bedroom Paco feels it is necessary to lay right by my door. I have to let him out every hour so he walk the perimeter of the property looking for bad guys. He scoots under the gate, checks the backyard, scoots back under the gate and comes inside. It is serious business while he is on duty. He refuses to eat or drink until Janet comes homes.

One might be thinking, "Ooooo what a brave little dog!" Paco is afraid of the dark. The darker it gets the shorter his perimeter walks get. When it is bright and sunny he checks the backyard, but as the sun starts to go down he walks just to the end of the driveway, and when it is completely dark he only goes as far as the kissing rock which is right outside my door. Paco and I together in the dark are like two teenager in a horror flick we are always jumping back at shadows, and barking at the wind. I bet if anyone did show up, Paco would probably grab one of his toys to share with the culprit, run in circles, pee on the floor and whine.

Paco may only be a brave "sunlight soldier", but I appreciate his effort. He won't let anyone get near the house without me knowing. Paco is a committed soldier; he doesn't eat, drink, or sleep while on duty. Paco stays at his post at all times and he won't leave until Janet gets home. Sometimes I think he loves me.

Paco's Perspective

Just a note of warning: Don't confuse love with instinct.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Scatter My Ashes on the I DA HO Border

I am a lover of tradition. That could be why I love holidays so much because they are filled with tradition. Summers in Montana have become such an important tradition in my life. I can't imagine NOT spending a summer there. Although the drive there is long, there is no other road trip that is more enjoyable.

Over the past fifteen years, most of my trips to Montana have been with The Snack Nazi, Caren, driving. She always has her eye on the prize, the destination. We only stop for gas, and if Caren could figure out how one of those tanker planes that tranfers fuel in mid-air could do the same for us, we would never stop.
You might think that a road trip with someone that will barely stop to let one pee let alone stop for food would be as enjoyable as a bee sting, but it is quite nice.

We have established road trip traditions: making up word games, me being the book on tape, and NOT doing any sight seeing. We play some of your ordinary travel games like flags, but we love to make up our own word games with our own rules that change regularly throughout the trip even throughout the game. We have even played the games with occupants in other cars with walkie-talkies.
We don't waste our money on audio books. I am the audio book. My favorite tradition is NOT doing any sight seeing. Just north of Panquitch, Utah is the Moqui Cave and every year I say, "Hey, Caren, we should stop there someday."She always replies, "Yep, but not today." This conversation is repeated throughout the trip. There are many magnificent places we have driven by: The North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Moqui Caves, Bryce Canyon, an opal mine, Deere Lodge Prison gift shop, Hoover Dam, Vegas, Chief Yellow Cloud's roadside stand just to name a few. But we can't stop now, it's tradition.

Another long standing silly tradition is when we get to the Idaho border we shout, "Who da ho? I DA HO!" We shout this to each other. We walkie-talkie it to friends in cars following, we text friends and family at home. A silly tradition, but it's ours.

When I die I want all my sistahs to take a roadtrip, and don't let Caren drive. I want my sistahs to STOP at all the places I have never seen and scatter some of my ashes. I want my sistahs to STOP at the Idaho border, get out of the car and as they scatter my ashes shout,"WHO DA HO? I DA HO!" It's tradition.

Paco's Perspective

I like tradition: riding in Caren's purse on the way to Montana, snacks, our walks to the end of the road, snacks, eating ice cream with Dave every night, snacks, spinning three times before entering a room, and snacks.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Am a Book Lover

I am a book lover. I am a carry-a-book-everywhere-I-go,-read-any-chance-I-get,-don' book lover. My love for reading oozes out of my pores and drips off of me like honey from an overflowing honeycomb. Like honey, my love for books is sticky and sometimes gets on others, if they sit too close. I want my students to be great readers, but most important of all, I want them to be Book Lovers.

As a child I was not a book lover nor was I a book reader. The saddest part of all is that no one expected me to read. Not my parents or my teachers. I was an excellent reader, thanks to Dick and Jane (Yikes, now you know how old I am). I can only remember one teacher reading aloud to me, Mrs. Morris, my fourth grade teacher, and to this day I remember the books she read: Brighty of Grand Canyon, Justin Morgan Had a Horse, Misty of Chincoteague, and The Secret Garden. I took a Children's Lit class in college because I thought it would be easy, and that is when I started reading and I haven't stopped. In that class, I learned what I had missed, and I made a solemn vow on a stack of children's books to never let anyone I cared about miss out on the joy of reading a good book.

As a teacher of thirty-one years, I have never been much of a basal reading program user. I never understood why children that lived smack-dab in the middle of a blistering inferno should be convinced to make a connection with a story about sailing. My first two years of teaching I used the basal because I didn't know what else to do, but deep down inside I knew it wasn't using the basal reader. The years to follow I devised my own reading program using "real" books. About ten years ago, I tripped over the reading workshop philosophy of teaching reading. I had finally found MY true philosophy. It felt comfortable like a soft cushy couch that you sit in, get swallowed up by and wonder if you will ever be able to get out without someone throwing you a life-preserver.

I am always asked how I get kids to love reading so much. My answer is always, "I don't know." It may be the oozing-honey-sat-too-close-to-me-and-got-some-on-you theory or magic. I am kind of pulling for the books are magic theory. I expect my students to be "real" readers. I read to them. They read to me. We read together. They read on their own . . . . . . Abracadabra . . . . . POOF . . . . sparkling fairy dust . . . . . they love to read. Believe me, I would love to take the credit for it, but I can't. It's not me. It's the books. Try one, but watch out for the sparkling fairy dust; it can get in your eyes.

Paco's Perspective

I can't read, but I do enjoy the sound of your voice, especially, on our trips to Montana when you read to Auntie Caren. Your melodic voice puts me to sleep. Wait a minute . . . . . . I like naps, therefore, I like the sound of your voice.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Snack Nazi

I loved spending time with my Aunt Co. She had a sharp wit. She was always laughing. Oh, Aunt Co wasn't perfect, she could be snarky, but she always made me laugh. The best part about spending time with Aunt Co was she insisted we plan our day around when and where we were going to eat. My Aunt lost her battle to cancer a few years ago, but when I think of her I always smile.

She came to mind today because my youngest sister, Caren, is in town, and I am going to a conference with her this weekend. My Aunt Co called Caren the Snack Nazi. Caren doesn't let us eat. She does not plan her day around food. Don't travel long distances with her unless you plan on smuggling snacks and you're comfortable wearing a diaper. When Caren is driving her destination is her goal, and she let's nothing get in her way.

One day last spring I got a call from my oldest sister, Chris, Caren, and "our sistah from anothah mothah", Rhonda. They were traveling together in Texas. Our conversation went like this:

"Caaaaathyyyyy, Caren won't let us stop to eat!" whined Chris and Rhonda.

I calmly said, "Caren, let Chris and Rhonda stop for lunch."

"We don't need to eat! We are almost home, and we are going to have dinner at the house," demanded Caren.

"But it's noon. We are not eating until seven. Can't we stop for lunch," begged Rhonda and Chris.

"NO!" shouted Caren

"Is Caren driving?" I asked.

"No," they replied with some confusion.

I rolled my eyes and hollered in the phone, "Chris, Rhonda, I am thinking you can take her! She isn't driving, she's little, and she's is probably weak from not eating!"

So, this weekend is my weekend with the Snack Nazi. I know my Aunt Co is up above looking down and laughing. If she was here, I know what she would say. As we were heading out the door, she would turn to me and whisper out of the side of her mouth, "You smuggle the Cheez Whiz in your bra, and I'll hide the crackers in my jacket."

Paco's Perspective

I never got to meet Aunt Co, but I know I would like her. She liked food . . I like food. She liked cheese . . . .I like cheese. She loved you . . . .uh, uh, never mind.