Saturday, June 30, 2012

Live, Love, Laugh

This week Nora Ephron died at the young age of 71. She was a witty, insightful writer that always made me laugh. As I was finishing up reading the last book of hers and regretting that I won’t be able to read anymore of her books, I got a phone message about the passing of a great friend. A colleague at Tomahawk, Roberta, passed away suddenly this week.

Roberta found out earlier this week that she had a brain tumor. She was at school this week making arrangements for a substitute to start off the year because she would be recovering from brain surgery. She had a seizure and passed away Thursday evening. She left behind her husband of thirty-eight years, two daughters, and three grandchildren and many friends and colleagues.

Roberta was a wonderful lady and teacher. She always arrived early, did her job, and left late. Roberta was a “let’s git her done” kind of gal. She was always ready to do the work that needed to be done and did it without whining. She was never grumpy. She was never unkind. And the students of Tomahawk were always at the forefront with here. She always kept in mind, “Is this the best for our students?” Roberta was loved and she will be greatly missed by many.

The question in everyone’s mind is why? I can’t answer that question and it is not my job to do so. All I can do is think about what I learned from these two fantastic women. I have one of those embroidered pillows that a dear friend gave to me that says, “Live, Love, Laugh”. As I contemplate the saying on that pillow, I realize this is what I have learned.

Don’t wait until tomorrow what you could have and should have done today. If you have the means and the ability to do it, do it! I don’t want one to take out a loan, and put oneself into debt for a trip around the world, but if you have been thinking about doing something and are putting it off, don’t. As Roberta would say, “Let’s just get it done.” Don’t let “woulda, shoulda, coulda” be your mantra.

When growing up my family was never demonstrative about our love, although it was there, we just never said it. Then my brother and father died unexpectedly within six months of each other and I regretted never telling them how much I loved them. I have a friend that has two sons that were big, popular, high school football stars and I was always amazed that when they left the house they would kiss and hug both their mother and their father goodbye and say, “I love you.” I was always surprised with that showing of affection. When people die too soon it makes one think about not putting off saying what one needs to say to someone.

I spend a lot of time raising money for a program, Accelerated Reader, at our school. Last year, Roberta helped out by selling pop after school from her classroom. Every once in awhile she would stop by my office and hand me some money for the AR account and say it was from pop sales. I would ask if she took out her costs from the money and she would just smile and say, “Nah, that is my donation to the program.” Recently, I found a couple of foundations to pay for the program for two years and one of the people I wanted to call and tell about it was Roberta. I didn’t have her phone number and I didn’t take the time to find it. And I never shared that information with Roberta. Woulda, shoulda, coulda. Don’t wait to tell someone something. Make that call today.

Use the words I love you more often. Janet’s daughter Bree and I kind of play a goodbye game every time she leaves. When she leaves she always says,
“Goodbye, I love you.”
“Yea, okay,” I respond.
“Goodbye, I love you,” she repeats.
“Be safe, be careful, don’t drive and text,” I reply never saying I love you and she gets frustrated. I love you Bree! Tell someone you love I love you, tell everyone you love I love you. Don’t wait until it is too late.

Nora Ephron always made me laugh. I loved reading her books, watching her movies and watching her interviews. Roberta was always smiling and laughing. I never had a conversation with her that I didn’t end up smiling or laughing. Laughter is the best medicine. Laugh and then laugh some more.

On my live, love, laugh pillow I have wanted to add, “and stop your whining!” I. Am. A. Big. Whiner. Not about work but about life. Roberta wasn’t a whiner; she was a doer. And she was a doer with a smile. Even when Roberta found out about her tumor she was planning for the next school year and thinking about her colleagues and students before herself. If the reader doesn’t like where one is or what one is doing, find somewhere one wants to be and get there or find something one wants to do and do it.

Live, love, laugh and stop whining. This week two astonishing women left this world too soon; one that was known around the world and one that was known among a small community, but just as great. They will be missed and remembered.

I love you, Roberta, thanks for all that you taught me.

Paco’s Perspective

Deep sadness. You might not remember what they said but you will always remember how they made you feel.

The Flip Side
I bet both would have happily gone lizard hunting with me.
I should have asked. 
We could have had a great time.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Playing With the Wolves

In Montana one can’t mention the word wolf without getting into a heated political debate. In 1995 the Fish and Game folks introduced some wolves back into the wild in the Yellowstone National Park. The wolves were supposed to live happily in the park and not increase in number over 100. The wolf population is now at about 600 and those silly wolves aren’t staying in Yellowstone. They have that “grass is always greener on the other side” issue and have started harassing livestock. Upcoming is the controversial wolf hunt. Those darn wolves, if they had just stayed in their own backyard.

Wolves run in packs. They hunt the weak and injured and if one of their own is injured or can’t keep up, the pack will leave that one behind with no remorse. Middle Schoolers remind me of wolves. They are so much braver when they are running in a pack. If they get into trouble, they will instantly leave the weak ones behind.

The other day Colleen and I had an experience with a pack of “wolves” (middle schoolers). First, I must explain where one happens to be is an indicator of the intensity of the “wolves”. The is a difference between West Phoenix “wolves” and Surprise, AZ “wolves”. They walk differently. They talk differently. They dress differently. Personally, I would not even think about messing with Westide “wolves” but those Surprise “wolves” are easy targets.

Colleen and I had just left the Surprise movie theater and were getting in my van. My door automatically opens and a ramp comes down and a “wolf” pack came by as the ramp was lowering and one funny “wolf”, at least he thought he was funny, said, “Oh, look my ride is here.” He proceeded to walk to the ramp but turned away instantly because “wolves” are only brave when in a pack. Colleen and I got in the van and Colleen was preparing to push the button to lift the ramp and close the door when two “wolves” jumped inside the van and sat in the back seat. I am sure this was the part where they thought we were going to get upset but we didn’t. Colleen just looked at them and asked, “You want to go with us?” Then she pushed the button for the ramp to fold. Those itty-bitty “pups” got scared and jumped out of the van and ran. When they jumped out they stepped on the partially folded ramp and I thought they broke it but they didn’t.

I looked at Colleen and said, “Let’s follow them.”

“Cathy, that makes us just as bad as them,” she chastised.

“Come on, Colleen, don’t you want to play with the wolves?” I cajoled.

As we were leaving the parking lot I noticed that some of the “wolves” had crossed the busy highway in fear of being hunted and they had left the female “wolves” behind. The females were trying to cross at the light (yep, Surprise middle schoolers). We followed them. They congregated together at the shopping center across from the movie theater. Colleen pulled up the van near the pack and then I pretended I was talking to the police on the phone. I over exaggerated mouthing the words, “Yes, officer there is about 13 of them. They are on the corner of Waddell and Dysart. One of the “wolves” said to the rest of the pack, “Run, she’s calling the police!” and then it happened, typical wolf pack behavior. One of the “wolves” was on crutches and all the other “wolves” ran and left him behind. They went running and there he is crutching, crutching, crutching behind.

I wanted to move in for the kill. I wanted to get out of the van and catch up with the crutching “wolf” (which I could have done easily) and say, “Don’t you just hate when your “wolf” friends decide to do something stupid and then they leave you behind to pay the consequences?”, but I didn’t. I wanted to follow them all home and speak to their parents about the danger of jumping into strangers’ cars, but we didn’t.

Colleen said we couldn’t play with the wolves anymore. As we drove by the scattered pack with crutcher way behind, we honked, smiled and waved. No, we did not flip them off because we have more class than that. I think they flipped us off. Yep, typical “wolf” pack behavior.

Paco’s Perspective

There are wolves in Montana? What are we doing in Montana? I would be an itty-bitty appetizer for a pack of wolves. On the other hand, hey, Flip . . . . . . .

The Flip Side

Squirrel! Squirrel! Chipmunk! Deer! Deer! Deer! Turkey? So many things to chase, so little time.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Small Town Crime

I am spending the summer in Bigfork, Montana and the more I am here the more I love small-town life. Life in Bigfork is slow slower than a snail with sore feet and it is as lazy as a forty-pound tom cat. One of my favorite things to do is read the local paper, The Flathead Beacon. I especially enjoy reading the Police Blotter section. Small-town crime is hilarious. Below are some examples taken directly from The Beacon (bolded words are my thoughts):

A Kalispell resident asked about the extent one would need to go to legally neglect a pet. He was also curious about fines and how much such things might cost a person.

Someone found an abandoned crate containing one undesirable cat.
The Kalispell resident must have chosen abandonment over neglect.

A Bigfork man described a suspicious substance falling from the sky. A deputy discovered it was pollen.
         No really, one can’t make this stuff up.

A Kalispell resident reported that multiple men were undressing and dressing in a front yard on Eighth Avenue West.
         Can’t a team practice for the annual Fourth of July Undressing and Dressing Competition without someone calling the police?

A senile cocker spaniel has lost its way home.
In Montana, a senile cocker spaniel that has lost its way home is called bear snack.

A resident on Yeoman Hall Drive captured a spaniel-type dog.
         Yea, maybe the senile cocker spaniel isn’t a bear snack.

A Kalispell woman called in to asking to speak to a specific deputy but refused to say which.
         NO COMMENT!

A young man broke down and refused to function after his parents took his Xbox away.
The parents commented, “He is twenty-seven and it is time he found a job.”

A man used curse and swear words to describe three loose dogs. He warned that if the law enforcement didn’t take care of the animals, he would do it himself.
         Curse and swear words are two different things?

A pack of loose dogs consisting of a “lap dog”, Great Dane, and black Lab have been risking their lives, according to one resident, with their ramblings.
Apparently, they escaped the clutches of Mr. Curse and Swear Words.

Wayfaring dogs have been conducting their evening gatherings at the Silver Shadow Estates.
I bet it’s that “lap dog”, Great Dane, and black Lab hanging out by the lamppost, smoking, and laughing about their life-risking ramblings. 

Paco’s Perspective

Hey, Flip, you are an adventurer. What about joining that pack? I think you would enjoy yourself.

The Flip Side