Sunday, March 29, 2009

Reality Strikes Again

Back to the real world once again. This was a rather odd vacation; started well, we left early Friday morning and made excellent time getting to the hotel in Greenville, AL. Stacy and Jill were following us and Jessie and Kristina caught up at midnight. We four got to leave early because they don't have to find subs for us (impossible to replace the irreplaceable). Saturday was wonderful, the sky soon took on the special light of sun reflecting off of water. I always tell the grandkids to watch for the light when we head south. We zipped past the ragged pine forests and makeshift houses along 65, glad they were not our destination; even sprinkled with azaleas and dogwoods, they have a look of being worn out. Cutting off 65 onto 10 meant the land changed to swamps and canals, challenging the pavement for territory. Mobile was soon behind us as we branched off onto 163, the Dauphin Island Expressway. Little burgs huddled next to the road offering gas and fresh seafood or BBQ and beer. I would have to be starving to enter most of them...cleanliness was not part of the requirements. Some were barely standing but had the "come on in" flag out. Maybe I am a little bit picky, but my Mom wouldn't have let me go there. Soon we were seeing the Bay in all her glory and the super bridge joining Dauphin Island to Alabama mainland. Three miles long and many, many feet high, it hangs like a kid's toy over the water; way, way up...........then waaaaaaaaaaay down the other side. The island seems impossibly small and defenseless from the top of the bridge, one can see most of it end to end. Some in our party were wondering what we were in for.

Sail Fish was the house we had chosen for the week; a new build out on the west end of the island, feet from the Gulf of Mexico, and rising up 3 stories tall. What a sight. The whole south side was floor to ceiling windows and doors, decks and stairs. Inside the walls are pure white, the furniture too with bright aqua and lime accents. We knew we aren't in Indiana when we walked out the french doors and can see only water, rolling in from another world. At night the horizon is circled by the twinkling lights of the oil rigs, which we pretend are castles, not dirty environmental threats. Everyone settled in quickly, picking bedrooms to match personalities. Mine was a tranquil turquoise/lime haven facing the sunrise.

The wind would prove victorious; running us back into the shelter of the house. After 30 minutes I felt as if I'd been attcked by invisible forces, never have I experienced this unrelenting blow. Our sunbathers would crouch as low to the sand as possible to avoid being blown away. Needless to say, the bodies didn't achieve that buttery brown glow we all love. I didn't even get my usual shin burn from my perch on my deck. But all in all we loved the warm sun and sounds and smells of the coast and the time spent together. We laughed so much at each other, told tales of our childhoods, talked shop and tried to solve educations' woes, and even missed our husbands a little. The kitchen was worthy of a chef and I gave a few cooking lessons to the younger set. Simple good food. We ate out more than usual, first at the Best Little Oar House in Alabama, funky round bar and grill on the island with the slowest service in history, but excellent mahi-mahi sandwiches. Later we went off-island to the Pelican Reef for fresh shrimp and the best waitress in the south. She was from the place Forrest Gump claimed as home and shared all her hometown info with us. Although we were within minutes of Bayou P, we never made it there for our hand-embroidered Bubba Gump t-shirts. Maybe next time.

Tuesday night the tide came in rough and fast til it rolled under our decks, scaring the pants off 2 of our ladies. I made a call to the sheriff's office and they declared "no precautions necessary" so we breathed easier and went off to bed. Wednesday dawned bright and beautiful and we thought all was clear, but no, The weather bureau announced a flood warning after 9:00 pm. To keep from worrying we went shopping, we are women after all. Grammas bought too many kids' clothes, newly pregnant lady bought her first baby dresses, so sweet, and the newly wed bought a Coach patchwork bag. I know Angela, that was supposed to be yours. Majitos and burgers at Ruby Tuesdays got us ready for the trip back to the house. The sea awaited us; right beside the steps!!! Okay, this wasn't looking good. Quick packing, checking tide, stripping the beds, checking tide, washing bedding and towels, checking tide, cleaning fridge, checking tide. By 7:36 we were headed north. Running like rats off our possibly sinking ship. The hard rain started in Montgomery and pounded us till the Kentucky state line. I dropped Connie in Dubois County and by 10:00 AM was back to my real life. Spoke to Stephen King for a minute, as he was on his way to the farm to feed sheep and put up fence, then I was off to bed. World traveler that I am, I slept all afternoon, all evening, all night. At 7:00 Friday morning I regained consciousness. What a wimp.
Oddly, this hurried up, wind blown version of a vacation made me even more eager for more, more coastal travel, more rental houses, more ocean views, more time spent in peace and quiet...even with the grandkids!
Everyone buck-up for next week, only 7 more for us.
Alison, semi-state is an honor, too. Sounds like some game!
Anna, enjoy your break, have too, too much fun.
Love to all, Hedy

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lila Here

I'm feeling very Lila today, must be spring. Or just Abbie's Hello message yesterday; I've easily influenced. Thanks for reminding me of my alter-ego, Sweetie, I seldom let her out in public, this week, I will. I'm for sure taking her along to Dauphin Island with me on Friday.
This week, once again, I've realized how blessed my family is. We have had so many friends facing down cancer lately many for a repeat visit. I urge everyone to pray this dreadful disease will be defeated soon. No one seems immune, regardless of one lifestyle. So many innocent children suffering such pain. Makes me ashamed to whine about anything in my life.
Stephen King and I have survived our empty nest for once again. Life goes on; Courtney arrived safe and sound in Oz and loves it already. She has called urging us to plan a summer trip downunder. He's ready to go, I will need more time to consider being that long in the air, over the ocean, no way out. I probably won't be going soon. She has posted some pix on her blog and she and Ken, her host, are going to Caloundra for this week to sightsee & visit family. It is a resort area up the coast from Brisbane. We all grew up on tales of Brisbane and the surrounding country from our cousin Edna, a war bride. She always made her homeland sound like paradise. That and her fascinating accent made all of us girls want to go to Oz. Ken is Edna's nephew and has visited Orange County many times over the years. He and Courtney have always been friends. So she will not be on her own too much. Makes me feel better about the whole trip.
Connie and I are taking off on Friday and driving to Greenville AL. for the night. The others will come down after school and get there late into the night, I've found that is too tiring for me. I have to sleep all day Sunday unless I get rest on Friday night. Vacation days are too precious to spend asleep. Connie has a convertible and the last couple of trips we have started out Saturday morning with the top down, now that is a vacation starter for sure. When you girls get older and your kiddos are grown, I hope you take vacations with friends. Although the friends going with me are young, 2 in their twenties, 2 in their thirties and Connie who is 10 years younger than me...enough said. I'm so blessed to have all you young people in my life. I do enjoy being part of yours.
Janelle, I want to see the girls in those hats, I do hope they get to wear them before it gets too warm. I'm having Veronica make one for a May newborn in a light weight yarn. I think they are so precious. Much better than those strange headbands. Stephen King would not allow our grand daughters to wear those things. He used to take them off of Mackenzie and hide them from Shawn. They weren't around for our kids, much like Pampers and baby wipes and onesies. I still prefer cloth diapers on babies, but the plastic coverups were terrible. I saw some new versions on a natural clothing website, they looked soft and comfy. Would you like some for Olivia? Or Annie? Don't want to wash diapers? I cannot blame you, there is nothing fun in that except hanging them on the clothes line and watching them blow in the sunshine. I used to love that. But I used to make our bread and crackers, too. Maybe I was alittle odd?
Has spring come to the North? I saw a big rain had done some flooding up there. We have dodged storms lately, damaging winds north and south of us last week. It will be interesing to see if the Valley can avoid major flooding this spring. Hey, the WaterPark has opened, lots of traffic on Friday, I haven't been in town since, but they were booked for the weekend and expect a strong spring break. I hope it is successful. The economy is hard on this area, all industry is struggling, if not closed. The casino seems to be doing OK, but the resorts are empty alot. The Pete Dye course opens later this spring, it should draw in lots of retired old men and their wives. I wish we had some shopping venues to draw their $$$$$. The hotels have nice shops, but the community has nada. Everyone is afraid to invest in a small business venture here/now. I'd love to open a quilt/book/sandwich shop, but have neither time nor money.
We should plan a get-to-gether this summer, with the lake and waterpark your husbands and kids could have a blast. We could just hang out in the vinery and bars, snacking and drinking, hehehe. Really, I'd love it. No bars, maybe the Vinery for a nice lunch. And a giant cook-out at my house!!!
Your comments on FaceBook entertain me; Staci, have your eyebrows relaxed yet? I could just see what you meant. But in general, I still don't care for FB. Too, too something. And those portfolios, I don't know if it is worth the effort for me or not. I'm so tired of doing the work and getting shafted, but if I would get "credentialed" then I'd need it. Of course, we had so much guidance on the whole portfolio issue, it should be a snap, right, Gaggle?
Do you know any fat old lady who has been successful at losing weight? I need inspiration. Not from young people, from someone like me. Tired, out of shape, gray all over. I intend to start walking on the beach in AL, but that is only a week and I'm sooooo out of shape my walks may be 10 yards at a time. In my next life I want to be an athletic type, not a bookish couch potato, please.
Anna, any job prospects? I liked the WalMart comment, but I think you can do better than that. SteinMart at least. Any counselors retiring in your area? You'll find it, I know. You can always pull something out at the last minute, Girl. Just like a paper or portfolio.
Everyone take good care and have a great week. I'll try to post from way down south next weekend. Love, Lila

Sunday, March 8, 2009

GQE? Anyone? Anyone?

I trust everyone survived Step 1 of the Great Spring ISTEP Experiment? It was pretty intense for our kids; many of the top students were unable to complete the Math portion. Some of the English/Language Arts were grade appropriate, but some were more suited for college freshmen. My 504 kids took all the time they could and I feel they all tried very hard. Our Special Ed kiddos were lost from the getgo; writing about cats and dogs, rather than how to seek career resources. I'd like to speak with the people grading those and explain that they read at 1st and 2nd grade level, if they can read at all. I realize everyone has the same stories of your own students, but it just breaks my heart to see them struggle in vain. You cannot get blood from a turnip.

Tomorrow we start the GQE, of course, which is really stressful. Our second and third time testers have either given up or cannot sit still. A roughweek ahead. There must be a better way to assess learning.

Oh, here come my kiddos, ready for supper; white chili, fruit tray, lemon bars and key lime cheesecake. Talk more later.

Friday was Mackenzie's 15th birthday so we celebrated tonight along with a going away party for Courtney. Those 15 years have flown by; you think your kids will be little forever but that time flies. I was the first to see Kenz's red curls as her head crowned during birth and she's been my special angel ever since. We speak the same language, without words. I thank God for her everyday and pray He will give her a healthy long life. She is bright and caring, while spoiled and self-centered! A regular teen in many ways, wise beyond her years in others. She worries about her health too much and doesn't sleep well, afraid, I think, that something might happen during the night. Kenz has a wicked sense of humor like her Dad and smiles all the time. Her brother and sister love and look up to her even though they torment her constantly. She loves God and proudly wears her crosses, uses PTL as her favorite response and calls out the kids who swear around her.

Courtney is packed and ready to go on her walkabout downunder. She has relented and is taking a suitcase plus carry-on, not just carry-on. She plans on being gone up to a year, she has a 12 month Visa. Please, add her to your prayers and her parents. I think I'll be fine as soon as I know she is safely there. I don't like flying. What were the Wright brothers thinking? God didn't give us wings for good reason. I hope you all will check out her blog.

I'm gonna make one more sweep of the house and head to bed, that lost hour last night is catching up with me.
Kirstie, you did fine, do not let them intimidate you into crossing the line. Call anytime. I'm always here for you, Sweetie.

Have a pleasant week, Ladies. I'm counting down to the 20th and hanging on. Love you all.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Could It Get Any Better Than This?

I don't know about the rest of the world, but this is the week I live for... basketball sectional "spirit week" and ISTEP. An educational dream. Today was Jersey and Jeans day, pretty mild attire. Just wait for Wacky Wednesday and Pajama Day, now, that's when I want to be in a small room with 8th graders attempting to answer questions on "slope intercept" and "the narrator's unstated message" . Yes ma'am. Sign me up. Well, if we had wanted boring we'd have joined the military, right? I'd rather explain to a 14 year old that you have to convert before comparing inches and feet in cubic terms. Or that all the money taken in is not profit, someone has to pay for the damned materials. And of course, answering the most important query of the day, "Do we get snacks?" The one saving grace is a professional development 1/2 day thrown in the middle of this week. Shoot me now.

And how was your Monday, Ladies?

Anna, that is wonderful news or near news! Hope no students were lurking near the jewelry store, you know how rumors spread. A wedding will send them into outer space. I'm so happy for you; finding your other half is right up there with chocolate. I know Stephen King has made my life so much happier than anyone else could have. Together we have overcome obstacles, and dodged many bullets which would have broken other couples. Sharing the highs and lows of life with someone makes you strong and your love stronger. It is so exciting to be and the start of your life together. Bless you both.

Twenty questions??
Are everyone's kiddos OK this week?
Lady A and Baby Olivia becoming more settled?
No ER visits for Jordan and Trenton lately?
That seems to be a turn around for them, maybe they've broken the curse, Allison.
Is Abbie still showing improvement with the increase in meds?
Is Sam still into the alligators? Crocs?
How is therapy going for Annie? Is that something you and Lizzie and Jacob help her do? I think it would be great if the big kids could be part of it, don't you? I know we all would turn Joseph's feet in whenever we sat down to play with him. (my nephew who had splayed ankles)
Any signs of life in Andrew? good grades? doing laundry? cooking?
Mine is leaving next Tuesday; we may have to sedate her father. I'm resolved that she will be happy and safe. What else can we ask? I will miss her though, she's lived with us these last 5 months and it has been so fun. Now I'm alone with Stephen King again.

I think FaceBook is a little creepy; like you need to close the blinds, so many people are waiting to see (hear) what you're doing. Really, Jill, think before posting any kind of scores or quiz results. Tiger? I'm more Dead Horse. And FaceBook hasn't helped us find homes for those dogs!!! Did you all see Court's posting of Hank's pix? Mule ears, I telling you. I don't know what Stephen King will do if she doesn't find someplace for them, but I do know I'm the one who will have to hear him griping about them til she gets back.

I've been reading some of Susan Corso's stuff lately. She is a counselor, spiritualist?? Interesting thoughts on personal responsibility, blaming and accountability. Written in layman's terms, too. Not so bizarre or academic. Her "God's Dictionary" is enlightening. But so many people are putting their thoughts out there that it all begins to sound the same. My Trent reads Deepak Chopra and the Dalai Lama, both favorite's of mine, but sometimes too
d-e-e-p to grasp. This lady is more American in her thinking, I suppose. We tend not to embellish as much as the Eastern writers do.

I sometimes get as much from reading blogs as text from "authorities". One in particular is wondefully interesting and informative. Written by a lady in Australia about how to live a green life. She and her husband are retired and live a busy life of gardening, perserving and making-do. The photos are great, I love her chooks and dogs. And she shares recipes and knitting patterns and lots of wisdom. Her sons are grown, but show up for advice and supper every so often. Several of my friends are reading her now, as well as my kids.
I still love the decorating blogs and crave new furniture, a redone kitchen and bath and my own beach house, but the real stuff is where I look most often. Never too old to learn.

Have a glorious week inspite of the DOE, Ladies. Love, Hedy