Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"How I spent my Memorial Day Vacation" or "Why does Wisconsin hate Me?"

I am all about recycling. So here are some recycled thoughts of mine:

(censored for family-friendly reading)

My mom and I went to Pembine Wisconsin for Memorial Day weekend to a high school graduation open house and to visit relatives on my mom's side. It was a great weekend until we started driving home. Here is what happened:

We started out, driving down highway 8 west and had been driving about 45 minutes when my mom reached across into the garbage bag and got a used tissue or napkin or something. I asked her what she was doing and she said, "Nothing." I said "Then why are you digging in the garbage? I have other napkins." She said, "You have something on your shirt." I said, "WHAT?" Then she said, "You don't need to know." That's all it took. I knew it was a wood tick. I hate those little sexual intercoursers. So I totally freaked out while driving 60mph down highway 8. I said, "Get him off of me! Oh fecal matter! Male offspring of a female dog! Cursed by the Diety! Get the sexual intercourser off of me!" She was trying to but then started laughing at my hysterics. She got ahold of him and pulled but he was stuck. I felt my shirt move, but she was going after it again, so I said, "Fecal matter! Male offspring of a female dog! Cursed by the Diety! Is that little sexual intercourser stuck on me?" Mom said, "No, he's not on your skin, just on your shirt." I said, "Fecal matter! Male offspring of a female dog! Cursed by the Diety! Did that little sexual intercourser already burrow his head into my shirt?!?" She said, "No, just his legs are caught on your shirt." I said, "Fecal matter!Male offspring of a female dog!Cursed by the Diety! Get that little sexual intercourser and kill him!" At this point she had him off of my shirt in the napkin. I said, "I wanna see it!" So she opened the napkin, and sure enough, it was a wood tick! I said, "Fecal matter! Male offspring of a female dog! Cursed by the Diety! kill that little child born of unmarried parents!" Then she started to open her window. I said, "Don't do that! he won't go out! He will either stay stuck to the napkin or the wind will take that sexual intercourser  right back in the car into the backseat! Probably on MY jacket!" She told me that she was going to hold it outside the window back farther than her window and not let go of him until she was sure it was out of range of the car. I said, "That little male offspring of a female dog  better not get back in here on me! Fecal matter! Male offspring of a female dog! Cursed by the Diety! I hate those little sexual intercoursers!" And then she proceeded to do what she said she was going to do. She showed me the napkin, that it was gone, then she threw the napkin away again. Then for the next half hour or 45 minutes I was digging through my hair, looking in my shirt, scratching my legs, totally a case of the creepy-crawlies. Well, my mother, being the compassionate person she is, sat there and laughed so hard that tears rolled down her cheeks and her sides hurt. Yeah. I felt the love. Then before we got home, she had called Sheri and Todd and told them, called Audrey and told her, and called my brother Tom and told him. Then after I got her dropped off and got home, she called my family and had Rob put the phone on speaker phone so both of the girls could hear it too. 

So, there you go. Cursed  Wisconsin. First mauled by a bear then swarmed by ticks. Why does Wisconsin hate me?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Those Who Can

Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives. ~Andy Rooney

I think this quote by Andy Rooney is a much more intelligent quote than the one by George Bernard Shaw; "He who can, does; He who cannot, teaches." It just makes no sense to me. Someone had to teach you how to do what you do, so you can't just "do," you first have to be taught how to "do." 

Teachers have made a huge impact on my life. I mean, I'm married to a teacher, so I guess that shows how much I love and support teachers. I was a preschool teacher then later a preschool music teacher for a while. I hope I made an impact on the lives of those children. Or if nothing else, I hope I didn't screw them up too badly. Time will tell.

My mother wanted to be a teacher. Instead she became a teacher to her children. So in a sense, she did become a teacher. She was my first teacher. I can't explain the impact my mother has had on my life. Who would I be without her?

My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Hope, was a very kind, soft-spoken woman. I don't remember much from kindergarten, but I do remember her kind eyes and gentle voice. For first grade I had Mrs. Oberbillig, for second grade Miss Hallbrook, for third grade Mrs. Ryun, for fourth grade Miss Grabill, for fifth grade Mrs. Wheeler and for sixth grade Mr. Reeves. 

I remember Miss Grabill being a wonderful person. She encouraged me and made me love school. She helped me find a place where I felt welcomed. I'd have to say she was my favorite in elementary school. There were others of whom I have fond memories, but none the likes of Loah Grabill. 

On the other side of the coin, I was never sure what to think of Mrs. Wheeler. She scared the crap out of me while smiling the entire time. I can't think of a thing negative to say about her, just that she instilled a general feeling of fear in me. I can think of many negative things to say about Mr. Wright, but I won't. I had him for science, I think. I just know he gave me the creeps and he was a horribly unfair teacher. I received my first bad grade in his class in 5th grade, and it all stemmed from a confrontation I had with him that today may have cost him his teaching license. He was well dressed, yes. But it doesn't matter what he wore, he was a dirty old man.    

Junior high was liberating for me. Very few kids I went to elementary school with attended the same junior high that I did. I needed that. They all saw me as a skinny, gangly pre-adolescent with horrible acne and the inability to sit still.  I matured some over 7th grade and when I was forced back into a school with them in 8th grade, it was a little better. I won't say it was great, but it was a little better. 

Apart from the generally horrible social issues, I had some teachers who were incredible. Mr. Hansen in 8th grade was both my home room teacher as well as my science teacher. He was a down to earth person who treated everyone equally and had an incredibly deadpan sense of humor. Mr. J. Wilson was my 9th grade Algebra teacher, who helped me realize that I could understand math after two years of teachers who had made me feel like I couldn't. (He was the one and only, because my high school math teachers kicked me right back into that gutter again.)

Mr. Atkinson was our business teacher. One of the things he taught us was typing (no kids, not computers, but actual typing!) It was a valuable skill to learn and I feel sorry for the kids who did not take it seriously. He was a very unique individual who didn't allow nonsense, but instilled in you the importance of what he was teaching you. (He also made us cut our fingernails so we could type better, and told us the only fingernail that needed to be long was our pinky nail, and that was only if we were snorting coke.)

Mrs. Pratt and Mr. Eller were my English teachers in 8th and 9th grade and I had long understood that I enjoyed English more than any other subject. They both made an impact on me as a young person, each in their own way. I never have had the opportunity to diagram sentences, despite the numerous times these two forced us to do so. I'm still waiting. 

High school brought me a plethora of teachers who made a positive impact on my life. Thank goodness the ones that did were there, because if I had to base my high school career on Mr. Wickam, Mr. Martin and Mr. Cebuhar, I'd probably have a very negative remembrance of those days. 

Thankfully I was blessed with Mrs. White, Mr. Hendricks, Ms. Kauffman, Mr. Ortale, Mrs. Fisher, Mr. Blenderman, Mrs. Weir and Mr. Kent to fill me with wonderful memories and a plethora of knowledge. 

Most importantly, they made me believe in me. I think that's what I miss most about being in school. Some teachers have a way of knowing when a child needs built up inside. Not all teachers, mind you. Teachers are just like the general population; some have the ability to know what a child needs beyond the lesson plans, and some do not. 

Who will I remember more: Andy Rooney or George Bernard Shaw? Andy Rooney, of course. Who will I remember fondly for being much more than a teacher? Mrs. Hope, Mrs. Oberbillig, Miss Hallbrook, Mrs. Ryun, Miss Grabill, Mr. Hansen, Mr. Eller, Mrs. White, Mr. Hendricks, Ms. Kauffman, Mr. Ortale, Mrs. Fisher, Mr. Blenderman, Mrs. Weir and Mr. Kent

Who do YOU remember? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Missing My Dad

I've been missing my dad lately. Not that it is any more or less than usual, but I guess I've noticed it more the past week. Maybe it was Halloween. Maybe it's the sumac changing color. Maybe it's because it's football season and that was his favorite sport. I don't know.

Dad liked decorating for holidays. He was the outside decorator. He had pumpkin masks he put over the lights in front, he had big orange pumpkin bags he filled with leaves. He had lights and a creepy skeleton head. But he was best known for his "people" in the front yard. 

It started with one guy. He had a Frankenstein monster-like head. He wore a bucket hat. He had on flannel and jeans and boots. He sat on a bucket and his arm rested on a "Dorian for Mayor" yard sign. Dad called him "the old cement finisher." Later he expanded to get the old cement finisher a wife, and eventually kids. Three to be exact. 

He would always make my mom guess before beggar's night started how many trick-or-treaters they would have. And he would keep a tally. He had a pen and paper next to his chair and he'd make a hash mark for each little ghoul or goblin or princess or power ranger that came to his door. 

He would decorate for Easter, too. He used all of my mom's plastic eggs and put a hole in the top and threaded string through so he could hang them up on a bush or tree. After he ran out of hers, he bought them at garage sales and second-hand stores. I have a big tin of them downstairs for our trees. 

But his favorite holiday to decorate for was Christmas. They had three evergreens in the front yard and he would cover them with lights until they got too tall for him to put lights on. He didn't give up on the trees until they finally were taller than his combined reach and the eight foot long board he used to hook them up over a branch. 

The lights usually went along the peak of the house and along the front of the garage, too. And there were the lighted reindeer, too. Bucks and does and fawns. Santa and Mrs. Claus as well as Frosty the Snowman were always present, too. If it lit up, Dad liked it. 

He usually put the Christmas tree up inside, too. The day after Thanksgiving he's put it up, string the lights, put on the tinsel and either Santa or a star on top. Then he'd let Mom do the rest. He usually let Mom take care of the inside decorations, too. Mainly because what Dad really liked were decorations that made noise. Lots of noise. Singing a song, playing a tune, you name it. Occasionally he would walk through the house and turn each item on and then sit back down. 

I miss hearing him talk about football with my husband. I miss how mad he'd get at the coaches and the players and the officials. So mad he'd have to leave the room. 

There are so many thing I miss. I was a very lucky girl to have a dad like mine. He was one in a million. But forty one years was not enough.