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Way long ago in a galaxy far far away I lived in a place with public transportation. Trams, trains and buses — I know it sounds like a 1980’s movie, but it was amazing where you could get in multiple countries. All you needed was a form of identification and a ticket.

Polish tram

Polish tram

Sure you were dependent on the schedule and some places took more time waiting than actually the time it took to get there, but it really didn’t matter. Only two buses a day went to that village? Sure you just planned to stay overnight. A train went to this other village only once a day and you had to take the Osobowe train instead of the Express, whatever, no problem (by the way, the Osobowe [or people’s train] was also said Oh-so-slovy, since it stopped at every stop along the track — and a train stop was stated as “where two or more are gathered, there is a train station”.)

But the cost of a monthly tram pass or train tickets to where ever you were going was nothing to the cost of a car, maintenance, and insurance … or maybe I just say this because I had to write a check for $1000 and will, at some point soon have to write another similar sized check. Mind you, since my car is almost eight years old and has 185K miles on it with only one major issue other than routine oil and tires … I shouldn’t complain too horribly … but still it is moments like this when I remember fondly the joys of public transportation.

Sure sometimes the trains were so packed after a holiday weekend that it was standing room only. Sure there were sometimes when an unknown stranger fell asleep on your shoulder during an overnight run from Warsaw to Szczecin and it was a little aromatic, but hey that was the excitement of youth … right? The times when the youths who just finished their tour of military service and were boisterously celebrating and could only get on the train because of the fact they were leaning against each other was slightly frightening but that was when you found the train car with the Nun, for certainly the former soldiers would not want to sit in the same train car as a nun!

summer footwear in winter …

What is it about teenagers that when it is forty degrees out they want to wear flip flops?Flip flop set

Or how about my favorite of wearing slippers outside in a snow storm? Just because they have bears on their feet doesn’t mean the bears want to go see the snow? Bears hibernate in winter and though bunnies will be seen outside in winter … I am sure they don’t like being worn outside on people’s feet!

I work at a private high school and I know that dormitories and libraries are close together and so maybe they don’t feel the cold between buildings, but when I look at them I am reminded of my brother-in-law telling my nephew. “Put on a jacket, you are making your mother cold.”

I want to tell these young things — I am sure your parents sent you to school with appropriate foot wear. Do not wear out your slippers which are meant to be worn inside for they don’t have proper soles! Wear a jacket — it isn’t cool to have pneumonia because you run around in 30 degree weather in t-shirt and shorts!

Ah yes I have become my mother — I am the crazy old white haired lady that tells children to get dressed…

teacher conferences…

I have to create a new account on the school website so that I can schedule times to meet with teachers. Now these are kind of funny … ten minute slots in 4 hours on one day. Voila … come in on Thursday at either 1 PM to 3 PM or between 5 PM and 7 PM. My first gut reaction is how many students are at this school? And how much can be said in ten minutes? I can barely introduce myself in that time period. I will have to be certain to have an espresso before conferences so that I can speak faster!

I amused to an environment that allows twenty minutes for conferences and since I had two children and they all had the same teachers … being allowed forty minutes. I would email the school secretary and say this afternoon works best for me … and so I would have forty minutes for English, forty minutes for science and so on. I lived there ALL afternoon. I never took the whole forty minute slot to discuss the children, but we would talk about new things going on and the latest drama project and other extra-curricular activities.

I am stressed already and the conferences are days away. The English teacher was full so I had to email her and ask if there was anything she would have liked to say to me. However, what happens when I am with the Geometry teacher at 1:40PM and then have to sprint down the hall to see the Introduction to Engineering Design teacher at 1:50PM? Thankfully they are not on separate floors and it won’t take long to get there. What if the previous parent takes too long and I only get five minutes instead of ten minutes? Oh the very difficult life we lead…

Being a parent is just too darn hard … let me tell you!

I am very supportive of Veterans. The books I have read from “Unbroken” (by Laura Hillenbrand) to “Until Tuesday” (by Former Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan) are very powerful and I have shared them here. “The Heart and the Fist” by Eric Greitens is one that I will always remember listening to on audiobook … especially that scene of the cow escaping to the Florida highway! It is my belief that we need to know what our soldiers have lived through for then (I hope) better decisions can be made in the future for our soldiers.

The life of a soldier is hard – extremes between boredom and too much action.remembrance-poppy

Depending on where they are stationed it is bitterly cold or exhaustively hot.

You have the muddy trenches and barbed wire of World War I – the tanks of World War II (can you tell my son and I recently saw FURY — an amazing movie if you don’t mind mud and gore, and Logan Lerman even acted!) — the jungles of Vietnam, the mountains of Afghanistan and the sand of Iraq.

Remembering our veterans and what they suffered is very important – we can even pray that in the future fewer of our men and women need to go and harm our fellow peoples. However, if we are realistic … we will always have soldiers for society is full of all kinds of individuals and we don’t always get along.

Where there are bullies – there will always be a need of people to stand up to them. If it is in the playground or on a countries borders.

So peace to our veterans and may you heal … in all the ways you are wounded, both visible and invisible.

Let it go…

If you want to hear my teenage son groan and roll his eyeballs (I swear you can hear the eyeballs roll!) just play “Let It Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen”. If possible he will even run out of the room while threatening his sister with bodily harm.

I find this very amusing.Pentatonix

I wonder what about this song does he find so disagreeable? I was listening to it earlier today because I had bought a Christmas CD from Pentatonix and they had a ‘Bonus Track’ of “Let It Go”. Now when the movie came out and everyone was speaking about it and his sister saw it twice in one day and made him see it once because she had seen it with some female class-mates and it was sort of forced down his throat… I can see the hesitation, but he hasn’t seen the movie in months and his sister hasn’t asked him to watch it again. Is this residual resistance? Is this a gut reaction from having it played at school dances and on radios and basically having it thrust at him from all quarters a few seasons ago? I don’t know. As a female I cannot understand the mind of man.

I have raised him to be open minded and understanding. I wouldn’t think that a strong female character would scare him. I am just basing this idea on some of the very strong female classmates that he has had in the past and really liked. I listen to the words and though this is hard while driving on the curlie cue country roads that I drive on … I hear phrases like “not a footprint in sight – a kingdom of isolation and I am its queen” — oh yes I can see that would be terrifying. Another scary line might be … “the perfect girl is gone – here I stand in the light of day” — yes that could be disturbing too.

Now when I listen to this song from many years of experience, I like it. Frozen

A movie about a strong relationship between sisters – they have their problems but in the end they pull it together and have the proverbial Disney happy ending. They overcome difficulty and the death of family members. They meet new people and they learn hard things about each other. They learn about themselves. Yes, we realize that a happy ending rarely happens in real life — but that is why we enjoy fiction so much. It is the realm of what might have been.

For what am I thankful?

Some days it is easier to remember to be thankful than others.

This is November so we are sort of forced to look around and think of cornucopias and bounty and thanksgiving. (This is to counter the start of heating season and the necessary payments of heating oil and larger electric bills!) But when we are not getting heating bills that cost an arm and a leg … what are we thankful for?

Though I complain about the cat who sleeps right behind my knees so I can’t turn over without moving a twenty pound cat … I am thankful for my cats because they are wonderfully loving when they want to be and even if they don’t I can usually get a purr out of them when I need a cuddle.

Though I complain about my children … for ALL parents complain about their children. I love my children and am grateful that they are as sweet as they are. I do have great children if I do say so myself.

I am thankful for my parents and sisters. They have been so helpful and supportive over the years.

I am thankful for the great community in which I live – it truly is the town above all others. Our high location in the hills creates beautiful vistas … and very cold snowy winters, but oh well it is not Camelot!

I am thankful for my house which is welcoming and sturdy and a great place to raise a family.

I am thankful for friends who share their lives and passions.

I have been taking part in NaNoWriMo for five years. I didn’t know this until I logged in the other day and they told me so. Each year hope springs eternal and I think that THIS year I will successfully finish. Successfully finish means write 50,000 words in 30 days. I think I did get as far as about 21,000 words one year, but most I fail miserably. Somehow conferences, Thanksgiving, and life gets in the way of sitting at the keyboard and typing.

The premise is that you start a new piece.

The premise is that you don’t edit your work, you just write … write … write.NaNoWriMo

Some years I am SO involved with another story that I don’t want to start a new story and some years I just feel like a barren waste land. This year I fall in the second category. I have written nothing all year. I can’t believe I have gotten to November and all I have written is either short blog posts intermittently or work related reports and requests for grant funding. Now sometimes grant requests seem like fiction … and if we get this we will do this and this and this. But fantasy is not my forte and so I am hoping that NaNoWriMo this year will be a way of purging the writer’s block and going from the dry tones of library reports to something a little more lively.

So I will try yet again. As of the second day I am only on word 257. Since I need an average of 1667 words a day — I am 3,077 words behind … but hey who is counting?

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