Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Rite of Passing

We hear a lot and read a lot about "rites of passage" such as puberty, teen dating etc. but I am talking about "the rite of passing." Or our bizarre way of dealing with the death of a loved one.
From what I have read recently, the Eskimos used to set their loved ones on an ice floe at their death and release them to the elements. This goes along with the "back to nature, ashes to ashes, dust to dust" concept. Vikings set their dead afloat in their boats after igniting the boat into flames. Some tribes of Native Americans built platforms high off the ground, placed their dead, and some of the items them might need in the next life, upon the platform and offered their loved ones up to the Great Spirit. Aside from the stench that must occur for a while, this doesn't seem like a bad plan either. But environmentalists would bust a gut!
Our society, at least here in Area 52, has a rather bizarre and what I consider somewhat barbaric rite of passing. State and federal laws mandate just what can be done with a dead body now days. I have a good buddy in the funeral home business, and I sincerely mean him no disrespect, but I just don't buy into all the fladerah that goes with buring our dead. Do you know that the average cost of a funeral here in Area 52 is upwards of $6000 now?
Upon death, we remove the blood from our loved ones while filling them with some sort of preserving fluid. Then we make them look as natural as possible with cosmetics, dress them in their Sunday best, place them in a $2000 coffin (low end cost, probably) flank them with flowers, and then parade all the family and friends past their coffin forcing them to look at someone who can't look back. How strange is this!!! I don't sleep in a suit, nor do I ever even lay down in a suit. Nor do I know anyone who does. This is just plain weird!
Funeral services are becoming status symbols all over America. What's wrong with a small graveside service with a few scriptures, a song or two and then it's over. I have attended this kind of service, and I have attended the kind of service where it seemed like a staged, musical production. Both got the dead buried, but the first one seemed more personal and caring. Both provided closure for the families left behind, but the first one left more time for conversation with the family and friends. Again it's a personal choice.
Burying a body in a sealed coffin, inside a sealed vault six feet underground seems offensive to me, but sticking the coffin in a hole in a wall is worse. There is something about mausoleums that freaks me out. Maybe I am afraid that the ghost of the dead will be able to get free easier and come back to haunt. And in Area 52 it is illegal to spread the ashes of a loved one at their favorite locale, so we either have to bury them or place them on the mantel. UGH! My buddy says that if one is "hell bent" on spreading ashes, just do it and keep your mouth shut!
There is another way to dispose of ashes that is coming to the forefront. Since the ashes of a human are mostly carbon, there is a new process whereby the deceased ashes can be compressed under extreme pressure and made into a diamond. I kid you not!!! During a recent conversation, a friend suggested to her husband that he gain a little weight, because she wanted earrings and a pendant. Tilly is opting for a ring.
I hope I haven't offended anyone with this rambling treatise, but I felt like venting about a subject that just offends me. I have no concrete answers, and I also know that once I am gone, only my body is left. My spirit will be elsewhere. What my family choses to do with me is their choice, not mine, though I have expressed a few ideas along the way. I hope Tilly chooses a platinum setting. I never cared much for gold or silver. And I'm worth it!

Friday, August 18, 2006

It's Okay to Feel Sad

Today I feel sad. I feel sad for my son and his wife. They found out that their baby is gone. They went in hoping to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time, only to have those hopes dashed.
What do I say to them? I can say that Tilly and I have been there, and can sympathize, but do they really want to hear that? No, I don't think so. I can say that it isn't anything they did, but they know that already. I can encourage them to try again when the time is right. They will, I know! But right now all I really want to do is hold them both close and cry with them for a while. I want them to both know that they are loved. That even though it may not seem like it now, God is holding them in the palm of His hand. That tomorrow will seem brighter just because it holds the promise of the future. God bless them both!
Back to School

This week it was "back to school" for me. After a summer of transit driving, dispatching, and the wearing of many hats, I was looking forward to getting back into the classroom. I was a bit apprehensive because not only were we getting a new principal and assistant principal, we were getting a new "special education" staff. I was uneasy about how our routines would be changed. But I needed not have worried. The new administration is caring and proactive, which is a big change for all of us. They are believers in "gentle, but firm" dicipline, and are very much available and visible to us all. The new "special ed" leaders are great! They are full of new, innovative ideas and eager to hear our input and willing to listen.
But the real icing on the cake is the students. They are amazing! I am working primarily with 7th graders, but have two classes of 6th graders, too. The sixth grade students are so eager. They seem enthralled with each new thing the lead teacher and I try in the classroom. Hands are shooting up with eagerness and the smiles I am seeing on their faces just makes the whole classroom experience worth all the effort we as teachers put into our jobs.
Much the same thing is happening with my 7th graders. They come to our classes prepared to learn and seem to be challenging us to teach them. Of course, we always have a few who like to create havoc within the classroom, but both the lead teacher and I have already warned them that we do not intend to put up with their "crap" and expect them to act their age and grade level. So far it is working. This afternoon I walked the 8th grade hallway, curiously observing the students I worked with last year. I saw amazing things happening in the classroom as I slowly (on purpose) strolled by each door. It seems like a magic cloud has decended on our school. At first I could not put a finger on just what is happening, but today it finally hit me. Our staff is more caring and relaxed than they have been in several years. The last two years were pure hell for all of us. Our principal had a monster ego, which in turn, made him into a monster! He was the final and only "word" and we all felt like we were under a microscope. He was more of a dictator than an administrator, and created an animosity that prevailed within the school, reflecting not only on the faculty and staff, but had to be affecting the students as well.
Isn't it strange how one person can either make or break a system, whether it is education, or business. We are all so lucky to have new people at the helm who care and want the best for our kids. It makes it fun to go to work. I no longer dread hearing the alarm go off in the mornings, for I know I will encounter smiles from my students and encouraging words from my peers. GO US!!!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tiaras, Tatonka and More Damn Driving!

Prof just called and she is in Dickinson, ND. She had an eventful day of tooling down interstate 94. She wore her tiara and jammed to Mellencamp as she drove. Slowing for every herd of cattle because someone told her that there might be buffalo ('Tatonka) on the range there. But, alas, no Tatonka. At a pee stop she asked the clerk where she might see buffalo, and found out that they are all on reserves, because they are coming back from being endangered. Interesting! As she traveled down I 94, she was on a section called the "Laura Ingalls Wilder" expressway. This was in Minnesota, and after crossing into ND, it became the "Enchanted Highway" which she found profoundly ironic since by then she was wearing her tiara. (An aside here, her mother and I actually bought the tiara for her for Christmas last year, and I made a jewel studded, velvet lined box for it.)
Reaching Bismarck, she stopped for a much needed rest stop, and got turned around when getting back on I 94, and headed back east; twice. Finally she found out that to get back on going west, you had to cross a Burger King parking lot, through a storage complex driveway, up a big "fu--ing hill, and turn right to the on ramp. She wondered why everyone in the parking lot at the gas station looked at her funny as she walked across the lot, and discovered looking in the glass windows of the store that she still had on her tiara. She immediately hurried back to the car and took it off.
Between Fargo and Bismarck, there was a iron sculpture of geese, just sitting in a big field in the middle of nowhere. She stopped to take a picture of it. Seven cars passed by while she was stopped, all eyes on her with her camera, and, you guessed it, the tiara.
Tilly and I suggested that she not wear the tiara into the town where she will be teaching. They might think one of two things. One, she is weird, or two, she is the new rodeo queen! She opted for "rodeo queen." Being a member of royalty has always been a desire of hers.!!!
Vistiting a Wal-Mart in Bismarck was about the highlight of her day. Buying a liter of shampoo and then finding a place to put it in the car, was a challenge. But, tomorrow night, she will be at her destination. Be sure to read "redneck nerdboy's" entry on her blog about the "pimped out" guy on the interstate. And the Starbucks attack in Fargo. Both a hoot!
Oh, she had to stop due to rain and hail in West Fargo, and twenty minutes later heard on the radio that a tornado touched down where she had just been stopped. She decided she was definitely "not in Kansas anymore, Toto!"
Check in with lilith. I think she's the next guest blogger.
Keep reading, this is THE adventure of Prof's life!


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Day One of Prof's Travels

Well people, she is finally out of here! We got everything packed last night, but she was still adding to the already filled automobile still this morning. After many hugs, kisses, and tears, she began her journey. About 3 hours later than I anticipated she would, but any of you that know Prof, know that she walks to the tune of her own drummer.
This morning at 1:00 AM, she discovered that we hadn't packed her "Beatles" picture. Her words were, "I am not going without John, George, Ringo, and Paul." Now bear in mind that this is a framed, glassed, picture that measures approximately 30"x36". I could not see how this was going to fit, but I told her to bring it on. We slid, repacked part of her 40 pairs of shoes, and 20 purses, and wedged it in the backseat covered with a sheet. So she was again at peace with the world.
She will call when ever she changes states, and probably in between, and I know some of you are going to post her progress. I will continue to share, but from a parent's point of view, and keep you updated. So tune in. She has now been gone about 1 hour!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

First of Several Updates

As you all know by now, Professor is moving to MONTANA. Today was the last day on her present job. Her laptop was compliments of that job while she was employed there as was her cell phone. Tonight she is both computerless and phoneless. I bet she feels like someone cut off all of her fingers and both ears. LOL.
Tomorrow she has that bit of minor surgery she blogged about earlier in the week. I think that anytime the word "surgery" is used, it is not MINOR, but she seems brave and didn't even think Mom or Dad needed to be there. A friend is going to be there to cheer her on and stay with her. Said friend and "he who is without shirt" will pack up her car at the "frat" house for her on Friday night or Saturday morning. She will arrive at our house Saturday sometime. She intends to sort thru some stuff here and get ready to pack up her car while she is recuperating. Since after this "minor" surgery thingy, she is not allowed to lift over 10 pounds, I'm sure I will get to move boxes from point A to point B for her to sort thru. That is fine with me. I want to help any way I can. Mom is worried that Prof won't have enough to eat or money to buy food when she arrives in MONTANA so she is cleaning out our pantry and we will try squeezing non-perishable food and cleaning items into every conceivible crook and cranny in Prof's POS Malibu.
Now, if you want to hear something weird, Prof's ex husband (divorced 10 years now) offered to come to our house on Tuesday evening and bring Kiddo, and pack Prof's car for her. I can't imagine him being that nice, but "whatever." Isn't that strange? Then, on Wednesday, she will be off on her new adventure. She said she wasn't leaving at the butt-crack of dawn, but wants to get thru the zoo of Chicago while the rush-hours were not in progress.
She promises that she is buying some sort of cell phone to take along on this trip. She has joined AAA auto club in case she has a problem. I wish I had the money to buy her one of those computerized locators, what ever they are called. I think I should make sure she at least has a compass, don't you?
She also has promised to call every evening, and give me an update on her day and a location, then I am supposed to blog it, so all of you out there in blog cyberspace will be able to keep up. When she arrives at her new home, in WhereinthehellamI, Montana, the school is providing her a new laptop with internet service. Then she will resume posting blogs. I am sure all of you are anxious to read about her teaching experiences, as well as her "adventures in cowboy land." I will rest a lot easier when I know she is no longer traveling, and is safely ensconced in her new home.
So, stay tuned. I will try to keep you up to date as much as possible. Maybe this weekend she will have time to blog between sleeping, eating and packing. Who knows!
I ask all of you to keep her in your thoughts and prayers while she is traveling. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

We Asked Ourselves "Why?"

36 years ago today, our first son was born. He never drew a breath. For some reason, his heart just stopped beating during the birth process. He was perfectly formed, weighed 10 pounds and was 22 inches long. Till had a real hard labor due to his size, but all was proceeding normally yet slowly. Suddenly...nothing.
Today marks his 36th birthday. We asked ourselves then why this happened to us. What had we done wrong. The doctors had no answers. No cord problems, everything seemed fine. His heart just stopped. To this day, we still wonder why. These days, there are all kinds of technology to either stop this from happening, or to find out why it happens. Times have really changed.
Today was a hard one. Some years go by and we don't think much about it, but with all the talk about the new grandchild, it brought back those unhappy memories.
I can say that the experience we shared made us stronger and drew us closer. Our pastor at that time told us that these types of experiences can either make or break a marriage. Fortunately, I believe the loss strengthened our marriage. Not only that, it made us cherish our two living children even more. So good did prevail.
So maybe it's time to stop asking "why" and remember all that is good in our lives. We were taught patience and understanding, as well as love. I thank God for that!