Thursday, September 27, 2007

Saga of the Jobs - Part 5

I do not know if anyone is still interested in this history of my work life, but I feel the need to complete what I started, if only for my family history's sake.

Graduation - Finally! What an exciting day it was, as we gathered around the Lamp of Learning in the middle of our campus, each of us holding ivy, which had been laboriously tied together. The president of the college then cut the ivy between each graduate, signifying our leaving each other and launching our new lives. The married couples who were graduating together did not have theirs clipped between them.



I mentioned before that I had to stay on campus for a couple more weeks to finish up my student teaching, but then I headed home for the summer. I bought my first car, a hunter green 1969 Mustang. Man, I loved that car! (Obviously, this is not a real picture of mine, but just an idea of what it looked like).


The second graduation picture is of my senior year roommate and myself. She is the one that was RA on Second South when I was on Third South, when we called ourselves upstairs/downstairs roommates. Linda and I went job hunting together, hoping to end up in Colorado. It wasn't to be, and we took jobs in a small rural town in southeast Kansas. She taught high school English and I taught 4th grade. I had the much better deal! Her job situation was very stressful, with very disrespectful students, besides advising the drama club and the yearbook, neither of which she'd ever done, on top of first year lesson plans. She came home with a headache almost every Friday night and headed for her bed.

We rented the upstairs of an old house. We just about melted that first few weeks. We thought we were going to be "rich schoolteachers." What a shock - after paying the rent (the apartment was $65.00 per month, divided between us), the utilities, the groceries, the car and insurance payments, and the NEA dues, we barely squeaked by. She went back home to western Kansas the next year, mainly because of the job situation. I'll never forget - we left town for Halloween week-end because some of her roughneck students threatened to egg her brand new baby blue Ford LTD. We parked my car in our pastor's garage, to protect it if they made good on their threats. They did - we found our house covered with sticky dried eggs when we got back.

My job was much nicer. I was in a country school, with one class of each grade. Fourth graders were old enough to really engage in conversation, but they were still young enough to love their teacher. I was as green as my car, but we learned together.

mom's class

The little guy on the top row in the red shirt, third from the right was Greg - a brilliant little guy. He would ask the most intriguing questions and get a look of dismay when I couldn't answer them. He thought I was a walking encyclopedia, I think. The other red shirted boy on the right end of that row was Patrick. He was from a Jeh*vah's Witness family, and they were quite evangelistic - he and his brother showed up at my apartment early one Saturday morning selling doughnuts. I had his brother the next year and one Thursday he told me that in their group study that night he was bringing the lesson on marriage. That threw me for a bit of a loop!

Jack is the portly young guy in the blue shirt on the middle row. Since it was such a small school, there was no special education option. Jack needed extra help. I worked so hard to find alternate ways for him to pass tests, since he had been passed along this far without having learned to read. His mom did his math homework for him and they both wondered how I knew. Disregarding the fact that the handwriting was legible and adult, there was the fact that I was teaching them "modern math," which required LONG answers for LONG division - showing every step, while she did the shortcuts that all of us in our age group were taught. I actually lost sleep over Jack and his problems.

The tiny little girl beside me on the front row was Tammy. Her mother came to my room the very first day of my very first year of teaching, before classes began. She told me that Tammy had cystic fibrosis - a disease I had never heard of before. I know a lot about it now because one of my son's best friends from church is a CF survivor at age 30, having been a "guinea pig" for an FDA trial, and then a recipient of a double lung transplant. But at that time the life expectancy was 14-15. When Tammy's mom told me of the possibilities that I might encounter during the year, I was scared spitless. The thoughts of the episodes she may have made me want to run and hide. She spent much time out of school, in an oxygen tent. I thought of Tammy every year after I left that town. I called the assistant superintendent of that school district, who was our choir director at church, and learned that she had indeed died in the 9th grade.

It is amazing to me that I can remember a story about almost every one of those children. It was a good year. But when Linda left and I was alone in that town and that apartment and that church (and had left a boyfriend back home that I had met the previous summer), and my expenses doubled, I was really unhappy. I longed to go to Colorado. I made a career-damaging move, resigning after the first semester and moving back home. I kind of made up a contract for God, giving Him all the logical reasons I should make this move, and asked Him to sign it. In hindsight, I should have definitely stuck it out the rest of that year.

Since so many of us had received the National Defense Student Loan that I mentioned in the last episode, teachers were a dime a dozen at that time. Even if I didn't have "career leprosy", I don't think I could have gotten a job in Colorado. I had a flashback to one of my interviews a few days ago that I hadn't thought of in many years. The superintendent of the school district in the town just north (where I now work at the university), came to Kansas City to interview for teachers. I went up there and stayed with a friend, dressed to the nines, and headed for the hotel where he was holding the interviews. Imagine my shock, even as naive and trusting as I was, when he opened the door to his room and invited me in for the interview. I can't even fathom what he was thinking - this was just asking for trouble - a closed door, himself, and a young female applicant. Not a good idea.

I did not get that position, nor did I get one in my home town. Maybe the fact that I didn't really love teaching came through. Ya think?? It was a shock to myself that I didn't, because it had been my dream since I was a little girl. I played teacher all the time, teaching my brother and sister after school when I was in first grade. But I also played secretary ---


Monday, September 24, 2007

Birthday Musings #2

Tomorrow (Tuesday, 9/25) I will be 60. The time has flown since I wrote last year's post on this subject. Not much has changed in regard to the aging process since then - the vision, the brown spots, the loss of flexibility, the memory, the exhaustion - pretty much the same. I still have the least gray hair among my siblings.

This is a very significant year for DC and me. He turned 65 in July, I will be 60, and we will celebrate our 35th anniversary on December 28.

My sister was born two weeks before my first birthday, so we loved being "twins" for two weeks every year - except we always got the same gifts from everyone, so I always knew what I was going to get. We finally started opening our gifts that came in the mail on the 18th - halfway between, sitting on the floor back to back so we didn't see what we got if the other one was faster on the draw opening the packages. We did the same at Christmas. Everyone was afraid to get us something unique, I guess.

When DC and I started dating, we spent my first birthday week-end taking a ride to view the autumn colors in the mountains. You from the Midwest and East Coast don't think our coloring is that fantastic, because we don't have a lot of red. But when you're driving through the mountains and suddenly you come upon a sunshine-bright patch of yellow aspen in the midst of evergreens, it is a glorious sight. I have a memory book that my sister gave me when DC and I started going together. It has pockets for each month's memories, and places to write a little bit each day. I checked Saturday to see what the date was that year when we went to the hills. It was the 23rd, this year Saturday was the 22nd. Exactly 35 years later. Here is what I found when I opened the September page and looked in the little pocket:

That night we took a busload of teen-agers from church about 70 miles east of here to hear David Wilkerson, the founder of Teen Challenge, speak. Little did I know that someday we would be so thankful to him for starting that program (see sidebar for Kevin's and my story, if you don't know what I'm referring to). Obviously, we were much younger and had more energy in those days!
I found several other treasures that I will be sharing in the days ahead. But for today, here are some shots of our trip two days ago. I'm so glad the rain held off until today!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Random Ramblings #18

It's that time again - time to clear out the hard drive of my brain and make room for more data. Hence, the Random Ramblings.

Fall (or autumn, as Linds pointed out is a better word - why DO we call it fall, when autumn is such a superior word?) has come to our area. I LOVE the crisp mornings and evenings. Even 86 degrees doesn't seem as hot as it does in summer. Why is that?? Saturday DC and I are taking the senior group from our church (to which we will soon belong) on a fall color tour in the mountains.

I am sadly behind in expressing my appreciation to Angela for the "You Make Me Smile" award. Thank you so much, Angela! You make me smile, too, and I'm glad we "met."


I have a new blog friend that I'd like to introduce you to. Her name is Nancygrayce and I've enjoyed getting acquainted with her. She wrote a wonderful poem today - check it out!

I have to give credit where credit is due - as usual, my new look is thanks to Kristen, my techno hero! She has taught me everything I know, and has designed all of my fanciness. Thanks to all of you for your prayers for her and Feisty and the twins. Feisty also got a clean bill of health from the children's hospital - we don't know why she keeps getting UTIs, but at least we know it's nothing that requires surgery. Praise the Lord!

Feisty is changing every day. She gets much more time with me now that her brother and sister are in school, and she is blossoming every day. I love holding conversations with her. She makes me laugh every day. Her smile lights up my world, and her tears break my heart. What fun to watch her develop.

Anakin is in 4th grade already. That is the grade I used to teach, but he doesn't really trust me to help him with his homework. He told me yesterday that he got a nice compliment from his music teacher - she told him he had "great vocals." I reminded him that I'd been telling him the same thing (well, not the exact same words) since he was a little boy. It's true - the kid can really sing! He said, "I know, Grandma, but when a music teacher says it . . . " Oh, well!

Care Bear is loving school - unfortunately, kindergarteners do not have art class, but she continues to create at home. The other day she made this collage out of all sorts of textures:


She cut up ribbon, gathered leaves and flower petals from the yard, and the fuzzy stuff on the left is snipped from a couple of her stuffed animals - that girl is dangerous with a pair of scissors! Remember this episode a few months ago?


Today she picked out a couple of books at the library about little fairies - one had her name and it was spelled the same. She sat down at the kitchen table, pulled out her paper and marker, and copied pictures of the fairies from the back of the book (did you notice the little pair of scissors at the end of the long hair on the middle bottom fairy?!) I thought Pea would especially enjoy seeing this picture!


I went in to H*bby L*bby last Saturday. I haven't been in there much since the weddings 6 years ago, when I spent a lot of time and money there. I avoid it, because it is too inviting! But I realized I really love that store - I felt like I was in the presence of the Lord - the music they play glorifies God. And the sign on their door "Closed on Sundays so that our employees may enjoy family and worship" made me want to go there more often and support them. What a blessing to have a company that honors the Sabbath (as does Chick Fil Ā).

I have made a huge decision. I announced to my faculty last week that this is my last year with them - I'll be retiring at the end of August next year (yes, it's early - I'm not retirement age yet, but things are working out). It is exciting. It is also kind of sad. Students always tell me, "You can't leave until I graduate." Since that will never happen, and a class will always be in the middle of the process, I have to leave some class before they finish. That is the sad part. I am mentally making lists of the things that have been sadly neglected for the last 14 years.

I love this devotional by Max Lucado:
God's Mighty Hand
Colossians 1:16 - Through His power all things were made - things in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen.
"With one decision, history began. Existence became measurable.
Out of nothing came light.
Out of light came day.
Then came sky . . . and earth.
And on this earth? A mighty hand went to work.
Canyons were carved. Oceans were dug. Mountains erupted out of flatlands. Stars were flung. A universe sparkled.
Look to the canyons to see the Creator's splendor. Touch the flowers and see his delicacy. Listen to the thunder and hear his power. . .
Today you will encounter God's creation. When you see the beauty around you, let each detail remind you to lift your head in praise. Express your appreciation for God's creation. Encourage others to see the beauty of His creation." from In the Eye of the Storm.

The sky is changing as summer ends. The sunset is farther south. It has a different look. It is, of course, much earlier. It is awesome.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Welcome to My Neighborhood!

Thanks to Kathleen for this great idea of visiting everyone's neighborhoods. I hope you enjoy your visit! Having been in a parsonage growing up, I lived in many towns and many abodes. But I have lived in this location for over 35 years. We won't go into how much the town has grown in those 35+ years, nor the controversy over having 2 super Wal-Marts, a Sam's, a Home Depot and Lowe's, Target, and tons of new growth in every direction. Does any town need a new bank every week? Or yet another liquor store?? But it's a great place to live and I'll show you only the good parts!

Our 35th anniversary is coming up in December. This was our first apartment - a nice brick duplex, with a very quiet single lady next door, so we didn't have to worry about getting frustrated with noise. The tree that you see behind the house was a small sapling when we moved in. (Double click on any pictures if you want more detail).
When we began our family, we bought a small, new house - 900 square feet, but it was ours. We landscaped and fenced, and lived there for almost 4 years.
When we had two kids and no room to move, we bought our second house, where we still live. It is at the end of a culdesac, and it was great fun raising our family here, with up to 32 children on the street at one time.

Now we'll take a little tour of town and some of my favorite spots. We are driving down the main street toward the library . . . looks like they need to replace that poor tree on the left!
On the right is one of my favorites stores - Probasco's. This is a family-owned Bible and Christian book store, which also specializes in wigs. Frieda add the wig shop when she realized how many women in town needed that service during chemotherapy. They have provided a great service in so many areas and are wonderful people.
We're at the library now, and enjoying the sculptures and the fountain. . .
In the same area as the library is the first school in this town. The sign says "Washington School 1905. It sat in a falling down condition for years until someone decided to refurbish it and turn it into the city government building. I am so glad they did this instead of tearing it down. They did a wonderful job of restoring the brick , the marble, the brass. Then they built a "twin" building and connected the two with a glass walkway. It was a stunning addition to this part of town.
On the way back from the library, we like to stop and visit the classic old Dairy Queen. It has been on this extremely busy corner for over 50 years. My youngest brother used to work here when he lived here and was in high school.
We're not quite ready to go home yet, and it's a beautiful pre-fall day, so we headed west down the highway toward the lake, then across the street to one of the really nice parks in town. We call this one the "Cannon Park," though it's really named in honor of the first young man from our town to die during World War II. We call it that to differentiate it from "the train park", where the kids can ride a child-sized train for 75 cents.
This town has turned into quite the art mecca. We have quite a few bronze casting foundries. In August, we have an influx of artists who come to show and sell their lovely products. They take over this park for the week-end. But the rest of the year it is one of the favorite places to take your company for "show and tell." There are many varieties of sculptures - I prefer the realistic ones to the abstract, but those who seem to think they know keep telling me "art is in the eye of the beholder."
I especially love this section named especially for the children:
Here's a shot of the place I don't get to often enough - the gym!
On Sunday, and often several other times in the week, we go down the street about a mile to our church. We consider this body of believers our extended family. They are very important to us.
On week-days, we head in different directions. The kiddoes go here:
I don't have any pictures of DC's place of employment, but here is my view to the east as I head north to work.
This is the entrance to my office building.
Our evening bike rides give us this beautiful view.
Come and visit sometime! We'll check out all these fun things and lots more.