Palpable Dread – I May Lose My Job

What Do You Say???

Which way is my next road-less-traveled?  Art work courtesy of ArtPrize, Grand Rapids, MI

The possibility of losing my teaching job has been on the back burner for some years now.  This year, it is very real.  And suddenly, it could be me.  We will know our fate in June, after the students are done.

“We” are a small staff who have worked together for 13+ years.  I worked for many organizations in my business career – a chapter I closed 20 years ago.  This is the longest I’ve worked for any organization, and longer than many marriages last.  I am sad thinking of leaving this great team and my students.

Numbers for state funding were way down this year, due in part to a new accounting procedure we couldn’t utilize to count students.  That shot our budget right into the toilet.  The nature of the students we teach, and the anti-teacher legislation passed in the state of Michigan these past two years, are a few factors pointing to the demise of our program as we’ve known it.

On Monday the superintendent alluded to the fact that we may lose not just one, but maybe two teachers next year.  More computerized instruction is part of the plan.  The really scarey moment was when the sup alluded to maybe not needing “highly qualified” teachers to run this yet to be revealed new program – a distinction required by the state for public school teachers.

The icing on the dread cake was when the idea of only needing part-time instructors was mentioned.  What kind of low ball nightmare is my district going to inflict on me and/or my co-workers?  I hate to think our hard work and dedication to the district would be rewarded with a literal punch in the gut and pocketbook, but it may come to that.

I’m too young to retire. I’ll never have 30 years of service since I switched careers – another way to retire.  The irony is that two months ago I finally paid off the $20,000+ in student loans I incurred going back to school to become a state certified teacher, a requirement by law to teach in MI public schools.

Teachers have become the target of unbelievable hatred and vitriol in public venues.  Teachers are the reason for all of society’s problems.  Teachers are the reason why test scores and funding problems exist.  Next year the plan is to tie teacher pay and evaluations to student test scores.  Needless to say, morale in this once respected profession is very low.

I’ve taken the road less traveled before.  I just thought this would be my work, my career, my calling,  until I retired.

Even though my future is uncertain, I’ll keep doing the very best I can for my students  because I’m a professional and I care for the youngsters I work with.

I haven’t been sleeping very well.  Need to update my resume.  Need to remain positive and wait for the news.  Need to think of options.  Need to save my pennies.

Guess it’s time to meander down that tree lined fork in the road of life and see what’s up around the bend.

Wish me luck!

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Angels Wings? Image On A Window

I took some awesome but haunting photos a few weeks back and thought I’d share them with you.  It was the day we returned from our fabulous trip to Maine.  We were unloading the car, surveying the yard, and in general checking things out after nine days away.

Strangely surreal image on my front window.
Late August, looking west.

As I was going out for another load,  something caught my eye in the bay window.  The sun was lower in the sky.  And then I saw what looked like a wing, in full detail, on the glass of our window.

I looked closer.  I changed my angle of observation. That’s when I saw what my camera captured.  An almost perfect outline of a bird in full wing-span, as it probably smashed into our window.

A closer view of the winged image on my west-facing window.
Angels wings? You be the judge.

It was shocking, even ghost-like.  We live in the country and have a large expanse of glass windows.  I’ve heard birds bang into them before and seen smudges on the glass.  But I’ve never seen anything like this!

I fear the worst for this bird but will never know what happened because we were out of state.  All I know is it was plainly visible on my window when we returned from our trip, like a message of some sort.

The Winged Window Image.
Gorgeous in its ethereal clarity.

Most of the image is gone now, washed away by mother nature and time.  It was beautiful and haunting and remained visible on our window for weeks.

It was a gift.  It spoke of intrigue and mystery, of faith.

It stirred thoughts of life and death.

And whispers of angels wings…

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Update: I was talking to our friend Kelli yesterday.  She was our house/dog sitter during our Maine trip, when the image appeared.  I asked if she remembered the imprint.  She said Yes, it was the first thing she saw entering our great room (where the window is) after work that day. And she did go outside to look for a body but didn’t find one.

The day it happened was some time on Thursday, Aug. 23rd, three days before we returned home … and my birthday.

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ArtPrize Lust…

Mosaic pictures creating the ‘eye’. Wow!

Check out this ‘eye-catching’ mosaic from 2011 ArtPrize.

I have always loved art, in its many forms.  In the past few years, I’ve discovered this beautiful, inside-outside art show in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  My sister MK lives close to GR .  She told me about this revolutionary art competition toward the end of it’s first year.

It went so fast, however, I couldn’t get over in time. I missed it.

I made sure I didn’t miss the 2nd year. Or the 3rd.  Now we’re on year #4.

So you don’t think you like art,  much,  but you know what you like when you see it, right? If you haven’t heard of ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan, you are missing out on a unique assemblage of art that runs almost 3 weeks in and around the city.

There’s art in the coffee shops, in the restaurants, in the library, in the museums, and in the courtyards.  Murals on the sides of buildings, artwork in the river.  Art is everywhere!

This statue caught my attention at  last year’s ArtPrize.  It spoke to me.   Little me listening to bigger me about … life.   Made me think…

What Do You Say???

Here are a few more photos of some creative artwork from last year’s ArtPrize.

Last Year’s item — the USA in skillets.

Artwork from 2011 which is permanent on this building.

A photographic homage to Chicago, my favorite town.
ArtPrize 2011

Another mosaic, 2011, ArtPrize,
Grand Rapids, MI

If you want something fabulous to do in the next two weeks, go to the Grand Rapids ArtPrize event.  It’s great art, it’s free, and it’s just stupendous!  There is definitely something for everyone.

For more information visit the official website – artprize.org

Get to Grand Rapids and  see for yourself while you still can :)

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The USS Edson Arrived in Bay City, MI

Last month I wrote about the arrival of a decommissioned naval destroyer to Bay City, Michigan.   http://hereandtheresa.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/the-uss-edson-is-almost-home/

It will become the flagship presence for the Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum, located off Lake Huron, through the Saginaw Bay and into the Saginaw River.

My family lives in Bay City and Dad is an avid boater so I drove over to see this majestic vessel from the water, hours after she docked at her temporary home.  And what a beauty she was!

The USS Edson in Bay City, MI

The primary tug shepherding the Edson on her journey was the Colonel.  She was a worthy tug with a big job and she completed the task with no problems.

The tugboat Colonel

It was quite a sight to see!

Here are a few more pictures of this majestic lady.  I look forward to seeing her again when she is permanently moored at the Naval Museum.

So stately.

The USS Edson resting after her long journey home.

It is a great honor to have a ship of this history and grandeur permanently moored in the Great Lakes State of Michigan!

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Maine, How I Love Ya…

One of many sunset photos in Bass Harbor, Maine

Sunset, Bass Harbor, Maine.
A beautiful place to enjoy mother nature.

My husband and I went on a late summer road trip to Maine two weeks ago.  We had a FANTASTIC trip! Maine is so beautiful.

We rented a cottage in Bass Harbor on the island of Mt. Desert, Maine.  There was so much to see in Maine and so little time, we narrowed our explorations to our island oasis.  I took lots of pictures of our quiet cottage town, Acadia National Park, and Bar Harbor, where the action was!

Acadia National Park is a true treasure to explore and so many venues to do so.  There were hikers and bikers, strollers and runners.  The vistas were breathtaking. No room for all the pix.

Acadia National Park’s Thunder Bowl at high tide. This side of the island was stupendous!

The weather was great, the cottage was oh so comfy, with a great view of the harbor, and the lobster was so TASTY and cheap.

We cooked fresh, live lobster 5 out of the 7 days we stayed in Bass Harbor (Well, hubby did most of the cooking – he’s so good at it!).  It was a short distance to a working lobster farm from our cottage.  We started with soft ($4/lb) and then tried the hard shell lobsters ($6/lb).  The hard shell variety cost a bit more but had more meat.  It was all yummy…

Lobster’s in the kitchen with Dinah…

Bass Harbor, low tide, coming out of the fog.

The morning of my birthday, the harbor was enveloped in a pea-soup fog.  I enjoyed watching the boats and the opposing fingerlet-land emerge from that murky haze.  Thurston Lobster Pound is across the way, still in the fog.  Mesmerizing…

Fog in Bass Harbor from our deck.

The Bar Harbor, Maine main harbor. Giggle…
So pretty and busy with cruise ships making stops in the city.

Then there was Bar Harbor, the main tourist attraction on the island.  And, when the cruise ships docked for the day, some 3,000 people would enter the small city.  It was like Traverse City, MI on steroids, someone commented.

Since we were celebrating our birthdays on this trip, we did so in Bar Harbor, shopping, enjoying fine food, and sipping exotic cocktails.

A Tree House bar in Bar Harbor, ME. The locals recommended it.

We met many interesting fellow travelers along the way, from all over the country and beyond.  There were great conversations with those who work in Maine during the high season (summer) and move to Florida to work during the winter.

Life in two destinations each year would be interesting.  I think of all the people you would meet in such a job.

Another beautiful sunset from our deck in Bass Harbor, Maine. Heavenly!

Even though it took 20 hours to get to Bass Harbor, Maine, it was ever so worth the drive.  If you haven’t been to Maine, put it on your bucket list.

Nemo’s bar and restaurant. First place we stopped, close to our cottage, bought our first live lobsters for dinner. $4/lb, you cook. It Was Yummy… Fun bar :)

It was my first time experiencing Maine.  I hope to visit again some day, when it’s fall, when the leaves and cool temps will provide even more breathtaking vistas to enjoy.

Hopefully I’ll have more time to explore other places in that picturesque state.   And meet Darla from She’s A Maineiac.  And meet Stephen King!  Until then, I’ll enjoy the memories we made in that lovely state of Maine.

Bass Harbor from our deck, high tide.

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Have you been to Mt. Desert Island, Maine?  Bar Harbor? Bass Harbor?  What was your favorite experience?

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Here’s to all who labor this Labor Day holiday weekend! Enjoy!

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T-Minus 14 Hours to Lift-Off

We’re in countdown mode.  Scurrying here and there, getting those To-Do list items crossed off.  Paid the bills, balanced the checkbook (so I know how much I can spend), full gas tank, dog-sitter all set, mini-pedicure, and now the dirty work.  What to pack. It could be cold, it could be hot. Guess I’ll have to bring one of everything – then we’ll see how easy it is to close my suitcase.

My husband is insisting that we leave NO LATER than 5am.  In the car, backing out, and on the road.  It won’t even be light out yet.  I think 6am is more realistic but he is being very stubborn.  I asked him how he slept last night.  “I woke up at 4am.  Practicing for tomorrow.”  Oh geesh…. this is a vacation, honey!

So, I plan to have all but an overnight bag in the car, packed, ready to fly, tonight.  Because I am NOT an early morning person.  Oh, sure, I get up early enough most days, but I like to lounge on the computer, check out the morning news, have my cup of joe.

In other words, it’s hard to get me out of the house in less than an hour.  More so when I’m leaving for over a week.  But, one way or another, we are leaving early morning and I will be in the car!

You will forgive me if I’m a bit remiss in checking in with the blogging world.  After all, eating lobster and sightseeing takes a lot of time and energy.  If you get FPd, please give me a holler!

Until we speak again, take care of the homestead, and enjoy these last fleeting days of summer.  I know we will!!!  Unless we kill each other with all the togetherness … 24/7 … for 9 days!

Sayonara!

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Dear Stephen King, I’m Coming to Maine! Care for a cup of Java? My Treat!

“Here’s Johnnny”, from The Shining – all time favorite!

(Shh! I know it’s a long shot, I’ve got less than a zero chance of getting this wish fulfilled, yet I must, at least, ask. Quiet now…)

Hello, Mr. Stephen King? I am a big fan of your writing.  I would love to buy you a cup of coffee, because, well, I’ll be in your neck of the woods next week!  I’m coming to Maine, for the first time, ever!

I am SO looking forward to seeing the sights, eating lobster, and maybe ??? meeting that talented author, you, Stephen King?!

I’ve seen a picture of the gothic fence around your home, and jeezum crow! It’s awesome sauce! (aren’t those required expressions while in Maine?)

I am a HUGE fan of your work.  I use written and film versions of your prose in the English Language Arts classes I teach.  My most favoritist of all classes is, Film Classics.  The kick-off film for the fall Film class is always Stand By Me, based on your short story, The Body.  Everyone loves that film.

My personal favorite novel is The Shining.  I remember reading that tome while driving to Florida, from the upper peninsula of MI, for college spring break.  It was riveting.

So, Mr. King, can I buy you a cup of coffee?  How about a go-cup? Well, how about a handshake?  And would you mind having your picture taken with me?  I promise it would end up in a sumptuous frame in my classroom.

It would also be a lovely birthday gift because both my husband and I will be celebrating our big days while in Maine!  (He’s hitting the speed limit – shhh – don’t say that I told).  You would also help me cross off “meet Stephen King” from my bucket list.

Think about all the good you could do for my drab, little life.

We leave tomorrow (8/17) and will be in Maine all next week.  And in all sincerity, it would be a pleasure to meet you.  Long shot, yes.  A dream? Absolutely!  I’m daring to dream big!

Rest assured, even though I’m a big fan, I am NOT Kathy Bates in Misery.  Promise!

Respectfully submitted,

Tar-Buns, a newbie blogger and fan of yours

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In Pursuit of Lobster – We’re Off To Maine!

Yummmm….Lobsters and chowder!

Thank you to all who shared their pearls of wisdom about where to go in Maine!(doesn’t a big, steamy, fresh lobster smothered in hot butter sound good about now?  Hmmm?)

My husband and I are heading to Maine for a late summer trip.  It’s our birthday gift to each other.  We have a limited amount of time so we had to decide where we wanted to visit and the best route to get there (and eat lobster – every freaking day, maybe).  Niagara Falls is now off the list for this trip.

There are many cute little motels and hotels along the route and we could just wing it, staying at a different place every few days. But that’s a lot of searching,  packing, and unpacking.  We decided to look for a place to rent for the week.

It had to have a great view of the water and be close to lobster and the sights.  The Bar Harbor area looked like the prettiest place to settle down.  Three rentals were available to choose from.

One choice was an apartment above a gift store in Bar Harbor – great view from the back, but no balcony.  Still, being in town, we would have many options for eating lobster, shopping and entertainment.  And, an easy stumble home after cocktails!

Another apartment was in Linconville – another gorgeous view, across the street from a sandy beach, but no balcony, second floor.  There are a few restaurants and shops within walking distance to get that, yup, you guessed it, lobster, but it’s farther from Bar Harbor.

The third choice was a cottage in Bass Harbor, on the other side of the island.  Great views of a working harbor, a deck, and situated on the free bus route that goes to Bar Harbor.  There are only a few places within walking distance of lobsters and libations.

We leave for Maine early Friday morning so a decision had to be made and soon.  Gulp.  Over the weekend we talked about the pros and cons of each rental.  We thought about how we would use our precious time and how the location we chose would serve our travel.

Finally, we decided to go for it and called the owner of the ….. (drum roll please) … The Bass Harbor cottage!!!

We were torn between the Bar Harbor apartment downtown  and the cottage.  But, the way I figure it, we’re kind of homebodies anyway and we like to sit outside.  The cottage was the only rental with a private deck to enjoy the spectacular view.  We can take the bus to town if we don’t want to drive. And, since my hubby is a very talented cook, we will eat lobster at the cottage, too! :)

I can’t WAIT for my first lobster, scallops, chowder, and all the other yummy dishes we will sample in Maine. I can’t WAIT to see the ocean and Acadia Park, and Mt. Cadillac at sunrise.  The scenery will be awesome where ever we go in Maine and the photo opportunities abundant.

Beyond that? I get to sit on a deck, looking at the harbor, off of the mighty Atlantic Ocean, for a week.

Every day and night.  And eat lobster.  It will be heavenly!

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On The Road Again, Destination Maine!

My husband and I are planning a trip to Maine, VERY soon.  This is a somewhat last minute “end of summer” idea and we’re limited to 9 days going and coming.  We’ll road trip from MI down to I-80, then we’ll Head East (Flat As A Pancake one of my faves) :)  ultimately arriving in Maine.

Any advice, Darla at ShesAMaineiac.com?  How about the rest of you Mainers?

We hope to stay around Niagara Falls our first night out. I’ve never been and I want to check it off my bucket list.

Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park are both “must see” on our visit to Maine.  After that, we have no set plan, yet. And that could be a fine plan in and of itself because most of the big road trips over the years have revolved around family events. Don’t get me wrong, we had a fabulous time at the various venues over the past years.

It’s just that this will be the first trip where we do NOT have to be anywhere at any particular time and we won’t have to dress up, unless we really want to.

Love the ocean!
This is Folly Beach, SC from our road trip a few years back.

When we first started talking about this trip, I said my maine (tee hee) goals were to see the ocean, eat loads of seafood, and take fabulous photos of the vistas along the way.  My husband is good with that, but also wants to see the outdoors.

I love the outdoors, too, don’t get me wrong.  But then he said something about being in the wilderness, as in camping.  Gahhh!!! Camping.

I smiled – sort of – and said “Gee, honey, I’m not sure about that.  You know, all the gear you have to bring. And there’s set-up and pack-up time to consider.  What if it’s like 150 degrees out or pouring rain?  And then there’s my right knee.  And bugs. And the price of gas right now?  All that extra weight would drag the MPG down. But, if you really want to…?”

In other words, I. Don’t. Think. So.   I’d consider a cabin, a cottage or a motel. (I’m such a baby …)

It’s not like we haven’t been investigating our options.  We’ve got the maps and the AAA TourBook.  We’ve googled and searched the interwebz.  We’ve made calls to places for rent. There’s simply too many fun sounding places to see.  I need your input.

How bad is Route 2 going east into Maine? It would be the road less traveled.  Or do we travel the big roads, haul the proverbial patootie,  go as far east as we can, and travel north along the east coast?  We are pondering which route to take.

So, all you savvy travellers, what are your recommendations?

I am ready with my net to catch your pearls of wisdom! Thank you!

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Happy Birthday, Pegoleg!!! :)

Today we pay tribute to Pegoleg because,  it’s her birthday! Yeah! Woo hoo! Congratulations, Peg on your 39th birthday (again).  Here’s your bloggy-birthday greeting!

(Cue “We are family,…. I got all my sisters with me – Sister Sledge)!

I have 5 sisters and 3 brothers.  I remember all nine of us kids singing and dancing to this tune – at the big house, years ago!  Sadly for you, there is no video, except in my head)

In honor of her special day, I went back into the vault of family pictures.  After all, a picture says a 1,000 words, right?  I’ve picked a few photos of the two of us as we were growing up just so you know how much I love my little sister.

Here we are, undercover, or over the top, or girls just wanna have fun!  I’m styling in Mom’s caftan or moomoo (sp?) and back-up wig.  Not sure where Peg got her unique look, but I likes it!

Going undercover in da’ neighborhood…what fun!

I’m a tennis nut, kind of self-taught at my favorite city park, where I’d go for pick-up games with the hippies who hung out then (it was the 70s).  Peg soon followed, becoming an accomplished player.  She was awarded a tennis scholarship to college!  I was so envious!

Getting a snack after a rousing tennis match!

DAMN, we were fit, and HOT!!!

Peg doesn’t have to worry about aging.  She’s still as youthful and talented as she ever was.  Who said white women can’t jump?  Man, can Peg leap!

Jumping for joy for matching PJs from Fingerhut. Thanks, Santa!

And, lest you forget, Peg loves her chocolate.  She doesn’t enjoy it as much since she won the Family Weight Loss Challenge last summer.  But, back when she was a wee-grasshopper, she indulged, occasionally.

Yum…Easter Candy…They said it melts in your mouth, not on your face!

 

 

Here’s a little known fact – Peg and I are the SAME AGE for two weeks.  Yes, it’s true!   When we were young, she loved that fact and would lord it over me! :(  Now that we are more mature,  well, Peg might not like it so much.  Because now, she’s as OLD as me. Mwa-aahaaa.

My sister Peg is a talented, kind, loving, beautiful, multi-faceted woman and I am proud to say, my sister!

Give her a big bloggy birthday shout-out by going to her site and giving her your love – as in visit often, comment always, and click away on her site,  because, as you know,  she loves those stats!

Here’s the site:   www.pegoleg.com

(See how I’ve learned at your limber knee, oh weedhoopper?)

I Love you, Peg! Happy Birthday …  and many, many  more! :)

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Photos courtesy of Dad, the best photographer of all! He took the best “gotcha” pictures!

He chronicled all the silly things his kids made him endure as we were growing up. Thanks, also, to MK who stars in the Easter photo.  You can almost make out her halo, she’s so … wonderfully MK!  Love my family!

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