Friday, October 29, 2010

Finally Autumn Seems to Have Arrived

The midwest has been warm all through October. It just hasn't felt much like fall. But now the signs are here:

1. The trees began turning about 10 days ago, very slowly. The graveyard across the street from Hubby's house has gorgeous red, orange, and yellow oaks and maples.

2. We had the first freeze this morning. It felt lovely -- partly because this was a school holiday and instead of getting up and trudging about in the 4:30 a.m. cold, I was snuggled down with Hubby and two boys.

3. The last workday of October is a school holiday (see above) -- and since we've been in school solidly since Labor Day we so look forward to it.

4. My last permanent and serious hair cut was July 30. I got the new perm and hair shaving today. I'm ready for the holiday season.

5. We turned on the furnace. Why suffer proudly when you can just flip a switch and get warm air?

6. Hubby demanded a blanket on his side of the bed.

7. I began to put away the summer clothes. I also began to drag up from the basement the winter clothes. I hate this job.

8. Hubby sent Halloween cupcakes to school for my Advisory students. They cheered on Thursday when they saw them -- each had a huge Halloween ring stuck smack in the middle of the purple icing.

9. I went to the store this afternoon to buy myself my own bag 0f Halloween candy -- I wanted some candy corn. Now that I have it -- why do we eat this stuff? It has almost no taste and no redeeming value.

10. At the store I bought my first bottle of -- EGGNOG! I love eggnog!

11. This weekend I'm making Thanksgiving reservations for Branson.

12. I'm beginning to think just a little bit about writing the Christmas letter and addressing the Christmas cards.

13. Lucky number 13. Typical of me, I forgot that this year my conditional SPED teaching license was due to be renewed in August. Actually, I can't remember if I ever knew it needed renewing. Anyway, the SPED honcho sent me a very evil email yesterday saying my conditional certification had lapsed, she didn't think the state was renewing anybody at this particular time, and my contract would NOT be renewed if I didn't have certification. Again, typical of me, I went to all the bad places in my head -- but had the good sense to contact my grad school advisor with a frantic plea for help. Within 40 minutes she had the whole situation in control -- the SPED honcho had been put in her place, I was again calm and breathing, and my certification papers will be in the mail on Monday and Pittsburg State University will handle the whole matter for me. There are real advantages in going to a small school that takes an individual interest in their students (of course, that's only IF you have to go back to grad school). I have 9 more hours before I gain full certification (6 in the spring and 3 in the summer -- AND I'm done -- 36 hours of grad credit BEYOND my masters).

14. The district issued new contracts this week -- and I happily signed on for another year at a very pleasant (not rich, of course) salary.

15. Hubby did the winter-tune up on the Lincoln. For a car with 162,300+ miles, we only needed a few minor things repaired (at this time).

16. The boys are getting longer monthly hair cuts from the groomer. No more shaving off leg and belly fringe -- they need a little hair to keep 'em warm.

17. We've been gearing into the concert season. The last couple of concerts -- especially the Baroque by Candlelight -- were fabulous.

18. Hubby and I went this week to the last soccer game of the season. My school's team made it to the regionals -- but then we got slaughtered. (The soccer coach is the same teacher who made us the wonderful spaghetti sauce.)

19. The kids in my Advisory are already asking about the annual Christmas party.

20. Cider. Cocoa. Donuts. Homemade pumpkin bread. Pumpkin spice cream cheese muffins from Starbucks. Yum. Yum. Yum.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I suppose that in autumn my thoughts turn to endings. Warm weather ending. Wearing sandals without socks ending. Going outdoors without a coat ending. Leaves on trees ending. Daylight savings time ending. Tornado warnings ending. Chilled tuna salad and watermelon for dinner ending.

There are beginnings, too. Rainy, dark mornings beginning. Finding those beloved cheery red happy pants beginning. Wearing new suede shoes beginning. Planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas vacation beginnings. Chili for dinner beginning. Thinking about starting grad school, AGAIN beginning.

Endings. Beginnings. The cycles of my life keep speeding up. I'm getting dizzy.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Life's Little Pleasures

Today my school teacher neighbor, the man I share a classroom wall with, came into the lunchroom carrying a large sack from Whole Foods. Al is known for bringing little treats to us -- usually a pie or a cake. Today he had a lovely banana layer cake which helped make Monday just a bit more palatable. But his huge sack contained another surprise.

Al is old school. An Italian immigrant, his parents brought him from Southern Italy when he was 12 years old. Not knowing a word of English, they immediately threw him into public school -- way before the days of ESL classes. From a family that never believed in complaining or failing, Al made his life a wonderful success. He raised three children with his beloved wife. He has taught school for over 40 years. Three years ago his wife, who had been the provider of fabulous homemade treats for our lunchroom, caught the flu. Within 19 hours she was dead. Al, never complaining, carries on. Now his treats are store bought. Every time he brings them we fondly recall the delicacies his wife used to make us.

At 67 years old Al can still beat his soccer team up the four double case flights of steps. They've learned not to challenge him. He agrees that on the straight away the boys can beat him -- but not charging up those steps. Some nights he's at school until 11 p.m., head coach of a group of immigrant boys struggling with English and in love with soccer.

Two summers ago, his son flew him back to Italy first class to reconnect with his relatives. We're still sitting through the picture shows of that trip. This past summer, with his mother now 92, Al spent the summer in Omaha learning how to make his favorite Italian dishes. He came home the master of spaghetti sauce.

Over the weekend, Al went to Whole Foods and got all the freshest ingredients. Then he made his mama's sauce -- organic tomatoes, fresh oregano. He also bought two packages of Italian pasta and pretty good sized wedge of parmigiano reggiano. Then he spent four hours making mama's sauce.

In that lovely shopping bag was dinner for Hubby and me. All homemade. All fresh. All made with love. Pasta, cheese, and a gleaming, fragrant jar of real Italian spaghetti sauce. What a pleasure!