School Bus Drivers

School bus in snow.jpg

Friday, March 23, 2018

Today’s gratitude popped up in my Facebook feed from three years ago.  In light of the horrible weather we’ve been having and the heat school districts get no matter what decision they make, (starting late, closing for the day, early dismissal) I decided to re-run it for today.  Hug a school bus driver today.

Saturday, March 21, 2015
Today I am grateful for school bus drivers. . .especially in snow! I can think of very few things that present a greater responsibility than driving other people’s children around on very bad roads.

Our weather yesterday was abominable. Snowman Abominable! We managed to slip-slide our way to our grandson’s school for Grandfriend’s Day through light snow. Forty minutes later, we skidded out of his school, with his other grandma and me clinging to my husband, through two inches of slimy slush. You could barely walk, much less drive. I got to thinking about how awful it would be to drive a school bus on a day like that. I would not like it one bit and I’m sure those that do it aren’t crazy about it, either.

School bus drivers are the unsung heroes in any school district. They are the very first school-related person most kids see in the morning and the last they see at the end of the day. Their positive tone can help set the day for a wary child, who is full of self-doubts and insecurities. If they are having an off day and are snappish with a child the result is often an off day for the child, as well. It’s a huge responsibility and they are seldom acknowledged for their role in education. Yes, education, because they are teachers, too, just like cafeteria staff, secretaries and school nurses.

Before I was permanently hired at the school, I worked as a substitute in just about every job available. . .except driving a bus. Even if I had been qualified, I wouldn’t have wanted that job. The burden is just too great. During snow the liability would be unbearable. Children don’t magically calm down and listen better when you are stressed because of bad roads. On the contrary. For them snow is nothing but fun so usually they are jacked-up as though they ate 40 pounds of sugar. Not a good mix for the poor bus drivers.
Yesterday watching buses maneuver through roads that were a slimy-slurpy-slushy mess gave me a whole new respect for school bus drivers and the care they take. It’s nerve-wracking enough to drive in those kinds of conditions while alone, or with your own children, but to be accountable for the safety of other people’s children is more than I could bear. I commend them. I am grateful for every single school bus driver. . .especially in snow! Thank them! Soon!


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Stuck Jar Lid

a stuck jar lid cartoon

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Today I am grateful for stuck jar lids.  Oh boy what a couple of days Himself and I have had.  Every plan we made to support a dear family member through another loved ones surgery changed.  Change is good, right?  But when you’re confused and sad and more than a little afraid, I take comfort in the simplest, consistent things.


Changing times, fluctuations in my personal water intake, my twisted back muscle and another friggin’ snow storm were not on our list.  Nor was my mother being taken to the hospital in Wisconsin.  I’m having that “I’m standing under the ass end of an elephant who just ate Indian cuisine” feeling again.


Our patient in Philly is remarkable, my mom is doing much better and could be going home today and we decided to leave Philly a day before we wanted to so we would get home before the Big One!  My back is still annoying and knocks the wind out of me when I move wrong, but I have ice packs here and don’t have to get a bag of ice from the soda machine in a hospital cafeteria and jam it down my pants like I did yesterday.  That was fun.  The bag leaked!  Not only did I have a sore back, I also had a wet ass and an increasingly bad attitude about both.  I highly recommend black slacks in situations like this.  Winning!


While I was driving home on roads with flashing signs about what a disaster it was, we created a grocery list between us.  You go ahead and make French toast with your milk, bread and eggs,  but we wanted spaghetti and meatballs.  So we shopped.  “Do we have pasta sauce?” we asked each other.  Neither could think by that point, not to mention remember so we bought some.


Today I made the meatballs and nuked them on a plate like I always do.  Except they had more moisture than usual, so when I was taking them out of the microwave the grease over-flowed all over my newly cleaned stove.  Grrrr.  I drained them and went to clean the stove but forgot that I had just turned off one of the burners.  Ouch.


The spaghetti sauce jar would not open no matter how many times I slammed it HARD upside down on the counter; and tried to use the gizmo just for this purpose; and ran it under hot water; and swore at it.  I hit my limit and burst into tears. . .frustrated, scared, sad, very necessary tears.  Strong stock. . .taken down by a jar of tomato basil sauce!  I’m better now.  Hope the spaghetti is good because we earned it!

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Wise Decisions

A American Idol logo

Monday, March 19, 2018

Today I am grateful for wise decisions.  Would that all decisions like this one would be so easy.  I am no longer watching American Idol.  And I’ve been there from the beginning. I know that sounds like a full-disclosure, group meeting kind of confession, but there you have it.


Through the Simon, “yo’ dog” days, the crazy-haired-aging-rock-star whose name escapes me days, the J Lo days-Keith Urban-Harry Connick Jr, days, I’ve been loyal.  Why?  Because I love watching people fulfill their dreams.  Love it.  It’s my favorite thing.  I know a lot of young hopefuls out there who would love an opportunity like this.  I know a lot more who should try out, but haven’t had the courage for whatever reason, to give it a go.  Rejection is tough.  And sometimes brutal.  And just because you can sing doesn’t mean you can do it under the kind of scrutiny and pressure that a show like this has.  I get it.


No one gives two hoots if you’ve got a little cold today, or if you didn’t sleep, or if you had a fight with your boyfriend.  They don’t care.  Neither do I.  Because the truth is we all have to rise above these things and function.  Tough break, but move on.  That’s what these shows are all about.  You might have a cold when you’re on tour, too, if you get that lucky.  Figure it out.


So why am I quitting Idol if I love it so much?  I’m a believer in energy and that energy has to come from the judges as well as the contestants.  I’m just not feeling it.  I recorded two episodes and watched both.  I didn’t feel anything between the judges and less between the judges and contestants.  Oh there was the flirty-flirty-you’re-adorable-stuff and the I’m-really-feeling-you-stuff, but it all rang false to me.  Fell flat on the floor like a pancake that missed the pan.


It’s been a good run.  I’ve enjoyed seeing so many talented people have incredible success from the show.  But from now on you’ll have to carry on without me.  Maybe I’ll swing back towards the final days but for now. . .for me. . .life is too short to loyally watch American Idol.


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St. Paddy’s Day

a me in shamrock glasses

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Today I am grateful for St. Paddy’s Day.  What fun we have had on this day in the past.  We go a little low-key these days, but it is still a fun time, even though the parties of 150 people are not happening.


I think my friend LeAnn is making it a career to find me crazy glasses because these came in the mail the other day.  Just in time.  I wore them to water aerobics and the flower show and to my meeting this morning.  I will pop them on from time to time, but crazy and fun as they are, the start giving me a peripheral vision headache after a while.  I know it’s from them because it goes away as soon as I take them off.


Er’s wishin’ yer the balarniest of St. Paddy’s Days!  Erin go braless, the wearin’ o’ the green, and all that.  As for me, I’ll be the one in the glasses, thanks to LeAnn!

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“40 Shades of Green” on Display

40 shades of green & me

Friday, March 16, 2018

Today I am grateful for “40 Shades of Green” on display.  I did this painting long, long time ago, thirty-nine years ago, when Himself and I were in the dating phase of our bliss.  I painted it for him from the cover of a Tom Clancy (or some other Irish dude) record album.  Yes, a record album.  Talk about dinosaurs.


I had no idea what I was doing.  None.  This is painted right over the top of a woodsy print that I had on the wall in my living room at the time.  You know the kind.  We all had them back then.  I slopped white paint to cover the scene because I don’t think I knew what gesso was back then. I also didn’t take it out of the frame, which is obvious if you look closely enough at the edges because the masking tape slipped in spots.  If memory serves I didn’t even take it off the paneled wall because I didn’t own an easel back then and my kids were little, so there was no safer place.  I just went to town.


While I like the painting, now that I have a little bit more of a clue about painting, I can see the major flaws.  Hey, there are major flaws in all of my work, so there you have it.  I’m not a professional and don’t pretend to be.  There are major flaws in me, too, so we’re a good match.


But art is art is art.  And I love it, but mostly because Himself loves it so much.  I promised to share this when it was hung on the wall at the Peter Becker Community for their art show during their Flower show, so here it is.  It’s from my primitive phase and so is the broad standing next to it.  Don’t look too closely at either of our edges.

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Good Sleep

a me sleeping at the keyboard.jpg

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Today I am grateful for good sleep.  But it took my brain a while to hone down today’s topic.  Y’see I haven’t been sleeping very long these days.  I sleep pretty well, just not long enough.  I function well with 7-8 hours a night, but these days I’m lucky if I can manage 5-6.  It doesn’t sound like much of a difference but it is for me.  I have no trouble getting to sleep, I just can’t get back to sleep when I wake up in the middle of the night.


Before you start telling me to search the internet for the perfect Zen solution, don’t bother.  I’ve searched it all. . .in the middle of the night. . . because some suggest to just get up and accomplish something.  Great.  I can accomplish writing my blog or poking around my search engine for all manner of stuff to further freak me out and then that stuff can help keep me awake, too.  Swell.


Other sites say “STAY OFF ELECTRONICS” so I tried that, sitting in a chair watching the street light reflect its different colors in my patio door.  A billion times.  And someone says to keep your house cool at night.  If I make it any cooler, Himself will accuse me of making him sleep in the Tundra.  One said to not turn the TV on, but at 1:30 a.m. sometimes “Frasier” reruns do the trick.  So far I’ve avoided dropping big bucks on the cool “As-seen-on-TV” jimcracky, but it’s only a matter of time.


When I read a book during the day I nod off after about two chapters or ten minutes, whichever comes first, but if I pick one up in the middle of the night I’m up for the day. And yes, I’ve done the yoga/meditation/deep breathing exercises, even adding a little “ohhhmmmm” to keep my mind from ruminating over stuff for which I have no control.


I’ve tried channeling great lines from movies.  “Clear the mechanism” is a line a baseball pitcher used to clear out the crowd noises before he threw the ball.  That used to help.  But not lately.  Here’s me working that one, “Clear the mechanism, clear the mechanism. . .what mechanism?  How do I get it clear if I don’t know what it is?  Oh wait, it’s my brain.  Yeah, that’s it, my brain worrying about my country, my sick friends, my schedule, my menu for tomorrow. . .yeah, that’s the stuff I have to clear out of there.  That’s my mechanism.  Hmm, mechanism, what a cool word.  I like words that end with ‘ism’.  They ring nicely and can be held like a note at the end.  Mechanismmmmmmmmm. Clear is an okay word, too, but much more cryptic.  I wonder if they still make Clearsil?  I’m sure glad I haven’t had a zit in a while.” Oh boy.


Another line from a movie I’ve used when I’m frustrated about something is “Would it help?” Here’s how that one goes in my pre-dawn stupor.  “What is going on in the government?  How can we have come to this point of lying and name calling and dishonesty and rash decisions?  I’m so proud of those kids who are marching, but what kind of world will they have.  I’m worrying.  I need to sleep.  Would it help to worry?  Maybe I should. . .would it help?  No, I know it won’t, but. . .would it help?  Deep breaths, too.  Ah.  Would it help?  Another deep breath, feel your hands raise on your stomach with each breath.  Ohhhmmmm.  Would it help?  Will he be okay, will she be okay, will I be okay, I wonder if our taxes are done.  Oh man I forgot to get the oil changed in my car, but the bills are paid so that’s good and I need to call the skin doctor, too.  I’m spinning out of control. Would it help? No!  Oh crap! Now I might as well get up!” At 4:30 a.m..  So here I am!  At the keyboard.


While I am playing all of this out in what’s left of my brain, Himself is peacefully out like he was hit by a hammer.  But I didn’t hit him.  Honest.  I try not to resent him, but boy, when you are up wandering and the guy next to you doesn’t even know because he’s zonked like a kid after a full-day at Disney, that’s another frustration.


I’m blaming the time change.  Yeah, that’s it.  It’s the time change.  Damned time change.  What’s next, smoke detectors beeping?  We should put those new batteries we bought in them today.  Otherwise they’ll probably start beeping in the middle of the night when Himself can’t hear them and I’m counting the seconds between beeps.  Twenty eight, by the way.  I counted during my Autumn sleep-deprived-rodeo!  Oh boy, something new to think about.  I need to get some really good sleep. . .maybe when. . . I’m. . . tyyyyppppppppppingggggggggggg………………………….

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Thank You

a inquirer thank you

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Today I am grateful for the words, “Thank You.”  Does that sound like a double gratitude?  Perhaps.  But also a worth it one.


When you are the participant of a bridal shower or wedding gifts, it is expected you send thank-you notes.  Not many people enjoy do it, but I bet everyone likes to get them.  Thank-you’s don’t have to be grandiose or use flowery words.  They just have to be genuine, honest and real.


But not so real as to say, “Thank-you for not getting any of the 10,000 cookie-cutter items we had on our gift registry and instead giving us the sucky piece of art which will take up space on our closet shelf until you come to visit and then we’ll put it out for the duration and hide it again when you leave.”  Not quite that real.


When I was doing a lot of promotion work for theater projects I sent thank-you notes to anyone who gave us press coverage, wrote a review or supported us in any way.  Not emails.  Not texts.  Actual thank-you notes.  On cards made of paper and mailed. It set a standard for how I liked to treat people and reinforced that I deserved to be treated well, too.  And it worked.  I am still friends with some of the people I dealt with in those days.


Thank you notes are a lost art, sadly going the way of respect and integrity in many cases.  If individual people don’t want to bother with them for the people who care the most about them, why should businesses?  Most don’t.  And that’s a mistake.


We got a letter in the mail a few weeks ago from The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Newspaper that Himself can’t live without.  Before I even opened it I was full of attitude.  What now?  Another increase?  A pitch for us to order the rest of the publications under their umbrella?  I was so full of my own negativity that I almost recycled it without opening.


But I didn’t recycle it then.  I opened it.  And read it.  Not once.  Not twice, but three or four times. “I don’t believe this,” I said to Himself.  He asked if they were raising their rates and got huffy like I had been before reading it.  “Nope!  They are thanking us for reading their newspaper.”


He thought I had lost my mind so I read it to him.  Allowed.  He really LOVES it when we have these Mary-is-forcing-Himself-to-listen-while-she-reads-allowed-sessions.  But by the time I was done, even he was shocked.


Journalism has taken a hit to the heart like so many things we have counted on in America.  The Inquirer wants us to know that they make every effort to report the news in a factual, timely fashion.  That they do not pander to “fake news” and take pride in the integrity of their reporters and staff.  And they thanked us for still believing that what they do deserves recognition by subscribing.


I’m paraphrasing badly, but it was some letter.  A thank you letter.  To us, their subscribers.  Talk about real.  There is nothing “fake” about a genuine thank you.  And I might not be a big-shot publisher like The Inquirer, but I can certainly follow their lead and offer thanks.  So thank YOU. . .for reading my little stories.  I appreciate each and every one of you.

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