Saturday Night Serenade–Summer Songs #10

We’re taking a bit of a departure this week for tonight’s serenade.  Wichita Lineman isn’t exactly a summer song, but I wanted to note the loss of another great musician this past week.

I can remember watching Glen Campbell on television when I was a kid.    I can recall my little brother calling him ‘Glim Candle.’  Of course, back then I had no appreciation for the amazing talent the man was.  He was a singer, songwriter, gifted musician, and he even tried his hand at acting.

He was in the original True Grit, the good one, with John Wayne, not the sorry remake from a few years back.

He succumbed to the ravages of Alzheimer’s, the same disease that took my grandmother.  To say that it’s an awful thing is a massive understatement.  People always think of confused old people who don’t remember the names of their family members.  But that’s just where it starts.

My grandmother started running away from her home because she didn’t recognize my grandfather, her husband of over 50 years.  He finally moved her into a nursing home, where she felt more at peace.  But the disease began to eat away at her other functions: mobility, sight, hearing, the ability to swallow.  It’s devastating.

While looking for tonight’s song, I came across this interview with Alice Cooper about his good friend Glen Campbell.  At one point he says that when he found out about Glen’s diagnosis, he hoped it would take him quickly.  I get that.

Wichita Lineman is a simple, beautiful song about a hard-working man who’s away from his love.

I am a lineman for the county and I drive the main road
Searchin’ in the sun for another overload
I hear you singin’ in the wire, I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line

I know I need a small vacation but it don’t look like rain
And if it snows that stretch down south won’t ever stand the strain
And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line

And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line

I hope you’re spending a wonderful August weekend, doing what you love with those you love.  Be sure to give them a hug.  Happy Saturday night!

Save

Save

Saturday Night Serenade–Summer Songs #8

It’s the end of July.  Normally around this time, I’d be panicked thinking about going back to work.  My living room would be filled with piles of composition books, spiral notebooks, folders, crayons, glue sticks, scissors, pencils, and all the other back-to-school paraphernalia.

This year is different.  Since school ended in June, I’ve been working seven days a week on my new full-time career.  And loving every minute of it.  I don’t mind hard work when I believe in what I do and have the freedom to do it in the way it should be done.  Teaching hasn’t been that way for a long time.

Last school year was spectacularly bad, and more than half the staff of my school has found other positions.  A few, like me, have found new careers.  Since that’s the case and we’ve all gone our separate ways, I’m making it my mission to see that we all stay in touch, and to that end, my bestie Mo and I started a group on Facebook.  We call it a ‘book club’, a tongue-in-cheek nod to the code word we used last year when we needed to share ‘ears only’ information (told you it was a bad year), and it’s by invitation only.  The main purpose is to have a communication platform–we’re planning to get together for lunch once a month to stay in contact, keep up with everyone, and encourage each other in our new endeavors.

20170728_114902

Yesterday was our second meeting, and we had a blast.  We’ve decided that ‘our place’ is an outdoor bar on the Jupiter Inlet called Square Grouper.  The vibe is island casual, with sand for the floor and palm fronds for the ceiling, with a view of the Jupiter lighthouse across the inlet.  Oh, and did I mention that I’ve made it a setting in my new book, due out in September?  It’s a place to go when you need to decompress.  There’s nothing like the lull of the water and the gentle ocean breeze that lets you sit back and relax.

book club pano

Which is exactly what we did.  Before we left yesterday, we made plans for our August meeting.  I offered to change up the venue, but everyone wanted to come back to this little slice of paradise where it’s always 5:00.

And that brings me to tonight’s serenade, It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.  It’s a great summer song.  It also happened to be shot here, at Square Grouper.  The video is old–the place has put in a few upgrades, but they’ve maintained the tranquil, island-time essence that brings everyone back.

Tonight, I’m grateful for good friends, cold drinks, a gentle summer breeze, and life in general.  I hope you’re well and enjoying your summer.  Be sure to hug those you love.  Happy Saturday night!

 

Saturday Night Serenade–Summer Songs #4: A 4th of July Two-fer

Happy July!  Here in the States, we’re celebrating the long Independence Day weekend.  It’s the ultimate summer holiday, with cookouts, picnics, trips to the beach, and fireworks.

There’s a lot that divides us Americans these days–politics, ideologies, and hateful, vile rhetoric, to name just a smattering.

But I’d rather focus on what unites us–good food, fun, pride as a nation, and good old rock ‘n roll.

Wouldn’t it be fabulous this weekend, rather than getting baited into some pointless social media debate, we put down our electronics, went outside, shared a hot dog and a cold beer with a neighbor, and enjoyed fireworks set to a soundtrack of great music?

Mr. R and I will be in lawn chairs on the driveway, watching all the neighborhood fireworks.  I hit the bargain bins, so we’ll be the dorks wearing the blinky jewelry.  Actually, I’ll be the dork wearing the blinky jewelry.  He’ll be sitting next to me, rolling his eyes.

But maybe that’s what it’s about.  Agreeing to disagree, embracing our differences, and appreciating that variety is, in fact, the spice of life.

I’m bringing you a two-fer for week #4 of Summer Songs.  I couldn’t pass up John (he’ll always be Cougar to me) Mellencamp, despite the fact that they’ve commercialized the crap out of this song lately.  And Phil Vassar’s American Child is a sentimental favorite.

Be careful out there.  No drinking and driving.  No holding a firework and blowing off your hand.  Haven’t you seen them do that on all the morning talk shows?

Enjoy your holiday, and hug those you love.  Happy Saturday night!

This Should Be Interesting

We have an issue at work these days.  For anyone who doesn’t know, for the time being, I’m a teacher at a high-poverty, low-performing public school.  According to last year’s high-stakes testing, we are actually the lowest-performing elementary school in the entire district.  That’s not good.

Because of the poor test results, the Principal of the past six years was removed in the middle of the summer.  He was replaced by a woman who has quite the reputation in the district.  When people out in the community find out who our Principal is, they generally make the sign of the cross.  And, no, that’s not an exaggeration.

This woman is vile.  She makes Kevin Spacey look like Mr. Rogers.  Staff members have been dropping like flies.  The Assistant Principal, the confidential secretary, the data processor, the attendance clerk, two different IT guys, and about twenty custodians have been replaced.  People have been escorted out by police, only to have this woman tell us in a staff meeting how she clung to their ankles and begged them not to leave.

Teachers have been singled out and bullied, called on their mobile phones after hours and told that they’re not being “team players.”  While I’ve had one documented observation, some of my colleagues have them nearly every week, and they’re told that they’re not working hard enough, that their skills are inferior.

Paranoia reigns, and it’s not uncommon for folks to look over their shoulder before they talk to their friends and co-workers.  Stories abound of Admin listening in to conversations, of loyalists who report back on things that people say.

That’s not all, either.  There is evidence that the Administration has tampered with the recent standardized diagnostic testing, the tests that predict how students will do on the formal tests in the spring.  There is also evidence that Administration is playing fast and loose with finances, failing to comply with district-mandated procedures regarding money students pay for special events.

All of which is why, very quietly, a small group of us is working with the union to see that these things are investigated.  It’s not unheard of for a Principal to be removed from a school if it is deemed that that Administrator is creating a hostile work environment.

Morale is in the sewer, to say the least.  Unlike every year since I started working at this school, there is no formal holiday party planned.  Which is why a few trusted friends and I thought it would be nice to get a group together for an informal holiday happy hour at a local watering hole.   Just a little spirit-booster to say, ‘Hey, we’re in this together.’

But then…

A little spazz we like to refer to as Hurricane (who wasn’t included on the invite list, by the way) got wind of our plan and decided EVERYONE needed to be invited.  I’ve seen her running around the school, babbling like a slot machine that hasn’t stopped spinning, telling everyone about where and when.  She even marched herself into the office and invited Administration.

So.  A handful of people, including some of those who have been removed, are meeting in a very different location from the original plan.  It’s not what I’d intended it to be.  I wanted to give some folks a bit of hope right here before Christmas.

What about me?  Like I said, knock wood, by and large they seem to be leaving me alone.  But when you hear about groups of teachers being called in and berated about ridiculous things, you know it’s only a matter of time.

I’m quietly planning on this being my last year in education.  The industry sucks anyway, and this situation only exacerbates that fact.  Luckily, because of ignorant choices I made early on, I can actually retire any time I like, taking with me a nice nest egg of a retirement, plus they’ll buy out my banked sick hours at 100%.

Next fall, when every is dragging themselves back to the grind, I’ll be writing full-time.  But I might as well raise a little hell before I go.   😉

Happy Thanksgiving!

happy-thanksgiving

We’re having a quiet holiday here at Chez R.  We went out yesterday and bought a new Christmas tree, all pre-lit with the option of clear or colored lights at the flip of a switch.  We also got strings of colored lights for the outside.  This morning, I spent an hour or so decorating the tree while Mr. R. risked life and limb hanging lights on the front of the house.  That’s right, we’re getting all festive up in here.

Dinner will be later in the afternoon, just the two of us.  My sons are out in the mid-west living their own lives.  Matter of fact, my Airman daughter-in-law is deployed this holiday, so if you think about it, maybe shoot up a little prayer for her safety and a swift return.

We have lots to be thankful for, Mr. R. and I.  First of all, we have each other.  We’re reasonably healthy, we have enough, and we’re realizing we’re at a point in our lives where we have options.  In the new year, we’re planning on exploring a few of those possibilities, and we’ll be sharing with you along the way.

I’m also eternally grateful for your friendship and companionship throughout the year.  While the world seems to have lost its mind, I’ve met the nicest, kindest, funniest, smartest, strongest folks right here on WordPress, and I want you to know that I appreciate you all.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!  ❤

Save

Sock It To ED

20160211_223440
Sock it to ED!

Yes, that’s me, folks.  Mrs. R. herself.  I posed in colorful hosiery in support of my bestie, Mo.  My girl Mo has suffered from an eating disorder for the last thirty years.  It’s only in the last few years that she’s become open about it, although I suspected for quite some time.

I can’t even pretend to understand what makes someone abuse her body like this but I know that it stems from a lot of self-loathing, from never feeling ‘good enough’ no matter what she does.  Thing is, Mo is absolutely the most beautiful person, inside and out, that you’ll ever meet.  But that’s something she has to realize.

From my perspective, it seems like she’s kind of gotten a handle on her ED.  I know it was great for her to just say, “Hey, I struggle with an eating disorder.”  She’s been very active for the last few years in the ED support community, participating in the annual awareness walk and she’s raised a great deal of money for the cause.

She’s also started a photography business, shooting weddings, christenings, and family portraits.  Mo is smart and funny and talented.  My life is better for knowing her.  And I have mad respect for her courage to be open about her struggles.

So if I have to wear silly socks and post it on social media to show my support, so be it.  You may know someone who struggles with an eating disorder.  You may be unaware that someone you know deals with these issues.  Consider posting a “Sock it to ED” picture yourself in honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.  Maybe someone won’t feel so alone.

Looking for resources about eating disorders?  Check the National Eating Disorders Association website.

 

You Just Never Know

Life is short....

Mr. R. called me last night while he was at work.

“J.J.’s dead.”

“What?”

“J.J.’s dead.  He didn’t come to work and he didn’t call in.  He wouldn’t answer his phone so we came over here.”

“Where are you now?”

“We’re at J.J.’s house.  Scott went in and found him.  He was on his bed.”

According to Mr. R., J.J.’s car was in the driveway with the wipers sticking up.  There was a bucket of water and a sponge beside the car.  The assumption is that he was washing his car and began to feel badly so he went inside to lie down.  He lived alone so it wasn’t until he didn’t show up for work that he was missed.  Coworkers had to break into his house and find him.  He was forty-four.

That’s about the saddest story I’ve ever heard.

And a sobering reminder to do the things you mean to do, sooner rather than later.

Say the things you mean to say, sooner rather than later.

Love those around you and let them know that you do.

Because you just never know.