Sibling Assignment #122: Tuesdays With Morrie

This is our last sibling assignment of the month given by Silver Valley Girl using the theme "tied." 
 "Write about reading a book, and how you were tied to that book by a certain character, a certain plot line, etc."

"It's not to late to change... ask yourself if you really are the person you want to be, and if not, who you do want to be.  "   - Morrie Schwartz

This is one of many quotes I treasure spoken by Morris Schwartz in the book Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. In this book I was tied to the character of Morrie.  Mitch had been a student of Morrie's in college, but they lost touch. He got a second chance as Morrie was dying to learn more lessons from his teacher.  It was Morrie's idea to put the conversations into a book. "The final thesis" he called it.

"The best way to deal with that is to live in a fully conscious, compassionate, loving way. Don't wait until you're on your deathbed to recognize that this is the only way to live."- Morrie Schwartz 
After reading and rereading this book this is one quote I work hard at trying to act on. It is difficult when stuff in life gets in the way of being fully conscious, compassionate, and loving. Revisiting this book was a good reminder for me today. 

"Weren't you ever afraid of growing old" , Mitch asked.
" Mitch, I embrace it!"
Morrie went on to explain that as you grow old you do learn more. It is not decay, but growth. It is more than the negative that you're going to die. It's also the positive that you understand you're going to die. This helps you live a better life. He made me realize how important it is for a person to look back and see a life well-lived, a life with meaning, a life full of satisfaction. It gives me  goals to work on!

Many more lessons fill this small volume. I love the part when he picked out what he wanted on his tombstone. He chose:
A Teacher to the Last. 

He kept teaching and learning up to his last breath and his influence has remained with us.

I Am Tired of Tied

I made it the whole month with the NaBloPoMo Challenge posting each day using the theme "Tied". It was a theme that caused some creativity for sure. I am ready now to explore new posts that aren't "tied" to anything.  I'm tired of trying to use tied or try to tie it in to everyday events. Sigh! I did try!

Tied to Lake Roosevelt

I find beauty in Lake Roosevelt during all seasons, all types of weather, and any time of day. Here is a series of photo images I created today from morning to late afternoon. The above photo is what greeted me when I woke up this morning.
Later the sun came out and we drove south along the lake Barnaby Island/ It looked gorgeous in the late winter sunshine.
 Another view of the island from the shoreline. 
 In this photo I faced north toward home. The blue beauty of the lake and sky today was unbelievable.
In this last image I was looking toward Kettle Falls. You have to look close to see a small image of the lake.

Tied to Simple Pleasures

Today I spent about seven hours researching, reading, and writing on my National Board project while listening to every song I have downloaded on I Tunes. Finally I looked out the window at the gentle rain, a fire blazing in the gazebo, JEJ , one dog and two cats enjoying the simple pleasures of the moment. Do you blame for me for deciding I needed rest?

Tied to Rest

Our school district scheduled a mid-winter break day which is tomorrow. I have much to do the next three days, but this evening I have devoted to just resting. I read a magazine, checked email, will watch the Zags, and read a book before bed. It is such a treat to be able to rest. Ahhhhhh!

Tied to The Geek Squad

Tonight I became a junior member of the Geek Squad. About a week ago at school I got this big warning on my computer screen about my identity being stolen, trojan attacks, worms and who knows what else. I was on a safe teacher research site. When I clicked the warning it said to get rid of it all I needed to purchase some program. I called my tech guy in the library and he came to the rescue. These are showing up on many computers in our school and after I did some research found out they are showing up all over. I knew I had updated security software and figured the messages were bogus. They were. It is just a big, horrible virus which can override your own security system. It doesn't go away either.

The other day when I arrived home JEJ had the exact same message on his computer. Oh dear I thought... here we go again. His took the sound off the computer, slowed it way down, and stopped him from downloading certain things.I asked my tech guy what to do and by the end of the day he had a step-by-step sheet for me to take home and try. After an hour of work on the computer tonight I got rid of the scary virus. I really felt like a junior member of the Geek Squad. I was so glad when that bogus shield disappeared.  An anti-malware download helped so much.

These are called Rogue Security Tools. This was a new term to me, but when I researched more about it I learned they are a real problem. Another term is rogue security software because people buy these programs online after the warning and they are buying a virus for the computer.

I just did a scan on my own computer and it came up clean. There are enough real health viruses out there. I don't need these annoying ones that creep into computers.

Tied to William Stafford

After a busy teaching day and a hectic evening grading student work it is nice to end the day with some poetry. Today I chose to read William Stafford. I don't remember ever reading this poem, but really like it now.

Our Story
Remind me again- together we
trace our strange journey, find
each other, come on laughing,
Some time we'll cross where life
ends.  We'll both look back
as far as forever, that first day.
I'll touch you- a new world then.
Stars will move a different way.
We'll both end. We'll both begin.

-William Stafford

Tied to Black and White Photos

Last year as I was  studying the work of photographer Ansel Adams I began to see distinct beauty in black and white photos. I gave my brother a book for Christmas on black and white photography and now wish I had a copy of the book also.  Most of the time I change the photos to black and white after I take them. I don't really look at a subject in terms of black and white.
 I made photo calendars for family and friends for Christmas. It was interesting to look at photos changed to black and white and also to revisit those already in black and white. I made calendars for my brother and myself using only black and white photos. Here are a few favorites I found today while organizing photo files.

Sibling Assignment # 121: Tied to a Teacher: Mrs. Tregoning

This is the fourth sibling assignment we have used with Tied.  Silver Valley Girl gave us this assignment. "Write about seeing someone after a long time, and how the emotional ties you had with each other contributed to your experience of being with that person again."I will link to my siblings' posts soon.

I have shared many school memories on this blog. My friend Dawn and I help each other recollect the special events and activities from Mrs. Tregoning's sixth grade class at Sunnyside School in Kellogg, Idaho. You wanted to work hard in her class. You wanted to behave. She had a way of pulling the best she could out of every student she had. She encouraged me to write stories, she chose my pencil sketch of my shoes for the art contest ( and I won!), and she inspired  my love for reading and poetry. She was calm, kind, and very wise. I loved her class and had deep respect for her.

About eighteen years later I saw her again. Now I am sure our paths had crossed during junior high and high school. I only lived a block away from her house.Seeing her again was after I was married and a teacher also. I spent some time each summer at Rose Lake in northern Idaho. I was in a lawn chair on the dock reading a novel when I heard voices next door . I looked up and saw Mrs. Tregoning walking gracefully down the steps toward the beach. She was dressed in casual summer attire, carrying a drink, and laughing with our neighbors.  I remember thinking, " Is that really Mrs. T.?" I had never known of her to hang out with Floyd and Eva.

I felt like I was back in sixth grade. For some reason I thought I shouldn't be laying in a chair on a dock, but up doing some important reading or reciting some poetry. All these memories of stories to the Amazon, "Oh Captain, My Captain", water color painting, the end of the year picnic in Pinehurst,and Weekly Readers came rushing back.

I got up and went and talked to her. I was an adult, but felt awkward like I was the kid too young to be at the adult party. She put me at ease though. She inquired about my life and teaching. I was sixth grade polite. I explained about my job teaching in Kennewick. What I really wanted to explain was how she inspired me to become a teacher, how I tried to carry so much of what she modeled for me into my classroom, and how she was a hero to me. Still, I was sixth grade polite.

As the group walked to the dock and loaded on the floater I went back to my chair with my head still swirling with sixth grade memories. She smiled and waved again as I sat back down. She made me feel proud to have continued with my education and become a teacher. Once again she had that quiet way of making me feel important. Thanks to my classmate Rick Chapman for posting our class picture on Facebook.

Tied to Garden Walks

Every season of the year I love to walk around our property, but this year with signs of spring showing so early it is especially enjoyable. Take a walk with me and see

the red dogwood willow,

the pond without ice,

a lone watering can,

buds building on a rhododendron,

 sprouts pushing out of the soil,

and birdhouses waiting once again for the bird families to come and make nests.

Tied to Music Memories: We Are the World 25 for Haiti

Where did the years go? I couldn't believe it when I read last week-end that the release of the original "We Are the World" video was twenty-five years ago. I remember back in the day gathering a group of talented fifth grade students and putting our own version of this song together for a music program. I have always loved the original  video and the song also. When the new version premiered at the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics I was eager to see how many of the original performers would be brought  back and what new faces would be added. I am here to declare... I have reached middle age. I didn't recognize many of the performers the first time I watched the video. However I was thrilled that I recognized  Jeff Bridges, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett, and Natalie Cole.

Even without Paul Simon, Kenny Rogers, Tina and Cindi singing solos I really liked listening to Josh Groban, Celine Dion, and Carlos Santana on the guitar. It was bittersweet to see  Micheal Jackson from the first video singing a duet with  his sister in this video. I avoided pictures of Haiti after the earthquake, but the pictures that were woven into this video gave me hope. It was moving to see children dancing, mothers smiling, and people working together.  Perhaps there were not as many rock singers in this version, but I have to say I liked the group of rappers and they added a new dimension to this video.

Now if you have no idea what I am talking about I posted the video. If you want to feel nostalgic, I also posted the original video. I've got this song playing over and over in my head again.

Tied to Photos

Here are some recent photos I really liked.

Isabelle caught by the evening light.
JEJ's shot of the sunrise yesterday.
A reminder of Valentine's Day

A frozen slough by Cataldo, Idaho
That amaryllis again!

Tied to Blogging: One thousand Two Hundred Twenty-Two Posts Later

Three years ago today I began this blog. These one thousand two hundred twenty-two posts have introduced you to my beautiful corner of the world, my siblings and our weekly writing assignments, the dogs and cats, our gardens, my mom, lots and lots of poetry, even more photographs, our favorite camping spots, many of my favorite books, recipes, and blog friends. I have made slide shows, posted favorite videos, loaded treasured old photos, and played familiar songs. I have linked many of my posts now to Facebook.

Building in the routine of writing almost every day has been important to me. I look forward to pairing this blog with the new one I am sharing with my students that I wrote about yesterday. Again, if you want a view into the window of my classroom you can visit it here.
I hope you keep stopping by. It has been a pleasure meeting you.

Tied to My Students With A New Blog

 I have launched another blog for the purpose of telling the stories of life in our classroom. My students are given opportunities to post each day and I squeeze in a few words here and there also. It is called 40 students, 1 Teacher, 100 Days of Writing. The new blog can be found here.

It has been exciting to watch students decide what they want to share. Students have written about what they are learning, two have posted poems, one her artwork, and another about her love for chocolate.
I look forward to many more days of writing as we move through the next four months of school.

Here are some images we captured last Friday before Valentine's Day.

Tied to Words

I am tied to words. I am tied to poetry. I am tied to words woven together in a way that speaks to my heart. This was a good find the day after Valentine's Day.


 The Blue Robe

How joyful to be together, alone   
as when we first were joined
in our little house by the river
long ago, except that now we know

each other, as we did not then;
and now instead of two stories fumbling   
to meet, we belong to one story
that the two, joining, made. And now

we touch each other with the tenderness   
of mortals, who know themselves:   
how joyful to feel the heart quake

at the sight of a grandmother,   
old friend in the morning light,   
beautiful in her blue robe! 
-by Wendell Berry 

Sibling Assignment #120: The Ties That Bind a Marriage

Isn't it only fitting that our sibling assignment on Valentine's Day would be related to marriage. Silver Valley Girl gave the assignment this week. "Write about the ties that bind you to your husband or wife. 

As I continue to enjoy a very pleasurable Valentine's Day, it was very easy to write this post. Today I was awakened to a warm fire, Reece's Peanut Butter hearts, a beautiful new watch that has a face and day/ date part I can see, and a touching valentine that brought tears to my eyes. After an inspiring church service and an afternoon nap, the two of us have settled into a quiet evening with our animals friends. It is my kind of day.

What are the ties that bind our marriage? 
We enjoy each other's company. Whether it is sitting on the deck, driving around the area, traveling to find a good restaurant, or walking the dogs, we enjoy each other's company.

We love to laugh. JEJ is a master clean joke teller. He can remember jokes that he heard once two months ago. I love to watch him tell a joke to a group of people. He finds pleasure in making people laugh. Yesterday when I put the turkey breast in the crock pot and discovered a few hours later I forgot to plug it in ( sibling insert.... vagueland) he just laughed with me when we realized we may not be eating until 8:00. Our dogs and cats entertain us. So do funny pictures and videos online. We are easily entertained and the laughter releases stress.

We don't dwell on the past. We both could have carried lots of  "baggage" into our marriage, but have worked hard on moving forward and not dwelling on what could have been, what could have been done differently, and comparing past relationships.

We forgive. I think our common beliefs with our faith keeps this one strong. I have followed JEJ's lead and worked at  apologizing, forgiving, and moving on. Holding in hurt and anger is not healthy. Fortunately we have not had monumental things that needed forgiveness. I think JEJ has forgiven me for  death of the dear Virginia Creeper from a few years ago. You just can't trust me with pruning shears.
We share similar interests. Gardening, photography, reading, watching the Zags, attending church together, spending time in nature, camping, and keeping up with current events are things we both are interested in. We also enjoy a delicious home cooked meal, a nice glass of red wine, a beautiful sunrise from the deck, and solitude.  It is enjoyable to spend time with family and friends, but we also love time spent with just each other.

I always admire couples that have been together for thirty or forty years and have a rich, happy marriage. We met each other later in life. We knew ourselves, but had to learn each other. After traveling a bumpy road for awhile I was glad the gravel road got smoother when I got acquainted with the guy across the road that stopped one day to fix my gate and bring me rose plants.
Happy Valentine's Day JEJ!

Tied to Spring 2

Today there was once again the feel of spring around our place. It was hard to get a good photo for proof, but I saw a daffodil pushing through the ground and debris today. The snow has melted on the mountain across the lake.

JEJ  also remove our "yurt cover"  on the gazebo and built a fire in the fireplace. The garden lights were another welcome sign of spring. It is also staying light longer. Now that is a treat.

The ponds are beginning to melt. Shelby was in for a surprise when she tried to walk across the ice. I wish I could have gotten a picture.
The ice began to crack and she stayed on the largest piece and jumped to the bank. I tried to get her to go out again for a photo opportunity, but she is too smart for that.  We didn't even need a fire in inside today after the house warmed up in the morning. It's coming... I believe!

Tied to a Date in March

I knew working toward my National Board Certification this year would be a challenge, but as the date nears for my portfolio to be mailed, I am writing, revising, revideotaping, and gathering student samples like crazy and redefining challenge. If you are just stopping in and wondered why I haven't been commenting on your blog or creating a farm on Facebook, I have been completing a portfolio to reach National Board Certification in teaching. My portfolio is a box of materials I am putting together to demonstrate my teaching. I have done two video tapes, started a blog with my students (more about that later), analyzed student work, analyzed my own work, and done a ton of reading. The whole process continues to make me a stronger teacher. Today I was a weary teacher, but still a bit stronger.

The box has to be mailed by March 31st (which is during my spring break). Tonight I made reservations for a stay in a mountain cabin so JEJ, the dogs, and I can get away for four days after I deliver my box to the post office. We will be surrounded by mountains and pines in a remote location at the north part of the Methow Valley. JEJ lived in this valley as a child and wants to go back and visit places he remembers. I printed a picture of the cabin and that is my motivation to keep staying the course for the next six weeks. After the portfolio is mailed I prepare for an exam. Fortunately the exam is scheduled at the end of May. I can take a little break.  I am starting to see a faint light at the end of the tunnel.

Tied to Odes

Valentine season seems like a perfect time to reread odes, especially those by Pablo Neruda.

Ode to Things
I have a crazy,
crazy love of things.
I like pliers,
and scissors.
I love
and bowls -
not to speak, or course,
of hats.
I love
all things,
not just
the grandest,
small -
and flower vases.
Oh yes,
the planet
is sublime!
It's full of pipes
through tobacco smoke,
and keys
and salt shakers -
I mean,
that is made
by the hand of man, every little thing:
shapely shoes,
and fabric,
and each new
bloodless birth
of gold,
carpenter's nails,
clocks, compasses,
coins, and the so-soft
softness of chairs.
Mankind has
oh so many
Built them of wool
and of wood,
of glass and
of rope:
ships, and stairways.
I love
not because they are
or sweet-smelling
but because,
I don't know,
this ocean is yours,
and mine;
these buttons
and wheels
and little
fans upon
whose feathers
love has scattered
its blossoms
glasses, knives and
scissors -
all bear
the trace
of someone's fingers
on their handle or surface,
the trace of a distant hand
in the depths of forgetfulness.
I pause in houses,
streets and
touching things,
identifying objects
that I secretly covet;
this one because it rings,
that one because
it's as soft
as the softness of a woman's hip,
that one there for its deep-sea color,
and that one for its velvet feel.
O irrevocable
of things:
no one can say
that I loved
or the plants of the jungle and the field,
that I loved
those things that leap and climb, desire, and survive.
It's not true:
many things conspired
to tell me the whole story.
Not only did they touch me,
or my hand touched them:
they were
so close
that they were a part
of my being,
they were so alive with me
that they lived half my life
and will die half my death.

-Pablo Neruda
from Odes to Common Things

Tied to Spring

I am ready for spring.

This got me in the mood on Sunday.
The sunshine helped also.

I am ready to go out and pick these in the garden, not buy them!

... but I will miss the foggy sunrises that create scenes like this over Lake Roosevelt.