Maybe Tomorrow

So fellow travelers, after packing in as much adventure as possible in these last few weeks of summer break I thought it was about time I got back to writing. Hunkered down with both the aircon and a fan going to ward off the heat advisory level humidity outside, there are no spectacular views to distract me here in my writing space.

Sorry- what was I saying?

Oh right- off the trails and back to writing. It is after all approaching the 36 hour mark to BTS (BackToSchool for all those without schools aged kids or teacher types in their midst) and I will soon be immersed in the routines of schedules and modified lesson plans.

So I got busy scribing some thoughts for a good quarter hour picking up where I had left off in Joshua Tree National Park , when a message popped up on my laptop screen informing me the “system has encountered a problem and needs to restart” and BEFORE I could click Save , my screen went black.

and when everything rebooted and I opened the WordPress tab ….. that post had evaporated into the ethers.

Not

One

Word

Left

Ah well, it wasn’t coming together so well anyways.

Tomorrow we try again, because everyday is a chance to begin again.

So, as Christopher Robin once said in a note to Pooh

Backson

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Push to the Finish Line

So fellow travelers, returning home from the Verdi road trip I received an enthusiastic greeting from my devoted trail companion Ms Delilah

20170902_180512

Granted I am blessed to be greeted in a similar manner when I come in from a trip to the grocery store. A greeting shorter in duration with less yapping perhaps, but just as effective at refueling my heart with the glow of unconditional love dogs radiate into our lives.

Delilah has been a placeholder for love and acceptance through the recent challenges of my journey. Whether I  arrived home and immediately grabbed a leash to head for a mind clearing walk or collapsed on the couch under the weight of incomprehensible stress, Delilah followed the cues. She even learned to gently nudge me awake so those naps did not stretch out to interfere with deeper sleep I would need later.

Because of the confidential nature of my work with special ed. students at our local high school it is not possible for me (at least not at this time) to detail the specifics of what our team was dealing with.  Suffice to say, there were connected situations which had been evolving for two years which had reached a point of tremendous concern for the team I was on.  What was most disconcerting was the struggle we faced trying to have those concerns heard by people in a position to address the issues. In my nineteen years working with students of diverse needs and abilities from elementary through high school I had never experienced anything like what we were being asked to tolerate as acceptable for our students as well as our teaching team and support staff.

20180626_131101Mural in Artists Alley Oceanside CA

I found myself asking  how long does one remain in a setting where it no longer seems possible to make a difference?

When you follow every protocol and send clear, well documented reports that help is needed and the response is dismissive, when you hear the policy statements about the importance of mental health but see nothing done when a crisis point is reached repeatedly, when you hear and are told to teach the message “if you see something, say something,” and you do say something, day after day, but it results in no actions, how long beyond these tipping points do you stay?

Reaching the end of the year, feeling discouraged and depleted I knew leaving my position now (which I could easily do by retiring a year ahead of schedule with minimal financial impact) would feel more like quitting than “retiring early.” I am many things, but I am not a quitter. I was mindful too of the impact leaving would have on my co-workers, many of whom I am grateful to also call my friends.

Through all of these challenges, there has been a soundtrack playing which kept me going even when I was sure I could not face another day of chaos. It is a soundtrack filled with songs of the restless quest for meaning, of reaching for hope in the face of doubt and a search for light when plunged into darkness. So two days after dragging myself across the finish line of unresolved dilemmas, I headed West to spend some time with the band who writes those songs.

Nothing in my life would ever be the same.

20180627_181647

 

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Night Quest

​(SpotTheStation) Time: Thu Jun 08 9:58 PM, Visible: 3 min, Max Height: 89 degrees, Appears: WNW, Disappears: SE

So fellow travelers, this message popped up on my phone  informing me of the opportunity to see the International Space Station  in the night sky.

It’s a simple thing really. Just a bright light zipping across the night time sky . Not too hard to find~

Unless it’s obscured by clouds

Or tracks below the tree line

Or appears in the single digit hours before dawn when the thrill of a sighting is weighed against precious minutes of lost sleep.

Yeah, it might be a sign you are a science nerd when you’re willing trade sleep for a few minutes of tracking a tiny bright light zipping across the night sky.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 

Airport Jazzmen

So fellow travelers, I see so many passing through this busy airport tonight. I wish one and all safe and easy journeys.

It’s been a long day that started at 5am trying to get airborne for our annual adventures in PDX. Having made it to Chicago O’Hara airport by switching airlines we grabbed a bite to eat before hopefully boarding our next flight.

We discovered the little food court where we found the Billy Goat Grill (of SNL cheezeburgu cheezeburgu no coke Pepsi fame) Hearty diner food and good beer at decent prices and these guys posed  center court playing their heart out.

Looking around at diversity scattered about the tables, young and old, dark and light skinned, dressed in hijabs or jeans I noticed a majority of my fellow travelers were plugged into devices of different kinds. No one would have heard a single note of our center court concert.

Ah well at least we were all gathered peacefully under one roof. Harmony in silence, together yet not quite connected. Thoughts which made their own rhythms

Haiku for airport jazzmen

The jazzmen play but

No one hears their melody 

 Ear buds tuned us out 
Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready. 

Zen moment: The Bench

So fellow travelers, after several days of camping at a favorite location, my focus has been on preparations for our annual expedition to Portland.

I’ve never had such a difficult time getting organized for a trip. For about a week I have drifted from one process to another, packing a few things, cleaning out the fridge, packing a few more things, folding some laundry, repacking etc. I wondered if the relentless heat of this summer drought has fried my brain as badly as my garden.

 

To clear my mind, I took our dog for a walk along one of our favorite lakeside trails. There, down a side trail a quiet bench invited us to rest a while in the cool shade. As I sat I realized I spent most of the past month thoroughly enjoying the freedom of having my time to myself. I have in fact become so acclimated to living in the moment of each day I was having a hard time deciding what I wanted to wear for the next few days let alone what I needed to bring for two weeks of traveling in city, mountain and coastal locations. The simple awakening was the shift I needed to get back in prep mode, splitting an extensive to do list into smaller manageable tasks.

Thanks little bench for the zen moment

Favored spot beckons

Sit Leave the busy lists go

Be in this moment

See you in PDX my friends.

 Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready. 

 

Spring break blues

So fellow travelers, I have a touch of spring break blues.

Suffice to say it’s been a strange day with just this haiku as a redeeming element, the photo gathered on a brief chilly dog walk when the rains had passed.

 

Leaf buds holding out
Grey wind blown rain reflections
November in Spring.

image

 

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Weather or not: The art of hiking from home

So fellow travelers, I woke this morning to howling winds and white out conditions.

20160403_083350-1

SOC shot of the view from my bedroom this morning blurry from blowing snow.

 

Looks like Ma Nature’s big April Fool’s joke this year was to send us snow in a bit more abundance than the “scattered snow showers,” originally forecast. I scurried downstairs to check the bird feeders which I topped off yesterday in anticipation of our spring migrants needs for extra fuel to stay warm through this cold snap.

A mound of snow blew in the back door telling me I would need to retrieve the shovels from the garage where I had foolishly stashed them a few days ago. I should know better than to put them away before Memorial Day Weekend, after all its not unheard of for Lake Ontario to send me snow for Mother’s Day.

Delilah declined to leave the back deck until a path was cleared, then promptly dashed around the yard sticking her head into snow drifts in search of critter trails.

snowbankDD1   snowbankDD2

The crowd around the feeder scattered only as far as the nearby pin cherry tree by the pond, chattering urgently as I refilled the feeder and seed trays.  They barely waited for me to retreat more than a few steps away before descending to feast voraciously.  I could see I would need to refill the feeder again well before days end.

AprilJunco

Patient little Junco waiting to dart down into the crows and redwing blackbirds  feasting below

It was the blustery winds which put an end to my plans for another Sunday hike. I don’t mind hiking in snow; I have sturdy boots, warm socks and liners, plenty of layers to pile on and a light weight walking stick with depth markings along the side. Unlike my over confident stashing of snow shovels, I don’t put away my flannel lined hiking pants and fleece sweatshirts because even in the dead of summer they might be called into service on a chilly night camping by Lake Ontario or in the Adirondacks. Wind however is a deal breaker and I will avoid hiking in it if I have that choice. My ears were frostbitten when I was very young and remain sensitive to wind. They ache even in warm summer breezes; I have quite the collection of earmuffs, headbands and colorful bandannas to keep them covered.

After coming to terms with the weather induced change of plans, I realized I could still visit a favorite trail by working on a post I started about my Spring Equinox hiking trip. So right after this next round of shoveling and refilling feeders, I will download photos from my DSLR, fire up the photo editor on my laptop and get to work with a nice mug of steaming hot chocolate.

IMG_5516

sneak preview of this year Spring Equinox hike…..Stay tuned !

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Delilah meets the Bumble

So fellow travelers, a few weeks ago Delilah and I had a rare encounter

.
image

DD meets the Abominable Snowman

With the snow nearly gone I thought I better get the story told before it became as unseasonal as the record warmth we’ve been blessed with this month. Delilah was none too sure about this strange creature. She barked furiously when she first saw it and insisted on checking him out.

image

Approaching cautiously

.
image
Hmmm. No reaction

.
image

Bravely sniffing, checking more thoroughly

.

.image

“Hey you’re ok! Wanna play?”

.
image

“No ? Ok, maybe another time. I got squirrels to chase now. Bye!”

 

Nice weather and lingering daylight has had us scurrying to the lake trails this past week, so we haven’t gone by this neighbor’s house for a while. When we did pass by again the other day, Delilah paused for a minute or two looking at the now green and empty lawn. It took me a second to realize what she was looking for.
Oh well~see you next year Mr. Bumble
image

 

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Battle of the Lap

So fellow travelers, Lake Ontario continues to spread her fluffy white presence through the streets and by ways of our towns and villages.

The three day MLK Jr. weekend has been extended to a fourth day off by a snowday. It will mean some quick assignment rewrites for my teaching colleagues who have to wrap up the semester by Friday. Still,  I am truly grateful to avoid driving in the blustery winds and periodic white out conditions haunting my view from the big window over my deck.

After a round of shoveling, required to access the yard for the morning dog run, I have settled down to complete a few writing assignments of my own. Delilah immediately made it clear who wins the battle for the favored spot on this snowed in morning.

image

“Back off Annoying Thing.  This lap is taken. “
Delilah 1 : Laptop 0

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

On teaching to what is not tested.

So fellow travelers, I’ve written before about the turbulence in education created by current trends which focus on “high stakes” testing. It’s a misguided push by politicians and private companies which basically results in a “teaching to the test” mode of education.  This is particularly true in areas where test results are being directly linked to state funding of school aid and staff performance.  In fifteen years of working as a special education assistant in our local school district I have seen a lot of educational trends come and go.  I have never seen anything so destructive to the educational process; its most damaging impact, in my opinion,  is the way this type of testing shatters kids’ confidence in their ability to learn.  Morale these days is at an all time low, yet educators are a resilient bunch, riding waves of change as they quietly continue doing what they do best: teaching our kids. Every now and then, I catch glimmers of hope.

  Take today when the students at C.W. Baker High School were greeted by this colorful display.

20150424_083045

Here’s a closeup of what’s printed on the star balloon at the top of the arch.

20150424_103559

 

We are celebrating a magnificent achievement!

20150424_083326

At the beginning of the year, the Key Club announced an ambitious project with the Make A Wish program. (If you’re not familiar with the organization, google them; they do really good stuff.)  The students wanted to raise enough funds to fully fund one local child’s wish.  This meant raising $9,500 before spring break and after break our administrator announced that goal had been reached. From “Buy a Star” to zumba classes the students created a six month series of diverse events giving everyone an opportunity to support the project.   Today blue popsicles will be handed out to every student during lunch.  Balloons appeared by the project board in the main hallway.

20150424_083350

 

So now a  nine year old girl with cystic fibrous goes on a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas because students at our high school decided making a difference mattered.

I’m not sure how the New York Board of Education plans to measure this achievement on any of their tests.  Frankly measuring the accomplishment is no where near as important as knowing the experience of achieving this goal will remain with the students long after any testable knowledge has faded from their memory.

Walk softly on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.