Saturday, August 13, 2016

It Can't be August

It can't be August. How do I know it can't be August?  I'm not submitting press releases or advertisements or setting up demonstration classes. I'm not frantically assigning children to classes and juggling waiting lists and changing class assignments because parents just received their children's sports/dance schedules. I'm not assembling and mailing some 400 enrollment packets. I'm not creating staff working agreements and job descriptions and planning the first staff meeting and in-service training. I'm not organizing two Parent Orientation days, revising Power Point presentations and studying notes and lesson plans. I'm not spending hours and hours making and receiving phone calls and answering e-mail messages. I'm not performing inventory, organizing storage closets or ordering home materials for more than 400 students. I'm not preparing for board meetings or fund raisers or scholarship meetings. I'm not setting up classrooms, scheduling carpet cleanings or washing instruments. I'm not organizing volunteers or training new staff members or requesting background checks or arranging for CPR/First Aid training. I'm not attending workshops and seminars to keep my certification current, and I'm not arranging for six other teachers to attend workshops and seminars. I'm not writing a monthly newsletter or revising six levels of weekly handouts. I'm not updating the web site or the school calendar. I'm not working twelve hour days. So, you see, it can't be August. Oh, that's right!  It is August and I'm retired.      

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Zoos Can Be Fun?

Visiting the zoo has never been one of my favorite past times. You see, I grew up on a farm, surrounded by animals, all of which left me with fits of itching, sneezing and wheezing.  Therefore--even as an adult who has outgrown most of those childhood allergies--I tend to associate furry critters with unpleasant reactions.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I were able to spend a rare day with three of our grandsons who live some five hundred miles away. Where did they want to take us? To the zoo, of course. While this Nana was thrilled to hang out with her grandsons, she had to take a deep breath and put on her best I-can-do-this face before proceeding through the gate of New York's Seneca Zoo.

While we enjoyed a picnic lunch, I tried to ignore the orangatan cage located next to our table. I found myself wondering why anyone would want to eat near a smelly primate habitat?  Soon there were two giant orangatans foraging for lettuce leaves and swinging from vine to vine. Of course, the boys found this scene most entertaining and had to be encouraged to return to their sandwiches multiple times throughout the meal. Then, I heard one of them exclaim, "Look! A baby!" I turned to see that a most adorable baby orangatan had entered the wire enclosure.  It was climbing, swinging, rolling in the bedding and playing with total abandon, all while dragging a security blanket. Yup, it had a blue, satin trimmed "blanky," not unlike the one that had accompanied each of my grandsons (and their dad) throughout toddlerhood. Like them, he would place it over his head and peek through a tiny opening. He would hug it to his chest and suck his thumb. If he needed his arms for climbing and swinging, he would carry it with his feet. It went with him everywhere. Now, that was a sight I couldn't resist. To tell the truth, I could have remained in that one spot all day watching the antics of this precious little guy.

As we continued our tour, we observed elephants flinging mud on their backs to stay cool and a female lion spraying a very fragrant "perfume" to mark her territory. Then, there was the hilarious family of baboons who argued and hugged and chattered much like human families interact.

Because it was a particularly warm, sunny day, many of the animals chose to remain indoors, trying to stay cool, but we did glimpse a fluffy white snow owl and a regal bald eagle. While the polar bears failed to greet us, the sea lions seemed happy to demonstrate their amazing water aerobics.  Posted at each section of this wonderful zoo, were friendly, well-informed young people who gladly regaled us with interesting facts and answered any questions we could pose. I found myself having fun at the zoo. Imagine that! It seems even this old dog (pun intended) can learn a new trick.          

Monday, August 8, 2016


There was a time when I thought vacations were a waste of time and money. My practical, stick-in-the-mud side would argue that the expense of vacation trips could be put to better use in home improvements or saving for the future. Yes, it's important to maintain one's home and it's important to save for the future, but I've finally realized it's also important to bask in the joy of present moments and create precious memories with friends and family members. It has taken many years and many memorable trips to rid me of the guilt associated with vacations. 

Today, as I recline on the balcony of a condominium atop Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia, I find inspiration in the spectacular scenery. With its gray clouds concealing the highest peaks, one might describe the overcast sky as gloomy, but I see before me another of the Creator's many exquisite masterpieces. The same air that sways the treetops feels cool and fresh as it brushes against my skin and fills my hungry lungs. Earlier this morning, gentle raindrops began to play their tinkling music against the roof and windows, forcing the birds to seek shelter.

Now the rain is falling forcefully, turning the panoramic landscape from light green to bluish-black. Thunder roars in the distance, reminding me to retreat behind the expanse of windows that graces this condo, aptly named "The Catbird Seat." From our corner unit, we can observe both the sunrise and the sunset, each boasting its own particular array of pinks and oranges. Low-hanging wisps of clouds float past, kissing the foothills and resting over the shimmery lake in the valley below.

Tomorrow will be soon enough to explore our new surroundings. For this day--the first day of our mountain vacation--we are quite content to rest from the packing, driving and unpacking to simply savor the beauty of an ever-evolving display provided by the Master Painter.    

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