Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Monday, September 24, 2007

"Quotation Marks"

What a "great article" this is! My friend Nanci shared this with a list we're on, and I "loved" it. The use of "gratuitous" quotation marks is probably at epidemic levels---and don't even get me started on those "highly annoying" misplaced apostrophes!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Band and Hope for the World

I haven't been reading much lately because, honestly, my plate's pretty full right now with high school band, teaching, worrying about Carol, family, and whatever else is out there. So this post isn't going to be about the latest book I've finished, but instead will highlight that I've received a bit of hope to contrast my "where are we going and why are we all in this handbasket?" mentality.

Yesterday we literally spent all day and half the night with Hannah's high school band. They were involved in two band contests which meant we were at school at 9 a.m. and got home at 2 a.m. the next day. It was hot (90 degrees), sunny, and steamy, and I'd been pretty worried about the band's chances as they're quite young and inexperienced this year. When all was said and done, however, they received all ones at the first contest and then won their division and came in fourth overall at the second. Whew...we were exhausted but delighted.

But what this post is actually about is the state of the world and band kids' position in it. I admit I've been down lately when I survey the state of the middle schoolers I teach (and this is in a good school). They are obnoxious beyond what is expected of middle schoolers; their parents are enablers; they have no motivation and they only care about what makes them feel good for the next 30 seconds. Beyond them, I keep hearing horror stories on the news of sick children who set fire to animals, disenfranchised youth who join gangs and wreak havoc, and kids who hurt other kids simply because they can. It's beyond depressing; it makes me want to run and hide and not let my own girls go out into the world again.

However, high school band gives me hope. These kids willingly give an entire day of their lives (not to mention all the practice time and football games) to go to a contest where they prove that they take life and band seriously. They do what we moms and dads ask because it's expected. They listen to their band directors and do the best they can because they are motivated to do so. And besides all that, they support one another. Of course they support their fellow band members, but they also support bands they are competing against. When they pass other bands, they yell encouragement and they receive it in kind. They clap and cheer for all bands, even those that didn't do that well. In return, the same applies to them. It's not only uplifting, it's hopeful.

One of our boys from last year moved over the summer. He's now in a competing band (one that actually came in second overall). Our kids were so excited to see him. I heard the whispers before the band even came through the gates: "Kevin's here!" When his band marched by to take the field, our entire band (even those who didn't know him) stood and in unison yelled, "Good luck, Kevin!" Talk about being's making me smile even now to think of it.

Life's not perfect and band's not perfect, but I have to say that I'm no longer riding in that handbasket (at least until tomorrow!). I think it's going to be all right.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

The September Girls Review

The September Girls by Maureen Lee is just what I needed right now...a truly wonderful family saga following two girls born in the same house on the same night in 1920 and stretching through the World War Two years. Very reminiscent of Rosamund Pilcher's writing, this book grabbed me from page one and literally crawled into every pore of my being as I enveloped myself in the lives of these two families. I loved how the author tied the two families together: one rich, one poor, but bonded over children and crumbling marriages and hopes and dreams. We got to see the devastation of Liverpool as the bombs fell and the fortitude of its citizens as they resisted being brought down by Hitler's forces. We see Cara and Sybil, the two daughters, grow into very different young women who are ultimately forced together through military service, and we follow them as choices are made which affect both of them forever. I cannot recommend this book highly's compelling and well-crafted, and I will be adding more of Maureen Lee's books to my mountain of reading material.
My amazon review is found at I hope you'll stop by and give it a look because I go into more depth of the story and basically just wax on about how special this one is. It's going on the keeper shelf!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Deep Dark Depression

There was a time as a child that I'd watch the syndicated country music show HeeHaw. (I know, I don't often share that information publicly). One of the recurring songs on the show was entitled "Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me" and I still recall all the words to this day (yes, this post gets scarier). One of the lines was "Deep Dark Depression, Excessive Misery." That's how I've been feeling lately, and though the song's humorous, this depression isn't. I can't shake it and it won't go away and no amount of antidepressant is going to make it better.

My friend Carol has cancer. A lot of cancer. A scary amount. The kind that's hard to treat.

Carol and I have been friends for about 15 years now. We taught together at Glendale Middle School and when our current school opened, we moved there together. She's taught both of my daughters, my youngest just last year. She's taught them about math, using sales and hiding new clothes from your husband to make a point. She's taught the youngest one to sew, a domestic art I seriously don't have a gene for. She's picked them up from school when I've been sick or detained, and she's brought me food when I've been sick. She came to my house to visit me when I had Katherine eleven years ago. She gave me hand-me-downs and gave my girls personalized bags. She's incredibly giving, taking care of her elderly mother and her two sons and her adoring husband, Bill. She took Bill's two sons into her heart when they married and calls his grandchildren hers as well. She's a shopaholic with a closet stuffed to the brim with gorgeous clothing. We've shared laughter and fun and tears.

Now she might not even live a month if this round of chemo doesn't work.

I want to question God but there's no point because I won't get an answer and it won't change anything. I should have faith. But how can you have faith when someone so good and loving, who was looking forward to a cruise with her husband this fall, will be lucky to live 6 months and probably not see her youngest son graduate high school in the spring?

Carol is on my mind constantly. If I find myself laughing, I feel bad because of her situation. When I spoke to her last week, she told me she was so scared. So am I. How did this non-smoker get lung cancer so invasive that it's spread to her brain before it was discovered? Carol's always been sickly but that means she's been under a doctor's constant care. How on earth could this have slipped by?

I'm also ashamed.

I'm ashamed because I want to run away from this. I want to pretend I don't even know Carol so it'll make the hurt and fear less. I want to protect my girls from this devastation. How can I, as a friend, feel like this? I saw her picture today and I wanted to get rid of it. I don't want to face this; I don't want to see her. And that's my own personal hurt and fear; I can only imagine what she's feeling now.

I've got to push myself to visit, to call, to let her know how much she's meant to me over the years of our friendship. This cannot be about me; I've got to reach beyond myself. But how do I do that? I don't want to lose my friend. In my heart, I know I'm going to and it makes me sick to my stomach. Running away won't help, but I still find myself wanting to. Carol has so many people praying for her that I've got to believe God's going to hear us. I'm so helpless and so wrapped up in this. How can my friend be dying? She was just at school on the first day, preparing her classroom and getting ready for a new year. Now she's already retired in order to focus herself on the biggest fight of her life.

Sometimes life just ain't fair and there's not a damned thing you can do about it.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Carpe Demon

Julie Kenner's Carpe Demon is lots of fun...definitely not deep reading, but good for my need for lightheartedness. Our heroine is Kate Connor, former Demon Hunter turned housewife, who is suddenly thrust back into her old life when a demon attacks her out of nowhere. After she realizes that she's going to have fight again, Kate plunges into her dual lifestyle full-throttle, taking martial arts lessons, stopping demon dogs, searching the church archives, and yes, hostessing impromptu dinner parties at the same time. While I realize that this is, of course, a paranormal fantasy novel, there were a couple of things that stretched my imagination to the breaking point, including the fact that Kate first springs an elderly stranger from his nursing home, and then brings him home to live (possibly forever?). But overall it's a pretty fun read, and I appreciate my friend Barbara sharing it with me. Here's the link to my amazon review: .
Next I've picked up The September Girls by Maureen Lee. The reasons are two-fold: it's on my tbr_challenge list, and it's September! I read September by Rosamund Pilcher a few years ago during the month of September, and I thought why not try it again? And so far I'm absolutely loving it. I have a feeling it's going to receive a glowing review when I'm done.