Saturday, January 31, 2015

BANG! BANG! ... Then The Cops Showed Up.


What was that??!?!! 

I'm not sure ...


It was a fun filled day of presentations and meetings; the kind of day that makes teachers all over the country roll their eyes and moan and groan to each other about the lack of alone-time in their classrooms to catch up on "real" work. I have to admit that overall it was an interesting and inspiring day in spite of everyone's reluctance to participate.

But it was what happened during the "active shooter" portion of our day that took the most interesting turn. I was helping a colleague with an emergency and was not in the room where the presentation was taking place when we heard what sounded like a book hitting the floor. Very hard. Then another. And another and another. Then a few more at a distance. By the time the second shot was fired (right outside the door) we realized the sound was not dropping books, but bullets being fired from a pistol. We knew about the active shooter training, but didn't know what form it would take, and in that moment weren't sure what to do.

We (I) turned off the light like that wouldn't tip off a shooter and we stood against the smartboard and made ourselves "skinny" so that we couldn't be seen from the door (and if you knew the current size of my stomach you would definitely see the irony).

It turned out to be a local police officer shooting blanks in the corridors to demonstrate the actual sound of a live shooter In the building.

In the moments when I heard the gunshots a dichotomy of thoughts occurred within me. On one side was the set of protocols that I'm required to follow (lock the door, hide the students, etc.) while on the other side was the curious little boy who wanted to peek out the door to see what was happening in the corridor. Also circling in my mind were a few questions:

1. There are three doors in this room. Which one will we run for if this jerk comes in here?
2. How much stuff can I grab to hurl at the guy?
3. Where will I hide my students?

I did, in fact, peak out the door to get a look at the person outside the door, and in that split second I realized how easy and innocently a student could die at the hands of a shooter. I realized that in the event of an actual event, all bets are off.

It was a very interesting day. Indeed. 

I have a whole new perspective.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

50 ... And Beyond

I turned 50. 

Saying it out loud brings a simultaneous sense of triumphant arrival and inward reflection. 

On one level I feel young and invincible like I was in my college years.  On another I feel the weight of tiny complaints of the back, kidney, eyesight, ashen hair, forgetfulness and hypertension my doctor warned me about so many years ago. 
Funny thing is, it doesn’t seem like so many years ago, but rather yesterday 
… fishing with Papap at Lake Irene … 
... walking to Emily’s store all by myself … 
... sledding down Mill Hill (waking up in the hospital) … 
... getting a haircut at “Honest Frank’s” barber shop … 
... riding my bike to Uncle Harold’s house (Aunt Fern always had cookies) ... 
... skateboarding down the hill to my grandmother’s house ... 
... joining boy scouts … 
... attending the first day of junior high (felt so grown up) … 
... taking a date to the “Queen of Hearts” dance … 
... becoming a mime … 
... getting my driver’s license …
... feeling a broken heart up close … 
... going to college … 
... auditioning for my first real show ...
... graduating ...
... working with Dad … 
... working with Mom … 
... meeting the love of my life … 
... proposing on Christmas Eve … 
... becoming a husband … 
... becoming a father … 
... losing a house … 
... losing a father … 
... losing a mother … 
... becoming 50.

I’ve been thinking about what is next. What do I want the rest of my life to look like? What do I want to do as I grow up? The reality is that I have lived far more years than I have yet to live on this earth.  What is my vision for the remainder? 

I’ll have to get back to you on that.  Right now I have a life to live.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

What Could Possibly Be Better Than A Baked Bean Sandwich?

They think it's more than a little weird that I enjoy it so much.

"Ewwwww!" is the general reaction around the table as my children watch me construct the delicacy that brings back such childhood memories that I actually weep inside with every soft, dripping bite. Even my own wife shouts a resounding "NO" when offered a bite. (Et tu, Suzy?)

What could possibly bring such gastronomic bliss to one person and such repulsion to others?

None other than the Baked Bean Sandwich.

Just to justify my right to enjoy this wonder of culinary delight, I did a bit of research and was delighted (and somewhat appalled) to find so many variations on a simple theme.  If there is any way to ruin a perfectly good sandwich, some recipe guru has discovered the finer points to turning a piece of depression-era history into some hoity-toity, fancy-shmancy gourmet thingy that no self respecting lover of the basic sammy would expend the time and energy to prepare. 

Don't get me wrong; most of these recipes were quite ordinary and, although they certainly wouldn't taste like the flavor memory I have in my mind, they were worthy of consideration on an occasion some time in the future (yes, I might be willing to put ketchup or mustard or even a slice of onion on the bread). However, there also were a plethora of recipes that called for more work than Beef Wellington complete with homemade puff pastry.

Really folks, it doesn't have to be complicated to be delicious.

Here's all you need:

- Canned baked beans (warm, but not hot) - homemade beans simply do not work for this sandwich.    
- White sandwich bread, toasted or plain (you may substitute a leftover hot dog roll if you happen to have one)
- Butter

It really is as simple as that.  Spread butter on a slice of bread, spoon some beans on half the slice, fold over and eat.  Repeat as necessary.

No need for homemade bread or organic butter lettuce, remoulade, imported cheese, etc. 
No extras on this one.  Just plain goodness.  And fond memories.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Today, I'm Thankful

^Thanksgiving. Anyone who knows me knows this to be favorite holiday.


Simple. Nothing is required but to be thankful.

  • No toys to be purchased.
  • No decorations or lights to be hung.
  • No cards to send.
  • No financial burden (except a turkey, and most of them are deeply discounted this time of year).
This year I'm thankful for many things ...
  • My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who came to Earth to save me.
  • My beautiful wife, who is the best help meet I could have imagined.
  • The smart, gorgeous children God has given us. Each one is unique and wonderful.
  • My brother and sisters. Even though we've had our differences, I couldn't imagine my life without them.
  • In laws,  cousins, brothers and sisters in law and other extended family who love us and care for us.
  • My DNA accountability group. We are few, but we are faithful.
  • My (relatively) good health.
  • Our church, some of whom are like family to us.
  • Our LEAH home school group, who have surrounded my wife with an overwhelming blanket of prayer and love in the face of devastating news.
  • An excellent team of doctors and nurses.
  • My work family who check on me every day to see how I'm holding up.
  • The kind people who provided a Thanksgiving basket to us, "just because."
  • A warm home.
  • Reliable vehicles.
  • And, of course, pumpkin pie. :)
So, this year on my favorite holiday I am filled with gratitude for all the things, both tangible and intangible,  that God has provided for me and my family. I  do not know what this year will bring,  but I am confident that He will see us through it.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Slow Down and Enjoy the Conversation

Some days I reflect on my life.  I had both sad and happy memories. There are surely some things I remember more fondly than they occurred in reality, but when it came to supper time, there was a unique quality surrounding the supper table, especially in the later years, that tugs on my heart strings.

The conversation was friendly, the food was warm, and the time slipped away unnoticed by all those who sat around the table. 

After supper there was always coffee or tea, and more conversation.  It wasn't unheard of to sit for two or three hours, just talking and laughing. 

It seems we don't have time for that anymore.  Maybe if we made time for coffee talk we would be happier people. Maybe we would slow down and find more joy in other areas of our lives.

Or maybe we would just let the dishes pile up in the sink.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

One Does Not Simply ... Paint The Porch

It's just another hoop to jump through.

I have to paint the front porch.  Tomorrow.

Yes, I know it's November. Yes, I know it's cold outside. Yes, I know it will take forEVER to dry.

However, I received a phone call yesterday from an inspector who works with New York Rising, the grant office that is administering the buyout/elevation money for our village.

Apparently our front porch failed the lead paint test, so they have to come and inspect to make sure we painted over the lead paint. 

Trouble is, when dealing with federal programs the hoops are a never-ending list of criteria that are almost impossible for the average human to complete before the deadline.  It is, I believe, designed that way.

Invariably after you have jumped through all the required hoops ... nothing happens.  N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

You see, federal grant programs change on an almost daily basis.  So just when you think you have completed the task, there is another hoop.  One that you didn't know about (because it didn't previously exist), but you discover after you receive a phone call from an inspector who notifies you that you have failed to complete this or that.

Nice, huh?

So, long story short, I have to paint the porch.

But first I have to move all the porch furniture, sweep, wash, scrape where necessary, wash the dirt off, and buy paint, brushes, and rollers.

THEN I will paint.

In two days. Because that's when the inspector will be here.

Oy vey.