Saturday, July 31, 2010

Gleaning the Highways of Oregon

Last month I wrote about the spouse and his uncanny ability to find items of questionable value along the roadway.  We just got home from a 600 mile trip where I got to experience first-hand the excitement and satisfaction of freeway gleaning.  Click here to read the earlier post.

The spouse and I drove from Hermiston to Lincoln City.  On the trip down to the coast Paul pointed out items of interest that he spotted as we drove down the freeway.  He seemed to think that I should be responsible for the right hand side of the roadway.  Once you start looking, it is surprising how many cooler lids and hubcaps you can see.  I am not, however, a very good spotter.  I am easily distracted by more interesting sights...well, actually by almost anything. 

On the trip back to Hermiston I mentioned to the spouse that he needed to actually find a hubcap and pick it up so I could get a picture of him for the blog.  No sooner were the words out of my mouth, he jammed on the brakes. 

"There's one" he shrieked. 

He pulled the pickup over to the side of the road and jumped out of the cab.

"Hold it up so I can take a picture" I yelled at him, "...and don't get hit by a car."

The picture at the top of the page is a hubcap in its natural state at the side of the road...and below is the spouse in action.

Several years ago we went to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.  The spouse didn't find even one tiny diamond.  I guess his powers are strictly limited to highways.  Darn!

We had a fun trip and are richer by one hubcap.  Life is good.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Lessons Learned From Parents and Their Children

Several weeks ago I read about Bloggers Unite. It's a website that is attempting to harness the power of the blogosphere to make the world a better place by asking member bloggers to write about a particular subject on the same day. I like the idea of millions of voices in the blogosphere united to make a difference. This is my first effort.

For several years I served as Director of Special Education for a large, rural Eastern Oregon school district. I started a parent support group so I could get to know the parents of the children we served and hear about their concerns for their children's educations. I really thought that the parent group would be a bitch fest for parents who were unhappy with the school district. As an administrator I saw the group as a way to get in front of the problems and address parental concerns before they got out of hand.

Regular readers of my other blog know that I have written before of how the universe has a way of presenting us with lessons that we need to learn. Little did I know that the parent group was an opportunity for me to grow in my understanding of people with disabilities.

Special education is a challenging field. There are so many rules and regulations that guide what has to be done, and what can't be done, and what should be done. And, a lot of the stress in the job boils down to money. Although the federal government doesn't provide sufficient resources, federal law requires that appropriate services are provided free of charge. There is a tension between the parents and the group wants resources that the other holds, the other wants to make sure that the resources get to everyone who needs them. The law sees no limit on resources, but in the trenches the reality is that the resources are not unlimited. Every dollar that is spent is a dollar that isn't available to other kids.

So, as director I was immersed in managing the budget and making it stretch. Every day I worried about having sufficient funding to meet all of the real and perceived needs. I lost sight of the human side of my job. The parent group dragged me right back into that reality. The parents shared their hopes and dreams for their children in our meetings. They shared their frustrations and challenges. They learned from each other. And I was provided a window into life with a severely disabled child and I learned empathy.

I am grateful for the lesson that I learned working with special education students and their parents.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


This past week I’ve gained several followers on this blog.  I'm always surprised and delighted when someone new finds this blog and likes it enough to follow.  I've "promoted" my other blog.  It's the link that I drop when I leave a comment on other blogs.  I've been more low key with this blog, so those of you who have found me are even more treasured.

Thank you to each of you who has taken the time to read my writing and to make comments. I have enjoyed the opportunity to get to know several of you by reading your blogs. I have enjoyed finding others who share my point of view, or worry about the same stuff, or provide some encouragement to keep writing.  I am inspired and frequently awed reading your blogs.

Several of my followers are retired or planning to retire in the very near future. I’ve discovered that I’m not the only one who has had a difficult time adjusting to my changed status.

I’ve particularly enjoyed reading the comments and blogs from across the pond. I was born in England and immigrated to the US when I was four and a half. I still have relatives in England. I feel a connection to my motherland. English English, as opposed to American English, sounds right to my ears. The language is the same, but different. 

When I was a kid my mother expected us to clean our plates.  "Think about those starving children in China," she'd say to us when we wouldn't eat some particularly horrid food item (usually an olde English recipe like steak and kidney pie.)  "They would love to have a nice meal like this."   It was hard to be grateful then, and sometimes it is hard now.

Thanks for joining me in my journey to recognize and celebrate the many blessings I have received. I am grateful for your participation in my journey.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

North to Alaska

Summer goes by much too fast.  There are so many opportunities in the summer that it is hard for me to schedule anything because I am afraid that I'll miss something.  So I wind up not scheduling and then rushing around at the last minute, and paying a premium price for tickets, or not doing anything.  Today I got brave and scheduled more than a month in advance.  We're going on a cruise to Alaska in early September.  When everyone in Hermiston goes back to school, I will be enjoying a chocolate fountain and all you can eat, I mean beautiful Alaskan scenery.

We took this same cruise after I retired.  Alaska is beautiful, but it was cold even in July.  I expect it will be even colder in September.  The nice thing about a cruise is that you can stay inside in a warm comfortable lounge area and be served tea and pastries while watching the scenery glide by.  You can do as much or as little as you like.  We napped, and read, and ate, and watched movies, and ate, and went on shore and ate, and attended cooking demonstrations and ate, and watched movies and ate.  Because we were disconnected from our regular lives, no cell phones or computers by choice, we had no responsibilities and no time schedule.  Even though I no longer work, there are still things that have to be done at laundry and cooking dinner and occasionally vacuuming up the big chunks on the floor.  I'm looking forward to a whole week with no responsibilities...but I will be nervous for the next two months about something else coming up that will conflict with our cruise dates.

Prices for cruises in September are very low, although not as low as what is advertised on the internet.  I think there's a little bait and switch going on.  The rates quoted online were not available when I called both Vacations to Go and the cruise line.  They had sold out of the teacher rate and the promotion rate...of course the rooms with balconies were still available.  I learned a lesson when I made our reservation.  I gave in and opted to pay a higher rate for a guaranteed ocean view.  After the sales person had taken all the information I asked if there were any additional discounts available, like for teachers or seniors.  She gave me an additional $50. per person discount.  I will never book again without asking for additional discounts!  Although the total cost was still $200. more than what was listed as the cheapest rate in the promotion online, we'll have at least a porthole view of the ocean.

Life is good.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bag of Crap

My Woot! bag of crap, also know as a BOC, was delivered today.  You can read my post about my quest to secure a BOC over on my other blog here.  Today's mystery package was pretty much what was advertised...crap!  The little box cost $3.00 plus $5.00 shipping for a total of $8.00.  The value is not in the actual items that I received, but in the fun I had anticipating the box.  I've been watching the Woot! forum closely to see what other people have received.  Many got electronics such as DVRs.  And a lot of people got things just like mine:

  • 3 Justin & Dave's Would You Rather desktop calendars for 2010

  • 1 Disney Pirates of the Caribbean accesory pouch

  • 1 ATI TV tuner card for computer (no directions or software)

  • 2 High School Musical alarm clocks
I think I'll see if I can figure out how to install the TV tuner in the computer in the back bedroom, but other than that, the rest of the stuff isn't very useful.

I'm reminding myself that it is the journey not the destination that is important.  It's the fun of participating with 2, 997 other people in guessing what might be in our packages.  Now that Santa has left the presents, I'm feeling that Christmas letdown...and there's not much to play with.

Oh, sorry, I forgot...I'm grateful, really grateful!
Related Posts with Thumbnails