Time to Take Charge


It sounded nice when the offer was made.

I was excited about being asked.

I said ‘YES’ without giving a thought

As to if I’d be up for the task.

President of the organization

I could surely do that.

Besides, I had several months

Before stepping up to the bat.

But now the time has come

To back out there is no way.

I must be ready to go

The first meeting I head is Wednesday.

I’ve gathered the information

Agenda is set and sent.

No way to get it back

With the tap of a button it went.

I said I wanted to explore

To try new things and see

I know I can do this if only

I relax, take a breath that’s the key.

It’s only two years I’ve signed on for

Eighteen meetings, four luncheons that’s all.

Instead of worrying and getting an ulcer

I’ll relax, enjoy, have a ball.

As I begin this journey as president,

Friends, wish me luck as I start.

I’m ready, I’m set, I can do this

Of my journey it’s just one more part.

(Although I was sworn in back in November, my term as president of the Dauphin County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees officially begins with January’s meeting which is tomorrow.)





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Most years I spend time thinking about what me OLW will be.  You could say that I audition words and see if they fit me and what my expectations for the coming year are.

This was not the case this year.  I was driving back from the recycling bins where I dropped off some plastic… cardboard… glass… and aluminum cans.  I had the car radio on and I was listening to a Broadway station on Sirius.  I was not thinking about my OLW.  If I were to be honest I wasn’t thinking about anything at all.

For no apparent reason a word popped into my head.  Maybe it was because of the traveling we’ve done over the last few years or maybe it was because of some new responsibilities I have taken on this year. I don’t know.  Anyway, as I thought about the word it made me realize that this is the word I want to guide me through 2019.

The word is EXPLORE.  I want to try new things this year.  Maybe exploring will take the form of writing in new formats, especially ones I am not totally comfortable with.  This cold come in handy during the March Challenge.  Maybe it will include trying new dishes and ways of cooking.  I did get two slow cooker cook books for Christmas.  I think it is a hint.

Maybe we will get the urge to take another road trip.  That is always exciting.  Our retired teachers group is planning a mystery trip that could be exciting.  One thing I KNOW I will explore is my leadership qualities since I just took over the presidency of  the Dauphin County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Association of School Retirees.

I would like to explore new authors and genres of books.  I admit that I gravitate to mystery/ adventure/horror stories.  I tend to pick the same authors.  There are so many other kinds of books and authors out there that I am missing because I don’t usually reach for them.

Who knows what kinds of opportunities might pop up throughout the year, but I know that I will explore all options that come my way.  I also know that whatever I explore will somehow find its way into this blog.


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A Typical New Year’s Eve and Day


Hard to believe another year has ended and a new one is beginning.  There are certain traditions that Kathy and I follow every year so I thought I would share some of them in this post starting with New Year’s Eve.

It is years since we have gone out to dinner on New Year’s Eve.  This is because one year we had reservations for dinner.  It snowed. We went anyhow getting to the restaurant maybe 5 minutes before our reserved time.  They wee not ready for us.  We waited a good 45 minutes before we were seated.  Our table was in the middle of the room where everyone was walking around us.  The noise level from the conversations and music were so loud that we couldn’t carry on a conversation.  Because of the weather the ride home after dinner took close to a half hour even though the restaurant was only a 7 minute ride from our house.  Never again.

Now we just go to the store, pick up a couple of lobster tails, some shrimp, and some seafood salad and prepare our own meal at home – a salad with some seafood salad in the middle and shrimp around the edges, baked lobster tails (the only way to prepare them in my opinion), a baked potato, and a glass of wine.  Good food, good conversation, and no worries about the weather no matter what it is.

New Year’s Day is a day of putting things away.  When I was still working this was the day I would put Christmas presents away because I had to go back to work the next day.  We always keep our presents under the tree until January 1st.  We never used any of our gifts before the new year.  Now that I am retired we still keep to this routine.

New Year’s Day is also the day to take the old calendar off of the wall and put up the new one after filling in important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, doctor’s appointments, etc.) first.

Dinner is always the traditional pork and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes and apple sauce on the side.

Some day these traditions might change, but for now they have served us well in the past and we continue doing them.

Wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!


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Finished – Finally


It’s only been six moths but at last our kitchen remodel is finished almost.  The guys are here today installing the second door we bought.  Although this door is not part of the kitchen it is part of the remodeling plan.  I know I have posted updates about the remodel as it was happening, but I don’t remember posting the end result.  I could check previous posts but I am too lazy.

Anyway, although it seemed to take forever Kathy and I are very happy with the end result.  As a reminder, here is what our kitchen looked like before we began this project.


Although we still have things to put back and pictures to hang (we are waiting until the doors are completed just so nothing falls because of vibrations) these pictures should give you an idea of what we now have.

First off here is the refrigerator area before


and after.







The sink area before


and after.


The stove area before


and after.


Again, before


and after.


As I said, we also got a new door.  Here is our old one.


And the new one.  This is cream colored on the inside and chocolate on the outside.



So, even though it took months to complete we are happy.  Now, on to baking some Christmas cookies.


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Chalk Art


A few weeks ago we had our Dauphin County School Retirees Fall Luncheon.  We tried a new venue this time, The Skyline Family Restaurant.  We had the back room for our group and three choices for our main entree – chicken, salmon, or pasta.  I chose the chicken which was delicious.  Those who chose one of the other choices also said the food was good.

As with all of our meetings we had a guest speaker.  This one was exceptional.  Elva Hurst is a chalk artist.


I have seen artists work in oils, acrylics, water colors, pencils, but I had never seen anyone draw a picture using chalk.

Elva started out talking about her life growing up Mennonite.  She spoke of how her life was different from that of the English.  She spoke of how her husband, a pilot, was flying over Manhattan on 9/11 and what it felt like waiting to hear from him and know he was OK.

After about 20 minutes she began to draw.  With patriotic music and news clips playing in the background she picked up her chalk and started.  It was fascinating watching the different colored lines she drew take shape into a picture.  After 20 minutes she was finished.  I couldn’t believe the end result.




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Back in the middle of October I attended the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts (PCTELA) 2018 Conference.  Because of other things that were happening I didn’t get a chance to write about it so this week I am.

This year the conference was held in Harrisburg which is a 50 minute ride from my house.  This made it convenient.  The co-chairs were Lynne Dorfman and Cindy Minnich so you know that the line-up of speakers and presenters would be exceptional.  They were.

Being on the Board I get to help out with the conference and I usually help man the registration table.  I enjoy greeting people as they sigh in and get their bags and programs.  It is also a good way to greet friends that I haven’t seen in a while.

Our opening speak this year was A. S. King.


If you ever get an opportunity to hear her speak I highly recommend it.

Some of the points she made:

  • “I write what I want because I want to help.”
  • “Trauma blocks learning including the ability and desire to read.”
  • “After every intruder drill have everyone write something…it doesn’t matter what.

Our second featured speaker was Ruth Ayers.



Some of the points she made:

  • “I have decided to trade what’s good for what’s best.”
  • “We can rewrite the way our stories go.”
  • “Writing workshop is essential.”

Saturday’s featured speakers included Shawna Coppolla and Kate Egan Cunningham.


Besides talking about using Nursery Rhymes and Greek Mythology (both of which I used when I was still teaching) Shawna posed an interesting question:

“Do our practices reflect the stories we want to tell our students?”

Kate followed up by talking about the importance of stories in our lives and our learning.  Some interesting quotes:

  • “There is so much we can learn about students from their daily 5 minute journal entries.”
  • “Our lives are stories in the making.”
  • “Stories are remembered 22 times more than facts.”

One of the perks of being on the PCTELA Board is that on Friday evening I get to attend a dinner with our featured speakers.  Although A.S.King was not there, all of the other speakers were.  What a great experience.

Our lunch speaker on Saturday was Kelly Lyons Starling.



Some words of wisdom from Kelly:

  • “Find a time to write each day.”
  • “Believe you can do it. “
  • “Break a big assignment into smaller parts.”
  • “Write anything.”
  • “Cut off the phone and turn off the TV.”
  • “Say no.”
  • “Keep a dream book.”
  • “Reward yourself.”
  • “Surround yourself with doers.”

Add to these wonderful speakers many interesting breakout sessions and you have PCTELA 2018.  Thank you Lynne and Cindy.




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A Hectic Ride


The last two weeks have been pretty hectic around here.  Things have been happening and time just seemed to fly.

I guess it all started with Kathy’s surgery.  I had mentioned that she was having by-pass surgery on her left leg to take care of a blocked vessel.  Everything went well and the procedure was successful.  She did, however spend a week in the hospital which meant I spent a week in the hospital as well.

The week after she came home she was scheduled to have the stitches removed at the doctor’s office.  The 20 minute drive into Pottsville is rarely a problem except that on this day we were hit with a snowstorm.  20 minutes turned into 2 hours.

We called the doctor’s office to see if they would be there or if they were closing.  They said they would stay open and wait for us.  We were not the only ones scheduled for the day.

There were no plows out.  The roads were not treated.  We were stopped for about 45 minutes on a hill with no where to go.  I left a good two or three car lengths between me and the car in front of me yet some people still decided to pass me and pull into that space.  Why?  no one was moving.

We got into Pottsville but couldn’t travel the main highway.  We found out the road was closed because of traffic pile up…no accidents thank goodness.  We were literally about 3 miles from the doctor’s office by this time.

We knew some back roads so we got off the highway, went into town and hit the back roads.  After another 20 minutes we arrived at the office.  In less than 5 minutes Kathy had her stitches out and we were on our way home…another 2 hour ride.


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