Category Archives: Uncategorized

Good News or Bad News


I am sure most of us have been asked whether we would rather have the good news first or the bad.  Personally, I would rather have the bad first and get it out of the way.

But what if you were the giver of the news?  Would you rather give the good news first or the bad news first?  I am kind of facing that situation at the moment.

Each year our retired educators association awards a $400 grant to a teacher working for a district within our county.  We have a person who heads the committee collecting the applications and then presenting the winner with a check.  This year that person has had health problems and her husband passed away.  As a result she resigned from the position.

As president of the organization it fell to me to get the information to the district superintendent, collect the applications, take them back to the Board to choose a winner, notify the lucky winner and give my regrets to the one not receiving the grant.  For the longest time I had only one applicant.  This would make things easy.  Then a second one came before the deadline.  Both were presented to the Board and a vote was taken.  I now have the pleasure of informing one teacher that she will receive $400 for her initiative while regretfully letting the other know she did not receive the award.

So, which letter do I write first?  “I am happy to inform you that…” or “I regret to inform you that…”


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Winter Beauty


The outside sounds were quieted as the snow began to fall.

Slippery roads and careless drivers made for a slow ride home.

Blanketed beauty greeted me as I pulled into my driveway.



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Christmas 2019


One of the great joys of Christmas is spending time with family.  Getting ready for the visit can be a bit hectic especially if you keep putting things off.

Dec. 23:  I knew we were going up to my brother’s on Christmas Day.  I knew I wanted to bake some cookies to take with us.  I actually baked two batches yesterday, but I didn’t finish topping them.  One needed icing and one needed to be rolled in powdered sugar.  I also wanted to make two more batches.

With all of this to do you can pretty much guess how I spent Monday.  Kathy and I went to the movies.  Yes, Kathy wanted to see Cats.   That is a whole different post.  I will just say that I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Dec. 24:   I finished the cookies that weren’t complete plus I made two more batches.  Bad news, though.  Because we don’t eat dairy products on this day I couldn’t sample them.  I had never made them before so I didn’t know if they would be good enough to take for company or not. Here are the four types I made.r

From the to left we have iced cranberry orange cookies, Mexican wedding cakes, red velvet cookies, and chocolate buckeye brownies There is a peanut butter center under that chocolate frosting.  I didn’t have to worry; all four were delicious.

After the cookies were finished it was time to start wrapping the presents I had bought for Kathy.  I finished just in time for bed.

Dec. 25: Christmas Day starts with 10:30 Mass. It was a small crowd there since most people went to one of the three Christmas Eve Masses we had.   By the time we got home, had some breakfast and packed up some cookies it was time to head to my brother’s.  Opening presents would have to wait until the evening.

We had a nice afternoon visiting.  Our nephew and his wife, whom we haven’t seen since last Christmas, were there.  It was nice catching up with them.


When we got home we decided to make a cup of coffee, sit on the floor and open our present.  This was a nice way for us to end what was a very enjoyable Christmas Day.  Hope all of you enjoyed your day as well.

Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2020!



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Christmas Concerts


This weekend was a weekend of getting into the Christmas Spirit.  It started with a bus trip to Philadelphia with the school retirees.

Our Recreo committee planned a trip to go hear the Philly Pops Christmas Concert.  Although I have been to Philadelphia a few times I had never been to the Kimmel Center.  I didn’t even know where in Philly it was located.  Well, it is right in center city.

Before the concert we stopped at a Buca di Beppo for lunch.  This was also a first for me.  It was an interesting place with delicious food. We started with two salads, a house salad and a Caesar salad. That was followed by spaghetti with meat sauce, fettuccine Alfredo, and chicken parm.  Dessert was cheesecake.  Thought I might be too full to enjoy the show, but I wasn’t.

The show itself was great.  Joining the Pops were Mandy Gonzalez, the Pops chorus,  the African Gospel Choir, and the Melodica Men.  This was truly a great way to get into the holiday spirit.


Things continued on Sunday. The Schuylkill County Chorus held their annual Christmas concert at a local church.  We have been going to this concert for a few years because a friend of ours sings with them.  The first half of their concert features religious songs while the second half is composed of secular songs.



Here is our friend, Keith.


This was another great way to get into the Christmas spirit.

Of course, when the concert was finished we had to go out for dinner.  Keith had made reservations for a group at a local restaurant.  Another great meal.

It is hard to believe that Christmas is only a week away.  After this weekend I know that I am ready for it…at least mentally.



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A Golden Shovel


For some reason when I attend NCTE I am drawn to poetry sessions.  Why? I don’t know.  I do not consider myself a poet, yet still I go.  Maybe I hope to one day be inspired to write some meaningful poetry.

Anyway, NCTE 2019 was no exception.  I did attend several sessions on poetry.  Last week I shared Sijo  poems, which were new to me.  This week I would like to share another format that I learned.  I found it interesting and a bit more difficult to write.

Are you familiar with Golden Shovel Poetry?  I can honestly I had never heard of it so I was curious to hear what it was and how to go about writing one.

I learned that this type of poem was devised by Terrance Hayes in homage to Gwendolyn Brooks.

Here is how it works.  Find a line from a poem or story that interests or speaks to you.  Every word in that line or sentence becomes the last word in each line of your poem.  Your poem does not need to be on the same topic as the work from which the line comes.  You do need to give credit to the original piece and it’s author.

I found this to be a bit challenging, but I did give it a try.  Here is what I came up with.

I chose a line from The Perks of Being  Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.  Here is the line:  We accept the love we think we deserve.

As we navigate our lives, we

encounter obstacles.  How we accept

and deal with them is the

essence of who we are.  Do we love

ourselves enough to conquer them, or do we

submit to self pity because we think

it’s all we

are worth.  Do we get what we deserve?

I admit that this was a difficult from for me.  I am not sure if what I wrote makes any kind of sense or if they are just words on a page.  I do know that I want to try more like this and see what I can come up with.

If you are inspired by this kind of poetry I would like to read your examples.





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A New (to me) Form of Poetry


Just because I am retired doesn’t mean that I have stopped learning new things and different ways of writing.  NCTE was filled with new and exciting styles of expressing yourself.  This is one format I found particularly interesting.

When I was still teaching I did some Haiku with my students.  I liked the simple format and my students felt successful writing poetry.  I am sure many other teachers also wrote H aiku with their students.

At NCTE I sat in on a poetry session and learned a form of poetry that was unfamiliar to me.  It is a Korean form called Sijo.

Like Haiku, Sijo is also based on syllable count and can be three to six lines.  The poem has a total of 44 – 46 syllables   Each line in the poem serves a special purpose.  Here is the breakdown:

Line 1:  14 – 16 syllables (introduction)

Line 2: 14 -16 syllables (development)

Line 3: 14 – 16 syllables (twist and conclusion)

At the end of the session we were given a book of Sijo: Tap Dancing on the Roof written by Linda Sue Park.  Here are some examples of her poems.  You will notice that some poems have six lines.  The reason for this is because lines can be so long tat they are sometimes divided into two lines.


In the shop there are baskets of sand dollars, white and round and smooth.

On the beach I search hard but find only shards, never a whole one.

Are all the perfect sand dollars locked away somewhere – in sand banks?


How proud you are of your strong legs!

Bend and straighten, kick and swim;

soon you will use them to climb

from cool water to sun-warm rock.

But do you wonder where it’s gone –

the tail that once served you so well?

Well, of course I couldn’t end this post without trying at least one Sijo of my own so here goes.

The Feeder

A flurry of activity; sparrows, wrens, and chickadees.

Gathering; Waiting their turn; filling up on seeds and berries.

Only to be disrupted by a squirrel that wants his fill too.

I hope you find this format as interesting as I did.  Maybe you will try it, especially during the March Challenge.







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A Poe Excursion


NCTE 2019 is history.  Memories linger.  I went down to Baltimore on Tuesday because NCTE had made arrangements to offer a Poe excursion to anyone interested.  I am a big fan of Poe so of course I was interested.  I signed up.

Wednesday morning 14 of us gathered in the Charles Street Lobby of the convention center to await the bus.


When it came we, along with our guide for the day, boarded and headed to Poe’s house.



At the time Poe lived there there was nothing across the street except fields and forests.  He lived at the edge of town.  The house in not very wide because at that time taxes were paid on the width of the house.  The wider the house the more wealthy you were thought to be.

Five people lived in this house: Poe’s grandmother Elizabeth, his aunt Maria, his cousin Virginia, his cousin Henry, and Poe.

Hard to see, but this is the bedroom shared by the three women.


This room was shared by Poe and his cousin Henry.


Imagine this 6 feet smaller.  The extension was added when the kitchen area was expanded to hold the stove.

Poe wrote in this attic room during the summer and Virginia played in it as a child.

This is the kitchen area of the house.  Houses back then had open kitchens.  Later it was enclosed giving the room  and the bedroom above it 6 extra feet.

This is the Poe’s writing desk.


We left the Poe House and headed to the Pratt library where we were granted access to the Poe room.  This room does not contain the works of Poe, however every single book in the room is a first edition.  We were allowed to pick them up and page trough them.

I should mention that on the way to the library we passed this.


Supposedly Poe had his last drink here before his death.

Back to the library.  In a case there is a piece of Poe’s casket as well as a lock of his hair and Virginia’s hair.

I liked the cover of this first edition so I took a picture of it.

After leaving the library we went to Westminster Church, Poe’s burial site.


Here is Poe’s grave with a bottle of brandy on it courtesy of our tour guide.


Of course, we were all gives a shot so that we could toast Poe.


At the back of the graveyard was Poe’s original grave.


I am really glad that NCTE arranged for this tour and I am so glad I took it.



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