Monday, May 30, 2011


Dear Pink (code name),

Thank you for your swift answer to my plea for grammatical assistance. As always, you were right there when I needed you! How many times must you save me? I will rest well, knowing you are still on the job!!! I thank you, and the children thank you.

Chicken Woman (code name)

** The above post is full of inside jokes. She knows who she is, and she knows what it all means! I misspelled "knowledge" - kind of ironic, isn't it? - and she caught it and alerted me. That's what friends are for!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Day 1 of My Next Life:


Yesterday Big John and I loaded up produce and headed to town - to the big town of Palacios! One of the store owners on Main Street has started a Saturday Market. Several of us have attempted to get some type of market days event going over the years. Jan decided she would just offer her parking lot beside her book store as the venue! For a nominal fee to cover advertising, she welcomes you to set up your wares and sell from 10 to 2 every Saturday. Due to my previous employment, I'd been unable to get my act together enough to participate. But now that I'm RETIRED (or resigned or quit, whatever) I have all the time in the world ... and a new-found need for an income!!

Early yesterday morning, Big John and I gathered, washed, and packed all the produce we could find.

We loaded the Jeep and headed to town.

And then we set up shop.


We left the house at 9 am and crawled back in the door around 3:30 in the afternoon. We had the best time, sold out of almost everything, and learned a few lessons for next weekend.

Lesson 1: buy a tent
Lesson 2: SPF 3000
Lesson 3: eggs sell out fast
Lesson 4: grow more tomatoes

The best part of the experience was getting to meet all the people that stopped by. Being Memorial Day weekend, there were lots of people who don't live in Palacios, but just came to get away. Believe it or not, Palacios is a vacation destination for some. We've got it all: oyster shell beaches, the bay, sun, coastal breezes, no traffic, .............    and a Saturday Market!

But almost every person that stopped at our table was someone who knew me or my family from WAY back. That's the best part of small town life (see previous post for more things to love about small towns!) Everybody knows you. And yes, everybody knows your business. And everybody talks about your business. And most people do it when you're not around, so as not to hurt your feelings. But that's just part of it. Don't do anything your momma wouldn't like and you'll be ok. But everybody knows you and loves you and will hug you (right after they've talked about you behind your back!) and that's a great feeling.

Big John and I had a blast - probably me more so than Big John, but he was an awesome help and a GREAT sport. We're all geared up to go again next Saturday. We've bought the tent, are babying our sunburns, and fertilizing the tomatoes. The hens and I have had a long talk, and there is a promise of better egg production soon.

So the next phase of my life started off with a bang. If you're looking for me on Saturdays, I'm working, people! Come buy some fresh food! You know where to find me.

And to all those people who asked, "What are you going to DO?"
Take that!


Well, I did it. I'm done. It's over. Finished. Final. Kaput.

I'm retired....

Or resigned....


For the second time. (Tip of the day: "retiring" kind of loses it's impact on others when you do it more than once.)

Thursday was the last day of school for the kids, and Friday was a workday for the teachers. I drove up to East Side for the last time as a 6th grade math teacher.

From August 1973 through May 1976, I roamed these same halls as a 4th, 5th, and 6th grader. That's the cool part about small town life. I remembered where my lockers were from 40 years ago. The Annex is the same. The gym is the same. It's possible the carpet is the same! Yuk!

Some of my sixth graders were getting so sentimental about leaving East Side. I had to hold back a laugh when I told them, "Don't worry. You might be back here someday." I was - TWICE!

This is the sight that greeted me when I walked into my hallway Friday morning:

Isn't that hilarious?!! If you can't see through the glare, it says:
" Unm Unemploi

It's standing up in a box - with a hole in the bottom - right outside my classroom door!
What a hoot! The person who did this knows me VERY WELL - easy to do in a small town!

For 14 of my 17 years as a teacher, I taught Language Arts - either in a self-contained classroom (teaching all subjects to the same group of kids all day long) or as a dedicated Reading/Language Arts teacher. I'm a bit of a Language Arts snob. I believe words should be spelled correctly (hence the strikethroughs and choice of an easier-to-spell word.) I believe the Rules of Punctuation and Capitalization (capitalization added here for effect) should be followed to the letter. Rules are rules, people. They aren't there just for fun! That's where the apostrophe in "Thank's" comes in. This person knows that it DRIVES ME NUTS. People do this all the time - just put apostrophes in willy-nilly. Apostrophes have a purpose: to show ownership or to hold the place of a missing letter or letters in a contraction. THEY DO NOT BELONG IN PLURALS.

(Big John often has to hold me back in stores and restaurants when I spy an errant apostrophe. I feel duty-bound as a certified (certifiable) teacher to politely but firmly point out the mistake, offer to give them the correction and throw in a free mini-tutorial on apostrophes. You'd be surprised at how seldom people see this as helpful.)

Please, for the love of a teacher, learn when and where to use apostrophes.

Thank you. I will get off my soapbox now and finish this post.

So this little sign started my day off on a great note! What a hoot!

But no one would claim ownership of this hilarious farewell.... until yesterday. My high school friend Roy Ray (that's an inside joke) works for the district and is on our campus two or three times a week. Or day. Just depending on what's going on. So we talk when we get a chance. I've given Ray a lot of grief about his decision to go back to school and get his teaching degree. I offered to let him see what it's like - first hand with my 6th graders - before it's too late to turn back! We've talked in depth about my embarrassing choice of reading material (fluff) compared to another high school friend of ours who also teaches at East Side (classics, theory, HARD) and at length about the misuse by the general public of apostrophes.

So yesterday, when Big John and I happened to see Roy Ray out and about in town, he asked about my "Jobless" sign. Quick as a wink I put two and two together (I was a Math teacher, after all) and realized Ray had made my sign and collection plate!! How sweet!

(In case you're wondering, I collected: a package of teddy grahams, a pencil, a giant roll of Nerds, a giant roll of Smarties, two very old Tootsie Rolls and an aluminum can. Not much of a start on the retirement fund. I got 7 cents for the can.)

I'm leaving a wonderful group of teachers. Here's our 6th grade team:

There are lots of big smiles because grades are in, report cards are mailed, rooms are clean-ish, and summer is only 2 hours away!!! I'm smiling extra-big so I don't start bawling like a baby.

Here's the "lady" that has taken my spot - and has already taken over my classroom. She just threw me out into the hallway. Just tossed me out. Kicked me in the rear. Told me never to come back.

I've known Tami all my life. Literally, all my life. That's another cool thing about small towns. You know EVERYBODY. That's really neat - unless you don't like them, because you see them EVERYWHERE, EVERYDAY. Like in your old classroom.....

Just kidding!! Tami's a kidder, so I can say that about her. And she never reads my blog, so she'll never know I said it!!

She's an awesome Math teacher and will really enjoy the 6th grade team. She only has to give the TAKS test once in 6th grade (as oppposed to seemingly every other week in 5th grade) so she's already two steps ahead! Good luck Tami! Enjoy Room 1! Watch out for that big wrinkle in the carpet right as you step inside the door. And the leak in the hallway right outside the room. Oh, and there may be a rat in the closet. Other than that, it's great!  Now you won't have to pull into the parking lot before 7:44, 'cause your room is right across the hall from the office. One step inside and you're there!!! Just watch out for the calling of the candy basket - it's right across the hall, too.

Here's my Duty Buddy. She's telling me how much she'll miss me being late or leaving early for car duty, bus duty - or never even showing up for sidewalk duty. Sorry Lindley, I'm NOT going to miss duty!

Here's Megan and her mom, Dana, one of our PE teachers, God bless her! Dana gets to coach at the Jr. High next year, in addition to her East Side PE duties! Yea for her - that will be awesome! And Megan is one of my former students, now a grown-up-too-soon 8th grader. She worked her tail off in 6th grade Math, and I'll always have a big spot in my heart for her! And now I'm tearing up again...

And this Longhorn! We're convinced we're really sisters, somehow. What an amazing teacher/friend/confidant/person/angel Jeanette is! We lost touch 11 years ago when I left teaching the first time (she wouldn't return my phone calls or emails or letters....) but picked right back up where we left off when I returned. We won't lose touch this time!

There are so many wonderful memories of my time(s) at East Side and of teaching. I will miss some of the kids, and I will miss teaching - those "aha" moments when you can actually SEE the lightbulb come on. Sometimes it comes on slowly, like those new-fangled lightbulbs the government is forcing us to buy (another soapbox moment) and sometimes it comes on like a floodlight, lighting up the whole room. However it happens, that's an amazing feeling and it's what teachers work for. Believe me, it's not for the pay, it's not for the hours upon hours upon hours spent grading papers, writing lesson plans, cutting out shapes, gathering supplies for an experiment or activity. It's for the joy a child feels when they finally "GET IT!" I will miss those moments, and I will miss my friends.

And now I'm bawling like a baby.

In the words of Forrest Gump, "And that's all I got to say about that."

***DISCLAIMER: My extensive knowledge of Language Arts rules and regulations only extends to 6th grade. If you see mistakes or misspellings, please notify me asap. I will be very appreciative!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011



2:30 AM!



Monday, May 23, 2011


Fowl are growing and we're having to shuffle birds. It seems that Walker and Tribett are getting the short end of this stick.

They are spending their nights in the chicks' playpen.

And they aren't very happy about it.

That's Walker talking trash about me.

Big Chicks are now living full-time in the goose pen - and loving every second of it.

They have, by far, the cutest personalities of any of our current birds. As soon as you walk out the back door, they all 10 start chirping and jumping and doing that hop/run/fly thing they do! And they run to the fence to see if you'll come in and let them peck your freckles! And it hurts. But they're cute!

The Little Chicks now have free roam of the brood pen. They're happy with their new digs and quickly getting over their fear of people. They don't run to the corner, screaming, when they see us coming now. Progress!

This weekend we plan to let the Big Chicks out in to the yard for a little while - just to see how they do. Of course we'll have to put the dogs under lock and key first, and watch them like a hawk. But I know they'll love the freedom and the grass and the bugs! We just hope we can get them back in at bedtime!!

Harvest is really starting to pick up. This is the toughest time right now - school is winding down, which means there is a TON of stuff to do. Vegetables need to be picked EVERY day - sometimes twice a day. (Did you know squash and zucchini can grow a foot in a day's time? I plan to document it in time-lapse photography! I'm retiring, you know...)

As you can see, our cooler overfloweth - with squash. With the craziness of my days this week, I really can't get around to sell any of it. Most of this will have to be blanched and frozen. Since the world didn't end on Saturday, it looks like Big John and I will be eating squash for a while! Could be worse - could be eating worms.

And we're also getting lots and lots of cucumbers. Our weekends now consist of making pickles! We've got our system down and hardly ever yell at each other during the process. We start out strong, but usually by the end of the 5th hour, we're tired and grumpy. But we've made a lot of pickles in just three short weeks!

So we won't go hungry. Pickles and squash. Squash and pickles.

Know any good recipes?!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


A picture's worth a thousand words.


And an inch of rain!

Keep it  comin' - we're in serious need of more.

God Bless the Rain!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


After all the excitement and hubbub of the past couple of weeks - there's a getaway to Fredericksburg I haven't told you about yet - Big John and I had a little bit of time to spend at home. The garden needed (and still needs) some serious tending. But Priority #1 was building a portable chicken pen. This will allow the chicks to experience the real world, a little bit at a time, while still staying safe.

We finished up the pen late yesterday evening, so this morning we put the bigger chicks out in the yard. They love it!

Everyone is very interested in these new birds - especially Sambo. He's checking out his future harem.

This afternoon we decided to give the little chicks some outside time.

Tribett introduced himself to the young ladies.

And we even had time to make some pickles! These are for our own consumption - just to get in the groove. We didn't have any jalapenos or little red chili peppers, so they're just plain bread and butter. And we still don't seem to pack them full enough - but I think they'll taste just fine anyway! We've got orders lined up already, so as soon as our peppers kick in, we'll be in business!

It was great to be home and be productive for a change. We got a lot accomplished - I think we'll both sleep well tonight!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Big John is now "AGENT BIG JOHN!"
"Agent" - kind of like 'secret agent' or 'Agent 007.'
Mysterious and deadly!

(last day on the job as a Trooper)


(receiving his new Agent badge)

Big John has been working hard to promote from Highway Patrol to an investigative position. He's spent many, many years on the road, "chasing taillights," and was ready to move on and up. Consequently, I've spent many, many years worrying my head off, waiting for the phone call or the knock on the door that every law enforcement wife dreads. I'm too old for this. Last Tuesday he got the call that he'd made Agent - an investigative position with the Regulatory Services Division! His promotion was official on Sunday, and the promotional ceremony was today. What a proud moment this was!

Big John NEVER smiles - this is the biggest grin I've seen on his handsome face, ever! He's pretty happy about this turn of events.

Here are some pictures of the trip, starting with an overnight stay in Austin with our amazing friend, June. She treated us to a wonderful celebratory supper and a room in an awesome hotel! The girl has got connections!

We had a suite at the Doubletree, just blocks from the Capitol. Wow!

The infamous camo bag made the trip with us, adding a touch of redneck charm to their decor.

Here's the view from our bedroom:

And from our sitting room:

Now this one's the money shot - the view from our hostess's suite:

Makes you proud to be a Texan, doesn't it?

And we couldn't pass up this opportunity:

This morning we headed over to the ceremony. Big John waited anxiously for the big event. He was pretty excited about it all.

This is Big John, looking excitedly anxious - and handsome in his suit!

 A short speech was given by the Director (the big, big cheese!) and then new badges were given.

Several friends and co-workers came in for the ceremony. It was nice to share this with so many well-wishers.

Congratulations Big John! You deserve this honor.
You'll make a great Agent!!

P.S. Thank God for Spanx.