I am so happy this week is over! My body hadn’t caught up from the long car trip, so when I had one one weekday off, I slept 14 hours! I subbed at some very challenging title 1 Renaissance schools this week. This morning while I was walking our block, I noticed 5 police cars in a nearby driveway trying to handcuff and put the man in the back of the squad car. I assumed that it must be serious to warrant this many police cars. As I went by, I overheard him telling the police, “You can’t do this. I am going peacefully.” But the thing is, he wasn’t. He was kicking them and he was a very big man. There were two women who I assume were part of his household watching the proceeding and doing nothing to assist the officers. I was watching and thinking how challenging a situation this must be for policemen and policewomen during this time. This lasted for about an hour as I had time to walk the dog, water the front garden, check out the grasshoppers eating the plants, and sweep the entryway.

It reminded me of my week at an elementary school with a student from the 4th grade. The student made a move which made me very uncomfortable, so I called the office. While I was telling a teacher next door, she protected him by saying that perhaps I had misunderstood him. That same day, I decided I would not return to this school. The next day, I was a co-teacher with a 1st grade teacher and watched her have 4 children removed from the classroom. It was an exhausting day and all I attempted to assist her with was crowd control. Occasionally, I sat down with the more challenging students and worked individually or in small groups with them. I was glad to see the end of the week nearing. I see some similarities between the movements of the police and administration/teachers in some schools.

I am not sorry for the education that it is giving me or the choice I made to return to subbing in the district, but my eyes are wide-open.

Mike and I just returned from a road trip of a 1,000 miles round trip from Gulf Shores to Florida helping a veteran friend and his family relocate. Since he wasn’t able to drive, both of us drove in separate cars with his family and his stuff. We are tired but happy.

We just left them returning from the beach community where they are resettled to our home where we are preparing a small Easter celebration dinner. I walked on the beach with his wife; we talked with his nearby new neighbor and Mike and he went shopping for a few supplies at Walmarts. We felt good and they looked very happy when we left them. Their location is just across from the beach near a wonderful little coffee shop and a trolley nearby to get around. We had bought a small desk for their son which I found through a facebook sale site. Mike fixed it up with small wheels to make it mobile and we rummaged through our home for extras we could supply.

That is what friends do for one another. He is my husband’s best friend from the Military. I have had maybe one good friend in my life who would do the same for me as Michael did for him and his family: drive a long distance to pick them up and help them on their journey. What did the trip teach me? I initially was very much a skeptic about driving a long distance. We stayed overnight in a very cheap hotel in Pensacola which allowed pets, so we could bring our pug. The room was sketchy as were the characters but it was affordable and one of the few which allowed pets. My anxiety increased as I fell asleep remembering my first days surviving my solo trip to Florida over a decade ago on my own.

In the end, as my husband and I purchased a small tray of cupcakes this morning for their son’s fifteenth birthday and we picked up a nice tray of deli meats, it was the right decision. As his wife and I walked along the beach this morning confiding our anxieties about the trip, and her new delight in the location near the VA Hospital which he will be able to visit by trolley and bus…I knew it was the right decision. I also knew that I was sad that I lost the one friend who would have driven the distance for me. I let her go because of some differences which were major or so it seemed. But then I had the new found realization that although his wife and I were very different people that didn’t mean that she would ever forget the kindness we extended.

We might not have shared a similar life experience but we shared a time of need and supplied the help. We enjoyed our Easter and know of another family who are happy with their day.

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I received the 3rd draft of The Horror Zinefrom the editor Jeani Rector.She accepted 3 of my poems to be published along with a short bio. I am happy; somehow I feel better about all of the rejections received and it is a great validation which somehow as I reread my poetry to be published makes them sound better. Or maybe they were better all along.

The end of a busy week. Mike and I had a chance to visit a booksale today at the library in New Tampa. Every book was 50 cents. For $8, we lucked out and I came home laden with books by Stephen King, Sara Palin, Jeffery Deavr, Christopher Reich and a new author, Richard Montanari. For 50 cents, I will take a ticket on the ride!I am now into the 5th class teaching at the base. The class is very gifted and I am enjoying reading their essays. I am learning to find my way around the base after getting lost on my way out at night.

During the weekday, I am subbing in the school district again mostly at the elementary level until the end of the year. Yesterday, I met a delightful sub who was Lebanese and spoke fluent French. We co-taught together a rather challenging 2nd grade class. By the end of the day, we were exhausted but we had each met a new friend and I left with her contact information. She just started subbing about 6 month ago and hopes to find a position as a French teacher. We shared much in common including a love of big cities; a love of France and French things; and even similar food habits. It was good to meet her and have someone to speak with as subbing can be lonely sometimes. The office was very glad to see how well we got along! They knew we would have a rough day!

Today is beautiful. I feel good. I corrected the work for my Academic Writing I class; have my lesson plan ready (5 hour class); and power points ready to roll. I have some good books and a beautiful day outside. We have some good plans for tomorrow, so all is good. Enjoy the day!

French culture: I found my portfolio for my graduate work in linguistics today. One of the projects involved studying a culture of your choice and interviewing a person from the culture, so I chose the French culture and a woman I will call Ms. S who was working in the United States. I read over parts of the interview. Ms. S is currently in France in the suburbs outside of Paris where she lives with her husband and child. At the time of my culture study, she hadn’t worked in France because the unemployment was very high, so she chose to come to the United States in 2002. I was most interested in her political beliefs and if they had changed regarding everything currently going on in France.

Ms. S is a friend of mine on face book, so I learned that she is a person who endorses President Obama and is one of the French people advocating that he run for office in France. In 2002, some of her stated remarks include: “I am more of a socialist and I have always been more of a left wing person. I like their ideology. Our current President, Jacques Chirac, is RPR (right wing). You then have the unions and the extremist party. My family has drifted. While I was growing up, we were socialists until they had fourteen years of it and the President who was a socialist destroyed a lot of the economy, so my mom is now extreme right which I don’t agree with now, and my dad is right wing now.”
I asked her if you go back to France now, will there be more help for you and your husband if you want to own a small business? Her husband at the time was a chef.
Ms. S replied, “Yes, probably.”

She returned but I believe is working in a call center in Paris. She is very private on face book and often communicates in French. She leaves very little open to public profile and some of her friends mention safety issues and concern with being safe. At the time in the states, she mentioned staying and becoming a French teacher. But of course, it was challenging to have her degree translated and then to have to take all the certification testing required in the State of Florida for a professional certificate.

As I read her answers, I try to connect to the early 2000’s and the time now in France. The stories of rioting in the streets and the reports of some of the communities are beyond my comprehension, so I can only reread and enjoy our interview. I read over her analysis of French people: “A Frenchman will devise an intricate Grand Plan before he takes any action. His goal is set when the action takes place. This means that the direction of the action is usually built into French verbs. In English, it tends to be tacked on as an adverb or preposition. For example, in English, he goes down or up the stairs, in French, il descend l’escalier or il monte l’escalier. In French your direction is built into the action, so you have to know exactly where you are going before you start.”
And the point of this is sometimes we don’t know until it happens. Thanks for listening.

blue_fantasy_horse__by_alinaermogenous-d68900f Pegasus by Fred Marchman Mobile, Al. 1984-wooden carved statue which I found myself glancing at the other day.

Fred Marchman passed away April 19th, 2016 at the age of 75 in Fairhope, Alabama. I read the obituary in silence. I was watching an art show on tv and had glanced over at the statue by Mr. Marchman. I remembered meeting him in a small friendly backwoods church on the way to Fairhope. I had just arrived from New York City and I was 28 years old. I met Mr. Marchman and he invited me to see his studio and garden in Mobil, Alabama. He sold me a beautiful carved wooden statue called “Pegasus.” I was working in sales and didn’t have much money but he noticed I loved it and priced it accordingly. I remember him as slightly eccentric and highly creative. Every garden piece had its own story which he told me as I spent the afternoon sipping ice tea and listening.

Then I got in my car and drove home across the bridge to Bon Secour, Alabama. Memories come and memories slip by so quickly. The quiet times shared with someone offering a different perspective is always appreciated.

I read some of the notes on his obituary post and this sums it up best, “He was a most unusual spirit.” If this is the best and the worst of what one friend or acquaintance can remember of Fred, I think this is good. To pass away quietly and be remembered by a few admiring fans is much better than a gaggle of quacking geese vying for your remains. Cheers! Thanks for listening.

HPIM3151I have enjoyed a busy but a good week and am looking forward after correcting some papers to enjoying a good book. I promised this recipe for buttercream to Freda Dias who writes the blog “Aromatic Essence.”

As long time owners of a cupcakerie, my husband and I discovered that instead of adding cream to the buttercream, adding a sliver of cream cheese works wonderfully with the frosting. Since the milk or added cream will allow for the frosting to not last as long, the cream cheese is the solution. We also learned that butter should be softened on the counter and never in the microwave as this is a disaster. There are many little hints and tricks we learned along our  four year journey including “Tourani” flavoring for the frosting; adding some pink lemonade mix to the buttercream for the “Pink Lady” and of course the most testiest but the most delicious frosting for “Bugs” which is the carrot cake cream cheese frosting is to not add butter and to be stingy with adding confectioner’s sugar to the cream cheese before the perfect butter cream mixture which will hold up for hours and days refrigerated.

When we prepared a soft frosting (mascarpone cheese) for our dirty vanilla, the mixture was very fickle and could either be delicious or a fiasco depending on the hand of the person mixing and their mood in the morning. I came up with the idea for the initial cupcake frosting but my husband perfected it. The trick is to be very stingy when adding the confectioner’s sugar to the mascarpone cheese or the frosting will topple.It is a fine line because most customers preferred some sweetness to the frosting topping the red velvet cupcake and if not enough was added, the frosting could be sour.  Initially, it was very funny because we had one female customer who would come and eat it in the store. If she didn’t like it, she would fuss about it. Finally, one day I confided, “My husband made this one.” She told me, “I like your version better.” It became a standing joke to both of us when we saw her coming. I would anxiously await her arrival as she fussed between tweeting on her phone and eating her “dirty vanilla” cupcake. Would she like it this time? She did tell us that she missed us very much as she came to love both our version of “dirty vanilla.”

Ok. Well, I have a few household chores, a good book awaiting me, some papers to correct from my composition class, and my husband will be home soon from Ikea where he has gone to pick up some materials for installing a new light for our hallway. He is also bringing me some lox so I can pretend to be a New Yorker tomorrow morning spreading my cream cheese on a toasted bagel with a side of lox. Enjoy the weekend!