White Cotton Gloves and Clip-on Ties

Around 6th grade, our grade took ballroom dancing classes once a week in the evening. There were a lot of kids who were nervous, uncomfortable and awkward.  Yet it was exciting, too.

The girls wore good dresses.  Fancy dresses, Sunday best dresses.  We wore shiny, black patent leather shoes with white, lace trimmed socks.  We were taught how to sit properly with back straight, hands folded, one white cotton glove atop the other.  Our ankles had to be straight, touching the floor, or better yet, crossed.  NEVER could we have one foot crossed on the opposite knee.

The boys wore dress pants, button-down shirts, sports coats and their good shoes.  And clip on ties of course.  I don’t remember them having any ankle rules, but there was no fidgeting allowed for them.

We learned how to curtsy.  I had a leg up in that department as I was curtsying as long as I can remember.  It is so ingrained in me that a few years ago, at the age of 60, I curtsied automatically to a new school district Superintendent who surprised me with a visit to my classroom.  I was wearing jeans.  And was very embarrassed.  It was a completely automatic response and I hadn’t curtsied in many decades.  I think that she wondered if I was being a little rude.

The dance instructor lined the boys up on one side and the girls on the other.  We would be paired up with the boy lined up in the same spot on the other side.  Some jostling ensued with the girls trying to be across from either a boy we thought was cute or a boy that wouldn’t tread on our feet too much.  Did the boys plan their spot in the line as well?

The music began and we stepped onto the dance floor with our partners.  The box step was the first one we learned.  It was amazing to me that some kids had trouble with it (hence getting stepped on).  If you knew what a square was and could count, it was a snap.  Of course, we had to do that in rhythm to the music but it was easy for me.

My smugness ended the moment the Cha Cha was introduced.  I remember the instructor telling us to stop looking at our feet.  Got it.  No looking at feet.  Maintain good posture.   Count.  Be aware of our partners.  Don’t step on toes.  Don’t crash into anyone. Phew.  I finally got it.

I remember sneaking looks at my partners’s faces.  We were supposed to look over their right shoulder.  Which was difficult to do if we were both looking at our feet.

What I had no idea of at the time, was that these lessons would not have much, if any, impact on my future.  I can ballroom dance but never have since then.  And I still have bad posture.

An outfit worthy of dance class.


With wonderful memories of white cotton gloves and clip-on ties.


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The Crazy Evolution of Holidays

On Monday, we will celebrate Memorial Day in the US.  The day we honor our fallen soldiers.  And eat hot dogs and hamburgers.

I’m not kidding.  If you’ve read my last post, you know how important Memorial Day is to my family.  We have family members who have served in the Armed Forces in every generation since the American Revolution.  And, I’m sure, before that.

Michie Stadium, West Point

Yet we also go to barbecues (interesting side-note: that just autocorrected to 
“arabesque”), parades and picnics.

I don’t think my grandfather died on the battlefield in St. Mihiel, France so we could eat food grilled outside.  Just sayin’.

But it isn’t just Memorial Day.  And I’m sure that other countries have their own version of holidays which are celebrated in bizarre, originally unintended ways.

Christmas in Chappaqua

Christmas.  I was raised in a Christian household.  We went to Mass to celebrate Christ’s birthday and then couldn’t wait to open the presents under the Christmas tree.  I’m pretty sure that evergreens aren’t indigenous to Bethlehem.  And Christ wasn’t delivered in the stable by Santa Claus.

Easter.  I’ve written about this before.  Christ is risen but not by rabbits laying colored eggs.  And I seriously doubt there were colorful baskets filled with chocolates in Calvary.

Independence Day.  Instead of calling relatives in Ireland and Scotland and saying “Haha we got rid of them,” we once again eat hot dogs and hamburgers. Take that England!

Thanksgiving.  We pretty much do what the Pilgrims did, just with a lot more food plus a lot of football.  And we do give thanks for the blessings we’ve received.  But eat the meal in 10 minutes so to better focus on the parade and then football.

Upon reflection, we seem to have an inordinate amount of parades.  Or do all countries do that?

Veterans Day.  More parades and yay we get a day off of work.  It’s a little too cold where we live for hot dogs and hamburgers on Veterans Day.

Valentine’s Day.  No parades.  I don’t even remember the origin of Valentine’s Day.  It’s a total field day for florists and greeting card companies.  We get our self-esteem by the number, if any, of the gifts and cards received.  Oh and more chocolates.  And devastation if you don’t “have” a Valentine.  Who decided that on February 14th people should feel like loved ones or losers?  Let’s get rid of this one.

Birthdays.  I’m biased on this one because I’ve given birth four times.  But I think the mothers should be celebrated on each kid’s birthday.  They owe their existence to us and we do all the work bringing them into the world.

What a strange country I live in.  Things are not as they seem.

The bizarre evolution of holidays in America.



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In Honor Of My Grandfather

This is in honor of my grandfather and all who have died in service to our country.  This Memorial Day I would like to share my original post that was published in 2015 and was featured on Freshly Pressed.


September 12, 1918 the day my family changed forever


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*sigh* I Tried

It happened again.  It was important that I give it another go, just in case last year’s results were an anomaly.

But, alas, the Girl Scout Cookie Diet failed once again.


A Sampling of saneteachers’s Girl Scout Cookies


At least I tried.


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How I Lost $20 And Saved My Life

When I left work today I realized that I had to get gas or my car would run out before I got home.  I wasn’t being stupid about it, but I didn’t stop this morning because I knew I had time to do so after work.

My mind was racing because, well, that’s what it does.  My brain was filled with thoughts of the workday and a meeting about the school year for next year and then I was thinking about home and lesson plans and my blog and genealogy and, and, and…

I pulled into the gas station, ran inside and gave the guy working there “$20 for pump 10, please.”  Then I power walked back to my car, got back in and continued to drive home.

Have you noticed the step I forgot to take in my madcap pursuit of the afternoon?

About 10 minutes later I looked down and the yellow you-better-watch-out-because-you’re-going-to-have-an-empty-gas-tank-soon light was shining brightly up at me.


I never put the gas in my car.  I paid for it and then just left.  WHO DOES THAT??

I raced back praying that a miracle had occurred and that no one had pulled up to that particular pump.  But it showed a previous purchase of $86.02.  Obviously, $20 of that had been my $20.  But what kind of a vehicle holds that much gas?

I ran inside and explained what happened.  They felt sorry for me.  So I handed over the $15 I had left, walked slowly back to the car and with the precision and stealth of a jaguar, I put gas in my car.

Well my prayers were answered, but not in the way I expected.  I had prayed that no one had used my $20.  Then I tried to let go of the feeling that I was an idiot.  Everyone makes mistakes and it’s not like the shock of the century that I lost focus and forgot to do something.

On my way back home, there had been a 5-car crash.  An SUV was on it’s side, facing the wrong way.  Two different front wrap-around grills (that’s not what they’re really called but you know what I mean) were in the road.  Glass and stuff from the cars were strewn everywhere.

However, I was not strewn everywhere.

Had I not had to go back to the gas station I would have been in that very same spot at roughly the same time as the accident.  My prayer was answered, but in a different way.

Losing $20 possibly saved my life.

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I’m living my life in a fog

filled with despair.

Tears running down my face

eyes blurry

tissues at my side.


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Top 10 Reasons People Like Top 10 Lists

  1. Easy to read
  2. Easy to comment upon
  3. Easy to skip the uninteresting topics
  4. Easy to scan without being caught
  5. Easy to agree with
  6. Easy to disagree with
  7. Easy to enrage
  8. Easy to engage
  9. East to disengage
  10. Easy to rhyme  write

See?  That was easy.  🙂


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Sergio Garcia

Photo from Golf Digest

My favorite sport to watch on TV is golf.  A close second is football (American football). Third is bowling.  From talking to friends, or rather me talking while they look at me incredulously, I gather that’s an unusual grouping of sports.

But today I’m writing about golf.  I have been to golf tournaments and there is definitely a thrill in the experience and a chance to see pros up close.  But I prefer to watch on the television.  I can see various pairs almost simultaneously and I like the commentary.

I love to watch all the games from American tournaments to the European championships to the Senior tour (which isn’t called that anymore) to the LPGA tour.

My favorite golfer since 1999 has been Sergio Garcia.  I first noticed him winning an amateur competition and seeing that Seve Ballasteros took him under his wing.

Being honest, I have to admit that he had a big leg up in my mind and heart because he’s from Spain.  I’ve studied Spanish since 7th grade, visited Spain once, and then lived there for a time period in college.

I was a Seve Ballasteros fan since the mid-70’s and was devastated when he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2008 and died in 2011.  His influence and his death both had a huge effect on Sergio Garcia.

What was frustrating watching Sergio play, like stomach-in-my-throat heart-wrenching frustration was watching Sergio clutch in the Major Championships in the US.  Not so on the European Tour, but definitely in the big championships here.  He would be in the lead for days and then on the last 9 holes of the last day he would fall apart.

It didn’t seem to be stress and certainly wasn’t pressure from the fans; he had been competing professionally for a long time.

It was like he psyched himself out.

Sergio came in 2nd in the PGA Championship twice and the Open Championship twice, with one of those each a tie for 2nd.  He went from leader to drop down the leader board many times.  Justin Ray of the Golf Channel tweeted out on April 9th “Sergio Garcia: most career top-10s in majors all-time at time of 1st major victory (22)”  See, I’m just a little obsessed.

Last Sunday, April 9, 2017, Sergio Garcia was in the lead, then almost gave the game away, then won in a playoff against Justin Rose to win the 2017 Masters Championship. He now wears the coveted green jacket won twice by his hero Seve Ballesteros.  To make this particularly poignant, April 9th, had Seve still been alive, would have been his 60th birthday.

Sergio Garcia won the Masters this year in a nail-biting last 18 holes on Sunday.  He is over this self-imposed jinx and I feel he will win more majors from now on.

Sergio Garcia would still have been my hero had he not won this year.  But I feel this win will get him out of his self-imposed fear of not winning majors on the PGA Tour. And I will be cheering him on in each tournament and rejoicing his every win.

Congratulations, Sergio, from one of your biggest fans.



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What’s Up With The 12th Chromosome And My Maternal Haplogroup?

I am not a geneticist.  In this article I’m going to pose a couple of questions that are baffling and fascinating to me.  I realize that I can ensconce myself in a university library and learn all about it.  I’m humble enough to know that I’d need a ton of explanation by someone who knows what they are doing and still wouldn’t understand it all.  But then this post would be a scientific journal and you’d all be snoozing in about a minute.

Here’s a quick recap of my genealogy/DNA journey.  I’ve been working on my genealogy for a couple of years.  I found some really cool and some really horrifying results.

I actually apologized to a reader the other day because I’m related to Cotton Mather and her ancestor was someone burned at the stake in Salem, Massachusetts, 10 generations ago.  I actually felt GUILTY.  Even for me, that’s taking guilt to an extreme.

At any rate, I sent in my saliva to Ancestry DNA and then to the National Geographic Genographic Project, which seems to be much more specific that Ancestry.  And it shows migration patterns in great detail.  AncestryDNA appears to be copying that with their Genetic Communities.

Then I started using the GED Match Tool for Genealogy.  With this tool, one can upload the raw DNA data from any of the tests out there and it compares your DNA with others that have used this.  You can get results showing graphics (your matches on each chromosome which look like a bar code) and positions, meaning possible distance from a shared ancestor.  Most people matched to my DNA come up as 4th-5th cousins.  Has anyone else tried this yet?

My 1st cousin’s son just did his and he comes up as 2.5 generations.  Which is kind of accurate if you go back to our direct shared ancestor who is my grandfather and his great-grandfather.  We share a ton of chromosome matches.  Our chromosomes look almost like the same person.

So here are my burning questions.

1. What’s up with the 12th chromosome?

2. Why is my maternal haplogroup so odd?

When I look at the DNA results by chromosome from my possible relatives, while we share parts of more than one chromosome, we share more parts (that isn’t the right word) of the 12th chromosome in many cases.  What the heck is the 12th chromosome?

I’m hoping that’s the one that means you’re really cool.

As to the other question, I share a maternal haplogroup with only 0.6% of all people who have participated in this study.  I looked at that figure and said WOW THAT’S CRAZY AND I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT MEANS.

According to The Genographic Project “Modern humans started to leave Africa between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago. They traveled in groups, taking different paths and arriving at different destinations. These journeys can be traced through DNA “markers” that form the human genetic tree. Based on these personal markers, each person alive today can be assigned to a specific haplogroup, which identifies their branch on the tree.”

Only 0.6% !!

I feel like my maternal ancestor from a kazillion years ago must have been lost for a while and then found her way back.  Or everyone died off in my branch except one exceptionally strong woman who wasn’t going to end our line no matter what.

I really want my son and daughters to take this test.  Women can only trace their maternal line because we don’t have the Y chromosome that men do, so our results don’t seem as accurate as men’s.  I should push my brothers to take the tests.  Siblings aren’t the same as we can have more traits of one ancestor than another, but the results would be fascinating.

So those are my burning questions.  What does the 12th chromosome represent and why is my maternal haplogroup percentage so small?

Not my normal questions for a sunny day on vacation.


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The Harry Potter Challenge/Reto Results

I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for the winners of the English speakers cognate challenge.

Here are the cognates that I found, but some are more obvious than others:

  1. bilingüe = bilingual
  2. no= no   lol that shouldn’t even be listed
  3. segundo= second, but not everyone may have recognized that one
  4. blog, of course.  Unless there is another word for it in Spanish that I don’t know.
  5. consistentemente= consistently.  That might be too obscure.  An interesting grammatical tidbit, if you think grammar is interesting, is virtually every word in Spanish that ends in “-mente” is an adverb.  It’s like “-ly” in English.  So cool.
  6. errores= errors
  7. obligatorio = obligatory
  8. Completas= Complete
  9. experiencia= experience
  10. colegio refers to high school not college, in case anyone was wondering about that one
  11. estudiantes= students
  12. forma= form
  13. tortura= torture
  14. día= day

Side note:  Man, I’m getting bored typing all of these words.  A kazillion kudos to those of you who chose to participate.  I think of my blog as a conversation.  So in my head this would have gone faster.  

15. partes= parts

16. con entusiasmo= enthusiastically but you probably saw enthusiasm

17. I’ve given up trying to format this list properly.

18. maravilloso= marvelous

19. humanos normales= normal humans aka regular non-magic people like us

20. pronunciación= pronunciation

I give up.  Phew!  There are more in the titles, but I’m done.   I apologize for putting anyone through that.  I didn’t count words like “uno” which I think everyone knows is “one.”  And there are a couple of false cognates, meaning they appear to be the same in both languages but aren’t exactly.

a) primero= first, not primer, but those words are connected

b) mejor= better or best, not major.

OKAY – So first of all, THANK YOU for participating in this!  I truly didn’t think it would be so time-intensive.  My idea was for those of you who have no knowledge of Spanish to see if you could get the gist of the blog.

I’m giving FIRST PLACE to gingerbread76@wordpress.com. You weren’t 100% correct but you got a lot and really tried to decipher more.  I’m impressed!   Berthold Gambrel , you had a lot too, but you get SECOND PLACE because you used phrases and sentences and I didn’t want to have a parsing smack-down between you and Gingerbread76.  Paul , you made a humourous attempt and always make me laugh, so you get THIRD PLACE.  And you have to give me credit for bowing to your Canadian erroneous English and adding the “u” in humourous.  American Paul, you get FOURTH PLACE by participating, albeit sarcastically and humorously by recognizing “Harry Potter” haha.

HONORABLE MENTION goes to Aaron for reading my nonsense and being honest that he read it but wasn’t about to put up with the typing.  Aaron, I don’t blame you and I thank you.

SPECIAL CATEGORY goes to storyteaching for your outstanding list.  You win SPECIAL CATEGORY because you have good Spanish skills which gave you a leg up.  But I’m very impressed.

By the way, the gist was that I really liked the first Harry Potter book, which in every country except the United States was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  In the US it’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  I read at the time that the publishers felt that Americans weren’t savvy enough to be enticed by Philosopher’s but would understand Sorcerer’s.  So insulting.

Again, thanks to all of you.   I promise that the next one I write in Spanish won’t include homework for you guys. ❤

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