Beware Of The Active Driveway

What’s up with this driveway?  Obviously, a lot.  Can you tell how it slammed itself up and cracked the No Parking sign?  That’s crazy, right?  Like who would park there after seeing what happened to the sign.  Actually, if you look closely, the wooden posts don’t seem to have fared very well drivewayI wonder what happens….Maybe when the wind blows a certain way the driveway starts to undulate?  Or does it become like a Slinky and then somersault into the street?slinky

Oh!  Perhaps it rises up to trip unsuspecting pedestrians.



I would definitely stay clear.  This is a very active driveway.

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Hooked On The Hunger Games

Some books grab me and I go back to them over and over again.  And over again.  I always find something I missed the first thousand times I read it.  I’m a prolific reader and a sucker for a good dystopian novel.

When I discovered The Hunger Games, I was HOOKED.  I’ve read the trilogy at least 15 times.  Probably closer to 25.  I’m a fast reader so that’s not as impressive (or insane) as it sounds.

The Hunger Games cover

A new world, figuratively speaking, has opened up to me because my grandson has chosen The Hunger Games as one of his summer reading books.

I love to read, I teach English as a New Language and we read books in English all the time, and I teach a reading program.

My grandson has to be dragged kicking and screaming to a book and keeps turning the pages to see how much more he “has” to read.  He thought The Hunger Games was one of the easier books on his list, but now that he actually has it, “it’s too long.”

It’s a challenge to teach him skills that will improve his reading and hopefully will then nudge him towards a love of reading.  But the tricky part is doing this without him knowing that I’m doing this.  In school, it’s all out in the open.  Posters about visualization.  Practice making predictions.

But no way, when this is reading for pleasure, am I about to say, “Now we are going to learn about using text features.”

My grandson arrived at our house yesterday, book in hand, and my daughter said he has to read for X number of minutes and you have to tell me how far he got blah blah blah.  I’m not slamming my daughter; many schools assign timed reading whether the kids like it or not.  And the parents have to enforce it.  I hate that.  A learn to love reading killer.

But when she left he said to me with some excitement  “I HAVE A PREDICTION!  I think the people picked in the raffle are going to be Katniss and Gale!”

So he knows about making a prediction.  What he didn’t know was what a totalitarian government is (I don’t think he really gets what a government is), what a reaping is and he thought the raffle was a good thing where they might win something.  emoji wow

We had a discussion about what had happened so far where I tried to just make it a conversation that would be at least slightly interesting to him.  “I think it’s so cool that Katniss and Gale sneak under the electric fence to hunt.”  He asks why doesn’t everyone hunt.  I think ah hah! A sliver of interest has been shown.

We take turns reading.  I tell him it’s easier to read if when he sees a period he stops and takes a breath before continuing.

emoji shock and dreadReaping day arrives.  PRIMROSE EVERDEEN.

His eyes bug out and his mouth is wide open as he looks at me. NO WAY he says.

I get to see The Hunger Games through new eyes.  How cool is that?

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The Shoe

The last week of school I was driving to work and my line of traffic had to stop for a school bus on the other side of the road.  I looked to my left and saw something in the road.  At first glance it looked like a dead animal.  So I looked closer.  Maybe a dead rabbit or woodchuck?  Then I really looked.  This is what I saw.


Ahhhhh……..a shoe.  With a broken heel.  Not a spiky heel, a flat heel.  Like the type on a man’s shoe.  Or on women’s “flats.”  The heel wasn’t completely severed, but broken as if trauma was inflicted upon it.

The bus was still loading students, so I started to think about that shoe.  How did it get there?  Did it drop off of a garbage truck?  Doubtful.  Did someone throw it out of a car window?  But the heel looked ripped or torn.  I’ve had heels of shoes break and they all broke in an identical way.  Flats start to wear at the side or at the heel of the heel, if you know what I mean.  High heels just break off.  But not break, bend and hang like that.

It looked sinister.

I imagined a car accident and the shoe was what was left behind.  But there was no broken glass or metal at the side of the road.  Then I thought of someone running down the road.  No one runs for exercise in that kind of shoe.  But running from danger? A definite possibility.

That shoe has a story and I wish it could tell it.

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The Dogs

Giving credit where credit is due, the inspiration for this post comes from The Zen Hiker.  It’s a great blog with a variety of topics and I encourage all of you to check it out. Two of his recent posts are about his dog.  Which made me think about the great and not so great dogs that I have had.

Growing up I was petrified of everything dogs.  According to my parents, when I was about 4 years old I petted a neighbor’s dog from behind, startled him, and he turned around and bit me all over my face.  Luckily he was near death and had no teeth.  That’s the story and I have a vague memory of it.  But whatever actually happened, it became a truism for me that dogs were evil creatures.

We moved to Westchester County, NY when I was turning 6 years old, and to rid me of my fear and because they wanted a dog anyway, my parents took me to a breeder to pick out an English Setter.  I’m sure I was hiding behind my father and holding onto his leg for dear life.  But puppies are cute so I was scared/excited when my father chose one of the litter, a Blue Belton English Setter. Blue Belton English SetterThen he said “And that one, too.”

So we also took home another puppy from the litter, a Brown Belton English Setter (better known as an Orange Belton but we didn’t know that at the time). And because it was my birthday, my parents had the silly idea to let me name the puppies.  I came up with the wildly original names of “Bluey” and “Brownie.”  Having two hunting dogs in a neighborhood in Westchester just wasn’t a good idea, but we lucked out with Bluey. He was deaf in one ear so had no abilities, nor interest, in hunting.  He was my brother. And we loved each other unconditionally.

Brownie, on the other hand, was a true-born hunter and hunt he did.  He was less cuddly than Bluey and my parents realized that this dog would be a handful when he caught and dragged home a baby deer.  Oops.  Bambi was in our backyard.  What do you say to that?  Good dog?  Now return it to its mom?

Poor Brownie’s fate was sealed when he killed a neighbor’s cat.  My father found a hunter upstate who had a kennel of hunting dogs and Brownie moved there.  I always wondered if he was put to sleep, but I’m pretty sure he made the stay-alive cut.  brown belton english setter

Those are the two dogs who changed my fear into love.

Now anyone who has read my blog articles knows that I’m a recovering alcoholic.  I do nothing in moderation.

So recovering alcoholic me ended up with 5 dogs.

Unlike my parents, I only adopt dogs from shelters.  Not counting the one I was asked to watch while the owners went on vacation and then refused to take him back.  The only dog I didn’t really love. A total pain in the ass.

Five dogs.  Walking them was so easy….not.  And of course they were allowed on the second floor.  And of course they considered my bed theirs.  Every night there was some fighting as to who would end up in a cherished spot on the bed.  I usually won.

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A Non-Morbid Cemetery Tour

The research into our family’s genealogy has taken me on a ride with surprising twists and turns.  Part of the process is finding places and dates where ancestors were born and died.

Which led me to graves and gravestones.

Grave of my great X 6 grandfather, Stephen R. Bradley and great X 5 grandfather William Czar Bradly in Westminster, Vermont

Find A Grave is a wonderful resource and where I found this picture.  To put it in perspective, Stephen R. Bradley, a patriot in the Revolutionary War and Senator from Vermont, was born in 1754 and died in 1830.

Two of my children think this is so very interesting and important.  I was mildly interested when I was younger.  Now I’m profoundly moved by this knowledge.

I have gone back to the 1600’s on the maternal side of my family here in the US, and to 1851 on my paternal side.

So how does this fit into my summer cemetery tour?  We can read about our ancestors, travel or search documents, but while important, that is dry information.

But not cemeteries.

Gravestones and what lies beneath them, are tangible connections to our past.  This summer, when I stand at the Bradley family vault in Vermont, I will be reminded that the bones interred here are the people whose DNA I share, whose stories are past down through our generations.  Who, if a moment in history was changed centuries ago, would not have had a connection to me, to my children, to my grandchildren.  We would not have existed.

I am awed by the gravestones of my ancestors and what they represent.

Hence, I am looking forward to my cemetery tour this summer.

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The Girl Scout Cookie Diet

FYI…….it didn’t work.

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September 12, 1918 The day my family changed forever…

I was honored last year to have this post about my grandfather and his service to our country Freshly Pressed. As Memorial Day approaches, I want to share it again. Thank you for your interest, and thank you to all the men and women who have given their lives to protect ours.


“On August 3, 1918, Major Harvey was transferred to the 103rd Field Artillery, and assigned to the second battery. With this battery he went into position September llth, participating in St. Mihiel offensive, September 12th, on which day he was instantly killed by a hostile shell while making a reconnaissance of territory from which the enemy had been driven.”  From For What They Gave on Saturday Afternoon

Major Harry Aloysius Harvey was my grandfather.  He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1915, in the class that is known as The Class the Stars Fell On.  There, he hung out with Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, the men who later distinguished themselves in service to our country and with the men who also died on the battlefield.

harry-a-harvey west point pic

On Memorial Day, I honor my grandfather, and cry at his grave, hoping that he is proud of…

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Alaska Tugs At My Soul

How can something I barely remember have a profound influence on my life?  I’ve mentioned living in Alaska in other posts of mine, Elmendorf AFB + Pentagon + Chappaqua NY = Ecuadorian Kichwa and Hairdressers and Coincidences.  But I haven’t talked about how often it is in the forefront of my mind.barbara in a sled alaska Continue reading

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Things I Have In Common With My Mother







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Welcome, Denial!

Welcome, denial!  You have the best seat at our table today:)

leslie knope denial

Our minds are a wonderful thing and I’m waaaaaaay aware of the stages of grief, having gone through it so many times.  Of course, pretending on Sunday night that I don’t have to do lesson plans is very different from the denial that truly bad things might be happening.

Denial, at the moment, is a vacation from waiting for unpleasant news of a probable serious nature from the doctor.  If I were a doctor, I would want to be a  “Guess what! You are fine, have always been fine and unicorns do exist!” kind of doctor.  How do they deal with patients?

The funny part about hoping and praying that they were exaggerating when they said it could possibly, more than remotely possibly, be cancer, and yes I can find a funny part in almost any situation, is the power not to feel guilty about being selfish.

At work…..will you do such-and-such?  NO she says serendipitously.  Your phone is blowing up with well-wishers and you don’t have the wherewithal to respond to all the texts?  NO PROBLEM, NO GUILT.  Worrying about what people think?  Not today! Writing about yourself in the third person?  Totally demanded by the force of denial.

lalala shut up gif

The best part of all of this (see I have the funniest part and the best part…am I cool or what) is the support from my husband.

Actually, I’m not sure he is my husband.  I think my husband was beamed up to the mother ship and replaced with the perfect husband who is kind and loving 100% of the time.

Me:  Can you drive me 2 miles away and get my medicine while I talk to someone?

Husband:  Of course!

Me: Ummmmm……the office is right here but I don’t see a sign.

Husband: You didn’t bring the card, you don’t know the business name and you can’t remember the person’s name your meeting with?????? What’s wrong with, I mean don’t worry about it.

Me:  Can we go away this weekend.

Husband:  Sure!

Me:  Can we go to Mongolia?


Me:  That was a joke.

How long can I play the I-might-have-cancer-card?  Who cares?

Denial is a welcome guest today in our house.


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