Found a quote about Fortitude

asl love hands

(artist and source on the internet unknown. Please leave a comment with information if you know who did this awesome work.)

I just came back from breakfast with a new friend.

I am so thankful to be settling in even further into our new community.

We mostly talked about trying to get into shape so that we can enjoy our respective jobs for as long as possible. Somehow the topic of forgiveness came up though, and I just now found this quote that I had jotted in my “get healthy” journal:

“You will always be
the bread
and

the knife,

not to mention the crystal

and-

somehow-

the wine.”

(by poet Billy Collins.

I made the line breaks up myself – something that is a big no, no in the world of poetry…but in the interest of time…there you go.

p.s. I think when I did research on the poem a while ago I found out that he wrote it either because of a painful divorce, or to make fun of sappy break up poetry that is not good literature. I can’t remember which and my son is currently banging a basketball against the wall, so I’d better not dilly dally at the keyboard.

Why Mr. Collins wrote it and what it meant to him at the time does matter… but I like it today because it reminds me of communion and Catholic prayers about the Communion of the Saints.

And I like cheese, and I like wine.)

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How I Tried to Teach a tiny Kid to Shake Hands like a Man

“Look at that moon. Potato weather for sure.”
Thornton Wilder, Our Town

A grace potato moon

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about redemption the past few weeks.

No, really.

These are the kinds of topics that keep me awake at night and interfere with my ability to remember that my husband sent me to the store for milk and not a new dishwasher. When I say I’ve been thinking a lot about redemption- I mean, like, well,

                                                           pretty darn frequently.

I am thankful for some time to relax, because it has been several weeks now since some tricky things happened on the playground at work. They weren’t funny happenings, and they got my attention. Funny things happened as well, don’t get me wrong! Yet. Now that I am on break and am responsible for hardly any brain work, my mind can wander and contemplate all it wants.

So, for now, redemptive cogitation and the family rodeo it is…

My school and job for 2012-2014 was a most wonderful and wearysome one. I was a para educator in a school located in our downtown. There were several things going on last year that made it a very tough building to go into every day. I’ll just mention a couple. Maybe you can relate.

One thing that was happening was that tragedy had struck the previous spring and impacted the school community as a whole. A shocking accuasation had been made against the previous principal and the legal and practical fall out was ugly. It was a situation that didn’t impact just one child or family or school staff member, it involved everyone. Who was hurt the most by it? I’m still not sure. There were some paces that the students had to go through that I’d be willing to bet was boring, frustrating and annoying to them in their spring 2013 year. I’m guessing that the kids were rewarded with some extra recess time and other than the impact of parents not keeping adult conversation among themselves, the Mighty Mustangs had a fine summer break last year anyway.

So, what made the job difficult? Was it just because I was newcomer amongst some really plucky and fun little kids? Not so much.

In the very beginning it was a very angry, sad and tense work environment. The students were fine! But, with a new principal to deal with, the local media still buzzing with legal proceedings, and a vast amount of educational outcomes to catch up on – the joint was jumping when I was hired a few weeks into the school year. Overall, my coworkers were welcoming and friendly and amazingly resilient. The teachers were top notch professionals and the students were excited for new routines and comforted by old traditions.

Either wasted energy on catty banter was not common place or I was deaf to whatever was going on behind the scenes in the parent parking lot or elsewhere.

Well, I did fall into one cat fight in the making right after starting my position, but skeedadled out of the situation it quickly with just a teeny scratch.

“Yes, now you know. Now you know!

That’s what it was to be alive.

To move about in a cloud of ignorance;

to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those…of those about you.

To spend and waste time as though you had a million years.

To be always at the mercy of one self-centered passion, or another. Now you know — that’s the happy existence you wanted to go back to.

Ignorance and blindness.”
Thornton Wilder, Our Town

Thankfully, with the impossibly generous support of the new administration and a minute or two of fun banter while meeting various teachers as I helped them corral the Mustangs into their seats, it wasn’t long before I was having a great time indeed. What made leaving my comfy home and cute dogs every morning difficult was the heartbreaking realities of the majority of the families that attend our school.

I’m not a talented enough writer to try and describe some of what was going on for these children and families. I can’t do it without breaking confidentiality. To tell the story of one kid, or one family, I would want to tell you the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The truth of MY experience of trying to distract a kid who is struggling to read away from hunger, or anger, or frustration, or the shame that had been piled on him or her in a short few years. I really would like to post a photo of this one little, long and grouchy face. Or YouTube a voice recording of his ear piercing tantrums when life built up and he felt picked on or didn’t want to cooperate with carpet time rules.

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I’d like to describe in detail how incredibly guilty I felt the morning that I found out he had been waiting in the hallway to say good morning to me and practice “How to Have a Firm Handshake Like Mr. Cooper and His his Sons.” He had to get to class because the last morning bell rang. Rules are rules.

The whole story on that day isn’t just about a cute kid or moment.

Since the very short time since I moved from Ohio to Iowa, school work (public, private and home school) has changed drastically.

That missed chance for a handshake was one event of many that added to my already bigger than it should be sense of guilt. I was becoming grouchier as a coworker and educator by the day because of the ending school year. As a staff we were trying to do our best to do what the boss ordered which was to keep them reading and in routine until the final bell of the year.

Thankfully boxes of coffee and trays of fruit and home baked goodies kept popping up in the teacher lounge as the final 2013-2014 count down continued for everyone.

For many of the little kiddos I met at this school, routines and structure at home are frequently lost to the fight to put food on the table and a safe roof overhead.

This creates an interesting, challenging and resilient atmosphere.

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I can’t tell you my affection for the kid that I mentioned above about without telling you his whole story, and trust me, I know very, very little. My few classes in counseling not only taught me that it is not wise to ask too many questions, but it’s usually against the law. I just know that there were days that he hung on my promise that developing a firm handshake like a man could help him rule the world. I explained to this tiny person that Mr. C wears a suit and has a very important job, at a very big school. I confided to him that that sometimes grown men want to cry and scream at school too, but they aren’t allowed to either. (My husband is a college administrator). I tried to encourage that with some hard work he and Mr. Cooper could handle their job to learn and teach just a few hours longer until it was time to go home and play.

“We all know that something is eternal.

And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names, and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars . . .

everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal, and that something has to do with human beings.

All the greatest people ever lived have been telling us that for five thousand years and yet you’d be surprised how people are always losing hold of it.

There’s something way down deep that’s eternal about every human being.

-Stage manager, in the play OUR TOWN”

If anyone has any additional cool ideas on how to get a kid, or a teacher or an administrator through a school year on ANY educational campus since the events of Sandy Hook (I added an interesting link that maps some of the recent trends that administrators are working to prepare us for), do tell me.

All I’ve got in my tool kit at this point is to take a knee and let the funny things crack me up.

Thank God funny seemed to happen all of the time last year, and I trust that future years will offer the same. I hope that those who are getting a bit of summer break are getting some rest, or at least enjoying the view.

peace, Kate

 

We Texted: “More Whine! Pass the Cheese!”

breakfast

Here is a paraphrase of some of my online rambled anger to a friend (who is an adoptive mother to a young lady of color) about the “not guilty” verdict for Zimmerman this weekend.

…I’ll get off my soapbox now. Maybe I’d be doing better to continue my devotion to Cheerios and continue to pray by way of singing “row, row, row your boat.”

While my dogs were taking me for a walk last night I started to worry a bit about what I may have written in that thread of responses to her tearful reaction to the verdict. My intention was to support her, but I went straight into my particular upset and anger.

I stopped mid park and tried to bring up Facebook on my phone to read what I said, butthe-Muppets-movie-posters-the-muppets-26849004-75-120 sweat and dog tangle kept me on the move.

By the time I got home and tried out the key lime pie (it was only so, so), and got into dry clothes, and took the dogs out…again…and settled onto the couch…the effort to go slowly through the scrolls on my kindle over rulled my need to reconsider if I had said something offensive or hurtful.

Earlier in the day a college roomate made a couple of comments during a fun but chaotic attempt toward texted conversation between her, me and a third best friend. This friend, who is summer traveling, was sorting through some feelings about an early morning conversation. Two different times later in the day, she said to us:

Thank you for listening. I don’t mean to whine.

Which we teased by saying something to the effect of:

More Whine! We miss you! Pass the cheese.BPN2n5-CUAAUZYn 

The interesting part is that, far better than I with my sweaty, dog tangle, pie focused evening goal to permanently plop and give in to my day…she had texted a few times that she already, hours after the uncomfortable conversation, had plans to revisit what had been said and ask for clarification. She also had thoughts on how she was going to find a way to tactfully assert a few things of her own so that her recent hard earned confidence is not left unspoken, which could end the visit on a less satisfactory note.

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It didn’t work out to confirm this, but I’d say that all three of us were better able to enjoy our Sunday while our interuppted conversations fizzled out on the liberating note that, now that we have battled our way into 40’s, we each waste far less time worrying about being liked.

And, I am now all the more homesick for both of them, and frustrated at the lack of time and ease to communicate without interupption or distraction. (Insert here sensory illustrations of the smell of sweat and sounds of meatloaf timers going off).

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Yet, I’m waking up this morning feeling like we texted a toast to us and our hard earned, OlderAndWiserThanWeWere approach to our days.

Then again, it is only 7:31 a.m.

 

 We shall see…all manner of things…we shall see….

Easter Blessings

I started celebrating Easter last night. This is actually a big NoNo in the Catholic world of me…but it was time.

The good news: cataract #1 is gone and other eye stuff is starting to get better.

Frustrating news: it’s still hard to write.

Have you ever read this line from a poem?

Less infuriating news: reading is getting easier each day.

@goodreads: “You will always be the bread and the knife, not to mention the crystal goblet and—somehow—the wine.”

Couldn’t have been more appropriate to my Palm Sunday and this particular Lent.

It is from a poem, I don’t know the title, by, I think, Billy Collins.

I don’t know who was talking to who, but for me, it was my mom sending me a big lenten and post eye surgery #3 comfort basket.

“As in, it’s okay. Seriously. I am set up to have tea with St.Lucia (patron saint for vision) this afternoon at three o’clock, and we recommend that you wear red to that meeting you have next week. You can do this…you’ve climbed some higher hills than trying to find the bread (which by the way, you did leave a bag full at the bakery, but that’s no problem either).

Oh. Excuse me dear, ‘yes? no. Of course not! I don’t take that kind of sugar in my tea.’ Sorry, I need to go now and work with a weather disaster which could be approaching MOMA. Good luck dear.”

My First Guest Post, by Paul McCartney

tail cartoonDear Jack,

(of the adorable blog, Life with Jack)

Hey brother. Yeah, if you can get your person to talk to your agent, sure. I’d like to order a calendar for the New Year.

Here’s the thing though.

Last week I was trying to take my person for a walk and she kept wandering around and saying:

“My address book, where is it? I’ll never get the cards out by the feast day. Oh

dear

god!

I’ve thrown it away by accident again…and…”

She’s nice and all, but feasting? kings? wrapping paper, what’s the big deal dude? Know what I’m sayin’? A dash of kibble, burrow some snow in the yard, and a winter’s nap makes more sense to me and my tail.

At any rate. Yeah, if your person has one of your signed calendars left, ask her to save it and I will work on reminding her that her aunt would be delighted to get a late gift.

pax,

Paul

Holiday Stress? Watch the Roches Perform Handel’s Hallelujah

Our family had a very, very challenged couple of weeks as we awaited Santa. It feels like Jesus came tumbling by way of a King’s Island roller coaster this year.

On my side of the family – no hitches: all three major trans USA move transitions went fine. All systems, go, go go! (Doing the thankful daughter/sister/mom dance in my mind because when I try to do even a mini office chair samba my brain sort of explodes and my hip dislocates a bit).

Why even try to samba? Because my people are happy and that’s the goal:

1. My brother is in proud dad heaven as my niece grabbed the golden ring of what she wants to do with her life, 2. My cousin who survived hurricane Irene on Long Isle and I still love each other more than anyone, 3. My aunt and uncle’s children seem to be doing especially well this year, and,

4. My father?! Holy smokes. When I talked to him on Christmas day he sounded happier than he has, honestly,

since well before my mother died of colon cancer eight years ago.

What favorite daughter of the best dad in the world isn’t trying to reach THAT brass ring? Eh?

John Fugiel troop Douglas McEwan photog.With a little bit of help from my brother and I, his perfectly laid out plan to organize, sell his home and move permanently to Florida is, as he would say: “Finito!” Done.

It worked! The rewards of his hard work to grieve and retire at the same time seem to be that his new neighbor Rose loves him (he killed and threw away the scary dead snake in the road), my cousins went from enjoying to adoring his company (he reminds them of our grandfather), and even dad’s doctors love him it seems. (Aka: He is being compliant to their plans and in return his kidney disease issues are at a standstill for now).

In addition, though his favorite new walking park let him down mightily by closing off a path so they could chase away alligators by draining a pond, his life seems to be moving at his perfecto pace at last. Hell. After two years of weekly poker losses, he says that he’s now even winning some card hands now.

If you’ve ever met my dad even once for ten minutes, you’d agree that his life is now wonderful indeed.

Boo, and YA world! High fives all around the globe.

I imagine that you, whoever you are: stranger or not, I imagine that you are staring at your PhoneComputerTouch screen and thinking, “and this made your 2012 Christmas a disaster because…?”

…there’s more of course.

On my adoring Sleigh Driver’s side of the family, elder care issues

have come home to roost in epic proportion.

If your Christmas celebrations have you feeling like this:

(click the word BESTBEST if you have 5 minutes to watch and hear a righteous cool Handel’s Messiah rendition.Thank you SO much @JamesMartinSJ and @suzzyroche – that tweet share last night has me confused about whether or not this is the best or worst Christmas season I’ve celebrated in my 45 years.)

Or, if you feel a bit guilty that you didn’t have a crappy or complicated holiday season, just google

sudden onset of dementia

and your heart will break just enough to empathize with my favorite husband.

He has a very, very large German family in a lovely rural Appalachian corner of Ohio. We have all helped take care of his grandmother for a couple of years now as she has had some health issues. Despite those efforts, she has suddenly become what I can only describe as a five foot GermanHandful of frustration and occasional cuteness.

She was and will always be the Matriarch of, I exaggerate not, dozens, which if you count the great-great-greats, is probably more like hundreds.

But. She apparently kept us all fooled that it was perfect apple pie that was keeping us in line and clicking our rosaries for the last 100 years. It was actually her mind.

Over the past 20 years she has become blind, deaf, and in the last year or so has developed mobility issues. We’re trying to figure out what she needs most, and my SO not an “expert at geriatric care” opinion is that “Little Grandma” has been suffering from some normal oxygen loss which results in tired thinking issues. In turn, this is creating a sudden onset of dementia that is moving faster than is easy to manage for her two daughters.

I didn’t expect that my mother in law and I would be at her kitchen table trying to figure out if all of a sudden Little Grandma has Alzheimer’s or not.

You’d think since my mother in law is a librarian and I’ve mostly been a teacher or student we could combine our tired noggins and figure that out at least a little bit.

Not so much over just one cup of lukewarm peppermint tea.

For now, my approach is going to be to watch and re-watch that music video of the Roches singing Alleluia that I found on Twitter while finally giving myself a Christmas sixty minutes alone.

Ma’am, would you like your cake first?

Well.

What I wish is that this morning I could have some time and energy, and focus to write “a bit” about the terrorism that has swept my nation right before starting the school year.

I’m not so sure how much energy I have to help “us” process how, or why, or when, or where to take a knee on the terrorism part.

I’m a pretty big fan of theaters and houses of worship. (Looks at calendar on wall). Yup. Pushing 50 years of both types of buildings being my safest, bestest spots on earth other than a nice little tree stand to sit and day-dream for a minute before misplacing my planner again.

Not good timing in this family as our calendars rotate by way of the school year by trade and young’ins.

Nor as the daughter of the best actor on earth, or friend of the hippies that really did start Saturday Night Live.

But, I’m digressing again, and won’t go there yet other than to share that Mr. Coop and I fell into a date last night by default of kids being too busy to eat with the rents and we had a couple of seconds to take a deep breath over schmanzy heated salad dressing.

And, I’ll admit that I wasn’t much of a date other than I am certain I brushed my teeth before we left.

My mindset for the first, at least, quarter of our yummy meal, or maybe half, was the big deal I made with the waitress that dessert needs to be ordered first.

She actually came back to the table and said, :

“Ma’am, would you like your cake first?”

because I was being so complicated with my food order.

Okay. Truth told, I managed to pull out my theater background and make the entire evening about that chocolate heath melted surprise. But, Professor Cooper was a sport and yes, I got my cake and ate it too.

School readyness thinking on my part a few weeks ago was along the lines of the kool-aid mom thing going on in our new ‘hood. This is fun, worry about the pencil box later.

After baseball was over for our youngest he figured out that much of the team is within a block or three reach of our door. He’s extroverted. I’m not. I get that.

I didn’t think he could surpass his oldest brother with extraversion, but he has in a certain cute way that involves fifth graders in and out of the door for most of July. I picked up on complicated baseball conversation that involves something about Omar from Chi-town and dancing in the rain at the Big Red Machine Stadium vs. Babe Ruth and did the Great Bambino use to stuff their gloves with sawdust or not?

These, thank GOD are still at the top of the minds of some of the littlish people who crossed the door this summer.

These, I think, I know, are very good worries for a guy to have.

Fast track to a few days ago realizing that my favorite son of the week, the track star who I forgot to sign up for ACT’s who really does want me to remember to buy him a birthday cake this year for his birthday, zzzzpt…fast track to the one who is my favorite at Christmas who has decided to rock the work world in Ohio for us and made me take a nap in his apartment this summer on his couch….pppsssszzzzdddt. He’s the one that I can’t remember if I dreamed about mailing a birthday cake to last December or not. It was an odd winter on that front.

Sons. Hmm. Overwhelming? Yeah.

Are they doing okay? Yup. Check. Not bad at all really.

I could scroll the play list for you to my father moving, my brother and I helping him do that while balancing moving our adult kids into the universe, another niece getting married and one starting kindergarten and,

yeah.

I guess insomnia does have some logic of late.

And.

Thankfully, I had a moment to take a knee by way of scoring the two photos in this article from Facebook. The cute daisy from a bestest college friend who knows I don’t sleep, and the other of my father’s favorite students of the ’70’s.

It will all be okay.

John Fugiel Improv Troop, circa '70's

John Fugiel Improv Troop, circa ’70’s

Weddings and Plumbers

continue to be amazed that the toilet repair a few weeks ago was $300

Check

Get new purse, dress and sticky note to try and remember new lipstick for next weekend and fall weddings for our ring bearer and flower girl #3

check        check

Lose much sleep in the past week with such worries and amazements at the number of young adult rites of passages and dwell on the cost and confusion of such ruminations.

check

Forget to take the puppy out and notice, while belly laughing about goofy plumbers with a friend whose family set and life is approximately exactly the same stress load, that my fuzzy darling has just emptied his bladder all over son’s bed….

grunt.

Traveling home, recieving visitors and juggling lots of camps and baseball in the month of June.

phew (wipes the sweat of family joy and life from brow)