Monday, June 30, 2014

"I'll Buy You a Cone..."


     The simple post would be, "I love ice cream. Blue Moon is my favorite flavor."  But, that's not true, and I can never just say anything simply, can I. Well, it's true that I DO love ice cream. Blue Moon is not my favorite kind, however. But it does bring back a lot of memories, which is why I found myself eating a medium sized cone of it the other night on the way home from a trip to Olean to celebrate our 27th anniversary.  (We actually went to Tractor Supply first, so I could get chick feed and dog food and chicken wire to fix my coop, then to Home Depot to order a new floor, and then to Walmart for flowers for the log in front of my chicken coop. Finally, we went and ate dinner at a Mexican restaurant that didn't even serve margaritas!  And that's how you celebrate 27 years of marriage, our style...) 
     So, the ice cream cone.  My dad, who passed away more than 5 years ago, never missed an opportunity in his travels to say to me, as a kid, to my mother when there were no kids left at home, and to me as an adult, "I'll buy you a cone..."  I used to just think that was the BEST. THING. EVER. about my dad when I was little, and it wasn't until MANY years later I realized that he wasn't just being generous and thoughtful to me, or to my mom. It was code for "I love ice cream and never miss an occasion to stop and get myself a cone, but if I offer to buy YOU one, maybe you won't think about how much I love ice cream myself!"  Well, it worked for many years! (I also tried to be that kind of parent to my kids when they were growing up - I wanted them to remember that mom never said no to an ice cream cone - just because...)
     When I was growing up, much like now, still, the place we went most often to eat or shop was Olean, about 30 miles from home. On the back road (now the back road - then, the only road) between Hinsdale and Olean, there was/is still Crosby's Dairy  -one of my dad's favorite places to get us a cone. And, for whatever reason, they always carried Blue Moon ice cream, which was my favorite kind to get in a cone when I was a kid. It's the only kind I ever got when I was growing up, if they had it. Blue Moon is not really all that exciting a flavor - it is truly only orange-pineapple ice cream with little pieces of pineapple in it. And apparently, lots of blue food dye. But I'm sure the name itself is what appealed most to me back then -  and, still a little bit now, truth be told. Much like the name Moose Tracks. I happen to think that's a really cool name for an ice cream flavor. Much more exciting than "chocolate peanut butter" or the like. I guess, given that I love words and their connotations so much, and did even while growing up, it isn't really any surprise that I'm a sucker for a cool name.. even for an ice cream.
     I went that way a couple of weeks ago, and thought about stopping at Crosby's to see if they still had Blue Moon and to get a cone if they did,  because I was thinking strongly of my dad that day. But, I'm also continuing to try to eat as "clean" as I can, and most of the time, that means dairy and sugar free. So I talked myself out of it. It's a little too easy for me to succumb to ice cream, if I don't work hard to avoid it. But after eating Mexican the other night, which is not very "clean eating," I figured, "hey, if you're already off the wagon for tonight, AND it's your anniversary, this is as good an opportunity to get an ice cream cone, if ever there was one, and then get back to healthy eating tomorrow..."  so, stuffed full of enchiladas and refried beans and guacamole and sour cream as I was, I turned to my hubby and said, "Go home the back road through Hinsdale."  He raised his eyebrows questioningly at me, and I said, "I'll buy you a cone..."
     And what do you know? They still carry Blue Moon ice cream, after all these years. We both got one. They were good. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Clean Like You're Dying

     I am nearly done with school now, just one more day. The kids finished yesterday at 11, so for the rest of the afternoon, I hauled stuff out of the old-fashioned "cloak-room" attached to my classroom. It's my storage closet, and it has become a gigantic mess over the course of the year. I have to turn in so many weird forms and papers now, at the end of the year, I'm terrified of throwing out papers during the year that I might need in June. So, I hauled everything out into the middle of my classroom floor. Yesterday the pile looked pretty daunting, but the closet looked great!  That's as far as I got by about 4 yesterday, when I went home.
     Today I had all day to work in my room, and I filled two HUGE janitorial industrial sized garbage containers on wheels with papers and junk. I am now down to a smallish pile of papers that I need to file into labeled file folders tomorrow. That will take me about an hour. Then, I have to file another bunch of papers into a binder to turn in to prove that I taught the new Common Core modules this year. That will maybe take another hour. And, just because I always underestimate the time it takes me to do anything, let's just say I think I have a good shot at being done and out the door by 3:00 tomorrow, which is the earliest official time anyone can leave.
   If so, that will be a new record for me. There have been so many years that I have had to come back in on Friday, the day when almost NO ONE is still there, to finish. Or, I've piled the rest into boxes to sort when school begins again, something which doesn't ever really happen. I end up just throwing out the whole box after a year or two of kicking it around.
     But the reason I have gotten it done so quickly, and have thrown out so much,  is because I have a weird attitude this year. I describe it as cleaning as though I might die over the summer. I have this really strong feeling that I do not want someone else to have to come into my classroom and sort through all my piddly or personal stuff, or to realize that during the year I am an unorganized hoarder of papers. I also still need to hoe out the book cupboards in my room, but those don't show, and right now I can't get at them because I'm still currently sharing my room with another teacher. I will be able to do those in August, and I will likely fill another huge waste can.  Cleaning out and throwing things away is good. Really, once all my binders and such have been turned in, there's no real reason to keep things anymore. But it's more than that. It's a purging that is bordering upon psycho. And, it is affecting my summer plans for home, too.
     Since I'm not going to Alaska this summer and am planning to spend most of my summer right here in this house, I have decided it is time to clean and throw out here the same way. I do not want to die and leave all my junk for someone else to have to clean up. I feel like I "have the summer" to get my act together, to get the house pared down to just the basic necessities. I feel like I NEED to do this, I need to have this sense of organization in my life, both at work and at home, and then, once it's done, I feel like I WON"T die. But I feel like if I don't do it, I might. Weird, I know. I think it might be caused by the realization that I have had several friends recently diagnosed with cancer, and have lost several friends way too young to cancer recently, and by the sudden death of a woman just a couple years older than me in a freak accident recently. She went out for a walk after dinner, and never once thought she wouldn't be home to do the dishes that night, I'm sure. What if that happened to me? Who would want to have to sort through all my stuff here? What would they do with my box of spelling stories from 5th grade, or my notebooks full of (bad) song lyrics for guitar, and angsty teen age poetry?  What would they do with the bag full of tshirts in my closet that I was saving to maybe someday make a quilt from?  Better that I take care of these things as much as I can than to just continue to accumulate and add to it.  If I live another 40 years, at least my spelling stories will not be a part of what they need to decide on. Maybe I should write my own obituary while I'm at it?
I don't know. I just know I'm in a cleaning kind of mood, and if nothing else, Lord willing it is nothing else, I'm at least going to have a clean, uncluttered classroom to work in next year, and a super clean and organized house to come home to at day's end. As end goals, that's not bad!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Book Recommendation

Just finished this book this morning, after starting it about a week ago. I've had to fit my reading of the 400 page book in and around "real life" still - work, correcting papers, cooking dinner, etc. It's not summer vacation yet, when I can consume a whole book in a day. It's been a week of doing the bare minimum so that I could read as much as possible. It's pretty much all I've done when I wasn't working. It's a book I could NOT put down, a book I gave up needed hours of sleep to keep reading "just one more chapter," and a book I got up early to read in the morning for an hour before work. It is THAT GOOD. And, it surprises me that I found it to be so good. It's the non-fiction account of one man who was a POW in a Japanese camp during WWII, not something that would immediately grab my attention as a definite interest-keeper. I'm so glad I gave it go. It was truly one of the best books I've read in years. It will stay with me and haunt me and encourage me for years to come. I read hundreds of books a year, and seldom do I bother to give one another thought, when I finish. I put it down and immediately go on to the next. This book is different. I want EVERYONE to read it. It's THAT GOOD!!!!  If you've already read it, or choose to do so at some future point before the movie comes out at Christmas, let me know what you think,  I already know I will not be going to the movie. I don't like movies much anyway, and I know I would not be able to take the level of physical violence that will be shown between human beings. But as a book..... truly, truly a good, good book.