The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. ~ Johann Sebastian Bach
I began playing string bass in 9th grade and continued as a music major in college. It was during those eight years that I fell in love with classical music, but in particular music of the Baroque period. Baroque music is perfect for string ensembles, and I loved being the keeper of the continuous bass line under several independent and overlapping melodies and countermelodies. Besides playing string bass, I spent countless hours in the practice rooms working on my Bach Two Part Inventions for piano. I felt so satisfied when I “mastered” one.
The word baroque comes from the Portuguese word barroco which means oddly shaped pearl. I guess the period is aptly named since it was so much more ornate than the simplicity of the Renaissance period. There is something soothing about the binary form of Baroque music; you know what to expect; it is reassuring.
In three words I can sum up everything I have learned about life: it goes on. ~ Robert Frost
Today marks six months since my mom passed away just about seven weeks short of her 91st birthday. Some days it feels like forever and some days like it was yesterday. As I scrolled back through my pictures to find the ones above, I realized life did go on. I made it through my milestone birthday, her birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s all without having my mom to visit or hug.
I could always count on her to be smiling and happy. She had such a positive spin on life. The picture of my mom, Lucy, is from 2017 when we celebrated her 90th birthday. My sister bought her the “Hang Loose” sweatshirt because when anyone asked Lucy how she was doing, she would always answer, “Hanging Loose.”
There is not a day goes by that I don’t think of her or talk to her. She may not be with me physically, but I can feel her presence in so many little ways. From the unexplainable scent of her laundry detergent wafting through my family room to the cardinal that swoops just in front of my car on the way to work, I know she is looking over us.
Although I am sad some days, I try to emulate the way she lived. She celebrated life every day. I don’t know how this grief thing is supposed to work when it comes to grieving your mother, but I know she wouldn’t want it to take over; she would want me to celebrate her by celebrating life.
Thanks Mom for holding my hand all those times I needed you for a shoulder to lean on, for words of wisdom, or for a good laugh. Thank you for bringing so much joy into our lives. I am remembering you tonight with a smile.
Love the game of baseball, and baseball will love you. ~ Babe Ruth
When the Babe uttered those words so long ago, how could he have imagined how much baseball would love back the players in 2019?
I am a life-long Phillies fan. Win or lose, I love to watch the games from the first crack of the bat in the spring until temperatures are cool again in the fall, but watching the contract negotiations of some players these last few weeks has left me shaking my head.
First it was the Phillies acquiring Bryce Harper to the tune of $330 million dollars for 13 years only to have him hit in the ankle by a 97 mph pitch during spring training. I have never been a Bryce Harper fan probably because he played for the Washington Nationals, a division rival, however I have been listening to his interviews, and he seems to say all the right things.
Today rumors are swirling that the Los Angeles Angels and Mike Trout (a Millville, NJ native) are finalizing a 12-year deal worth $430 million. That would keep Trout with the Angels for the remainder of his career dashing any hope that the “hometown” boy would make his way home and play for the Phillies once his contract was up in 2020.
I have to admit that I did get sucked into the Mike Trout fantasy, but who wouldn’t want the most talented player of his generation to come to their favorite team? Yet, I cannot fathom how sports got to this point. Big name players are paid exorbitant sums of money to play “a game they love.” I am still trying to process my feelings – not that it matters to anyone but me. I know that lots of major league players do lots of great work in the communities surrounding their ballparks, but I can’t help but wonder – would they play the game for less money – just for the love of the game? Maybe they could take a page out of Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long’s book and donate part or all of a year’s salary to organizations that promote educational equity.
I teach in a parochial school, so my salary is nowhere near the salaries of my counterparts in public school. It doesn’t matter though because I really do “teach for the love of the game.”
In the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself. ~ Deepak Chopra
Yesterday, my daughter and her family came over for their monthly visit to help us clean out the clutter in our home. Living in a house for 30 years can pack in the possessions. We are not moving or downsizing; we already live in a small home, but getting rid of things we don’t use is already making it feel much larger. I know Angela realizes that doing some of these tasks can be difficult for Chuck and me these days, but I also think she doesn’t want to deal with so much “stuff” when we are gone either.
Yesterday, we tackled the dining room and a closet. You might not think that would be a large job, but it took a long time. I have two boxes and a tote bag of various items plus a bag started with coats to donate.
Yesterday, I realized that we can’t keep everything; we have to let some things go. After all, just how many cut glass candy dishes can one person use? I had so many candles and plates and knick knacks that I hadn’t seen in years. They were just taking up room in the drawers and server shelves.
Yesterday, I gave away things that previously I didn’t want to part with. It wasn’t hard. There were only a few things that I had to really think about or persuade my daughter and son–in-law to let me put in the keep pile. I was proud of how quickly I could just say donate or trash.
Yesterday, I made space in my home and in my life for things that may be coming my way in the future. I’ve decided to only let in what I really need and and let go of the rest.
A good process produces good results. ~ Nick Saban
Today I gave back my 7th graders’ research projects, so they could share them with the class. They only got the project back, not the grades. The students worked on them in class for a few weeks beginning with brainstorming topics and narrowing their research questions. Then they started gathering information, learning how to take notes without committing plagiarism, and citing sources. Then writing commenced.
The finished product could take a variety of forms as long as it had the required number of pages of research/writing. There were brochures, books, posters, and a scuba diving video with voiceover. We all learned a great deal of information on topics such as surfing waves, Ancient Egyptian makeup, bananas, and Presidential perks.
I heard the kids commenting during the week, but I finally asked them today, “What was the best part of this project?” Here were some of their responses:
“that we go to learn a lot of new stuff.”
“that we could pick our own topics.”
“that we got to work on it in class.”
“that I finished!”
The kids were all very proud of their work, and most of them did well. It strengthens the argument for giving students more choice of what to write and more time to live like writers. This plan is a keeper.
The cell phone has become the adult’s transitional object, replacing the toddler’s teddy bear for a sense of comfort and belonging. ~ Margaret Heffernan
Today was one of those days. Nothing really bad happened, but it didn’t exactly go as planned. I planned to get a good bit of grading finished before I left school, but emails and phone calls had me running behind. I had a 4:00 appointment, but I wanted to touch base with my principal before I left for the day. I stopped in his office, had a brief conversation, and left school with exactly enough time to make it to where I was going.
Halfway to my appointment, I realized I forgot my cell phone. I left it sitting on my desk at school. For a few minutes I was a little panicky. What should I do? I don’t have time to go back, would anyone still be at school if I called? I vacillated between admonishing myself for being in such a hurry that I forgot it in the first place and reprimanding myself for feeling so lost without my cell phone.
Luckily, when I got to where I was going, they let me use their phone. Luckily, my colleague was still in her classroom and was able to retrieve my phone and leave it in my mailbox, and luckily the outside doors at school were still unlocked when I got back there at 5:15.
I am home, and my phone is safe and sound on the coffee table. I think I have some reflecting to do on my relationship with my phone. I can do that later…after I finish my grading!
Memory… is the diary we all carry about with us. ~ Oscar Wilde
The car was packed and ready to go. All the essentials were in place: crab traps, bait, weighted lines, net, lunch, four sleepy kids, and two tired parents. We set off before the rising sun was even beginning to think about peeking through the night sky. By dawn we exchanged our station wagon for a weather-worn rowboat and carefully set out on the Chesapeake Bay.
It seemed like an eternity before Dad had the wire basket crab traps set – each one carefully tied to a bobbing gallon milk jug. Then he’d rev the engine, and we’d glide over the water like an airboat in the Florida Everglades. He would find the perfect spot and quiet the motor.
Each of us had our own space at the side of the boat. In turn we would cast our lines overboard hoping for a bite. The whole family sat quiet and still (which was VERY unusual for us) and waited and waited and waited – baking under the noonday sun. At last someone had a nibbler on their line. Slowly, very, very slowly they’d pull up the line. Mom or Dad would stand poised with the net ready to capture the prize. Everyone stopped, holding their breath until the crab was safe inside the bushel basket.
On occasion the net keeper would have poor aim and miss the basket sending the crab scampering around the boat’s bottom. This caused some of us to scream and rock the boat. We’d eventually fall into giggles when the catch finally reach its intended destination.
All too soon it was time to collect our loot and return to dry land. Once on terra firma the car was pack with the essentials: crab traps, weighted lines, net, and dinner. Four sleepy kids and two tired parents headed home with another memory traced on their hearts.
It’s not what you look at that matters; it’s what you see. ~ Henry David Thoreau
Today started out as most days do lately, I hit the snooze button more than once, I stretched my very stiff legs, and eventually slid out of bed and hobbled my way to the shower. Mornings are difficult. Some days I feel like the the tin man from the Wizard of Oz. I want to cry, “Oil can.”
When I got to school I had to collect and bag up the 90 shamrocks I spray glittered before I left yesterday and clean up the mess I made while doing it. Eight members of the NJHS were visiting the local assisted living facility to play St. Patrick’s Day trivia with the residents. We were bringing the shamrocks to brighten up their rooms.
As the day wore on, my desk became piles on top of piles, and I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to be able to finish grading. The end of the trimester nerves were beginning to set in. By the end of the day, I was tired and starting to calculate how long it would be before I was home and able to put my feet up for a little bit.
It was finally time for me to head over to Springhouse Estates. Just like the last time, the kids were great. They interacted with the residents, laughed at the way the women and one man interacted with each other, and answered all the questions posed to them. We finished our planned activity a little early, so I asked the residents to offer the 8th graders some words of advice.
“Don’t worry, be happy.”
“Go to church every Sunday.”
“Travel while you are young.”
These were a few of their pearls of wisdom. As I listened I couldn’t help but be moved by the positive attitudes of these people who were on walkers, in wheelchairs, on oxygen, and motorized scooters. They were so happy and kept thanking the students for coming to see them. They were quick to share their stories, and the kids were attentive listeners.
Some mornings when my knees are locked from being in the same position all night, or when I am pulling myself up the stairs at school one step at a time I feel old. I wonder how I got to this place. I teeter on the brink of falling into a deep abyss of despair. It would be easy to do.
But today I was reminded that how I look at things doesn’t matter; it is what I see. Today I saw people who have experienced many, many things in their lives, and are not able to do the things they once did, but it does not stop them from finding joy in the little things each day. It does not stop them from being grateful.
I am not negating my aches and pains because they are real and sometimes very intense, but I have to remind myself that I have so much to be thankful for. I will keep the memory of this afternoon close to my heart, and when I get feeling sorry for myself use it to give myself a smack down. These senior sages have reminded me that the moments slip by too quickly to see what is right in front of me.