Sunday, April 11, 2010


"According to the old superstition--black cats are evil. In ancient Egypt, the Goddess Bast was a black female cat. Christian priests wanted to wipe out all traces of other religions so they convinced their ignorant followers to destroy the evil demons that were black cats. While they were at it, they destroyed the kindly old ladies who cared for the cats believing them to be witches."

I have always heard that black cats were suppose to be bad luck, but didn't know the rest of this until I looked it up. In my life, I am thinking that I fit a bit of that description (old lady) and instead of black cats, I take care of black pugs. And I hope I am not a witch.........

Anyway, we have four pugs three of whom I have written about in previous posts, Pedro, Pancho, and Lucy. Pedro and Pancho are fawn pugs and Lucy is my dear little black girl pug! Since November, we have been "blessed" with a new little black pug, Diego whose middle name is Diablo--DD for short.

Diego is as naughty a pug as we have had. He is TROUBLE with a capital "T" and I am crazy about him!! However, he has become a VERY EXPENSIVE pug to say the least and has had a bit of bad luck, too.

The first incident we had was about two months ago. I had to run home to get something on a Friday afternoon. I left the garage door open and when I went to leave, Pancho, Lucy, and Diego ran out looking for a better life somewhere. They are totally untrained and ran as fast as their little puggy legs would take them. Pancho and Diego came back and I grabbed each of them by the collar and took them from the garage door to the back door of the house--a very short distance. Meanwhile, my little Lucy is running like crazy all around the neighborhood completely ignoring my calls. I had Pancho in my left hand and Diego in my right. Pancho fought me all the way to the door. Somehow in trying to control Pancho, I pulled Diego's collar too tight. By the time we got to the door, he was flopping and having trouble breathing. I thought I had killed him--it was awful!! I was able to quickly get Lucy back into the house, I grabbed Diego and headed for the emergency vet about a mile and a half away.

We were the only ones there when I got there and the vet immediately took Diego back to examine him. I was so upset. When she finally called me back in what seemed like hours, she said he was going to be okay. However, she had taken x-rays and found water around his lungs--pulmonary edema. She told me that this is common in dogs that have short noses like pugs. Anyway, Diego had to stay overnight in doggy intensive care in an oxygen tent. When I picked him up the next day, he was so glad to see me. Within a few hours, he was back to the naughty Diego that we all know and love.

A few weeks later, Diego got bit by a scorpion, so off to the vet's we go again!! This time we went to our regular vet and didn't have to pay emergency prices. After a shot of Benedryl and some medicine, we came home good as new!!

I had left my prescription glasses on my bed one day, and Diego decided that the glasses were probably his newest chew toy. Not only did he chew the frames, but he scratched the glasses so that I couldn't see out of them--my fault for leaving them on my bed--right???? Anyway, I had already used my insurance yearly allotment so I had to buy a new pair of glasses.

So by now Diego has cost quite a bit of money, but hopefully all of his naughtiness is passing as he gets a little bit older. He is now six months old...

At six months, it is time for him to be neutered. Patrick made the appointment for the surgery for last Thursday. Diego needed a pre-op appointment on Wednesday prior to the surgery. Patrick was going to take him, but he had a meeting after school so I took him--MISTAKE!!!!!!

We get to the vet's and Diego, the Naughty Pug, is actually trembling. There was a Rotweiller waiting to be seen and Diego thought that maybe they should play together. All it took was the Rot's DEEP bark to cause Diego to think twice about that. And so the trembling got even worse..... We finally made it through the appointment and were ready to go home.

I put Diego on the front seat of my Pilot as he was still shaking. The vet's office is on Baseline and I didn't think that I would be able to turn left at that time of evening. So I proceeded to drive onto the street where I could turn either right or left onto Baseline. As I came out of the parking lot and turned left onto the side street, Diego fell off the front seat. I bent over to reassure him that he was okay and I hear this terrible noise--I have jumped the curb and am halfway into the canal ditch. Both the front and the back right tires are in the ditch!!!!! I couldn't believe it!!!
Several people stopped and asked if I needed help which was so nice. I had no idea if there was a lot of damage or not. I called my insurance company and they sent out a tow truck. It would take about an hour for the truck to get there. A young man who was out on a walk stopped as did two men in a truck. They decided that they could get me out if the could jack up the front and back end and get some planks to help get me out. Another man came along who lives in the neighborhood and he has a contracting business. So he went home and got the bricks and planks. Just as I saw the tow truck driving down Baseline, they got the car out of the ditch for me. The tow truck driver and the guys all looked underneath the car and felt that there was no damage done. I was able to drive home with no trouble at all.

I would like to blame it all on Diego, but I can't. I truly believe that I was distracted because of everything that is happening right now at school. The night before I had been at the "Bored" Meeting until 11:15.

And Diego continues to make me laugh, as do the other three. They are always thrilled to see me when I get home. Their love is unconditional and I can tell you that is very comforting right now.

What would we do without pets in our lives when the insanity of society is all around us???? I am not sure, and I can tell you that I don't want to know!!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Troubling Times

Times are really bad in Arizona from an economic standpoint. Our legislature has never been one to believe in education and fund it. Arizona is usually somewhere at the bottom of the states when it comes to per pupil spending. With the current economic crisis, it has even gotten worse. I thought last year at this time was bad, but it is nothing like what we are dealing with right now.

There will be a special election held on May 18th to determine if we can add a 1 cent sales tax to help fund public education. Even with that, we are still in major trouble. However, if it doesn't pass, we will lose so much. When I say we, I mean everyone loses--children, families, teachers, and staff. It is very sad to see so many valued employees and programs that will be gone if it doesn't pass. I HATE THIS FOR MANY REASONS!!

Our legislature decided that they would no longer fund all day kindergarten. All of the districts around ours decided that they would continue to fund it, even at the expense of other programs. What is required of our kindergarteners is unbelievable. Our superintendency and the elementary principals all recommended to our Governing Board that all day kindergarten continue. I was asked to speak for the elementary principals at the Work Study on Tuesday night. I prepared a speech and then sent it to all of my colleagues for input. At the meeting when I went up to speak, 26 of my fellow principals all stood as I spoke to the board--WOW!! I was honored and proud to be representing this group of dedicated professionals.

Here is what I said on Tuesday:

On behalf of the Elementary Principals in the Gilbert School District, I would like to speak to the Board.

It has been my privilege to be an educator in the Gilbert Unified School District for the past 39 years. Over the years, I have seen so many changes in Gilbert that have contributed to making it the finest school district in the state of Arizona. The commitment and dedication of classified staff, teachers, administrators, and Governing Board members as well as the support of our parent community have all been key in making this District what it is today.

I have had the honor of working with many fine people over the years through some very tough times. However, I have never seen nor encountered anything that even compares to what we are facing today in our district and our state. Those of us in the trenches are experiencing this first hand each and every day!

We are being asked to educate children with fewer and fewer resources and more and more stressors in the lives of everyone in our society. The current economic crisis has tied the hands of our Governing Board and Administration in so many ways. We have to be competitive in the “education market” with charter schools as well as other school districts.

I recently had a young man shadow me for a day who works in a very poor district in metropolitan Phoenix. He told me that two school districts that border his district actually send buses to pick up students and bring those student to the neighboring school districts. I did not know that those things occurred and that greatly worries me that some of our surrounding districts that offer full day kindergarten might actually bus our students to their schools. This could have a long-term economic impact on Gilbert.

But that isn’t my biggest concern about our district funding all day kindergarten. My biggest concern is that our children will be forced to play catch up as the enter first grade. What is required in kindergarten today, is not what was required a few years ago. Some of our children who do not have as many opportunities because of family and economic situations are already behind when they start school. Our number of children on free and reduced lunch has grown from approximately 16% in 2007 to 26% today. We absolutely need to give Gilbert students every opportunity to compete in a global market. And, yes, I believe that full day kindergarten is vital to their academic success.

I must say how much I respect and admire my colleagues in the superintendency, as well as the 26 other elementary principals that I work with on a regular basis. Over the past several months, we have had philosophical discussions that have become heated at times. However, the one constant that I have ALWAYS observed is the caring for our children and wanting to do the very best for these children.

Dr. Allison and the superintendency have recommended to the Board that Gilbert Schools fund full day kindergarten. As a group, our elementary principals wholeheartedly endorse this recommendation.

I recognize and respect the agonizing decisions that are going to have to be made over the next month or so by the Governing Board. None will be easy because we are talking about people, not just programs. The Gilbert District will continue to be a place for a “world class education” because of the dedication of our administration and our Governing Board.

Helen Keller said that once she knew only darkness and stillness. Her life was without past or future…but a little word from the fingers of a teacher fell into her hand that clutched the emptiness, and her heart leaped to the rapture of living! This is why 39 years later, I still come to work for the Gilbert School District each and every day and still look forward to making a difference in the life of a child. All of our schools are unique and different and all of my colleagues are out there every day creating a future for the students in the Gilbert School District.

I felt positive that the Board would listen to the people in the trenches and the superintendents who deal with issues every day--was I ever wrong!! Only one member took our recommendation. The other four did not feel that all day kindergarten is worth funding.

I truly believe that this was a very misguided decision. I think it will have long-term economic and academic implications to the students of our district. I am sad that our professional opinions weren't valued.

But more than that, I am sad that so many of the wonderful teachers that I have worked with for many years are being "riffed" (reduction in force). It is devastating!!

I hope all of you readers out there who live in Arizona will vote on May 18th.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Passing of the Torch, er...Key!!

I have written in previous blogs about our cabin in South Fork of Cave Creek in the Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona. It is my favorite spot on earth!! The Chiricahuas are absolutely beautiful. I found the following description on a website about hiking and birding in Arizona.

The largest of the "sky island" mountain ranges in the Coronado National Forest, the Chiricahuas are home to animals and plants found nowhere else in the U.S. The town of Portal is the gateway to world-famous Cave Creek Canyon. Traveling on Hwy 80 toward Portal from Douglas you will pass through rolling grasslands punctuated by the cones of extinct volcanoes; watch for Burrowing Owls and Pronghorns along the highway. As you cruise up Portal Road west from Hwy 80, grasses give way first to thorn scrub then to a variety of evergreen oaks. Some residents in the Portal area welcome visitors to their backyard feeding stations; for information on current opportunities, inquire at the Portal Store in town or the ranger station up the road. Beyond Portal the road passes the U.S. Forest Service ranger station and winds along Cave Creek; watch for Elegant Trogons all along this stretch, particularly where Arizona Sycamores grow close to the road.

Our family, along with two other families, bought the cabin in 1960. I was in sixth grade and the oldest of all of the kids in the three families. We would go up to the mountains every Sunday after church. I have such wonderful memories of our time then. There were a total of 13 kids of all different ages and we all got along so well. We climbed mountains, played in the creek, hiked, played baseball and horseshoes....

This cabin is truly a cabin. We have to haul water from the creek and boil it to do the dishes and wash up. We have a building that houses a generator for electricity. And we have an outhouse.... The Forest Service is requiring that we upgrade the outhouse by the end of 2010.

We have a guest book that has the history of our visits to the cabin. It is amazing to read it now. We have Judy's signature when she was in second grade. It chronicles all of the years and visits that were made and all of the fun times that were had there.

My 13th birthday party was held at the cabin in January. We had a sleep-over, and it was very cold. I am amazed that my mom did this for me!!!

When I was in college, we had some great parties at the cabin with friends from high school. When my kids were little and we spent the summers in Douglas, we spent a lot of time at the cabin.

The cabin sits on Forest Service land that we lease. We have had some concerns over the years as to whether or not the lease would be renewed. Recently, it was renewed until 2028!!!

It has always been in my Aunt Teresa's name with an agreement with the three families. Teresa has been worried about having to take care of things with the cabin and so she decided it was time to "pass the key." During winter break, Judy and I went to meet representatives from the two families to discuss what we would do. One of the families decided that they would not continue because they haven't used it in years. So John and I agreed to take it over.

Teresa sold it to me for $5.00 (I still need to pay her) and I submitted the paperwork to the Forest Service to have the deed transferred to my name. That deed came this past week. Needless to say, I am thrilled!! I look forward to a continued partnership with the Brady Family and know that John and I will make things work as smoothly as our parents did.

I feel so fortunate to be able to be able to use the cabin. It truly is a place to get-away from everything--no phones, no television, no radio...... It is so peaceful.

I know that many of my cousins absolutely love to go to the cabin. And I want Cameron to have the same memories that I have, that his mom and Patrick do. It is a large part of our family history!!

I am anxious to get down there this year. There has been so much rain and snow and I imagine the creek will be running for quite some time and it will be beautiful, as usual!!

Thank you, Mom, Teresa, Johnny, Peggy, George, Dorothy and Paul for making this possible for us!!!!