Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Horrible Destruction of Forest Fires

Last week, a terrible fire started near our cabin in the Chiricahua Mountains near Portal, Arizona.  It is about an hour's drive from Douglas.   You can see the smoke from a very long distance.  All week I have had several people who have kept me informed about this fire.  Last May, another fired burned in about the same place.  They newspaper say this fire is caused by people.  Unfortunately, this desolate area is a hiding place for drug traffickers from Mexico.

This morning, I received a call from a friend who also has a cabin not far from ours on the other side of the canyon.  She was on her way up to see what she could find out.  Her son works for the forest service and called her last night saying that the fire had taken a turn in another direction.  It had been heading south, which would have meant that it was in the wilderness area.  However, during the night it took a turn and appears to be heading back towards our area.

The last time I was up there a few weeks ago, it was so dry.  I can't remember a time that it was this dry, especially in May.  The creek always ran all winter and dried up for about six weeks in the summer.   There was very little water a few weeks ago.

I can only hope and pray that the firefighters can contain this horrible fire before it destroys too much.  This is my favorite spot on earth and cannot imagine not being able to enjoy it.  I will keep posting on the Twitter part of my blog as I get more information.  Below is a link to a story from the Sierra Vista Herald.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Memorable Mother's Day

Mother's Day-2011--It is ironic that this is the first Mother's Day that I have spent in Douglas since my mom died in 2002.  And even more ironic, it is the first Mother's Day in many, many years that I have been all by myself.  Teresa went to California earlier this week leaving me with Lucy and Diego.  Of course, the good thing about the pugs, is that no matter what, they are always glad to see me!

I am not one to go to the cemetery very often, but I was able to go today and spend a few minutes there at the plot where my mom is and our Mary is also buried.  Mary, who took care of Judy and I and was a part of our family for as long as I can remember, died three years ago.  She was buried on the Mexican Mother's Day, May 10th.

It has been a busy weekend for me.  Yesterday, our DHS baseball team played in the first round of the state tournament.  I attended the game and it was a great game.  Unfortunately, Douglas lost 4 to 2 in the 11th inning.   The boys played their hearts out and displayed great sportsmanship.  Our girls' softball team won their first game and will be playing Notre Dame in Scottsdale on Tuesday.  I am up for state meetings and hope to be able to attend the game!

I then went to dinner with my high school friends.  This wonderful group of people have started a scholarship for DHS students to attend Cochise College.  We chose two people to receive a $500 scholarship.  Our class is the only class that has done something like this.
This afternoon, I worked at the Mother's Day Cake Auction for the Douglas Area Retarded Citizens.  This is the 48th year that there has been an auction to raise money for this wonderful cause.   I felt privileged to be asked to spend a few hours of my time to assist with raising money.  

DARC has been an amazing program here in Douglas,. I attended their yearly dinner several months ago.  Gary, their director, talked about what the members of DARC are able to do in the community.  They provide "meals on wheels" for local senior citizens every day.  In addition, they have janitorial contracts at various businesses including City Hall.  Gary said that the workers from DARC pay over $60,000 in income tax each year.  This is truly what it is all about.  This incredible program gives these citizens an opportunity to be productive members of society.

For many years after Teresa retired, she did the books and payroll for this program.  After Phelps Dodge moved their western division offices to Phoenix and after the smelter closed, PD donated the old Douglas Hospital to DARC.  My mom was instrumental in making this happen.  The hospital was converted into apartments for the DARC members to live in and enables them to be self-sufficient members of the community.

This afternoon I had a wonderful conversation with Gary who told me how important my mom and Teresa had been over the years in helping to make DARC what it is today.

The three people who started this auction 48 years ago were Mrs. Heizey, Mrs. Elliot, and Mary Causey.  Mary was the mother of my dear friend, Sandra Sanders.  I was talking to Liz Ames, who was the mayor when my mom was on the city council.  As she said, what a wonderful legacy these three women left in Douglas.  I called Sandra to tell her I was there and had to leave a message.  Her mom was one of the loveliest people I have ever known. The first year they raised $150 and last year over $20,000.  The auction is held in the Gadsden Hotel lobby and is carried over the local radio station, KDAP.  It is truly an involvement of the entire community.  

I continue to feel blessed to be involved in all of these wonderful experiences--even when I am all by myself here in Douglas!!!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

High Tech Religion

Those of you who know our Aunt Teresa know what incredible faith she has.  Her daily routine includes saying her rosary and novenas.   She also goes to Mass during the week as often as she can.  I have always admired her genuine faith.  

As a child, we never went anywhere in the car without saying the rosary using her novena booklet.  This was an expected part of any trip that we went on.  

Her book of novenas and prayers is well-worn.   She has them in a black cover that is filled with various prayer cards and held together by a rubber band.  I can remember going to Phoenix and her visiting a religious store to purchase different prayer cards and her novena booklets.
Last Sunday she was telling me that the booklet was falling apart and she didn't think she was going to be able to find a replacement for it as the religious stores that would have them are no longer around.  I told her that I would look online and see if I could find one to order.

I "googled" the novena booklet and found several sites that had copies, one of which was Amazon.  Needless to say, she was thrilled.  So I ordered her a new one.  

A little later as I got on my computer, I noticed that they had the novena book on Kindle.  I checked it out and it was the real deal.  So I downloaded it and put it on her iPad.  Once again, she was thrilled, but a little apprehensive.
Monday morning she was up early for some reason.  As I was getting ready to go to work, I noticed her sitting in her chair saying her rosary with her iPad on her lap!   She was so excited that she could use her Kindle app to say her prayers.  She is able to adjust the font so that it is large enough for her to read it easily.  And she said, it was exactly the same prayers as in her novena book!!
I absolutely loved seeing this!!!!  I think it would make a great commercial for Apple.  There has to be a certain niche out there that this would appeal to!!  I love technology and all that it brings to enhance our lives.  And this definitely is something that has enhanced her  life.  Teresa is almost 89 years old so you can imagine what she has seen in her lifetime as far as technology is concerned.  For me it was priceless to see her using the iPad to say her prayers---truly HIGH TECH RELIGION!

Teresa went out to California this morning to spend some time with the nieces and nephews that she loves so dearly.  Our cousin Romy's daughter, Angelica, is making  her confirmation this weekend and Teresa will be there for that.   She was so excited to go to see everyone.  What a blessing she is to our family!!!


Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Passage of Time and Torches

This past week has been an awesome one for me in so many ways.  Although most of them have been for personal reasons, it still goes back to my career and my previous life as a teacher and a principal, and as a mother.

In the early 1980's I taught third grade at Patterson Elementary School in Gilbert.  I had previously taught special education in the district.  I have always loved Arizona history and so much of the early history took place in southeastern Arizona where I grew up.  In addition, Arizona's economy for many, many years was tied to the copper industry.  Growing up in Douglas, I was immersed in the copper industry as Phelps Dodge was a major part of the economy down here.  In fact, I was able to go to ASU for four years because I was able to work at the smelter here in Douglas during the summers and during vacations and the pay was great.

My great grandparents moved to Bisbee in 1903.  Both of them were from Ireland and my great grandfather, Matthew Roughan, was a miner.  He moved to Bisbee from the silver mines in Leadville, Colorado.  My grandparents, Katherine Roughan Scott and Edward Scott were married in Leadville in 1902.  They moved to Douglas, Arizona in 1912 (the year that Arizona became a state) as my grandfather was a conductor on the Southern Pacific Railroad.  So our family history is steeped in the history of Arizona.

As a result of this love for my roots, I wanted to share this history with my students.  So I started taking my third graders to Bisbee and Tombstone.  We spent the first day in Tombstone and then spent the night in Bisbee at the high school gym.  The next day we did the mine tour.  I was the first teacher in Gilbert who took a class on an overnight field trip and I remember having to go before the Board to ask permission.  I did this trip for 10 years and it was an incredible experience for my students and did so much to build community in my classroom.  

I remember when Kartchner Caverns was discovered, but not yet opened.  My plan was to have my students experience this also.  But then  I became an administrator and no longer was able to do this trip.

One of my wonderful teachers at Gilbert El started taking her students on this trip a few years ago.  Cameron was in Mrs. Dawn's class and was able to have this incredible experience.  And of course, she added Kartchner Caverns to the trip, as well as the Arizona/Sonora Desert Museum.  Kerri did her student teaching with Dottie and had the opportunity to have this experience.

So this year when I moved to Douglas, I checked with our policy down here and it was possible for the students to stay at one of our schools.  

Last week both classes had their field trips.  The kids and parents were able to stay at Ray Borane Middle School which is a block from the house.  It was the original high school and has a big gym which is much like the one in Bisbee.  I had all of the kids over both nights for bean burros, salsa, and hot dogs.  It was so much fun!! 

My high school friends, Susan and Elsa (and their husbands, Brian and Jesus) came to help serve both nights.  We had about 30 kids and 20 adults in the backyard.  What was so funny was that the kids loved jumping into our "home made pool."  Lucy and Diego were in their glory!!  And Teresa loved every minute of it!!  One of the funnier moments was when Brian heard a couple of the Gilbert El kids talking about Lucy and Diego.  They were commenting on how protective the pugs were of me.  However, one of the kids insisted that they were not pugs, but were PIT BULLS!  Lucy and Diego are as far away as any dog could be from a pit bull!

I am so proud that Kerri has carried on this tradition.  I was so proud of how she told her kids and parents about the house here in Douglas and her heritage and family roots!  Her class came Tuesday and so we had a sort of "rehearsal" for Wednesday when the Gilbert El kids came.

I was so EXCITED all day Wednesday for the arrival of the kids.  I cannot express how important this was to me.  I have mentioned previously about not having any closure to my 20 years at Gilbert El.  

Everything was ready for dinner and I was just waiting for the call from Dottie.  When she called and told me they were about 10 minutes away, I went out and waited in the front yard.  I could hear the bus coming down the street before it arrived.  

And the hugs from the kids and parents brought tears to my eyes!!  I know that I was so excited to see the kids, but what meant the most was that they were so excited to see me!!  It reinforced my feeling that being an elementary princiPAL was truly what I was.  It has always been my belief that the role of a principal is to ensure the best for the students in every way possible.  I never wanted my students to be afraid of me, but I always wanted them to be respectful of my position.  I believe that discipline must be "taught" and not necessarily be just a "consequence."  This was reinforced when I talked to a young man who I saw a lot over the last few years for his behavior choices.  When I asked how he was doing, he told me he was doing good.  He then told me that he always knew that no matter what happened, he always knew that I cared about him.  We both were a bit teary during that conversation.  He had come into the kitchen while I was getting something and we had a chance to talk privately.  I gave him a big hug, which was reciprocated.  That conversation meant the world to me!!

I love my new  position down here in Douglas.  I feel as though I can do some things that will make a difference on a whole different level.  However, being an elementary principal is absolutely the best job in the world!!  I could never imagine a better experience than I had those 20 years.  I am blessed to have been able to be a part of shaping the lives of so many young people who are the future of our country.  WOW!!!