Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012--Happy New Year

I have been reflecting on this past year and so much that has happened.  I haven't kept up with my blog and the enjoyment I get from writing.  It seems that so much of what has happened in my life has not been "blog material" so to speak.  

I truly believe that is has been a blessing for me and so many ways to be back here in Douglas.  Being with Teresa has been good for both of us and I have valued our time together. 

I do miss the times with the cousins up in the valley and know that they are going out tonight.  We had such wonderful times on New Year's Eve through the years.  Lots of laughter and fun!  I look forward to that in the future.
I also miss the dear friends that I have had for so many years.  It is wonderful to get together whenever I have an opportunity when I am in the valley.  However, it has been great to renew old friendships and make new ones down here!!

So as the New Year arrives, here is an Irish Blessing for those of you who read my blog:

May you have the hindsight to know where you've been
The foresight to know where you are going
And the insight to know when you have gone to far.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Vacation (The Road Trip)

This is a work of fiction based 
on facts that truly happened. 
Names have been changed 
to protect the elderly.

Once upon a time, a long time educator decided to put her hat in as a candidate for the superintendency of a small town along the Arizona/Mexico Border, where she grew up.  This educator, also known as Cheela, applied for this position because her elderly Aunt T. Elizabeth was living in this small border town in the house where she was born in 1922.  Tia was the only one of the seven siblings who grew up in this town who was still alive.  She let all of the family know that she had absolutely NO intention of moving from this house where she was born and from this town that she dearly loves.  In consultation with several of the "cousins," Cheela decided to apply and low and behold, she was named the superintendent in July, 2010.

There have been many stories that have occurred over the course of the time between July, 2010 and November, 2011.  Many of those stories have been unbelievable and would have been thoroughly enjoyed by Cousin Felipe, who died prior to Cheela's term as superintendent.  Unfortunately, because of the nature of the job, Cheela hasn't been able to write about them on this blog.  However, Cheela feels that reality television would not even believe them.  The only consolation for Cheela is the fact that a certain retired CIA agent would have!!

And now to get to the "meat" (or turkey) of this story.  Thanksgiving weekend 2011 was fast approaching.  Cheela and Tia planned to spend the holiday in the valley with family.  Unbeknownst to Cheela, Tia invited two of her elderly friends to ride up to the valley with them.  So Wednesday morning, Cheela loaded her SUV with luggage, tamales, Tia, and the two pugs, Diego and Lucy.  The first stop was at Elena's house. Now Elena is 91 and is legally blind and a bit hard of hearing.  All she had with her was her suitcase and oxygen tank.  They then picked up Nani, who brought her "foo foo" dog along.  It took the pugs a bit of time to get use to the idea that there was actually a "foo foo" dog in the car.  They were not pleased.

The trip to the valley was uneventful.  Nani's daughter was going to pick her up at a shopping center where there was a wine store.  While waiting for the daughter, Cheela went in to the store to see if they had her favorite Irish Ale, which they did.  They also had a wine tasting going on and Cheela suggested to Tia, Elena, and Nani that they might like to go in and taste a bit of wine.  They didn't at that point, although Cheela really wanted to!

Thanksgiving went well and Sunday rolled around and the return trip was planned.  Cheela and the pugs picked up Tia at her daughter's house in the eastern part of the valley.  They then drove to another town and picked up Elena and her suitcase and oxygen.  They then went back to the shopping mall and picked up Nani, the "foo foo" dog, her suitcase and several other items.

On the way back, they listened to football games on XM as Nani was very interested in the outcome of games because she had bet on them.  They stopped for gas midway and Tia and Elena had to use the restroom.  This took quite some time.  Nani stayed in the car with "foo foo" listening to the football games and somehow the car doors were locked.  When Cheela tried to get the keys, the "foo foo" dog tried to bite her.  However, that worked out fine and they proceeded on their trip south.

Arriving in the border town about 4:00, Cheela took Nani home first.  After unloading her several items, she discovered that one box was a case of wine.  It was quite a struggle getting that up the steps to the house.  At one point the "foo foo" dog tried to get out of the house, and when Cheela tried to stop him, he growled and snapped at her.  However, everything was finally in the house and they could proceed to the next drop off.  Now Elena is legally blind and had some difficulty opening her door.  However, Cheela helped her get her one suitcase and oxygen into the house without too much of a problem.

Next stop, Tia's home where she was born...........  She had to be let out in front of the house so that she could disarm the alarm.   Cheela asked Tia to get out of the car quickly so that the pugs couldn't escape and run for a better life.  Tia doesn't hurry, but the pugs didn't escape either!  So around the block they went and opened the garage door.  After all of the luggage, etc. was unloaded and the pugs were safely in the back yard, Cheela put the garage door down.  As she went into the backyard, she noticed that Tia had a broom and a device that elderly people (and prisoners who are picking up trash) use to pick things up.  In addition, Tia was looking for the two garbage cans that weren't on the rack and weren't in the yard.  She has paid a child down the street $5 to put the garbage cans back in the yard after they were emptied by the city.   Unfortunately, both garbage cans were in the alley and completely full.  Cheela went to the alley to put the garbage cans back on the rack.  However, she was only able to pick up one, as the other was too heavy.  

So Cheela went back to the garage and into the backyard, only to find Tia bending over the swimming pool.  This pool is about two feet above ground and two feet below.  Tia had the "pick" trying to get the plug off of the drain as the pool had rain water in it.  Cheela was very concerned that Tia would fall head first into the pool and she wasn't sure how she would explain that to the police and to the family.  So Cheela immediately took the device and removed the drain cover.  Tia then took the broom and tried to sweep the leaves out of the way so that the rain water would go down the drain--not the leaves.  Cheela was not sure what the result of that endeavor was as she went into the house looking for her Irish Ale!

Although this could be considered a work of fiction, IT IS THE HONEST TRUTH!!!!!!!!!!!  How could anyone make something like this up?  Cheela is hoping that there will be some award for this short story, maybe even having it made into a movie or a sitcom!!!

Who would have "thunk" there could be so much adventure like this here on the border??????????

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pug Tales--Volume 4

Recently I had to attend a conference in Rio Rico for three days.   This is usually never a problem as Teresa is here to take care of the pugs or the conferences are in the valley so they go with me and stay with one of the kids.  However, Teresa was still up in the valley and it had completely slipped my mind that I needed to find someplace or someone to take care of Lucy and Diego.

I did a web search and found a place in Hereford (near Sierra Vista) called"Goin' to Grandma's" (a bed and biscuit kennel) and all of the testimonials were great.  So I called and asked if they could stay there.  I had all of their shot records sent to them, but they needed the vaccine for kennel cough.  Our vet down here was out of town but I found a place in Sierra Vista where I could get the vaccine and give it to them myself.  Thank goodness it was not a shot, but a spray in their noses.

So off went Lucy and Diego to the pet resort.  When we got there, I signed them up for Camp BowWow so that they could play with the other dogs each day.  When I left them, they looked so pathetic and I felt bad.  It was a really nice facility so I knew that they would be well taken care of!

Were they ever glad to see me when I went to pick them up.  That morning, they had been to the groomers so they were all clipped, brushed, and washed!!  They even received a report card--they did very well!

Teresa got home a day or so later.  Diego started to have a cough and it was kind of bad.  I told her I would make an appointment with Dr. John (our vet down here and long time family friend).  The next morning when I was getting ready for work, he was coughing quite a bit.  Teresa wanted me to call Dr. John at 6:30 a.m., but I waited until they opened.  Dr. John works with all of the ranchers around here with their horses, etc., so he is on the road quite a bit.  He doesn't have an actual office because of this, and works out of the back of his truck.  He was out that day, but we could go in Saturday.  So as I am getting ready to take him in, Teresa decides she needs to go with me.  Now this is the same person who was not very thrilled about me bringing both of them down here when I moved down here!!!!

Diego is doing fine, but was on some medication.  Every day I was questioned to make sure that I had given him his meds.

Last weekend, we spent the three days up at the cabin.  The pugs love the mountains because they can run free.  I found out the day we were at the vet's office  that there is a vaccine out for rattlesnakes which I will be getting that for them soon.

Can't help but love those pugs!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Saying Goodbye to My Dear Friend, Pat O.

I received a dreaded phone call as I was coming home tonight.   I knew that I would receive this phone call any day now.  Last week, Pat's wonderful daughter, Kerry, sent me an email telling me that her mom was in the final stages of her life.  I received her email while I was at a conference and it took me quite a bit of time to respond because of the tears.

Many years ago, when I went to teach at Patterson Elementary in Gilbert, I met Pat.  She was hired as an instructional assistant and she was assigned to my grade level.  There began a friendship that has lasted for many years.  

Pat became an integral part of my classroom community.  She was loved by the children and respected by the teachers.  Over the years, I feel that I grew as a teacher.  However, that growth would not have happened without Pat O. in my professional life.  But even more than that, was Pat in my personal life.  Pat was always opinionated and you could count on her telling you what she thought.  However, this was always done in a very respectful way.

Through my years of teaching at Patterson, Pat was always the one to help me get my classroom ready for the first day.  She kept me on track with my lesson plans.  She worked with individual students and groups.  She ran off all of the papers that were needed for the students. She took care of their problems on the playground.  And every year when I took my students on the Bisbee/Tombstone trip, Pat was right there with us.  The children and the parents loved her!!!  And so did I!  I know that I was a good teacher and will always carry those years with me with pride.   However, my being a good teacher was also because of Pat's dedication and friendship to me.  I will always value what she did for me and for the children I taught.  She truly loved them and I know she loved me.

After many years at Patterson, several of the teachers decided to move to Houston Elementary when it opened.   Pat moved with us.  After one year at Houston, I went to the District and then the next year to Gilbert El.  Pat then came to Gilbert El with me for a few years before she retired.  

Through the years we have remained friends.  As with many friendships, time goes by without seeing each other.  I was busy being a principal and Pat was busy being retired.  So we didn't see a lot of each  other.  

Last March, her daughter, Kerry, let me know that she had cancer.   The day her email came brought tears to my eyes.  It was so hard to hear this news.  So many of those wonderful friends from Patterson have passed and I didn't want to hear this about my dear friend, Pat.

I was able to visit with her over the course of the next few months when I went up to the valley.  She was the same Pat O.  I know that she was proud of me being a superintendent.  

Probably my favorite Pat O. story has to do with the cemetery plots that her husband, Chuck, bought many years ago.  He purchased two plots at the Catholic cemetery on Baseline in Mesa.  A few years after that purchase, the Gilbert District purchased land from the Diocese of Phoenix to build a new school for the District.  I will never forget Pat's comment, "I am going to be on playground duty for eternity."   When I was talking to Kerry tonight, she said that they were putting a whistle in her casket.

In August when I was in the valley, I was able to spend some time with her.  I was able to tell her how much she meant to me and to tell her that I loved her.  That doesn't always happen in life.  I will always feel at peace that I was able to have that conversation with her.

Kerry said that Pat died the way she lived. That was with her family surrounding her.  I know that she and her beloved, Chuck, are reunited tonight.  And I know how much her children and grandchildren meant to her.  She talked about them often and how proud she was of them.  When I visited with her over the last few months, her children and grandchildren were surrounding her.   What a legacy she and Chuck left!!!

Pat Ofenloch was a dear friend and I will always cherish that friendship.  Tonight when I got home from work I got the phone call from Kerry as I was getting out of the car.  After our conversation, I came into the house and reflected on the many years that Pat has been in my life.  There is a saying that making a difference in the life of a child is of the utmost importance in life.  I can truly say that Pat made a difference in the life of many children in her years as an IA.

"Those we love our never really gone as long as their stories are told."  Thank you, Pat, for all that you have done for me over the years.  I will always cherish the stories and your friendship.

I hope to get up to Gilbert for the funeral, but I may not make it.  If I don't, her stories will always be in my heart.  So my dear friend, Pat,

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Doesn't Seem Possible!

It was nine years ago today that my mom died.  There has not been a day that has gone by that I haven't missed her.  My being back here in Douglas with Teresa would have made her so proud.  It has done my heart good to hear so often from people who loved her.  She was a remarkable person and I am proud to have been her daughter.  

She would have been 94 years old on Saturday.  Wow!!  

Last year we didn't have our family dinner together to remember the good times and the fun times.  We will all be together next week, so I am hoping we can get together to tell stories, especially for Cameron.  It is so important for him to remember her.  In the words of my favorite author, Carmen Agra Deedy, "Those we love are never really gone, as long as their stories are told."  And there are so many stories to tell about Margaret Shannon!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September Summaries

It has been awhile since I have written anything on my blog--almost a month.  A lot has happened in this past month, but not necessarily things I can write about here!

We usually spend Labor Day weekend at the cabin.  It has become something of a tradition with Kerri, Cam and various friends.  However, this year Cave Creek is still closed because of the fire.  Teresa and I did go up a few weeks ago and it is amazing what rain can do.   It was very green and things are really starting to come back.  However, the massive amounts of rain have caused the creek to change course in many areas.  You can tell where the water has made a new route.  It was just good to see that there  was not damage from flooding at the cabin.
Because Teresa was gone, I had to figure out someplace that was "pug friendly" if I wanted to go anywhere over the weekend.  I did find several places that would accept pets.  The only problem was that the pets have to be very good--no barking, don't get up on furniture.....all of the things that my pugs do!!  I finally decided upon the Triangle T Guest Ranch in Dragoon.  So the pugs and I loaded up and headed to Dragoon which is about an hour from Douglas.  It is in a beautiful spot called Texas Canyon right off of I10 between Willcox and Benson.  The rock formations are amazing!!  The ranch is great with horses and ranch dogs and a saloon right in the middle.  However, the pugs aren't exactly ranch pugs and they didn't take too kindly to being on a leash when the other dogs (and horses) weren't.  We ended up staying just one night because of this.  I would like to go back with Cam as I think he would love the ranch---minus the pugs!!!

September brings the Arizona School Board Association's yearly law conference.  School law is a huge field and I find myself talking to our school's attorney on a regular basis.  The law conference is excellent with much pertinent information.  Bonnie, our assistant superintendent, two of our Board Members, and I went to it this year.  It was at the Camelback Inn which is a beautiful resort.  The highlight of this year's conference was being able to hear Sandra Day O'Connor speak.  What an incredible lady she is!! She is feisty and a hoot to listen to.  She told a story of getting to see Eleanor Roosevelt when she was a young girl.  Justice O'Connor grew up in southeastern Arizona on a cattle ranch.  She went to school in El Paso and the first lady came for a visit.  She talked about how much charisma Mrs. Roosevelt had.  Then she shared how she never told her father that she had met and admired Mrs. Roosevelt because her father was a rancher who never liked President Roosevelt.   

She also shared about her time in the Arizona Legislature.  She told us that she often would have a barbecue at her home with legislators from both parties.  She said that eating and having a beer together enabled them to work together to solve problems in Arizona.  Too bad it isn't that way still!  

She talked about the fact that we aren't teaching our students about government.  She has a website that she has created that allows kids to go on the site and play games to learn about civics.  The website is

We were all excited to see Justice O'Connor.   Bonnie was the most excited because both of her sons are lawyers in California.  She wanted to get a picture of the Judge to send to her sons.  Well, it got even better than that!! I had gone out to get some water at a break and when I came back in, Justice  O'Connor was sitting in the back of the room.  I quickly went to where we were sitting and got Bonnie and my camera.  Justice O'Connor was gracious enough to let us take a picture with Bonnie.

I have had many wonderful mentors in my professional life over the years, especially Leona Shreve and Wally Delecki.  I have learned so much from them in so many ways.  When I moved to Douglas a little over a year ago, I knew I could always call or email them with a question.  However, I have been fortunate to have a great mentor down here in Ray Borane.  Ray has been a long time family friend and was my high school Spanish teacher.  He was the superintendent in Douglas for many years and has a middle school named after him.  He was also the mayor of Douglas for about 12 years and has held positions at the state level in education, as well as advisory boards.  He was the interim superintendent prior to me getting the job.  This past year he has helped me immensely.   A few weeks ago, we were talking about how much different being a superintendent is today.  I have to be involved in every aspect of the district.  Because we are in school improvement, there are a lot of tasks that I have to be involved in that are required by the state and feds.  He offered to continue to help me, but we needed to do it in an official capacity.  So at the last Board Meeting, Ray was hired as a "special assistant to the superintendent" for the whopping sum of $1.00 per year!!  One of his many duties and one that keeps him quite busy is his being a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council, Southwest Border Task Force.  And as I told him last week, this makes me feel important--his two BOSSES are Janet Napolitano and me!!!!

There has been a world of difference between this September and last for me.  With a year behind me, I feel much more confident in my ability to be able to do some great things for Douglas Unified.  We are back into the swing of the school year and I am looking forward to some wonderful accomplishments this year!!!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

An Incredible First Day

Douglas Unified School District welcomed all of our staff back on August 3.  All faculty and staff came together at the newly named James A. Brenden Auditorium.  We started a new tradition by having a slide show of all 25 year employees.  Because this was a first, we had to catch up and honor all of those 25 years and more.  We will be honoring all of these long time, loyal employees at a Board Meeting in the near future.

Last year when everyone was back, I had only been on the job for  a very short time.  What a difference a  year makes!!!  

This year I gave a short speech because we had a wonderful speaker following my address.  Last December, I attended the Arizona School Board Association conference on servant leadership.   We had two excellent speakers.  I have written about one in an earlier entry, the author of the Paradoxical Commandments.  He was excellent!

However, the second day's speaker was probably the most incredible motivational speaker that I have ever heard, and I have heard many over the years.  Her name is Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch.  In all of the years that I have ever attended conferences and have heard great speakers, I have never been so moved by someone that I actually stayed to try to talk to her.  And I was able to talk to her and she was amazing!!

Consuelo grew up on the border in Texas.  So much of what she said had true meaning for me even though I am not Hispanic.  What she said truly touched my heart.  When I talked to her, I told her I was from Douglas.  I told her that I would love to have her come to Douglas and talk to our staff.  She promised me that she would.

When I got back to Douglas, I contacted her company.  Consuelo is one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the U.S.  She is a retired officer in the U.S. Army and was on track to becoming a general.  She promised her mother that she would give back to the Hispanic community and so she retired from the Army to start her company.  Needless to say, she is able to command "big bucks" for her services.  DUSD doesn't have big bucks so I didn't pursue her coming after I found out the cost.  In about March, her assistant called me and asked if we still wanted her to come to Douglas.  I told her of course but that we couldn't afford her.  Well, Consuelo was true to her word about wanting to come to Douglas.  We negotiated  the price and I can tell you that she truly gave us a deal!!

I was so excited about this that I immediately sent a message to our Governing Board.  One of our Board Members is the County Manager.  He made arrangements for Consuelo to talk to his supervisors and the City of Douglas and the Chamber of Commerce asked her to speak to parents and members of the community.  

She was AMAZING!!  We had an excellent turn out for the community night.  The next morning, Consuelo spoke to our staff.  It was UNBELIEVABLE.  Her message is so powerful.  What touched me the most was that she dedicated her talk to me!!!

I feel honored and privileged that this incredible woman came to Douglas with her message of hope.  She said that public education is the purest form of democracy.  She also said we have to save our children because they are the future.  

I had so many staff members tell me how much her talk meant to them.  They could truly relate to her and where she came from.  I am hoping she will come back to talk to our high school kiddos. 

Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch is my hero!!  I cannot begin to express my gratitude that she chose to come to Douglas!!  WOW!!!

I am putting a video of her on this post.  Please take a few minutes to listen to what she has to say.  Her message is one of hope and inspiration. (You can turn off the music on the playlist by hitting =)

Monday, August 1, 2011

"ONEderful" First Year"

It is hard for me to believe, but tomorrow I will welcome back all of the teachers in Douglas for the start of the 2011/12 school year!  It was one year ago July 26 (exactly one year  and one week) that I started this new journey in my life.  After 39 years in the Gilbert District, I returned home to Douglas and 858 14th as the superintendent of Douglas Unified.  

And what a first year it has been!!  Last year when I addressed everyone, I had only been on the job a few days and literally knew almost nothing about the job and what I was going to be doing.  What a difference a year makes!!!

I have learned so much  over the last 12 months and many, many ways.  There have been ups and downs, just like any other job anywhere.  I have reconnected with old friends and made new ones.  And I absolutely love the people I work with on a daily basis.  

It has been great being here with Teresa.  Since my mom died in 2002, it has sometimes been hard to come down here for a visit.  However, that has changed now that I am living in this wonderful, old home.  

The pace of life is so much slower here and that is a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of a big metropolitan area.  The weather in this part of the state is, in my opinion, the best in the world.  We have the four seasons.  The summer monsoons are awesome.  It rains almost every day--with lightning and thunder.  Most nights I sleep upstairs with the window open and the fan on--no cooler at all.

I had forgotten some of the truly funny things that happen in the news in a small town.  I remember doing a post awhile back about some things that were written in the Bisbee paper that would NEVER make it into the Arizona Republic or the Tucson newspapers.   A few weeks ago, I was cleaning out the 14,000+ emails in my school computer.  As I was doing this, I was listening to the local radio station.  Every morning, there is a program called "The Trading Post."  People can call in and sell items, try to find items, or make community announcements.  A lady called in who lives in the valley (farming community).  She asked if the person who owned the cows that were walking around her yard, to please come and get them.   She said that the cows were thirsty and were drinking out of the kiddie pool in the yard.  And on top of that, the dogs were chasing the calves!!!  Needless to say, I had a little chuckle over this.  I was curious to hear the next day's broadcast to see if this same lady might be selling beef!

One of my favorite things is the number of inflatable swimming pools (not kiddie ones) that are in the front yards of people's houses.  There are two right across the street from the house.  It is great to watch the kids having such a good time in the front yard.

And a week ago Friday I knew I finally had arrived and was accepted back in Douglas.  During the day, I had two visits from different people.  This is unique to a small town (I think). The comfort level is different here and it is okay just to drop in for a visit or to ask a question.  That was how it was when I was growing up here, but it hadn't happened until recently!!

What an adventure this has been!! It is one that I would never have predicted would have happened.  I know that it is great for me to be here with Teresa so that she is able to stay down here, but I have to say that it has been just as much a blessing for me!!!

We will see what tomorrow will bring!!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

What Happens on a Cruise Stays on a Cruise!

Earlier this month, I went on my first ever cruise!!   Several months ago, my dear friend and former boss, Leona, asked me if I would like to go on this cruise with several people that I worked with through the years in Gilbert.  She was able to get a great deal for this seven day cruise--the only catch was that I had to join AARP.  Now I know how old I am, but I have dragged my feet on joining this organization and I am not yet retired!! Anyway, because it was in July, I figured it would be okay to go.  My "old" friend, Mary Larson was my roommate which was great for me.   

I flew from Phoenix to New Orleans on Saturday, July 9.  We were all staying in the same hotel that night.  I was able to spend some time in the French Quarter with Jill and George.  We had a great time!!

Sunday we all met out front and went down to the pier to get on the ship.  It was very interesting how they got everyone on board the ship in a fairly timely manner!

Since I don't get car sick, I figured I wouldn't get sea sick--wrong!!  The first night I was a bit queasy and it continued into the second day.  Got some meds and some wrist bracelets and was much better.  However, I couldn't look at the ocean with the boat moving.  That also went away--thank goodness.

The first day was spent at sea.  On Tuesday we arrived in Costa Maya, Mexico.  It was beautiful.  I decided not to do anything that day, but just walk around. 

Wednesday we arrived in Routan, Honduras, another beautiful place.  We did a tour of the island and saw some of the native dancers perform.  

Thursday was spent in Belize.  Mary, Judy, Tom and I went to a private beach and spent the day swimming and relaxing.   The water was great!!!

On Friday, we arrived in Cozumel.  The ocean there is absolutely gorgeous.  The shopping in Cozumel is suppose to be the best.  We walked around all of the shops.  I actually bought a very nice ring for myself and one for Kerri for her birthday.  I really  like Cozumel and would love to go back and spend some time there.

Saturday was another day at sea.  We arrived back in New Orleans early Sunday.   Since my flight wasn't until late, several of us went on a tour of New Orleans.  We saw the horrible destruction that happened with Hurricane Katrina.  They are STILL recovering.  The houses that they are now building are very interesting.  They are kind of on stilts.

Speaking of recovering, I am still recovering from a week of fun!!  It was back to work on Tuesday and it is has been BUSY.  However, it was great to get completely away--no phone and only one day of email.  

It was wonderful spending the week with such great old friends.   Thank you, Leona and Sam, for all that you did.  Leona really outdid herself.  Each morning we had a newsletter!!!  

It was great spending time with Mike and Dottie, Judy and Tom, Jill and George, Nancy and Wally, Brad and Liz, and some of Wally's and Nancy's friends. I had so much fun. 

Going on a cruise is definitely worth it and I hope to have another opportunity to do this in the future!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Cabin in the Chiricahaus in the Aftermath of the Fire

The Coronado National Forest has been closed since the Horseshoe II fire started May 8.   This fire was officially over this past week and is one of the five worst fires in Arizona history.  I have been anxious, yet apprehensive about going up to the cabin.

Friday I was able to get a special permit from the Forest Service to go up and do clean up, etc.  So Kerri, Cameron, Teresa and I drove up to Cave Creek today.  The drive from Douglas looked much like it does every summer before the monsoons start up.  One would never know that a horrific fire took place very near.
As we drove into the canyon, everything looked fine.  The only noticeable difference is that we saw a lot of deer.  Usually we don't see them until dusk.  Two stood at the side of the road and looked at us.  We had the pugs and I was expecting some barking.  Maybe they sensed the sadness for their fellow animals trying to survive.   We also wanted to be very careful with them up there as there could be animals other than deer who may not be as okay to see them!

Everything in the forest is extremely dry.  Trees had dead leaves and there are a lot of fallen, dead leaves on the ground  and absolutely NO water in the creek.

As we turned off on the South Fork road, I was really dreading what we would find.  Once again, deer were there.  And you could tell that there had been a fire.  However, not like I thought it would look.  I was in northern Arizona after the Rodeo-Chedeski fire and it was no where as bad as that.  But it is so dry and I have never seen it as dry.  As we continued on the road, you could tell there had been a fire, but would never know that it was such a horrible fire.

Approaching the cabin and going across the bridge, there was a huge pile of logs that had been cut right on our property.  The cabin looked great, except for the incredible dryness.  Across the road and up the mountain, it was obvious that there had been a fire.  The fire went all the way up the mountain, but it didn't burn everything.  My greatest concern will be what will happen when the rains come.  We have been worried about the creek, but I think there is going to be some changes made when the water comes down the mountain across the road.
We stopped at the Portal Store.  It was actually a bit busy, which is good.  I wanted to give them some business.  They have great lip gloss and candles made by a local artisan.  I also found a beautiful pair of copper earrings with hummingbirds that I bought.

So now we are in a holding pattern waiting for the much-needed monsoons and what may happen then.  I am just so grateful that the cabin was spared and that everything looks as though a little rain and mother nature will take care of the problems.  

The Chiricahuas are one of the most beautiful spots on earth in my opinion.  I love going up there.  This cabin has been in our family for 50 years and the memories that I have of the many visits can never be erased by fire or water.  I just want to continue to make memories on my favorite spot on earth--God willing!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Forty Years of Wedded BLISS!

Teresa, Cameron and I just got back from our weekend in the valley.  We were there to attend the 40th Wedding Anniversary Celebration for my cousin, Cecilia and her husband, Jay.  Their six children surprised them with a party on Friday evening.  

We all were waiting for them to arrive at St. Mary's Basilica around 6:30 Friday evening.  They were coming under the pretense of a church choir concert.  Yaya belongs to the choir at St. Mary's.  We had a "play by play" commentary from Katie about where they were and when they would arrive. 

Cecilia and Jay got to the church around 7:00 p.m.  They were accompanied by Dave and Meg from Idaho and their two beautiful girls, Bisbee and Piper.  I can honestly say that I think they were very surprised--at least Jay was--Cecilia might have had a little inkling.

Everyone stood and said "happy anniversary" together as they walked into the church.  Father Alonso, a Franciscan priest from St. Mary's, had them renew their wedding vows.  Austin, their oldest grandson, read a reading.  It was a simple and quick ceremony.

After that, we went to the Social Hall which is underneath St. Mary's for dinner and fun!!  So many of our family events have been held at St. Mary's--both joyful and sorrowful.  Many people were there to honor Jay and Cecilia!  All of her children were there with their families---Monica, Derik and Austin, Tyler, and Parker; David and Meg and Bisbee and Piper: Mark and his girlfriend, Annie, Jeremy, Mattox and Cole; Katie and Bob; and Matthew.  Of course, all of her sisters were there!!  Many of our cousins also came.  And their many friends through the years were in attendance.

Cecilia and I have always been good friends.  Although we are cousins, she is still my very dear friend.  I have always been able to count on both Jay and Cecilia over the years.  They have ALWAYS been there for me and I truly appreciate it--more than words can express.

Cecilia is one of the truly good people of the world and Jay has been by her side through thick and thin!  I so love and admire both of them.  We can't pick our relatives, but we can pick our friends.  It is so nice to know that they are my friends!! Love you both, Jay and Cecilia, and here is to 40 (well maybe not 40) more!!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Many Memories Made in May

Wow!! It is hard to believe that a whole school year has gone by so quickly!  Moving down here to Douglas last July was such a whirlwind event and school started right after I arrived down here. I can truly say "I hit the ground running."

What a year it has been!!  So many events occurred, both good and not so good.  However, I truly feel blessed to be here in Douglas and I really love my job.  

May is always a busy month because of it being the end of the school year.  So many events take place this month and it is very different from a district point of view.  

I have mentioned in previous posts that the only regret I had leaving Gilbert El was that I never had closure with the kids and families.  Well, the wonderful Gilbert El PTSO eliminated that regret for me.  They had wanted to do a reception for me and we could never find a good date.  We finally found a common time that worked for everyone.  I was very nervous about this event for some reason that I can't explain.  However, it was a WONDERFUL evening.  Many families came by and it was so awesome to get all of the hugs from the kids.  There were even high school kids who came by, too!!  PTSO is putting a plaque in the library of me so that the kids will be able to see it. 

I think that what has meant the most to me over the years is the relationships I have had with some of our more "energetic" kids that I spent a lot of time with.  Several of these kids and there families were also there.  There was a mom there that I didn't recognize.  She came up to me and introduced herself.  They were new to Gilbert El this year and she said she had heard so much about me that she wanted to meet me.  Wow is all I can say!

Back to Douglas and the last week of school brought completion ceremonies at the two middle schools.  Friday was the DHS graduation.  I knew that I was going to give out the diplomas, but didn't quite expect it to be so awesome. All of the educators wore gowns with our Masters' Hood.  That is a great touch!  Shaking hands with each graduate, handing them their diplomas, and having my picture taken with each of them was very special to me!!  After 20 years of kindergarten graduations, these students knew which hand to offer to shake and which hand to take their diplomas in!  I came home very tired that night, but it was a good tired.

As I reflect on this first year, I feel good about what has been accomplished.  Our Governing Board is very supportive and our district leadership team is coming together and I truly believe we are going to be able to do some great things this next year.  I love the people I work with.  I never had an assistant principal so it has taken some getting use to having an assistant superintendent.  I can honestly say that I could not have picked anyone better than Bonnie if I had been doing the hiring.  Together, we are quite a team!

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!!!