Sunday, December 31, 2017

Reflecting on 2017

I have to say that I am glad 2017 is over.   It seems as I get older, I am more anxious for a new year to start.

2017 brought a lot of changes, some good and some very sad.  I will start with the sad ones and go to the good ones.

We lost our incredible aunt Teresa on July 2.  It was a blessing as her last many months were not the best.  She was not the person we knew.  Even though she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, at 94, is it really that or is it just old age and dementia?  However, as with Alzheimer's and the saying that you lose someone twice--once when they do not have cognitive abilities anymore and then when they pass.  I believe that.

The one consolation I (we) have is that we did the very best for her during this difficult time.

But 2017 was the end of an era.  Our family has been in southern Arizona since 1903 and in Douglas since 1912.  The family home (858) was purchased in 1918 by our grandfather.  I had the privilege of growing up there.  My kids spent their summers there as did many of our cousins.  But the best part for me was the time that I spent down there with Teresa from 2010 to 2015.   

I spent a little over two weeks in October in Douglas cleaning out almost 100 years of "things."  I had help from Judy, Ken, Kerri, Cecilia and Jay.  However, I was there the whole time and got it done, even though I had dreaded it for many years.  The house sold immediately and it closed the end of November.  There is a new family living there now and I hope that they love it like we did.

Losing Teresa was harder for me that losing my mom.  I am not sure why, because my mom was the best and we were close.  I think it is because I had her much longer in my life and I lived with her for five wonderful years.

This is really not the same, but I lost my Lucy pug last March.  She had been with me through some very trying times and was my loyal companion.  I miss her, too.

The good things were my year on the GPS Board.  Much happened, but I believe for the greater good of a wonderful school district.  We have our new superintendent who truly understands the importance of relationships.  I think we are back on track to having GPS be one of the best districts anywhere.  We just need to work on the legislature to make them understand the importance of funding public education.

I won't even begin to get into the national politics.  All I can say is my mom would be absolutely appalled by what is happening.  I am concerned that we have lost focus on caring about people.  I hope I am wrong.

So here is to 2018.  I am hoping for better times in many ways.  It is so hard for me to imagine that I am the age I am.  I never thought about this part of my life and I hope that I can do it right!!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Weekend in Bisbee

Kerri and I had a weekend in Bisbee planned for a few weeks.  She was selected to participate in a science activity with Game and Fish near Douglas.  At the last minute it was cancelled, so we headed down anyway so she could do some research for her fourth graders.

I can't quite bring myself to going down to Douglas just yet. With 858 being sold and the family moving into the house, it is just too hard for me.  I had ordered tamales so Kerri went down and got 24 dozen green and meat from my favorite tamale person!

We stayed at Gloria and Craig's little house by theirs on Brewery Gulch.  It was absolutely perfect. It is a great location to walk into Bisbee and it is so comfortable. I would recommend it to anyone!!!

Friday night we went to dinner at the Bisbee Table.  It is really good food.  We did a bit of shopping and then went back and went to sleep early.  I had to buy a beanie because it was cold, which turned into a good thing since I forgot to bring a brush and comb!!

Saturday we walked downtown and looked at shops.  Kerri got a few things.  There are a couple of jewelers at the old "PD mercantile" building.  They make some amazing jewelry.

It was cold which is usually is this time of year in Bisbee.   We had lunch at the Copper Queen hotel and then a late afternoon cheese crisp at Santiago's.  

My favorite place that we went was Arizona's smallest bar at the Silver King Hotel.  It is up two flights of very steep stairs and is an actual hotel room turned into a bar.  It has about enough room for three or four people, but there is plenty of room outside on the patio--just a bit too cold for now.

Only in Bisbee will you see the beautiful lights and a Peace Sign, which is really appropriate this year in  particular.

All in all, it was a very nice weekend and I hope to get down there again soon, especially with such a great place to stay.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Judging Doors at MHS

On Friday, I was a "Christmas Door Decorating Judge" at Mesquite High School.  Principal Ken Fetter asked me if I would be willing to do this and of course I was!  It was so fun to go through the school with Ken and Chad Fitzgerald.  Chad is principal of the alternative high school in the district and was one of my wonderful teachers.

When I walked in to Mesquite, I was greeted by Toni, the receptionist at Mesquite.   Toni worked at Gilbert El and she is truly one of the nicest and friendliest people I know.  She showed me the door that they decorated and she had put a picture of a pug on it.  I was being "bribed" and we had a good laugh.

When I went to the office, I ran into Debbie and Jane. Both of them are IA's at Mesquite, but they got their start at Gilbert El.  Debbie is a good friend and I had let her know I was going to be there.

As we walked around the school, I saw so many people that I know.  Many of them started out at Gilbert El and are now working at Mesquite.  I also saw some people that I have known for many years.  It was so awesome.  As Chad said, it was like a mini high school reunion for me!!

About five of the doors had the picture of the pug on them--haha!   It was really hard to chose the best because they were all good.  Some were hilarious and some were designed around what subject the teacher taught.  

When we got to the classroom where Debbie and Jane work, there was the pug again.  They work with Tom Waechter who teaches high functioning students with Autism.  He was also at Gilbert El and is a wonderful teacher and human. Both of his kids were students at Gilbert El and I love his whole family.

I loved their door and if you look closely, you can see the pug (it certainly made the rounds).

I don't know which door won.  It was hard to choose the best one.  It was fun all the way around and was done in good spirit.  

I had such a great morning.  This is truly one of the best parts of being a board member!!

Monday, December 11, 2017

A Memory Triggered!

This morning I went to a funeral at St. Anne's Church here in Gilbert.  It was a very sad occasion as the funeral was for the husband of a wonderful lady who really helped me with my campaign and who has become a friend. 

As I was standing waiting to go into the church, the line was by the office.  It triggered a memory of Teresa.  It is amazing how memories are triggered all of a sudden.  It put a bit of a smile on my face at a very sad event.

The summer of 2016, Teresa really wanted to go to confession.  I couldn't even imagine why she, of anyone I know, would need to confess something. But that was her life.  

Our cousin, Maggie, made arrangements for her to go to confession one afternoon at St. Anne's.  So I took her.  Since it was not the regular time, I gave the priest a donation.  I so wanted to listen in to see what on earth Teresa could have confessed.  No such luck.  Just paid the money and took her home.

Later, I found out from Maggie that Teresa told her she was worried because in May she had missed mass because she had diarrhea, the wonderful priest told her that WAS NOT a sin.  As I said, she never said a word to me about it.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Weekend Wanderings

It has been a busy weekend, busier than the week was for me last week.  Saturday, I had the absolute privilege of attending the Highland High School Concert--Home for the Holidays.  It was put on the their orchestra department.  Their orchestra department alone has over 300 students participating.  And it was delightful.  

I cannot begin to say how important the arts are for our students.  And Gilbert has one of the best programs anywhere.  

When I got there yesterday, there were several small buses from retirement communities around us. I was so touched to see this. Not only is this a wonderful opportunity for senior citizens to see what the schools are doing and be entertained, but it is also a good PR move for when we have to go out for a vote on an override or bond.

The music was unbelievable. One of the many incredible parts was the Harp Ensemble.  Having this is unusual at the high school level and they were wonderful!

It was a very entertaining two hours and I am so happy that I was able to attend and see the work of our wonderful educators and their students!

Sunday morning brought the annual "Breakfast at the Barn" at Shannon Underhill's house. I have been to the last three, but they started while I was still in Douglas.

It is a group of very dear friends who worked at Gilbert El.  I will always value their friendship and the opportunities to get together often.  This has become a very nice tradition. Every year we make a donation to some one in need or an organization.  

I am so blessed to have this wide circle of friends who mean so much to me. My days at Gilbert El were the best!!!

And to cap off a great weekend, went to Glendale to celebrate my cousin, Cecilia's birthday.   She has been more than my cousin since we were young.  She has been such a great friend and such a great support.  I love her like a sister and don't know what I would do without her.  She is one of the truly good people in the world. On top of that, she is FUN!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Dear, Retired Friends!!

Ralph Waldo Emerson says, "It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."  And that is the truth!!

Today I met my retired administrator friends for a nice late lunch and visit. We also celebrated Jill's birthday. Every year it is very special to celebrate her birthday. Jill has had two kidney transplants and she is an amazing human being and friend. She has had health issues, but you would never know it with her so positive outlook on everything.

These four ladies were a lifeline for me when I was living in Douglas. They would come to Bisbee for a weekend about three times a year and give me reprieve!  I will always be grateful to them for that.  Their friendship means the world to me. And they are fun!!!

We try to get together as often as possible for lunch and/or a movie.  About every three or four months, we try to do an overnight somewhere.  I have missed the last two, but absolutely won't miss anymore. They are too important.

One of the adventures that we have is meeting at places that are really new to me. Today we met at a restaurant on 40th St. and Camelback in Phoenix. It is one that I have never been to before.  It was so nice and good for me to get out of my "comfort zone so to speak."

We stayed for about an hour and a half after lunch just visiting and catching up  We planned an overnight in January for my birthday.

I can't begin to express how much I care and appreciate these wonderful friends who have helped me maintain my sanity through crazy times!!!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

St. Nicholas Day

The year that we lived in Germany, we were able to learn about different traditions.  One of them was St. Nicholas Day, December 6. 

One of the wonderful people who worked on my campaign for the board, has a foreign exchange student from Germany who attends Desert Ridge High.  She is absolutely a darling girl.  

Today she got to stay home from school because of the holiday. She was hungry for German noodles (spaetzle) and I have the machine to make the noodles.   I make them often and they are delicious.

When Angie asked me if I would make them, I asked her if she would like me to make beef stroganoff also as that is my favorite.  I got the "ingredients" on Monday and went over about 3:00.  

I made a loaf of beer bread and "colored" it green for Christmas. They had not had beer bread before and it was a hit.

Anna is absolutely the nicest young lady. She is wise beyond her years.  She amazes me with her outlook on life.

Angie and Chris have two teenage girls of their own so it was a fun dinner.  Chris is such an incredible husband and dad.  He cleaned up the kitchen and that impressed me!

I was so happy to be able to do this for Anna (and Angie)!


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Lunch with my Tiger Buddy

Today I went to Gilbert El to have lunch with my tiger buddy. She is a fourth grader and asked if she could bring a friend to join us. Of course, that was fine.  Her wonderful teacher let me know what they wanted from McDonald's--cheeseburgers, fries, and a Sprite and a Dr. Pepper.  So I stopped at McDonald's and got their order.

Our weather has been rather warm this fall, but today was actually chilly.  It has been overcast all day.  The Gilbert El campus is absolutely beautiful and there are picnic tables all around the campus. It still was nice to sit outside with the girls.

I thoroughly enjoyed talking to both of the girls. They were excited to have lunch with me, as I was with them.

Tiger Buddies is a program that we started in the early 90's at Gilbert El. It is kind of like a big brother/big sister program. Adults mentor students who need a little extra TLC.

It is nice for me to be able to give back to a kiddo at my old stomping grounds! I love Gilbert El. It was such a big part of my life for the 21 years I was the principal there.  It is always nice to see friends who are still working there!

I am blessed!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Monday, Dec. 4

I have been on such a roll writing on my blog.  I have several articles to post that I have found in the treasure from 858.   However, I didn't get to any today.

I got a message from Judy yesterday (yes on a Sunday) and everything closed on the house in Douglas.  Friday night, I got a call that the alarm had been "alarmed" but I knew that Ken had turned everything off as November 30 so I didn't respond.

I am just hoping that the new family loves 858 as I did.  I know it is final and I am okay with that.  

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Ellen Roughan's Obituary in Douglas Dispatch

Every day I go through a box that I brought from Douglas.  I continue to find articles and artifacts.  I found Grandma Roughan's obituary from March, 1949.

Ellen Roughan,
96, Pioneer Arizonan, Dies

Mrs. Ellen Roughan, 96, 537 Thirteenth street, died Saturday at 8:50 a.m. in a Douglas hospital.

Mrs. Roughan, known as "Grandma" to everyone, was born in County Mayo, Ireland to John and Catherine Neafsay, Aug. 24, 1852. She came to the United States in 1879 and was married to Matthew J. Roughan, Dec. 19, 1880 at Easton, Penn.  Three children were born to the union, two of which survive.

The Roughans moved to the Arizona territory in 1903 and settled in Bisbee. In 1905 they moved to Sulphur Springs valley where the lived until the death of Mr. Roughan in 1912.

"Grandma" Roughan was a practical nurse and during her 96 years delivered many of the sons and daughters of our present day Douglas. She is survived by two daughters, Mrs. Edward A. Scott of 858 Fourteenth street, and Mrs. Anne Parmer of 537 Thirteenth street; 10 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.

Rosary will be recited Monday at 8 p.m. at the home of Mrs. Scott.  The Requiem high mass will be sung at 9 a.m. on Tuesday at Immaculate Conception church. The Rev. John Doran will officiate.

The body of Mrs. Roughan will be burried beside her husband and son in Evergreen cemetery in Lowell.

Brown-page is in charge of funeral arrangements.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

GPS Town Halls

This morning I had the privilege to once again facilitate a Gilbert Public Schools Town Hall.   I think this is the fourth one we have done.  It is a new concept and will take some time to get the word out there.  I am hoping we can record them so that people can watch them who couldn't be there.

Today's was on athletics and music.  The panel was made up of a parent, three students and teachers and administrators. It was amazing.

The young man who spoke is a football player who said he is first a student. He has an athletic scholarship to Stanford, which speaks volumes about his talent and his academics.  The two young ladies on the panel were amazing.  One talked about being such an introvert and then getting into drama and coming out of her shell.  She has a scholarship to NAU and will be majoring in a biomedical field.  However, she still wants to do acting.

The other young lady is the granddaughter of one of my most amazing IA's at Gilbert El.  She is an honors student and an athlete at Gilbert High.  She tore her ACL in August and is in the process of recovery.  She also will be going to NAU.

Nick Cornell, coach and teacher at Campo Verde spoke about the importance of coaches and it being more than a sport.  It was to mold  young people into becoming productive adults.  Nick was our GPS teacher of the year this past year.  I have known him for sometime and he is "a class act" in every sense of the word.

Jenny Nichols, who taught at Gilbert El, talked about the importance of music as did Lee Meschino from Islands.  I have had the privilege of knowing these two amazing teachers for many years.

I am so proud that GPS has still funded the arts and continues to see the importance of the "whole" child.  That has always been my vision.   

I love the role that I am playing now.  And I love the direction our district is headed in.  It is an honor!!!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Powerful Words from a Holocaust Survivor!

Be an UPSTANDER NOT A BYSTANDER!  These were the words from Oscar, a Holocaust survivor, to the students at Desert Ridge Junior High. 
He told them about respect and having respect for everyone, including your enemies. 

Oscar was born in Germany and was seven years old in 1932 when Hitler's rise started. He spoke about his normal childhood with friends and school and how all of a sudden everything changed.  

He told about how his family moved to Poland and he learned Polish and then Germany invaded Poland and everything changed.  He shared what happened when he had to start wearing the Star of David and how his tranquil life changed as bullies went after them.  The powerful part to me was how he shared about the "bystanders" just watching and not getting involved and that bystanders are the worst.

It was an amazing 90 minutes.  The kids were listening and were very touched.  It was obvious.

The year that we lived in Germany in the late 70's, I was able to visit Dachau, which was a concentration camp near Munich.  It was so sad and disturbing. I actually could feel the evil there. It is hard to explain what that felt like. The only other time I felt evil at a place was when I went into the drug tunnel in Douglas in the early 90's.  Both were evil in very different ways.  It is mind blowing to me that something like this could have ever occurred.