What’s In Your Camera Roll?

Do you have a picture of a car in a lake on your camera roll? Well I do. Actually I have about a dozen different pictures of this car on my phone, second in popularity only to my grandchildren. Weird I know, but this car intrigues me. Each time I see the blue-green car drive down the boat ramp and splash into the waters I take note, usually with a pause and a quick picture. A smile quickly comes to my face and a whimsical and nostalgic feeling takes me away momentarily as it passes by my house. My children have certainly grown weary of my calls shouting “The amphicar is in the lake again. Quick look!” But I never tire of seeing the beautiful retro turquoise vehicle putter by the house.

According to that trusted source Wikipedia, these amphibious vehicles were first made in Germany and then appeared in the United States at the New York Auto Show in 1961 at a cost of around $3000. A popular model, the Amphicar 770 was named for the 7 mph speed on water and 70 mph speed on land. According to a few online articles, apparently I am not the only one amused by this vehicle. President Lyndon Johnson surprised guests at his Texas ranch by going for a ride in his amphicar and driving right into the lake without their knowledge of the car being amphibious. Even Pepsi wanted you to “Come Alive” and join in the Pepsi Generation by drinking their beverage while splashing into the water in an amphicar!

Given that there are only 600 amphicars in existence today, I feel rather lucky that I get to see one on a regular basis. That is probably why my camera roll is filling up with pictures of this oddity. Maybe someday I’ll get a picture taken while riding inside the beauty. One can only dream!

I am joining the Slice of Life Writing Community today over at Two Writing Teachers. Won’t you consider joining in?

Lakeside Lesson

Swim first, feed fish later. That’s the lakeside lesson I learned the hard way yesterday as I watched my two grandchildren.

It was a hot morning and I knew that swimming would be part of the plan for the morning, but being it was only 8am I thought we would begin the day with feeding the little fish that swim around our shore as I enjoyed my last sips of my morning coffee. I opened the bag of stale cereal and handed Maddie and Grant the small tidbits to throw out to the swimming fish that frequented our lake. Each time they threw a nibble into the water they would quickly giggle “He ate mine! He ate mine!” It was a delight to watch their joy in the simple morning activity.

As the sun rose brighter over the horizon, the heat and humidity spiked as well, and we knew it was time to get our suits on and jump in. We quickly changed out of our pjs and into our suits. We slathered on the sunscreen and I reminded them that I was alone today and we would only be able to swim near the edge. “No jumping off the dock today!” I shared with my daredevil four year old swimming granddaughter, Maddie. “Bebe needs to watch both of you so we need to stay close to the stairs.”

As we approached the steps into the lake the hesitation began. The oldest looked tentatively down at the stairs where a few minutes before we were engaged in a fishing feeding frenzy. Maddie spotted a fish about ten feet away from her toes and quickly bolted back to the grass. I walked into the lake and splashed around announcing that fish do not like splashes, and besides THEY are afraid of us. She stiffened her face, as well as her body, and looked skeptically around the waters to make sure the coast was clear. She moved slowly to the steps and peered in every direction before proceeding further into the waters. With each step she glanced to the left and right to guarantee that my words were true. When she spotted a fish she darted back towards the stairs and announced the need for me to make bigger splashes in an effort to eradicate the fish forever!

After much effort and splash, we finally made it into the water waist deep. We swam over to the little slide attached to our small peddle boat. Each time Maddie made it to the top of the slide, she quickly swept her eyes in every direction to ensure there were no swimming creatures within her field of vision. With each jump she feverishly paddled her long arms to reach the boat with purpose and quickly hopped on for fear of the sea creatures. Needless to say it was an exhausting swim with lots of splashes being made to ward of those little perch, that probably appeared as the biggest sea monsters ever to her. After about twenty minutes of this anxious fun, we called it quits. I found it quite exhausting to splash away the dangers that lurked in our waters after each jump. We walked out of the lake and toweled off, deciding it was not a good time to swim. I decided we needed a calm and peaceful activity so I pulled out the watercolors and we quietly painted in the shade of a nearby tree while the birds tweeted overhead.

While we all had an exciting and memorable morning, this grandmother learned a big lake life lesson yesterday for sure: swim first and fish later, if at all! I just hope the perch survive without their morning cereal.

It’s Tuesday, and I am joining my fellow teacher writing friends over at Two Writing Teachers with a slice of life story. Take a peek and consider joining in!

Crow-incidence

I awoke with a hope of getting one big task completed today, to unpack the hundreds of books I had brought home from school. I had set aside the whole day to accomplish this undertaking and was looking forward to adding the collections to my new bookcase. But if you are like me, arranging picture books isn’t about opening a box and simply placing the texts on a shelf, one could easily get caught up in opening each and every cover and falling in love with a new book. So I had promised myself to stay focused on the task and NOT read ALL the pages.

Until…

I came upon a book called Bird Talk, overheard by Ann Jonas. The story is told using “memory phrases” or bird calls known to every bird watcher. As I was flipping through the pages I came across a spread with crows cahing, or shouting “car” as Ann described it, on a phone line. One look at that page and I was immediately transported back to the summer of 1994.

My dad had just been admitted to the hospital and given a dire diagnosis of having a grapefruit sized tumor on the brain. His new doctor, Dr. Crow, had just entered the room to talk to all of us about the prognosis. Needless to say we were all devastated. Not to miss an opportunity to tell a good joke, dad pipes in with his unforgettable story.

“Hey Doctor Crow, you know how when you are driving down the road you often see a dead squirrel or chipmunk but you never see a dead crow. That’s because there is always a crow on the phone line calling “Car, car!”

Seeing this page brought back memories of that dreaded moment and his telling of the joke, at what we thought was the worst possible time. Yet when I took the time to text my family the picture this morning, we all virtually chuckled at the memory of the moment that had taken place twenty-six years ago, almost to the day. What a coincidence, or dare I say crow-incidence! We then shared that we can’t see a crow without thinking of dad. We know that dad is smiling down on us, inspiring us to keep telling jokes, and helping us to stay safe from oncoming traffic and other hazards.

Each Tuesday I share a slice of life post and link my story to the writing community sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. Take a peek and consider joining in.

Chiming In

The wind blew the chimes on a recent day seven years after Dave passed. The chimes tingled ever so gently as if speaking to me on this calm day. These chimes had special meaning to me so I listen when they sound.

Cleaning out the garage a few years ago I came across Dave’s old set of golf clubs. I offered them to my golfer brother, after realizing that I had been holding onto the bag sentimentally and hoping that maybe, just maybe, I’d take up the game someday. I wasn’t sure if any of the now rusty clubs were usable but he gladly took them anyway.

That Christmas my brother arrived at my house and gingerly handed me an awkwardly wrapped gift. I opened the package to find a tangle of strings and a wooden base with a golf head attached to the middle. As I lifted the wooden base I realized it was a wind chime. Chuck looked at me with tears in his eyes and says, “This was made with Dave’s clubs.” Tears flowed down my face as I looked at this gift made with love and care. I cried even more when he handed our three kids their own set to hang in their home.

The chimes now hang outside my kitchen window so I hear them ringing often. On one recent day I was intrigued that the chimes were making a sound despite barely detecting a breeze.

Was Dave talking to me? What was he saying? What would he say to me seven years after leaving this world?

I can only imagine. And then maybe pen a poem to capture those thoughts.

It’s Tuesday and I am sharing my post with the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers. Take a peek and consider joining in the writing fun!

Following My Ears, and Stomach, and Heart

I spent the morning washing windows and had just sat down when I heard the familiar calliope sound of the ice cream truck. I had planned to make myself a salad for an early dinner, but the call of the truck was tempting me. And then my daughter appears asking “Ice cream for dinner?”

It was summer after all and my plans tend to be a little less rigid. Besides washing those windows was tough work and I deserved a little treat. I decided to give in to my ice cream weakness and grabbed my wallet and mask and ran out to the road to greet the smiling college driver, who was probably wondering where our little kids were.

Little did he know they were standing right there in front of him ordering ice cream treats for their dinner from a truck on a sticky summer day. Yes, I followed my ears, stomach and heart with that purchase of a Dove bar on a stick! And am I glad I did!

It’s Tuesday and I’m adding my slice of life story to the writing community blog page over at Two Writing Teachers. Won’t you join in too?

Virtual Party

Last week I officially retired from public school work after 22 years. It was an emotional day starting with a rolling rally of students driving around the school parking lot waving thank you banners and balloons and arms. I headed home to be met with a gathering of my children and grandchildren, complete with floral bouquets, popping corks, and a lobster dinner enjoyed lakeside.

Of course laughter and tears were part of the afternoon, especially as I was presented with a few virtual guests. My kids pulled together a video montage of warm messages from my present day colleagues, friends who retired from teaching long ago, students from way back when, and even my trainer wishing me best in German. It was a joy to have all these special people share their well wishes to me via video. Each little message was like opening a precious package filled with memories and smiles.

The surprises didn’t end there for interspersed between family and friends were virtual visits from a few celebrities. Comedian Paula Poundstone made a cameo appearance and offered retirement wishes to me. Then my favorite designer from Project Runway, Geoffrey Mac, left me a five minute message congratulating me on my 22 years of teaching. Finally Food Network star Justin Warner popped on to share words of wisdom for my special occasion!

I felt like a star watching this line up of celebrities sending along messages of cheer. And while COVID has certainly changed how we do things, this video message filled with warmth, love, and laughter will be held close to my heart as I move slowly into my new lifestyle. I’ll now have a few extra minutes to relive my virtual party over and again!

Book Buzz

The last ten minutes of my meeting with fourth graders yesterday turned into a book buzz delight. We were discussing their last independent project of the year: to think about a book recently read and write a description that created enough enthusiasm that a classmate would want to read it over the summer.

I modeled the buzz with a book we had just read as a group. Then I showed them some of the books that I had in my summer stack, that my friends had recommended to me, making the point that we read books that are shared by our friends. I lifted up Kate DiCamillo´s Flora and Ulysses, and noted that a teacher they knew had loaned the book to me and that I would be writing a book buzz on the classroom site about that book. I suggested they might consider this book, reminding them of other books they had read by her: Tiger Rising, Mercy Watson, Winn Dixie. The kids oohed and aahed recalling those much loved read alouds. It was then that one of the students asked if anyone had read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I quickly replied it was one of my all time favorite books.

Of course I told them that I cried at the end, to which two of the five participants said they did as well. One girl piped up and shared her saddest part of the story. Recalling these moments brought tears back to our faces, marking another first for remote learning, crying with students on google meet.

I believe we convinced the three non-readers of Edward Tulane to pick it up this summer, either that or we scarred them for life with our gushing and praise. It is making me consider adding this book to my summer list to revisit those favorite parts as remembered by my fourth grade reading friends.

Oh! The power of a good book buzz!

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for providing us the space to share our writing adventures! Click in to see the buzz!

Bubble Joy

My love of blowing bubbles goes way back. It may have started with my aunt who made sure every vacation included a new jar of bubbles and a variety of wands. Goodness knows my family couldn’t afford even that treat. We relied on diluted dish soap and pipe cleaners or twisted wire we found laying around the house. The jarred variety seemed like such a luxury. My bubble loving was further reinforced when on a lonely day a few years back I happened upon a car surrounded with bubbles. As I inched closer I realized that the driver was holding a bubble wand out her window leaving a trail of opalescent globes behind and a smile on my lips. I lovingly refer to this mystery woman as my bubble angel and I vowed to spread additional joy with bubbles.

Having grandchildren it is easy to share bubble joy. Watching the delight of a toddler chasing bubbles across the yard is priceless. And when the jar tips over and the bubbles are gone, I see it as my job to replenish. But not with any old bubble solution, rather one that bears bubbles galore, that shimmer and shine, and float high above the clouds. I recall a visiting scientist using a recipe with dish soap and glycerin to make the best bubbles, so I began my quest for a similar recipe. One hour later, and a quick order to an online provider I have all the ingredients on the way to make the best bubbles the world has ever seen.

The ingredients arrive a few days later and I quickly get to work mixing and stirring, so that when the grandchildren arrive the solution will be ready. The babies are barely at the door when I mention the concoction. We head down to the back yard and pour the liquid into the trays. The bubbles are HUGE! And the bubbles soar HIGH! This is not your average watered down bubble mix that I used as a child, no this is the mix of champions!

We spend the next hour blowing and chasing and popping and of course giggling. Isn’t that what bubbles are for? We have found the perfect mix of ingredients and the perfect mix of fun. Bubble joy has arrived!

I am joining the writing community over at Two Writing Teachers today, sharing this slice of life story. Check it out and consider joining in the fun.