Sunday, March 31, 2013

Why I don't like Easter

Yesterday I went out to my favorite spot west of town
hoping to raise my spirits
and to snap photos of several barns
that I am featuring in a seasonal progression project.

What I found dismayed me--
no, that is too mild.
I was close to tears
and angry.

Years ago, the residents of this tiny town
were told we had a green belt around our beloved homes
that would prevent any stripping or drilling of the land.

What we weren't told was that it was a flimsy piece of paper
with no legal weight
as the 'town' did not purchase the land for that green belt.
They simply declared it.

So you can imagine the shock when about 6 years ago,
a huge coal company began stripping those precious acres.
It turns out that they bought the land and thus could do what they wanted with it.
Each year they have come closer and now they are almost up to the road
that I travel for my photos.

You could barely see that tower before,
but they have cleared out around it.
In the next photos you can see some equipment.
What you can't see is the HUGE equipment
up over the far hill (my battery died)
and you can't hear the awful noise.

From what I've seen on my drives to and from school,
this equipment belongs to the gas drilling, as in fracking, companies.
I would guess that a monstrous towering well will be erected soon.
I wonder if they have to allow the tower to remain.
These guys tend to horribly tear up the land.

If the coal company owns the land,
they sell or lease it to the fracking company.
If private owners have the land,
most have succumbed to that temptation called money.

Across the way from it is this scene.
I would say they are getting ready to strip this part.

Below in the distance you can see some of the stripped land.
I couldn't get a good picture of the part that is truly ugly
and absolutely devoid of any vegetation of any kind.

This sign, in front of the above parcels of land, says it all.

So my spirits were not lifted.
Spring is still not in evidence and everything was still the dull colors of parched winter.
And the machines have arrived.

That leads me into today,
one of the two biggest days for Christians
and probably the most important, although his birth needed to happen 
for this day to eventually occur.

Today is a celebration of Jesus' resurrection,
a life changing moment for anyone who believes.
I do believe.

So why do I not like Easter?
It started 19 years ago.
It was the first Easter after the divorce 
and the first holiday without the ex-husband and I celebrating together
with the kids.
He was solidly linked up with my ex-best friend of 15 years
and would be married to her by July.

Meanwhile, my son and I dressed up and drove out 
to the little country church that my dad pastored as a retired minister.
Mom was there too of course.

But over on a side aisle were my ex-in-laws
who had followed my father to this church.
They and my parents were best friends.
Normally, we would all sit together.
Well, actually we would go to our own church 
and then meet both sets of parents at the country club
where we would eat a lovely Easter buffet together.
But when we did visit this church, we would all sit together.

My son went and sat with his grandmother.
I ended up standing in my dad's office, bawling,
while I could hear the service and esp. my dad's sermon.
It was horribly gut wrenching.

My daughter had gone with her dad.
She was attending our old church.
(That church had not reached out to me,
but instead kept close the part of the pair that had the money.)

No more seeing her all dressed up and standing by her brother.
No more hiding her Easter basket along with her brother's.
No more family get-together at the club
in which we celebrated secular Easter
after having celebrated the Christian Easter.

My son and I went to my parents house
where mom had a lovely dinner for us all.
Their hearts were breaking as was mine.

That set the tone for the years to come.
I hoped that grandchildren would change it,
but my daughter-in-law's family had precedence on Easter
and if my son and his family attended church,
it was the old church
and guess who was there?
(his dad and step-mom and her huge extended family)

I have never blamed my son for returning there.
I am thankful he goes to church and esp. that he takes his kids to church.
They are able to go much more regularly now that his non-believer ex-wife
doesn't rule every Sunday.

Plus I lived in Cincinnati.
I would come home to be with my dad 
and we would attend the church where he was a member.
(He gave up his own church after my mom died.
They had moved to a retirement campus and he had taken on a church
in Canton, Ohio.)

I have lived in my hometown now for 8 years.
My son lives a half hour away.
He and his children will be sitting with his dad and step-mom
who came up from Florida for a short visit.
I have no problem sitting with them at Christmastime
or any other time.
I go to their home.
I sit and talk and laugh with them at the grandkids' birthday parties.
I hold no resentment towards them for choosing each other.
Except on Easter,
when they not only sit in my old church
with grandkids that are part mine,
but they go out to the club 
and have an Easter buffet together.

I could go to the church here that my dad once pastored.
But I know that Easter is not the time to face the memories
of him up behind the pulpit.
Nor do I feel up to facing the little children with their parents
and/or grandparents (many of whom I went to school with).
And then there is the 'Easter outfit'.
I have none and don't want one.
So I am at home, celebrating Jesus' resurrection with my own devotions
and prayer time.

And that's why I don't like Easter.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Thoughts and Monday's Prayer

This car sits out by our old stone block garage.
It was my husband's nephew's.
Hubby's sis gave it to him for our grandkids,
but they are a bit too old for it.
Another sis's granddaughter would enjoy it,
but the nephew can't stand her,
so that is not an option.

It's a shame how something said or written on a bad day
mushrooms into where parts of a family
won't come to a holiday celebration
because it's at a certain person's house.

Now it turns out that the nephew and his girlfriend
are expecting.
He has refused to marry her for years
and it doesn't look like this baby is changing his mind.
At this point, I'm not sure she would marry him.

So a baby is coming into the world 
to a couple who will love him/her,
but who, though in their 30s,
are still in need of growing up (him)
and getting confidence to deserve better treatment (her).

But it looks like this car will go back to its original owner.

I like how one slight turn of a nob on my camera
turns this wheel almost fluorescent.

A view from the cemetery back of our house.
It's up on a hill, so I got lots of shots of my town
from a different perspective.
The red building is actually across the street from the front of our home.

Here is a close up of the building.
It was the town's ice house before electricity.
You would get a block of ice and it would keep in an ice box
in your home for about three days.
Food stayed cold, but not frozen.
You could also rent a spot in the building to keep food in.

Hubby's grandparents were regular customers.
They lived three houses down from where we live now.

I don't know who owns it,
but I would love to go inside.
My favorite part is the weather vane on top: two roosters facing each other.

 Here are signs of spring on the very day that I slugged through heavy snow to the top of the back hill to take pics of our 'last snow fall of the year'.
This area is protected underneath our second floor
screened-in porch.
On the edge of that part of my flower garden, here is my thyme encased in  snow and ice.
I liked the contrast of the two and how each can exist just a few steps from each other:
the plant held still by snow and ice and the plants shooting up green, thumbing their noses at winter, letting it know spring is coming despite
winter's efforts to postpone it.

Monday's Prayer
Help me to embrace the moments of my life
that are hard to get my arms around.
Enable my eyes to see You in them.
Help me to always acknowledge the abundance
of Your goodness to me.
I lift to You the deepest struggles in my life.
I trust You to open my eyes to see all
You have for me in them.
Reveal to me the fullness of it all.
Thank You that I can be filled with the joy of Your presence 
in every step I take,
because You have given me 
the light I need for whatever step
I am on.

In the day when I cried out, You answered me,
and made me bold with strength in my  soul.
Psalm 138:3

I face a problem student today
and pray for the right words for the situation.

Blessings to you all as you begin this week.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Corner View: Hair

I decided to take a 'stroll down memory lane'
and look at my hairstyles over the years 
and include my daughter in this.

Many years ago on a trip to the Bahamas
and after an afternoon braiding session on the beach.

My long hair, which gave me fits,
but I still liked having it
and my husband (at  the time) loved it.

Sara and I right before she left for a special dance at school.
Sh was approximately 14.

This was taken after my divorce.
One of the first major changes I made was to cut my hair.
By this time I wanted it short, but husband insisted on it being long.
So when husband left, I changed my hair style.
I was 39.

At my son's wedding reception with my dad.
I was 48.

Two summers ago at our lake place with my daughter.

Last August on a visit to my daughter's in Texas.

Sara with a hairstyle vary similar to mine at her age.
She has hair that cooperates much better than mine
and she looks wonderful with long hair.

Hairstyles of our family at Christmas.

One of my favorite photos of Sara.
I loved how long her hair was then.
She has been blessed with beautiful hair.

For more views on hair
from various 'corners' of the world,
please meander over to Francesca's.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Barn Charm # 68

I have featured these barns before.
However, I thought I would show them as the seasons change.
These were taken after a might snowstorm had hit
and it was finally safe to venture out on hilly side roads.

This barn apparently got hit hard last summer in the brutal storm that torpedoed
through the Midwest.

There are actually two separately owned farms here.
The one on the left is comprised of four farms and a brick homestead.
The one on the right is the only one for its very small 'farm'.

This is one of my favorites. 
 People always comment on how close it is to the road.

This is part of a farm that is directly across the road from the barn
in the previous picture.  
The road winds up behind it to yet another 'homestead'.
Some day I hope to take that road.

For more barns,
please visit Tricia's blog.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Underage Drinking and Rape and Monday's Prayer

Attention: This is long.  To expedite your reading, I have used bold font and 
different  colors.  The blue signifies a news report.  The purple color signifies
a story from my own school district that we are dealing with now.  The prayer
and scripture is at the end.

Stuebenville, Ohio.  It's where my parents grew up.  It's a steel mill town
 with the mill across the Ohio River in Weirton, WV.  My dad and all my
 uncles worked there.Many of my cousins ended up there too.
My brothers got their fill during their summers
until college graduation.

Those mill days of big money, union power, and fantastic pensions are over.
However Steubenville still exists and is still incredibly proud of their
Big Red football team.  My 80-some aunt still listened to the games
on the radio and died a true fan.

But Big Red has become internationally known due to an infamous party night in which
two football players digitally raped a 16 yr. old girl who was so drunk she passed out.
She woke up naked on a couch in a strange house with no recollection of what
had happened.  She went home and then the texts and Facebook reports started
coming in.  She was sent a horrifying one of herself taken at yet another house. She started at
one house and was taken to at least one other.

One of the boys took a picture and sent it out to make the rounds of many phones.
The boys reported on themselves.  Social media revealed what she could not remember.
She and her family had no intention of filing charges.  But social media took it to where
the authorities had to intervene.  Investigations and charges resulted.

Today, the boys were found delinquent (guilty).  The one boy got two charges and a minimum
of two years in a juvenile facility (his photo of a sexually explicit material with a minor
earned him the separate charge and the second year.)
Both boys are under 18.
Neither boy apologized until the verdict was read. The sentencing had not occurred yet. Only one sounded sincere according to reports.

From the news:

The victim's mother also had a statement for the two defendants, Ma’Lik Richmond, 16, and Trent Mays, 17, who were immediately sentenced to one and two years, respectively, in juvenile detention. (Mays received an additional year because he was also convicted of using nudity-oriented material, in the form of pictures of the girl on his cellphone.)
“It did not matter what school you went to, what city you lived in, or what sport you’ve played," the victim's mother said. "Human compassion is not taught by a teacher, a coach or a parent.  It is a God-given gift instilled in all of us. You displayed not only a lack of this compassion but a lack of any moral code."
Two witnesses testified that the defendants sexually assaulted the girl during a night of partying on Aug. 11 and used their cellphones to take pictures of the incident. Those images went public and ultimately contributed to the case's notoriety.
"Your decisions that night affected countless lives including those most dear to you," the victim's mother continued. "You were your own accuser through the social media that you chose to publish your criminal conduct on.
"This does not define who my daughter is,” the mother said. Emotion then briefly rippled through her voice. “She will persevere, grow, and move on.
"I have pity for you both. I hope you fear the Lord, repent for your actions, and pray hard for his forgiveness.”
Both boys cried after the verdict was read and apologized.
“I would truly like to apologize,” Mays said. “No pictures should have been sent around, let alone have been taken.”  (I've checked several sources and this is being written as his sole apology--I also watched a video of him saying it.  He does not apologize for anything done to her other than taking and sending a picture! )
Richmond broke down sobbing as he tried to speak. “I would like to say I had no intentions to do anything like that,” he said. [This young man walked across the court and faced the girl's parents.  The girl was not there today. He is black and the other one is white and the girl is white. ] 

I was watching a commentator when one of the pictures of the girl flashed across the video.  I had read about this pic, but to see it is just vile.  One boy had hold of her legs and the other her arms.  She was clothed.  However, her body was limp and her had hung down--she had either passed out or was nearly there.

I liked what State Attorney DeWine said in his statements after the trial:
"This happens every weekend all over America.   Every Friday and Sat. night kids are getting drunk and rapes are occurring."    He wants the people of the United States to quit focusing on Steubenville and start looking around their own towns."
He also made quite clear that digital penetration is rape. That is a shocker to some.
[He said much more and I'm sure if you Google his name and/or Steubenville rape trial, you can
get more info.]

Now here at home:
There was a party last weekend  in which a boy invited 3 or 4 kids to.  His parents were gone.
Thirty kids showed up.  Most if not all of them drank. The house got a bit messed up. The kid
couldn't control it. These kids go to the high school where I teach.
It was leaked on Facebook and his and two other boys' names were cited.  School officials--
the athletic director, the principal, and a discipline committee-- had to investigate.  The boys
admitted to drinking.  All three are athletes and will be banned from a number of baseball
Guess what the one boy is saying?
He said it to me: "Someone ratted on us.  Thirty kids were drinking, but we are the only ones 
who are being punished because we won't rat on the others.
He showed no remorse.  He is instead saying that the athletic director has been out to get him
all year.  He said the AD lied to the one boy and got him to confess and rat. No punishments were
supposed to happen.
That's not true. No promises were made. And if someone would name the others, they would
get the same treatment.
The boy can be a bully.  The other two boys can be quite obnoxious and kids don't feel any loyalty
to them.  That's most likely why they got ratted on--they were 'a pain' to  some kids and the kids got
back at them.  Now they are saying they are the good guys because they won't rat.

1. Did sex occur?  Most likely. But that most certainly won't come out.  There is a loose attitude toward sex at our school. Some girls openly brag about giving b. jobs.    If one of those braggers became incapacitated and was raped by one or more boys, the feeling by many would be that it couldn't be rape. Disgusting and sad, but true.
2.  Did an adult supply the alcohol? Well, since they were all underage, someone over 21 had to.
3. Are the boy's parents punishing him for having the party? Oh yeah.  They trusted him and are quite upset.
(They are not asking for preferential treatment which is unfortunately the exception and not the rule.)
Fortunately for them, they were NOT there, sleeping in their bedroom unaware of underage drinking happening on their property.

The Steubenville case is not over.  A grand jury will be convened to further investigate a lot of other people and actions that night and the subsequent days.  A group called Anonymous made charges of cover up.
There are mixed opinions on this, obviously.  The prosecutors are saying that it was not a cover up but rather   a case of "first things first"--get the main culprits and then go after the rest.  Three teens were given immunity when they pleaded the fifth.   They had been open with the authorities until Anonymous got involved and then things got very 'chilly' as the assistant prosecuting attorney said. People stopped answering questions.
She feels that Anonymous made it into an international media circus and that made life so much harder for the victim.  It made their job of getting to the bottom of it that much harder too.  Sixteen people have refused to talk to them. Many others talked at first, but then stopped..   There will subpoenas and probably charges.

Things to consider: 
1.The teens who saw it happening and did NOTHING.  One teen girl told the girl she had to leave the house -- that her boyfriend was freaking out that his parents would find out.  So instead of helping a sister in need, she was trying to keep her boyfriend out of trouble because his house was one of the house's  the girl was taken to.
2. Why weren't the parents awakened?
3. Why weren't authorities called?
4. Why didn't someone take the girl home?
5. Why didn't someone call her parents?
Some girls said they tried to get her to not go with the guys, but their 'friend' refused to listen.  I'm not sure she could make a rational decision at that point--she was so drunk.
Some witnessed one of the boys try to force the girl to do a sex act on him and she was incoherent and could not walk at that point.  No one got her help.  No one stopped the boys.
5. Who supplied the alcohol? Everyone at the parties were underage or if they weren't, then they are in even more trouble.

So many questions are still unanswered.  I imagine there are a lot of adults and kids who are having difficulty sleeping tonight as they ponder what is in store for them.

But several things stand out to me as an educator: 
1. Many parents are not involved nearly enough in their kids' lives.
2.  Many of them lead by example: drug and alcohol abuse in front of their kids.
3. Curfews are not made or not enforced.
4. Teachers are supposed to do right by their kids and that often means to not enforce the rules--look the other way.  If not, we are out to get a kid.
5. More often than not, the only regret on the parents' and kids' parts are that they got caught--not that they did  wrong in the first place.

They didn't teach us this in college and it most certainly was not in the job description of what we as teachers and administrators would be required to handle.

Monday's Prayer

Lord, whenever grief over something that has happened tries to come back and torture us, 
I ask that You would take it away and give us peace.  Thank You that You are a compassionate God,
and You not only see our troubles and grief and understand our loss, but You extend Your hand to us and hear our prayers. I ask that You would unlock all the pain that is captured in our memories and set us free from it.  Help us to see that life goes on because You go on and Your compassion never fails.

You, O God, do see trouble and grief; You consider it to take it in hand.  The victim commits himself to you; You are the helper of the fatherless.
Psalm 10:14 NIV

From A Book of Prayers for Emotional Wholeness 
by Stormie OMartian

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday''s Photo Day

Tree across the street from my home
First shot is a pin-hole shot.

Second is a zoom-in with enhanced color.

From my walk through the neighborhood cemetery during our last big snowfall.
This mausoleum fascinated me.

Last day of testing! Hurray!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Corner View: Feet

Last week, the topic was hands,
so this week it is feet.

I wanted to take photos at school like I did with the hands,
but it's state testing week and everything is just a bit crazy.

So I perused recent family shots
and then spotlighted my son's  household's feet.

In the kitchen, the Irish lass is swirling in her purplish pink dress
accented with her striped socks. (Her shoes covered the socks when she went to school.)
Meanwhile, Dad's feet were snazzy as he watched her.

In the living room, the siblings and Grandpa lounged on the couch.
nine-year-old sis and fourteen-year-old brother

Grandpa and the seven-year-old-grandson.

My feet as they looked tonight.
These shoes are comfortable for work, though not particularly attractive.

Keeping warm in the early mornings
in heavy socks and quite old and worn and comfortable 'scuffs'.

Hubby's feet tonight.

Last but not least,
the four-legged inhabitants here
show off their front sets of feet (paws).

Scruffy the girl.

George the boy.

For more views on feet,
check out Francesca's place.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Barn Charm #67

This barn was on the same bit of land as last week's long barn,
but this one was set back quite a bit and obviously in much worse shape.

As regulars have probably figured out by now,
I cannot take just one picture, so here's this week's collection of this barn.

All the photos show the slope this barn was built on, 
but I think this one best shows the buckling of it.
It seems to be holding on for dear life!

This is my favorite shot of it.
As you can see, spring has not come to this part of Ohio yet.
For more barn views, check out Barn Charm.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bits and Pieces, Prayer Request, and Monday's Prayer

Texas grandson Aaron's 4th birthday is today.
I will call him later this afternoon.
I created a Smilebox card for him and sent it yesterday.
I love Smilebox because you can do so much with it--
I use it to create slideshow cards,
which a certain little boy loves.

This past Tuesday, 
I bundled up and walked up the hill behind our house to the old cemetery there.
It was hopefully our last big snowfall.
Here are a few pics of my town.
I used my zoom lens to take them.
Once again, I was reminded of how much I love this place
where I live.

This is my co-teacher for one period.
He is an inclusion specialist and recently turned 29.
He is a wonderful young man who quickly became like a son to me.
Oh how we have laughed together!

However, he is not teaching right now 
because back in January, he was diagnosed with stage 3 lymphoma.
He is undergoing chemo.
Next week he will have a scan to see where the cancer stands:
if it is gone, improved, or the same.
Obviously we are praying for it being gone.
He still will have to have two more chemo treatments 
as a safeguard,
and his doctor does not want him to return this year.
But he is on the roster for next year.
Please lift him up in prayer.

State testing begins today.
I will do practice testing with freshmen.
The other English teacher has the sophomores in class,
so she handles their OGTs (Ohio Graduation Tests).
It's a cra -a-zy week!

Monday's Prayer:
Thank You, Jesus, that because I have received You, 
You have given me the authority to become a child of God,
because I believe in, adhere to, and rely on Your name.
Adapted for John 1:12

God, I pray that You will increase and I will decrease more and more.
Adapted from John 3:30
(Guess what book of the Bible I'm reading right now!) :>)

Blessings to you as you begin the week.