Orange Gearle

family, friends, politics, music and technology... that's what it's all about

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


No, not the cooking kind. My beautiful niece got braces yesterday!! It's been painful, but when I spoke with her on the phone she had high spirits. She's no wus...after all she is my niece! Today she had her first softball game of the year. I won't mention the end result, but she did get to play. :-)


Well, that's a depressing title. The only things I really want to end are this F$&*ing useless war, the drama, and the year 2006. Who knows when/if the war or the drama will end, and there are 214 more days of 2006. In a few hours, May will end, that's something.

Have you listened the new Dixie Chicks CD Taking the Long Way? Well, I purchased it tonight, mainly for the principle of the whole thing. If you don't know what I'm talking about, where have you been? :-) And read this. I was pretty happy when I went to Target last Tuesday to purchase it on it's release date -- it was sold out. Good for them. As of today, it's number one on the charts. Good for them. I've never actually owned a Dixie Chicks CD, but I felt I needed to this time...for the cause. I've listened to the whole thing once, and IMHO, it's not quite Dixie Chicks enough for me...too poppish and not enough bluegrass. I probably don't like it because it's number one on the charts. :-) As a matter of fact, their title track is about not being "able to follow" and taking the long way to get where you need/want to be. That fits me, if nothing else. Several of the songs have decent lyrics, actually. I like Lubbock or Leave It. It's got a great beat and it's easy to dance to, Dick....or I just like it. I've really enjoyed listening to Bitter End. Mainly because I've had quite a few of those lately, or endings at least, some of which have been a tad bitter, I suppose. Blah blah...I like wine not whine. Anyway...endings...

Tomorrow the kids are here for 3 hours. Then, their kindergarten year ends. Wow. I will head to our annual Staff Cook Out immediately after I do a cartwheel as the buses pass by (literally, I do that every year on the last day of school - call me Sonic the Hedgehog). Next comes an afternoon of speeches at the Staff Recognition Program. Then my career at Ridge ends. Many of you know that I am transfering schools. It was my choice, for several reasons that I probably shouldn't make public, even though I doubt anyone is actually reading this. :-) I will be going back to first grade, which will be nice. I have a great team there and I love the principal. I'm leaving all my friends. Yes, I realize that I will make new friends, and things will be fine. I know that I'm not leaving the district, the town, the state. But this is another end in my life.

This ending means packing up all my stuff and moving. Moving sucks. :-) My mom has been down helping me pack stuff, which has been really nice. Today while we were taking a break to eat lunch, Mom asked me if I was finished with this huge project that I've been working on for the kids. It has to be complete so that the kids can take it home at 11:10 when they leave tomorrow. As I type this, it still isn't completed. I'm "taking a break from it" right now. :-) When my mom asked I said, "Mom, do you remember me staying up until 5am to complete papers in High School?" She laughed and realized that she had asked a very silly question. (unfinished product is pictured above)

My daughter celebrated the end of finals today. Woo hoo. The end to an interesting year for her. Now a summer of song and dance performances in a local performance company and hopefully a job!

Really, though, probably my favorite song after the first listen, is the song that the Dixie Chicks chose to have at the end of their CD. It's called I Hope. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm more about hoping than endings. So, it's the end of the school year, but the beginning of the summer. I saw my first firefly last night! It's the end of Ridge for me, but the beginning of a new school, new families to meet, and new friends to work with. And for the kids, shit, they don't care. :-) But, in a few hours, they will be first graders.

I suppose endings, all of them, aren't so bad after all.

Monday, May 29, 2006

the reunion

This weekend we had our first ever Cousins Reunion. Cousins Marita, Cindy and Mark organized the event located at Uncle L.C. and Connie's villa. It was a delight to see so many family members laughing, playing, and singing together. As you will see in the pics, most important to me, the children.

My Corolla pulled down the long lane and was greeted with many smiling faces. It was loaded down with all the fixings for an afternoon of fun and fellowship. Cousin Royce was beside me, Hollyanne and my special little guy Damarian in the back seat. Baseballs, gloves, swimming trunks, a guitar and food filled the trunk. First on the scene was my nephew and niece, Seth and Alissa. Seth was quick to point out that his brother Rich and his family were unable to attend. Always striving to be the favorite, Seth reported this to us with a big smile. =) We did miss you Rich, Tocia, Ethan and Baby #2 on the way!

Each branch of the family chose a color to wear to identify their clan. Cousin Rick, staying true to his trade, created t-shirts for the Wisconsin branch of the gang, complete with Grandma and Grandpa's picture. Good form, Rick. His two sons modeled these t-shirts for me and are pictured above, adorned with smiles and fantastic hair! He wasn't the only one that stepped up to the plate with custom t-shirts. Cousin Judy also made navy blue t-shirts that said "Delwin and Shirley Branch". I must admit that I was disappointed (and green with envy) that we were unable to nab the color orange before Cousin Dennis' family! Their burnt orange Texas Longhorns ensembles stood out to me as I entered the eating area. (Thanks, Darrin, for the pic)

Red and white checkered table clothes were having a difficult time staying in place due to the wind, but luckily John and Sharon's shells from Deleware came to their aide. There was plenty of food, thanks to all. We got there just in time to cook my Bocca burger and dig in. Happy Birthday was sung for Uncle L.C. and Cousin Royce who both celebrated birthdays this past week (79th and 68th respectively). We also enjoyed cake in their honor.

In anticipation of the reunion, Marita dusted off her guitar and applied new strings a few days ago. After what seemed like an eternity, she and I were able to tune our guitars well enough to each other....well enough, that is, considering you couldn't really hear them play a few tunes!! =) Many of us enjoyed playing songs old and new for each other and in unison. Big Yellow Taxi, American Pie, and a few Jewel tunes made it on the set list. Rick and his son showed us how to play the guitar upside down...they're lefties you know.

The kids were entertained by flying kites, cooling off in the wading pool, and chasing each other around in the heat. Cousin John and Sharon brought a fun yard game made out of brightly colored golf balls, rope and PVC pipe. Rod taught Damarian the appropriate way to throw a baseball -- always step with the left foot and throw!

Cousin Marita gave us homework!

The conversations were my favorite part. Cousins Maggie, Rick, Gordon and I discussed the generations. I am the youngest of my generation of cousins. Royce is the oldest of that generation, with Punky John (unable to attend) next in line. We think Heather, Punky John's daughter is the oldest of the next generation. I really did miss that branch of the family! I hope they can attend the next reunion. Or, considering the humidity we endured today, maybe we should bring the next one to them, in Colorado! Hmmm....I like that idea.

A few of us gathered together to discuss politics out of the earshot of others. We are a secret society in this atmosphere. And yes, there were NSA jokes. Thank you to Cousin Rick for informing me that I can "be my real self" with him. I look forward to inviting myself up to Wisconsin to listen to some obscure bands with him and his family. The educators in the room discussed "their kids" and the problems faced in our classrooms. The non-educators still think we get the summers off. WTF, mate? =)

In recent years our family has lost many of it's members, young and old. Our grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that are no longer on this earth with us could be seen in our eyes and in our hearts. This reunion was a much needed opportunity to be together, celebrate additions to our families, rekindle friendships and just be happy. Enjoy the pics!

PS...If anyone has additional pics I would love it if you would share them with me! You send 'em, I'll post 'em.

(click on pic to enlarge)