Stories

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Teachers across the country can no longer survive on the salaries they are offered to do the most important job of all. This is teaching our children the tools and honing their talents in order to have them do well in what is a very complicated world. Teachers are paid on a yearly contract that runs around 185 days.

There are many professions that do contracted work. If the contract is for 365 days or 100 days it makes no difference. The important thing is to get the job done and done well. Some believe in the concept of those who do, do and those who can’t teach. I do get a kick out of this statement because those who can do because they were taught how too.

Teaching has always been equated with the success of its students. The profession has never been defined by money even though the ability to live and teach at the same time has always been difficult. I can define teaching because I am a retired teacher. I wrote the following 25 years ago about one of my days teaching.

I had a great day…… Yesterday. But, even the greatest of days doesn’t make it any easier to get up at 5:00 in the morning. If only I could get to bed before 11:00 PM on school nights. That would make my life so much easier. With mountains of correcting being precipitated every day that possibility is basically impossible. So here I am, shocking myself awake with a cold shower so I can stay alert for the approaching new day. Continue Reading →

I am very jealous. I tell this to many people when we discuss the reality of religion. They explain the concept of faith in order to understand how a God could exist. I listen and am envious they could believe in something that can’t be logically explained.

They tell me this is the way it I, has always been, and will always be. I rarely argue with them because it would not do any good and it would also not relieve my stress that I know there is a God but not the God I have always been taught has always existed and will always exist.

I consider myself a logical person. I understand how when our species was able to survive in tribes and families we put a stick in the ground during the fear of night in order to be closer to the sky. I understand we had to follow a concept that we would survive because we were put on this planet for a specific reason including to represent an almighty God.

The problem is the concept we are all special living beings in special times led by an entity that considers us all very special. In reality we are not. Throughout the history of our species we were basically lucky. We survived whereas many of our fellow inhabitants on our planet failed. Continue Reading →

There is nothing nicer that the beginning of Spring, after a long cold winter. I actually saw a little green the other day as I dared to go out into my backyard. I haven’t attempted that particular excursion since a few weeks before Christmas.

As I walked beside my home I noticed that many of the bulbs, that I planted years before, were sprouting and the air had that feeling of newness because it was filled with scents of the blossoming spring.

While Spring bellows in the coming of a new season it also introduces us to the newest of our backyard pests. They seem to change every year. I’ve gone through the appearance of ants, yellow-jacket bees, grubs, beetles, and even multiple families of snakes. For a few microseconds, I loved spring with all its newness and promise of things to come.

Then I walked around to view the back of my yard. It looked like a satellite photo of an estuary with all its tiny streams that were coming together into a giant pond. There were multiple runways that connected tiny openings in my lawn. Something that must have been living beneath the three-foot snow pack decided to make its own neighborhood with all of its streets and alleys in my backyard. Continue Reading →

A rather famous statement made by people who hope to explain that something is not difficult because it is not rocket science has been around for my entire life. If something is too difficult people go on to explain it is rocket science.  Stephen Hawking showed the world that rocket science is simply looking into our sky in order to wonder where we all came from, when it all began, and where we are going.

Like most people who lived through a time when science fiction became science reality I’ve always been interested in the physical sciences of chemistry and physics. In fact, for the past four decades I’ve taught both these subjects. Dr. Hawking made this task easy because he described his theories of physics and time in understandable terms. He did not bury it in calculus but rather described his ideas in terms of wonderment and possible explanation of subjects that have been studied since people’s history began.

On March 14, 2018, Dr. Hawking died of a disease that should have killed him 50 years ago. That alone should make him remarkable. He never let his disorder get in the way of his mind. His brilliance never let his mind confuse what he was trying to describe. His genius was never allowed to elevate his legacy above those of us who look into the sky in order to attempt to understand why we are here.

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Ffar away in Times-Gonebye, there was a very special village called Strood. Thanks to the hard work of its people, it had grown in size, and wealth, to become the finest village of all the villages in the land. Just a few miles away, craggy mountains rose to the sky and each night giant columns of flame burst from their peaks.

The villagers believed that the mountains were the home of many Fire Gods and everyone stayed well away from them. Although they feared the Fire Gods, and were scared that their homes might be burnt down, the villagers knew that the Flaming Mountains kept them safe, on that side at least, from attack by bandits and thieves.

Once a week, to please the Fire Gods they left food at the bottom of the mountains and on those nights, they huddled together in fear as they watched as the flames came down from the mountains and moved towards their village. However, each week the flames stopped at the food and, in the morning, the food was gone! As the villagers had lots of food, they were happy to make this payment in exchange for their safety. Then it all changed!

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The winter months expose people’s souls to anyone interested in observing them. Many people become ‘snow bunnies’ this time of year by traveling south to warmer homes. Those who decide to stay observe what is truly a remarkable event.

All of the seasons of the year demonstrate the natural beauty of our coast. By far the most exciting observation I can make is becoming part of a coastal storm. These storms always start with a lull. Not you’re ordinary quiet, but a time so serene you can’t hear anything, only the void promising to become exceptional.

The gulls and the winds whistling through the cottages near the beach have been told to be silent in hopes they will be left alone by the upcoming storm. It is a time when those who can walk to the water’s edge to watch the low tide go ever lower in preparation for the waters destined to explode on the beach.

The people are not the only ones who flock to the beach in the lull before the storm. The gulls also come to a collective realization they must fly to the beach in preparation for what is destined to begin. They are more courageous than their human counterparts. They stand precariously perched on one leg near where the surf meets the sand to stare into the water en masse like members of a religious cult awaiting their messiah. Continue Reading →

On March 23, 1872, the concept of “Believe nothing that you hear and only half of what you see” was published by The Raleigh Daily News. This statement is also associated with an 18th century statement English publication.

The concept has also been associated with Edgar Allen Poe. This idea is now at the forefront of our political realities. With the onset of “fake news” and the obvious attack on our nation’s political system, the idea that you believe nothing that you hear and only half of what you see takes on a more important objective. It also takes on a responsibility.

I’ve been writing most of my life that now encompasses almost 7 decades. Every time I express political views I’ve been called things I don’t understand. In fact, I don’t even know what their definitions are.

I sincerely don’t care what anyone’s political views are. It is not up to me to judge and I believe any judgment is up to how one feels about themselves the future of their families. Continue Reading →

This has been the winter of ice. The season hasn’t given us much snow. However, it has given us record cold temperatures for early January and has produced an inordinate amount of freezing rain and ice.

Walking out to the end of my driveway with my supposedly invincible snow shovel It was bought from BJ’s and was made in Viet Nam by people who have never even heard of cold, I attempted to clear out ice left from the previous night.

Chipping away I felt a give that had little to do with the ice and everything to do with the shovel. The shaft then shattered to never resemble a shovel again. Straightening out my back before I threw the shovel into a snowdrift, I felt the subtle scent of spring.

It was a clear cold smell that was different from the frigid pure smell of the ongoing winter. It actually had an aroma to it that reminded me of something more subtle than that of the smells of winter. In other words, it actually smelt like something nice. Continue Reading →

As I lean on my shovel that has not been used a few too many times I look over the winter wasteland that no longer looks like a winter wonderland. As a view the non-existence of anything white I reminisce about other times I found myself involved with winter survival.

One year was 1962. Everyone around me was proud and happy to be living in a nation of prosperity and hope. We had just elected Camelot and my mother was proud to wear what looked like an upside down box on her head in order to align herself with the wife of Jack Kennedy.

My father was watching the small black and white television that had become the center of our universe. Sunday afternoon was his time because the New York Giants were finally going to defeat their archrivals The San Francisco 49ers.

This made total sense because everyone knew that New York was the Empire State and all this talk about the west coast taking over the popularity of the country was hogwash. At least that is what my father used to say.

I used to like watching football with my father. He used to tell me that I was destined to play the sport. This was probably true because I was an over-sized 12-year old kid. Continue Reading →

We are working our way through another one. In fact, it is the first real one we have had for many years. The winter of 2018, brought back the snows and cold that all of us who live in Northern New England have come to both love and hate. Along with the weather of winter comes another famous tradition, cabin fever anxieties.

Cabin fever comes in many forms. The name comes from the necessity of all that live here to stay in their house to stay warm and dry. The days are shorter and the nights seem endless with the below zero wind chills and perpetual humming of our heating systems. Strange things happen to us during this time of year. We become aggravated by the most trivial of things.

For example, I enjoy those little pudding in cup snacks they sell at most grocery stores. I guess this is because I was fed the little jars of custard pudding baby foods when I was little until I was a senior in high school. The only problem is you can never tear off the plastic top on each portion. I understand there are arrows showing where one is supposed to pull but the easy open tabs never open. The company must use the same glue they use to keep the space lab together.

The other day I got so frustrated trying to open my Swiss Miss tapioca pudding cup that I resorted to using my teeth. Needless to say it took a bunch of paper towels and ice to stop the bleeding. I still didn’t get the thing opened. Continue Reading →