My World & Welcome to it….My View Since Cancer

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Beauty everywherebeauty around us IIISouthern timebeauty around us IV20140318_165321

* I am taking a break from the silly and the squirrelly look at life for one more post. I won’t  guarantee that after this that I won’t slip back into the serious mode now and again but just not so intently as I have the last two posts.

From the first days after I was diagnosed with cancer, the view from my world changed.  The gray, the black of the world around me no longer seemed so gray and black. The frustrations and disappointments of life are no longer a primary focus for me. The absurdities of national and world news events no longer affect me the way that they used to and in fact, I am able to see the absurdities of the world much easier, much clearer than I have ever been able to before. I now am able to see the beauty in my world, not just in the distance but up close and up front. My world looks a lot more beautiful  in the last eight months than it has in a very long time, not since childhood.

When cancer is diagnosed it makes one nearsighted. The Oxford dictionary defines nearsighted as being unable to see things clearly unless they are relatively close to the eyes. For those of us who have cancer, a long range view being farsighted is no longer possible. Our future isn’t measured in years, months or even weeks. It is measured in  days or hours. When we wake up and welcome a new day it’s a gift. I have worn glasses since I was 8, almost, 50 years. I never considered nearsightedness as a gift. I do now.

In March my cancer was pronounced as cured but my nearsightedness continues. When I wake up I find myself grateful for a gift of another day. I have discovered that when your day begins as a gift you look at what the day brings differently. We are able to see the same beauty in life that we saw as a child  when life was fresh. The problems that used to cloud out the beauty in my vision are still there or problems like them are anyway but in light of seeing each day as a gift, the problems seem not near as big or as heavy as they used to,certainly they are not big enough to distort or to hide the beauty.

It is said that in life we choose how  we see things. We choose what our focus is. This is true but sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, we get caught up in the countless details, causing us to lose sight of what is really important. An illness like cancer has a way of showing us the shortness of life, allowing us to see that the finest things in life are all around us.

I am cured of cancer but I will never forget the lessons learned from my fight. I will always see each day as a gift and I will be always on the lookout for life’s precious views, views like this one:

Berries infront of a pond

 

My World & Welcome To It…. when cancer became part of my world Part II

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               In my world after a long winter, we welcome spring

The second part of this post is a little bit different than anything I have ever written. It focuses on the experiences of being diagnosed with and living with cancer.

When the results of my biopsy came back as positive for cancer I felt certain that it must be a mistake. As a young child growing up not far from Buffalo New York we had people visiting us fairly often who were being treated at Roswell Cancer Clinic. When I was 18 my older brother who was just 8 years my senior died from cancer when I was 18. My cousin his age died from a different type of cancer some 15 or so years later. I have Uncles and Aunts who also had cancer. My mother, in fact, had 4 types of cancer when she died. About a year or so ago my brother-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia and about 6 months before I found out I had cancer my oldest brother was fighting the same cancer and was facing radiation since his cancer had gone beyond what they removed. Within a week of my news my other brother had the same diagnosis.

The fact that I truly had cancer was brought home when my surgery to remove it was scheduled. When the reality of cancer hit me I didn’t send for the undertaker but my plans for anything beyond surgery was limited. It was brought home to me that no matter how well I did today, tomorrow was no longer a guarantee. I stopped taking even mundane moments for granted. I began to see what a gift each day truly is. In a sense having cancer was a gift. It helped me see as clearly as I have ever seen the reasons to be thankful far outweigh the reasons to be unhappy or complain.  

My surgery was set for January 12th.The days leading up to it including Christmas and New Years flew by no matter how much I wanted to slow them down especially the week before my surgery. A week before my surgery I had a cat scan and my doctor gave me the bad news that my cancer was more aggressive than they had thought, something to look forward to I thought. I was scheduled to be in the hospital for no longer than 24 hours including the 4-hour surgery.

At 5 AM I entered the hospital for what was to become the longest 5 days of my life. My surgery went well and I found myself with the best care by the best hospital staff that I could have asked for and it made my hospital stay easier.After my surgery complications developed and these fine folks went the extra mile to help me. For the next day and a half I was as sick as I have ever been. No matter how sick I was they helped me through each moment of sickness. I was told that for at least three of them they felt so badly for me that when they left the hospital they cried for me. I have never been so well cared for. Cancer gave me yet another gift, the gift of being cared for my selfless kindhearted people. It was a gift so rich that I did not fully understand the value of this gift until after I had gone home from the hospital.

For a day before my stay at the hospital and my last day I was not allowed solid foods and for 3 of those days  I did not have any food at all. When I finally was allowed to eat solid food and drink coffee the food was phenomenal.I don’t believe the eggs had much seasoning and the potatoes needed salt but they tasted as good as any food that I have had. Cancer gave me the gift of appreciating even the simplest foods.

While in the hospital and especially the following three weeks I was helpless and had to have help with everything from toileting to going from one chair to another. I have never appreciated the kindness of others the way I do now. Cancer gave me the gift of seeing and appreciating the kindness of others.

My urologist told me that with the surgery that he felt certain that all of the cancer was removed. 3 weeks ago a blood test confirmed that and I was told that I am cured of cancer.Cancer has truly given me the gift of life.Because of cancer I no longer am concerned so much about the day to day things and the little problems of each day. Cancer has caused me to truly value life’s most precious gifts; love, kindness and caring, the richness and beauty of each day. I no longer look forward to the future for fine memories but collect them as I walk along.

When I was told I had cancer my fear was of what it would take from me, I had no idea of how much it would give to me. Life offers us gifts or a source of destruction. The choice is ours.

 

 

My World & Welcome To It…. when cancer became part of my world Part I

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After a cold winter when spring arrives it is so welcome

It has been quite awhile since this Southerner come lately posted anything and I have been scolded at least by some for not writing. I do however have an excuse and it is a pretty darn good one too if you ask me. My excuse is really a 2 part excuse 1) I tried to change careers and did for about two months before I left that career to go back to teaching but at a different level. (I went from teaching special education at a high school to co-teaching 4th grade). 2) I was diagnosed with cancer and had surgery to remove it.

The view from my world has changed since I was diagnosed with cancer. There are still a lot of warts and blemishes but I am acutely more aware of the beauty that each day, each moment offers me which makes warts and blemishes that appear incidental and not worth the effort to focus on them.

To fully appreciate just how much my view has changed one must understand the view just before my sentence of cancer came about.When I had my biopsy done I had just started my new teaching position and for the first time in over 12 years was having fun teaching. I was back in a profession that I had left or I thought that I had left 2 months earlier because students were becoming more and more violent in my community even with students who have profound mental challenges. In  my last five years, I had received 2 broken ribs, 2 broken teeth, and a bruised shoulder from being thrown at a file cabinet. Another even more violent student was due to become my student in the fall and I had reached a point where I could no longer put myself at risk so after 18 years as a teacher I quit teaching and tried to sell insurance.

I had sold insurance 30 years ago and did OK and thought I could again. What I neglected to consider in making that decision was that things have changed a great deal in 30 years, I sold insurance  3,000 miles west of where I was attempting to sell insurance 30 years later and small southern towns don’t take kindly to strangers no matter how much that stranger smiles. In fact, the smile on a stranger is a bad sign. In two months I drove 15,000 miles of back roads, dirt roads and lanes of central and southern Georgia. I was only chased by hound dogs twice that i can recall. I said more”Hey Y’alls” than I had said in the previous ten years of living in my world. I made one little sale and aged both my cars more than they should have aged.

I was only chased by hound dogs twice that I can recall. I said more”Hey Y’alls” than I had said in the previous ten years of living in my world. I made one little sale and aged both my cars more than they should have aged. My sales calls were always congenial but they became more and more polite after they found out that I didn’t live in town or the county, that I wasn’t related to anyone they knew or even that I didn’t know anyone they knew and our topic of conversation kind of dried up when they would let me know that a second cousin once removed or one of the Mayor’s kids sold insurance and no matter how good my insurance was whatever they could get from any of these folks was fine with them. After that it went, “Aint it hot, them watermelons sure are tasty this year, and have you ever seen more gnats than we got this year?” Just glad they didn’t ever find out that i wasn’t born and raised in central Georgia……….shoot I would have been skinned alive.

Along the way, I still had hope, however slim of getting another teaching position somewhere, just not in the district I had just quit.

From April to June I filled out 75 applications and went on 33 interviews but nothing. Along about July I had given up on teaching again and was pretty near done with selling insurance though the idea of finding a non-commision paying job became paramount to me but I had no idea how that would happen. On the way to a door slam I got a call from a school district just 18 miles from my home that I had not applied to and they interviewed me and offered me a dream position at an elementary school with administrators that just can’t be any better than they are.

Things fell in place I was as happy as I could be and, then my biopsy showed  that I had cancer and it was agressive and had to be removed ASAP.

End of Part I

My World & Welcome to it…………….STOP, IT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA TO……………..

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blog photo for Sept 13, 2015

For my readers who read my last post I referred to a southern expression that I used quite a lot until recently that is until I found out that the expression I was so fond of using was a southern replacement for an expression that the rest of the nation uses that is in fact, a curse expression. This is an expression that I have not now nor ever have used when speaking Yankee. This new found knowledge forces me to never use the southern expression…………….sigh. Just because I won’t use this expression doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty folks here who do. That being said there are some expressions and are some actions that are taboo and MUST NEVER BE SAID OR DONE in my world.

Just in case any of my readers ever have their cars break down or become lost on their way to Florida and they find themselves in my world, it would be a good idea to know a few of the things that are not done here.

In my world, a normal greeting to one or two people is “Hey or hey y’all” when referring to one or two people. We will say “Hey all y’all” when we are referring to three or more people. Sometimes we will shorten our expression to a simple “hey.”  What no one says in my world or the fields around my world is “Hey guys,” an expression used commonly in the north. Shoot not only is this expression not used here it’s not even understood. We ma’am ladies and girls in my world so to say, “Hey guys” to a group of girls or ladies immediately causes feathers to ruffle. I know that this is true because ten years ago my wife was substituting at a high school in my world. She was trying to get her students’ attention in a very noisy class. They were ignoring her as most students do to substitute teachers everywhere. To get their attention she called out, “Guys, hey guys may I have your attention please” or something like that. This was not a good thing to call out to teenagers who had never heard a Yankee accent before and then for the whole class to be called guys threw the class into an uproar. Having a substitute teacher is enough of a reason to turn a classroom into a chaotic mess but then to throw “the term guys” into the mess is like throwing a lit match into a pile of pine needles…………..brrr I happened to be walking by the classroom when all this was going on. It sounded like an explosion. I should have looked in to help her, but I was smart enough to walk on by though my wife wasn’t too happy about my lack of support for her when she later learned that I walked by her class during the worst of it. Even ten years later she is still upset with me. There are just some things you must do in the interest of self-preservation. In my world, it is better to yell “fire” in a crowded theater (if we had a crowded theater or any theater for that matter) than to yell “hey guys.”

If you are a Yankee and find yourself wandering around my world do not acknowledge that you are one or at the very least try hard not to sound like a Yankee. Keep in mind that there are enough people here who do nor know that the Civil War (or as they say here, “the illegal uprising from the north”) is over and hunting seasons overlap. I was able to sidestep this challenge by saying whenever I was asked, I had not always lived in California that before living there I lived in Washington State. They are curious here in my world but not too curious. Thank goodness for that because in the ten years that I have lived in my world I have never had to tell anyone that I was born in New York State. No, I lied once I told a therapist where I was born, as soon as I shared this confidential information with her she threw me out yelling, “I ain’t helping no Yankee feel better. Yankees are all sick in the head.” I thought that her comments were a little rough and for some reason I resented her tone.

In my world, it is never a good idea to to say out loud no matter how quietly, the word “Change.” No people in the entire United States are as allergic to change as the people in my world are. Spelling and arithmetic (math for those readers younger than 50) are not our peoples’ strong suits here so unlike the expression I began this post talking about change is thought to be a four letter word and should NEVER and I mean NEVER be brought up. People would rather see things, businesses, parks, and more die than change. Sadly they don’t see that dying is change. I witnessed this first hand when a lady named “Autumn” moved into my world and bought a small sandwich shop just down the road a spell. To everyone she met she said, “Hi my name is Autumn and I’m from California. There are so many things that need to be changed here and I am going to help make it happen.” This poor misguided lady and her store lasted for just fifteen months. Sadly the only change she made happen was when her sandwich shop was sold and it became a package store. My world is not a world that sits still for change. I suppose that’s why my world seems like a world that time has forgotten at least for the last fifty years or so.

To finish this post, I must share what not to do if you are a Yankee in my world There is something that you must never do for three reasons, 1. If you do this you won’t need to worry about telling folks that you are a Yankee they will already know  2. It won’t change the way we do things here no matter what you do. 3 The southern way is a lot more of a relaxed less stressful way of doing things than the way they do things up north.

NO ONE and I mean NO ONE should ever arrive on time for anything for any reason. In fact it would be a good idea if you were late for your own funeral, I myself plan to be several years late for mine. A good idea is to never arrive any earlier than thirty minutes after any appointment. I really enjoy this custom when I have to see my doctor or dentist. You Yankees don’t know how good it can feel when you arrive at your doctor’s or dentist’s appointment 30-45 minutes late and be escorted right in. I haven’t read a waiting room magazine in years. In fact, a few times my doctor has been reading his own magazines when I have stepped into his waiting room. One time I saw a doctor who had recently moved down here from up north. When I arrived he said, “You are late.” “Really what did I miss?” I replied. Apparently I didn’t miss much as he hardly had a thing to say as he examined me. He must have been having a bad day I guess. I didn’t go back to see him agin, I mean after all he is a Yankee. I ain’t having no Yankee doctor giving me a physical you never know where his hands have been.

I hope these warnings haven’t scared any Yankees from visiting my world but if you do don’t tell me where you are from I don’t wanna know.

My World & Welcome to it……….Some Good & Some Bad but in spite of everything it’s a great place to live.

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August marks the 10th year that this ex-Yankee moved to the deep south. I am still not clear on a lot of things that just are here. Some of what is I like, some of what is, I just don’t like. In the south since change for good or for bad is a four-letter word he I accept things as they are.

Speaking of four-letter words I have a thing for nonsense words that mean nothing, words like uff dah which I borrowed from the fine folks in Minnesota years ago. I use these words when I am doing some heavy work or frustrated or jubilant (whatever that means).  Soon after I arrived in my world I heard two words much like the Yankee words I just shared. I assumed these words were nonsense so happily spread them around liberally (nothing political here it means spread like fertilizer so calm down you political readers). I did this for about ten years until I found out that these words actually have a meaning………………………………….. and not a good one at that. It has the same meaning that two curse words mean. These curse words meaning have a G and D in the beginning of them. In true southern tradition, the words that I learned  reversed the initials and is used to mean the same thing. Now I am not someone who curses except in self-defense so after finding that my 2 favorite southern words mean something I won’t say I began my quest for another expression to use………………..sigh. Sadly so far I have not found replacements for them but I am looking really hard for them right now.

When driving down a country road in central and southern Georgia it is not uncommon to come upon a sign that reads “Quiet Death in the family.” This is a state road sign not one that someone made up in their woodshed. It is impossible to not feel warm thoughts about the good people of Georgia when seeing the sign though one wonders how to make your car quieter. I always turn my radio off but since my windows are up and my air conditioning is going full blast I doubt that it makes much difference, but I digress. The feeling of warmth stays with you until you pass a golf course that is a “Whites Only” private golf course and your warm thoughts become cold. The only good thing is that the course is not well taken care of and the greens are rough (whatever that means).

A few years ago I visited one of my favorite cities in the USA, Spokane. For readers who haven’t been there, it is a very beautiful city. I stepped into a members only store and did what I usually do when shopping in Central Georgia I visit with people………well I tried to visit with people there. My greetings and comments were met with stares that people would use if I had just fallen from the sky or coached the Buffalo Bills and promised to win the super bowl. Man did I ever miss my world. This year I spent Independence Day weekend at 2 Florida cities (St. Augustine and Jacksonville). While in stores and walking sidewalks I did what I usually do in my world I greeted folks giving them “hey y’all” (an all purpose southern greeting) and commenting on the beautiful weather and such. I had the same Yankee reaction I received in Spokane and realized that Yankees far outnumber southerners in Florida…………..sigh after a day down there I wished that I was 4 hours north in my world where my greetings and comments would be met with smiles, hey y’alls and return comments by most everyone here except of course the visiting Yankees from up north.

In my town businesses downtown close at noon every Wednesday. For some reason, it’s to remember the day of the week when slaves were sold at the train depot which is still in good repair. I asked someone why this horrible historical occurrence was still remembered, I was told by black and white folks,”We do this because it is our history”…………this is a history that I would just as soon not remember. Change occurs very slowly down here.

In my world there are plenty of warts, it ain’t the prettiest place in the world, the heat and humidity lasts half a year and gnats attack unmercifully through the seasons of Summer and HOT. This is a place where we have our share of white trash, red necks, and racism on both sides but there are good people everywhere, true southern ladies and gentlemen that far outnumber the other types of people. The people I live and work with are the very best people anywhere. Welcome to my world.

My World And Welcome To It………….After a long break I am back.

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Blog illustration Aug 2015

After a long time, I am back to writing my blog. I am pretty rusty and my thoughts are scattered so I hope that the few readers that I have left will forgive me. I promise that my work will get better with each new post………..at least I hope it does.

Where have I been all this time? Welllll in June I tried to quit teaching for awhile and left my High School special education position to sell insurance for 2 months. Years ago I had heard the expression “Once a teacher always a teacher.” During my brief hiatus from teaching I have learned just how right the expression is.  In the 2 months that I sold insurance, my heart wasn’t in it. Since my heart wasn’t in it I had to spend all my waking hours trying to do the job. my focus was only on selling without any time for anything else.

About a week after school started I was offered an opportunity to co-teach 4th grade. Although my BA degree is in elementary education this was my 1st time in my 18-year career that I have had a chance to teach elementary school. I had no idea what I was missing. Every day is an adventure. I have the privilege of working with the most dedicated committed teachers I have ever known. I begin every day with warm happy greetings from 300 happy delightful children and it gets better as the day goes on. Life just doesn’t get better than this. I work long hours after we have escorted our students to their buses preparing for the next day/rest of the week but still I have more time for myself than I did as an insurance agent, so my blog is alive once again.

I want to give an advance warning that in the near future I will begin a blog called “As I see things.”  “My World” is a blog about my observations about life in the deep south from a Yankee’s prospective. It is meant to be a warm though sometimes tongue in cheek commentary on life in a world that I have grown to love and embrace, warts and all. “As I see things” will be the observations of life from a slightly unbalanced 57-year old who has thought out of the box almost since the very beginning of life. It will be a blog that is sometimes positive and upbeat while sometimes crabby but never mean. This blog will not be limited to my thoughts about life in the south but will reach out far beyond the world I love.  I will continue to add posts to “My World” since this blog is one that is near and dear to me. My next post is fixin to be posted a little later today. 

My World And Welcome To It……………………..Have a day and other Georgia Baseball Sayings

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20150210_192518It has been 3 months since I wrote my last post. The big question is did the blog go somewhere else? Did it come to a whimpering end? The answer is NO! I had to take a 3 month hiatus from writing to coach Georgia High School baseball……………….. well OK I was an assistant coach but I still coached baseball. The season is almost over and now I am back my fine readers I am back!

In my past posts I wrote about Georgia football being unique but so is Georgia Baseball but in a different way. After living in Georgia for 10 years I had thought that  I had finally learned to at least understand “Georgia Speak” if not speak the language…………….or so I thought. I was doing pretty well until I began coaching baseball. In the world of Georgia High School baseball there seems to be a language all of it’s own. Some of the expressions said at games I have no idea what they mean but they sound good so of course I use them regularly. This is OK since I introduced an expression that was never heard in Georgia High School baseball and the good lord willing will never be again or at least it won’t be heard after i am done coaching.

The first week of baseball practice at the end of warm ups I heard the expression yelled out in unison “HAVE A DAY.” When I asked my head coach what “have a day” meant, he said, “you know, it means have a day.” “That’s what I thought that it meant,” I said. To this day I don’t have a clue as to what it actually means, I have a few ideas but can’t be certain.I of course use the expression along with my ball players every day during practice.

During our 1st junior varsity game our team was in the field and they had their 1st batter  facing our pitcher. The count was 3-0 (3 balls no strikes.). Their assistant coach yelled out to his batter, “Hit it on the butter bean.” The player must have known what he meant because the next pitch he hit a double. I asked my coach what the expression meant. He said,  ” No idea not a clue.” I think it may have meant since the count was a ball away from a walk he could wait for a good pitch to swing his bat but maybe it didn’t mean that at all. Later on in the season when an umpire was giving our team a hard time I would yell out to one of our boys, “Hit it on the butter bean” just to mess with the umpire. Most of the time Blue ignored me but it was always worth a try.

About 3 weeks ago we had a post game meeting with our team after a loss where we made 14 errors mostly in the outfield. We had a man helping us out keeping statistics who had voluntarily done this job for over 30 years. Our outfielders were in the dog house and they knew it. I had just told them that the purpose for their glove was to catch with it not to wave bye to all the balls as they went by them. This was after the other two coaches ripped in to them for a little over 30 minutes. This man finished us up with this sage advice of which once again I had no idea of what it meant. “Just remember to not to forget to pick all of the paw paws up.” The other coaches nodded their head in agreement. Not to be undone so did I, still wondering what he meant by what he said. I did however look into what a paw paw is. A paw paw is a fruit that tastes much like custard. It sounds pretty good to me, pretty darn good. With this in mind I have decided to plant a few near my scupernogs and muscadines.

To be fair I kind of created my own expression that is really more of a yell than an expression but my team seems to like it. so that’s good enough for me. To be frank I never meant for it to be an expression at all it actually was an accidental war cry but in the first game one of our players hit a line drive. He made it safely to 1st base.I yelled out, “Hey hey heyyyyyeeeeeeeeeee!” It was like a rallying cry. We were down 3-2 and the next hitter made contact with the ball and again I yelled out, “Hey hey heyyyyyeeeeeeeeeee!” Our players advanced. The next hitter hit a double and again I yelled out, “Hey hey heyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeee!” We won the game. I can’t exactly say I inspired the team by my yell but  we won that game and it seemed to give our team a little bit more energy every time I did it. By the way “Hey hey heyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeeee” just means I am excited.

On our way home from an away game (which we lost). We stopped at a fast food restaurant. By the front door there was a young man, young woman, a small boy and a German Sheppard. Their clothes were tattered but relatively clean. It was obvious that they were dealing with some hard times. In spite of the tough times these people were good people and spoke kindly and gently to each other. The only unique thing about any of them was that the man was wearing a knee length coat on a day when it was over 80 but this was Georgia and after ten years nothing here surprises me or almost nothing surprises me at any rate.

As I entered the restaurant I said to the man, “Nice dog.” He said, “Why thank you, wanna see my duck?” I had no idea what he would show me and after a bus ride with a bus filled with teen aged boys I assumed that his “duck” would probably be obscene or violent in some way so saying yes would probably be a bad idea. On the other hand if I said no I would never know what his duck was. So naturally I said yes and prepared to run. As soon as I said yes he reached in to his coat and I thought I am dead man but just as quickly as he as he reached in to his coat he pulled his hand out holding a ducking that was about 3 days old. The best that I could get out was, “Nice duck.” The man said, “Thank you I think so too.” The man, his wife, his dog and his duck happily walked away from the restaurant as happy as any family out to be especially a family that has a duck. I thought could I have witnessed anything more silly? After that whenever anyone on the team including other coaches would do anything silly I would ask, “Wanna see my duck?”

I may never understand what”Have a day” means but I will always know what “Wanna see my duck” means. I believe a little daily silliness in our lives is a good thing. By the way “Wanna see my duck?”

My World and Welcome to it is considering coming to a close on Word Press.

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If there are any who read my work I am seriously considering ending my blog since I don’t have a lot of readers. I was a loyal contributor to Gather for quite a while. While there my writing wasn’t as good not by a long shot but I had considerably more readers than I do here. It was there that my love for writing was fostered. gather suffered a sad end far before it should have. I was hoping that WordPress would be a lot like Gather but after a bit over 6 months I find that it is not.  My last post only generated a minimum amount of interest sadly. I will give it one more post to see if I can generate any more interest. I sincerely hope that it does.

To my loyal readers: Thank you I am most grateful. The time that you spent reading my work is much appreciated and your comments very valued. There must be a better site to help me develop in to a more skilled writer. I hoped that WordPress would be such a place. It does not appear to be. I shall keep looking.

Respectfully,

Kevin A. Ewing

MEd, Special Educator, author and Coach.

My World & Welcome to it…………….In Georgia football is King

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Marching Band 2When I began this blog I made reference to High School Football in my world and indicated that I would get back to it at a later date. I needed time to do it justice since in Georgia football is king. For my non North American readers every town in the USA that has a high school reserves Friday nights in September through November for football even up in Alaska where they have to paint lines of the football fields on snow. Men, women, boys and girls living in California to Maine at the very least enjoy and even love football but for them there are any number of other things that could take their attention away from football. In Georgia and I am told to a bit lesser degree in other parts of the south football is King!

I had thought about writing this post weeks ago but I wanted to be sure that I treated the subject well. It needed to be just right because in Georgia you don’t mess with football.

On Fridays from August to November there is nothing more important than High School FOOTBALL. If the president ever comes to Georgia he had better not come to Georgia Friday nights in the fall as no one would know that he came. I am sure the Secret Service men and woman would be delighted when there is no one around to greet him or to heckle him. Heaven help him if he does come to Georgia on a Friday night to a High School Football game and delays the game in any way. There may not be an open revolt but to every fan on both side of the field he would be revolting. Folks in my world may not be the sharpest pencils in the box but if he ever did make that mistake come Election Day ballots cast would be for anyone but him.

The purpose of this post is to help readers who may be considering coming to a Georgia High School football game some fall Friday night in the future or simply just want to know why Georgia high school football fans are way more fanatical than any of the other football fans in any other part of the USA.

What makes football king in Georgia has less to do with what goes on in the football field than what goes on in the bleachers, in front of the concession stands, along the sidelines and in front of the restrooms in the football stadium. Now to be sure the game of football is pretty much played the same way all over the USA. Every Referee and umpire on the field has a book of rules that guarantees continuity of the game where ever the game is played. What goes on in the stands during the games are what makes Georgia Friday Night High School football unique.

To help those who did not grow up in Georgia understand the greatness of the experience that is a Friday night Georgia High School Football game one needs to talk to an expert.  Coincidentally putting modesty aside I am one such expert. To prove that I am an expert my credentials are as follows: I am a High School teacher in Georgia for the last ten seasons and have worked in the ticket booth, selling tickets, pass gates and bleachers for more than forty games. Plus I am a Southerner come lately.

To fully appreciate the Georgia High School Football experience to understand why football is King in Georgia one must understand the following unwritten rules:

  1. It is considered bad form in Georgia to arrive at a game early* the term early refers to any time before a game begins until 30 minutes after it has begun.
  2. Tickets are sold until the last seconds of a game and Georgia High school football fans will pay even as they complain about paying just so they can say later on that they were at the game.
  3. It is good form to bring a huge bag of boiled peanuts with you to the game and to leave the empty wet slippery shells where ever people can most easily slip on them.
  4. It is not a High School football game without a marching band. They don’t have to play a note that has anything to do with the music they attempt to play just as long as they play. One of the two football teams doesn’t have to show up for the game but as long as at least one marching band shows up it’s still a football game. Even if both football teams play a game it’s not a football game without a marching band in the bleachers, it’s a scrimmage.
  5. Georgia High School football fanatics treat themselves very seriously. It is never a good idea to say anything remotely negative about their football team or give the impression of fixin to say anything negative about their football team. Saying anything negative or giving the impression of fixin to say anything negative about the other team is expected.
  6. All rules are meant for everyone else.
  7. (a) Knowing the score or even who is winning is not mandatory or even necessary for those attending a Georgia High School football game. (b) Even knowing a little bit of what is actually going on in a football game is also not necessary.
  8. Going to the concession stand and or restroom at least four times per quarter is a time-honored tradition.
  9. Yelling at the head coaches of either team and at every official is not only accepted it’s encouraged.
  10. Complaining is a minor sport to be involved in by everyone at a football game including football players, coaches and fans. Complaining as a sport is not just done at a Georgia High School football game and is in fact done at all other athletic events and school functions including graduations. The biggest difference is that complaining at a Georgia High School football game has become an art form. The creative complaining at a football game is always loud accompanied by a wide range of body language and facial expressions. If the words are not always clearly understood one can be thankful that they are not.
  11. Anytime a game is lost it’s blamed on the officials. If the loss is on the road a true Georgia High School football fan always blames home cooking* If the loss is at home it is blamed on the lack of home cooking.*

*For the Yankees from up north who might be reading this, home cooking has nothing to do with fine southern cooking. It refers to the decisions made by the officials making sure the game is played by the rules. If the officials are easier on the home team for rule violations than on the away team then it is assumed that the officials are supporting the home team or doing home cooking.

 As I write this I am watching an exciting game. The score is tied 21-21. I am at the edge of my seat I cannot believe it I would never try to do what is being done right in front of me especially with all of those boiled peanut shells to slip on. He is carrying 2 drinks, a nacho, a hot dog with lots of ketchup and pickle. He’s running, oh no he slips and fumbles. The drinks have landed on the big man with a very pretty date, (that will be trouble by half time), his pickle flies in to the horn one of the band members is fixin to play (that pickle is going to make a real sour note at half time) the nachos cheese are all over his head and face and who knows where the hot dog is. Fans, band members even some football players are doubled over in laughter. Clearly this is a victory for the fans. There just is nothing better than a Friday night High School football game in Georgia where once again football is king.

Fans in the stands 2

 

 

 

 

 

Marching Band 2

My World & Welcome to it ……………………………….A day at the fair

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In my world the fair is really an annual event that most of us look forward to albeit not as much as football games of any kind but still a lot. For me the best part of the fair is the entertainment. I am not referring to the entertainment that cost money to see, that almost always is disappointing. My favorite entertainment comes with the price of admission.

When I was a child when I went to the fair there was always a tent where one could pay 50 cents to see some pretty unique and interesting people. At my fair unique and interesting people are not found in a tent, they pay the price of admission.

Among the best places to see unique and interesting people is down Food Alley. There one can see gluttony at its very best or some might say at its very worst. Since I am fascinated by human behavior I for one see the human drama on food ally as gluttony at its best.  It can be said that some of the best entertainment at the fair is right there on Food Ally.

It is magical to see a parent and their little one interact together. Watching a father pitch an oversized soft baseball to his young son and watching him attempt to hit it with his oversized baseball bat is one of life’s little delights. Seeing a mother teaching her daughter to ride a bike for the first time is a memory not forgotten. Watching a father and son sharing a plate of garbage fries (I am not making the name up, you really can get them at our fair and they are pretty good, pretty darn good)is not a pretty sight.  Almost as soon as a father and son begin to share the plate they become competitors in a race to see who can eat the biggest share. It’s not a real pretty sight but it sure is interesting to watch. Another sight not easy to see is a mother and young daughter engulfed in spun sugar or should I say eating cotton candy. The thing is even if each of them has their own cotton candy at first glance it looks as though some very sticky brightly colored cotton has attacked their heads. It is always a bit of a shock seeing two alien fuzz balls on top of two human bodies walking down Food Ally.

One of the nice things about a fair is that a day at the fair is a family outing but on Food Ally some of the family activities going on could cure a good thinking person of ever thinking highly about family activities again. It is common to see a mother, father, a teen age boy and a little girl each holding an over buttered ear of corn in one hand an over sized very greasy barbecued turkey leg in another while staring down at an ice cream covered apple dumpling and laughing causing all kinds of food bits to fly freely around them. For me if I get hungry while at the fair all I have to do is to walk down Food Ally and see a couple of these families and I am no longer hungry…………………..not for the rest of the day and in to the week.

If one is very adventurous a memory that will never be forgotten can be had by simply waiting for one of the families who have finally finished their eating family activity and sport brightly colored wrist bands over one of their greasy food stained wrists, follow them to the midway where they will get in line to ride one of the poorly put together roller coasters and then watch the fun begin. The thing is the only requirement on these roller coasters is that you must be at least four feet tall, no one ever asks if an enormous amount of food has just been eaten. I have never had to courage to stand by a roller coaster after one of these families have gotten into the ride. I am just not that brave.

Unique and interesting people aren’t limited to the midway and Food Ally they can be found anywhere. Anyone who has a camera or cell phone with a camera is someone worth paying attention to.Take for instance one man in particular  who is trying to take a photo of a 20 foot high and ho knows how long concrete cow.This man seems to be having a very difficult time finding a spot to take his photo.  For some reason he keeps backing up while trying to take the photo but for him anyway the photo he wants to take alludes him. He is most definitely one such person worth watching. As  he is attempts to find the right  position to take his photo he continues to back up without looking behind him of course as he backs up. He does this until he backs in to a very prickly five foot high cactus………………….wait I am describing what happened to me not long ago.

Moving on we come to a teen aged boy standing in front of a commercial building asking everyone he sees if they know where he can get something free. I tried to give him some free advice but he wasn’t looking for that kind of free something.

Beyond him there is a truly unique and interesting couple having a heated argument. She is wearing a short white wedding dress, veil and train. Her hair has little curls piled high. Her high heel shoes look appropriate for her wedding gown but wearing a wedding gown at a fair is not a sight often seen especially since the man with her is wearing an Atlanta Braves T shirt with torn cut offs. His sneakers are clean but not new. He has a sock on one foot but not on the other. Their voices grow louder and she is saying, “When you said that you would take care of our honeymoon I never in my life thought that we would spend it at the National Fair.” He replies, “You always said you loved the National Fair.” “But NOT FOR OUR HONEYMOON”, she replies.  At this point it’s just best to move on as it looks like their next performance will be as participants on “Can this marriage be annulled?”

There is quite a lot of entertainment at the National Fair that is free but my favorite entertainment is the kind that happens unexpectedly with in these free entertainments. An example of this was done by a very unique and interesting young man that I am close to. It was a rainy day and for Georgia it was cold especially in September. It was 70 degrees. When it gets rainy and cold during the fair the number of visitors drop dramatically. This young man is highly susceptible to hypnosis as I am. He was bored and had seen everything at the fair pretty much. He decided to go see the hypnotist show. I warned him not to. He assured me that he wouldn’t volunteer to go on stage. I told him that with a small show he would indeed be hypnotized even if he wasn’t on stage but he just laughed at my concern. After all who listens to his father’s advice? About 40 minutes later he caught up to me and said, “Dad I didn’t volunteer to go on stage I really didn’t. I was sitting there enjoying all the goofy people on stage and the next thing I knew I was singing a Justin Bieber song and clucking like a chicken.” Dad gum the best entertainment of the whole fair and I had to miss it.

National Fair