Saturday, May 31, 2014

Chicks Dig My Ride

There I was around suppertime today riding around town and doing the introspective pensive thing that I often do when I'm out on the scooter.  Clad in my "Chicks Dig My Ride" tee shirt that also features a picture of a tricycle my thoughts went to when I was back in perhaps the sixth or seventh grade and desperately trying to catch the eye of a particular young lady in the neighborhood.

Circa the summer of 1970 or so...  My life's dream was to be a secret agent like Ephrem Zimbalist Jr. (God bless him; he died just this month) on the TV series The F.B.I.  I knew that being a federal investigator would really impress the girls so I designed my own secret agent communications panel fashioned from a wooden cigar box, a microphone from an old reel to reel tape recorder, a bevy of switches connected to nothing, all mounted to the big wire basket on my balloon tired single speed bike. I'd ride past said young lady's house a few times a day, slowly, pretending to be calling in some kind of emergency report to secret headquarters.  I don't believe my heartthrob ever noticed me riding past her house in my quest to win her heart.  Thank God, or she might've posted a reminder of it to Facebook by now.

I remember how resentful I was when I first learned that girls in junior high are far more mature than their male classmates, but in working every day for the past 31 years with kids who are as old now as I was then, the truth is as apparent as the nose on my face.  I watch the boys trying to impress the girls and shake my head in amazement at how they're utterly clueless in thinking that their Billy Madison type antics will make them prime dating material.  I look back in pride to my time on the bike with the secret agent communicator in my basket.  At least I wasn't trying to be like Adam Sandler!  I can picture Zimbalist Jr. on a stylish Vespa, and I sit back with a smug sense of satisfaction in enjoying being who I've become since the sixth grade, riding along on my scooter and trying to impress precisely nobody at all.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Almost Heaven

West Virginia!  I'm hundreds of miles from where the scooter is parked under my deck, in Morgantown, West Virginia for Memorial Day Weekend.  Along with celebrating the sacrifices of men and women throughout our country's history who have made and kept safe this wonderful home of ours, I'm reveling in the knowledge that after I get back to work on Thursday there will be only 10 more days of work left for this academic year.

Can you see (and smell, and taste, and hear, and feel) the joy of the anticipated freedom on my face?  I am quite the experienced porch sitter, and, as you can see here, I can keep up a good rattan furniture sit with the best of them.  Having saved two of my four annual personal days so I could lengthen this weekend, I'm totally enjoying this extended preview of what's coming in just a few weeks.

Although there are parts of Pennsylvania that I'm intimately familiar with that are built on hills and mountains, it's different here in West Virginia.  Entire neighborhoods, it seems, are built on the sides of what I certainly would have called mountains as a kid.  I'm not sure what they really are - too high to be hills, but perhaps, too short to be mountains, but there are a number of places here that make me think of the Grinch high atop Mt. Crumpet.  Riding the scooter here would be a delight with inclined and declined twisties to delight the spirit.

Pizza Al's is somebody's (not my) favorite pizza and no trip worth its salt (and oregano, and crushed red pepper, and grated Parmesan) here is complete without at least one meal taken there.  As I always say, it's very good pizza, but nothing I'd write home about.  The ambience is kind of like the sterile environment of an operating room and items contributing to the decor are sparse and simple.  Thus, one needs to provide entertainment to his table for all to enjoy the passage of time while waiting for the pizza to be ready.

Tomorrow, it's off to visit some dear folks in Somerset, Pennsylvania with a jaunt to Pittsburgh planned for later in the day, and on Wednesday I'll be back in the Wyoming Valley.  When I get back I'll have only Thursday and half of Friday to work before the final two frenzied weeks of packing away the classroom and saying goodbye.  I can't wait for that first celebratory ride of summer vacation, as if you could have missed that.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Itching for Summer

It's getting to be that itchy time of the year when all I can think about is that day and moment when the ringing of a solitary bell will change my world and render me free for a few months.  Sadly, most adults don't seem to remember what it was like to have summer vacation from school.  If they did, I think there would be a  proletariat uprising unlike Marx ever imagined to make summer vacation a must for everybody.  Of course that would make buying groceries impossible and would largely increase the lengths of the lines at the Disney theme parks, not to mention inconveniencing many in ways quite impossible to count or fully imagine, but I can't even imagine working all year long without the blessed weeks I get to recuperate from going and going and going.  I know that I am envied and even despised to a degree by some because of the vacation to which I'm looking forward, but likewise I know that without it I'd have burned out of teaching a long time ago and I think that could be said of just about all of my colleagues who give it their all.

Summer is coming and I'm looking forward to the same small, but wonderful things that compel me every year to anticipate its arrival.  Scooter trips and car trips.  Writing here when I'm inspired.  Having lunch whenever I want.  Visiting the various places that really say SUMMER to me, like this gazebo in nearby Plains, Pennsylvania.

I'm not sure why I made this colorful gazebo a powerful symbol to myself, but I have.  When I pose for my first picture of the summer here I'm near bursting out of my skin with the excitement of being free.  When the weeks are spent, though, and it's near time to return to the classroom, another visit here sums up the heaviness of heart with which I give up the freedom of spending day after day however I want.


After years of walking with a limp and increasing pain in my right knee, I was finally bugged enough by those who love me to make an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.  I rebelled against that for a long time and my reasoning is this...  I feared that "Replacement surgery!" would be the first thing of the doctor's mouth.  I wouldn't want to take off that much time from school to go through the exercises and rehab to get back on my feet, but neither would I want to spend most of my summer doing that either and essentially not having a vacation at all.

The first thing they did at the doc's office was to take x-rays.  Here's the one of the bad knee.

After the film was taken I was ushered into the back room to await the crippling news that I had no doubt would be coming my way.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I was told that replacement surgery was some years in the future still!  He drained 190cc's of "water on the knee" from the joint and said that I'd broken the former office record.  I chuckled and would have danced with joy - well, except that I have this bad knee.

This will be an abrupt ending, but I'm out of practice and out of words.  Stay tuned for what I hope will be my usual round of summer posts!