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Goodbye 2017

I cannot remember a year that I wanted to end as much as I do 2017.  When I look back over the year, my first thoughts are about sad things. There have been a lot of good things and good times this year, but it just seems like 2017 was plagued with sadness.

2017 saw the passing of many loved ones.  My sweet great uncle passed away early this year, his wife followed 6 months later. A long time family friend lost his battle with cancer in the fall.  My cousin’s wife lost a 6 year battle with Alzheimer’s.  A dear friend and co-worker’s toddler was stricken with a freak aliment and passed away in the spring. Then in the late summer a former co-worker’s infant died suddenly.   It has been so hard to wrap my head around these losses. My prayers are with all these families every single day.

In November my beloved dog Lily was diagnosed with bone cancer. Less than four weeks later we had to have her put to sleep. I am heart broken.  Lily was my best girl.  There was never any doubt that I was her person.  I have been blessed to have many dogs in my 51 years, but Lily was special.  I’m going to miss her for a very long time.

Many people wonder how I can compare or mention the loss of a dog in the same space I talk about the death of people. Let me try to explain.  Many of you are parents. Think about how your young child would light up when they saw you. How they would run to see you when you came home.  Some of you are grandparents now. Think about how much you love that grand and how much joy they have brought into your life.  Those are feelings I have never known and will never know.  Pets are all I have, so if my deep affection for them is bothersome to you… oh, well.

Our country has been through so many natural and man made disasters this year as well.  From hurricanes, to tornadoes, to floods, and wild fires.  Every day the news is full of stories of people who have lost everything.  My prayers are also with these folks.

There is also so much unrest among the people of this country. It seems that every group of people is being played and pitted  against each other.  What is causing this? Is it the president? Is it the media? Is it the devil? Is it some of all? Or something completely different?  I have ideas, but my political and social views are not important here.  I just know that we as a country have gotten so far from God, it is going to take a long time for us to find our way back.  The founding fathers  used the teachings of the Bible to establish some of their guiding principles and we are destroying those principles everyday.  We just need to get along and realize we are all in this together.

Phil changed professions this year. He loves his new career and I love it for him. I am so glad he took the plunge and so glad I stopped freaking out about it.  I’m still waiting for him to learn to vacuum and do laundry. But something tells me I’m going to be waiting for a long time!:)

A knee injury has kept me off running for nearly two months. I am cranky as hell because of it too.  I have been speed walking and using an elliptical.  The elliptical gives me a full body work out, it is easier on my joints, but it isn’t the same.  I know its all in my head and I’m an idiot for keeping this running thing alive.  In a perfect world my knee will heal so I can run a few days a week, walk and elliptical a few days a week.  I will say, I have liked getting my workouts done in the warmth and dry of our basement and not having to battle the cold and the crazy wind we’ve been having.  I’m trying not to stress too much about what my running future looks like, and take it day at a time.

My eating habits have worsened this year too. I’m not much of a resolution maker, but if I have to make one, it will be to eat healthier and finally kick my sugar addiction.  It’s going to be hard, I guess that’s why I have never been successful. It’s hard to change a 51 year old habit.

I don’t mean this to be a gloom and doom post.  It’s been a good year too. Overall I am very healthy and so is Phil. We are blessed with a home that keeps us warm, dry and safe. We have family that we love more than they know, we have the best friends and neighbors we could ever ask for. We were blessed to find a pastor this year and he is doing a wonderful job. I have a job that I love (even though I have been a little jealous of Phil).  We are blessed with five dogs and an old cat and the best part of my day is the time I spend with the cows.  Life is good.

I have been very surprised to discover how much happiness and contentment I have found since Phil and I began caring for my family farm at Poughkeepsie. I love seeing cows there and traveling the old farm paths again.  Phil has worked like a mad man fixing fence and clearing brush out. It has been nearly 12 years since my dad was able to care for it and a farm will grow up and fall down in that amount of time.  I’m not sure how heaven works, but if my dad knows what Phil has been up to, he is very pleased. As wonderful as it is to us, it is quite possibly the roughest piece of ground in Sharp County. It is mainly glade rocks and cedar trees. I finally understand why my great grandfather Jim stopped trying to farm it and began making moonshine!

There is a story that some of my relatives tell about Jim.  He went west one time. While there he saw all these green leafy stalks growing. They were growing in very poor ground. He thought they would do well in Sharp County and provide something for his cows to eat. Somehow he got seeds and brought them back here to plant.  He was right.  They grew very well.  Only problem was cows don’t eat marijuana!

Be well friends and may 2018 bring you nothing but health and happiness.

Be kind. Be fierce.

 

Dogs, Dogs, Dogs and a Cat

Since I am sidelined from running  for a while due to runners’ knee, I decided I wasn’t going to get on here and whine and moan about it.  I’m walking, using the elliptical, and strength training.   Nothing special, just trying to get my knee better so I can run again in a few weeks. So, I thought I would tell you about seven loves in my life…

I like animals. I like animals A LOT. It is amazing the things you can learn from animals, if you just pay attention.  Currently there are 6 dogs and 1 cat living at our house. I won’t say that we “own” them, we don’t. They own us. They range in age from 15+ to 3.  All of the dogs were gifts from strangers.  We live in the sticks.  It is not uncommon for people to dump their unwanted dogs in our neighborhood.  Our cat came from a shelter. Here are their stories:

Little Dog:  Little was dumped about 1 1/2 miles from our house over 15 years ago.  At the time we had a John Deere Gator that I took to the farm to check our cows.  It was one of the first MTVs and it was sloooooow.  We had three dogs at the time, Mia, Fred and Ethel.  I would load them up and take them  with me. One day, we encountered Little and he followed us home. (True story, even though Phil doubts it to this day.)

We tried to give him away, but no one wanted the poor soul.  So, he stayed.  A few months after he moved in he was hit by a car. (Like most dogs who live on a gravel road, he was a car chaser.)  A trip to Dr. Mills showed he had a shattered pelvis. When they x-rayed him, they also found some .22 shots in his hip/leg area. Seemed someone had tried to kill him before he found us. (#meanpeoplesuck)  Doc Mills fixed him up and he came home and healed nicely.

Since then he has nearly been mauled to death 3 times. Twice required extensive medical treatment and a lot of recuperation time in the house. Every time he goes to the doctor, they tell us what a good natured, vocal dog he is.  He thinks he is a mountain lion and has zero fear.   He does whatever he wants to. If he wants to sleep in the house, we let him. If we wants to come in 3 times a day and eat, we have his favorite canned cat food on hand. He is the sweetest natured dog I have ever known.Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 12.41.47 PM

Caesar:  This poor soul was thrown from a moving truck at our watermelon stand 10 years ago. I heard a yelp and saw him bounce down the highway.  I immediately started yelling for Phil to do something.  He searched the ditch line for him but could not find him. We all knew he was dead, I was mortified.  Three days later, Phil and Becky were sitting at the stand and heard him whimpering. Phil found him hiding behind some brush without a scratch on him.

We had 4  dogs at the time and another one was out of the question. My parents were still living on the farm, so they took him. Unfortunately, due to my dad’s failing health they had to move to an assisted living facility  just a few weeks after they took him home. He and their cat Sally, moved in with us.

Phil says Caesar has brain damage from the accident, because he is a little on the eccentric side.  He can hear it thunder in Oklahoma and he is terrified of storms and we let him hide in the bathroom.    He hates buzzards and chases them anytime he sees them. He chases cars. He talks to us all the time.  When I come home in the evenings, he goes crazy running and barking. He runs and tells the cows I’m home.  If the others aren’t around, he barks until they come home.  We are pretty sure he tells on the others, we just can’t understand him.

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Lily: The only girl of the bunch has been with us nine years.  She and her two brothers were dumped on us.  I gave her brothers away, but immediately fell in love with her and was not about to part with her.  She’s part pit bull and is very protective.

Not too long after we got her, she followed me when I went to check the cows in the truck. I picked her up on the way home and put her and the others in the back. She fell out and banged up her hips.  A few days later I had walked out to check the cows at the house and she was attacked by a cow. It was the most horrifying thing that has ever happened to me. Lily was still injured from the fall and could not get away. The cow had her pinned down and was trying to gore her with her horns. I started screaming, grabbed the cow by the horns and began kicking her in the face. She threw me like a rag doll. Lily had gotten up, but the cow had her down again. By this time all the other cows had gathered around. I was still screaming and kicking and hitting.  That’s when the cows turned on me. They began running at me. Of course I was out in the middle of the field and it was dark by this time.  The fence was my closest refuge, since I couldn’t see, I picked the spot that was covered in briars. I had no idea where Lily was or what had happened.

Phil had been in the adjoining field discing and had no idea what was going on. When he stopped for the night he could hear me and came running. It was so dark, he had no idea what was going on and I was crying too hard to tell him what had happened, he just knew it was something about Lily.

We got the truck and looked and looked for her. She was no where to be found. I was heartbroken. As we pulled up to the house, a little black head peered from behind something in the garage. Somehow, she had managed to get back to the house in all the chaos.  She was hurt, her hip and pelvis were banged up, but she was alive.

That incident bonded us for life. She is 100% my dog and I am 100% her human. She loves Phil, but we all know whose dog she is.  Since she is older, her hips bother her. For the last 2-3 years, she sleeps in the house at night. She is terribly spoiled, but that’s ok.

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Gus:  Gus, his sister and mother were dumped in our neighborhood eight years ago.  We never saw his mother. Our neighbor Frankie did. He said she was pitifully skinny and sickly looking. He said he should have shot all of them, but just couldn’t.  Gus and his sister showed up at our house 2 days before Christmas.  I found the sister first. My family had been here for Christmas lunch and after they left we noticed a lot of barking around the barn. There she was, this beautiful yellow pup, with one gold eye and one eye that was half gold and half light blue. I scooped her up and began carrying her to the house. That’s when I heard more barking coming from the back of the house. Here was another fat yellow pup barking at the other dogs. I scooped him up as well and carried them to the garage to eat.

Immediately Phil was said no, nope, no way.  No way they were staying,  you better find them a home…. So I snapped some pictures put them on Facebook and hoped for the best.  Nope, no takers. So Gus and Trixie became residents at Johnson Kennels.

Trixie was with us almost exactly a year, and one day we came home and there was no trace of her. We have no clue what happened to her.

Gus has nine lives just like a cat. He got into some poison a few months after he moved in. He disappeared for three days and we were certain he was dead. We scoured the woods around our house everyday and could not locate him. For some strange reason on the third day when I came home from work I called his name.  Out from behind the house here he came.  He was skin and bones and covered in ticks.  I gave him a bath and fixed him something to eat.  It took a few days, but he recovered.

He is always coming in injured. Cuts and scrapes or smelling like a skunk. He’s kind of aggressive towards other animals and has zero tolerance for anything in his territory.  About 4 years ago, when I came home from work, I noticed something was off with him. He came to me, and he had blood all over him. I began looking and noticed the metal name plate on his collar was mangled and cutting into his neck. I took the collar off and discovered a huge gash.

I took him in the house and began cleaning him up. He was shaking all over. When Phil saw it, he immediately knew he had been shot.  We could tell the injury was not life threatening and since Dr. Mills’ office was already closed for the day, we cleaned him up and let him sleep inside.

The next morning we were at the doctor’s office as soon as it opened. Phil was right, he had been shot. The bullet hit the metal plate on his collar, went in one side of his neck and out the other side. It was a clean shot. Dr. Bob said the collar absolutely saved his life.

Gus spent the next two weeks on the couch recovering. We never found out who shot him or why. I have my suspicions who, but no idea why.  Gus is a big smooch. He loves riding in our old mule and he does not care who is driving because he will be sitting in the seat right up against you and you MUST have your arm around him. If you don’t he will root his head under your arm and you WILL put your arm around, or you won’t be driving!

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Walt:  Three years ago in August, I found Walt laying in the weeds on the side of the road about 1/4 mile from our house.  Immediately I knew he had been dumped. Immediately I stopped the truck and got out.  Immediately he ran right to me.  Immediately I knew he was my dog.

About a month before, a dog that showed up at our house in April (and I fell head over heels in love with) died. She ate rat poison and died a horrible death. She died in my arms. I blamed Phil for putting the poison out where the dogs could get to it and honestly I was still mad at him.  I’m pretty sure it was Divine Intervention that put Walt there that day.

Walt is pure joy. He loves everybody. He gets along with all the other dogs. If dogs can be funny, Walt is funny.  He has the best expressions. He is spoiled and wonderful and I cannot imagine a life without him in it.

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Roscoe:  He has been with us 2 years, we think he is 3. One night about two weeks before Christmas I came home late from work, was getting groceries out of the truck and this yellow dog was laying in the yard. I thought it was Gus, and I kept calling for him to come to me, but he wouldn’t. That wasn’t like Gus.  When I had finished carrying the groceries in, I went back to see what was wrong.  It wasn’t Gus. He was a little bigger, had a black nose, was wearing a collar, and was hungry.  We fed him, posted his picture and waited for his owner to come get him.  He had been neutered, was most likely used to spending a lot of time in the house. We just knew somewhere, someone was missing him.  But, they never came.

Big surprise, we wound up keeping him.  Turns out he is a black mouthed cur.  He is super smart and learns quickly.  He wants to be a house dog so badly. We don’t let him in very much, he is much too fascinated with Sally. Lately, he stands at the kitchen door and barks and moans and we can’t bear it.  We let him in. He either jumps up in the chair and lays on top of Phil or we have almost got him where he will get on Lily’s bed and stay there.  One of us always knows where he is or we close Sally in the bedroom. I don’t think he would hurt her, but I’m not taking any chances.

Roscoe is kind of a loner.  He plays well with Walt and leaves Little, Lily and Caesar alone. He and Gus had a rough start. He thumped Gus several times before Gus decided that Roscoe was younger and stronger and he was no longer the ruler of the roost. They get along now, but they give each other plenty of space.  He would really like to be an “only” dog, but he seems pretty happy most of the time.  He makes our little crew complete.

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Then there’s Sally. Sally is a shelter cat I got for my dad about 12 years ago. After he and my mother retired I decided they needed a pet. Mother and I went to the local shelter and picked out two cats.  One of them didn’t make it living outside. Sally did and she thrived.

Ten years ago she came to live with Phil and me. We had  Shadow Cat at the time and they  never got along. After Shadow died, Sally’s personality changed and she became much more sociable. Now, she runs the show.  She loves to lay in the sunshine and sleep. Five out of six dogs are scared of her. Roscoe is fascinated by her. We don’t know if he wants her to be his friend or if he wants to eat her.  As soon as the electric blanket goes on bed, she sleeps with us. Once she settles in, she will not move. She likes to sleep under the cover and like Caesar, she isn’t a fan of storms.  Every morning she sits on the bathroom counter and helps me put my makeup on. I can’t count the number of times I have gouged my eye with my mascara because she grabs my hand about the time I start putting it on.  She’s a head-butter and a purr ball.   She doesn’t run and greet us at the end of the day, she waits until her nap is over.  We know how we rate!

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If you think you have enough dogs or cats, go to your local shelter and adopt one more. 🙂 The best friends are the ones that pick you. #lifeisbetterwithacat #lifeisbetterwithadog

Run happy.  Be fierce. Be kind.

Tom Petty, Part 2

As you probably know Tom Petty passed away on October 2. I wrote a post “Tom Petty” several months ago and it seemed right to follow up with a Part 2.

I was introduced to Tom Petty in the late 1970s by my brother David. He had the 8 track version of “Damn The Torpedoes.” We were raised in a small house and our rooms were next to each other. He played his stereo so loud the pictures on my walls literally shook! At that age I didn’t mind too much, because he had pretty great taste in music.  (Which he lost somewhere along the way.  I mean really David, Kid Rock???)

Fast forward about 35 years, I was never a huge fan of Tom Petty until about 2-3 years ago. When XM radio gave him his own channel, I found myself listening to him during most of my drive time. I never saw him in concert, Phil isn’t a fan of “old dope heads”. I should have just bought the tickets and drug him along anyway.

Walls No. 3 is what I’m living in my running days lately.  “Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks. Some doors are open, some roads are blocked…” Well, my runs are rocks and my roads are blocked.

I don’t know what happened or when it happened.  I’ve been running slower and slower. Runs are getting harder.  My legs, the back of my heels and back hurt while running, and my left knee hurts after a run.  I have tried blaming the slowness and hurting on road conditions and shoes.

We have  been several weeks without a significant rainfall. The county has graded our gravel road 3-4 times making it hard to run on, it’s nothing but loose gravel and holes.   I can’t get any traction.  I like to run to our farm a couple of times a week for the hills, but for reasons beyond my grasp, the county dumped a couple of loads of rock on the two biggest hills creating a washboard effect that is so uneven I have to creep down and there is absolutely no way to run one up of them it is such a mess.

I have also tried to blame my issues on the prescription drugs I take. I’ve written about my blood pressure issues before and its been up again. I also take another med that was recently increased too. About the time the meds increased, the running went south.

I began reading anything I could find about what might be causing my problems. The good thing about the Internet is you have a wealth of information at your finger tips 24/7. The bad thing is, everybody is an expert and there is so much garbage out there it is mind boggling. I also did a whole lot of praying.  I like running, I like it a lot. It makes me sick to my stomach to think I might have to stop, so I want to do everything I can to make sure I have several more years left in me.

After a lot of reading, tracking meds, and tracking runs I was able to piece together what I think is going on.  1. I need firm, cushioned, stability shoes. 2. One of the meds I was taking has known side effects for many of the things I was experiencing. 3. I had gotten lazy. Yes, I have consistently been running 3-5 times a week, but I wasn’t pushing myself.  If running a hill was harder than I liked, I walked up it.  4. I’m getting older. Two years ago, my typical run was 5 miles. I tried to do that 4 days a week. Now, after I run 5 miles my knee hurts so much it wakes me up at night.

So, what am I going to do about it, since quitting is not an option?   1.  I found a great pair of Miznuo shoes, Wave Creations, that are stable and cushioned without being too soft.  2. I researched types of  medicine and found one that will do what I need, without all the crazy side effects.  3. I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I have added interval training once a week to try to build speed. I am running 3 mile runs 5 days a week, instead of 4 or 5 milers. I have also started taking chondroitin and glucosamine that is supposed to increase joint mobility.  So far so good with it.  For me, running is a lot like teaching, a constant monitor and adjust activity.

It rained Sunday (yes, I ran in the rain!) and I’m hoping that cleared the loose gravel. At some point, I may have to find a paved, less hilly place to run, but that’s going to be a last resort.  For now, I have a plan and we will see how it goes.

Rest in peace, Tom.  Thanks for the music.

Run happy. Be fierce.

 

 

I Got A Rude

One of my favorite Andy Griffith Show episodes is the one where Ernest T. Bass comes to town demanding an education. He thinks his beloved Romena will marry him if he can read and write. As usual Andy takes pity on poor ol’ Ernest T. and convinces Helen to let him come to her class.  In the midst of a hilarious classroom scene Helen tells Ernest T. he is being rude. To which he proudly turns and says, “I got a rude!”  Lord, honey I got two rudes this week.

Let me start by saying its been quite the week. My great aunt Elsie Hall was laid to rest Tuesday and a dear, sweet family friend passed away late Wednesday night.  My blood pressure has been all over the map, I didn’t get in the running mileage I had hoped for and I had to deal with two complete idiots.

The first one is a young man who wants to bring carnival rides to the watermelon festival. He started contacting us early this year. We told him we didn’t do carnival rides and we had limited space. This joker wouldn’t take no for an answer. He worried me and another festival committee member, Nathan to death.  He finally understood that he wasn’t coming to the 2017 festival.

I  thought that was the end of it. Nope. A couple of weeks ago, he started emailing Nathan and I again. Nathan was smart enough not to reply. I told him that we were not interested in carnival rides, not the type of festival we are shooting for. I thought that was the end of it. Nope. He started messaging our festival Facebook page. Went through the same crap again. Since I was responding as the “festival” he didn’t know he was still talking to me, at first. He soon found out though. He literally messaged us 3-4 times a day.

There are three of us that are page admins, if any of us read the message the guy could tell. Well, this royally pissed him off that we were reading and not responding. Once again, I couldn’t help myself and responded, told him in no uncertain terms we were not interested. At this point I had had enough and blocked him from our page.  Thought that was the end of it. Nope.  He created a fake Facebook page and started the same mess again.

At first, I didn’t know it was him. But it didn’t take long to figure it out. As soon as I told him we were not interested in balloon art he accused me of having a “god complex” and a few other nice things.  He also went on the festival page and under the review section and reviewed ME!  The nicest thing he said about me was that I was rude. That’s my first rude of the week. (I blocked the fool again and deleted his review.)

My second rude came two days later. In my job, I constantly have sales people calling me wanting to sell the latest and greatest technology products.  99.9% of the time I do not answer my office phone. On the rare occasions I have, as soon as they start their sales pitch, in the nicest way possible I say, “Sir (or Ma’am) we have that covered and we really aren’t interested. I appreciate you calling, thank you” and hang up. Usually they are still talking, but I hang up anyway.

One industrious salesman thought he had a way around my tactics. He left me 3 messages in 2 days. His messages were good. He has a company in Searcy, he was vague as to why he was calling, but he acted like I should know him and what he wanted. Since I do business with several vendors, I thought it might be possible he was working with one of them on a project I have going. So, I made the critical error or returning his phone call.

As soon as he told me what he was wanting, I used my standard line, “Sir, I’m sorry, we already have that covered. Thanks very much.”  Click. I thought that was the end of it. Nope.

A couple of hours later Marc Walling, my high school principal came by and asked me to go to his office. That’s not too unusual, so I didn’t think much about it until he said “You better close the door.” To which I laughed and asked if I was in trouble. He never cracked a smile, and I knew something not good was about to happen. 

At this point, he was reaching for his phone. He dialed his voicemail and handed it to me and said, “Do not get mad. Just listen. It’s important you don’t get mad.”  Low and behold it was the salesman from before ranting and raving about me. He demanded that he be put on the agenda for the next school board meeting because he is going to file a formal complaint against me…for being rude.  My second rude of the week.

Marc had called him back after he left the message and God bless him, defended me. Nothing would appease the fool and he kept demanding to be put on the agenda. Finally Marc told him to just come on to the next meeting.

By now you are asking yourself if I got mad. If you know me at all you already know the answer. If you felt the earth shake at about 1:30 Thursday afternoon, that was me. I was absolutely livid.  Naturally I wanted to call the idiot back and show him just exactly what rude was, Clyde Estes style. (Clyde was my grandfather and known county wide for his temper and colorful vocabulary.). Marc convinced me not to do anything. 😦

When I told Phil he asked for the guys number so he could handle it. I didn’t, I have fought my own battles for 50 years and don’t plan on stopping now.  It has been unbelievably hard for me not to do anything. I don’t think the guy will show up, but I’m ready for him if he does!

This episode really fouled me up. I have been in education 30 years and  have never had anything like this happen.  Sure, I’ve made people mad, but never had anyone threaten to file a formal complaint against me.  I could understand it better if I had cursed him and slammed down the phone, but I was nice!  Don’t misunderstand, I am more than capable of being rude, but in both these instances I was not.  I have decided that more and more people cannot take being told no. They think the are entitled to get their way in everything they do and if they don’t they will attack you.  I’ve also decided that becoming a hermit is looking better and better!

It was a crazy hectic week and I only ran 3 times and did 1 day of strength training. I had two good runs and 1 completely crap run. My watch gives me all kinds of information about my runs. On my third run, it said “Sister, go home and hang up your shoes, you suck.” 

There are times where I cannot figure out why I run.  I am slow, it is hard,  and the universe throws me one curve ball after another.  And for some reason I cannot explain, I keep going. Yesterday’s run sucked, tomorrow’s will be better. If not tomorrow’s then the next day.  The main thing is I’ve got to keep going. 

I’m playing with the idea of going through a half marathon training plan. I’m not going to enter a race, but training for one might be fun. It will give me some structure and a goal. I found a schedule online that looks pretty good. It incorporates cross training and strength training.  Since my mileage had decreased during July and August I have devised a schedule to gradually increase my pace and mileage again, so I’m not sure which path I’ll take.  Stay tuned!

Run happy. Be fierce. Don’t get any rudes!

thirty years

Thirty years is a long time to do the same thing. Monday was my 30th first day of school… actually it was my 45th if you count my years in 1st-12th grades and 3 years in college… but I digress.

So much changes in 30 years. My first year teaching I came home every day for the first semester and cried my eyes out. To say I was miserable would be an understatement. I begged Phillip to buy a diary, build chicken houses, shot me, anything to get me out of teaching. Sometime after Christmas that first year, my principal had to leave the district for unseemly reasons and suddenly everything changed!

Our superintendent served as our principal for the remainder of that year and he was wonderful. He and Phil’s superintendent taught me everything I know about the school business and I owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

Everything about school has changed in the last 30 years. The thing I am most acutely aware of is our kiddos home life. Gone are the days of a two parent home where the kids are fed, clothed and made to feel safe and loved.  For too many kids school is the only place they get that.  If you were to see the conditions some of these kids live in, you would say it is a miracle they make it  through our doors in the mornings, let alone are able to focus on their schoolwork.  With all the technological advancements we’ve made, we’ve gone backwards in the things that matter most.

Running gives me a chance to clear my mind after a long day of school. I won’t lie, the first week of school came with some pretty crappy runs. I have started running in the evenings again, that just works best for me. But the downside is, some days I’m really tired.

Monday was a hard day on every front. I needed to run for my sanity, but my body couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. Two miles was the best I could do. I know there are going to be days like that, and I know not to dwell on the bad runs, but it still bothers me. Runs like that make me question if I am an actual runner.  I know I am, but self-doubt is my closest friend.

Typically I don’t get to head out until 8 or later.  My headlamp draws every bug in Sharp County to my face. I was actually stung on the eyeball by some little obnoxious winged devil.  The nights were hot, still and humid. Arkansas is notorious for its pop up thunderstorms, on two nights it began raining about half way through. I was fortunate enough to see quite a light show Friday night! I did run a little faster to get back home!

The worst part of Friday night’s run was traffic. I’ve mentioned before that we live on the beer run road. Friday nights are “let’s get on the back roads, drive 60 on a one lane dirt road and drink beer.”😖 Usually I don’t run on Friday evenings because of that, but I knew that was my only chance to get a fourth run in. Many drivers of UTVs are ridiculously unsafe. They only have one speed, full blast. I was run off in a ditch by one such driver and was lucky I didn’t face plant. It’s too bad his radio was up so loud he couldn’t hear my greeting!

There are times that I feel like the universe is against my running, but I’m not stopping.:)

Run happy. Be fierce.

 

So Long, July

July is the end of a lot of things. In my school world, it’s the end of summer. My teachers come back next week, and the kids come back the week after that. The days are already getting noticeably shorter, and the watermelon festival is over.

The 38th annual Cave City Watermelon Festival was July 27-29. I spend a lot of time working on the festival. We have a committee of 10 people and we work on it all year long. Which in a way is crazy if you think about it. We work for 12 months on an event that lasts 3 days! That just shows how important this event is to our community. The people on the committee LOVE this community and work really hard to put on a top-notch festival.

The festival was great this year. Saturday is our biggest day. The weather was perfect. Cool and sunny. The crowds were huge, probably the biggest ever. The entertainment was awesome! Even as great as I thought it was, there were plenty of people to tell me otherwise. But I refuse to dwell on them. To quote Taylor Swift, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, I shake it off, I shake it off.”

You see and hear a lot of unusual things when you are at an event like a festival.  Apparently it is the going thing now to have service animals. I’m not talking about dogs that help the visually impaired either. The first thing that caught my attention was  a man walking through the park with an iguana strapped to his chest. Now, if you know me you can imagine the thoughts that went through my head.  The park has a “No Dogs” policy, but nothing about iguanas. So we didn’t say anything. But one of the police officers did. The guy had a doctor’s prescription for this thing. It helps him stay calm in crowds. Hmmmm. My first thought was, “I wouldn’t be too calm if that thing decided to pee down the front of my shirt.”

There was one lady pushing a baby stroller…full of chihuahuas. Another pulling a wagon with a puppy. At least 20 more on leashes. At first we reminded people that they couldn’t have dogs in the park. But honey, that was a losing battle. We finally just started telling them that if the dogs pooped, they had to clean it up. Which they all agreed to. They had the supplies they needed with them to do that.

As a dog owner/lover this is what I don’t understand. Why do you want to bring your dog to a festival with thousands of people? Most of the dogs I saw were trembling with fear. They were overwhelmed with the sights, sounds and smells.  If you are using a dog to keep you calm, who is supposed to calm the dog?  I completely get if you need a service dog to help you get around and I have seen news reports of soldiers with PTSD using them and I think that is great. But goodness, your dog doesn’t have to go EVERYWHERE with you. Yes, they miss us when we aren’t home, but I would much rather mine miss me a little while than traumatize them by taking them to a stressful event. And really do they miss us when we are gone short periods of time? I’m pretty sure mine stay busy during the day chasing squirrels, cars, and buzzards to give me much thought. Yes, they are always happy to see me, but do they really pine away missing me???? Would they be happier going to WalMart with me or staying at home?

My running has suffered this month. Three runs a week is the best I’ve been able to do. Two days of strength work. Except last week, 2 runs, 1 strength.  I tried to run this morning and all I could do was 1.5 miles. After a week of long days and late nights working at the festival, this old gal is tired, bone tired. I don’t bounce back like I used to.

August is a new month, I’m starting with a clean slate and hoping for the best!

Run happy. Be fierce.

July, Where Did You Go?

Could a month be going by any quicker than July is?  I have always heard that is a sign you are getting old!

July is always a challenge for me to get my runs in. Work, cows, watermelons, dogs, and the heat determine when I run. For the first couple of weeks in July I tried to keep my evening/night running schedule.  This quit working for me for a number of reasons. By the time I leave our melon stand and get the cattle taken care of it is at least 8:30 p.m.  I have to use my headlamp for the majority of my run, and it is a bug magnet. I have eaten more bugs than I care to think about!

Since I don’t let the dogs run with me, I put them in the garage. It is unbearably hot even with the windows open and a fan running.  I just can’t keep them in there for the 45-60 minutes I run. Plus, if the windows are open Gus has learned how to knock the screens out and he and Walt come find me!

I finally decided that if was going to run in July I was going to have to run early in the morning. Now, I roll out of bed about 4:45 and hit the road. It is cool enough to put the dogs in the garage and  it is much cooler on me. I don’t have to use the headlamp that much and I guess the bugs must be asleep that early, because I never see any.

Surprisingly, I am loving running in the morning. It is quite, there is zero traffic besides Phil going to pick melons, it is cooler, the birds are everywhere, and the sunrises are stunning.  Once school starts, I’m not sure yet if I will keep it up. I will have to get up even earlier to get to work on time, so I may have to go back to the evenings.  Time will tell. At least I know I can do it!

I have added a few other changes in my routine lately. I have added sprints to my runs. I’m hoping this will help me get a little faster. I am also paying very close attention to my breathing. I am taking breathes as deep as possible. This extra oxygen has really helped my stamina and kept me going on many runs. An added bonus is it makes me stand up straighter too.

The other change is that I have added strength training. Two days a week I hit the local physical therapy clinic and work on my arms and legs. (Since I am a former patient, I am able to buy a membership and use the equipment.) I am really loving these workouts. I don’t want wings and this is absolutely preventing that!

Phil and I celebrated anniversary #32 this month. I do not know how that happened. I don’t feel much older than that! Phil is a saint for sticking it out with me. I’m  hoping we go another 32 at least!

Our big watermelon festival is next week and I will be praying to get at least 3 runs in. With all the stress that comes with the festival, I definitely will need those runs!

If you get out there, be careful and stay hydrated.

Run happy. Be fierce. Be kind.