It’s How You Look at It


Everybody and their dog is familiar with: Is the glass full or half empty?  It depends on your perspective.  My thought was as long as there is more libation to add in the glass what did it matter.  However, I’ve meet a handful of people along the way who are consumed with negativity.  Sadly, these folk never have a good day, they never see the silver lining in the face of adversity, and they don’t laugh at their own foibles.  Further, they are unable to accept blame for their own mistakes.

Witness the PT Barnum circus in Washington.  For the first time in history, only PT knows the truth–everything else is “fake.”  Wow!  I must be the most stupid person on earth to watch a PT video, which is immediately denied as “fake,”  if there’s a backlash. It’s a most curious world.

As most of you know, a week ago I turned 70.  Not a number I necessarily wanted to be, but I can’t deny my birth certificate, nor my passport.  I can’t call it fake news.  It is a fact. Yes, Sue, you’re 70, and the sun is still shining.

Admittedly, I had a tough time turning 70.  It was a anchoring moment…until my one of my high school friends posted:


Yep, it’s all in how you look at it.  A mere 21 in Celsius.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve no desire to be 21 again–50ish perhaps, but not 21.  Working all day, staying up late partying all weekend, or squeezing my squashed behind into trendy clothing.  But at least I’ve a comeback remark when someone asks, “How old are you?”

“Fahrenheit or Celsius?”

About to be 70


Who knew?  I thought I was the female version of Peter Pan.  Yet, the next time I blog I will be a septuagenerian.  Believe me, in the past several months, this reality has been on my mind. Seventy has forced me to examine my life.  Have I made a difference?  Have I contributed to the greater good?  Have I been the best mom I could.  I don’t know.


Then last night I decided to take another tact; I asked myself, “What modern invention rocked me?”  My grandfather, who was born in 1892, said over and over, electricity changed his life.  Of course, he enjoyed the convenience of indoor plumbing too, which came later.


In preparation for this blog, I asked my 93-year-old mother what rocked her. She struggled with her answer, describing herself as a child of war–born shortly after WWI and living through WWII.  She did note she and my dad got their first television in 1950, which later morphed into a big-screen entertainment center.  Microwave ovens, cellular phones, disposable diapers, and rotary lawnmowers.


I suspect you think I will say the computer–it, indeed, rocked me.  It certainly changed my life, but it was not the first thing.  It was my watch. Like many, my first big-girl watch was a Minnie Mouse. Admittedly, numbers have never been my best friend, and I labored learning to tell time.  My maternal grandmother frustrated me when I’d ask, “What time is it?”

“Quarter past.”

What does that mean?  There’s no quarters on my watch, nor halves, nor three-quarters.

Eventually, I mastered the art of telling time, but my world was shakened when Texas Instruments introduced a digital watch in the early 70’s.  Now, with a simple button press,  I instantly knew it was 5:45.  I didn’t have to wind it.  I was in heaven! Thus, began my love affair with watches.  I have designer, analog power ones, and was once gifted a Rolex.  Rolex–the most over-priced, over-rated, high maintenance watch on the market.


I’ll take my newest one any day.  You know the one.  The one that counts my steps,  monitors my blood pressure, sends me messages and emails, allows me to answer in-coming calls, search the internet, etc.  And it tells time!


Seventy is creeping up my shorts.  Got to go.  Time’s a wasting.


The Name Game: Migrant Children


When I was in the Master’s Leadership program, the professor asked: What’s the most important thing about a person?

Though I loved this professor, I knew he was wily.  Two brave students attempted an answer, only to be told they were incorrect.  The professor walked to podium, cleared his throat, and we knew we were about to learn a very important lesson.  Ladies and Gentleman the MOST important thing about a person is his/her name!  A name that distinguishes him/her from “you,” “kid,” “son,” or “ma’am.”  As an educator you must value people’s names, whether they be teachers, students, and parents.  You’ll be surprised by how much they respect you. A lesson I’ve not forgotten.  

Know I have the utmost respect for migrant workers and am most grateful for their service.  I’m certainly not going to pick lettuce, avocados, nor apples as my career.  Even at my grandparents’ farm years ago, men wandered up the lane to help with haying season and combining wheat and oats.

I am appalled at the separation of children from their migrant families.  I am appalled the US government is spending millions to house these children.  But I am most appalled we do not know these children’s names.  Really?  WTF?  And now, the government is going to spend millions to identify them via DNA testing.  Hmm.  In this technological age, it was not considered to identify them first–through photograph, finger print, or number?  These are children–some toddlers.  I can’t imagine their terror.


people-id-solutionsUnfortunately, this is just another example of mbsp–management by the seat of the pants. No one seems to understand the consequences of a decision until they’re faced with reality.  Decisions are whimsical, often retaliatory to garner votes.  Certainly, none of the recent decisions can be viewed as thoughtful.  (Just wait.  The tariff position is about to decimate American farmers.)

Yes, I’m a teacher. Yes, I’m a child advocate.  Yes, I would gladly open my home, my extra beds, and my kitchen to six children.  And yes, I would know each of them by name.

A view of inside US CBP detention facility shows children at Rio Grande Valley Centralized Processing Center in Texas

The Satanic Evil: Health Insurance


My intent is not to assume all health insurance companies are evil.  My story is about one, with a blue cross and a blue shield.

On Tuesday, a renown pulmonologist ordered a PET scan of one of my dear friends.  A PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scan is used to detect cancer, heart problems or brain disorders by inserting a dye with radioactive tracers into the body.  The scan usually takes several hours and costs approximately $3,500.

Since my friend is a five-year cancer survivor, who suffered from a cancer which metastasized to her lungs, the pulmonologist discovered the presence of two nodules.  Further, my friend had developed symptoms of asthma, which sometimes required use of an inhaler and prescription allergy medicine.

On Thursday, her nationally renown oncologist, did an evaluation and agreed the PET scan was needed to assure her wellness and to rule out the need for a more expensive biopsy procedure of the nodules.

Boy Blue refused to authorize the PET scan.  Once. Twice. Three times.  Even after being provided health history, blood tests, CT scans, X-rays.  Even after speaking with duly board certified physicians: the pulmonologist and the oncologist.  It boggles my mind Baby Blue was so arrogant to think he knew more than the experts.  Secondly, how can he make money if he has to pay out?  In addition, my friend is self-employed and pays an insurance premium of over $600 per month.  Baby Blue knew her patient history before he offered her the hefty monthly cost.

Finally late Friday afternoon, Boy Blue changed his mind and authorized the scan.  While I’m not privy to the details as to what motivated the change,  I suspect my friend’s two junkyard dog, physicians left some peon employee at the Blue empire licking his wounds.

Thankfully, most physicians, nurses, therapists, and ancillary folk have integrity and truly advocate for their patients.  Boy Blue: Show me the money!

Confessions on Potato Salad

10844_tart_cranberry_pieI do not have a sophisticated palate; I’m far from a gourmand.  Both of my grandmothers were excellent cooks; they prepared rural, regional cuisines.  My paternal grandmother was the family legend of baking: pies, donuts, blueberry muffins, and cinnamon rolls were her forte.  I knew I’d never learn to make pie crust or breads like hers.

Thus, given my upbringing I never discovered delectable Italian dishes until I went to elementary school.  In fact, I have vivid memories of sitting next to a girl in the lunch room who was eating what appeared to be some variation of bread slathered with tomato sauce and meat.  “What is that?  It’s smells wonderful.”


“You don’t know?  It’s pizza.  Want to try some?”

“Sure.  I’ll trade you one of my Mom’s chocolate chip cookies for it.”  My adoration of Italian food began.


Then, horrors of horrors!  I was asked to bring potato salad to a party.  Me?  Every time I tried to make it, it was not edible.  I knew I couldn’t go to the deli and buy it, for those places are rife with creepy diseases.  The last thing I wanted was to be the cause of Montezuma’s revenge!

I fired up the computer and searched the net.  Finally, I found a recipe that even I might put in my mouth.  Of course, I made a “dry run” and served it to my kid.  Both she and I pronounced it the best we’d ever eaten! In case, you want to try my tweaked concoction:

  1. Peel, cube, and boil potatoes.  Remove and drain when still rather firm.  Drizzle one and one-half teaspoons of white vinegar over potatoes and let sit.
  2. Chop celery, one or to two green onions, and one hard-boiled egg.
  3. In mixing bowl, blend equal parts of Miracle Whip, Mayonnaise, with a squirt of mustard and celery salt or celery seed. (The combo of Miracle Whip and Mayo is key!)
  4. Toss and stir everything together and let stand in refrigerator for at least two hours.

Trust me.  It’s a winner!




On Being 105


According to folklore, dog years are multiplied by 7.  Thus, I have a part pomeranian, part yorkie who recently had her fifteen birthday in people years or 105 dog years.  Meet Tessa Marie Jenkins, the centenarian!

Tessa was her original name, but over time, Marie and Jenkins were added.  Why? I don’t know.  In her early years, she was an active, friendly little dog, but then she became a recluse.  She spent the majority of her time under the bed.  So much so, that many of our family and friends asked, “Who’s that elusive dog of which I caught a glimpse?”  She kept her distance even from me.  She ran and hid if I tried to pet her.  I had to feed her in a separate room, as she wouldn’t eat in front of the others.  My kids called her a diva.  “She’s too good for our company.  Such a high-maintenance snob!”


Then miraculously, two years ago Tessa Marie came out from under the bed.  She ate with my other dogs, and she even came to parties.  I took her to the vet for her innoculations and check-up, and the vet said she was in wonderful condition.  “Sue, you must have just had her teeth cleaned.  Her teeth are immaculate.”  I only nodded–little did he know her teeth had never been cleaned.  (I’m not a fan of routinely putting dogs to sleep for teeth cleaning, unless infection threatens their health.)

These days Tessa is a spry, active and very demanding 105 year-old.  She barks and barks until she gets a dog biscuit or three.  I can’t tell her “no” because she is stone deaf.  Yet, when her internal clock goes off, she barks until her dinner is served.  She barks when she needs to patrol the backyard, and she barks when she sees someone at the front door.


Tessa has lived in my house for 15 years and has never gone near the swimming pool.  However, this week, during a romp, she fell in the deep end.  I was in shock!  She’s freaking old; she’ll have a heart attack and plummet ten feet down.  No.  She swam to the side, where my cabana boy rescued her.  Though I was sure she’d have some type of injury or side effect, she shook herself off as we towel-dried her.  She sprinted around the yard; I imagined her singing: Hey, now.  I’m a Rock Star!  I was amazed at her energy.

I guess I need to add this to my daily, dietary intake:






Graduation Day


“There’s a time for joy. There’s a time for tears. A time we’ll treasure through the years.  We’ll remember always graduation day.”

On Thursday night, I had the honor of addressing graduates at two of our high schools.  As I surveyed the audience, I saw both tears and an abundance of joy.  I spoke about several students of the class of 2018, whom had overcome insurmountable odds to receive a diploma–a Congo refugee, who had been raped and fled to America with her baby.  This senior mastered English in less than six months, worked, and went to school full time and earned a scholarship to nursing school.  I spoke about a special education student who was a member of the golf and the tennis team and the concert band.  I spoke about a male dancer who’s a character of the video game, So You Think You Can Dance, –yes, he’s that well-known, and a guy who invented a new guitar pedal, which will revolutionize modern music.


When I reflect on my high school graduation–over 50 years ago, I remember how special it was for the families of many of my classmates, whose parents were immigrants.  I remember the fabulous graduation parties with wonderful ethnic food.  And I remember the brewing war in Viet Nam.  While it was a joyous time, it was also a time for fear.

Last night, my neighbor (originally from England) asked, “Sue, what’s up with all this graduation bs?  In England, high school graduation was expected. University graduation was cause for a celebration.”


Now, I could have launched into a long oration about the history of American education and the symbolic, significance of high school graduation, but I refrained.  For me, high school graduation is the first educational mile marker on the road of life.  Yet, I’m dismayed it has been both marginalized and commercialized by such ludicrous traditions of preschool, kindergarten, sixth grade, and eighth grade graduations.  Caps and gowns, limos, and parties ad nauseam for mere children? Why?


I’m Paranoid



As an 18-year veteran of the school board, the last few months have been the most challenging I’ve ever witnessed.  I experienced both student walkouts for school safety and teacher walkouts for dismal state support for its public schools.  I grew up in an era of protest–the Kent State shootings and Viet Nam War sit-ins.  I watched on TV the riots in Watts.  I’m not Pollyanna; I knew the world wasn’t perfect. I was cognizant of war, crime, and cruelty against others.

I watched in horror the TV coverage of the Twin Towers and the shooting of Gabby Giffords in a Tucson parking lot.  I wept over the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Afterward, our school district remodeled all of our forty-four schools.  Now, when I drive by each of them, the buildings are fortresses.  (If Phoenix water wasn’t so pricey, moats would have been added). Our front office entries are bullet-proof glass, and like the movie theater, I speak into a microphone and slide my ID through the little drawer for the secretary to peruse before I’m admitted.  I’ve undergone background checks and carry a fingerprint card.

Yet, in spite of all these school safety measures, school shootings continue.  Believe me, I’ve bent my head in prayer since Sandy Hook–my only weapon.  Thoughts and prayers are of NO use to dead children and school staff members; they’ve already met Jesus.

I am paranoid of what’s to become of us.  We live in an America rife with bullying, hate, anger, and powerful lobbies which control our legislators.  Each week we lose more of our most precious asset–our youth to senseless violence. Our children are counting on us to resolve this madness.

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

Paul Reubens, Pee wee Herman

Lordy, when my eldest watched Pee Wee Herman, she said this to me until I wanted to scream.  Now, I find myself pondering “What am I?

Unlike Peter Rabbit, I wasn’t born under a cabbage leaf in some random garden.  I’ve a valid birth certificate, a passport, a driver’s license, and a social security number. Further, I carry a fingerprint card, so my school district knows I’m not a pedophile nor criminal, and I have a TSA security clearance.  Since there are no laws against humor and sarcasm, I’ve never been convicted of a crime–other than exceeding the speed limit.

Yet, I live in the Old West, where one can carry a gun–even a concealed one without a permit, regardless of age.  Arizona prides itself on the lack of government intrusion, but the legislature mandates really stupid laws at the expense of its people.  Arizona prides itself on defying federal laws with which it doesn’t agree, i.e. the Real ID Act, 2005.

Regardless, of all of my vetting, I will not be able to fly on an airplane, nor perhaps be allowed to drive to San Diego or Albuquerque in 2020 without a new identification card.  Why?  Because years ago, the Arizona legislature chose to opt out of the federal ID driver’s license program.  Albeit, Washington cannot dictate what we do!


Thus, I won’t be able to use my driver’s license to fly or to visit nuclear power plants nor military facilities. (Believe me, I have no interest in going to a a power plant, nor Fort Lee). Of course, my new ID comes with verification requirements:  a birth certificate, a passport, a Social Security card, and two proofs of residency–utility bills, bank statements, and/or insurance policies.  Plus a $25 fee for my eight-year, ID.  And yes, I’ll have to stand in a long line until a bureaucrat verifies my paperwork.  In fact, I’m rather surprised Arizona hasn’t ordered my DNA sample too!

For thirty-five years, I’ve been an Arizona resident.  I paid taxes, I voted, and I never committed assault, nor burglary.  What am I?  I don’t know.





The High Price of Grass


lawn3No, I’m not talking about weed, Mary Jane, Kush, I’m talking about the stuff in my yard–or lack of stuff in my yard.  Long ago,  I chose not to grow winter grass, just summer grass.

In March, I began the task of overseeding, patching, mulching, and fertilizing.  The water sprinklers ran three times of day.  Unlike other parts of the country, the Southwest rarely gets free water from Heaven.  Yet, the dogs enjoy romping through wet grass and leaving paw prints on my floors.


Over a month has passed and my lawn looks terrible.  It’s filled with splotching dead areas which refused to grow–even over the septic tank!  I’ve spent copious amounts of money trying to have an attractive, lush lawn to no avail.  Then yesterday, I received a water bill from the city.  OMG!  My water bill had quadrupled!  It was almost half a grand!  (Water is damn expensive in the desert.)


I’m in a quandary; I don’t know what to do.  For sure, I’m reducing the watering schedule, but should I take out all the grass and put in rock or astro turf?  Resod? Spray paint the bare patches green?  Or maybe, I simply shouldn’t worry about the dismal look of my backyard.  No one can see it but me.  The dogs certainly don’t mind.

Once upon a time, someone said to me, “That’s just like you, Sue.  You always want to take the easy way out.”  I beg to differ.  I’m usually up for a challenge, but with temperatures over 100, an inviting pool, an inflatable lounge, and a cold beer, I’m no longer going to fret over my dismal attempt to grow grass.  Maybe next year.