Scoot over Kevin Bacon, there's a new sheriff in town. (aka 6 degrees of Fred and Debbie)

You may have figured this out by now, but Fred is always taking me on adventures.  Sometimes we fly to his house in Grand Cayman, or go on a river cruise in Europe.  (cough) But more often than not we have the most fun when we visit our “camp” in the mountains not far from our home, or visiting our friends near Lake Erie.  

We were visiting them last weekend, and stayed at an old Ski Resort called Peak-n-Peek.  We had a wonderful day watching and old-time small own parade in an itty-bitty town called Sherman, New York.  We saw about 10 fire trucks, 10 or so horses and many local dignitaries riding in convertibles.  After said parade, we enjoyed a day on a pontoon boat floating around Findley Lake. It was a delightful weekend, and a great taste of Americana. 

We took our time coming home on Sunday, on what was supposed to be a 3-4 hour drive.  If any of you are familiar with Fred, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that it turned into a 10 hour excursion zig-zagging our way down the state until we arrived home at 8:30 in the evening!  Yep.  We left at 9:00 a.m. 

To make a long, long story a bit shorter- we ended up stopping at a tiny watering hole along a river in the town of Karthaus, Pa. I might have had to use the ladies room- and probably said “NO WAY” when Fred suggested the Port-o-Potty in the state game lands we had just navigated our way through.  (Yep, I’m spoiled now. No more Port-o-John’s for me.) 

We walked into the empty bar, and plopped down two bar stools at the end of the bar.  Of COURSE Fred knew the bartender, as his vending and amusement company serviced (and still services) all of the tiny mom and pop establishments all across this part of the state.  I am not surprised anymore when we walk into an “establishment” in the middle of no-man’s land, and hear the familiar, “FRED!  How are you doing???” 

He visited with Kim, the woman who has apparently been working there for 18 years, while I found my way to the loo. When I returned I ordered a water and smiled as they reminisced about some cats he had helped her rescue years before.  (Yes, we still have one of them.) 

At this point a young fella and his very attractive girlfriend walked into the bar and sat a few stools away from us.  Kim served them, and the girlfriend moved to one of the “machines” that Fred’s company owns to play some video games. 

Fred and Kim resumed their conversation, and after a few more minutes another couple came in and sat in one of the booths. When Kim left to wait on them the young fella turned to us and said to Fred,  “So, is that your Jaguar parked in front?”  Of course, it was the ONLY car there when they pulled in, but Fred smiled and said, “Yes, it is!” 

Then he asked, “And, are you in the vending business?”  Fred nodded, and he also asked, “Acme Amusement Company?” 

“Yes!” Fred said laughing as he shook his head.

The young man looked at ME, and asked, “Is your last name MARSH?” 

“YES!” I shouted, incredulous.  “How did you know that?” 

“Well,” he said, “My name is Charlie Smith, and I worked with your brother yesterday in State College. He told me about you guys having them over for dinner last week. Nice to meet you.” 

Omg.  Here we were in the MIDDLE OF NOWHERE.   

This is our life. And that story-that is why I love it. 


How many times have YOU said "Don't pick your nose!"?

As I prep for my 30.5thyear of teaching I’m thinking back on all I’ve accomplished.  This is what I’ve realized. 

1.    I’ve said the pledge at least 5400 times. 
2.    I’ve said, “Get your finger OUT of your nose about 3,000,000 times. 
3.  I've said, "Please get your hands out of your pants!" about 2,000.000 times.
4.    I’ve spent at least $14,000 of my own money on books ALONE in my career.  That is a conservative amount, because I couldn’t bear the thought of going back farther than 22 years to keep track.
5.    I have earned over 100 college credits over these 30 years, and that DOESN’T count ALL of the grueling hours of professional development. (I would like to call it something else, but I feel the need to be a bit PC here.) I may actually get that master’s in December, and you can bet your booty I’m walking across that stage. 
6.     I have had the honor to work with at least 14 amazing student teachers and interns over the years.  They have EACH taught me some incredible things, and I will never be able to thank them enough. 
7.    I have completed over 2,270 report cards. 
8.    I have worked in four different elementary schools, but feel so fortunate to be coming to the end of my career at Easterly Parkway. It’s truly a unique and amazing community. 
9.    I have laughed until I’ve cried at LEAST 100 times each year, which I’m sure has kept me alive and kicking. 
11  I have cried on the last day of school for 30 years. 
12  I have cried the night BEFORE school for 29 years. I’ll keep you posted about August 20th.

These are just a few things I’m thinking about these days, and look forward to what THIS year will bring.  Along with that, I am hoping to get this last project funded at Donorschoose.org.  If I DO, then I can spend my classroom money on paint, craft paper, headphones for the kids and lots of glitter.  

Thanks for at least considering it-and if you need a small tax deduction, this is a great way to get it….


Why do these things even surprise me anymore? (Coincidence be thy name)

A couple of years ago on a football weekend, Fred and I went to dinner a bit early so we could beat the huge crowds.  This town gets very crazy on those weekends, and frankly we often forget until we are trying to find a parking spot near a restaurant. However, we love the hustle and bustle and never know who we might meet on those nights. 

We did manage to get a table at our favorite restaurant. Then, as is our M.O. we swung by a local watering hole for an after-dinner nightcap before we went home.  This time we chose Toftrees Resort, one we don’t normally visit, to see their new menu and their newly renovated restaurant/bar. 

It was packed. 

We wandered through the very busy tables and frantic waiters and waitresses and found ourselves seated at the very end of a long and extremely busy bar. It took a while for any of the bartenders to find the time to serve us, and we understood. Not only were all the seats filled, there were people standing behind each of those seats laughing, visiting and waiting for their own drinks.  

We found ourselves beside a family that was obviously having a great time.  The parents were strikingly handsome and beautiful, and the young people standing with them were equally good looking and obviously good natured.  They were all laughing and speaking (Spanish AND English) at the same time, and enjoying this football-frenzied environment.  We managed to introduce ourselves and found out that they were from the country of Colombia. He was a physician and their son was a student at Penn State. They were there for the game, and had brought their other children and a few cousins along. We shared stories back and forth and were quite at ease with this friendly family.

We had a wonderful time visiting and laughing, and were reminded of how remarkable it can be when you are open to meeting new people.  

Two weeks ago we were fortunate enough to go on a 10 day river cruise on the Rhine river. We flew from Dulles airport in Washington, D.C., to Amsterdam and then on to Basel, Switzerland.  We boarded the ship around noon, and shoved off about 4:00 in the afternoon.  After a nap (it was a long, long travel day) we cleaned up and left our room to make our way down to the dining room. 

We dressed casually that first night and Fred, of course, wore one of  his trademark Penn State golf shirts.  As we walked slowly down the hall we heard someone yell, “We are!!!!”.

We laughed and turned around, responding, “Penn State!”  We smiled as they approached us, and noticed right away their Spanish accents.  “Our son went to Penn State!  He graduated last year and is in medical school!” 

I looked at them.  They were strikingly handsome and beautiful! “Oh my God,” I said, “Are you from Colombia?” 

“Yes!” they both said smiling.  And then they, too, remembered. 

We all shouted at the same time, “We met you at Toftrees!”  We laughed, made our way to the dining room, and enjoyed spending time with this lovely and fun couple for the next 8 days.  Who would have thought that one chance meeting two years ago in a small town in Pennsylvania would lead to another chance meeting on the Rhine River? I will never doubt that we are all connected.  Never for a minute.   

And that, as Paul Harvey would say, is the rest of the story.