Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Goodbye, Miss Ewens

I found out today my fourth grade teacher, Miss Ewens, passed away yesterday morning (the morning of July 4th... I realize my being up so late may cause confusion as to what day is what).

I'm one of those people who holds a special place in his heart for his teachers, especially the elementary school ones. I could wax on as I am wont to do about Miss Ewens, but instead I think I'll just share some memories from fourth grade.

I remember Miss Ewens teaching us to sing "Green, Green Grass of Home", and what a sad song I thought that was.

I remember in fourth grade I had the job of checking the fire exit that was in our cloak room every morning, to make sure it was unlocked.

In fourth grade, Miss Ewens sometimes gave us story starters, and our task was to finish the stories. It was one of my favorite things to do.

In fourth grade, I got in trouble for repeating something mean someone had said to an elderly woman. Actually, I didn't get into trouble, but Miss Ewens let me know in no uncertain terms I was not to repeat such mean things (I think the phrase "you old bat" was part of the story).

In fourth grade, Johnny Joe Riechard wrote "The Best" on his reading workbook, but misspelled it, so it said "The Beast".

I think it was in fourth grade that I won the "most creative" award for my Valentines box.

It was in fourth grade that, during a discussion about a special about bigfoot that had been on television the night before, I pointed out that if we keep destroying the forests, eventually we'll know for sure if there's a bigfoot or not, because there will be no more forests for him to hide in. I remember very clearly Miss Ewens' reaction to my saying this, and I could tell it made her sad.

I'm pretty sure it was in Miss Ewens' class that we read (or she read to us) Henry and Ribsy or some other Beverly Cleary book, and I remember getting a few others through the book orders we had that year.

In fourth grade, one of the few low grades I got was in handwriting.

I can't remember what reading book(s) I used in fourth grade, but all day long since I've heard the news, I keep remembering Panorama--which I know was in the series we used, but am not sure if it was what I read in that grade. But I remember sitting with my reading group all in a circle, Miss Ewens talking with us or reading with us or assigning us parts for the play in the book.

I'm pretty sure I first got into the Danny Dunn books in fourth grade. I know I won Miss Pickerel Goes to Mars in fourth grade. I can't remember how I won it--it might have been for the most creative Valentines box. I just know sometimes Miss Ewens would have books for prizes, and we'd get to pick which one we wanted for our prize.

There's a story that I've seen forwarded around about a teacher going to heaven, and how this teacher keeps being guided past nicer and nicer houses, each time hearing "This is where people in this profession go," and the professions getting more and more important and/or noble as the story goes on, and the story ends with the teacher going to the nicest place ever.

I don't think Heaven works like that, but if it does, Miss Ewens deserves that nicest place.

Good-bye, Miss Ewens. Thank you for being my teacher.

Miss Ewens, 1976
I will always think of you when I hear "Green, Green Grass of Home".

Sunday, July 04, 2010

For Heros Proved In Liberating Strife

At some point every Independence Day, I think of Unclue Bud. It's usually a brief moment, long enough to miss an uncle I never knew, but it usually happend on this day. And Pearl Harbor Day, for some reason. He wasn't at Pearl Harbor, but if I see any flags at half mast, he comes to mind. He was going to be my topic for today's ramble, but my sister beat me to it. So I started to think about what I could write about instead...

Then I thought I'd just add to what she said. So, you might want to go back to that last paragraph and click the link to read what my sister had to say about Uncle Bud.

I've mentioned Uncle Bud several times on here, and maybe on a slow day I'll go search for those and link to them back here. Right now, I just want to add to what Ruth shared.

I didn't know a lot about Uncle Bud, or even register I had an uncle who died long before I was born. I may have been in college before I realized he died at Iwo Jima--I was never a big history buff, so it might not been until college that I actually got what "Iwo Jima" was. It's possible it was explained to me when I was younger--I say "possible" instead of "likely", as Uncle Bud wasn't a topic that came up a lot, other than when I'd see his picture at Grandma's house, or when I'd see a picture in a photo album. I just knew he died, and that was enough to make me think maybe I shouldn't ask a lot of questions.

I've mentioned before talking with Mom about him in Hardee's in Mexico, Missouri. It was just one of those conversations that stick with you (and I guess I have a lot of those, despite the fact I have many more I can't remember very clearly, but this one sticks with me in a different way). I guess it sticks with me because I finally got the courage to bring it up, or leap on something that segued into the topic of Uncle Bud.

In that conversation, Mom told me his nickname was pronounce "bood", not "bud". She never mentioned this to anyone else, and my Aunt Rachel has told me she never heard it pronounced like that. The story Mom told me was that when he was born, my aunt Deana Mae, who was very young at the time, said, "That's my boodley," instead of "That's my brother." So they called him "bood", spelled "Bud". Maybe Mom was misremembering, or maybe that nickname came and went before Aunt Rachel was born. Or maybe I've just lost it and made the whole thing up and can't remember doing so. It's a complicated universe. Anything is possible. At any rate, it's pronounced "bud" by everyone in my family now.

She told me she thought we would have got along well. When I pressed her for an explanation, she just said we both had a good sense of humor, and trailed off so I didn't hear any other explanation beyond that. We'll never know, of course.

His birthday was 9 days after mine. He would have been 41 when I was born, but only for those 9 days. About the time I'd have been old enough to start forming memories of him, he would be the age I am now. He died less than a month after his 20th birthday, so I guess it's a moot point. It's just I sometimes like to think about that other universe (or set of universes... universi?)where I knew him in person.

When I was doing some research on this a while back, I came across a scanned page that gave me more information than I had before. He was in the 28th Regiment, and his rank was PhM3C (Pharmacist's Mate, 3rd Class). It went on to explain what that rank meant in more detail, but I can't find that page now. Essentially he was attached to the Marines, but not a Marine. I can't remember if he was Army or what.

Mom told me about a man who was there when Uncle Bud died coming to visit the farm, as mentioned in Ruth's post... and Rachel told me all about it when I was over at her house one of the times I was up in Omaha since I did my online search. The two stories of how he died were completely different, but in the end it's all the same: he was shot and killed.

One of the things I found in my search for him was a reference to him in a book about Iwo Jima. That is how we all learned about him being part of the small patrol that first went up Mount Suribachi, ahead of the 40-or-so others who came up the next morning. I think about how that volunteer session went down. I wonder if my uncle figured it was climbing, and climbing was something you do in rural areas, so how hard could it be, right? You know, beyond the people trying to kill you and stuff.

Or maybe it was totally different. Whatever the case, he was gone just over a week later. But he did that. My uncle did that. Maybe it wasn't single-handedly stopping the war or saving 100 people, but it's still such an awesome thing to imagine.

Anyway, that's what I have to add about the uncle I never met. Aunt Rachel shared other stuff with me: stories of how he'd carry her back when he went to get the mail and she went with him, a textbook he had in high school... But it all just makes me wish we had the technology to at least view the past.

The title of this post is from "America the Beautiful". I love that song and wish it was our National Anthem--but nobody is consulting me on it, so I'll keep wishing. I just thought it would be an appropriate title for my contribution to this theme of "What I know about Edwin Earl "Bud" Hickerson".

Saturday, July 03, 2010

More Insipidness...

Yeah, that last one went on and on, didn't it? All I can say is I was way tired, and I felt it get away from me early on, but my fingers were typing on inertia and there was nothing to do but wait for them to be done.

Or something.

Anyway, I'm sure everyone is dying to know: I got the patio where I want it for now. Yes, I could go rent or buy a power washer and get it more clean, and yes, I could get a couple more chairs and another small table or two, but it will do. When I finish this post, I am going to go sit in one of those chairs and enjoy a Bud Light.

Because I can.

I have many things I want to write about, but none of them work right now. One requires a lot of math. Another I've forgotten about, but it keeps peeking its head around one of the corners in my mind, but disappearing just as I think I'm going to recognize it. And maybe there are just two things... and two isn't "many".


I have decided to wake up at 8:00 tomorrow. I have decided I've reached that point in old age where I think a person should wake up at 8:00 at the absolute latest. I'm afraid it's a side-effect of this whole "do something" thing.

I went to Nebraska Furniture Mart tonight (don't tell Jordan, as she is always wanting me to take her out that way for shopping, etc., and she's off at the Grand Canyon or somewhere right now). I wanted a smaller table for the... area by the kitchen that can't really be called a dining room. I want to move that big table out to the sun room. I think the sun room could make a nice little dining room. Plus, I realized today as long as I have the door open between the rest of the house and the sun room, the a/c does a great job. Sure, I'd love to get an vent in there so it still gets the heat/a.c. with the door closed, but I'm okay leaving it open.

Anyway, the NFM thing was very spur-of-the-moment. I was at K-Mart looking at little table/chair sets, trying to figure out how to budget that in, when it hit me NFM was having a big "no interest for 32 months" thing, and there I was with a NFM card! So I got in the car and headed on over, forgetting about the Garmin and arguing with myself about the quickest way to get there (not that Garmin is ever right about that, mind you) and in the end missing an exit and going a strange way I hadn't thought of as an option.

I had my window rolled down, and rolled down the passenger window a bit (with no power windows, you have to hedge your bets on how far to roll the windows you'd have to pull over to roll up).

I don't know. I got things done today, so hooray for that... and I have decided tomorrow I will be bringing homemade strawberry salsa to the annual festivities over at Patrick & Leigh's. I'm starting to think about maybe having a little garden next year.

I'm out of control. Somebody stop me!

Side note: I've got Music Choice 80's on the television as I type this, and Irene Cara's "Fame" started playing, and I got distracted thinking, "I thought that was from 1979, not the 80s." Guess what, I'm right. It even says it on the screen. Do the people who program those things not look at the date, you think? Or do they base it on when the song was in the Top 40? I'm not saying I know where it was on the charts in the 80s, I'm just trying to figure out why a song from 1979 might be considered an 80s song.

Okay, I'm distracted and rambling. I need to be up at 8:00 tomorrow. I'll have to be sure to wear my name tag at church tomorrow. Nobody is going to remember my name... or my face, since it's been so long since I've been.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Maybe Sloth IS A Deadly Sin!

I had a shocking epiphany today, and--despite being too tired of typing to do this--I have to share with whoever happens to read this (I already shared it with Ben, but if he reads this he'll find out again, and more power to him). However, I'll have to keep it short, as my body is not a fan of the typing right now... Nor is it a fan of the sitting at the computer. So this will probably be only 17 long boring paragraphs instead of the standard 43...

Anyway, for whatever reason I got tired of the bags of leaves that have been sitting on what I'm going to call my patio (it may very well be a patio, I just don't have the power of the names-of-bits-of-the-house-ness) since late last autumn. It's a long story, and there is a teenager involved, so you should probably be able to piece together how this came to pass.

These lovely bags of leaves have been through that very crazy winter we just had, and have soaked up all that fun rain we've had. In short: these are some gross bags of leaves.

As I was saying (or typing), I got tired of these bags sitting there (18 bags, plus what remained of the one an un-named teen tried to move to the curb for the spring clean-up trash pickup day), and had talked to Bowman about a week or so ago, and he said he had some space he needed to fill with organic-ness, and leaves fit the bill. Last night was the night. I don't have any idea why it was the night, but my brain just locked onto this task.

I had already been to the Big K or whatever it's called these days, and they didn't have the 55-gallon trash bags I wanted. I went to Lowe's that same day and found them.

I had the bags. I knew where I could take these stupid leaves. The stage was set. I guess that's why my brain got all obsessed about it.

I went outside and started bagging the bags of leaves. The original plan was to put two bags in every giant trash bag, and it would have worked great, had the bags wanted to stay in one piece when touched. Instead, they wanted to fall apart. But it still went well. All I had to do was put a trash bag over the top of one, tip the whole thing over and pick up the plastic trash bag from its top.

Not that it was a huge fun job or anything, but there was a big feeling of accomplishment with each bag.

Then I realized there were lots of leaves sort of collected and bleched together on the patio (not to mention the bottoms of all the paper bags... they sort of stayed on the patio, too). So I thought: shovel. I even had the right shovel in my head. Not one you might use to dig a whole, but what is apparently called a grain shovel. I now own one, so I know what they're called.

Now I was on a roll... On the way to the hardware store, I called Bowman to see if I could bring the leaves by sometime tomorrow. He wasn't available, so I asked his daughter to tell him to call me back. I then called Ben to see if I could borrow his truck (the one I covet so). He was super-gracious, as always.

I went to the hardware store (where Bowman called me back and said noon would work), bought the shovel (and a citronella candle, as it was damaged and on sale for cheap), and came back home to start scooping up the mess that was my patio.

I had a plan: wake up, drive to Olathe, get Ben's truck, drive back here, load up the bags of leaves, drive them to Bowman's, get the leaves out of the trash bags, take the truck back to Ben, and then come home.

But wait! How about I cut down some of these things that have been growing and acting like I want them to be there. Pretty and all, but I don't think I want a tree growling RIGHT next to the house, disappearing between the ground and my foundation.

So after all this fun and exciting work, I went inside and caught my breath... and realized the rough draft of Chapter 4 of my thesis was due the same day I was going to be doing all this leaf-hauling.

Okay, if you've been waiting for the exciting and interesting part, you've never read this blog before... but we've finally reached today in this story...

I woke up at 8:00, made a quick breakfast, headed out to get Ben's truck, and was back home with it by a little after 10:00. This was according to plan. Nineteen bags of leaves did not fit in the back of the truck. This was not according to plan.

However, I improvised.

It took me about 30 minutes to get the truck loaded up, which surprised me, as I left about 90 for the task. I came back inside and visited with some of the family members that were here at the time, then went back out to head out.

The bummer part about the trip to Bowman's was the trash bags were too noisy, so I had to roll the windows up and turn on the a.c.--I was digging the rolled-down windows thing. This was when it happened. The epiphany started with me realizing I had to have automatic windows on my next vehicle, because the lack of these is the main reason I don't drive around with the windows rolled down as much as I'd love to. The other (and major) epiphany was this: I flippin' love getting things done! I mean, I thought sitting around and watching television and doing nothing all day was the absolute best it got, but I feel way wrong about that now!

Don't get me wrong, I doubt I'm going to go crazy and start doing stuff every day (baby steps), but I was digging this whole "doing stuff, getting things done, driving with the windows rolled down" thing.

Anyway, got to Bowman's, got the leaves out of the truck and out of my life, and headed back home--yes, home... not for another load, but while I had the truck, I wanted to get some chairs for the patio.

Got the chairs and a couple of little tray-thingies, and got that all set up on the patio (which still needs some cleaning, but it coming along nicely) and returned the truck.

You gotta understand, normally by 3:00 (which is about when I got the truck back to Ben) all I've done is wake up, have breakfast, and maybe have thought about making lunch (or whatever you'd call that meal at that time of day).

Anyway, that's my stupid "short" entry. I found out I like to actually do things. Who would have believed it?