Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I went to the temple last week. It was dark when I left. I snapped a few. I will always be a "learning photographer." I love to see the temple.

I headed North last week to visit the Ranger as he had to work seven in a row. He pumped fuel for me at Common Cents in the cold and dark of night. He took me to eat Chinese. I do favor the Walnut Coconut Shrimp. Or is it Coconut Walnut? We played Wii. I thought I would whip him at Millionaire, but we were Even Steven. So much for haughtiness. I accompanied the Ranger to work. Between five engine house tours and lunch, I corrected a lot of papers: math, science tests, comprehension papers, and so on. We went out with all the other rangers to an establishment called The Pie Dump. The salmon was wonderful. I sat next to my husband, of course, during dinner. However, seated on my left was a Lovely German Man who tells funny stories and laughs at my jokes. His wife is amazing. Whenever I spend time with National Park Rangers, I always feel like I'm with some of the best people who ever walked the Earth.

About the engine house...there's this cat that lives with the Jupiter and the 119 and she is known by many names. The rangers adopted her from the Humane Society to keep the mice down. She came to them with a collar and a little bell. They sometimes call her Belle. I always call her Belle. She deserves to be called Belle. Belle is just as friendly and welcoming to any and all visitors as if she were wearing the green, the gray, and a proper flat hat. She has no problem walking right through twenty-three pairs of human feet. Belle is just happy to have Permanent Status with the Federal Government and she does her job well! I love how she owns the place. No one else gets away with walking a fine line from one end of the locomotive to the other, tail held high, brushing along the underside of things the whole way--precision footwork. Belle has no problem plopping her bottom down right on top of a greasy spot on the floor. She has a special napping place in the office. It's on a shelf above the desk. It's by the window and lined with cardboard (maybe to absorb the grease from her wanderings?). Belle is black and portly and queen-like. She lets you know when she'd like to enter and exit. She's not half bad at being a watch dog either. Last year, a rattlesnake entered the building and nobody noticed except Belle. She immediately sought higher ground and the rangers couldn't figure out why she had climbed so far up. They watched where she watched and that's when they noticed the visitor. Belle had sounded the alarm!

I'll end with a darling photo of a darling girl known as K. K is standing in front of a bulletin board in my classroom where her brother once stood as I photographed him. She popped in the other day to say "hi." She's almost seventeen and driving. She is beautiful. She still smiles a lot. She couldn't believe I recognized her and remembered her name. I remember the names of every single person in her family. She couldn't believe I still have the purple ribbon (hanging on said bulletin board) which she presented to me back in 2005. It's a ribbon she personally won for barrel racing at the rodeo. She wrote on the back of it "Best Teacher." I've treasured it ever since. Her family loves rodeo. It was so GOOD to see her and know that she's turning out well. That visit meant a lot to me. I've known her since she was in kindergarten. In fact, I remember what she was wearing when I met her. It was a Cowgirl outfit with silver on the belt and fringe and a Cowgirl hat, and boots too. She was the cutest little thing.

That picture of her brother I mentioned...I still have it. It's actually framed. I pull it out and look at it every year on 23 January. That's the day he died. I didn't even think about it when I snapped her picture the other day, but she stood in the same spot her brother stood when I took his picture. I just wanted her to stand near the purple ribbon. Oh, the irony.

And speaking of irony, when K was in my class, another student died! I really worried a LOT about K because from her perspective, I was probably really looking like The Bad Luck Teacher! She was in kindergarten when her brother died, and then she was in fifth grade when her classmate died. Poor K was probably thinking, "Who's next?" Thank goodness for the district's crisis counseling team. When they arrived, I told them right away that I was most concerned about her. And now she's seventeen. Full of hugs for me, happy and smiling. I could have chatted longer, but time didn't allow it. The tree planted in honor of her brother stands out in front of the school. I look at it often. I remember. I remember they buried him with the big belt buckle he had won for riding a bull. He loved to play Steal the Flag. It's so great when students come back to say hello. So great.

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