Monthly Archives: June 2012

Storytime – Mrs. Pelley, 8th Grade Math

As a writing assignment for the group in Brandenburg, KY, we were to write about a scary experience with a teacher, either a real story or just one made up.  This story is true, only the exaggerations are not  🙂


Mrs. Pelley, 8th grade math


   Oh, yes, I remember Mrs. Pelley.  She was the dictator who taught us math, or at least she forced us to remember enough to pass her brutal weekly tests.  I guess her methods worked to a degree, because I actually can do addition and subtraction; and maybe a few things more.  So, I learned mathematics, and I learned something about discipline, sometimes referred to as “following the rules”.

   We were growing up, getting smarter, being allowed to do a few more things at home, but Mrs. Pelley knew exactly what we were – we were CHILDREN!  It was our nature to explore the boundaries of any situation, see how far we could go, find out the consequences of our actions.  We didn’t really break it down that way, we just did it.  And, we got in trouble.

   One of Mrs. Pelley’s ironclad rules, which she spelled out for us early in the year, was “thou shalt not chew gum in this class, neither will you consume candy”.  For the most part, we followed that rule, because it was so easy to get caught.  Jaws moving too much?  “Spit out that gum!  Here’s some extra homework for you!”  Once in awhile, somebody tried the candy thing, but we mostly toed the line.  In our minds, Mrs. Pelley had posted an imaginary sign on the front wall over the blackboard “Transgressors will be exsanguinated, eviscerated, drawn and quartered, then devoured!”

   So, of course I had to eat a butterscotch mint one day in her class.  I really wasn’t thinking too much about it, I just secretively popped it in my mouth and waited for it to dissolve.  No chewing required, no telltale jaw movements; I was safe!   And, it was delicious, it was the forbidden fruit. And, she was coming down my aisle, seemingly coming right to my desk!  I swallowed.  I swallowed it whole!

   As she passed my desk without comment or notice, I was sitting there in near agony with a football stuck in my throat.  Sweat popped out on my forehead, my knuckles were white as I gripped the edges of my desk.  I closed my eyes, I suffered, I waited – either for death by asphyxiation, or for the candy to dissolve further so I could get it down.

   The story has no hideous ending; after a minute or two I was able to get it to go on down, but the whole thing still resides in my memory.  If I were to write a book about my school years, this would be titled “The Day I Cheated Death in Math Class!”



Jean’s Poem “About Time” 5-26-2012

My mother, Jean McGready,  is in her 80’s now, has a few medical problems, but still has an active mind.  She lives in Texas now, but is still quite English.  Yes, she is old, but has not always been so.  She was still in her teens when World War II came to England.  The war brought bombs and death to many in that small country, brought rationing, many other forms of turmoil, turned their society upside down.  It also brought Yanks, in their hundreds of thousands, and one of them caught her eye – he came to be my father.

She and I have, within the last few years, resumed our closer contact, and she writes or calls from time to time.  Sometimes her letters are short updates on her life with Tom, her second husband, and their little adventures.  Sadly, the little tales these days relate his struggles with dementia and her struggles to keep him on track.

Occasionally she sends along a poem or story she has put down on paper.  She sends the originals and keeps no copies;  for me it’s it’s rather like receiving a message in a bottle. I particularly liked this one and decided to share it with my small readership.

About Time by Jean McGready

The old one sits alongside the gate

he knows I have been dancing.

And what of that? I want to cry

Is it a sin to go romancing?

“Do you hear, old man,

When the fiddlers play, do you hum

the songs that I have sung?

Time was you’d have danced the night away

When your world was green and young.”

I pass him slow, with a swish of my skirt

and a flip of my head, for measure.

But he does not heed, nor bid me stay

For him life holds no pleasure.

Ah! No such thing is in his keeping,

though Summer hours are sweeting.

Rust tints the hinge at the cedared gate,

Rust that had no place before.

Heather shrouds the trackless moor,

Blazing gorse affronts my gaze.

So why should I be weeping?

Let me tell you in another way,

I shall not measure time today,

Time has me in its keeping.

A Colorado Graduation

We managed to get away for a trip to Colorado to help celebrate the high school graduation of my handsome, talented, loving, athletic and all-around GRAND grandson Blake Tyler Patterson.  We arrived a few days early and stayed at Natalie’s house near Castle Rock, Colorado.  We had a good time of renewed friendships and relationships and made some great new friends, too.

The graduation ceremony was very well done and flowed smoothly.  Yes, there was a speaker, an older guy (about my age), who delivered an amazing speech, humorous, motivating.  Too bad I can’t remember his name or the main points of his speech, but…. it was good!  🙂

The graduation was on Friday night (May 25th), and Natalie hosted a big party for Blake afterward, lots of food and beverages.   Folks came and went, lots of mingling and laughter, a complete success!! A number of us gathered out at the fire-pit for some fun conversation and maybe a little shivering; that fire really felt good  🙂

On Saturday we all packed up and drove to the Lewis family ranch up near Steamboat Springs, Colorado.  Natalie and John were great hosts, had everything organized so we knew where each group would stay and how meals were to be done.  Each of us got an opportunity to help with cooking, cleanup, whatever, so that helped things move along better.  Natalie also organized some games for everyone, including a scavenger hunt with clues, and a couple of the teams got to use the ATV machines to run around the property on the quest for the big prize!  Everyone had a good time, except for one old guy who sorta got childish and grumpy; oh, wait, that was me 😦  So sorry, folks, not my finest hour.

We had lots of free time at the ranch so we could go exploring or just enjoy relaxing or whatever we wanted to do.  The scenery was incredible, the air was fresh and clean, it was great.  The first day or two we had a few snow showers thrown in and the wind got up from time to time, but we all loved being there.  There was a big communal campfire pit with lots of chairs and we all tried to gather round the fire each evening to have some laughs and inhale some campfire smoke.

I know I left out some parts of the story (I won’t bore you with my tale of stepping bare-footed on the hornet, wasp, whatever one night in the dark- OUCH!).  I hope the photographs give you some idea of the all-around good time we had.

The guest list for the mountain getaway included Kate and myself, Trent & Emily Lewis and their four kiddos, Jay & Chelsea Fribourg, and Vicki Hamby.  Blake, Carlene, and Jake arrived from Denver a day or two behind us.  Blake and Jake will be working at the ranch for several weeks this summer.