Thursday, August 10, 2017

Have you been loving summertime?

 Many of my past posts have dealt with how sick my brother, Lance Miller has been for the last two years as he battled an abdominal infection that started in his bladder and pretty much dominated his life ever since.  I didn't get to see him during that time, as we live on opposite sides, opposite coasts the continental USA.
 This summer, I got to go back to visit him, just as he was getting strong enough to have the feeding tube removed and be able to get out and play a bit. My husband came with me, and we also saw my Mom, and my other Brother and his wife and some of his kids.  A family re-union, in a place my husband had never been, as we also met up with one of my best friends from high school, and toured some of the Washington DC area sights.

 I had to touch the Washington Memorial, up close and personal.

 Then when it was time to fly back to the Pacific Coast, summer was far from over and my husband's sister was bringing her family to explore our redwood coast.
 We went hiking in Fern Canyon, where Jurassic Park's Lost World was filmed

 and to visit Paul Bunyan and Babe at Trees of Mystery. See my granddaughter clinging to his boot like a lump of chewed gum?

 we went swimming in the Smith river, and petted sharks at Ocean World

 And the granddaughter made a new friend in Belle at the local library
 We tore out the old carpet and put in new, and a new bed as both were twenty years or more
 and took the killing to play outdoors and indoors every chance we got.

 The only thing I haven't done much of is writing. Writing and teaching, the stuff of the school year, and it's coming right around the corner, and going to arrive soon
but for now, I still get to play.

Friday, January 27, 2017

International Holocaust Memorial Day

Today is an important day for the chance to learn and remember the lessons of the past, in order not to be doomed to repeat them. Surely one would think that the horror of the attempted genocide of Jewish people, accompanied by the death of so many others deemed undesirable, others like my brother with Down's syndrome, my special ed. students, my friends who are wonderful people but have a myriad of sexual identities and racial backgrounds; was so unusual and so horrific as to be unforgettable and unrepeatable. Sadly, one would be wrong.

When I was a child, I couldn't have asked for a safer, more loving world, and assumed that the rest of the children also were loved and cared for by loving parents, and grandparents. So my first hints of the holocaust rocked my world, but were of something "a long, long time ago, on the other side of the world, and it isn't ever going to happen again."

But of course it had happened before, and where I lived, and would continue to happen again and again.  It had happened to my great-grandmother, that same tiny woman who snuggled me on her lap and fed me pickles and soups and sang me songs. What was I to know of the family history she never spoke of, or why her Father had disowned her for marrying a white man soon after the battle of the Little Bighorn and the massacre at Wounded Knee. I wouldn't know until her funeral when my Sioux relatives arrived en masse.

It happened here in my adopted home of Crescent City, CA when a town with 700 Chinese one night, only had one the following night. It happened here when hundreds of natives were slaughtered during a celebration that was mistaken for a war party by the fearful townspeople.

And it happened in eugenics experiments in the good ol US of A when people with too many relatives in prison or mental hospitals were forcibly sterilized. Sadly, Hitler learned some of what he did from our country after all.

I'm sad that a day of rememberance is necessary and grateful that there is also the remembrance of those who fought and resisted and won against fear and hatred. Even though the lesson has to keep being learned, we have many heroes (yes, male and female and other) who have given examples to light the darkness and chase out hate. Remembering that we are not all to be feared just because we are not all the same. Remembering that your difference may provide the very strength I would have perished without. Remembering that when the haters scream from the podium, the resistance is already whispering encouragement and love in your ear.

On this cold January when the world is still frightening, remember to look for the light, and when you can't find it, you can be it.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Looking forward to 2017

I have ever been one to cherish the idea of a new year, a new season, a fresh chance to evaluate and change my life. That doesn't seem odd to me, even though my life is usually one I am thankful for. Even being mostly content, I have always seen the things I do wrong, and wanted to do better. I like the clean slate, the fresh journal. I buy blank books to write diary entries in, or begin a novel, or fill with poems. Nine out of ten times I fill no more than five pages, and then the book loses its freshness and sits, abandoned.  I don't just do this for January First, either. I will hold the same hopes and dream of new beginnings each Fall as well, because after 47 school years, the start of the year for me, really is when school begins.

I've heard a lot about how bad 2016 has been, and it hasn't been an easy year for sure, but it has had moments of pure joy. It has had laughter and hugs and growth. It has had the birth of my grandbaby boy. I published my 7th book, and my husband and granddaughter both like it so far. I earned enough money that we have less bills now than this time last year. I hate that hate has dominated so much of the global news this year, but refuse to let it change who I am.

What are my goals for 2017?
Do I want to write a long list of small things I've been tolerating and then go through and start fixing them?
Do I want to choose a focus word and leave it at that? Maybe simply, "Love" because the world needs it still, and yes, my mind did break into song.
Do I want to challenge myself to a poem or a photo or a page of writing every day?
Do I want to work on health or finances or . . . .?

I haven't quite decided yet which direction to go. Finding the answer is not always the goal, sometimes just thinking through the process is enough to make me realize I love my life. I've connected with some family but lost touch with three people who really are important to me and somehow I need to reach out to them, for my own sake even if they don't need me to too.  I'm excited and curious and a bit fearful of 2017, but I'm buckling in for the ride.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas 2016 and May A Happy and Healthy 2017 Be Heading Your Way.

This was a year that made me wonder if I could bear to write a Christmas letter.  I told Greg that if I only talked about the good news I would end up sending a blank letter except for the news that May 9 gave us a great gift in Gavin Patrick Goode-Pitt.  Austin and Trisha had a baby boy. He was born big and beautiful and strong and not exactly eager to leave the comfort of his mother’s womb.  He has been growing quickly and every time we get to hold him he is more curious and alert and wanting to interact with people. Once again, I have fallen in love. Austin and Trisha are wonderful parents and that is so obvious when you see how happy their baby boy is.
Lance and Mom sound like they are doing as well as they have in over a year.  Lance is excited and happy to be going to Virginia college and to be taking Choir, computer, and woodshop, and to work there and have homework.  Brett’s step-daughter, Caitlin,  takes him to many places like the Library and Dairy Queen and to the lake.  He also frequently visits our mom. He hasn’t recovered completely and still can’t eat solid foods, living on ensure, and ice cream and cheese and I’m not sure if that will ever change. Mom doesn’t really talk on the phone very often anymore although I have talked to her a couple times this year when she was clear on who I am although foggy on some details. Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to them at the same address

  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118

 Brett sent me this picture

 Emerson and Daisy moved back in with Greg and I in March and it has been a good thing in many ways. It has been sad because Daisy’s mom hasn’t been able to be a part of her life since then, but Daisy at 2 ½ is growing strong and is always singing and exploring and so happy that she makes everyone around her happy too. Emerson works hard and always has more people wanting him to work for them than there are hours in his day.  He works with Autistic children and is as gentle and playful and firm with them as he is with his own daughter.

Greg has been working 11 years now up in Brookings at that school district and is having a wonderful year with really good kids, but he is also starting to want a change again, especially when thinking about the income he gets there. He applied to teach at the prison here, and has passed all their requirements, so if a job opens up, that could happen. Meanwhile he has been working on setting up a trip to Disneyland with his High School Students, and on turning his community Children’s choir into a higher level, audition only performing group.
Since Greg and I have been together since 1982, by now his family and my family all just feel like one family. His parents and siblings have always been a big part of our life and His Mom, Mimi Goode, died on November 9th in Rapid City, South Dakota. She has been in poor health for so long now that my sons barely remember when she was strong and healthy and taking part in leading so many efforts to improve lives in Newcastle, WY. They do remember driving around with her to feed stray cats and to check the live traps for ones for her spay and neuter and re-release of the older cats, and for adoption of the kittens.
We went back to Newcastle and had her memorial service with family on November 22, and then a family Thanksgiving dinner at Harvey’s home (my Father-in-law) on the 24th before driving back to Crescent City for three more hectic weeks of school before Christmas break.  It was wonderful weather all the way, although we came around the edge of some storms.  The funeral was sweet and well attended and the burial was just as a gorgeous sunset broke over the hillside there among the bare cottonwood trees.  The service felt like a celebration of her life and the only real sadness there was that Mimi’s brother suffered a stroke just after arriving in Wyoming and was in surgery during the funeral, but made it through well and was released from the hospital Thanksgiving Day.

I took a 60% job teaching in the High school’s Severely Handicapped/and Emotionally Disturbed class. I only teach Wednesday, Thursday and Friday most of the time, unless I get sub jobs the other two days of the week.  Lately my partner was on a two week long trial as a juror so I had full time starting the day we got home from driving 3,000 miles in ten days, and in that class, that is exhausting! I have 17 students, but so many Instructional assistants that I also supervise 15 adults, and have Emerson working with me pretty frequently.  It has been high drama and yet very rewarding.
I also managed to publish my 3rd picture book for children, so with my 4 novels, this makes 7 books I have available in Libraries and on Amazon. This one is called “The Redwood Tree” and is photographs and non fiction text.
No, I’m not mentioning the political news this year. Other than to say that most people’s first comment after learning that Mimi died the day after the election, was to say that she heard who won, and decided it was time for her to exit. She was one of Wyoming’s few, and fervent Democrats.
Miss Daisy has become a book lover, and a singer and a storyteller. She loves Peppa Pig, and our cat Rocky, and playing outside.
I love Christmas and the gift of going through my family and friends list each year and remembering why you are so special and important to me. I hope that this finds you weathering the changes and remembering the blessings.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Dixie and Greg

Sunday, September 11, 2016

What happened to May through August??!

I was going to be so good at everything. Keeping up on a blog, teaching, being a wife and mom and grandma and a writer and making an old house into a warm, welcoming home. Well, just the fact that I haven't written an update here since April proves the lie to that.  But I'm still trying.  Most of this blog, for a year has bee dedicated to updates about my brother Lance, so let me tell you a bit about him first.

The ninth is my Brother, Brett's third wedding anniversary. I didn't talk to him, Lance says they are on a trip, but I did talk to Lance today. He is very happy, still can't eat enough to take out feeding tube, because the exit from his stomach had narrowed and he doesn't recover well from surgery, but he visited Mom today and had lunch with her, he can eat things like soup, pudding, ice cream, cheese. he was sad, their dog died this week, but he is taking choir, computers and woodshop at Virginia college and stays a couple nights each week in a dorm. That is something he is thrilled about, even the homework. He says mom is happy and he insists she is getting better. When I talk to her she is confused but not totally, often less sure of time and place but more aware of who people are.  Lance is already planning his October 24th birthday when he will turn 41, with TGI Friday's CheeseSticks and Ice Cream Cake from Dairy Queen.   
cards are of course much anticipated
 Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to him or to Mom at the same address

  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118

 He also has his Mutant Ninja Turtle Halloween Costume planned and the sooner October gets here, the happier he will be.

My husband's Dad on the same redwood stump two decades ago

As for the rest of us, Daisy and her dad, (My youngest son) are living with us, and we are having fun being grandparents. My oldest son also has a four month old son, so I haven't even been on the blog since baby Gavin entered our life.  It is wonderful to see how fast he is learning to interact and laugh and be happy to see grandma.

I am teaching a Severely handicapped special day class at the high school three days a week, which is supposed to free up two days for writing, but so far is consumed by errands and dishes and laundry and life.  My husband is starting a children's choir, teaching High school band Choir and orchestra and organizing a spring break trip to Disneyland with his students.

anyway, there is so much more, but if I hit publish now, I can go fold laundry, Oh Joy!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April update

#TeamLanceMiller update 4/2/2016

Lance called from home today and sang "Happy Birthday to Austin" (my 23 year old son) and told me he had ice cream to eat, at home, not in the hospital, and that he had stayed up but Brett and Emily (my other brother and his wife) were already in bed. He told me there were four baby cows that were twins in the stable on the same floor with his bedroom, and that they were being bottle fed. Then he asked to talk to my husband Greg, he told Greg, "There are a lot of elk out my window here." Then added a huge laugh and, "Happy April Fool's Yesterday."


Talking to Lance today, he was excited about the baseball teams and their opening days. Very Happy the Pirates won, and trying to insist that everyone in my family had to have a favorite team.  I guess I failed. I did take my boys to see an Angels/Dodgers game several years ago, but it wasn't enough to turn his nephews into die hard sports fans.  Something about living 300 miles from any team is a bit non-conducive to rabid fandom.  He is also in love with the baby cows at the farm this spring and especially that there are so many twins, but our call was cut short when my brother's daughter delivered him some ice cream.

He was also delighted to talk to my granddaughter now that she is almost 2 and will use a phone a bit, and he was telling me which pictures he has on his wall. He has a lot of cards that you have sent him. Thanks for that, and if you think about sending another postcard his way, Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to him or to Mom at the same address

  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Team Lance Miller Update 3-11-2016

 Lance is having a rough time still, he has been moved to ICU at the University of Virginia Hospital where Infectious disease specialists are trying to figure out what he needs and discovered a lingering infection behind some vital organs in a spot fairly dangerous to operate on, but highly resistant to antibiotics.  Yesterday  3/10/2016 in the evening, 
Brett says Lance just now got out of surgery, they put in a drain directly in his kidney to give his ureter a break and allow it to heal and he seems to be doing really well but he is in ICU.
today I got this message on facebook

with this picture from today.

When I heard that my old classmate and buddy Lance Miller had been moved to UVA, I called on my friend Alice who works there to pop in to let him know that a friend from Cody, WY sent her to say hello! They talked about football, his job at Walmart and Cody. She said he was so happy and that the visit made her day! I bet it made his too😊Thanks Alice! Here's a pic she snapped for meπŸ’•

Lance has a cell phone (540)-359-1413 and you can send cards and pictures and letters to him or to Mom at the same address

  Lance Miller /PO box 865/ Middleburg, VA 20118