Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ralph E. Watts

If I had the perfect picture of him, he would be wearing his old, blue postman uniform. It would be slightly unbuttoned, dirty, and sweaty from his day's endeavors.

If I had the perfect picture, he would be chain-sawing his newest woodland creature out of the tree he just felled in his backyard. Or carving and painting one of his many masterpieces in his basement workshop.

If I had the perfect picture, it would be of my dad and him building his log cabin-style garage from the trees on his property. It would include the pride my dad felt in being able to assist this wonderful neighbor and for being the chosen one to work with him- the project saved for when "John" was there.

If I had the perfect picture, he would be winding his bike down River Road, chasing the bald eagle or looking for other forest wildlife.

If I had the perfect picture, he would have dropped his bike at the pine tree entrance to The Pinery and be walking toward our cabin with a strong half-wave and a distinct Pittsburgh accent shouting "Heya John!" Perhaps not many would hear that when looking at the picture, but our family would.

We'd also need a picture of Ralph sitting at the campfire or on the front steps of The Pinery talking to my dad late into the night. Us kids falling asleep on the three-story bunk beds would listen to the sounds of their voices as we drifted off. Again, that's what we would hear in a picture that others may not.

You see, Ralph was such an integral part of our summer experience. The Pinery visit was not complete until we had a dose of Ralph. And he was always welcome, whether it was at the campfire, in the middle of a project, or before our next outing, we always had time for Ralph.

His stories were full of sustenance, people, and experiences. His grandfather owned all of the land on our stretch of the Clarion River. Ralph was around to see every cabin built and he knew everyone on that river. He remembers when the Clarion River used to be called the Black River- when it was too polluted to fish or sustain any wildlife. My how it changed throughout his lifetime.

Recently, he suffered from Alzheimer's and his short-term memory failed, but he didn't forget his old stories and he didn't forget John.

When we arrived at The Pinery, we received word that he had just slipped into a coma and would most likely not make it through the night or the next day. The next morning we were told that he had passed.

The day happened to be on the Summer Solstice.

All week the images of Mr. Watts flashed through our minds as we swam, biked, kayaked, and sat and shot the breeze at the fire and on the porch. He should have been riding by at any moment on that old bike or in his old truck, and he even should have been taking a long walk to visit the neighbors with his best pal, Rocco the beagle, and his yellow rope of a leash. Rocco died a few years back, but he will always be present in my memory.

Yesterday was his funeral in Trafford, Pennsylvania. We sang his favorite hymn, The Old Wooden Cross, and it seemed just so appropriate for him. Throughout the funeral home were pictures of him from his time in the navy, with his family, and at the river. But they also had his carvings, both small and detailed and big and carefully chain-sawed.

And there amongst the smaller carvings, was one of his trusty companion, Rocco.

If I had the perfect picture, Rocco would be by his side, and our family dogs would be barking as they walked toward our house.

Our neighbor, Bob, did the officiating at the funeral and his homily was called "Gospel of the Unseen." While these pictures will all remain unseen on this blog and we will never have those tactile photos to hold in our hands, we will always hold these dear both at and away from the river.

I don't have the perfect picture, but I do have some of him from our wedding. Unfortunately the internet at my parents' house does not have enough bandwidth to upload the pictures I would like, so they will have to remain unseen. But those are sometimes the best.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Today I celebrate my dad- a music genius and doting father! He spent today going to see Wicked at the Kennedy Center with my mom and sister. That's pretty special :)

We cannot wait to spend this coming week at the cabin that he built when I was 5 years old, my brother was 2, and my sister was just a babe. I faintly remember him looking over the plans with my mom for the cabin he had designed. Now stands a unique, pine cabin that has been our family summer home ever since it was built.

Both teachers, my parents first bought the land when they were living in New York City. They then camped for the whole summer with their baby (me) before any structures were built. Then, before my brother was born, my dad bought a building book and read, chapter by chapter, as he was constructing the "barn" on the property. He reminisces that he would spend all day building and then read the next chapter of the book before that phase of construction the following day.

The barn served as the sleeping place for our family of four, with a loft for my parents and a bunk bed for me and Willem. Our kitchen was in my aunt and uncle's VW Camper (which they sold but then bought back and still have in AWESOME condition).

When the cabin was built, it was a community affair. Dad had the help of Grandpa and a few contractors and it went up beautifully. Each year my dad adds some new renovations and it's the perfect summer home.

Thank you, Dad and Mom, for a wonderful cabin and barn (which is where Jim and I stay when we visit)! We love coming back each summer to enjoy competitive Yahtzee (yes, this can be competitive) cornhole, badminton, volleyball, crochet, and bocce ball. We also love biking to the ice cream place, kayaking, and canoeing. But we also like lounging in the river or just reading or crafting under the pines.

It's a wondrous place!

I had always asked for my dad to write me a song and he did for my wedding. It was beautiful. It was called, "I Remember the Day." This is him playing it right before we paddled away.

An aerial shot from a ride in my Uncle John's plane.

In the winter.

Walter Otto Krumich- 90 years old (now). Also needs to be wished a HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!!

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

1 Year Down

By now Jim has taken his last test of the year. This means that he has knocked out his first year of medical school! He's made it through a year of lectures, four blocks of classes, standardized patients, anatomy labs, OMM practicals and tests, study sessions, late nights, early mornings, and he's been successful.

This afternoon he will come home and, for the first time since August, not have anything pressing on him. He'll have a break. Well, sort of. He still has coursework to do over the summer, but he has 6 weeks until he faces classes at school again.

He's done an incredible job balancing his studies with exercise and home time. He never ceases to impress me with his calm demeanor and logical, meticulous study habits.

(His White Coat Ceremony in November, 2011)

I am so proud of him.

His parents arrive this afternoon to spend the weekend with us. We'll see what's in store for us. The Summer Solstice Festival is going on in Blacksburg this weekend- what a great way to ring in the summer! And perhaps a nice hike will be in order. We'll see what we decide!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A New Do- Beautiful Lengths

It's officially summer. It's time to shed the school-year, relax, and re-energize!

So, for weeks or months now I have been talking about getting my hair cut. Today was the day! I knew it was time because yesterday it kept beating me on the back while I was running!

Here is the picture of me from last night:

Yep, it's long, thick and heavy! It was basically a blanket of hair and it did keep me warm this winter.

But, it was time for a change. I wasn't sure what the change should be though. I researched pictures and found some that I liked, but I was going to be relying on the stylist for some help.

Me this morning, unsure of what I was really going to do...

What I DID know was that I was going to be giving my hair away to someone who needed it and so a good chunk of it would be donated.

So, drum roll please!

There are the four ponytails we were able to get out of my head, due to the layers we missed some hair. I didn't have the 10 inches to give to Locks of Love, so I am donating it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which makes wigs for cancer patients as well. They accept 8 inches and I have a bit more than 9 inches in each of these elastic bands.

And here's the final product!

It will take some time to get used to and no pony tails for me for a while. Eek! But it feels so light and wispy! It was time for a load off :)

Hello Summer!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Glass Castle

My first summer read was recommended to me by two different colleagues. I received it on Friday and finished it within days. That's unusual for me. This is a great book. I think that some of the reviewers said it best:

"Some people are born storytellers. Some lives are worth telling. The best memoirs happen when these two conditions converge. In The Glass Castle, they have." - Chicago Tribune

"The Glass Castle will at times exhaust you, occasionally fill you with fury, and finally leave you in slack-jawed wonderment." - National Review Online

If you need a fluid, brilliantly constructed read, this is the one for you. This autobiographer had every reason to complain, and yet never once did she weave it into her stories. I'm in awe of her strength and composure.

And, let me know what you think! If you have read it, what did you think?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Calling All Angels

This post may be frustratingly vague for some of you, but it will have to remain this way for reasons I cannot explain. But there are certainly times in our lives when something makes you so sad and livid with how people can be so unfeeling and cruel. And how they can get away with it.

Often it happens in schools, when some students are bullied by those stealthy instigators. Some students we never actually see doing the teasing and who are often doing the most damage. Those times were hard to live through and it's hard to watch students go through the same struggles we witnessed or were involved in when we were in school. It's a horrible cycle.

Well, it shouldn't occur when we are adults either. But it does. Oh heck it does. And I've just been a part of it again. This time I was the pawn. And it hurts. And the only people who could solve the problem are the ones doling it out.

You may be sick of hearing about those Wailin' Jenny characters, but they've made it back into this post. I have the CD in the car and turn to it when the radio just isn't cutting it, or when I need my soul to be fed by a beautifully calm harmony. In May my mom made a post with the subject the same as my own above ( go here and then click on May posts for "Calling all Angels"). I believe that she chose the title for the same song.

In her post she mentions a time when someone truly came into our lives when we were most vulnerable. This person was an angel, I'm sure.

Today I heard this song and before I knew it I was belting to the chorus. When we're pawns, we need to rely on something more than ourselves. This may have "worked out" okay, in the end, but it still smites that people can be so manipulative with other peoples' lives and well-being.

Check out the lyrics and song on YouTube. They sure do resonate with me as I try to remain strong and seek the positive. Because, after all, "we're not sure how this all goes..."

A man is placed upon the steps, a baby cries
And high above, the church bells start to ring
And as the heaviness, the heaviness, oh it settles in
And somewhere you can hear a mother sing

Then it's one foot, then the other
As you step out on the road
You step out on that road
How much weight? How much?
Then it's how long? And how far?
And how many times?
Oh, before it's too late...

Calling all angels
Calling all angels
Walk me through this one
Don't leave me alone
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
We're tryin', we're hopin'
But we're not sure how this goes

Oh, and everyday you gaze upon the sunset
With such love and intensity
Why, it's almost as if
Oh, if you could only crack the code
Then we'd finally understand
What this all means

Oh, but if you could
Do you think you would
Trade in all, all the pain and suffering?
Oh, but then you'd miss the beauty
Of the light upon this earth
And the sweetness of leaving

Calling all angels
Calling all angels
Walk me through this one
Don't leave me alone
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
We're tryin', we're hopin'
But, we're not sure how
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
Walk me through this one
Don't leave me alone
Calling all angels
Calling all angels
We're tryin', we're hopin'
We're lovin' and we're hurtin'
We're cryin', we're callin'
Because we're not sure how this goes...

And any time I think of angels, I think of my grandma. She has a wide collection of angels and she has such a good, strong heart. It hurts her to see others in pain. Here's a picture of her :)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Recent Realization

This is the first time in six years that I'm not packing up and moving anywhere in the summer!!! Traveling, relaxing, adventuring, family and friends are all that are in the plans for us :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

(almost) Start of Summer

Yesterday, as per tradition at my school, the teachers went outside and sang "Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye!" while waving to the students as they departed on their buses. Students were reaching out the windows, stretching their hands back to us to say goodbye. Screaming teacher's names and running up to give us hugs before hopping on the bus for the last time this year. It's always the students who surprise you, too.

But the summer has not quite begun yet. We still have two teacher workdays and much still needs to be done. However, this weekend I do not need to spend any time grading student work or papers. I also do not need to create any lesson plans! This afternoon I spent a few hours lying in the hammock and reading and not once did I feel guilty for not coming up with a better activity for a lesson or a better twist on a project!

Complete and utter bliss.

Thank you to everyone who has walked with me through this year. It's been a challenging, exciting, and purposeful year of growth for me. I could not have done it without many of you. Thanks for your wisdom, ideas, encouragement, and strength.

Much like coaxing our puppy Leif to cross the stream and showing him that he can withstand the current, many of you did the same for me.

You know who you are :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Today was my last day with two of my class periods. It was definitely sad to spend my last few times with these students. My heart hurts every time I have to say goodbye to students at the end of a year or my time with a classroom. I get so attached to people and, as any of my family and close friends would tell you, I am horrible with goodbyes. So, as I sit here this evening and reflect on the day and the year, I find myself thumbing back through the letters they wrote me last week.

After watching Finding Neverland, I asked the students to write a reflection of themselves as writers and by choosing one of the options below to relate to themselves either now or at the beginning of the year.

Option 1:
"I can't write." -Peter
"Have you ever had a journal or written a play?" James Barrie
"Then how do you know?"

Option 2:
"I don't know what to write about." - Peter
"Oh, sure you do... Write about the talking whale." - James Barrie
"What whale?"
"The one who's trapped inside your imagination and is trying desperately to get out."

I went out on a limb, unsure of what kind of response I would get. The letters that came back primarily proclaimed that they had grown as writers. See a few below:

Dear Mrs. B:

Option 1. At the beginning of the year I had *no* (he put the *'s in the letter) idea I could write. When we were assigned the mystery project I was inspired. I began writing my draft for The Mystery of Mean Street in my notebook.

Some edits later and VOILA! My first novel, The Mystery of Mean Street was born. I was inspired and wrote more and more. I have grown as a writer because I found my potential. I enjoy writing mysteries, fiction, western, and sci-fi. I enjoy writing.

- Boy, 6th grade

Dear Mrs. B.,

Option 1 relates to me because in the beginning of the year I never thought I could have accomplished some of the things I did this year. Some of the stories I wrote this year surprised me. I could not believe when I won the character essay. Plus, my story was given to a famous author! This year has definitely taught me believing in yourself can take you a long way.

Yes, I have grown as a writer this year. I remember in the 5th grade I would sit and sit waiting for a story idea to pop into my head. This year I have learned that you can write about the simplest things and they can turn into a amazing story.

My favorite kind of writing is either mystery or things that have happened in real life. I also enjoy some times of poetry like free verse.

Yes, I enjoy writing. Writing can take your mind off of stuff happening in life for a while.

- Girl, 6th grade

The famous author was David Baldacci. Four of my students' stories were chosen to be given to this famous author in a scrapbook, when he visited our area. This child also won the Character Essay contest by writing a better essay than all of the 7th and 8th graders. She's certainly a talented young woman with exceptional abilities and potential!

Dear Mrs. B.,

Option 2
It relates to me because at the start of school I had no idea what I was goot at writing until this class got into new writing styles for us. Yes, I have grown because I found out what I'm good at with writing. I like writing poems because my dad writes poems, so I think I got that from him. It's easier for me to rhyme than just write in general.

Yes, I like writing because it gives me a way to express myself in a way words can not. It also gives my creative mind a place to put all its ideas. Writing has not only given me a more productive thing to do with my time, but I also feel I've grown as a pearson from it.

- Boy, 6th Grade

Dear Mrs. B.,

At the beginning of the year I really did not like to write. But through on the year I started to write a little more each day and after a few weeks I was writing 3 pages a day and finishing Day Books. So writing isn't as bad as I thought it would be. So far I'm on my 3rd Day Book, so I have grown as a writer this year.

- Boy, 6th Grade

Very proud of this student!!!!!

Dear Mrs. B.,

I chose Option 1 because I think I have rised from where I was and I am proud of myself. I find that my favorite types of writing are fantasy and mystery. I know that I have probably done many stories that if you looked in my Day Book you would be proud of me too. To your third question, I do like to write because you can express your feelings and put them on paper and to me I believe that is one of the most beautiful things you can do sometimes. When I'm bored I just get some paper and express myself from my heart. The only reason that is possible is because my smart and nice english teacher Mrs. B. taught me how and for all the things she has done for me I really appreciate everything you have done for me over the past year. If it was not knowing what to write about or from helping me with my work, I thank you Mrs. B.

Boy, 6th Grade

This boy's had a very tough life. Such a touching letter!

Dear Mrs. B.,

Option 1 relates the most to me because in the beginning of the year, I never thought about keeping a journal. It wasn't important to me. Now, I try to write everyday in a journal, especially major events that happen. I NEVER thought that writing things down were important. Now, when I get older, I'll have things to look back and remember about my childhood.

Yes, I do feel as I have grown as a writer this year. Last year, I didn't write in a journal, major events, or important things down. I never wrote stories as good either. I think that I have improved on these things this year.

I like to write mysteries and poems. I also like to write about true events that have happened to me. I do enjoy writing because whatever that you're thinking, just flows to your hand and you automatically know what you're going to write about.

Girl, 6th Grade

Oh how I will miss my writers! Thanks Finding Neverland, for your prompts and thought-provoking insights!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Prettier Sight I Never Did See!

Okay, well this isn't necessarily true. But we recently made an order to REI for some new climbing gear and I think that it is a beautiful sight! When we arrived home to boxes of REI gear we could hardly contain our excitement.

(How do I rotate this, if it is already rotated in iPhoto? See my new camp chair, rope, and quickdraws. Jim's in his camp chair upstairs- they'll serve as extra furniture too!)

Here's to future adventures and trips spent climbing! Our rockclimbing gear is finally complete, for our purposes anyway.

Thank you to Mom and Dad for our combined birthday gift- the rope :)

Below you can find the gypsy moth that visited us this week. Jim snapped the picture with a nickel to show the size.

Tomorrow's a field trip with school and then it's just 1.5 days!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jenny (Norton) McBride

A month and a half ago Jenny got married in Utah to Mitchell McBride. Saturday was the reception in Virginia. Jenny is an old high school friend with a true passion and love for life and people.

I couldn't resist snapping a picture of her ensemble! :)

Love you, Jenny!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Keep On Driving

Time spent driving automatically means time spent singing, too.

Today I was driving back home after a weekend in Paris, where I had copied a CD of the Wailin' Jennys onto my iTunes. All of the Krumichs are currently obsessed with this newfound band. Well, they just happened to have come up with the PERFECT driving song. Look it up!

There are no lyrics for it online, so I just typed them up. There are a couple spots missing and they are marked by "..." Let me know if you figure out what they are saying because I cannot decipher the lyrics!


I went out for the weekend
I drove off late in the evening
I watched as the pale moon covered the sky
The night was as clear as a cold lake
Counted the stars and my mistakes

And I’m driving
Keep on Driving
‘cause I’m trying to get home to you
And I’m crying
Keep on crying
‘Cause I’ve got such a long way to go

(Driving home in a snow storm from Seneca Rocks in WV)

I’m hypnotized by the white lines
Concrete and the highway signs

(Sign on St. John)

Nothing but my dreams.....

My heart keeps singing the same song
I’m restless and want to be in your arms
But the moon keeps coming at me
Keeps going on and on

(Our move to Lafayette, Louisiana in the summer of '09)

And I’m driving
Keep on Driving
‘cause I’m trying to get home to you
I keep crying, crying
Keep on crying
‘Cause I’ve got such a long way to go

(Same drive home from Seneca Rocks. The drive should have taken 3 hours, but took 7 due to the conditions)

Oh the sun is sinking slow
Oh why’d you have to go
Keep traveling, traveling along the dusty rode

And I’m driving
Keep on Driving
‘cause I’m trying to get home to you
I keep crying crying
Keep on crying
‘Cause I’ve got such a long way to go

(Sign at Maho Bay, where we went on our honeymoon)

Oh the sun is sinking slow
Well why’d you have to go
Keep traveling, traveling along dusty rode


I enjoy a good drive as much as the next person, but they can get a bit long. This song helped pass the time.

This weekend was great because I got to spend most of the day on Saturday shopping with my mom and sister! We went to REI, which is our favorite store. There's always so much to look at, try on, and dream about. We also went to Potbelly's and got their yummy subs and mocha shakes! And there was lots of singing in the car. I love my time with them! It's always too short, but we have a week at The Pinery coming soon :)

Now off to metaphorically "drive" through the rest of the school year. This is the last week of school and I honestly wouldn't mind getting a speeding ticket for rushing through this week! With 6th grade orientation tomorrow and a field trip and a few awards ceremonies, this is a busy week. Bring it on!

I must admit that the last week of school does make me get a bit sappy and nostalgic. Students I've grown attached to fledge and leave my classroom for good. You hope and pray that the connections you made with them will have some impact on them in the summer, a year from now, or later. I'll share some of their letters from last week, in which they wrote about their growth as writers, at a later time.

For now, though, I will stop driving and park (like that CC ladies?). Until 6:45 AM tomorrow! :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Beautiful Wedding, Beautiful People

Last weekend we attended the wedding of Tim and KC, two dear friends. We couldn't have been more honored to be a part of their big day and we look forward to a lifetime of visits and adventures with them, both abroad and in the United States. Both of them are such positive, genuine, strong, and endearing people- a great match, indeed.

KC caught the bouquet in our wedding. It was only a matter of time...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Slight Break

Foolishly, I left my computer cord at my parents' home in Paris, VA. Therefore, my access to computers during downtime has limited.

It's incredible how much we become attached to computers. I have used my time this week to read, catch up on the news, use my limited time borrowing Jim's computer productively, and spend time with the dogs. I should give myself this gift more often!

But I'll be retrieving it when I drive up there tomorrow. It will take some will power to refrain from depending on the internet and computer as much as I did.

We're watching The Illusionist now on the TV, what a concept. Normally we watch everything on our laptops :)