I have NEVER been a fan of "reinventing the wheel".
One of my great frustrations as a teacher came when education officials "on high" madated that teachers write standards for student achievement...guidelines for what should be taught...what should be tested. (By the way, those last two do not often go together in the "education world". The State of Illinois went to great lengths NOT to reveal the "secret" of what would be tested. Oh, they made it VERY plain that if your kids did not pass the test, you and your school district would be held accountable for "failing", but they went to great lengths to conceal what would actually be tested.
I mean...my gut reaction was "Hey...obviously YOU know what YOU think is important. YOU already have guidelines for what should be taught. PLEASE...Do NOT make ME sit down a spend my time trying to GUESS at what YOU want ME to teach. Just tell ME!!!
I thought that was a reasonable and logical position. Silly me...
I'm retired...I don't have to play that game anymore. Unfortunately, my colleagues are not so lucky.
Do you sense a digression?
Not this time! It's the background for my following remarks...
After reading Rachel's blog entry ("Fire and Rain") this morning, I decided to post it in honor of the day of Julie's birth.
After arriving at the "creation page" of the website, I followed my normal routine...beginning by copying the code for a previous post. Yes, I could have started from "scratch", typing in all the HTML code, blah, blah, blah. But, why? That "wheel" already existed...
So, I looked at the listing of earlier editions. The list allows you to put a check in a box, hit the "copy" button, fill in a new name, and BAM...instant format. Then, delete the old words...insert new. Saves a bunch of time!
Knowing that I wanted to include the picture that Rachel posted (looking at the sunset, wishing for a rainbow), I skimmed the list for an edition that might have had a picture...saving a bit more coding.
Now, you'll have to trust me on this next part...it's the honest to God truth. I did NOT remember the content of the earlier posting...old age took care of that ability years ago.
A picture of a rainbow? Okay, since I was looking for a post that contained a picture and since the post was entitled "Stalked by Rainbows", it would be a tough sell that my selection was an extraordinary "coincidence"...until you hear "the rest of the story."
So, let's get on with it...
From the March 31st posting...my once-frequent, now-rare trip to St. Louis...seeing butterflies (although "staged")...not seeing rainbows. Rachel's receiving a sign...actually TWO separate rainbows, although not the "stock" double-rainbow picture borrowed for her blog.
TODAY...Rachel longing for rainbows...hoping for a sign on a day so treasured by both of us.
YESTERDAY...August 16th...another rare trip to St. Louis (at the invitation of my brother-in-law, John) to see a Cardinals' baseball game. (See, Julie...I still remember! MY brother-in-law...not "Julie's brother".)
Cards win! Cards WIN!! CARDS WIN!!!
Not that John or I would know...at least not until we got back to Cairo...and John calls to tell me that he saw the news on ESPN.
You see...it rained...hard! The umpires called a halt to the proceedings when the skies opened in the top of the 6th inning. The Cardinals were ahead 4-3 after the 5th inning which made it an official game. However, in the top of the 6th, the San Diego Padres took a 5-4 lead...and then the rain.
After a delay of maybe an hour, play resumed...and the Cardinals absolutely stunk! I could have closed my eyes and swung for the fences and looked a helluva lot better than the so-called hitters reaching feebly for pitches waaaaaay out of the strike zone. Boring...
Then, to add insult to injury...the rains returned in the 8th inning.
John and I...trapped between a rock and a wet place. We had already decided this was a lost cause and that if the game were delayed again...well, we're outta here!
BUT...reality sunk in. If it's raining too hard to play baseball, it's definitely raining too hard to exit the stadium and walk many, many blocks to where our ride home awaited.
What to do...
Suddenly, the rain slacked off considerably. John and I made THE decision...let's go for it!
Barely sprinkling as we left the stadium...we can do this. About half-way to the parking lot, Julie gets her revenge...for all those times that Ronnie resisted or absolutely refused to walk leisurely in the rain...the rain that she loved so dearly. It poured...
Now, Julie was NOT a vengeful person. I'm sure that she considered this "our" little joke. And, to give credit where credit is due...she picked a time when I was prepared.
I'd always told Julie...I wouldn't mind walking in the rain IF I had my hat on. I would remind her that being hair-impaired made raindrops much less appealing. Julie couldn't relate.
Anyway, yesterday...a baseball game in St. Louis in 90+ degree temperature...only a fool would attend without a hat. My mama didn't raise no fool...and Julie certainly would not have tolerated such a...well...fool.
I came to the game prepared. So, when Julie placed her order for rain, she chose to be kind to her Ronnie. Thanks, Honey! Of course, my hat did not protect my T-shirt, pants, or shoes...but I had never complained about that portion of my apparel. (I'm sure that Julie read the fine print before sending the deluge.)
I suppose (by now) you are anticipating the rainbow...
Well, there wasn't one...but there was plenty of the lightning and thunder...the "atmospher" that Julie loved.
Julie's not going to send a storm with lightning and thunder to put her Ronnie and Brother John in danger. Julie wasn't mean...just mischievous. So, NO...no nearby lightning strikes...just lots of flashing lights and rumbling sound effects.
Safely ensconced in John's vehicle, we head on back to Cairo...
After about an hour on the road, all Hell, uh, Heaven broke loose. IMPRESSIVE lightning...POURING rain. Never seen so many cars pulled off to the side of the Interstate. (Of course, there were still the usual number of idiots driving 70+ miles per hour with no lights on...probably texting.)
After fifteen minutes in the "car wash", the rain slackened. An that's when it happened...the sign!
Rachel's wished-for rainbow...the rainbow that refused to appear on my March 31st trip...bold and bright in the August 16th sky. Rachel was looking for it...John and I found it!
YES...I've got a witness!!!
And here is the best part...the confirmation of sign part.
Rachel's picture from her March 31st post...
...was not what Rachel actually saw. As she indicated in her post, circumstances forced the substitution of a generic double-rainbow pic to represent the two separate rainbows that she saw as her sign(s) that big-sister Julie was watching over her...that Rachel was never alone.
Well - and, again, I've got a witness - Brother John and I looked up into the rainy evening sky and witnessed a big and beautiful DOUBLE RAINBOW...that lasted several minutes.
And you want "the kicker"...
Look at the picture above of "Rachel's Rainbow", representing her experience in Africa. Well, John and I witnessed the remainder of that double rainbow...the missing portion in the above picture...the lower right third. A sign bridging two continents...two parts of Julie's family.
Hey...Julie is no longer bound by the laws of nature...she CAN be in two places at once.
Atta girl, Julie!
Footnote: Have to admit to a nagging thought while composing this post...a small little fact (that went unmentioned)...that cast a pesky shadow over "the sign".
As a true believer, this sign was good enough for me, but...
A believer is well aware of skeptics and develops a certain (earned) paranoia that "Doubting Thomases" will look for, seize upon, and challenge any discrepancies...real or otherwise.
As I pondered my dilemma - whether to "put it out there" and try to explain it away OR to take poetic license and ignore it - I was struck by a revelation. (Hey...better than being struck by lightning, although the "source" might be the same!)
But, that's a story for another day...and for a related reason, that "another day" will be August 19th.
Until then...watch the skies!