Category Archives: My Life

Teaching and Dieting and Sweating

So yesterday I, along with my coworkers, were introduced to this concept that even though the school district paid tens, or hundreds of thousands of dollars to a corporation to create and maintain a system for students to test on called LEAP 360, and that we were responsible for grading the assessments.  That unfair amount of tedious work is to be done by Friday, or, tomorrow.  The state has no sense of time and they must think that we’re on the clock 24/7.

I am also the coordinator for my school’s grade recovery program.  Grade recovery, for you older folks, is a system that allows for students to recover one F they’ve earned on their report card.  A very good program for students to take advantage of.  The problem is, I always have a LOT of names to fish through each grading period.  Stack on top of this, we are at midterms.  I am now also obligated to mail letters to a very large number of parents to inform them their child is in danger of failing 7th or 8th grade, whether it be from absences or grades.

I am also an uncertified, semi-knowledgeable, slightly under trained special education teach with a few big IEP deadlines to hit by next week and a HUGE deadline to hit by the end of the month (literally 2 months of work to be done in a matter of 3 or so weeks.)

I am also an English teacher.  So you know my job is already hard as that, but stack on the fact that the expectations of my state employers believe it’s okay to hold these lofty, unreasonable expectations.  “You have to raise all of your 8th grade students to a mastery on their state test.”  I teach students who read on a first and second grade level, and they can barely scrawl a legible, sensible sentence.

Wow, I sound bitchy this afternoon.

 

Walking is a Bit Harder Than I Remember…

Day 2 of low carbing and once again, bullet proof coffee.  Went down better than yesterday’s, and it was very effective at keeping my mind away from the tantalizing garlic bread our cafeteria ladies were making for lunch.  Oh that smell was too good, and even though my olfactory senses were trying to cause me to fall from the wagon, I persevered.  Sheesh.

I weighed this morning.  The numbers hurt me deep.  354.2 lbs.  I have gained almost all of my weight back.  Cutting that weight will be difficult, sure, but I can do it.  I have decided, instead of weight goals on time limits (I will lose 10 lbs by the end of January!) I have decided to focus on goals I know are attainable:

Continue reading Walking is a Bit Harder Than I Remember…

It’s Time to Get to Work…

Wow, time flies by and the world and life changes, but Just Chill Here is still here and it’s still my project.  I come back to the site, a little over 6 months since the last update, and I am going to make a real effort to do some things that I want to do.  No more forcing myself to write about things that generally do not interest me and no more feeling burnt out trying to keep some arbitrary pace.  So my New Year’s plan is to use this site as a hub, or launching pad, or home, to house projects that I feel the desire to complete.  That being said, I am going to cut to the chase on today’s post…

Continue reading It’s Time to Get to Work…

Pretty Snoqualmie Falls! (2017 Summer Vacation Part 2)

If you click this banner you can go to the actual website! Smart!

Part 1 – Part 2

Snoqualmie falls is one of the post popular scenic views in Washington. There are decks to observe and of course, a waterfall that is 270 foot!

So our very first destination on our vacation, which was right after the graduation ended, was to visit a big waterfall.  Abby was super excited.  Wesley was “Meh.”  I was tired.  Brandi was tired.  Recipe for disaster?  Well, the weather was perfect and the sun was not shining.  It was lightly showering, but my friends ensured that it never really rains that hard.  In hindsight?  They were right.  It rained a few days, but never so much that it was miserable.

We visited the Snoqualmie Falls park.  It had free parking and nice views.  It was a little bit of a drive to get to, but not as far as some of our later drives (Port Angeles, Mount Rainier).  We traveled to the site with quite the great big convoy.  We had our bunch, Mike’s Bunch, and Mindy’s bunch.  Now, I know you do not know these people, so I will just assure you, without introductions, that it was a great number of people.

Anyhow, from here on out will be photographs of our visit.  Enjoy!

Continue reading Pretty Snoqualmie Falls! (2017 Summer Vacation Part 2)

Why Washington? (2017 Summer Vacation Part 1)

The Beginning of Summer Vacation, or, Why Did We Choose Washington?

Part 1 – Part 2

Oh the weather outside is actually quite nice!

We have returned from almost two weeks of total confusion.  A poor ol’ country boy who has spent many a day burning up in the gulf coast spent much of his time being cool without an air conditioner!  This was a change for me and my bunch, but the idea of trekking over 2,000 miles to vacation seems to be a tall order.

We chose the way of the bird and four hours later we landed, jet lagged and flustered from screaming demon-children that keep following us around yelling for their mother and father.  As fast as we fled, we could not shake them.  With that in mind, we made tracks for our destination:  Everett, Washington.

The reason for this particular trip was a work from many moons ago as I had discussed attending my niece’s graduation.  She would become a graduate of Everett High School (EHS), and I and my family were invited to attend.  We took them up on their offer!  A tend day visit, no hotel costs and some free gas and food to help with costs.  Friday we recovered and Saturday we went to graduation.  So, here are a couple of photos to get you started with our experience.

Continue reading Why Washington? (2017 Summer Vacation Part 1)

Weighing In

So, you two or three fans of Just Chill Here have probably been wondering to yourselves if I have died or given up on the site.  I have not.  Work started, football started, the diet restarted, and of course there’s little Abby and big Wesley to ensure that any moment that resembles a little bit of R&R are anything but.

This morning I have decided, in lieu of my weekend morning routine of coffee and Seven Days to Die, I am going to write up a little bit of what I have been doing dietarily since around April/May, and I am going to explain why I think it works.

But instead of starting at the beginning, I want to start at now, particularly last night, but before that, I want to give you an overview of where it began before details.  All you need to know is this…

As we entered the last quarter of the school year I was struggling with my diabetes and weight loss.  My weight was pretty much locked in at 365 lbs.  My blood glucose level was in the lower 200s even with medication.  I was a lazy piece of shit.  I was miserable.  I was a whinin’ bitch on Facebook (still am).

A while before that a friend of mine passed a book to me called The Carb Nite solution.  I read it, several times, and never launched.  Never really started, until one weekend, and I did the diet for 4 months to some very nice numbers.  328 lbs…and my blood sugar was hanging around at 130.  My A1C was 6.  My doctor was impressed.  I was taken off of one of my medications…I was feeling better than ever.

THEN VACATION HAPPENED

Continue reading Weighing In

Water Swallows All, Eventually

Part 1Part 2Part 3 – Part 4

This is a bit of a “prequel” of sorts.  These photos come from my Brother-in-law, Lance Jones, who went in with my dad the Thursday (I think, these dates are getting fuzzy) after the rains that filled Toledo Bend came through.  As you look at these photos I want to try to put you into the right mind or mood, and I want you to empathize with the person, my father, as he bore witness to his house taking on more water than it has ever taken in a flood.  You are not doing it for my dad, though.  You are doing it for the now thousands of people from Burr Ferry, Louisiana to Merryville, Louisiana, and Deweyville, Texas and all the other little towns between.  Even I10, a major avenue of commerce, has been shut down because of the flooding.  Maybe with this wide array of damage and interruption of day-to-day living and business operations, the Sabine River Authority may have to look into their policies and consider some changes.

Imagine, if you will, that you are sitting in a boat, and you are floating up to your house, and you see all you have worked for slowly being swallowed by water…

And click images to make them larger and more detailed.

This is the latest family portrait that will be hanging in this old house. That's my parents, their children, their grandchildren, and my dog (Everyone's dog). This photo was actually taken yesterday as of this writing, but I really want to use this as an opportunity to, again, set the tone.
This is the latest family portrait that will be hanging in this old house. That’s my parents, their children, their grandchildren, and my dog (Everyone’s dog). This photo was actually taken yesterday as of this writing, but I really want to use this as an opportunity to, again, set the tone.  The flood line is marked where the debris suddenly stops. 

Continue reading Water Swallows All, Eventually

As The Flood Recedes

Part 1Part 2Part 3 – Part 4

It’s been about a week since we had a near record setting amount of rain fall on our region.  The rain came from the west and it was predicted a good bit ahead of time.  It was predicted that the amount of rain would be great below Toledo Bend (Not a great effect on flooding in my community), over Toledo Bend proper (A threat on my community), and north/west of Toledo Bend, where streams receiving this water would feed the lake, making that part of the storm the largest threat).  As The Sabine River Authority stood back and waited until it was too late, we were totally unaware of what was coming.  I have shared with you a couple of articles already that explore this event, and this new article is more of the same.

Before I delve into the photoblog that caused a small surge in traffic for Just Chill Here, which my sister so nicely said “I sure hope they don’t click on your other stuff with that potty mouth!” in a very judgmental way, I want to share a set of rumors I have picked up that compliment the answer to a question that we may never know:

Why did the Sabine River Authority wait until the water was upon us to lower the lake?

These rumors are just things I have heard or read, but interesting to ponder regardless:

  • They have to keep the lake levels high so the bald eagle population has a pristine habitat.
  • They had to keep the levels high to ensure that several species of rare trees on the lake would stay healthy.
  • They had to keep the waters high for a big bass tournament that was either going on, or coming up, or one that had just passed.  (I am not sure!)
  • They can’t activate the flood gates unless the lake is a certain height, and it didn’t reach that height until it was too late.
  • The Sabine River Authority is trying to force people out of their homes and land so they can continue to flood the region as they please.

I can’t substantiate any of these rumors, but I figured I would share with you some of the things I overheard while running into folks in recovery mode.

For all of you getting back into your homes, take plenty of water and try to be safe.  It’s hot, it’s muggy, and it’s ideal conditions for bad things to happen.

Let’s get back to our story…

Remember, you can click the images to get the big, prettier versions.

This little guy is a Timber/Branded/Canebreak Rattlesnake. As a kid I would walk these woods and I would catch snakes and play with them. Yeah, I was that kid. I had no general fear of animals except for maybe my grandfather's old bulls that liked to chase us around all the time. Anyhow, in all of my days I've never ran into one of these, at least, I can't remember having done so. My wife, Brandi, was with me and she spotted him. She kind of freaked out and wanted me to kill him. I went with my own choice to get out and get up close and personal. I have a full frame shot of him, but I like this close up shot because it really shows how pretty he is. Or she. We don't have to be sexist or something.
This little guy is a Timber/Branded/Canebreak Rattlesnake. As a kid I would walk these woods and catch snakes and play with them. Yeah, I was that kid. I had no general fear of animals except for maybe my grandfather’s old bulls that liked to chase us around. In all of my days I’ve never ran into one of these, at least, I can’t remember having done so. My wife, Brandi, was with me and she spotted him. She kind of freaked out and wanted me to kill him. I went with my own choice to get out and get up close and personal. I have a full frame shot of him, but I like this close up shot because it really shows how pretty he is. Or she. We don’t have to be sexist or something.  Oh, and one other thing – if you are returning to your flooded property, keep an eye out for these.

Continue reading As The Flood Recedes

A Community In Turmoil?

Part 1Part 2Part 3 – Part 4

The waters are still high and now Evans, Louisiana is dealing with it’s record flooding.  Merryville, Louisiana is getting it as well and towns south of here, such as Deweyville are also going to experience them.  The governor is taking flight over the affected area and many people are trying to figure out their next steps.  I spoke with some of my uncles, aunts, cousins and friends and they are lost, but they are not stopping.  People are helping out at what I believe to be a record rate of participation.  In fact, the help has seemingly outpaced the need in some aspects as the hubs of assistance in Evans and Burr Ferry are practically begging for people to come get clothes and food.  They need some things like underwear and other necessities, but I visited the Evans Youth Center yesterday and they looked rather flush with supplies.  It was a good sight to see.

This article’s title is “A Community In Turmoil?” because the interrogative meaning really lends to the idea – is the community truly in turmoil, or have we come together so tightly, that we have already begun to bounce back?

The hard work is not here yet, but at this rate, we should be able to transition strongly into revival.

As always, click images to get the bigger, more pretty versions.

Me and my nephew, Bowen, went back into the neighborhood to see how far the water had receded. This is the view of Lynn Nash Road. Muddy and completely submerged. The water is swift and dangerous and falling as the Sabine River Authority steadily lowers the flood gates. The water in this photo is still at a record height.
Me and my nephew, Bowen, went back into the neighborhood to see how far the water had receded. This is the view of Lynn Nash Road. Muddy and completely submerged. The water is swift and dangerous and falling as the Sabine River Authority steadily lowers the flood gates. The water in this photo is still at a record height.

Continue reading A Community In Turmoil?

Washing Away My Childhood

Part 1Part 2Part 3 – Part 4

These last few days have been mired in disappointment and anger as my hometown has experienced the worst flooding it has ever received.  Part of this event involved driving a boat up to my parent’s house, the home that my father built himself and completed when I was born.  This house is 34 years old and my family and friends have built many memories running around the land my parents essentially transformed from a swamp to a high patch of dry land that was the envy of many people.

Today I saw that die.  Today I saw a piece of my dad go.  I saw my mother shattered.  My sister stayed strong and it was all I could do to console my father as he reassured me that “everything is gone, it’s all gone.”  The emotion from seeing this was only strengthened when my mother echoed the very same sentiment.  My parents got their clothes and managed to save a few of their vehicles, two boats, and some ATVs.  They got a few suits of clothes and my dad’s guns.  All of the pictures and sentimental objects were tossed on the bed because that worked in the flood of 1999, where the water was into my childhood home up to around 10-12 inches.

Today we learned that this trick was ineffective.  My parents made it out with more than many of those friends and families through Burr Ferry and Evans.  Some people were left with the clothes on their back and a bank account.  Some of them don’t have a place to stay, so they are getting “discounts” at hotels for the night.  This flood has been exponentially more shattering for my hometown than any previous event.  Previous floods, hurricanes, tornadoes – everything.

Below is a photo album that I have created to share with Facebook.  I chose to use my own web page because I am more comfortable sharing my thoughts with each image, and it gives me a chance to really talk about each photo my way.

The photos you are about to see are more than just photographs.  They are a marker of my life.  I am approaching middle age and my parents, who are in the dawn of their (forced) retirement, have essentially been dealt a terrible blow.  One that has essentially shaken their foundation.

These photos are the evidence of my history coming to a shuddering close.  There are no photos anymore.  There are no birthday cards my mom saved and no scrapbooks.  There are no old baby clothes and baby shoes.  There are no wall photos and no more mounted deer heads celebrating my father’s accomplishments as a hunter, nor is there an 11 lbs bass mounted on the wall.

What do we have now?

Click the images for high res versions that look better.

flood march 2016 157
This little guy, or should I say, big guy, was about 15 feet up in a tree and he looked miserable. We wanted to get him down, but if you know anything about wild raccoon, they are a little ornery. By a little ornery, I mean they will try to murder you, starting with your face. My cousin, Harvey, said “Yeah, we could get him, but he would probably be ungrateful.” I hope he makes it. He was asleep. This was taken while we were returning to the boat trailer on what we river rats called the Wing Road.

 

Continue reading Washing Away My Childhood