Archive for December, 2011

Gabriel Miller – The Missing Moonbeam -2011

Moonbeam - photo Chris Ritchey

A spark , a flare and then the purest of light entered this world that August day. Happiness, love and hope surrounded a little boy. His entrance into the world brought with him a fierce desire for his mummy and daddy to fight for his life no matter what. He was their moon beam.

A moon beam- a pale silvery light reflected from the sun that brightness our darkest nights bringing comfort to those that shiver at the enveloping night sky. A moonbeam tells us there is a tomorrow as it carries its message of warmth from its mother the sun.

As this year passes once more it is a reminder there is a missing moonbeam, whose silvery light is lost to our world but the spark that flared into a flame of love brighter than any ray of the sun continues to burn in the hearts of those that loved their moon beam and basked in the light of his smile.

Gabriel Miller- December 31st 2009

December 31, 2011 at 4:40 am 4 comments

Chase Ritenauer – The peasants plea- Sir Knight what will you be ?

art work Scott Bakalar WoM

Fanfare blares through the night ringing across the land heralding the arrival as the “knight in shining armour” -we are all looking for in this damsel of a distressed city- rides in on a wave of hope!

We want you to save us ( possibly from ourselves)”

We want to be proud to hold our heads up

We want jobs, safe streets, good schools, honesty, transparency, chivalry, communication, no playing the game of the snuffleuffagus of suck-ups and integrity- NO MORE POLITICS AS USUAL”

Chasing a Dream; Ritenauer takes oath of office (with videos)

Ritenauer: ‘I’m ready for ‘tough decisions’ (with video)


The peasants cry and cheer a new beginning- a new year but always at the back of the mind “the age old fear”

Oh! please don’t let our wonderous knight in shining armour turn into just another tin man……….

ED NOTE: There is a lot riding on this noble steed- and although the rear end of a horse serves a very important function in its existence , we would rather be associated with the opposite end….. just a heads up from “that woman” aka the “witch riding dragon who waits” to breathe fire on those that pontificate and negate the trust placed in them!

December 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm 20 comments

The Fish that soared- and the name is “Dirt” -A Chris Miss ” tail” continues

DR. Who Christmas "Crackers" BBC

Times have changed traditions from our English Christmas held in this house.

There wasn’t a Christmas Pudding – always Christopher’s job to light it every year- no real tree with needles dropping everywhere, also a Christopher “has to be” – no all red paper gifts from Santa Claus- but we still had (thanks to my mum) mince pies, chocolate logs , Quality Street candy and egg nogg with brandy. People were missing- one -not by choice and others by their own volition and selfishness .

We still pulled the Christmas Crackers as we sat down to Christmas eve supper-Gavin realized at Thanksgiving he could make adults look like real “charlies” in their paper hats whilst remaining sophisticated ( by not putting his on) and insisting we all did. He also realized there were little presents in the crackers which he duly collected as payment for being on the other end of the “pull”

The table was set and the ooohs and ahs as usual – However this year a new tradition possibly 🙂

You have to drop them in the pot head first to be kind….. Jim!!!! that is HEAD first, Dad ??????????….did it scream??? “who was that one – was that Sue , Tim or Ken” – how do you know if they are girls or boys? Jim stop making them angry– it will pinch you – I can’t bear to look .. I know which one “I” want to drop into the pot where is she???

Sweet little Nana informed us

Oh! you have to make them angry it makes the meat sweeter. Which one is the Divis…. is that the big one?I bags the big one

Gavin was more interested in the croissants.

After supper Gavin and I went to the playroom whilst the rest put together his new bedroom, with Lightening McQueen, a fire house bookcase and nightstand and a tool box cupboard…… all the time wondering how he would react.

Personally I was concerned about the “Fish” which was bigger than he was. The fish was hiding in the laundry room.

First though another tradition Gavin now has taken over the job of handing out the presents and Nana was his first customer of the evening- only she wasn’t fast enough for his liking

The time had come and No! it didn’t quite work out as planned the “fish floated” and performed well- there was more trepidation than excitement at this “ brilliant idea of Nag Nog’s’ – instead of following the fish plans changed to let us hide from the fish as we dashed ( well he did I was still peg legging it) up the stairs-

Let us hide in here !
The joy of Christmas was found on a little boy’s face as he dove headlong onto his new bed. Oh! Oh! the Fish is coming

Hide! Hide

It’s found the bed!!

The evening wore on, there was laughter, smiles and cuddles and as I received my Chris Miss present – the candles Chris always gave me – there were tears choked back but the joy of a child , cheeks flushed with excitement as he got ready for bed helped like no brandy egg nog could ever accomplish.

ED NOTE! I should tell you that the “bestus thing” in the whole of Gavin’s world is DIRT- he loves it loves playing in it with his favouritess / bestus things- “diggers” ( bulldozers and backhoes to you and me) . Therefore, I have to announce that boy or girl Gavin has decided the new baby”s name is DIRT- and he decided that from now on he would sleep in the new room and DIRT could have his old one– hmmmmmmmmmm

and yes Santa came and a “Digger” was dropped down the chimney with care

Christmas night the cousins and brothers and sisters , nieces and nephews all arrived and crackers were pulled and once more children were center stage as Christmas drew to a close……

And I left the mayhem of Christmas joy in my daughter’s home to return to my own home I remembered another little boy who loved Christmas ………. and is so missed- my Chris Miss…..

December 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm 4 comments

THE FISH THAT “SOARED” – well kind of -The CHRIS MISS – Present

Note to self – stop getting brilliant ideas in your numbed brain state–

I have not missed the self -imposed stress of Christmas’s past. There has been something freeing about not decking the halls, hauling out the holly and trying to find the perfect gift and the perfect Christmas dinner.

Although in at least one room – Nana’s new living room at the top of the house- a little tree winks and blinks at the night outside the window. In fact we are referring to it as Santa’s grotto.

Not all the animated Santa’s are out this year ( apparently some are still locked in an attic cupboard at the ” Kenny’s I just want to be happy house” . I missed some of them when moving her out. We would have had to downsize animated Santa’s anyway.

My focus once again this year was finding the “Chris Miss” present for Gavin.

After spending time watching “Cars” and Gavin’s fascination with “Lightening McQueen” and a new baby going to need a crib in a few weeks –

Aha! thought I I have the solution!!!

However, how to get it under the tree- not possible- so how to get an excited two-year and a half-year old to where “Lightening McQueen” would be “parked”. Instead of following the bouncing ball how about following the “flying fish”-

Note to self “Good call Nag Nog (NOT) but at least you didn’t get the shark”

I didn’t take in as I watched a video on-line just how big this “clown fish ” would be. The idea was to have him float in and up the stairs to the room.
on Christmas Eve and we would all follow.

Hey if Santa can come down chimneys in the middle of the night with a flying sled and reindeer then flying fish should be acceptable.

The night before the night before Christmas found Nana, Pooh Bah, and me trying to work out the instructions

“I thought you said it was just a balloon with a remote what are all these parts” –

“what does hook here mean – what a these little bits and where do they go – hold the damned thing still will you !

First step blow up the fish with the helium tank- also purchased for the purpose.

Now where do you put the nozzel- no not there!!!! if I let go will it go phhhhhhhhhhhttttttttttttt


No! apparently it is self sealing

OH! OH! that means we can’t let it down once it is up! and as the damned thing flew up to the ceiling with nothing to grab – I bounced around the couch – there went the knee again trying to catch hold of something as slippery as well a “fish” without wrecking it…. whilst Tetley and Misty were barking at the foolishness of adults

It took us three hours, 5 mince-pie tarts, two large glasses of brandy egg-nog and a whole lot of swearing but finally the fish was ready- only we weren’t ready for the fish……it was huge-

Some balloon

said Nana as she cowered on the couch as it menacingly made its way across to her ( sans remote)

it is like the bloody Hindenburg-

Misty and Tetley unsure if they were supposed to attack the intruder or run decided on the latter.

It needs a weight where is the weight- oh wait it must be this putty stuff- where do I put it –

a very disgruntled husband announced he knew where I could put it…….

As he/she fish finally came together I realized that somehow I was going to have to get this fish in the car for the following day- and another OH! OH!…… since the Amherst Giant Eagle’s lobster tank was out of order it meant a trip to Elyria to pick up the 6 live lobsters to be sacrificed for Christmas Eve dinner with Nikki Jim and Gavin.

Somehow flying fish, presents , my husband and Nana would have to make the trip the next afternoon in the one car . And he/she would have to be hidden from Gavin until, the big unveiling. After a cramped haul to Elyria ( grumbling all around with fish and food and presents I ran in ( well limped and hobbled more like) to the seafood dept to pick up the lobsters.

As I stood in line to pay surrounded by fellow “stressed out shoppers” a chap remarked -his utter disdain and disbelief for what I was going to do to the lobsters evident in his tone.

Are you going to “boil them” on Christmas Eve??????

( it should be noted his cart held ham and a turkey ).

I turned , my knee wrecked again – thinking of the problems of the “flying fish and hypocrisy” and in my best British said

” Of course Sir -but not before naming them after all the people I find disdainful this Christmas


” Ah! goodwill toward men ‘ eh what”- Did you go into the Ritchey pot this year? 🙂

to be continued……….

December 26, 2011 at 5:14 pm 12 comments

A CHRIS- MISS – Wish —— 2011——- Chris Ritchey

As I type this post, once again the snow is gently falling, not huge puffy flakes but more like frozen tears that are covering the stark barren ground with a softness, covering the hardness of what is the reality. It is that time of year again when those who are happy and optimistic rush through the shopping, wrapping, giving , cooking, lighting ,childlike excitement in their step. I remember so well those days and I am not alone this season “missing them”- The ghost of Christmas past still lingers beckoning as the frozen tears of a wintery morning fall and the spectre of the Christmas that should’ve been is lost .

My CHRIS MISS wish this year is FREEDOM

Freedom from “people of self” who cause one pain and angst

Freedom from the selfishness of those who do because they can

Freedom to BE

Freedom to laugh, to cry

Freedom to leave the “societal pigeon hole”

Freedom to choose

Freedom to speak ones mind and opinion without fear of retribution

For those that grieve , this time of year is particularly painful, we walk among you trying not to interfere with your celebrations- we smile nod accept your greetings -all the while hand in hand with another spectre whose tears dampen down the fires of cheer . To those that walk with me I wish you most of all strength and companionship of those that truly care and understand.

But most of all I wish you all the joy and anticipation that can be found in the excitement of a small child as they wait under the tree in Santa pajamas……….

December 23, 2011 at 12:07 am 8 comments

Guest Blog- The Sorcerer’s Apprentice- SPORTS FUN(ding) cha ching

Other posts by the Sorcerer’s Apprentice

ED NOTE TW : Lorain Board of Education Consent to Football

Click on image to enlarge

“The boys of Lorain high school may play football. They may buck and tug and roll each other in the mud till their necks are dislocated, their joints sprained their muscles torn and wrenched and their bodies bruised up to their best friends will not know them – but there’s the rub- if their parents say so”

Here we go again, the last part of this tour through The Morning Journal article on Dec. 15, 2011.

Before I start let me share that I believe that athletics, clubs and the arts play a part in a well rounded education. The opportunity should be available to all students. With that said, let me say that fiscal responsibility means that you cannot exclude any program without at least considering how to make it self sufficient. No individual athletic program should be excluded from examination, some are not more important than others. All athletic offerings are important to someone. I know speaking out about sports will bring down the roof, but we need to look at EVERYTHING.


“Certain programs are not currently being considered for cutbacks. These include major activities like football, marching band and theater. Also safe are new Beginnings and Credit Recovery which help students with special problems to overcome their difficulties; the marketing department and TV 20.”

So, football, marching band and theater are not going to be cut. OK, fine! How about going with the dreaded pay to participate?

Other districts have done it over the short term, why can’t we? Please, don’t tell me that our city’s economy poverty level precludes us from going this route. There is enough money being thrown after lottery tickets, cigarettes and alcohol to make sure that a student can participate. The booster groups raise lots of money to support those activities (I know, I helped raise funds for band uniforms and trips and athletics, so I know it can be done.) If you feel that those activities are important to your students overall educational experience, then you will find a way to make it happen. That’s what parents do!

We also need to re-examine the supplemental payments associated with these “included” activities. If you go back to the Board agenda of Dec. 14, 2011, you will find a lot of additional money being used to supplement music program directors. The supplemental payments for football are on much earlier agendas and I am sure they are MORE than what is being paid for music and theater.

If the powers that be would take the amount of money being paid as a supplemental to the “coach” and divide it by the number of participants, I’m sure that the cost would not be that prohibitive. (Nothing is prohibitive if you want it for your child. It’s a matter of setting priorities, deciding what is important.)

*e.g.: The supplemental payment for high school wrestling coaches is $18,484.06. {As per the agenda of Dec. 14, 2011} Let’s say we have 30 students on the team, that’s 616.13 per student. NOW, how important is wrestling for these students? How many will be going on to college or Olympic wrestling? Is this a good expenditure? How badly do parents want this program to support it and make it viable?

*e.g.: Girls Basketball Coach at the middle school – $2662.96. Let’s say 15 girls on the team, that’s $177 per student. Again how important is this to the student and the parent?

*e.g.: A coach gets $2662.96 while a special education supplemental payment to a teacher is $496.94. What kind of message does that send? Appears sports are more important than education in the classroom


*e.g.: Jazz Band Director High School- $2,193.02. Let’s say there are about 35 students in the Jazz band that would be about $62.65 per student. Again, how important is this activity to the parents and students involved?
(including a music supplemental just so I don’t look like I’m picking on just sports)

I have heard that if we withdraw from the “conference” we will be financially penalized, we need to look at other options. OK, so we don’t leave, just find a better way to fund the activity. We already know that booster clubs raise a lot of funds to supplement the teams, its time for everyone to take a look at helping student athletes be just that, student athletes (emphasis mine). Saying that sports lead to college scholarships is true, but academic achievement leads to scholarships also. (Again, I speak from personal experience!) The athletics may get you noticed, but if you can’t do the academic work, you aren’t going to make it.

As per The Morning Journal:

“Lorain Schools Athletic Director Bryan Koury indicated the schools would have football, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, baseball, softball and track. But bowling, swimming, golf, tennis, cheerleading, cross country and soccer could be removed, pending board approval.”

QUESTION? Tell me the cost factor for each listed sport, including coach’s supplemental payments, uniforms, equipment, and maintenance of the fields, tracks and gymnasiums. How much does each cost? We have seen above what the cost is for some of these just in coach supplemental payment, but it is time for the school district to put out ALL the information.

Stop trying to blackmail us with sports. That was tried in the early 90’s and it started to student loss scenario we are still dealing with today. Why are the listed programs so much more important than the others?

OMG, you are going to have football without cheerleaders!?! How could you!!!

Was not aware we had a swimming program! If so, there must be a lot of expense involved for no Y pool, school pool, or public pool locally so they can participate and practice. Where do they practice? (Is that why they wanted the new high school by the river, a place to practice among the boats? Free water?) Where do they compete? When my brother wanted to swim competitively, my parents found a program, transported him to practices, meets and whatever else was required. There was no “school” program. He wanted it and his parents provided. . (Note: he “swam” with other school employees/administrators children, all funded by the PARENTS.)

Let’s look at everything and do the best with what we have. The last place we can afford to reduce costs is in the classroom. Working to improve overall test results of academics has to be a priority. Cutting instructional staff, cutting education is not the answer to any of the problems facing OUR district and students.

Please remember we are here to give our children/students the very best education they can get so they can be prepared to step forward and face the future with the necessary skills.


December 20, 2011 at 10:57 pm 14 comments

Sorcerer’s Apprentice- Morning Journal and Lorain City Schools

Other posts by the Socerer’s Apprentice
Let’s continue our magical tour through the Lorain City Schools. We will now examine the article that appeared in The Morning Journal on Dec. 15, 2011.

Please keep in mind that this information was given to the public from our local news source, so we have to accept what they are sharing. After all, with the open communication from the current Board of Education, we should feel confident that the information given is in fact what we need to know. Also, this trip will have to be in two parts, A and B, since there is so much to look into.

The Morning Journal reports that

“Facing a $12 million deficit . . . options include borrowing $6million from the ODE, plus cutting an additional $6 million in spending.”

AH, finally a voice of reason says that we need to balance our expenditures with our income. Good thinking. BUT, why in the world would your first thought be to BORROW monies that need to be paid back with interest? BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO CHOICE! It’s gotten so far out of hand that this option is probably the most viable. ALSO, remember that the district will need additional income in order to re-pay this “loan”. NOW, maybe they could negotiate with the ODE and have them give us a credit for all the “unfunded” mandates the ODE has made all the Ohio districts comply with and fund for the last, oh let’s say 15 years. Wonder how much credit we could get from that? Probably enough to reduce some of that $6 million we have to “borrow”.


Also, the same Morning Journal article:

“After making $1.5 million in cuts in October, the school district still has a $10.5 million deficit to address.”

Sooooooooo, we only have to cut another 4.5 million to reach the 6 million we need to borrow. I know where to get 250K; suspend those supplemental payments that were given out on Dec. 14, 2011. Now we are down to 4.25 million to cut.


“Certain programs are not currently being considered for cutbacks. These include . . . the marketing department and TV 20.”

QUESTION? What does the “marketing department” do for the school district?
Do they sell us to prospective residents to bring in more students?
Do they give the news outlets/media information regarding the school district?
Exactly what do they do and how much does it cost?

Most “marketers” (not mouseketeers) sell something. Most news outlets in this area come to us for information, public records and all that. We as a district provide information regarding agendas and other matters to the media. Do we need to have a marketing department? Mr. Bock and TV20 do a great job providing video coverage of many activities for our district, what does the marketing department do?

When transportation of high school students is mentioned, there is such an outcry.

First the public must be made aware that there is NO requirement in a city like Lorain to transport regular high school students exists, it is a courtesy and an extra “service”. This is part of the State of Ohio guidelines.

The hue and cry is that it is too far for students on the south side and the east side to get to the high school. Well folks, when Lorain only had one high school located at 6th and Washington Avenue, all students went to that school. It did not matter where in the city you lived, that is where you went. Granted there was a public transportation system in place, but parents made sure their students got to school, and to use public transportation the cost was on the parents/family. Many, many walked. (Good for them physically and good for the environment.)

In the 60’s when we had 2 public high schools, (of course there was also a public transit system which was paid for by parents/families) students got to their respective buildings and parents made sure of it. {By the way, there were more high school students then than now.} Students will get to school if they are encouraged and/or made to attend. Simple as that! Parents need to step up and get their students to school.In times of economic distress, budgets need to be trimmed:

–The BOE (see agenda Dec. 14, 2011) suspended some teaching and support staff contracts to take reduction action. That was their “right”.

Now, why don’t we do something about reducing the cost of supplemental payments? (that’s part of a “contract”)
Why can’t some sort of fiscal plan include an ACROSS THE BOARD pay reduction? (Business does it all the time AND our schools are a business.) That way EVERYONE takes part of the “hit”; shares the “burden” as well as a part of the solution. Makes us all partners in education. If let’s say hypothetically, there was a 10% across the board reduction in pay, how much would that save? Something I’m sure.

–I know you don’t want to hear about days gone by and the good old days, BUT, what happened to teachers sponsoring clubs without extra pay? What happened to directors directing without extra pay to showcase their students skills? Why do we need an All City choreographer for a presentation? Please, someone tell me!

–Could we not “suspend” contract language for the administrators that are getting an “extra” annuity to cover their contribution to retirement? How much would that save?

These “thoughts” deserve a look, also answers. The district wants input, so here’s some. What do you think you should do with it? Maybe these questions will help all of us get a clearer picture of what is happening. Please don’t expect us to sit by and do nothing or accept only what you have to give us. There are so many sides to this issue, let us be a part. Let’s communicate openly and honestly, not one-sidedly.

Education is one of the greatest gifts we give our children. Let’s not short change them again.

To be continued …………….

December 19, 2011 at 12:24 am 17 comments

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