Saturday, December 31, 2016

It's Been a Year, 2016...But So Long. I'm Ready for 2017

It's the last day of the year, and in the tradition of blogging since 2008, I'm getting ready to move to a new theme (oh, Crazy Crandall). It took me a while to get the montage uploaded, although I used my L O N G day at the Subaru dealership wisely to put together the year in review.

In summary, I can say that 2016 was captivating (as the video above highlights). Most memorable from the last 365 days have been,
  • traveling to Texas for the New Pathways work with the National Writing Project,
  • several more rounds of Writing Our Lives conferences,
  • visiting the City of Louisville with Chitunga,
  • receiving the 2016 Martin Luther King Faculty Award,
  • receiving the 2016 Fairfield University President's Vision Award for Service and Community Engagement,
  • hosting Easter AND Thanksgiving at my house,
  • another round of Young Adult Literacy Labs, including Ubuntu Academy,
  • the collaborative work with Rick Shaefer and the Fairfield University Art Museum,
  • time spent with family and friends,
  • presenting at the National Writing Project Annual Meeting, National Council of Teachers of English, and Literacy Research Association,
  • seeing more of my thinking, engagement, research, and practice in publication,
  • settling down a bit more on Mt. Pleasant, and
  • wearing down a few more pairs of sneakers.
I'm unsure what 2017 has in store for me (or for any of us, for that matter), but am looking forward to more of the adventure. This has definitely been a year of UBUNTU, and since adopting the philosophy, I can honestly say the world has captivated me a little more. 

Here's to the days that just were, and the many more still to come. I wish you the greatest New Year's ever and hope to start capturing my thoughts for the 10th year (wow, ten years of maintaining a blog...unbelievable). But for now, we're moving ahead in all the craziness.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Hanging Ubuntu on Mt. Pleasant @Hoops4HopeSA

Sometime after moving to Connecticut, while Abu, Lossine, and Rhiannon were visiting for the Writing Our Lives-Bridgeport conference with Kwame Alexander and my cousin, Mark, we went to the boardwalk at Walnut Beach in Milford, and snapped a photograph of our wrists bedazzled by Soccer4Hope and Hoops4Hope bracelets.

I've used this photo as a screensaver on my IPhone and IPad, and wondered why my older sister had it in her photo album on her phone. Christmas night, I learned exactly why. She had the photograph blown up on canvas and now it hangs, portrait style, as we're coming down the stairs. This was a phenomenal gift that I wasn't expected.

Now that I am reflecting on 2016, four years from when this photograph was taken, I can see how much the Ubuntu philosophy, one of Hoops4Hope's Skills4Life, has directly influenced my personal and professional life. My home, I hope, will continue to embrace togetherness in 2017 and highlight the importance of community when advocating literacies for young people and supporting the teachers that work with them.

Actually, the photo here is hung low, and I ended up lifting it a bit so it was more eye level as I take my first steps into the world every morning (that is, steps directly to the coffee pot).

Yesterday was a rainy, cold, and miserable day, but I got back to the gym, found time to do laundry, and started to organize for my end of the year, beginning of another, rituals.

I know that looking at Cynde's gift will start my day with a smile. It is a memory, but it also is a metaphor for the work I've loved doing in Connecticut, and hope to continue to do wherever I go.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Good-Bye Central New York. Our Time Together is Always Too Short

We managed a North Syracuse Clam Bar experience before we headed out to Connecticut....the day before we departed. So great, as always, to see the hanging fish and wildlife at our favorite eating joint before having to return to the hustle and bustle of our lives in the Nutmeg State. Of course, Chitunga only has three more weeks of work with SP+ and then he heads to LeMoyne College in Syracuse, and then I'll be down by the Long Island Sound with Glamis the Wonder Dog, and everyone else will be in the CNY Area. That is the way life wonderfully goes.

The drive home yesterday was quick, until we hit Danbury and then it was dead traffic (imagine that). We got off at a Brookfield exit and it was still slow traffic. Nothing was moving, but we eventually got to our Stratford location.

Tonga immediately went to tackle his room and I decided to pull a Cynde and put all the holiday items away. I left the lights, though. I want the autistic pleasure of seeing the glimmer for a few more days, especially as I head back to work mode.

Glamis has decided that all she wants to do is sleep. We went for a long walk where she approached every passing by dog as if it was Max, Bella, and Dixie. Then she slept some more. We semi-stocked up on groceries, but my mind was on one more night of relaxation with a Louisville game (as difficult as it was to watch).

Any snow that was here when we left is no longer evident. It's green and dry here, unlike the Syracuse we departed with a slight hint of lake-effect snow.

And so, I depart this post with a shout-out to how great my parents (and Chitunga) looked while ordering at the Clam Bar.

Onward, I go.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Day of Cynderballz, 2016. At Home With Mimi Sue Composing

Today is Cynde Ann's 47th birthday and, sadly, Chitunga and I had to hit the road as soon as we got up (weather and vomit/stomach issues permitted - we don't have the bug, but it's going around).

So, here, I get the opportunity to retell the birth of Cynde (via my mom) while we sit watching This Is Us. It's not us, but it's them, and this post, is actually us. They don't own us, but they own them. The Man-ny. We, however, own us, and Cynde Ann Isgar is Us (although she was once an Isgar)

The year was 1969. Butch and Sue were in Hamilton for Christmas, and Butch insisted on heading home to Chadwicks, because that is Butch's nature. By the time they hit Waterville, it was a tunnel of snow and there was no other traffic. Somehow, by the grace of the Great Whatever, they made it to the apartment where they were completely snowed in for three days: 25th, 26th, and 27th. The fire department was contacted in case Sudy went into labor, and if that was the scenario to be, she'd be carried by snowmobile to the hospital (this is the part Cynde, Bryan and Casey love to imagine -- our mom on a snowmobile giving birth to the olden Crandall). 

Cynde was not due until January 5th, but on December 28th, the sun came out and it finally stopped snowing. This, of course, triggered Cynderballz to want to exit my mother much sooner and to bring the first child and oldest daughter to Butch. By that time, Butch was able to drive, but he was so nervous he passed the entrance to the hospital. It was the first pregnancy and Sue remembers navy blue pants and they were literally falling off of her....she had to do everything in her power to hold them up). 

Then, Cynderballz was born at 9:29 in St. Luke's in New Hartford. Since her birth, Sue reflected on much but remembers the following as her top Cynderballz moments;
  • The years of marching band and color guard, especially the championship years; the George M. Cohen year being a favorite, 
  • 45 years later, Sue and Cynderballz traveled with Mike to see Nikki perform with David Byrnes in NYC through Contemporary Colors (even riding the subways into Brooklyn),
  • There were days of babysitting precocious Nikki and her constant need to be the center of attention, and the other days of running from Dylan's vicious, fire-breathing dinosaur attacks when they were toddlers, 
  • (for Bryan, he remembers Cynderballz coming home from the bars drunk as a skunk, and singing "I feel pretty" from the West Side Story while walking on the edge of her waterbed), 
  • (for Chitunga, he recalls the fact that the amount of information Cynderballz shares is directly correlated with the number of glasses of wine she drinks - there's a correlation there somewhere)
  • (for Glamis, she just loves Cynderballz's dog-loving house)
  • (for Casey, it is likely the trivia that when a woman shaves, it isn't only to be the front of the legs, but the backs, too)
  • (for Butch, he simply remembers holding his first born in his arms and looking into her eyes - no one memory, he said, compares to holding his first daughter in his arms)
December 28th...three days after Christmas every's the day of Cynde and we love the ritual every year. We could do half-year celebrations, but that would invade on Mike and Nikki territory, so we do a birthday in December, before the New Year, just about when everyone is sick of one another.

And for that we are thankful.
Happy Birthday, Cynderballz! 
We love you, and hope you have a spectacular day. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Got My Two Movies in For 2016. Until Next Year.

And with the CNY continued traditions, the day after Christmas, I ventured off to an actual movie theater to see a real, live movie. I know. I know. On Christmas I watched Deadpool with Mike and Chitunga, and yesterday, Casey, Dave and I took Dylan, Chitunga, Shaun, Jacob, Abu and Mustapha to see Rogue I.

I got my fix in (and my Chase bank account is glad I don't do that more often).

Great film. Worth the hype. Well, I didn't know there was hype, but when I saw the trailer I was rather "meh" about seeing it. I'm glad I did, though - it was far superior than I expected and I felt like a kid again. It's awesome the way the story lines criss cross and lead into the later stories. Of course, we have to love that the effects are better now than they were back in the day. Totally believable.

Now, I can't wait for the next movie to come out (this is what happens when the Lord of the Rings and  Harry Potter series ended. It was pretty dry until they picked up on Star Wars and now I have a reason to geek out again.

Ah, but we lost an entire day. We started at 1:40, but they oversold the show so we didn't get good seats and demanded an exchange for a later showing, which turned into the 3D version (which is stupid because nothing was in in 3D).

But I'm a happy boy again - like childhood happy when my mom made me an R2D2 lamp for my room. I told Dylan, this is the 3rd time they've brought these movies out and I can't remember if I am 8 years old or in my 40s. Just keep the joy coming.

And with that, it's time to set out for a Tuesday.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Sarcasm, Superheroes, Football, and Bro-in-Law Mike

It is a ritual to bring a finale to the Christmas hoopla by stopping by Cynde and Mike's a allowing them (without little resistance) to watch a movie with them. This year, Chitunga and I sat down to watch Deadpool and, well, I have to admit Mike never ceases to amaze me.

RIP - George Michael. You provided most of the soundtrack, and I guess that was appropriate for the evening's movie. Dead at 53. Geez!

I didn't know what the film was about, nor that it would be as violent as it was, but the wit and stupidity of the counter villain (with a streak of mischief in his action) was in the tradition of unwinding one last time before the stress of the real world, the post-holiday life, bears its ugly head once more.

Ah, the heart. Christmas Day was once again a heart-filled event: breakfast at Casey and Dave's, reuniting with the twins, playing with the nephews, and heating up leftovers on Pinegrove in the evening to follow-up with a movie where the Isgars fall asleep, and I am simply entertained.

Dogs are pooped. Folks are pooped. Everyone is pooped.

Yep, it was the holidays and I'm very thankful that the CNY tradition continues (man, it's the 44th year and I'd have it no other way).

Now it's Monday and we'll see how to spend the last couple of days. Such a blessing to have time with the family.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas, 2016! Enjoy Time With Friends and Family.

To our house, to yours, have yourself a very merry Christmas. Enjoy time with those you love and appreciate. Keep the company close to your heart and remember the joy that goes hand in hand with the season.

Tomorrow begins another day, but for today, simply find time to love those you love most.