Madeleine DeAndreis-Ayres

Jefferson Journal Contributor

Madeleine DeAndreis-Ayres was born in Eureka, California into a large family that ate a lot of Rice Krispies and listened to George Carlin and Tom Leher albums while getting dressed for school. She attended Eureka High where, as the editor of the Redwood Bark she started writing for an audience, a passion that has continued throughout her life. She comes from a long line of teachers and chose that profession after attending College of the Siskiyous, Dominican College and Chapman College, earning a teaching credential in English and Music. She started playing flute in 4th grade and continues playing in bands and with her husband Jim, an excellent guitarist who is also father to their three children Henry, Sally and Mae, fine upstanding citizens in their own communities. She recently retired from teaching in Scott Valley and is confident she will find things to do.

Along with the national debt in the USA soaring to 22 trillion dollars, student loan debt in this country is 1.3 trillion. Come on, that can’t be right. Well, it says so on the Google, so I’m trusting it to be fairly accurate. Lots of links confirm that debt is how this country does business.

When I was in high school, we “kidnapped” the Spanish teacher’s favorite stool and sent him ransom notes stipulating terms for its safe return. This was during the Patty Hearst era—which isn’t funny, I know—but we had a great time cutting out letters from magazines and leaving the cleverly written ransom notes in his teacher’s box in the office. We dressed the stool in a wig and dark glasses and took pictures which we included in the notes.

My sister and I fought nearly every day for the first twenty years of our lives. She is thirteen months older than I and could land both a physical and verbal punch better than a Muhammad Ali. 

I gave as good as I got but I could never match her ability to flatten me with a well-placed left hook or an ironic barb worthy of George Carlin.

Ok, I get it. I'm not 25 or 40 anymore and have no business teaching the Irish Jig to high school students. Oh I can “teach” the jig, I just shouldn't probably “do” the jig. I have written before about brain age vs. ligament age; how if you haven't played kick ball in 45 years, you should consult with your doctor and/or undertaker before getting out on the field and playing like you did in '68, but sometimes I don't listen to my own advice. Like most of us.

Shortly after the election, my friend Kevin sent me an article from the Huffington Post by John Trowbridge, a comedy writer who took on the topic of the 3D world versus the 2D world of what I’ve come to call “clackers.” A “clacker” is any device the user clicks or clacks with, like this keyboard I’m using to write these words. 

My Camino

Jun 29, 2016

I learned an important thing last summer. Everyone walks their own Camino.

Daughter Mae has been living and working in Prague, Czech Republic for the past two years. She’s been teaching English and, in my view, attending a kind of finishing school.  It wasn’t an easy transition, but she figured out housing, transportation and work in a foreign country, all on her own. See what I mean about “finishing school?”

U.S. War Dogs Association

Next month we celebrate Veteran’s Day. We honor those men and women who have served the United States and remember their sacrifice and service. So much has been written about famous veterans like Jimmy Stewart, Kurt Vonnegut, Presidents Kennedy and GHW Bush but few realize that many thousands of “man’s best friend” are also war heroes.

Another school year whizzed by. Children are thrilled with thoughts of endless summer and their counterparts in education, teachers, are cleaning up their rooms so they won’t return to a disaster in the short months until school resumes in the fall. For new teachers time still runs relatively slowly, but the older-timers know time speeds up as you age. It’s a fact.  

Oh look, only twelve minutes left of the Christmas shopping season. If you are like me, still staring at your hands when you should be out buying a gift for someone on your list (my list is called a “hit list” —that gives you an idea of how I view the whole gift giving process), you tell yourself you have plenty of time to find other things to do instead of shop. Our kids are older, so the pressure to have a million presents under the tree, each holding the possibility of a pony, is somewhat lessened. Oh they still want presents but what those might be, I don’t really want to know.

Eric Teel/JPR

On Monday morning, September 15, 2014, Siskiyou County was buffeted by battering winds. In Fort Jones, west of Yreka, I felt like Dorothy in Kansas as I tried to scatter feed to the chickens. I thought wind like this will start something, and hoped we would get to the end of the day with no new fires. Fire season was still raging with many county fires still going, even after the previous week’s much needed rain. Later I got a call from a friend who had heard that Weed was on fire.

A difficult thing about becoming a woman “of a certain age” is that, while your driver’s license attests to the fact you are said woman “of a certain age” often your sense of self is still in 4th grade.

It’s the month where we commemorate love and romance with its very own day, February 14th, Valentine’s Day. Love and romance are all well and good, but boxes of chocolates, sexy lingerie, a fishing license— in other words presents—to your beloved only go so far in sealing the deal. For love to last, there is one more thing you absolutely need. It’s not as sexy or titillating as a Victoria Secret bustier or an Orvis reel but, at least from my humble perspective, it means much more. You want to go the distance? You need commitment.

The history we learn from text books is made up of stories selected by academics to explain and give shape to a civilization’s collective past. But history is much more than that. Beyond the textbook stories of political battles and sweeping social movements are the stories of ordinary people who make history in their own right by everyday acts of bravery and by standing up to injustice in the very communities in which they lived.

House wrens finally took up residence in one of our bird houses last summer. For those of you not familiar with house wrens, they are a small bird, smaller than a sparrow, with cute little tails that stick straight up. Their bird call, however, is not small. Their call is loud, long and starts at dawn and continues without a break until well after sun-up.

On October 31st 1947, two police cars collided at the intersection of 7th and H streets in Eureka, California. Both cars had their sirens going and were responding to a call. They didn’t hear each other and in a terrible second, several policemen were severely injured and one, an 18-year veteran of the Eureka Police Force, was killed.  It was Halloween and my mother, Mary Lee Carroll, was at a dance at Humboldt State College when, sometime during the evening, her life was shattered when she received the news that her dad, Officer Pete Carroll was dead.

Years ago on our son’s twelfth birthday, he wanted to invite some friends to the Skateboard Park in Ashland. He had never been there before, and technically, he didn’t know how to “board” yet. His father, recalling his own experience of being an over-enthusiastic boy, suggested that maybe the whole family should check it out first to see if it was something he really wanted to do. front of strangers. As often happens with exuberant youth, Henry seemed relieved to have his dream party reined in a bit. We drove to Ashland and found the park.

Sandy was in her mid-eighties when she died last May. She was a soft radiance of light in the time I knew her. She was elegance, even in infirmity; not a trait many can pull off authentically. She favored bright colors over the fashion-safe palette of mauves and dusty rose pinks. And she was unfailingly kind and patient, even with those she disagreed with. She could—as so many say and so many cannot do—”disagree without being disagreeable.”  She was a world traveler who made a pleasant, cozy home in Etna, and filled it with art, music, books and many friends.

Last January, between storms, I sat in my soggy yard dividing iris rhizomes. Yeah I know I should’ve done this last fall, but the kind of gardener I am precludes adherence to any strict dogma, dictum or rules. My motto: “get it planted and it will bloom...eventually.”

Our son’s truck was stolen last fall.  He and his sister live together in Eureka and attend College of the Redwoods. They both have jobs and juggle classes, work and social lives. Losing the truck put a crimp in their style, a hitch in their giddy-up not to mention it was a real buzz kill.

Memories of school days stay with us our whole lives.  What do you remember about your years in school?  Do you remember the spelling tests, the multiplication worksheets, the maps of the thirteen original colonies?  Do you fondly recall the weeks of filling in answer bubbles for state examinations or slogging through phoneme awareness flash cards?

Probably not.