Retirement Party . . . and other things.

Retirement Party

My wife, Diana (Charlie) AuBuchon retired after 30+ years of teaching. Most of that time

Charlie's Retirement Party
Diana (Charlie) AuBuchon

was spent as a full-time language arts teacher at McFadden Intermediate School in Santa Ana, California. She also taught in Orange at both Yorba and Portola, middle/junior high schools. She also worked as a substitute at both the junior and senior high school levels.

As a beginning teacher, raised in England, she was assigned an American History class at Yorba and wore a red coat to her open house. As seems to be the habit in the U.S., she was given a half-dozen preps her first years–you know, history, English, French (two levels). Our administrators seem to try and break beginning teachers rather than trying to give them assignments that may encourage them to give their best and stay in the profession.

(As an aside, my first year consisted of a wood shop class and a metal shop class in two different rooms–my principal said they were both industrial arts classes, and, therefore, they were a single prep. Yeah. I also had four ninth grade history classes–two in the library and the other two were in Spanish classrooms during those teachers’ conference periods–after the department chairman had cherry-picked the students he wanted for his six ninth grade history classes.)

Diana (Charlie) AuBuchon and Friends.
Diana (Charlie) AuBuchon and Friends.

In addition to her American history class, Charlie was given the cheerleaders–they don’t have cheerleaders in England. Like I said earlier, give the newbie assignments that will break them. Don’t believe me? Look up how long the average new teacher actually stays in the teaching profession. Also, look up how many people have teaching credentials but are not teaching.

I have never met a more dedicated teacher than my wife. Her dedication really hit me in the face in the two and a half years since my own retirement. In that time I watched her plan and correct and grade student assignments again and again and again. She spent more time on her students than she did on herself, her cats and me combined. In spite of her health issues these last several years, her devotion to her students and her profession never flagged or wavered.

Being forced to retire has hit her hard. Life without teaching has left a void that will be difficult to fill–if that is even possible. But we will try.

We had seventy or more people at Saturday’s party. Charlie and I had a good time, and, so I believe, did everyone else.

Commercial Plug: food, chairs, tables, servers, bartender and etc. were handled by West Coast Event Productions.

Photos taken at the party can be found on my Flickr page:

flickr dot com/photos/joe_aubuchon/


Handicapped Access

Any of you out there handicapped? Don’t you love it when

Spec. Ed. SAUSD Bus Blocks Access to Ramp.
Spec. Ed. SAUSD Bus Blocks Access to Ramp.
  • someone without a handicapped plate/sticker takes a handicapped parking place,
  • someone with a handicapped plate/sticker takes a handicapped parking place and remains in the car while the non-handicapped driver/passenger goes into the store,
  • someone blocks access to a handicapped ramp or other access.

At McFadden Intermediate School in Santa Ana the Special Education buses block access to the handicapped ramps (and the drivers refuse to move when asked).


Mist and Smoke on Sunday (Siamese cats)
Mist and Smoke on Sunday

Rejection–Oh, the humanity.

While editing the first draft of my novel, I thought I’d try to sell a stand-alone portion of an early chapter. I edited the story, about 3,800 words in length, and submitted it to a sci-fi-fantasy magazine I read and thought would be appropriate. It was my first attempt at submitting my work and was done electronically.

After a couple of weeks, I received a reply–my first rejection. Well, the first rejection of something I’d written and tried to sell. How dare the editor reject my perfect prose–of course, I’d already re-written some of it during those two weeks, just in case I’d have to try to sell it to someone else and to make it fit better in the novel.

In full the note from the editor read: Thank you for letting me read “Impossible Answer.” There’s some good writing here but overall the story just didn’t grab me so I’m going to pass on it. I wish you best of luck finding the right market for it, and I hope to see more stories from you in the future.

Writing; no we don't think so--not on our lap. (Siamese cats)
Writing; no we don’t think so–not on our lap.

As disappointed and heartbroken as I was, I sent the story, the revised version, off to another sci-fi-fantasy magazine via electronic submission that afternoon. I’m keeping my fingers crossed, but I’m not holding my breath.

At this particular instant in time, I’m quite happy that I’m retired with a good pension and rejection doesn’t mean I don’t eat this week.

I am currently “working” on editing the novel, plotting a sequel and writing a novella/novel based on an idea of my wife’s.

The cats, Mist and Smoke, are not, however, always supportive of my work habits.

Reading is OK, but we still get the lap. (Siamese cats)
Reading is OK, but we still get the lap.

Retirement – 3.10.15

Charlie finally said something nice about retirement this last weekend.

At about four in the afternoon, with a smile on her face, she said that it was nice that she didn’t have to go into the computer room and type out her lesson plans.

Sleep (Siamese cats)

We sprang forward that day, and for the first time in sixty years I didn’t have to worry about the effects of losing an hour’s sleep on that weekend. I’m retired, and the clock really doesn’t matter.

Her knee is getting better.

She is throwing a retirement party for herself at the end of the month.

We went to her school today and brought some of her things home and gave some of her teaching materials away–to those who will use them to advantage.

and Dream (Siamese cats)
and Dream

I did some editing on my novel and finished reading one written by someone else.

Drank a beer in the garden as I read the book–while most were at work.


The last two weeks

The last two weeks were very eventful for Charlie and I (me, us).

After thirty-some years in junior high, she decided to retire. It was a matter of circumstance rather than preferred choice–she’d rather have retired at the end of the school year in June, but that was not to be.

Mist & Smoke Window (Siamese cats)
Mist & Smoke Window

We’re going to have a retirement party for her at the end of the month.

The best thing about this is no more commuting back and forth to her school everyday. (Yeah, but I still wake up early every morning as though she still goes to work.) We still have to go back to her classroom and bring home the things she wants to keep. (What? You really think the school provides all of the supplies teachers need to teach? When did you fall of the turnip truck?)

I finally finished my first novel (first draft). My goal was to tell my story in about 100,000 words. Yeah!

Mist & Smoke Blanket (Siamese cats)
Mist & Smoke Blanket

When I taught history (and other subjects), I often told stories. I would allot myself five or ten minutes for the story in my lesson plans. Hah! I never did figure out that each story told itself–in however many minutes it decided it needed. Give it five, and it took ten. Give it ten, and it took twenty-five.

Stories have a life of their own. They don’t limit themselves the way we try to limit them. The story tells itself in its own good time.

So it was with this story. I aimed for twenty chapters and 100,000 words. The story decided it needed twenty-six chapters and 120,000 words.

Who am I to argue with the story?

There were a couple of stories within the larger story that I thought could stand on their own. I took one of them and re-wrote small sections of it. I submitted it for publication in a sci/fi/fant periodical. Will I get it published? Don’t know, but I’m trying. If I do sell it, it’ll be my first sale–I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Finished my first edit of the novel yesterday and found a number of stupid errors. Corrected most of my errors dealing with punctuation of dialog–NO, I don’t remember learning it in school, but, assuming I did, I forgot an awful lot of it.

I did find some good sites about how to do it, however.


Now to print out the five hundred pages and do some real editing.

Hmmm . . . wonder why it’s easier to find errors in printouts than on the screen?


Bucket List

Bucket List is a term meaning the things you would like to do before you “kick the bucket.”

I have another way of thinking about it, teacher that I am or, maybe, was—the time you stop learning is the time you begin to die. I would like to be around a while so I try to learn at least one new thing every year. Several years ago I learned how to juggle. More recently I learned how to roller blade. Last year I took a Tai Chi class. Now I’m writing a book. (I thought I was stretching things a bit when I set a goal of 100,000 words, but, just passing 102,000 words, the story is still telling itself to me. I think about three and a half more chapters and I’ll be done. Then on to the second book; yes, there’s still more story.)

I believe the best way to stay alive is to have something to look forward to. If you have nothing to look forward to, why bother?

Why this topic today? Well, it turns out that two of my favorite authors are currently writing a series of books—a “Five Book Dash” in a series I quite enjoy. I look forward to reading all of them and more. The authors are about my age and I hope they have genes like those that come from my mother’s side of the family.

One of the people commenting on their FB post said, “I’m 73. Hurry! You have to get them all done before I die . . .”

Reflecting on this I thought that when it’s time for me to go, I don’t want to have already done everything. I don’t want to regret not having done things. I want to be in the frame of mind that there are still things I want to do—if nothing else, I want to see what’s behind that final curtain. (For those of you who think me cynical: Yes, I’d even like to know if there’s nothing behind the curtain.)

Cheap Foreign Goods

Went to the beach today for lunch, puzzling, and reading. Stayed for about two hours. Heavens, it was absolutely beautiful, 82° and a slight breeze.

The picture is taken at Fifteenth Street. Background left is Catalina Island and background right is Palos Verdes.

Offshore HB
Offshore HB

Looking toward the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, I counted thirteen container ships—one coming in, one leaving and eleven at anchor offshore. That’s about eighty thousand containers of foreign goods waiting to be unloaded. Those of you still waiting for your Made in China winter coats—good luck.

Mist and Smoke

Mist and Smoke in Window (Siamese cats)
Mist and Smoke in Window
Mist and Smoke in Window (Siamese cats)
Mist and Smoke in Window
Smoke woke. (Siamese cats)
Smoke woke.

Haven’t posted any cat pictures lately so here are Mist and Smoke enjoying our California sunshine (safely indoors).