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

Smoker – Travelling across the USA – 2

After our stay in Minnesota we headed home by the same route across the northern U.S. and south along the Pacific coast. My wife did not care for the Moorhead motel we stayed in on our earlier trip and we found other accommodations at a Travelodge on our return. They didn’t have a smoking/ADA room and we settled on a third floor smoking room (elevator). A nicer room than before but no ADA bathroom and farther to walk.

We “flew” across North Dakota and landed in Miles City, Montana the next day at a Super 8 motel. Smoking but not ADA and no elevator. The room was on the third floor (no elevator); my wife went up once when we checked in and down once when we checked out – I, however, got a lot of exercise with our luggage.

Even though we tried to get a room at the Homewood Suites in Bozeman, Montana a couple of weeks earlier, it was booked. My wife got a smoking room at the La Quinta Inn. When we got there, we found out that it was a non-smoking facility. We found out that the booking had been through, not directly with the hotel, as my wife thought she had done. After forty-five plus frustrating minutes on the phone with and Expedia they couldn’t find us in their system even though there was a reservation at La Quinta and my AMEX card had been charged by them the previous week. The La Quinta was fully booked, with a waiting list, and we were able cancel the room with them – but not with The busy and harried young man at the desk also found that the Holiday Inn just across the Interstate had smoking rooms available – we called and got a room with no trouble. It was not ADA but it was a short walk for my wife from the parking lot.

After a calming cup of tea and a bit of shopping, we had dinner at the Holiday Inn’s on-site restaurant – yummy.

I spoke with American Express that evening and they cancelled the charges – the first time in the forty years I’ve had the card that I’ve had this kind of problem.

The next night we stayed at the Super 8 in Spokane Valley, Washington. Once again it was a smoking room but not ADA, on the third floor, but close to the elevator. My wife had to do little walking and I got my exercise with the luggage and a short walk to the local Subway for a couple of sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies (the last two in the store).

Then it was on to The Dalles, Oregon and Cousins’ Country Inn. Good food and an upstairs non-ADA smoking room.

The Mill Hotel and Casino in North Bend, Oregon was next with a downstairs (but long walk) smoking room. The problem was the restaurant. We got a bad meal at Whitecaps. The food was cold and my wife’s appetite was spoiled so she went off to play the slots. My dinner was re-done; the seafood was dropped back in the fire and overcooked but the fresh potatoes and veggies were still cold. The manager again apologized and took the meal off our charges. It was the first sub-standard meal we’d had there, so we’ll give them another chance next year, maybe.

Eureka, California. Best Western Plus Bayshore Inn. My wife had made a reservation for their one smoking/ADA room and gotten an email confirmation. When we arrived, we found we had a third floor, smoking, non-ADA room. I was told that we had not requested an ADA room – WRONG – as the email confirmation confirmed. Our room had been given away to someone else and my wife now had to use the elevator and walk to the room farthest away from the elevator; we expressed our displeasure and the clerk promised to make a note of it. (The service at the on-site Marie Callender’s was also bad this evening and we left without eating.) I called American Express, since the room had been guaranteed through my AMEX card. I was told that since the motel had not yet charged for our room to wait a few days and then contest the charges. We checked out the next morning and my wife gave the assistant manager a good talking to. She apologized, said that the person responsible had already been spoken to, and said she was going to discount the room. I mentioned my conversation with American Express and the “discount” quickly became NO CHARGE for our stay at the Bayshore Inn. Will we stay at the Bayshore Inn next time through Eureka – stay tuned, film at eleven. Will I keep my American Express card – YES!

Lessons learned:
1. Book through the motel directly or the motel’s website – DO NOT use or Expedia.
2. Don’t leave home without it (AMEX card).

Smoke, Di and Mist
Smoke, Di and Mist


We stopped and visited with our friends in Gilroy, California (garlic city) the next day and arrived home the day after. On Monday we picked up our new four-footed kids – two chocolate point Siamese kittens. I had wanted to call them Smoke and Mirrors but my wife decided on Smoke (male) and Mist (female).

Smoker – Traveling Across the USA

I will preface this post by saying I am not a smoker and my wife is. My father smoked for forty plus years as did my mother. My father quit smoking several years before he died of lung cancer (He was diagnosed with lung cancer in September and died on Christmas Eve of 1972.). My mother quit smoking around the same time dad did and passed away in 2000 at the age of eighty-eight. My younger brother began smoking in Nam and died of lung cancer in 1991, leaving a widow and two small children.

My wife does smoke. Several years ago our house “flooded” (broken toilet) while we were on vacation. State Farm put us up at a Residence Inn for several months while the drying out and repair work was done. Since then she has not smoked inside the house. She no longer smokes in the car (nicotine patch in use on trips).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 19% of the adult population, about 43 million people, smokes. I imagine that a like percentage frequent hotels and motels as they travel across the country on vacation or business. But, that number does not seem to be reflected in the number of rooms available for smokers (I have not actually counted numbers of room; this is just anecdotal evidence.). Our situation is complicated by my wife having problems walking and needing an ADA room when we stop. When it comes down to getting a proper downstairs ADA room or getting a smoking room, we have to opt for the smoking room, even if it is upstairs without an elevator.

In Eureka, California we stopped at the Best Western Plus – Bayshore Inn. We got a downstairs ADA smoking room just 20 feet from our parking space. Great room. Plenty of space. At the upper end of the facility is a Marie Callender’s Restaurant and at the lower end a steakhouse. The Marie Callender’s is within “walking” distance for my wife. The Bayshore Inn has a good breakfast, including waffles, which I bring to our room so my wife doesn’t have to walk. We’ve stayed there three times in the last several years.

In North Bend, Oregon we get a smoking room at the Mill Casino and Hotel. The room tends to be a bit far to walk to the casino, but because she wants to play the slots and smoke my wife makes it work. We always seem to buy things at the little gift shop and dinner at Whitecaps has always been good.

Next stop: The Dalles, Oregon. We stop, and have stayed here a dozen or so times, at Cousins’ Country Inn. There are no ADA/Smoking rooms. The smoking rooms are in the back of the facility – upstairs.

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has a nice Super 8 with an ADA/Smoking room right behind the office. No go this year as it was already booked; the Best Western across the street is no smoking. So, we stayed at Motel 6 just down the street. Nice ADA bathroom, smoking but small. Double bed but no chairs (my wife doesn’t count the “wood” desk chair as a chair – too uncomfortable). Just down the street is a Pizza Factory – great pizza. Mini pizzas are just the perfect size for one person; add some garlic bread – yum. (Yes, I walk and get dinner so my wife can relax in the motel room.

In Bozeman, Montana we prefer to stay at the Homewood Suites by Hilton. On the ground floor there is an ADA/Smoking July 4, 2013, Bozeman MTroom that is just about perfect. There’s a nice mall with a Barnes and Noble, Christopher & Banks and souvenir shop just a few miles away. Oh yeah, we also get Subway sandwiches and eat them in our room. Saw a great fireworks show from the hotel parking lot this year and my wife got to see some action from Wimbledon before we hit the road again.

Couldn’t find a smoking room in North Dakota so we’ll just “fly” through the state rather than stopping and spending time and money. So we could travel through North Dakota in an easy day, we stayed a night in Glendive, Montana at a Day’s Inn – downstairs, smoking, near the back entrance (my wife was able to get to the room by walking less the fifty yards. Great fireworks show from the motel parking lot that night also.

Moorhead, Minnesota – smoking room (Super 8 – got a junk-phone sales call from Wyndham a couple of weeks later which rather ticked me off) on the ground floor, non-ADA, but it worked.

As soon as we finalize our plans to return home, my wife will make reservations for each of the places we liked; no waiting for until the last minute.