About Me

The Woodlake Tiger is not my husband, Vince, by the way.

Welcome to my blog. Thanks for visiting.

 Hi, my name is Marsha Ingrao. 

My husband, Vince and, our dog and three, no five cats live in Central California. Tulare County is the home of Agribusiness and the World Ag Expo.

Our house, BellaVista, nestles on an acre between several foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range with a straight-on view of Sawtooth Mountain. Ancient oak trees harvested by the Yokuts Indians line our street.

picture of our house in Central California
BellaVista, our dream home

We are super proud of our little house, which we rescued from a bank nineteen years ago. We pulled into the driveway and instead of weeds and peeling paint my husband saw potential. I believed in his vision. He redesigned it and together we’ve pieced it together into a work of art. It’s a living jigsaw puzzle.

If you could see down the road forty- minutes away, you would see the big trees in the Sequoia National Park.


My friends are my family because my family is so tiny.

Four Generations
Me, Great-grandma, Grandma Golda, and Mom I could not smile until I turned seven because of the double cleft-lip or harelip. I still look grumpy unless I smile.

I have a younger brother in Portland, OR. Like me, Randy and his wife have no children. Our parents, both only children themselves, have passed. Even our grandmother was an only child.

Marriage suits me. I’ve had two husbands, both for over twenty years. Mark Alvord passed away at age 47 of a rare genetic disease.  His tiny family is all gone now. He also had a sister who had no children.

At forty-three, when I married Vince Ingrao,  I gained what I’d always wanted but couldn’t have – a child! So what if he was a twenty-five-year-old son? Vince also gave me a brother and sister-in-law, niece, nephew and great-nephew, and a sister, and for a short time, parents.  The Ingrao family is shy so posting pictures of them is like wrestling a hungry mama bear trying to feed her teen-aged cubs.


I bloomed late like Leo the Late Bloomer.

Before I settled into what I really wanted to do, I served vegetarian breakfasts, lunches, and dinners at Portland Adventist Hospital. Then I earned the right to poke around in people’s mouths as a dental assistant.

After I tired of that, I sold real estate, then Parents Magazine door to door. You might guess that didn’t pay well. Mark and I both started working at our church. He was an assistant pastor and I was a teacher’s aid then a kindergarten teacher. We both went to school.

It takes forever to get your education when you wait!

Mark and I both needed further education, so we moved from Oregon to Colorado where he went to Bible College and we cleaned offices until midnight. That lasted him for three years.

I also worked as a proofreader at Walter Drake – a big mistake for a dyslexic person – trust me! Then I became the Recruitment Secretary for the Bible College. What fun! I gave tours and typed recruitment letters and term papers on a new Brother typewriter that could remember three pages.

When he graduated, we moved to California. Mark pastored Ivanhoe Church of the Nazarene. I managed different offices. I couldn’t wait to establish residency and go to college.

Since eighth grade, I had dreamed of becoming an elementary teacher.  At age thirty-six, I finally ticked off that goal. Finally, a creative job! I had so much fun with the kids and had success teaching them, too.

Marsha Ingrao
My first picture as a teacher age 36 or 37.

After teaching, I went into administration at the Tulare County Office of Education. Working as a consultant, learning, and teaching best practices both in and out of the classroom checked off a goal I had written in my journal in my early twenties. My life bulged with opportunities to learn new skills. 

Technology, like a first baby in the family, spun education (the parents – the way things always had been done) out of control. As the teacher/trainers in the county, we practiced with all the newest programs and equipment on the market. We spent a bulk of our time learning new skills to pass on. Still an educational newbie, I embraced technology and fell in love with how much it could do.

I could no longer lose my calendar, it was in the cloud. I seldom missed an appointment because I got tied up because a gadget beeped at me warning me that I had thirty minutes to get to my next visitation. 

Classrooms had smart boards instead of blackboards. Teachers could access their computers with a touch of a digital marker on the screen rather than battle chalk dust or overhead projectors. Grades became digital. Google Docs became group assignments.

I loved teaching. I loved kids and I loved teachers. I loved the process.


George Washington set the example. He stepped aside after he served as President two terms. Good thinking!

One teacher’s aid died in a reading group just before recess.

I dreaded dying in a classroom with my mouth open and my pants soiled.

Another teacher I knew had a stroke on the way home from substitute teaching at age 72. A very capable and conscientious woman, she ran a red light and killed someone and herself.

I worried that I might have an accident driving home on the freeway from doing an in-service in Terra Bella or headed home from a training in Sacramento or Los Angeles.

At age sixty, ideas still bubbled out of me. Project-Based Learning peeked over the curriculum horizon in California. I loved projects and the opportunity to start Project Based Learning in Tulare County fit me better than any of my suit jackets. I took a beginner class from my friend Michelle Herczog in Los Angeles and returned to the office bursting with enthusiasm.

However, I was the oldest consultant at TCOE. Could I/did I want to spearhead a new huge program?

I worried that my brain would give out. Living among the smartest people on the planet made my brain feel like it was in explosion mode constantly. All it would take was someone with a trigger finger, asking me a question I couldn’t remember and my brain was history.

Janet Kelly and Joy Soares
My friends Janet on the left and Joy on the right honored by California Council for the Social Studies as Teachers of the Year

Retirement, going out before people hated me, seemed like a better plan. My friend, Joy Soares, stood ready in the wings to run with Project Learning. My supervisor was thrilled.

Never regret your decisions! The program flourished far beyond my vision for it. Joy moved on and up with Project-Based Learning. Now Justin Paredes, a brand new teacher when I started, and another dear friend, serves as the Tulare County History Consultant. I am as proud as a mother of the teachers whose lives I touched. They advanced education farther than I could have imagined.

Blogging, Writing, Photography and Community Service

Since retiring, I write, read, blog, travel, shelter at home, garden, and stay busy serving the community. Because of this blog, Arcadia books contracted me to write a photo history of Woodlake – Images of America Woodlake. Writing a book fulfilled one of the ticks on my bucket list.

I’m the secretary of our Kiwanis of Woodlake Club and maintain the website, social media accounts, and the monthly newsletter.

Woodlake Rose GArden
Kiwanis helps maintain the Woodlake Rose Garden

Cancer, But Not to Worry

In 2019, cancer knocked on my door, as it had knocked on the doors of my parents and grandparents. Why not me? God blessed me with it because He loved me and knew it would make me a better person. Not only that, I did not lose any part of me that shows.

When you are born with a double harelip, a surgery that doesn’t show is no big deal. The doctors did a fabulous job of patching me up – no chemo necessary.

So I live on to serve. How can I help you?

Email: tchistorygal@gmail.com

Manny’s Blog:

Just Write:

Blogger Woodlake & History:

FB Home:

FB Page:

Twitter: @MarshaIngrao






  • Hi Marsha! I stumbled upon your blog, but I think I’ll stick around. Good work! Pleased to meet you, Marina
  • Hello Marsha! I’ve decided to read and follow 15 interesting and new blogs a day every day for the first month of 2015, and yours is today’s #5! Jacob
  • You have a great life philosophy. Thanks so much for visiting my blog.🙂 Sue
  • Greetings! I’ve nominated you for the “Light of the World Award”! Congratulations!! Amreen

First and foremost I’m a teacher.

242 thoughts on “About Me”

  1. I love your bio and the pictures from your past! And I can just picture you laughing so hard as you were trying to read the Sideways story! You’ve learned and done so much in your years teaching. Bravo!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hiya Marsha, not sure if im breaking the rules but ah who cares. i nominated you for the one lovely blog award back because i love your blog, i get your sense of humour and its great to meet someone as crazy as me!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t know what happened to my comment back to you, but I’ll reply again, so if you get two replies to this, you’ll understand – things happen to stuff. Do you lose things? I do! Thanks for nominating me. I have no idea what all this means, but it’s fun anyway. We can post our Lovely Blog award pictures front and center all over our blogs together!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ha ha yes i lose things!! i have a saying..you know you need glasses when you cant find your glasses!! and i walk upstairs a lot forgetting why im there once i get to the top..although that could just be dementia!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Seriously??? Thanks so much. You are so sweet!!! Isn’t this totally fun? I am enjoying reading other people’s sites that I would never have known if I hadn’t started this. What an amazing hobby! Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Margaret,
    It was genuinely “nice” to meet you today. Thanks for visiting and commenting. In order for me to remember to keep visiting, I’m going to have to “stalk” you know by pressing the follow button. Otherwise, I may never find my way back.
    Be well,

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh this is just too beautiful! I missed your about page before and am delighted to have found it now. What a plethora of inspiration here. I am too delighted. Me dad is hoping to become a teacher of highschoolers, middleschoolers, after thirty years of technical writing. He has long dreamed of being a teacher. Here, your story is just too inspirational, and fuels my hope that he will indeed achieve this goal. Definately in love with your blog.


    Autumn Jade

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Tanshree. Amazing to me that I achieved the career of my dreams. I have enjoyed it so much. Just as amazing I am retiring as of Thursday of this week! Now I hope to start my next career which will include writing and photography and blogging.


  6. hmmm just wanted to tell you that my mom was also a teacher before she decided to takecare of me and sis on fulltime basis…but even till today her students keep visiting our house and they have always shown a great respect to my mom…….this can happen only to teachers .My family actually is full of teachers (My 2 uncles, My mom, My sis along with her Management job, My cousin sister and many more are in to teaching profession) ….i can see a wonderful teacher with a great heart in you ……keep writing, teaching , experimenting with website ….I wish you and your family loads of happiness …..:-)

    I shall pick the tasty award in a day or two…please dont give it to anyone else its for meeeeeeee:-
    My mind has caught something new and unable to write or do anything on blog for today and tomorrow ….will be back with nominations and my articles shortly….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a nice reply! Thank you. The award is for YOU, I won’t give it away to someone else! I do love teaching, and amazingly today is my last full official day of my career. I will be officially retired tomorrow.


      1. I know that you know this truth that teacher will not have a retirement ….its a very meaningful life isn’t it to have brought light into many young brains…am sure all your students would miss seeing you in class but they will see you in their hearts forever with your teachings …..feeling lovely talking to you ……just logged in to see your reply and again am going back to my book not doing anything for the day on cimplicityrockss…

        Takecare mam …..
        Let me know how the day was on your last day of official teaching career …:-)

        i shall also check with my mom how she actually felt on the last day of teaching job…. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You may have received TONS of these replies, but my computer kept hiding the REPLY button this morning, so when I scrolled down, all my writing disappeared. I see the button, now, so I’ll chance it this time! I wrote today’s post to tell YOU about my last day. It was MORE than awesome. I have some amazing friends. Hope you enjoy the post. Tell your mom hi for me.


      1. I have been retired for about 16 years. Seems like only yesterday. I taught 4th, 5th and 2nd grades.
        I know things have changed …. some for the better and some for….the other way. lol

        But one thing never changes. We would never be teaching and stay with it if
        we didn’t love the kids and think that we could really make a difference.

        But I’m kind of glad I am retired. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Congratulations, and I agree with you. When I moved into consulting, my teaching changed to adults mostly, and I got to go back and teach in classes occasionally. Those days were like adrenaline highs. I just retired on Thursday


    1. Awwww Alistair Is this going to get embarrassing???? I’m honored though. It’s always amazing when people want to know more about me. l’il ole me!!!! WOW!!! Manny is hugging me and we are bouncing around the room. 🙂


    1. Hi Esenga,
      I wasn’t quite sure what to do about this, but it sounds like a challenge to write about Spain. That sounds interesting – broad topic!!! 🙂 Are you going to write about Spain? I’ve never been there, have you? My picture would have to be borrowed. 🙂


  7. I’m going to answer you here until my computer is fixed via Costco tech support. Notifications acts as if my replies to comments that I have made on other blogs is sitting there as the thingy goes round and round. I can’t access email either so I will get back to you re: all comments later today if not ssooner. IO have not eaten breakfast yet and it is not 1;25pm. Met with my nurse friends that all retired before or after I retired (4 of us worked on same unit) I had not eaten before I met with them., I had a long day yesterday traveling a total of 260 miles for my MD appt.. in the hill country of Texas. I live about 30 miles from where the hill country begins or ends- whatever you choose. I take the scenic route and not the main highway for most of the drive.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so frustrating to be hampered by technology. We wouldn’t be anywhere without it, but when it doesn’t do its end of the bargain, GRRRRRR. I hear you about breakfast. I finally got dressed at 11:00 because a friend called to go on a walk, and I also was going out for lunch. I had spent the entire morning on the computer doing various tasks and projects. I have not been to Texas except in the airport and in San Antonio for a week-end meeting. I loved San Antonio!!! 🙂 Marsha 🙂


    1. Hi Miss Mischievous,

      You are so sweet. You are the one who is Very Inspiring!! I accept your compliment even though I have received that award, I appreciate your thoughtfulness in naming me!!! 🙂 Marsha 🙂


  8. number one: your blog is so super cute 😀 I love the little bunnies at the end of the page,
    number two: I love the fact that you add pictures / visuals to your posts, I think they make the posts even more interesting.
    number three: Im so so glad to have someone as jolly and talented as you following my blog and commenting, I FEEL LIKE IM ON TOP OF THE WORLD 😀 hahah!
    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experiences.

    Tell you something, I wanna be a teacher one day. Perhaps I could get some advice on THAT 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved being a teacher, and I didn’t start until I was 37. I knew I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was 13, so it took me a long time, but I finally did it! Let me know how I can help. I will address your questions in my next week, “Ask Marsha” post. Lots of love 🙂 M


        1. Even after you’ve seen how rough my first drafts are, you still nominated me!!! That makes me feel good! I’m afraid that now that I’ve settled into retirement, my blogging has been much blotchier than it was last year.
          However, the friends I’ve made on the Internet have become close friends now after a year and a half of blogging. We’ve all moved beyond the blogging platform to connect in different ways, 😀 Thanks again! ☺


  9. Hi Marsha, just wanted to say thanks for your comment–that was very nice!
    I thought our paths had crossed, maybe via Guapo! As big as the internet is, it’s still a small world isn’t it?
    I hope you have a wonderful weekend, thanks again for your nice words,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is a small world. Guapo is a very encouraging person. I met him and Benzeknees last Christmas doing a stint of moderating the internet to respond to people during Christmas.


  10. Hello newest Spikey! I know, a bit corny, eh, but that’s the term that has come to stick for those folk who are part of the clan known to be followers of Uncle Spike 🙂

    Thank you… I really appreciate that as I for one, know how many interesting and entertaining blogs are out there.

    My aim is to deliver an eclectic offering of posts, from my ‘point n shoot’ attempts at basic photography, to the sharing of my travel adventures over the decades, as well as day to day happenings here on the farm. Oh, plus a few observations on life as I see it, thrown in for good measure.

    My promise to you is not to be overbearing, just a couple of posts a day, maybe 3 at weekends if I have something special to share. But if you are at a loose end one day, maybe you’ll enjoy trawling through some of my older stuff too. I have added plenty of categories to help in said digging process.

    Thanks again and hope you have a great day…


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome to my home, Uncle Spike. Hope you enjoyed browsing, and will come back. This is my streaming blog when I write whatever is floating by in my life at the time. Thanks for taking the time to check in and see what’s happening in my life. 🙂


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