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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
- 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