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Marg-Ins - Keeping It Simple
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Amazing as it seems, we are already a quarter of the way in to 2010. Time literally seems to be flying by – yet again – this year and, before we know it, we’ll be looking at Halloween candy and Christmas decorations.

Recent events have also brought into focus a couple of key points that many of us, myself included, tend to forget as we are hustling and bustling through our days. Take time to enjoy the good things in your life and let those around you know that you love and appreciate them.

A good friend lost her dad not too long ago and though it wasn’t totally unexpected, there’s just no way to adequately prepare for that type of loss. Family and friends rally around to help get you through those darks times with the hope that you come out the other side and eventually have the pain of loss give way to the comfort of good memories. An Escalon High School senior lost his father less than a day before his next scheduled start on the mound and, with the love and support of his baseball teammates and an entire community, he went out and pitched a game that still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. Though this young man desperately wanted to pitch that complete game, his coach believed it was more important – and I totally agree – that he needed to walk off that mound with two outs in the top of the seventh so fans could stand and cheer. The game was well in hand, one out remained and Justin Martinez could leave the field with his head held high, fans of both teams on their feet to offer him a standing ovation.

Close on the heels of these events came Escalon’s ‘Every 15 Minutes’ program, which runs every other year. Oakdale also puts this program on, though it will be done next year, the two communities alternately staging the teen drinking and driving drama. The effort is designed to make kids aware of the inherent dangers in drinking and driving and is timed to coincide with the prom and graduation season. By its very nature, it is an emotional program and this year at Escalon, it just took on an even greater significance, with the community dealing with real losses.

If anything, these past few weeks have reinforced to me the value of making moments count. Many of my co-workers have commented on how fast the year is going, how we are already in to the second quarter, how we only have a few weeks left to the school year, how quickly the 100-plus degree weather will be upon us.

It was a good time to take a brief break and get out of town for the holiday weekend. My niece texted me early in the week to see when we were arriving on Saturday because she had some entertainment planned. I sought more information, she texted that she and my other niece were putting together a game show activity and all the other family members in attendance would be contestants while my two nieces were the hostesses. She said to be ready to have fun, which sounded good but also a little suspicious. So I called and said I needed more information.

“Can’t you just be surprised?” she asked.

“No, I’m a reporter and we need details,” I told her.

So she relented and let me know they were working on games for the ‘Minute to Win It’ game show that has just recently been introduced on TV and is becoming wildly popular. We, of course, weren’t competing for fabulous cash prizes, just bragging rights among the family. Or, as in my case, not even bragging rights;  I was just hoping not to make a total fool of myself as the camera was rolling, recording the moment for future viewing on Youtube.

The whole family got involved and it was fun; I wasn’t the only one that ‘failed’ one of the levels and didn’t complete the required task in the allotted 60 seconds. We all got to continue on, though, just adding up our individual times with the person who completed five levels of increasingly difficult tricks in the shortest amount of time taking the top prize.

We all laughed, with and at each other, and it was a tangible reminder of enjoying the simple things that life has to offer. Family, fun, taking time to slow down. Making time to count the blessings around you. My niece and her husband are expecting a child in October and we got to see the latest sonogram over the weekend. She refers to the baby right now as ‘sug’ – short for sugar packet – since that’s roughly the size of the baby at this time, and my nephew calls it ‘Maynard’ since he is supposed to come up with a boy name but hasn’t done so yet. Maynard is just the interim choice. We think.

As I write this column we are getting ready for another round of games. Ping pong balls are being bounced on a table in hopes of landing them in a cup and people are blowing decks of cards off the top of a bottle, trying to keep one last card balanced on the top. The rain is starting to fall and the smell of Sunday dinner is beginning to fill the air. Life is good.

Count your blessings.

Marg Jackson is editor of The Oakdale Leader, The Escalon Times and assistant editor of The Riverbank News. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.