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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?


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.

246 replies »

  1. Thanks for stopping by, Marsha and welcome aboard PSB. Hope you’ll enjoy your trips here.

    Will be checking on your blog for more stories! 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  2. So great to meet you Marsha. Glad you dropped by my blog so that I could find you here. I look forward to exploring more of your blog, which looks absolutely wonderful by the way. Seems we have a lot in common. Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Erika, Thanks for the compliment and for visiting via Terri. She’s been a good blogging friend for several years now. She does such a great service for the blogging community. I’ve used several of her free photos in my posts. She is such a great photographer and very generous. Thanks again for stopping by. I look forward to getting better acquainted. 🙂 Marsha

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Marsha
    Thank you for visiting my blog.
    I enjoyed reading your bio and how you have taken on the challenges that life has brought you.
    I’m very glad Charli Mills of Carrot Ranch “introduced” you to us Ranchers at her site! 😊
    All the best for the days ahead.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Marsha,

    It is good to call you friend – and also to read your words. You have talent at putting nouns with verbs, and a personality that shines on your pages. I look forward to more!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Dear Marsha Ingrao,

    Hello! I shall respond to your long and excellent comment at my post entitled “💬 Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: 🧠 Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity 🦠” at with a bespoke reply as soon as I can, as I still have a number of errands to attend to.

    Meanwhile, there are plenty of posts and pages on my website to whet your appetite. Please feel free to savour their high degrees of interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity stylishly presented to your heart’s content.

    I would like to wish you and Vince as well as your dog and five cats a wonderful festive season. May you find the rest of 2020 and the New Year very much to your liking and highly conducive to your writing, thinking and blogging!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t believe I’ve never read this before! I feel as if I’ve known you forever, but at a distance, if you know what I mean. 🙂 🙂 I’m stopping by today primarily to let you know I got your email and to apologise for my tardiness. I will reply in the next day or two but I did want to give some thought to your questions and I do seem to’ve been pretty busy lately. A poor organiser- I think you can definitely say that. Or easily distracted 🙂 Anyway, you come across as a lovely person, Marsha, and I’ll be in touch soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Jo, I know exactly what you mean. When I post an interview, I get much better acquainted because I spend time on someone’s blog. It’s a lovely time. I also spend more time reading comments. Yes, it takes time, but I have more of that now, and in spite of leaving my friends, I’m never lonely because I have virtual friends world-wide. 🙂 I’ll look forward to publishing your interview – no rush. I’m not on a schedule since I ask people to participate as I go along. 🙂 Have a great day, Jo. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Marsha, a wonderful about page and I feel I know you so well from your introduction here! Wow! You have covered so much and I was drawn into your life from the very start. What shines through is your love of life, your positive energy and your friendly nature. You have great insight into yourself, your lives and all those around you. I look forward to reading your posts and becoming a little part of your world in the great community on WP. Wishing you all well. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, I’m honored by your words. I look forward to getting better acquainted with you as well. I was impressed with what you said to Natalie, and it was no surprise that your blog reflected the person making those comments. 🙂 Thanks again for playing a part in Natalie’s interview tomorrow. I think the quotes from her followers adds so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, Marsha, I love your page and your blog. What a great story you tell, and I appreciate your thoughts on why you retired when you did. For me, it was essentially the same. Better to leave with everyone still smiling 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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