Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sort of OVER the Vampires.....

Those of you who stood in line at Barnes & Noble at midnight when Breaking Dawn came out, you might not want to read any further.....

I'm just about sick of the vampires. I'm in book three of the series, and I just want to be DONE! And I can't just quit, because some people whose feelings I don't want to hurt know I'm reading these books. My step-daughter loved them. And HER daughter loved them. And a co-worker at school not only raved about them, she let me have her copy of book three although she's only in book two. The hardback copy. I can't just take it back to her and say, "I'm sorry, this is shallow and superficial, and I can't finish it." It might hurt her feelings. And I can't pretend that I read it, because she's going to want to talk about it when she finishes it. Arrrrgggghhhhh!

I'm not against escape reading. I love reading trash as much as the next person. Well, the next English teacher type person. But come ON!! These books are 600 pages. 600 pages!!! Each!!! Not total!!!!! That's like reading for an assignment that you don't want to do anyway.

When my niece, who just started her freshman year of college, learned that I was reading the books, she nearly swooned right there in the Cracker Barrel. "Oh, don't you just looooooooooooooooooooooove Edward Cullen?" Ummm.... no...... really I don't. Seven-hundred-year-old (or is it seventy? I can't remember) perpetually teenaged vampires with perfectly chiseled features and skin that is cold to the touch just don't do it for me. When I responded in a lukewarm manner to her question, my niece looked at me with venom in her eyes. Venom! From that precious child! (She may have forgiven me when I sent her a $20 bill, but that's not a guarantee.)

I deal with teenage angst and melodrama on a daily basis. And in spite of what Billy Joel says, melodrama ain't all that fun. Good lord, I've still got book four to get through......

Monday, September 29, 2008

Three Monkeys Poem...

I was reminded today of a poem that I used to teach in my ninth grade literature classes all the time. We would discuss (only on a surface level, though) how different people felt about the theories of evolution, etc. I would twist the discussion around to perspective and point of view, which have always been particularly favorite topics of mine. I enjoy looking at issues, stories, etc. from as many different perspectives as I can glean from them. And I enjoy working the word "glean" into as many conversations as possible.

What reminded me was an online "discussion" with my virtual students in my Contemporary Literature course (I guess they are real students, but in a virtual classroom). We are reading the book Life of Pi, and in case you plan to read it, I won't spoil it for you. (It's worth the read, I promise you.) They had to do a mini-research project in which they had to research an animal based on the first letter of their last names. The animals were zebra, orangutan, hyena, and tiger. (If you've read the book, you recognize the significance of those animals.)

Anyway, one of them researched the symbolism in literature and religion of the orangutan, and she went off on a mini-tirade about evolution and no one ever convincing her that she descended from apes, etc. It reminded me of this poem, and I plan to share it with them tomorrow night during our live computer session.

Mind you, I'm not taking a stand one way or another on this issue, and if I were I wouldn't be stupid enough to publish it here. I just thought it was a cute poem.

Darwin's Mistake

Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree.
Discussing things as they're said to be.
Said one to the others, "Now listen, you two
There's a certain rumor that can't be true,

That man descended from our noble race.
That very idea is a disgrace.
No monkey ever deserted his wife
Starved her babies or ruined her life,

And another thing you will never see
A monkey build a fence around a coconut tree
And let the coconuts go to waste,
Forbidding all other monkeys to taste.

If I put a fence around this tree
Starvation would force you to steal from me.
Here's another thing a monk won't do,
Go out at night and get on a stew,

And use a gun or club or knife
To take some other monkey's life
Yes, man descended, the ornery cuss -
But, brother, he didn't descend from us."

--Author Unknown

*There are other version of the poem out there, but I like this one because it includes the part about building fences, and I like that...........say it with me................perspective.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Anniversary.....

Today is an important anniversary for me. It's not our "wedding" anniversary (that's in May).* It's not the anniversary of our first date, either. It's not the anniversary of us moving in together (Valentine's Day, ironically enough......everyone wants to spend that particular holiday moving furniture in the pouring rain). It's not the anniversary of our first fight, because we're still waiting for that to happen. Seriously. We just don't have the energy to fight. Below is the transcript of our fiercest argument:

Me: Fine!

Hubby: Fine!

The End

Today is actually the anniversary of the date that I quit smoking. It has been 16 years ago today that I smoked my last cigarette.

Everyone in our family smoked. Both parents, both sisters, both brothers. [Hey sisters, did our grandparents smoke? I don't remember.] We even had RULES in our family about smoking, fercryingoutloud. We couldn't smoke OPENLY until we were 16. So we sneaked around from whenever we started (around 13 for me.....please just shoot me now), and then proudly smoked out in the open upon achieving that milestone 16th birthday. Get your driver's license, fire one up. Nice.

We could smoke at our high school too. When my older siblings went there, they had rules for that as well. Only the boys could smoke, and only those in 9th-12th grades. [We had eighth graders in our high school until right after I graduated.] Back then they had a smoking building for the boys.....can you imagine what THAT must have been like? One day my eldest brother was hanging out at the smoking building with his buddies, and the superintendent of schools walked by. He smirked at them and said, "Better enjoy it boys, 'cause tomorrow we're tearing it down." The guys were apparently outraged. [I'm bound to get some of this story wrong, because my eldest brother was 9 years older than I. But it's still a good story, I think.] The guys said to themselves, "Hell no, they won't tear it down. We'll tear it down ourselves." So they did. Concrete block by concrete block. I don't even want to know how they got it started.

Little did they know the superintendent was only joking.

By the time I arrived in high school, you could pretty much smoke anywhere you wanted to. Except the bathrooms. Which is naturally where we wanted to smoke. By the time I graduated, the officials had started requiring a notarized parental permission form to smoke at school, and there was a fenced off area (paddock?) for the smokers to hang out. We thought we were so cool.

I quit smoking after I married my baby-daddy, and I stayed quit for 3 years. I started back for some unknown reason when Sweet Girl was about 2 years old. Actually, it's a known reason, but I'd rather not talk about it.

In June of 1992, my sister and I rode in our first Bicycle Ride Across Georgia. We didn't smoke during the day, but when we got into camp, we'd sneak off somewhere and smoke. We had regressed back to our pre-16-year-old days! I remember one time we went around to the BACK of the school where we were camping, so we wouldn't bother anyone with our illicit smoke. This battle-axe of a woman came stomping out the door (that we hadn't noticed was standing open to air the school out with 95-degree breezes) and demanded, "You girls go somewhere else to smoke. That's disgusting!"

That same September, Katydid (I'm using that for your nickname now) and I bought our first what we THOUGHT were expensive bicycles. I remember her saying to me, "If we quit smoking, we could pay for these bikes in a year with the money we'd save." I thought to myself, "Damn! That's a lot of money!" Hmph. Little did I know about my future bicycles. Or how much cigarettes would cost in the future.

The weekend we were supposed to go buy our new bikes, I was sick. It was either bronchitis or a very bad cold, but it incapacitated me to the point that I couldn't make the shopping trip. I told Katydid, "I trust you. Whatever you decide to buy, just get me one like it." 'Cause that's what sisters do. Our brother bought one too, I think because he couldn't stand the thought of his sisters being more macho than he was. He didn't keep it very long. Screw macho-ness.

So they took care of the bicycle purchase, and we were supposed to pick them up the next weekend (I think). That Monday night, September 28th, I was watching Monday Night Football, because that was back in the day before I had to go to bed by 8:30. I have no idea who was playing......Wait, that's what the internet is for.......I'll go look.............

Okay, I'm back. Apparently the Raiders (I don't know if it was before, during, or after their many relocations, so I don't know if they were Oakland Raiders, Los Angeles Raiders, or back to Oakland Raiders at that particular time....wait, I'll go look.......never mind, screw it) lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 28-7. They played in Kansas City, and the attendance was 77,622. Don't you just love the internet?

Anyway, I was watching the game, and I don't know whom I was pulling for, but it was probably the Raiders because I always loved Kenny Stabler. Never mind that he quit playing in 1979. I was coughing and smoking, coughing and smoking, coughing and smoking. Suddenly I had an epiphany.

"This is stupid," I recall saying to myself. Quietly, so I wouldn't wake the lump on the sofa.

I never smoked another one.

I can only remember two occasions in the past 16 years when I might have reached for a cigarette. On neither occasion was it a desperate "God, I have GOT to have a cigarette," but more of a knee-jerk reaction to a stressful situation that passed in less time than it has taken to type this. Once was in 1994 when my doctor called me, IN PERSON, to tell me that the results of that wonderful once-a-year test that all pre-menopausal women are supposed to have were abnormal. I don't think the news scared me as much as did hearing that it was HIS voice on the other end of the phone line, not that of his nurse. (Turned out to be nothing, thankfully.)

The other situation was in 1998, when I was involved in a very minor accident while driving a U-Haul truck back from a student competition down in South Georgia. No one was injured in the accident, but when the nice representative from U-Haul told me they would send another truck right out and unload the one I was driving, my stress level intensified exponentially. I didn't dare tell them that the truck I was driving carried two student projects: an automobile engine and a small house that 10 men couldn't lift. As it turned out, one of the people who had stayed on the scene to support me in the accident report statements was able to figure out why the truck wouldn't start, and he fixed it. No need to unload it on the side of the interstate after all. This same guy and his sister stayed on the scene for the hour and a half it took the state patrol to get to us. Seems in the back-up caused by our little accident, a rather serious accident had occurred. So we had to stand there and wait and wait and wait and wait, and those two folks stayed with me although they didn't have to. They were both smoking, and I remember thinking, albeit briefly, "Damn I wish I still smoked." But again, the feeling passed very quickly. Don't you wish I hadn't burdened you with this drivel?

Occasionally I dream about smoking. Not wistfully, mind you, but even in my dreams I am aware that I'm not SUPPOSED to smoke. Every time I have this dream, I realize I'm smoking, and I think to myself, "Oh no, the last _____ years are all meaningless now!" (It's that all-or-nothing thinking again.)

It's a good thing I quit before I met hubby. He has NEVER smoked, even though both of his parents and his sister did. He has never even been tempted to smoke, and he says if I had still been a smoker, we would have never been together. Things do happen for a reason. Who would have known that I would be thankful for a terrible cold?
*I said "wedding" because we got to the courthouse in Chattanooga five minutes before they closed on a Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend. They married us and the two couples who came in after us. That's for a later post.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

And another thing.......

I meant to add this to yesterday's post, but I'm gonna cheat and make it a separate one. My blog, my toys, I can do what I want....

My co-worker left school yesterday with a tire that was almost flat. The tread looked really bad, like it had been sliced off the corner of the tire (odd, isn't it, that a tire can have a corner? sort of? whatever). But she said the tires had all been put on at the same time, only a couple of months ago.

I thought she could make it home if she stopped and put air in it, and I told her I would follow her to the convenience store about a mile and half from school. When I got there, she had decided to change the tire and not take the chance on driving 30-35 miles home on it.

We changed it, and I think we did a marvelous job.

But here's the thing.

There were these four guys sitting outside the store, probably no more than 50 feet from us. They watched us change the tire and never once offered to help. These weren't elderly men sitting outside the general store, either. They were young. And I'm sure they see themselves as macho, since they were sitting outside a tattoo parlor. And they didn't offer to help two women changing a flat tire. One of whom (that would be me) had sweat pouring off her face. (The women in our family don't sweat delicately. It's like a fountain or something.) They were evidently amused by the long lines of cars trying to get gas. It has become a source of entertainment in our town, driving around seeing which stores have gas. Until you need some. Then it's not so entertaining. It's a Catch-22 around here: you need gas, but you have to drive around looking for gas, and you run out trying to get it. I've heard on the news about fights breaking out in gas lines.

Back to the four guys at the store.

I don't expect chivalry or anything. And if they had offered, I might have said, "No, we've got it." But shouldn't they have at least offered?

My co-worker made it to the tire store near her home, where she found out that apparently something was wrong with her front axle. It cost her a pretty penny, but I guess it could have been worse. Her axle could have broken with no one around except those four guys.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Common" Courtesy...

Whatever happened to common courtesy? It doesn't appear to be so common anymore. I had to go to the tag office today to transfer the registration from the Honda to the new Harley. It was a quick and painless procedure, and I was in and out of there in less time than it took to take my helmet and gloves and goggles off when I got there.

The girl called me to the counter just as the phone rang. She answered it, and then continued to carry on what was obviously a personal conversation the entire time she "waited" on me.

Girl: Oh, you have to stay late?


Girl: Why?


Girl: Mutter, mutter, mutter, mumble, mumble, mumble

The only time she asked the person on the phone with her to hold on was when she was going to get up and go get my new license plate for me.

I said, "I just want to transfer the plate from the Honda to the Harley."

She sat back down and continued her conversation, interjecting occasionally with, "Five dollars, ma'am," and "Thank you."

It wasn't busy; one customer was waiting for another one and the woman next to me just didn't get the answer she wanted. But other than that the place was deserted. So couldn't she have put the phone call on hold just long enough for me to leave?

Maybe I'm just getting to be an old fuddy-dud. I don't expect public workers to kowtow to me or fall all over themselves helping me out. But it would be nice to think I'm worthy of having a conversation with. I'm tempted to write a letter to the tax commissioner, the person responsible for running that office. If I were that girl's supervisor, I would ask her to correct her behavior or find a job somewhere else. My mother would have a field day with her.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Past My Bedtime and Rooting for the Underdog.....

Hubby is out of town on a golf trip, and I'm enjoying some quality "me" time. Usually I'm in bed by 8:00, lights out by 8:30 (9:00 if I'm really into a good book). Tonight I watched "Dancing with the Stars" from Monday night that I had recorded. I'd never seen the show, and we only recently got a DVR. Love the dancing, but not sure what all the hype is about.

At 9:00, when it was already past my bedtime, I STARTED cooking for our pot luck lunch at school tomorrow. I made some cheese muffins (thanks to Pioneeer Woman) and then I got ambitious and made some baby quiches. I glanced over the recipe quickly, since I'd made it a hundred times about a hundred years ago. I only saw "bake 30 minutes" and thought to myself, "Heck, 30 more minutes isn't much." I didn't take into consideration the prep time, nor did I notice that you have to preheat the oven all the way to 425 degrees AND there's a 15-minute cook time BEFORE the 30 minutes. Oh well....45 more minutes isn't much either. Not when Oregon State is making #1 USC look like a bunch of punks (14-0 so far in the 2nd quarter). I'm loving it. (My apologies to The Pioneer Woman, a USC alum.)

It's not JUST that USC is ranked #1 and always are and my beloved Bulldogs are currently ranked #3 and have a huge showdown in our own backyard this Saturday. It must have something to do with that awful USC music.......

This may be the ONLY post I ever write with a label of "cooking."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Balancing my checkbook is not usually such a challenge. I (usually) write everything down, (usually) use a calculator, (usually) balance the checkbook as soon as the statement comes, (usually) have a good mental picture of what's in the checkbook. This month I made a whole series of unfortunate mistakes that just about had me pulling my hair out by the roots. And my hair is really short. It would have taken a Herculean effort.

Sometimes when I transfer money from savings to cover an unusual expense, I transfer the exact amount and pay the bill online without writing down either transaction, since they cancel each other out. It (usually) works out fine.

This month I had one such transfer, and then I transferred some money FROM my savings and put some INTO Sweet Girl's account, but I wrote down the deposit and not the deduction. Bad move. Then I wrote down a transaction at the grocery store twice. And I tried to deduct a credit card bill twice that was almost a thousand dollars (I had actually written it down twice but not subtracted it yet), but that was just laughable. I could see by looking online that I wasn't overdrawn at the bank, because I'm sure they would be nice enough to send me a greeting card if that were the case.

The amount I was off by was a strange amount of $463.60. No transaction for that amount in the records. Then I cleverly divided it by two, thinking that........ I don't know what the hell I was thinking, I was just randomly punching numbers on the calculator at this point.

It took some detective work to discover the combination of the $500 transfer that I neglected to write down and a $36.40 grocery store transaction that I wrote down twice. Good Lord. I'm exhausted. And I thought I might want to teach math...... Give me algebra any old day. I can do x's and y's all day long.

It didn't help that I waited 16 days to balance the checkbook after the statement came. I've been dutifully carrying it around in my bookbag, thinking....oh, maybe when I got caught up with the three thousand projects at school that I still need to grade, I'd balance the checkbook during my planning period. Oh wait.....I don't have a planning period. And we've had performance reviews (our version of the old-fashioned parent conference) before school, after school, and during school every day for the last week. Yeah right.....balance the checkbook in my spare time.

I'd like to have a drink to celebrate, but I think I'll just go to bed instead.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mama Bear...

I don't know if mamas ever get to the point where they don't want to protect their cubs fiercely. Sweet Girl has a........ I don't want to call him a stalker -- yet...... let's just say an over-aggressive suitor. On her second (or was it the first?) day in her new command, this freakazoid approached her and said he was new and asked if she could show him around. Sweet Girl doesn't have a mean bone in her body (clearly not DNA she got from ME), and she told him she would be happy to, once she got settled in the command, yada yada yada.

This walking creep show has hounded her unmercifully. To make matters worse, her sort-of boyfriend, whom she drove ALL THE WAY TO VIRGINIA to see, told her they weren't "seeing" each other anymore (how can you "see" one another from 500 miles away anyway?) and that he would be changing his email address. WTF? So she got together with a girlfriend over the weekend and did girl things to try to forget about him. They shopped, went out to eat, played Monopoly, watched movies. Freakazoid asks how she spent the weekend, and because her not-my-DNA kicked in, she told him. His response: "I could have made you feel a lot better."

She's known this creep for not quite a week! And then he sends her a text message something to the effect of "I could make you really happy."

This mama bear wants to drive down to Jacksonville and kick his man parts up around his ears (if he actually has any, that is). He's messing with my cub! Hubby is ready to pack up his .357 magnum and drive down there to take matters into his own hands. (Not really, but he doesn't take these things lightly.) And remember, this is not his biological child.

I may be guilty of overreacting, but I've already told her to report him to the higher-ups. She's hesitant to do so because she's so new in the command and hasn't found her way yet. This command appears to be a little more rigid and a little less friendly than her last one, so naturally she doesn't want to make waves this soon.

But Mama Bear feels no such compunction because Mama Bear ain't in the Navy. Don't mess with my cub.

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Friend Terri....

I've been thinking a lot about my friend Terri lately. She and I went to school together all the way from first grade until graduation, except for the one year I moved away in sixth grade. We were both chubby cheerleaders for our 8th grade team, until Terri moved on to play basketball and I moved on to the band and drill team.

We were both part of a large circle of friends in high school, though not the I'm-coming-over-to-spend-the-night-at-your-house kind of friends. We went to the same parties and had many friends in common. After graduation we didn't see each other terribly often, although after I married my baby-daddy there was an unfortunate incident in a back bedroom at our house when a windshield got broken. Nuff said about that.

Terri majored in journalism and worked for several newspapers in our state. She worked for a while in Plains, the town where former president Jimmy Carter is from. She became editor of a small town newspaper in North Georgia, and our motorcycle ride this past weekend took us through the middle of that town, right around the courthouse and the town square. Maybe that's one reason she's been on my mind so much lately. That and the fact that when she bought a motorcycle several years ago, I was absolutely in awe of her. At that time I had no concept of ever having one myself. At that time I was still respecting my mother's wishes that I never have, ride, or stare too long at a motorcycle. I remember someone saying Terri had bought a Harley. She said, "It's not a Harley, it's a Honda. But it's a bad-ass Honda."

Terri never married or had children, though she was devoted to her niece and nephew. She loved fiercely, and I think she dated a few guys after high school, but she remained single. THAT is someone's great loss.

Terri was very overweight; she was probably classified as morbidly obese, although I cannot see her that way. She was flamboyant in dress and make-up, and she lived as large as she was. It TOOK a large body to hold all that vibrancy in. She was funny and smart and big-hearted and made up for the absence of husband and children in her life by constantly giving back to her community and her world.

A few years ago, four of us girls from high school -- Terri, Amanda, Susan, and me -- got together and spent the weekend at Susan's condo on Isle of Palms, South Carolina. We lapsed right back into talking just like we were fresh out of high school instead of almost 30 years (at that time) removed from it. Terri talked about a guy she was dating, and she seemed to care a lot for him, but he was a little hesitant to make a commitment. She asked us, one of whom had been married for 20 years to the same person, one who had been married twice, one who had been married three times, our advice on everything from relationships in general to sex. We laughed and laughed and laughed. We ate and shopped in Charleston and walked on the beach in the frigid air and visited Susan's brother's condo on Patriot's Point.

Terri was the kind of person who could get away with asking -- or saying -- things that the rest of us only thought. And believe me, reticence has never been MY strong point. But Terri could get away with things that even I couldn't. When we had raided Susan's brother's liquor cabinet, and I had played on his gorgeous baby grand piano, and we had looked out at the mist over the bay (harbor? sound?), Terri asked Susan how much that condo would go for if her brother should sell it. Susan said this and that about the market, fluctuations, factors to consider, blah blah blah, and Terri said, "Susan, just cut the bullshit. How much?" That was just Terri's way. And no one loved her any less for it. Maybe it was the journalist in her. Susan, absolutely not offended, told her what she wanted to know.

Before Terri got up on that Saturday morning of our get-away weekend, Susan and Amanda said they thought we should go to the mall and have makeovers done. I was thrilled at the suggestion, but thought their motivation was a little high-handed. Seems they thought that Terri needed some expert advice on how to tone down her garish make-up. Terri's make-up was legendary. And it's not like it was an accident; it was part of her. And it wasn't like she wasn't aware of its effect. She liked it! Still, off to the mall we went. Terri and I spent the most money, buying everything the make-up artist (technician? isn't everybody a technician these days?) used on our faces. Then she and I took a buggy ride around Charleston while Amanda and Susan shopped.
While we were on the buggy ride, my cell phone rang. Our tour guide stopped his little spiel, and everyone else on the buggy looked at me in amusement. Or they glared in irritation. I'd like to think it was the former. It was Amanda on the phone. "Do you want anything from the liquor store?" I thought everyone on the buggy could hear her, and although I desperately did, I wasn't about to place an order for a fifth of rum with an entire buggy full of people listening. "No," I whispered. "That's okay."

Seems that's not all they shopped for while Terri and I were playing tourists. When we got back to the condo, they presented Terri with a self-help book they had bought to help her with her relationship issues. It was called, "Oral Sex for Dummies." I'm serious. We had many good laughs, more and more raucous the more we drank, and took turns reading out loud from the book. By the end of the night we were hysterical, our sides aching from laughing so much.

The next morning, we got up and made coffee and lounged around before we ventured out on our last day together. Terri was the last one to emerge from her bedroom. We had given her the one that overlooked the beach, and she slept with the sliding glass door open so she could hear the ocean, even though it was FREEZING outside and the wind was howling. When she emerged from her bedroom that morning, her glorious makeover was gone, and in its place was her trademark caricature of herself. She grinned as only Terri could grin and said, "Y'all. I can't just go cold turkey."

I took many pictures that weekend, and after I got home I decided to make each of us a scrapbook of memories. I bought four identical 7"x7" scrapbooks, had four prints made of each picture, and made the scrapbooks as alike as I could with the supplies I had. It was tedious, but I put a lot of love into those little books. I sent one to each of the other girls, and their reactions made me know it was worth every second I had spent on the project.

That was in January. In July Terri died suddenly of a heart attack at the wheel of her car. She was leaving an event for one of her many charitable organizations, and the friend who was with her managed to get the car stopped. But there was no saving Terri. She was 45. When Amanda, Susan, and I saw each other at her funeral, we looked at each other aghast and said, "Oh my God, her mother is going to find that book about oral sex."
Her mother and brother both told me how much that little scrapbook had meant to Terri, and on the front of the program for her memorial service was this picture that I had taken the weekend we spent together at the condo. When I decided to make the scrapbooks, I had no idea why I was doing it. Now I do.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fall is in the air...

Gus and I finally went to the park today, and there was just a touch of fall in the air. Those first crisp autumn mornings tend to fill me with either tremendous energy or an ache in my heart that I can't explain or describe. Today I was leaning toward the melancholy to start with, so the chill in the air made me a little morose. No, morose is not the word....introspective maybe. In addition to my heaviness of mood, the skies were overcast. Perhaps that explains the weirdness of the photographs I chose to take on our walk today.

I feel compelled to comment on that last one because it bugs me. Being both a biker (although I prefer the term "cyclist") and a hiker in this state park, I think I can offer objective commentary.

The paths in the park have been expertly designed to keep mountain bikers and walkers separated for the most part. Naturally, however, there are a couple of places where it is necessary for the different paths to converge -- like going over the bridge, for example.

Why should the cyclists yield to the walkers? It's much easier for the walkers to step aside on the path and allow the bicycles, presumably traveling at a faster rate anyway, to pass. There are some occasions when it is not only dangerous but darn near impossible for a bicycle to get off the path.

When I'm walking in the park, I step aside and allow the cyclists to pass. And they usually tell me "thank you." I think I would do that even if I weren't a cyclist in my other life.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ride to Survive......

The Ride to Survive was wonderful. We couldn't have asked for better weather -- cool enough to need the leather jackets (therefore also LOOKING cool) but not uncomfortably cold. This is the one time I wish I could be a passenger so I could take pictures.

This was an escorted ride, with a group of police motorcycles leading the way. It was absolutely awesome to look ahead and see motorcycles as far as the eye could see, and a long snake of motorcycles visible in my mirrors. The downside of an escorted ride is that you constantly have to shift. Speed up, slow down. Shift up, shift down. But you blow through intersections, and cars pull off to the side of the road -- even on a divided highway, for some reason -- to give the motorcycles room to pass.

I wish I had a picture of the four seemingly identical horses in a field off to the left, all poised in the same position with lifted heads to watch the long line of motorcycles pass.

I also wish I had a picture of the guy who appeared to be fly fishing in his front yard. I'm sure he was just practicing his casting, but it was a funny sight to see. I wanted to shout, "Catching anything?" as we rode by, but I didn't know if he would hear me. Or if he might cast a hook in my direction and maim me for life.

It was my first ride of any length on the new Harley with the new seat, and it made a huge difference in comfort. We stopped midway to Helen for a break, and when I saw where we were stopping, I said to myself, "There is NO WAY we can get all these motorcycles in this parking lot." But surprisingly enough, we all managed to get in there in a somewhat organized fashion, and after about a 30-minute break we were on our way again.

Hubby has a habit of turning in and heading off for the nearest parking place instead of waiting in turn for the line to move forward. Which means we are then separated from him. He did it at the midway point, and then again at the end. Step-daughter and I looked at each other and said at the exact same time, "Why does he DO that?"

We didn't stay for the drawing. We figured we had already won one Harley, so the odds of us winning another one weren't very good. Besides, the one they were giving away was UGLY. Orange, for heaven's sake. We don't do orange.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Guilty Pleasures...

No, I'm not talking about THAT. This is not that kind of a blog.

I'm going to see a play with a dear friend from school tonight, and I find myself feeling a little guilty. Friday nights hubby and I usually have a quick bite at a local joint that serves beer (since the place a mile from our house closed, we have to drive a whole 3 miles), return home to watch t.v. (usually the tail-end of some golf tournament, until he falls asleep and I wrest the remote from his sleeping hand and turn it to college football), and go to bed at our standard 8:30. The exhilaration of our social life knows no bounds.

So I don't really understand why I feel guilty. I sent him a text message this morning asking him if he minded, and the response was "Have fun." He called before I got home this afternoon to say that he was going to play nine more holes of golf, and he would see me when I got home tonight. He really doesn't mind it. So why do I have this twinge of guilt? Am I not supposed to go out occasionally and have fun without him? It's not like I'm leaving him with children to take care of, or an ailing parent, or even the housework to do. Just pets, and they're pretty self-sufficient. They can sleep in the recliner next to him just as easily with me gone. And I repeat ... he really doesn't mind it. I think it's just the way we women are wired. I'm sure he doesn't feel guilty when he plays 36 holes of golf on Saturday and leaves me here alone. And that's okay. I need that "me" time.

In fact, puh-lease don't tell him how much I'm looking forward to his going out of town on a golf trip with his buddies (one of whom is my ex-husband, but that's a post for another day) next weekend. It would hurt his feelings. But as soon as he plans one of these trips (usually three or four times a year), I get busy planning what I can do.

I can get some Chinese food. I can read until midnight. I can watch a football game all the way to the end. I can eat ice cream. I can play mindless games on the computer.

Like I said, the exhilaration of our social lives knows no bounds...

My (First) Wedding.......

Actually, it was my ONLY wedding, just not my only marriage.

I was telling this story at school today, and one of my co-workers suggested I blog about it. Thanks, Lynn!

[I'm also trying to multi-task, which is always risky for me. I'm supposed to be paying attention to an online department meeting, but I have trouble just listening and watching.]

When I married my baby-daddy (doesn't that sound better than "ex-husband"?), we had a formal church wedding, not really that big, but big enough. It was at 8:00 PM because I wanted like a gazillion candles. A gazillion candles put off a hell of a lot of heat in June in the South. And a gazillion yellow roses (it was the year after Princess Diana got married, and I was trying to outdo her, I guess) weigh a gazillion pounds when they are in a piece of foam that has been soaked in ice water to keep them fresh.

My maid-of-honor, one of my best friends from high school [why did I say that? who the hell else would you have for a maid of honor?], was there for the ceremony but curiously absent for the pictures afterward. Everything was a whirlwind, and I didn't think to question it. I remember being SLIGHTLY irritated that Amanda had disappeared, but we went ahead with the picture-taking and proceeded to the reception.

At the reception I learned that Amanda's parents had been in a terrible car accident the morning of my wedding. Her mother had to be sedated, and they were waiting for Amanda to come to the hospital to authorize surgery on her father's brain and heart. And she came and went through my wedding. I don't know if I'll ever be more touched in my life than I was when I found that out. Everyone in my family knew about it, but they didn't want to tell me on the day of my wedding.

Because we got married so late at night, we had decided to spend the night at a Holiday Inn in the next town and leave for our honeymoon in Daytona the next morning. (What a stupid place to go on a honeymoon. But I digress.) I don't remember how long we stayed at the reception, but I know we did the whole changing-into-our-going-away-clothes, throwing the bouquet (a smaller one designed just for throwing, as it was damn near impossible to toss a "bouquet" that had two dozen yellow roses in it), throwing the bird seed (so we didn't have to pay the church a $25 clean-up fee), and all that jazz.

Amanda's father was in the hospital in the same town where we were spending the night, and I was anxious to get there and see Amanda and check on her parents. But we wanted to go by the Holiday Inn and check in first, as it was getting pretty late by this time.

It should have been a sign.........................

When we checked in at the desk, there was a message from my baby-daddy's MOTHER that he was to call her immediately. Seems he left the reception without saying goodbye to her, and she was sobbing hysterically. [You'd have to know these people...]

We had to leave and drive the 25 MILES BACK to their house instead of going to the hospital. I remember his mother saying to me, "_______, I'm not a horse's ass." I begged to differ.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pets Part 1....

I haven't always been a pet person. We didn't have many pets when I was growing up, because not even children got to go to the doctor very often. We didn't have the money most of my life, and when we did have money, it certainly wasn't to be spent on a dog.

But Sweet Girl grew up to be an animal lover, and we have allowed her all sorts of pets over the years. She had a couple of stray dogs in a previous wifetime (yes, I meant wifetime....I get the red squigglies too) when we lived out in the country, but most of them experienced bad karma.

When it was just the two of us at last, she acquired a black-and-white cat named Wheeler. We were renting a duplex that didn't allow pets, so Wheeler was an outside cat. He showed up at meal times and we occasionally allowed him to come inside and watch television, but other than that he was strictly an outdoors sort of guy.

When hubby and I got married, Sweet Girl and I moved into his house. He's lived in the same house since 19-freakin'-73, so the man isn't going anywhere. (That's fodder for another post.) Okay, it was actually before we married that we moved in, but my grandmother might read this blog. Oh wait, my grandmother passed away in 2003. Never mind.

We moved in on Valentine's Day, and it was pouring rain. In all the times I've moved in my life, I believe it has been raining every single time. We backed the U-Haul up as close to the front door as possible, and when we opened the big door to the truck, there was a gray cat inside. Not Wheeler; he rode in the car. We had never seen this cat before. He must have gotten in the truck to escape the rain when we were loading, but we hadn't even seen it around the duplex.

He was a beautiful cat, completely gray, and of such a sweet temperament. When we later got a dog, the dog would put the cat's whole head in his mouth to play with him. The cat just rolled his eyes and waited for the dog to grow weary of his silliness. Which was about 8 seconds. More on him later.

Sweet Girl named the cat Smokey, which was very appropriate. Hubby called him Smog. He rarely calls pets by their real names. This one was one of the closer approximations.

When we went to Mexico on vacation, Sweet Girl stayed home under the supervision of hubby's mother, who lives within sight of our house. But nobody supervised Wheeler, and he never came back after we returned from Mexico.

Smokey was murdered by neighborhood dogs. Their owners allowed them to roam, and they decided to pick on Smokey, who never left the yard and wouldn't harm anything. I never heard him hiss in the whole time we had him. It was a Sunday morning when I heard the commotion, and by the time I got outside, the dogs were gone, and Smokey was lying limp on the driveway. I brought him up the steps and put him in a bed on the porch, but when I went to get dressed, he had dragged himself back down the steps and under the car, where he died. I guess he wanted to die on his own terms.

Then there was Tigger, a tabby. Hubby called him Brutus. We let him stay inside some of the time, but he didn't have a litter box. He was very well trained and never had an accident in the house that I remember. He would come inside to eat, or we would put a bowl outside on the porch, and he hung around the yard. Most of the time. Except for the time he got run over at the entrance to our subdivision. This is a picture of him asleep under the Christmas tree.

Hubby had a Pomeranian, Auggie, who was 13 years old when Sweet Girl and I moved in. Auggie had to be restricted to the kitchen and dining room, so we had short little gates in front of all the doorways leading out of those rooms. After all, a Pom can only jump so high. Auggie was so funny, though. He would come to the gate leading to the living room and bark, and you had to guess what he wanted. If you went to the kitchen and took the gate down for him to go outside and that was NOT what he wanted, he would jump backward with these little hops. If he didn't want to go out, he probably wanted a "stick," a jerky treat for dogs. And he probably wanted to dig under his bed and hide it with the twenty-six sticks he had already hidden there. A Pom can't ever know when he might need to lay by for the winter. Or a siege. Auggie gradually began to show signs of old age, and he died one Sunday afternoon when I was at a school function. I came home and saw all the gates down, and I knew it was tragic.

We swore we wouldn't have any more dogs, and we didn't. For about three months. Then we got Newt, a Jack Russell Terrier. Of sorts. Hubby called him Newtster. We determined that he needed to be an outside dog, and with a fenced-in back yard, it wasn't a problem. Newt wasn't as hyper as some Jack Russells, and he was good-natured and didn't cause any problems. Didn't bark, didn't dig (much), just pretty much enjoyed being a dog. He loved the pool, and he had this very strange thing he did..... When hubby would swing his granddaughter around in circles in the water, Newt would go crazy and jump in to rescue her. He didn't do anything once he got in there, but the circles thing drove him nuts. Then we discovered that he would jump in if you just stood in the shallow end, held out your arms, and turned around in a circle. I don't know what it was about circular motion and Newt.

About two months after we got Newt (named after the son of Captain Call on Lonesome Dove), hubby came walking into the trailer where I was teaching at the time with a ball of fur in his hands. He looked sheepish (once I got my ninth-grade girls to stop squealing) and said, "He was next to the road. I couldn't let him get run over." He also said another woman had stopped, and he gave her our phone number so she could come get the dog that night. Yeah right. That woman is still laughing somewhere. That bundle of fur looked like a baby grizzly bear. So his name became Grizz. Hubby called him Grizzman. And he grew from that adorable bundle of fur into a 99-pound bundle of fur. But he was gentle and lovable, and he was the one who would put the cat's head into his mouth. The cat must have known that Grizz was harmless. And brainless.

He wanted to be where we were, but he didn't much care for the pool. When we put up the fence, it took Newt about 5 seconds to figure out how to pull the gate open from the outside. Poor Grizz never figured out how to PUSH it open from the INSIDE. He would stand at the gate and look pitifully (and rather stupidly) at us until one of us opened the gate to let him out. He wanted no part of that water. All he had to do was lean on the gate a LITTLE bit, but he never got it. Poor Grizz. I hope he and Newt are still together, wherever they are. I cried for days when they left.

To be continued...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The picture I should have taken...

If I had been alone when I saw this particular sign, I would have stopped and taken a picture. But as it was, I was on the back of hubby's motorcycle, uncomfortable as hell, and we just wanted to GET THERE. If I had asked him to stop while I took a photo, he might just have ridden off into the sunset without me on the back. It's the only time I've been a passenger since I got my motorcycle, but we were going to pick up my new one, and it was the only sensible way to get there. My butt was sore and my legs were stiff from being in the same position for about an hour and a half. But I digress.

Beside a small house/business was a sign that said, "Psychic Sarah." Among other things, it advertised "Past...Present." Seriously. Do I need a psychic to tell me my past and present? Who pays money for that? Maybe it's for those senior moments, like maybe she can tell me where I put my car keys. Or the dog's collar.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I'm not usually into bugs...

....but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to take pictures of this guy when I got to school on Friday. She/he was attached to our back door, and I thought the web was beautiful. Someone at school said it was a writing spider, and if she/he wrote your name, you would die. I fully expect to die anyway, but if that thing comes up with MY name, that's one intelligent spider. I wish I had had my big camera with me, but the pocket-sized Canon was all I had at the time. And it was overcast as well.

I am also on a kick of taking pictures of the moon as it comes up between two trees right next to our neighbors' house. But if I open the aperture enough or keep the shutter open long enough, naturally it comes out blurry. (And I have now officially exhausted my knowledge of photography.) So tonight I stopped at Best Buy and used my Rewards Zone certificates to purchase a tripod. Unfortunately, I'll have to stay up until dark to see if I can get a decent picture.

I liked this shot even if it was blurry. It has sort of an Edgar Allan Poe feel to it I think.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tranquility Forest...

On my way to my mother's house today, I passed a trailer park called "Tranquility Forest." The name alone made me think back to the days when we lived in a trailer park. I spent the years from just before 5 years old to the summer after I turned 10 in a trailer park. Although it wasn't a terrible place to grow up, especially back then, I can remember times when there wasn't much tranquility there.

For one thing, in the beginning there were 7 of us. In a single-wide trailer. That was back when my parents were still together, for whatever misguided reason that might have been. The two older girls shared a bedroom on one end of the trailer with their own half-bathroom. The two boys shared a small bedroom with bunk beds in the middle of the trailer. I slept on a fold-away cot in my parents' room on the other end of the trailer. Surely I wasn't the reason for their divorce......................nah, there were too many other extenuating circumstances. Like they pretty much hated each other. How they came to produce 5 children is a mystery to me.

Being the "baby," naturally I didn't get to go first in the bathroom. Either of them. I distinctly remember one morning really having to "go," and it wasn't my turn. I can remember the thought process.....or lack thereof. I figured nobody would notice if I peed in the heater vent in the floor. It must have been winter, because the heat was on. Somebody noticed.

Our trailer park had two parts, "Up the Hill" and "Down the Hill." Naturally there was a hill that separated the two parts. It seemed to me then to be a HUGE hill, although it probably wouldn't even involve shifting gears on my bicycle today. I'll have to ride by there one day and see. We lived Down the Hill, which was the older part of the trailer park. There was a circle, and if you drove into the main entrance and went left in the circle, we were the fifth trailer on the left. There were trailers in the inside part of the circle too; I don't remember how many.

Every day Mama would call from work (it was weird that my mother worked....my friends' mothers didn't) and ask where my brother was. The answer, invariably, was "Up the Hill." "Well go get him and tell him to come home." Sigh. Why couldn't he just hang around long enough for her to call, and THEN go get into whatever mischief he was destined for on any given day? Although we are three and a half years apart in age, we looked so much alike that some people thought we were twins. Or were they just being mean? I heard one time that some people in the trailer park called us "Springy" and "Nappy" because of our curly.....no, make that kinky.....blond hair. I don't know which one I was.

I don't remember how long my father lived there with us. It wasn't very long, but I remember one particularly nasty incident while he still lived there. My sister must have been around 13 or 14 years old, and she was on the telephone. She would stretch the phone cord as far as it would go and run it under her bedroom door so she could have a little privacy. Nice concept in a single-wide trailer with 7 people in it, but perhaps not realistic. I'm guessing he had told her to get off the phone, but not necessarily. I remember that he picked up her guitar, probably the most precious thing she owned, and broke it over her back. I was horrified. Traumatized. I didn't even know enough to be glad it wasn't me. But I don't remember him ever being angry with me. Maybe because he was gone before I was old enough to cause him any trouble.

I don't know why I remember this, but I do. Perhaps it's because it is so ridiculous and so indicative of my father's personality. Right before my parents separated for good, I recall my father making up the bed before he left for work.....BUT ONLY HIS SIDE.

There was a couple who lived in the trailer behind us, and I think I had a crush on the husband when I was 6 or 7. I can't remember what either of them looked like, but it seems he was very handsome. My sister would occasionally baby-sit for them, I think, but I was told not to be over there. Probably because I didn't know how NOT to make a nuisance of myself. I thought everyone thought I was cute. I didn't know then about being polite and wishing that nappy-headed young'un would go home.

One night my sister and I were both over there, although I don't really understand that because the wife of this couple was also home. Anyway, when the husband drove up, the wife grabbed a huge, vicious-looking butcher knife out of the drawer and screamed, "I'm gonna cut his guts out and play with them!!!!!" I was horrified that she would even think of such a thing. I mean, really. Play with his guts? That's just nasty. No tranquility in that forest. I think this incident stuck in my mind because that was my first clue that perhaps other couples fought just like my parents did.

Another time I was at the trailer of some folks who lived nearer the entrance to the trailer park. There were lots of people milling around in the yard; perhaps they were having a party. His name was Donny; his son's name was Denny. And their last name started with a "D" also. I thought that was cute. Donny either came home and started to get out of his VW bus (it wasn't called a van back then), or he went to the bus for something. A shot rang out, Donny clutched himself, and I took off. I ran as fast as my short, chubby little legs would take me, never mind the rocks under my bare feet. I burst into our trailer and gasped, "I think Donny's been shot," and immediately afterward I was alone. Everyone else took off for Donny's trailer. Apparently he had dropped the gun out of his VW bus, and it went off and struck him. I don't remember where he was injured, but he survived. I wonder what ever happened to them...

Halloween in the trailer park was every kid's dream. We would take those large paper grocery bags for our trick-or-treating, and midway through the night we would have to go home and exchange the heavy bags for some new ones. Perhaps people gave us candy because they thought we were cute in our homemade, last-minute costumes. Perhaps they thought if they gave us candy we would go away for good.

My mother did the best job she could with 5 children to raise as a single mother and $30 per week in child support. Seriously. She tried to instill a sense of right and wrong in us, and she did her best to make sure we had some values. She told me not to go into other people's houses and ask for food, because I was pretty much a human garbage disposal back then. Oh wait, I still am. That's what my eldest brother called me, and I didn't even know what a garbage disposal WAS. We didn't have a lot of money, and what we did have had to be spent on necessities. Therefore we didn't have a lot of junk food in our house. My other brother and I were in a neighbor's trailer one afternoon, perhaps invited, perhaps just being nuisances. I spied some cookies on the counter and stared at them longingly....perhaps lovingly. I waited the polite amount of time for the woman to offer me some, but alas it was not forthcoming. Looking back with adult eyes, I'm sure she was silently praying that these two children would just leave. I said, very subtly, "I see you have some new cookies!" My brother was mortified. Looking back I am mortified myself.

I learned to swim at the pool in the trailer park. And I learned to ride a bike and roller skate. I learned that the two pigs kept in a pen between our trailer and the creek were not pets. I learned that sometimes going barefoot is not the best plan, especially if what looks like water on the streets turns out to be liquid tar they have just sprinkled in preparation for repaving. I learned that I shouldn't taunt a boy who was cutting off pieces of apple with a paring knife. I learned that jumping off a box that a bicycle had come in was not a good idea. And I learned that no matter where you spend your formative years, that place does not have to define who you are. I try to take that lesson into my classroom every day.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Productive Day.....

Doesn't he have the sexiest calves in the whole world? I mean, for a man....

We went and picked scuppernongs this afternoon. Hubby loves them, and he saw an ad in the paper for a place where you could pick your own. We rode the motorcycles down there, which made it that much better. Of course, it also limited how many we could pick. I guess that's a good thing too. Maybe there will be a few left by Monday so I can take some to school for lunch.

We also went to the Harley place to see about getting a sissy bar put on my bike, along with a luggage rack. We are doing a ride next weekend to Helen, and we originally thought we would spend the night up there. We have since changed our minds about that, but I still need a sissy bar if I'm going to carry anything on my bike. Like my lunch. Or my bookbag. Or my big-dog camera. In the week I've had it, I've already replaced the seat on my Harley ($$$$$) and now I'm adding the sissy bar and luggage rack ($$$$$). But the bike was free, after all, so I can justify spending money on it. If I have to. Which I don't.

The ride next weekend is an escorted ride called The Ride to Survive, to benefit our local rape crisis center. We did it last year, and it was awesome. We were probably in the first third of the group (probably around 200 motorcycles), and when we got to the turning around point, we could see the tail of the "snake" coming into the parking lot. It was a neat thing to see. Having police escorts all the way was also very cool. Blowing through red lights, having cars pull over for us, people stopping to wave at us when we went by. I didn't have to worry about being left behind, getting lost, or not keeping up.

I also did some housework this morning; I was washing dishes at 6:15 this morning. On a Saturday. Vacuumed, mopped, stripped the bed and washed the sheets, did the grocery shopping. I'll never be a good housekeeper, but getting up and getting some things done allowed me to go off on the Harley with a clear conscience.

And the Dawgs won, although they nearly gave me heart failure.

Altogether a very productive day.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The fair ain't what it used to be....

When we were young, the fair was one of the biggest things of the year. We waited with tremendous anticipation and couldn't wait until the day arrived. I usually went with older brothers and sisters, and they had this dumb rule that you had to go in and walk around the whole fair before you rode or did anything. I guess it was so you didn't squander your money at the beginning, only to find something later than you really wanted to do.

The fair was about 5 miles from one end to the other. Or maybe it just seemed that way. And there were about a million people. And the guys running the little booths were very nice men, upstanding citizens who would never dream of cheating a little blond, curly-haired girl. My favorite ride was called the Paratrooper.....seats under canopies designed to look like parachutes. Maybe that was the beginning of my desire to skydive. I loved the ferris wheel, but I didn't really want it to stop at the top. And I did.

Because only at the top could you look around and see the whole wide world. Seriously. The whole world.

I loved cotton candy but hated the stickiness it left behind. I hated candy apples because it took too long to bite through the tough coating on the apple. And once I got to the apple, I was done anyway. Who goes to the fair to eat fruit?

We went to the fair tonight, and either the fair has changed a whole lot, or I have. We bought $20 worth of tickets, which was 20 tickets. And the two rides we picked out required 5 tickets each. Seriously. We rode two things. On the ferris wheel, your legs don't even dangle anymore. And you can't subtly make the car swing back and forth.

I don't think this guy found the fair all that much to write home about either. He may be seriously considering a career change.

I made hubby go into the building where they were showing livestock. We saw these two goats, and they weren't all that thrilled to have their picture taken. I didn't see a tip jar, so it wasn't that. Maybe they were shy. We also saw a massive bull with massive........bull parts. I put my hands on the railing to get a better look at him, and they came away wet and sticky. They were right about where the drooling bull slobber would have landed. Excuse me, I have to go wash my hands....... Okay, I'm back.

Just as we were leaving the fair (because it was, after all, 8:00 and approaching our bedtime), my sister sent me a text message saying that Billy Joel was on public television. You'd have to know us to know what seriously addicted Billy Joel fans we are. I haven't missed a Billy Joel concert in Atlanta since 1978, which is the year most of this footage was shot. I got home in time tonight to catch the tail end of the program. Of course, most of my favorite songs weren't even written yet.

Apparently Billy Joel ain't what he used to be either...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

7 Years Ago Today....

I guess people from this generation (and several others) will always remember where they were when they heard about the planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers.

I was teaching at a high school, and I've never really understood why the administrators there chose to handle the tragedy the way they did.

First they shut off our internet. Then they sent an administrator down each hallway to pull teachers out of their rooms and tell them privately and individually what had happened.

I was the last room on my hall, and the guy who was assigned to our hall wasn't actually an administrator. He was our resident computer guru/nerd, a grumpy sort with no people skills and very little personality.

When he told me what had happened, at first I thought he was talking about some kind of attack on our computer system, and I couldn't understand why he was interrupting my class to tell me this. When the words "World Trade Center" and "tower" and "crash" and "fallen" finally connected and sank in, I burst into tears. He didn't really know what to say, and he just stood there awkwardly.

I began to babble some incoherent mumbo-jumbo about my niece's husband being in the military and an M.P. and what this might mean for him, and he was just back from overseas and now he might have to leave again, and blah, blah, blah. Poor dude is still just standing there looking at me.

When I finally regained my composure, he said the administrators had asked that we return to our classrooms and resume teaching. (Hello?) We were not to discuss the tragedy with our students. One teacher was reportedly reprimanded for turning on a radio.

At the called faculty meeting that afternoon, our principal, who was FORMER MILITARY for Pete's sake, recounted the day's events as well as he knew them at that time. Remember, information was changing rapidly throughout that awful day. I don't remember much of what he said; I think I was in shock. Toward the end of the meeting, though, he made the comment that, "When you get home tonight, there's video all over the internet......if you want to watch that sort of thing." He looked disgusted.

How could you NOT watch it? Our lives changed in those moments, and he was derisive at the thought of someone watching the coverage of it on television? Perhaps he was reacting from pure shock also, but come on! I will say, though, that seeing bodies fall from the buildings was especially traumatic for me. I just couldn't stomach those images then, and I still can't stomach them now.

After school I had a hair appointment. It felt very weird sitting in a chair getting my hair cut when our nation had just been rocked by a horrific act of terrorism. But I didn't know what else to do. We went to hubby's regular Tuesday night bowling league that night, although I stayed glued to the television most of the night. I remember feeling at loose ends. It didn't feel right just to go on with life. But you couldn't just sit and do nothing.

Everyone wore red, white and blue ribbons pinned to their clothes for days. Some were rudimentary, some fancy. Then the ribbons began to fray and the shock wore off and pretty soon it was rare to see anyone wearing one. Something else to feel guilty about. You began to think you couldn't wear the ribbon forever, yet those people are forever dead. And our country is forever damaged.

Today we showed our students (who were mere children of 10 and 11 when the tragedy occurred) a presentation commemorating the attacks, with Alan Jackson's "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?" as background music. (Thank you, Lynn, for putting together such a touching tribute.) When it was over I couldn't discuss it with the students at all. I still get choked up even after 7 years.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I swear it was a project for class......

Thank you, Benjamin Franklin, you freak. You could have used real words that the average.... or below average.... high school student would understand. Instead I may have some explaining to do to our Instructional Technology folks. As if they didn't hate us enough already...

My students mostly work independently, at their own pace, and on computers. So their assignments are tailored so they can do them on their own without just being, "Read such-and-such a story and answer questions 1-5 in complete sentences."

One of the selections for my American Literature course (I teach all levels of high school English) was an excerpt from Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography. In this excerpt are good old Ben's thirteen virtues. I had the bright idea to have students explain them visually rather than the same old boring "put these into your own words." I gave them a project whereby they use a program from Microsoft called PhotoStory (I absolutely love this program) to create a video of the 13 virtues, with graphics and captions and transitions and effects on the pictures and anything moving that would drive a typical ADHD kid crazy.

The first step (after reading the selection, which they would love to skip) is to download images from the internet for each virtue that they will import into their movies.

Virtue number 11 is Chastity.

Go to Google and do a search for images using the keyword chastity.

Go ahead. I dare you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


How important are family heirlooms, anyway? Why do some people hang onto them and others don't give a rip? (Why does my hubby just hang onto EVERYTHING, heirloom or not? Oh wait...that's a blog topic for another night. Remind me to tell you about the '69 Ford truck that lives in our BASEMENT.....)

I had a discussion with my awesome, wonderful, terrific, out-of-this-world online Contemporary Literature students tonight about family heirlooms. I didn't go into as much depth as I wanted to, but I got more out of them than I ever had before.

We were discussing the play The Piano Lesson by August Wilson. I had never read it before I was assigned to teach this class, and I would like to analyze it more thoroughly. The main conflict of the play is between a brother and sister over an heirloom piano that has intricate carvings of their ancestors (who were slaves) on the legs of the piano. The brother wants to sell the piano for an exorbitant amount of money and buy some land so he can have his own farm; the sister wants to keep it in the family, even though she doesn't even play it anymore.

I used to keep EVERYTHING. Scraps of paper, mementos, pictures, ribbons....... I remember when I was about 14 and I had to get stitches in my head while I was on a church mission trip to West Virginia. ("But I WASN'T horseplaying! I just jumped on his back and he straightened up!") Instead of going to a family doctor to have the stitches removed when I got home (because I'm certain we didn't HAVE a family doctor), my sister snipped them and removed them herself. I was so darn proud of those stitches. I was going to keep them. In a scrapbook. Give me a large personal break. I held them in the palm of my hand and showed them off to my brother (the same guy who had put me in the dryer at the laundromat several years before.....you'd think I would learn). He took one look and said "Neat." And blew them. Into the carpet. Which was a salt-and-pepper shag. (Come with me for a moment back to the 70s.)

I have had some very memorable heirlooms. My birthstone is a diamond, and my mother had promised me from an early age that I could have her diamond engagement ring when I turned 16. I think my father finally bought her a diamond after she asked for a divorce. I don't know what the rush was, they had only been married 17 years or something. Anyway, I could not wait for the day I got that ring. I wore it proudly (on my right hand, or Mom would have broken my fingers and rendered the ring completely superfluous).

When I got married, we took the diamond from that ring and had it reset into a more contemporary ring for my engagement ring. I wore it proudly. Through a couple of marriages. Whatever. When Sweet Girl turned 16, I gave it to her, because being the world's last perfect man, hubby bought me a new one. I don't know if she even knows where it is. It's set in yellow gold, and she "doesn't like yellow gold" (please insert whiny voice and extreme wrinkling of the nose here).

This past summer hubby bought me yet another ring, this one with three diamonds. Being somewhat of a slow learner, I offered my marquis-shaped solitaire to Sweet Girl. Who said, "Why don't you just keep it?" (insert same wrinkling of nose, but without the whiny voice).

I don't get it. Is it just the age? I frequently describe her as 24 going on 12. Is it the generation? Or am I just an old fuddy-dud? I didn't expect her to do back flips over it or anything. I told her she could take the diamond and have it reset now, maybe into a pendant or something, or she could keep it until the day she gets engaged and use it somehow then. But she didn't even WANT it. She kind of tossed the box on the sofa and went back to her video game/television/puppy watching. It didn't really hurt my feelings (maybe I'm used to this by now?), but I certainly was puzzled. I'm thinking seriously about giving it to my step-daughter. That's probably more appropriate anyway, since it was HER father who bought it for me. She can either do one of the above things or save it for HER daughter, who is 13. It's okay to act 13 when you're actually 13.

Sometime I'll tell the story about losing my diamond ring.....and how I got it back.

Monday, September 8, 2008

If Only I Had More Time...

Tonight a list is all I can manage. Here are the things I would do if I had more hours in the day:

  • Clean up the "computer" room (we don't "compute" in there any more than I "live" in the "living" room)
  • Give both dogs baths
  • Get a pedicure (not a $300 one)
  • Grade students' projects
  • Prepare a PowerPoint for tomorrow night's online session
  • Begin to read one of the 5 books I have stacked on my side table as next in line
  • Sew buttons on some of my slacks that are in the "mending" pile (that's as close to sewing as I'm ever gonna come--I don't even do my own hemming)
  • Clean the glass storm door on the front door where Gus gets all excited when someone comes home
  • Crush the beer cans that are beginning to pile up on the back porch before hubby can gleefully bring the wheelbarrow into the living room again to load them up
  • Read more people's blogs
  • Download the GPS information from our bike ride yesterday
  • Ride my bike
  • Work on the wiki I'm creating for my classes at school
  • Watch Sex and the City (I've had the entire series for two years now and have yet to watch a single episode)
  • Ditto Big Love and the rest of Moonlighting
  • Walk on the treadmill
But what I'm actually going to do:
  • Take the dog out
  • Go to bed

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sore Sitter-Down.....

Now that I have a brand-new Harley (see yesterday's post), I only hope I will be able to ride it to school tomorrow. After the 170-mile round trip yesterday to get it, I was a little sore in the sitting down place. Then today my sister and I did a 54-mile BICYCLE ride on the tandem. The weather was perfect (well, a little hot at the end), and the route was nice. The only complaint I would have is 20 miles before the FIRST rest stop, and then 20 miles between the LAST rest stop and the end of the ride. It was a very rural route (excellent from a traffic viewpoint), so it's not like we had the choice of stopping at a store. That's a long time to go without a potty break, and I ran out of water. I tend to panic when I run out of water. I probably won't ever die from dehydration on a bike ride, but for me the THOUGHT of being out of water completely overtakes my concentration and I obsess about it. I almost stopped at a fire station and asked the folks there if I could fill up my water bottle. Surely they couldn't have turned me down, could they?

It's been a wonderful weekend, but I confess that I didn't get a lot done in the school work department. (That's not really unusual for a weekend, however.) Nor did I do laundry (in progress as we speak). Nor did I vacuum and mop (can wait a couple of days). Nor did I clean out the refrigerator (note to self...don't open some of those bowls). Nor did I go to the grocery store (oops.....this one may cause a problem). Not to fear, I try to keep an emergency frozen pizza in the freezer for occasions such as these.

Apropos of absolutely nothing..... (I love saying "apropos").......

On the way home from the bike ride today, I saw a bumper sticker on a car that said, "Happiness is a Tight ______." Insert 5-letter word that means cat and is often used to refer to the female genitalia. I HATE that word. Always have, always will.

I was so offended. And I'm by no means a prude. I believe in free speech, yada yada yada, but I think that's going too far. What kind of person SELLS stuff like that? And what kind of person BUYS stuff like that? And what kind of person drives around in a car with that message on the back bumper?

I tried not to generalize about the man driving, and I tried not to chalk it up to his being from a county in our state that has received much negative attention on the news lately and whose public school system just lost their accreditation.

I don't usually stoop to road rage, but this one nearly got the best of me. Sigh.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Husband of the Year......

I told you in my profile that I married the world's last perfect man. Today I have the photo evidence to prove it.

Hubby works for Pepsi-Cola, and around here they distribute Dr. Pepper. They often have sales promotions as incentive for good sales (duh), and I will give you the official details of one here:

  • Blah blah blah numbers, blah blah blah blah percentage, blah blah blah Dr. Pepper, blah blah blah blah blah incentive, blah blah blah promotion...
Anyway, hubby blah-blah-blahed his way to a new Harley. His boss called a couple of months ago to tell him his name had been drawn from those who met the quota for the prescribed selling period.

That's not what makes him Husband of the Year.

Are you ready?






We both have motorcycles, relatively new (2006). I have a Honda Shadow 600; he has a Honda Shadow 1100. The Harley that he won is a Sportster XL 883L. (The "L" stands for "low," and that's a good thing.) He's not a big Harley fan anyway, and the engine on the Harley is smaller than the one on his Honda. In his words, "I ain't going down to no damn scooter."

After two months of thinking we were never going to get it (evidently Sportster 883s don't exist in the state of Georgia), the Dr. Pepper promotion guy (whose name hubby thought was Bob but turned out to be George) finally found us a 2009 model at a dealership about 80 miles away. And it wasn't orange. I would have had to turn down an orange motorcycle. Not only did hubby give me the motorcycle, he took a day off from golf to go with me to get it. We rode double on his bike up there so I wouldn't be riding the new one back all by myself.

What a guy.

I'm a lucky girl. And don't think I don't remind myself of that every single day.