Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve....

I'm so glad these aren't the good old days, when I would have been at a party until way after midnight, drinking too much and ringing in the New Year. Witnessing at least one fight between rednecks (or possibly their women) and at least one marital squabble. On one such occasion I drank an entire bottle of peach Schnapps all by myself, and I had to play the piano in church the next morning. I kept getting up during the service to go throw up. I was afraid the last song was going to have to be sung a capella. (Luckily it was a Presbyterian church, and they neither asked me to resign nor held an intervention in which I had to publicly confess my sins.) I am mortified when I look back on that now.

Thankfully, those days existed in a previous wifetime, and I much prefer the more laid-back lifestyle hubby and I have now. It could be the fact that we CANNOT STAY AWAKE until midnight. In our eleven years of marriage we have never been awake to ring in the New Year (hubby says he doesn't think he's EVER stayed up until midnight on New Year's Eve, but I just reminded him of the year before we married and we stayed at the Blue Rose Lounge* and the band counted down the seconds until midnight), and it has so far gone on quite blissfully unaware of our absence. It will be so again tonight. Hubby has to work tomorrow (on his BIRTHDAY, no less), so staying up until midnight is out of the question. We will be awakened briefly by the neighbors and their fireworks (they've already been practicing), but we'll probably abide by our standard 8:30 bedtime.

Waking up on January 1st from a good night's sleep WITHOUT a hangover is the happiest way I can think of to start off the New Year.

However you celebrate it, HAPPY NEW YEAR, y'all!!!!
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*The former Blue Rose Lounge is now a tire store. That should give you some indication of the classiness of the place.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dear Parents.....

Dear Parents:

Some of you have raised the question of what's wrong with young people today. It's not your PARTICULAR young people you're questioning as a rule; it's always everyone else's. As we head toward the close of another year, I am offering my theory as to what's wrong with young people. It's their parents. More specifically, it's the fact that their parents have lied to them from birth. I am taking it upon myself to address those falsehoods in the misguided notion that perhaps next year will be a better one for you and your little darlings.

Parent Lie #5: "It doesn't matter what anyone thinks of you." I'm sorry, but that's crap. It matters a great deal what a lot of people think of all of us. If you continue to encourage your children to be "individuals" to the point that they are completely comfortable exhibiting their snotty attitudes to anyone with whom they come into contact, please expect to support them indefinitely. It matters what their teachers think of them. It matters what law enforcement officials think of them. It matters what their employers (if they are lucky enough to get a job and actually keep it) think of them. I have had two teenagers, one male one female, shrug at me recently and tell me, "Oh well, that's just who I am." Parents, that's your fault. Children are not born with lousy attitudes; they are taught them. If that's "just who they are," they need to change who they are. Quickly.

Parent Lie #4"You don't have to take any s**t from anyone." How are you going to feel, parents (if you haven't already experienced it), when your little darling decides he/she doesn't have to take any s**t from YOU? Are you gonna punch him or her in the mouth? Or are you going to look in the mirror and say, "Hmmmm, maybe that wasn't such a smart thing to teach him/her"? No one lives in a vacuum or in isolation. If your children intend to hold jobs, go to school, or otherwise interact in society in any meaningful way, they need to expect that occasionally they ARE GOING TO HAVE TO "take some s**t." Especially since some of the young people with whom I have come into contact think that "taking some s**t" means hearing anything negative, critical, or otherwise what they don't want to hear. It doesn't matter how high they rise or how low they sink, there will come many times when they are disappointed, screwed, let down, cheated, or otherwise handed some s**t. Teach them, please, how to deal with it.

Parent Lie #3: "If you wrong someone, as long as you say you're sorry, everything will be fine." Well, maybe in a perfect world. But this ain't a perfect world, and the people your little darlings will have to deal with are imperfect human beings. We try to forgive and forget, but sometimes it simply isn't possible. Sometimes relationships get damaged irreparably. Instead of teaching your children to say "I'm sorry," how about teaching them to THINK before they speak/act, possibly AVOIDING some of the situations for which they are forced to apologize? If I hit one of them with my car (by accident, of course), I will be sure to apologize. But I'll bet those broken bones will still hurt. And suing me will only make them have more money; it will not make them feel better about their broken bones.

Parent Lie #2: "We only want you to be happy." Wrong again. First of all, your little darlings for the most part are incapable of distinguishing happiness from satisfaction. In their world of instant gratification (ahem, created by YOU, I might add), they have come to equate happiness with getting their way. Stop telling them "we only want you to be happy." What we want is for them to be productive, charitable, educable, interested, interesting, busy, socially acceptable, inspired, inspiring, and ambitious. If doing all that brings them happiness, terrific. If not, well at least maybe they'll leave the world a better place.

And Parent Lie #1: "You can be anything you want to be." Uh.....no. There are some things out there that they just CAN'T BE. Your little ballerina will probably not be an NFL player. Or even a prima donna with a major ballet company. There's just too much competition out there. Wanting it is not enough, and some of the young people I've encountered seem to think that ALL they have to do is want it. We regularly interview students for our program who want to be lawyers or doctors. (Occasionally we get one who either wants to be a pediatrician or a hair stylist.) And they're reading on an eighth grade level with a "C" average and are 8 credits behind where they should be to be on track for graduation. I don't mean they shouldn't dream. But along with those dreams, they should be prepared to work like a dog, study harder than anyone else, put forth extreme effort even when rewards are not immediately forthcoming, and accept that there is only so much room at the top. Not only does the good guy not always win, but two identically good guys cannot share the same space at the same time. That's just the way life works. Teach them to deal with it and have a Plan B. Teach them that they MAY be able to be anything they're willing to scrap for, sacrifice for, and compete tooth and nail for. But they may have to alter their wants a little and be willing to settle for less than what they originally wanted. Above all else, please teach them that the positive effects they have on the lives of others are way more important than their bank balances. If they even know what those are.

Sincerely,

Bragger



P.S. I acknowledge this is a strange post to write in my second week of freedom from the little darlings you send to me during the school year. I've been stewing about it for a couple of months.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Reality Check....

Sometimes, when we're least expecting it, life just reaches up and smacks us with a reality check. We can always use it, and we're usually desperately in need of it. I just wish it didn't have to make me sad at the same time.

Here I've been sitting and waiting on a very expensive toy that is meant for children and for which I paid even more than it is worth because I bought it on eBay. I'm too impatient to wait until the stores might actually have it in stock again. I've checked the tracking number roughly every seven minutes just in case it's sitting right outside on my front porch and I didn't notice it. I've been obsessed with getting it.

Then today I learned that a co-worker's 11-year-old step-daughter died on Friday. As in the day after Christmas. Eleven years old. She apparently developed flu-like symptoms and spiked a fever. They rushed her to the hospital, and she died within an hour. I don't know her step-father well; he works in the other side of our building. But I cannot even conceive of how their hearts must be breaking. I don't know how a parent buries a child and goes on living himself or herself.

I need to remember what's important. And I need to drive to Jacksonville and hug my daughter.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Technology Exhausts Me.....

I have spent the better part of three hours...... count 'em, three hours..... this evening setting up our new printer/copier/scanner/fax machine. I mentioned casually to hubby last week that we would need a new printer soon, and he saw one on sale in this morning's paper. When he pointed it out to me, I took that as a directive to go out and purchase it. He may not have meant it as such, but I wasn't taking any chances when it came to a new piece of technology.

Following the directions on setting up something as simple as a printer shouldn't be that difficult. These particular directions were written in English by someone who apparently had a relatively firm grasp on the rules of syntax and grammar. But I invariably either skip an important step or I don't understand something that should be crystal clear. Tonight it involved installing the print head and the roughly 7 different colored ink cartridges. (I forgot to check for that before I bought this model. Bummer.) The print head was a plastic compartment that had to be installed before the ink cartridges could be installed. "Push the Print Head to hold it in place, and lower the Print Head Lock Lever." (No idea why those words were capitalized. I mean, I know they were important, but that would mean capitalizing about every third word.)

I am relatively intelligent. Words (used correctly) tend to make sense to me. I can follow directions. The pictures, on the other hand, often leave me drooling in my soup. There was a photo of what was apparently the Print Head with a large portion circled, and the words "Do not touch" out to the side. Only it was difficult to ascertain exactly what was not to be touched. I tried to avoid touching all parts of it, but that was hard to do when I needed to both push it and hold it in place. There I was with the printer cover open, wires everywhere from the dozen or so items we have hooked up to our network, a flashlight with a dying battery held between my chin and shoulder, and sweat dripping from my nose. I tried nine times (or nineteen, I'm not sure) to "Push the Print Head to hold it in place, and lower the Print Head Lock Lever." It wouldn't stay locked, and the ink cartridges wouldn't go into their places.

Then I glanced at the picture again. Seems the Print Head works best if you aren't trying to install it UPSIDE DOWN. That makes me really paranoid, because if I was holding it the wrong way, chances are I touched the DO NOT TOUCH part as well.

Then I got to the ethernet cord part. My old printer didn't require an ethernet cord because it went through a router and a modem, so I assumed this one wouldn't need one either. Even when the directions told me to plug it in. I didn't HAVE an extra ethernet cable lying around, so when it got to that part, I just lied and said it was already plugged in and clicked "Next." Like the computer wouldn't figure THAT out. (I said RELATIVELY intelligent.) I tried it more than once. You don't know how it hurts my heart and soul to admit that.

But I don't give up easily. And the computer, naturally, doesn't give up AT ALL. After a trip to the nearest Wal-Mart for the required ethernet cord, I managed to finish the installation process and have successfully printed and copied. Tomorrow I will attempt the fax feature.

And none of this is what I intended to spend my money and free time on, which was a Christmas gift to myself. What I went to six stores in search of today doesn't exist anywhere in the free world. Except on eBay. Where you can get it for a mere $150 more than it costs in the store. Mine will be shipped tomorrow.

When it gets here, and I can do so without hiding my face in shame, I'll tell you what it is.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy Post-Holidays...

I think I actually prefer this time of the holiday season better than the days leading up to it. Christmas is behind us, there are lots of college football games on television, and I have a whole extra week before I have to go back to school. Yay!

Normally I take the tree down the day after Christmas, but since we were gone this year I still have that chore to do. But it won't be bad, especially since I didn't even put out the rest of the decorations.

We don't do anything special for New Year's Eve, and we're usually in bed by our customary 8:30. Hubby almost always has to work on New Year's Day, even though it's his birthday, for crying out loud, so we don't do the party scene. So far every year has rolled in nicely without us, including the year everyone was scared to death that the world's computers were going to crash, and life as we knew it would come to an end.

I should have lots of "me" time, and I intend to use it enjoying the present that I'm going to go out and buy for myself. Shhhhhhh..........

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas....

We are in Mississippi at our favorite casino. It's where all good heathens go on Christmas. We figured we already had enough toys. This way we either go home with loads of $$$$ or we go home broke like the rest of America.

Merry Christmas, y'all!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Traditions.....


My older siblings had a Christmas tradition that I missed out on because I was the baby. They would always burn candles on Christmas Eve, even when they had to hide it from our mother because she would have A) kicked their fannies and B) thrown the candles in the trash. We had two houses burn down when I was young, though (a couple of years apart, I think), so I can kind of understand her paranoia.

When Bobby was in Vietnam, he and my eldest sister, Nurse Jane, planned a time when they would both be burning candles at the same time on Christmas Eve. This was naturally in the days before email and internet, so I can't imagine how they managed to figure out the time difference. I don't mean they were lacking the intelligence to figure it out. But I mean, Bobby didn't exactly write a letter saying, "Okay, it's 8:00 PM here now. What time is it there." And two weeks later when the letter arrived, Jane would say, "Oh, it's _____ o'clock here now. So the time difference must be _____ hours."

Bobby came home safely from Vietnam, only to die in a motorcycle accident the next year, just months before he was to be discharged from the Marines. After he died, we started the tradition of gathering at the cemetery where he is buried and burning candles and singing "Silent Night." Apparently that was Bobby's favorite Christmas song. It was beautiful, seeing the burning candles from the highway. Some years we gathered there only to watch the wind blow the candles out repeatedly or we stood in a light rain and hoped we could keep the candles lit just long enough to sing.

Some people have thought it was rather morbid of my family to gather at a cemetery on Christmas Eve. But I loved the tradition, although it always made me sad that Bobby couldn't be there with us. I was only eleven when he died, and I always wondered at each stage of my life what he would have thought about me. More about him next month, on his birthday.

As we all married (and married and married) and started families of our own, it became too difficult for us all to gather on Christmas Eve. It is too far for some to drive for such a short time, and there are always children and grandchildren to get to other parents' and grandparents' homes. So we each carry on the tradition in our own homes, lighting a candle for each person present and one for Bobby. This way Bobby gets lots of candles instead of just one.


Before we go to bed, I'll play "Silent Night" on the piano; maybe I'll sing, maybe not. [My Christmas gift to you is that I did NOT make a video of that.] The two years that Sweet Girl has been in the Persian Gulf on Christmas Eve, I couldn't make it through the first verse. This year isn't quite that sad, because I know she's only down in Florida and not way "over there."

But I still wish Bobby and hubby could have known each other.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just Get Down on the Floor, Silly Dog.....

Most nights Gus gets up on the footrest of hubby's recliner. When he gets in MY recliner, he has to sit right up under me, pretty much preventing me from typing or crocheting or basically doing anything I would like to do.

He gets in this position on hubby's recliner, though, and it's like there's not enough room for his foot. He puts it up there, he falls asleep, the foot falls off, he puts it back, he falls asleep, the foot falls off, he puts it back, he falls asleep, the foot falls off, and so forth and so on.

Tonight I finally caught it on video. At the end, finally he gives up and just lets his foot dangle.

Most of what you hear in the background is the Family Guy version of Star Wars. It was pretty funny. Although I can't understand why Herbert is singing "The Time of My Life" from Dirty Dancing. Except that it is Herbert, and it is Dirty Dancing. But it wasn't in Star Wars. I acknowledge that there were no songs from Star Wars, but why just pick any random movie and work the theme song into the plot?

Oh. This is Family Guy we're talking about.

You'll also hear the cat complaining that we won't get up and let her go outside where it's freezing. That is NOT the cat you can see in the background snoozing on hubby's lap. Many times he has a lap full of animals.

This is my first attempt at uploading a video, so we'll see. I made it small so it wouldn't A) take up a lot of memory or megabytes or whatever; and B) take forever and a day to load.


video
Wouldn't it be more comfortable if he just got on the floor?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Aliens.......

There is something on the National Geographic channel right now about the possibility that there are aliens out there somewhere. It's hosted by Peter Jennings, so it can't just be a show of nuts. I probably wouldn't have chosen to watch the National Geographic channel on my own, but it's where hubby landed before he dozed off in his recliner, and if I get up to commandeer the remote control, it will just wake him up.

I have very mixed feelings about there being other "intelligent" life out there on a planet besides ours. (I say "intelligent" like that because I'm not completely convinced that there is intelligent life on OUR planet.)

I scoff at all the "eye witness" accounts of encounters with spaceships, aliens, dancing lights, and hovering craft. I usually chalk it up to the folks being on drugs or sadly in need of attention.

But when I consider the size of the universe and the fact that we are a mere speck in it, I am absolutely convinced that there is no way we are the only form of life out there. I mean come on, our own solar system, vast as it is (even with the expulsion of poor little Pluto), is a mere dot in the sky compared to the rest of the universe. What are the odds that we are the ONLY planet with life on it?

I don't necessarily think there are little green men running around or that they have one huge eye in the middle of their heads or that they have four arms and three legs. I just think there is life out there. If they are years ahead of us in technology, transportation, economics, education, etc., perhaps we can learn from them. Maybe they can tell us if the bailout of the auto industry is really the thing to do. They may be able to tell us a better way to choose a national champion in college football than the current BCS mess. They may have an idea of why Britney Spears just won't go away. Maybe they could help me understand how a fax machine really works. They may giggle at my Blu-Ray disc player because they already KNOW it will be obsolete in a year or two. Perhaps they'll wonder why the computer I hold on my lap is so extremely huge. Same for the cat who is attempting to find room in my lap as well. They may be able to figure out who really killed Nicole Simpson. And how many shooters there really were in Dallas in November of 1963, and how that bullet turned left in midair. I'll bet they fly right by our International Space Station and stare at the quaint little astronauts the way some people gawk at the Amish people in their horse-drawn buggies. Maybe they'll have had some experience with global warming and can put that baby to rest once and for all. I'll bet if they are superior to us in intelligence, they can even explain the last episode of Sopranos.

If they are behind us in development, won't it be fun to show them cool video games like Pong? Hula hoops? Electric typewriters? Fuel-injected engines? Birthday candles that you can't blow out? Curved mascara wands?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Good Thing I Only Had One Tablet...

I fought a fierce headache all morning and most of the afternoon. Early this morning I thought it was a hunger headache, since I waited for Sweet Girl to get up and then it took another couple hours for us to decide to venture to the IHOP just down the street from her house.

We shopped a little bit after breakfast, but even after eating, my headache only got worse. I'm assuming it's associated with the laser eye surgery. Since I now have one eye that's designed for close-up and one that's designed for distance, they aren't exactly used to working together to produce a clear picture. The literature said it could take up to three months for my distance vision to be crystal clear. But my near vision is nearly impeccable, only I keep forgetting that I don't have to hold things at arms-length-plus in order to read them. And the distance thing isn't really all that bad. Street lights look a lot like ferris wheels, and the Christmas lights are providing a veritable LSD show. Especially if they blink. But I digress. [Please note: I am NOT currently driving at night.] [Please note again: I do not actually know from personal experience what an LSD light show looks like.]

The doctor had given me one 7.5 mg codeine tablet following the laser surgery, and I couldn't figure out why, since there was no pain involved. Zero. But after the headache this afternoon reached epidemic proportions (I realize I can't really have anything epidemic on my own, but I like that phrase), I decided not to let that little pill go to waste.

I really liked the warm glow it gave me. I took a nap that was a lot like floating in and out of consciousness on a gentle current. The pill made me calm and mellow and even somewhat accepting of the fact that I offered to help Sweet Girl pay to have Daisy spayed because she (Sweet Girl, not Daisy) was a little strapped for cash right now and then she said she wanted a new Blackberry and bought Rock Band 2 for her Wii. And showed me the $100 shoes she bought for the squadron Christmas party that she more than likely won't wear again until next Christmas. The pill helped me bite my tongue. Or perhaps made it so fuzzy that it didn't succumb to its typical sarcasm. At any rate, I was (temporarily, at least) prevented from turning into the voice of MY mother. Thank you, little pill.

It made me feel relaxed enough to attempt playing the drums on Rock Band. It did NOT render me capable of navigating the beginner level on Dance Dance Revolution. But it made me not care than I couldn't do it.

It's completely different from an alcohol glow. It also doesn't give me the bloated, sloshy feeling I get from my quota of drinks (two).

The glow has worn off now. I kind of miss it. But I'm awfully glad they only gave me one of those little pills.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I'm Going to Australia....

Photo courtesy of http://z.about.com/d/movies/1/0/v/I/R/australiapuba.jpg

I've always wanted to go to Australia. And now, having seen the movie tonight, I'm more determined than ever. I just hope Hugh Jackman still has his shirt off when I get there. And maybe he'll be tired of Nicole Kidman. The movie was worth every minute of the 3 hours (I think) that it took to show it. The real show-stealer, however, was Brandon Walters, the actor who played an Aboriginal boy in the movie and is actually Aboriginal himself. He had seen very few films in his life, had never left his part of Australia, and had no idea who Nicole Kidman or Hugh Jackman might be. For some reason I just found that terribly refreshing. That is, IF you can believe what you read on Wikipedia, and frankly I'm never sure. They had his birthday as 1995, and IMDH had it as 1996.

At any rate, it was certainly a movie worth seeing. I'll go to sleep tonight dreaming of Hugh Jackman. And if I say his name in my sleep, hubby won't even know, because I'm 350 miles from home.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I Love This Bar....

We typically eat out on Friday nights (and Saturdays, and some Sundays and any other night in the week I can coerce hubby into paying for it). I'm not big on cooking.

We were kind of burned out on the three or four places hubby will agree to eat in our hometown, not counting the 473 Mexican restaurants. We visit those occasionally, but hubby is really more of a steak and potatoes kind of guy. And beer.

My step-daughter and Katydid had both been to a place called "Tequila" that isn't really in our town, but it's not too bad a drive. They both said it reminded them of hubby. You can have a booth with your very own beer tap at the table. They charge by the ounce for beer (.15 per ounce), and you pour your own.

The nachos were probably the best I've had recently, and we made the mistake of ordering an order of fajitas to share IN ADDITION. The nachos by themselves would have been enough. And the beer.

See, hubby is kind of smiling in this picture. Having a beer tap that close at hand is probably his idea of heaven.

There's a little screen that tells you how much you've poured and how many ounces you have remaining. I don't know what they do if you use it all. Do they cut you off? We were allowed 64 oz. for the two of us, which was more than plenty. It works out to about the same price as a pitcher of beer.

Our waiter was very nice; he even said he would take off a couple of ounces of beer because he was afraid it was leaking. The music was good too, classic 70's. We heard Foreigner's "Don't Stop" (which always reminds me of the final episode of Sopranos) and Billy Joel's "Still Rock 'n Roll to Me" (hubby's favorite Billy Joel song, even though he feels obligated to pretend he doesn't like the "fish-eyed fool").

We'll definitely eat there again, perhaps for no better reason than the fact that we can pour our own beer from a tap. Now if they had the same concept in a dessert tap, we'd both be in heaven.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Look Mom, No Glasses.....

This is a milestone blog post for me. It's the first one I've ever written without my glasses. I had laser surgery on my left eye today, and I'm thrilled with it. Especially thrilled that they only had to do one eye, because that meant I saved about $2500. It's not perfect yet, and I'm still seeing halos around lights at night, but I can already see better. He only did the left one because I have excellent distance vision; I only wear glasses for reading, so I spend a good part of my day putting them on taking them off putting them on taking them off putting them on taking them off and so forth and so on.

There was absolutely nothing to the surgery. In fact, I left the doctor's office at 9:30, came home and took a brief nap compliments of the valium they gave me, and then I went to school at 12:00. There are two steps to the procedure; each one takes about 20 seconds. I won't go into details about what they do, because it grosses some people out. I think it will be worth it, however.

Way past my bedtime. The sheriff's retirement dinner went on and on and on and on and on. The sheriff has always been a quiet man, and I think he saved up 24 years worth of words just to talk tonight. I thought he was going to give us a day-by-day account of his whole career. He didn't miss it by much.

Tomorrow is the last school day before Christmas break. I can't wait!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Miss You Already, Follower #8......

Follower #8, did I do something wrong? Did I offend you in some way or mention a subject that was taboo?

Every time I log into my blog, I check to see if I have any new followers. It's like having someone new publicly declare you as a friend, someone worthy of spending time with, someone who is interested enough in your life that they choose to read your blog daily, or at least pretend to.

I was so excited to realize I had eight followers. I should really only count six. Katydid is my sister, and there is some sort of sister law that requires her to be listed on my blog as a follower. (Our other sister would probably be a follower, but she keeps forgetting to bookmark my blog.) I probably shouldn't count Mamaneena as one of my followers either, because she's a personal friend who got me into this blogging thing in the first place, so she's sort of required to follow my blog as well. Amanda Sue is a former student who has gone on to college, and she probably feels obligated to follow my blog because she still needs assistance with her college papers from time to time. (What happened to that research paper I was supposed to help you with, A.S.? Did you fall into your old bad habits and wait until the last minute and you were too embarrassed to ask me for help at the last minute? You were right to avoid me if that's the case.)

Therefore if I don't count the people who MAY follow my blog out of nothing more than a sense of duty, I had five followers. Five people out there who were interested enough in my life to read my blog on a somewhat regular basis.

And now Follower #8 has disappeared.

I don't even know who Follower #8 was, because I didn't make a list of my followers.

I have scrolled back through recent posts to see what I might have written that would cause Follower #8 to say to himself/herself, "Screw it, I'm not reading this drivel anymore."

Follower #8, where did I go wrong?

Was it yesterday's post about the things I would NOT want to sacrifice simply to keep the internet? Did I come off as selfish and greedy and one who would not share her toys if you came over to play? I really meant I just wouldn't want to have to give those things up permanently.

Was it the post about the spelling bee in the eighth grade? Could it be that you were the moderator and you feel horrible about scarring me for life by putting me out of the spelling bee for spelling the wrong word that I repeated and you nodded your head and let me go on to spell the wrong word anyway? Did your guilt cause you to erase your name from my list of followers? If that's the case, good riddance. You can't undo the past.

Did I offend your sense of good health and nutrition when I wrote the blog about the cookie and candy swap and shamelessly posted the pictures? If that was the one, please believe me when I say that I took the goodies to school and shared them with my co-workers. I didn't eat them (all) myself. I hope you didn't leave me because you think I'm a glutton who cares nothing for her own well-being. I walked in the park twice this week, including today when I had a splitting headache, and I rode my bicycle 46 miles last Saturday.

Was it the whiny post about how "cold" it was here last Saturday when said bicycle ride took place, even though it was in the 50's and in some parts of the country that would be considered balmy? Did you just snap and discard me from your daily reading because there's no way anyone in her right mind would consider 50 degrees cold? If that is the reason you broke up with me, then I apologize. I realize that we are lucky here in the South for our relatively mild and short winters. But I don't think I was meant to be that cold, especially on my bicycle. If it was the leg warmers that embarrassed you into quitting me, I apologize for those too. I have no excuse for them.

Did I scare you away with my blog post about all my unfinished craft projects? Did you get the feeling that the blog is something else I will abandon, and you will be left with a gaping hole in your life where my words of wisdom and inanity used to be? If that's the reason, then it's probably safe for you to come back. Blogging has become addictive, therapeutic even, and I have been known to get up out of bed when I realize I didn't do my daily blog entry. Only in the beginning, though, because it's rare anymore than I forget to write in my blog. Forget to wash the dishes or fold the clothes or pay the trash bill or let the dog out, but I don't forget to blog. Very often.

Was it the post I wrote about why I was not sending out Christmas cards this year? Was I too openly honest (is that redundant?) about the fact that I didn't have any really good excuses, I just didn't want to send out Christmas cards this year? I guess I should have clung to one of the really good excuses and used it, especially the one about protecting the environment and saving the trees or something. But I feel compelled to be honest with my real friends, and blog followers are the realest of friends. Still, I'm sorry if my bluntness disgusted you to the point that you actually removed me from your reading list.

My heart is hurting, Follower #8. Please come back. And bring some friends.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What Would I Trade for the Internet.....

CNN Headline News was having a poll this morning, as they do many mornings, about what some people would be willing to give up (if they had to) in order to keep the internet. More women than men were willing to give up sex if they could keep the internet. No surprise there. They were asking for viewers to email in their responses, and I felt compelled to participate, because I think Robin Meade is the cutest thing and watching CNN Headline News is like daily therapy for me. I get so wrapped up in the lives of Robin, Richard, Bob van Dillen, and Rafer. I take it personally when one of them takes a day off, although Christy Paul is an excellent substitute. I was quite offended when Rally Caparas stopped doing air traffic reports. I looked forward to Fridays, when he was actually in the studio instead of phoning in his report from Charleston. There was this one Friday when Rally made it to the studio but his luggage didn't, so he had no clothes to wear on the air. So he phoned in his report from the next room. That seems like a waste of an expense account to me, but whatever. I was relieved when I learned that he had gone back to working for the FAA (he was a former air traffic controller) and it wasn't that he had been fired from the show. I don't think.

I wanted to participate in this morning's poll, though, so I tried to think of what I would be willing to sacrifice in order to keep the internet.

And my answer was.......


........
........
........
........
........
........
........
........
........ nothing.

I want it all.

I need my laptop, because even if I didn't HAVE the internet, I have yet to win at Spider Solitaire playing with four suits. And I'm convinced that it's possible to do so. I also need the laptop to write that book that's been bouncing around in my head for the past 10 years or so. It gets really active right when I turn out the lights, but hubby isn't too fond of me bringing the laptop to bed with me.

I need my Blackberry, because not only does it allow me to communicate with Sweet Girl even when she's in Dubai or France, it sends me my junk emails immediately so I don't have to wait until I get home from school to read them. And I can play Brickbreaker during boring meetings or random other times I should be paying attention. I learned that from my boss.

I need the GPS on my bicycle because it allows me to download the routes I've taken and see my mistakes in living color instead of just in the crinkly folds of my gray matter. And it allows me to post my routes on my blog and make people suffer through descriptions of whatever lunacy I have experienced on the latest ride. And theoretically it could lead me home if I ever got lost, but I would have to turn around and follow the little line all the way back to where I started. I'm not usually willing to do that.

I need the GPS on my car because it allows me to get home from places. I can read a map or directions well enough to get ANYWHERE, but it's the getting back that gives me trouble. The nice lady who talks me through any trip is very polite and never gets offended, even when I refuse to follow her helpful suggestions and she has to keep "recalculating."

I need both flat-screen televisions, because something sports related is always on, and if hubby is surfing the channels and stays on the World Poker Tour from 2002 or the LPGA in Saudi Rabia or somewhere for too long or falls asleep with the remote control in his hand, I can always go upstairs and make sure I don't miss a kick-off. Or an instant replay. Or the entire replay of a football game from 1980.

I need my iPod Shuffle because it's cute and clips onto my clothes if I should ever break into a jog when I'm walking in the park with Gus.

I need my other mp3 player because it plays video and records sound and plays the radio and has an entirely different selection of music on it from the iPod Shuffle.

I need my Canon Sureshot digital camera because it takes terrific pictures AND video and fits into the Bento box on my bicycle. It's also small enough for me to put it in my pocket should the need arise.

I need my big-dog Canon EOS Rebel digital camera because I also bought a humongus lens for it and I can take beautiful shots of the full moon and the International Space Station if I ever figure out aperture, f-stops, shutter speed, and Apgar scores.

I need my digital binoculars that take pictures because we ONCE went to a concert at the Hi-Fi Buys Amphitheater, and they won't let you in if you have a camera on you. Seriously. But binoculars are okay, and I felt like I had screwed the system when I took them in. Never mind that I never could download the pictures and after the sun goes down they look like crap and we may never go to another concert at Hi-Fi Buys, I've still got the gadget.

I need my DVR because Dancing with the Stars stays on too late for me to watch it. And I like to record tape-delayed showings of gymnastics meets that I attended in person. So I can watch them numerous times. Because a perfect-10 routine never gets old.

I need the hammered dulcimer under my bed because once I retire I might find the time and a teacher to teach me how to play it. It makes the most gorgeous sound, and while I can pick out a tune on it, I would like to know how to play it better.

I need the piano because I've had it since my 17th birthday. And playing it is a kind of therapy for me. I haven't played in months, though, and we may be on to something here.....

I need the treadmill that is in what used to be Sweet Girl's room, because I might actually start walking on it again. I did put 1000 miles on it, so it got a good bit of use before we put down new hardwood floors and it couldn't live in the living room anymore. Doesn't seem fair. I used to love walking on the treadmill while I watched Robin Meade in the mornings.

I guess if I HAD to I could give up the crock pot.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Spelling Bee...

See Sara, I TOLD you I would blog about this tonight...

One of my students made a remark today that caused me to remember the spelling bee in the eighth grade. It had nothing to do with spelling or bees or competition or perhaps school, but the memory hopped up and now it's stuck there until I blog about it.

I was always an excellent speller, probably the result of always having my head in a book. I would probably have preferred to watch television, but I was the youngest of five children and never got to watch MY choice. And all we had was black and white. You know, back in the day.

I was also fiercely competitive. Because I pretty much sucked at sports, I was determined to be the last one standing in a spelling bee. Or a geography bee. Or a science bee. I remember my question in our science bee in the fifth grade. "What makes thunder?" "Lightning heats the air and causes it to expand. It expands as far as it can, and then it snaps, and the sound it makes is thunder." I had no concept then, nor do I now, of how air can expand or snap, but I recited the answer we had learned in class and I got to stay in to the next round.

In the seventh grade, I was at the county level competition of the spelling bee when I got the word "lilliputian." Now pray tell me, what seventh grader has ever read Jonathan Swift or Gulliver's Travels or would even appreciate the satire if he/she HAD read it? Therefore I had no idea that "lilliputian" meant the equivalent of a wee little person sort of like a Munchkin (now THAT I could have spelled, and probably recited most of the script of Wizard of Oz), and they told me to go sit down. One of my teachers stopped me to explain the word's meaning and origin. I looked at her like, "Didn't you hear them just tell me to go sit down? Why the hell do I need to know NOW?" I think a fifth or sixth grader wound up winning. Nerd.

It was the eighth grade spelling bee, however, that defined me as a person and made me who I am today and not someone great or at least destined for greatness. It made me a person who will often settle for mediocrity. And if I can't at least be mediocre, I will pretend I wasn't playing anyway.

I had won at the county level by breaking the kneecaps of the nerd who was a couple of years younger than I and had won the previous year. I made that part up. But I was going to the district level competition in a nearby town. One of my teachers would accompany me (I'm guessing she drove, but I have no recollection of how we actually got there. Perhaps in Good Witch Glinda's bubble). They even agreed to allow my best friend Carol to go with me. My mother bought me a new outfit for the occasion. We didn't get random new outfits out of the blue back then. It had to be something special, like a funeral. Or a prom. Or homecoming. Or a spelling bee.

I was probably the third or fourth person down the row, and I was feeling confident, because after all, it was the first round, and only a real doofus would get knocked out of a spelling bee in the first round.

I distinctly remember a loud water fountain in the back of this cavernous old meeting room in a building that was old when Moses was a little baby. I'm just sayin'. And I was all nervous at being in front of all those people (exactly how DO they get people to come to a spelling bee?), but I knew I looked cute. And there was my BFF Carol (this was before she went off to a boarding school because her mother couldn't handle her and Jason became my BFF) smiling at me and all proud like she was my mama or something, since my mama couldn't be there.

And she knew I would not only make it through the first round, I would win the competition for our whole district.

Moderator (for lack of a better word): "Desolate"

Me (not hearing clearly): "Desolate?" Note the question mark at the end of that word.

Moderator: [Nods]

Me: D-E-S-O-L-A-T-E

Moderator: That is incorrect. You may go sit down.

I was the first one out. I was out in the first round. I had been called out because I had spelled the wrong word. I don't know how I eventually found out the word he had said was "dizzily." That was way back in the days before everything was supposed to be fair and someone would come to my defense and insist that I be given another chance. My teacher smiled ruefully at me and patted me on the back while I sat in my chair and cried.

We had to sit through the whole damn competition. And I knew how to spell every single word.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cookie and Candy Swap.....

Maybe I need to get out more, but I had never heard of a cookie and candy swap. I got an invitation a couple of weeks ago from a girl I used to teach with. Each person brought four dozen (recommended) cookies or pieces of candy and displayed them. We sat around and chatted for a while (or rather, most of us listened to the two or three who manipulated the conversation) and had refreshments. Then we each received a pretty holiday box (provided by the hostess) and we went around the table collecting an assortment of goodies.

Here's my goodie box.
















And here are the goodies. There were Rice Krispie treats, peanut butter somethings, turtles, and the ever-popular fudge.




I'll be the hit of the lunch table tomorrow.


I made crock pot candy and cream cheese cookies because I never can decide on just one thing.




Crock Pot Candy

1 jar dry roasted peanuts
1 jar dry roasted peanuts, unsalted
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bar (4 oz) German chocolate
3 lbs almond bark

Put ingredients in crock pot in order listed. Cook on low for 3 hours. Allow to cool slightly, then stir well. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper. Makes way more than 4 dozen pieces.

I've been wanting to try a variation of this recipe using almonds instead of peanuts and adding coconut. I may summon the nerve to do that this week.


Isn't the cookie and candy swap a neat concept? It sure beats Tupperware parties.

Am I the last person on earth to know about this?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I May Never Be Warm Again...

When I spoke to the members of Team Chi-Chis earlier this week (minus Katydid, who is working like a billion hours a week right now), going for a nice bike ride today SEEMED like a good idea. We had a couple of warm days this week, so it just seemed reasonable to expect that it might be somewhat pleasant. Or at least not miserable. The 50's SOUNDED warm enough. WRONG!

I knew I should reconsider when I went out to load my bike this morning. I was freezing. I kept hoping my friends might cancel on me, but they're much tougher than I am. They're also kind enough to keep asking me to cycle with them, which is pretty nice of them considering I can't keep up with them. I was also sleep-deprived, never a good condition to try a bike ride in. Yes I know I just ended a sentence with a preposition. Another indication of how tired I am. I woke up at 12:30 this morning, lay there until 2:00, then I got up and crocheted until 3:45.

I didn't want to wimp out, though, since they were doing the drive out to my neck of the woods so we could have some lightly traveled roads. I went ahead and loaded up, thinking once I got there and got moving I would be glad I had come. WRONG!

Except for the company, it was completely un-fun. There were at least a dozen points at which I really wanted to cry, but I didn't for two reasons. #1) I told myself that no one FORCED me to go out there and ride, and I should just suck it up and think about childbirth, because that was better than being on my bike at that point. #2) I didn't want my tears to freeze on my cheeks. Or in my neck warmer, which I had pulled up to just below my sunglasses like a bank robber.

If it weren't bad enough that we were freezing, we made a wrong turn. That's why this ride map has that little line dissecting it up at the top. If you'll analyze it carefully, you may notice that when we went back and corrected ourselves (I HATE backtracking on my bike), we wound up at the SAME EXACT DAMN PLACE. If I had only looked to the RIGHT when we turned around at our "mistake," I would have noticed that it was a road that we would later be turning onto. Arrrrgggghhhh!!! The only thing worse than a miserable bike ride is EXTRA MILES on that miserable bike ride. What started out to be a ride of about 38 miles turned into 46. If you think 8 extra miles isn't much, get yourself out there on a bike next time the temperature is just slightly below where you store perishable food and get back to me.

I had on everything warm that I own, and a couple of things I don't (thanks for the gloves, VT). I didn't realize my full-fingered gloves were not air-conditioned. I wore a long-sleeved t-shirt, a long-sleeved jersey, and a jacket (high visibility, thank you very much, because Rozmo said I had to wear it. Thanks, Rozmo!) I wore an ear warmer and the aforementioned neck warmer, which in combination made my helmet fit like my head was in some sort of vise. I didn't adjust the straps because that would have meant taking my gloves off. Uh, I mean VT's gloves. I had on a regular pair of cycling socks underneath my snow-skiing socks (I've never been snow skiing in my life.)

The only part that's hard to layer in cold-weather cycling is the legs. Since I don't usually cycle in cold weather ON PURPOSE, I don't have a lot of the layering options that are available. I have cycling tights, but it's not really possible to wear two pairs of them. Have you ever seen the chamois pad in cycling shorts/tights? It would be sort of like wearing an entire box of these. In rummaging around my sock drawer, however, I did come upon some leg warmers I had never worn. Nurse Jane (I think) gave them to me one year for Christmas when I was taking dance (in my early 30's; don't ask).

I wore them proudly. On top of my tights. To my surprise, hubby didn't comment on them when I got home. A male stranger in the store where we stopped, however, did say, "I like your leg warmers." Then he wanted to know how many miles we typically ride in a day. He commented on what good shape we must be in. Was he even LOOKING at me? Maybe he thought ALL the bulk was the layers and layers of clothes. In my yellow HIGH VISIBILITY jacket I looked like the Michelan man with jaundice. He said he would hate to see us kick somebody with one of our rock-hard legs. At which point I asked him if he would like to try it. (It was sort of a grumpy day.) Seriously, he knew I was joking. I laughed when I said it. But he paid for his gas and hightailed it out of there.

Sweet Girl would probably disown me. Oh, and I'm smiling because it was BEFORE we rode. Going to bed now before I post any more ridiculous pictures. Team Chi-Chis, call me next April and I'll be happy to ride.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Idle Hands.....

Actually, I don't really ever have idle hands. Even when I watch television, I'm either crocheting, reading a book ( I DO have to HOLD the book, you know), blogging, grading online assignments, or playing a computer game. Right now I have just completed another semester with my online job, so I won't feel the need to be tied to the computer for hours every evening. I felt compelled to go buy something to fill up the time and keep my hands busy.

I'm blaming this partly on Mamaneena, and partly on my friend LaWanda the Warrior Princess. Mamaneena posted a couple of weeks ago about knitting or crocheting or something, so I got the bug again. And then LaWanda the Warrior Princess was crocheting when I got to her house last Sunday, so it just made me want to create something with yarn. Or thread. Or cookie dough. So hubby and I went to the store tonight and bought crocheting materials. He stood there patiently and even helped me pick out the right variegated pattern to go with the colors I had chosen.

Buy my ADHD keeps kicking in, so right now I have one and a half Christmas ornaments and three bags of yarn (to make a very pretty afghan, I'm telling myself) to go with the myriad other unfinished projects that are currently cluttering up my "office." Which is just a euphamism for a junk room. Actually, I don't have ADHD, but if students can use it as an excuse for why they can't finish their assignments, I can use it to explain why I have so many unfinished craft projects in my house.

Of course I need to work on my quilt. And Sweet Girl keeps after me to finish my counted cross stitch project of DaVinci's The Last Supper. I've done all the cross-stitching, but DAMN!!! All that back-stitching required to make the hands and faces is soooooooooooooooooooooooo tedious. Maybe I'll finish it in time to put it in the auction at our family reunion next year. Maybe.

I also have some finished projects. They're just not framed. And now they have the wrong initials crossed stitched into them, because they were completed in a previous wifetime. Whatever.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dear Friends....

You will not be receiving Christmas cards from us this year. We aren't mad at anybody. We aren't protesting anything. We aren't broke. We aren't devoid of Christmas cheer or bah-humbugging anything. We have (had) plenty of time to get them addressed and in the mail.

We have a supply of pretty Christmas cards, because I can never resist buying them on sale after Christmas. We even have some of those that are designed to put a photograph in, and I had planned to have someone take our picture with us on our motorcycles and wearing Santa hats. (Not sure how I was going to get hubby to agree to that last one, but I certainly was planning to do it.)

So it's not a lack of planning that has rendered your mailbox empty of our Christmas greetings. We live only a few miles from the tiny post office in Bethlehem, Georgia, where people mail their cards from all over the country every year so they can be postmarked from Bethlehem. I usually stand in line to stamp them myself. It's not that I don't have time to do so.

I'm not even going to claim that addressing the cards hurts my (I think) arthritic hand. I have a file with the addresses for our Christmas cards on the computer, and I usually just print out the labels and stick them on the envelopes. I do, however, sign the cards myself. I'm not TOTALLY impersonal.

I'm not even justifying my non-Christmas-card-sendingness by saying I'm thinking of the environment and all the trees that went into making those cards and stamps and labels.

I just don't want to.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Weird Weather....

We are having some weird weather here in the South. I don't really know that it qualifies as "weird," though, since it seems we have a little spell like this just about every winter. Temperatures were in the 60s this morning when I left for school, and I was dripping sweat just from the exertion involved with getting ready for school. And changing clothes 43 times because it just wasn't cool enough for any of my really cute Christmas sweaters. Except the black Christmas vest, but I had already reserved it for tomorrow. That's just like me, to know what I'm wearing tomorrow, but I was 15 minutes late for school because I couldn't decide what to wear TODAY. I could have borrowed tomorrow's outfit, but then I'd be in the same dilemma tomorrow morning. And my khaki pants needed to be ironed. Which I didn't have time to do. Yet I had time to change clothes 43 times. And I'm really not that kind of girl, to change clothes that many times. Actually I'm all for school uniforms, and please let's start with the teachers.

It isn't winter yet, but it's December. Wouldn't it make a lot more sense if the seasons started on the first of the month? I mean, then you wouldn't have to figure out which day winter is really going to start. Not that it matters here in the South. We can have temperatures in the 30s in October and the 70s in December.

But doesn't it sound reasonable that winter would start on December 1st, spring on March 1st, summer on June 1st, and fall on September 1st? I think Congress should get to work on this, right after they decide how much of our money they are going to give to big banks, big auto, and big anybody else who decides they need a bailout.

I know it's all scientific, so you don't need to explain it to me. I know it all has to do with solstices and equinoxes (equinoxen?) and the earth's axis and stars and moons and planets and gravity and Apgar scores, so you don't have to comment with the data. I'm just sayin' it would be a lot easier than trying to figure out if winter starts this year on the 20th, the 21st, or the 22nd. Which reminds me.....why don't we say the 20th, the 21th, and the 22th? I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

By the Numbers......

Has it occurred to anyone else how much of life seems to be related to a number? And kids ask why they have to learn math...

When we are born, we are assessed and given an Apgar score. Mine was a 9.5. That's a lie. I don't have any idea what my Apgar score was. I didn't think they even had them when I was born in 1961, so I looked it up and saw that Dr. Virginia Apgar developed the number in 1952. Sadly, I don't even know what Sweet Girl's Apgar score was. It was bad enough that she happened to be born without the services of a doctor, who was apparently hanging out in the doctors' lounge and hoping my labor went on for a while. Not only did I not have an epidural, I didn't even have an episiotomy. Nuff said. Apgar score was not high on my list of things to care about at the time of her birth. She was kept in an incubator away from the other babies because she had a "contaminated" birth. If it hadn't been for my baby daddy, she would have a contaminated birth on the floor, but he caught her.

Then we start school, and of course it's all about grades. We're ranked in our graduating class, everyone wants to know our SAT scores, then we get to college and it's all about the GPA. After college it's about the starting salary, how much your car cost, how many square feet your house has, even what zip code you live in. You're judged based on how many children you have (can't have zero, but can't have too many either) and how many marriages/relationships (ditto). Jewelry must have a certain number of carats of stone and gold.

We use numbers to refer to our computer's speed and memory size. (Did you guys notice that they are advertising computers and devices with a certain number of TETRABYTES now?) Number of jobs. Years worked. Anticipated social security benefit. Years to retirement.

Size of our clothes is important. Height (less for women, more for men). Weight (ditto, up to a point). By the way, when I went for my check-up the day after Thanksgiving, I refused to step on the scale. It was so liberating. But I did wear a bra. And make-up.

All this randomness is the result of receiving my credit score in the mail last week. We signed up for legal services, and one of the services they offered was identity theft protection. I figured it was a good thing to do, as much information as I tend to transmit over the internet. At one time I had some iffy things on my credit report, the result of having been married to a person whose philosophy about paying bills is that you shouldn't have to pay anyone who already has more money than you do. And unfortunately I'm still listed on his mortgage, the house that I pretty much paid for the six years I lived there, but it sat on property that had belonged to his grandparents, and it wasn't worth fighting for.

I was surprised how anxious I felt opening that envelope, as if my worth as a human being would be contained in the numbers inside. I found myself skipping past all the explanations, just wanting to get to the bottom line. (I was pleasantly surprised.) Even at my age, at this stage of my life, 1270 days to retirement, it's still all about the numbers.

Monday, December 8, 2008

QAT Visit....

We had a QAT (Quality Assurance Team?) visit at school today, one of the many things in education that get assigned an acronym. They used to be SIP (School Improvement Plan) visits, but somebody thought we needed new letters.

You can tell a person with an elementary school background came up with some of this cra.... I mean useful stuff. We get "glows" and "grows" instead of "positives" and "negatives." Come on, people, we are grown-ups with college degrees, you don't have to be afraid of hurting our wittle feewings.

I was on a QAT team last year, and I had to do about 6 of these visits, mostly to elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. I won't say they are a complete waste of time, but I'm not sure they really serve their purpose. The school tells the QAT team what to look for when they come in, the members spend no more than 10 minutes in each classroom, and the school as a whole is judged on how well it performs the things it said it was going to do in the first place. If you really want to judge a school, show up unannounced on a Friday, maybe the Friday before the Georgia-Florida football game, and let 'er rip. No, these are planned and scheduled way in advance, and each school serves refreshments and provides a cozy spot for the team to gather and compile its data.

The people on the teams are nervous because they'd just as soon be back in their classrooms in their own schools and not among all these students who are the wrong size. The teachers being observed are nervous because they've been threatened (maybe literally, or maybe they just sense it) what will happen if the school gets a bad report.

Last year I was observing at the school where my next-door-neighbor teaches. It was her first year teaching, and although I wasn't assigned her classroom, I stuck my head in the door to say hello. I thought she was going to have apoplexy right there on the spot. She spoke to me politely, and to this day I'm sure she has no idea who that woman was. I can't help it if the only thing she ever sees me wearing out in the yard is a sweatshirt and my Navy sweatpants.

We got a "glowing" (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) report today. The QAT team also said we had the best refreshments of any school they had been in. I'm sure there's some correlation. Why can't the other schools just figure THAT out?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lonesome Dove....


Hubby has made the mistake of landing on Lonesome Dove in his surfing through the channels. That is always a mistake with me in the room. I will watch that movie (all four parts, eight hours in all) from start to finish every time it comes on if allowed (which rarely happens).

When it first came out in 1989, I resisted watching it at first. I hadn't heard the hype, and I was determined NOT to like anything my ex liked. By the end of the second episode, I was arranging my entire evening schedule around it.

I'm not that big a fan of westerns, but this one appeals to me tremendously. I think one reason is that it appears to be authentic, without all the glamor that many westerns try to pass off as real. Lonesome Dove has real people with real problems, and the good guy doesn't always win. I always cry at the end of it; hubby reminds me that Gus (Robert Duvall) is going to die EVERY TIME.

I even insisted we name our dog "Gus." I wanted to name the dog before this one Gus, but we named him Newt....another character from the movie.

I read the book after I saw the movie, and it was every bit as good as the movie. In fact, the movie was practically word-for-word true to the book, which is almost unheard of. I read a review of the book once, and the reviewer said "I've never been so disappointed with an author for stopping after a mere 843 pages." Or something like that.

Hubby will let me watch it just long enough to get interested, and then he'll change the channel and tell me, "You've seen it a hundred times." Oh well. I need to go load the dishwasher anyway.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Crazy Dreams....

I probably shouldn't make my dreams public. Most of the time when I tell people my dreams, they suddenly remember they have urgent business elsewhere. I dream vividly, and sometimes I remember entire plots. Last night's dream was one of those. I typed it as soon as I got up this morning so I wouldn't forget it.

Hubby and I were headed to the airport to go to the Dominican Republic. It was extremely crowded in the train station, where we were trying to get a MARTA train to the airport. The crowd was mostly football fans in town for the SEC Championship game (which means we were leaving TODAY, which is just crazy). We were in the Atlanta airport, but we had been somewhere else beforehand, like Las Vegas. I saw a guy in orange and blue holding up four fingers. I was thinking, "Dude, you came all this way to see Florida play, and you don't even have TICKETS?" (That's proof that I dream in color. Otherwise, how would I have known he was a Florida fan? I mean, until he opened his mouth and got obnoxious. Ha ha ha ha ha)

Hubby and I got on the train, but we got separated immediately because it was so crowded. There were two aisles on this train; he went down the right one, and I was on the left side. At the first stop (I thought), I looked for him because I didn't know which gate our plane was leaving from. He wasn't there. I couldn't find him anywhere. He didn't have a cell phone, so I couldn't call him. I looked at my watch, and it was 2:35. I think our plane was supposed to leave at 1:30 or something. (Actually, it will leave at 10:00 AM when we go to the Dominican Republic in APRIL.) But I couldn't find hubby, so I called a co-worker and told him I didn't know why I was calling him.

Then we were at the SEC Championship game. Apparently I found hubby somewhere along the line. And suddenly it wasn't so important to get to the Dominican Republic after all. And I was yelling "Roll Tide!" because I will pull for anyone playing against Florida. Only it wasn't Alabama after all. It was Texas. (Duh, they aren't even IN the SEC.) So I had to start yelling "Hook 'em Horns!" I don't know why we were even AT the SEC game, since Georgia wasn't in it. Yes I do. A couple of times we've gone because hubby won the tickets from Dr. Pepper (they're generous like that, giving away SEC Championships and random Harleys) when we didn't give a rip about either team in the game. It's very boring to do that.

The score was 3-0 Texas, and then later it was something else that I can't remember, but someone had scored. Texas tried an onside kick, which is pretty stupid in itself because it was early in the game, but whatever. So they kicked the ball and it rolled to a stop, and just as players from both teams were about to jump on the ball, the ball jumped up and ran off because it was a little black and white dog. And everybody just stood around wondering where the football went. I'm sure that's a trick play that even Urban Meyer hasn't thought of yet.

Then we were at a dance, and I'm not sure it was hubby anymore, but it was SOME man, and I was trying to dance in high heels. (Maybe it was hubby after all, and I can explain where that part of the dream came from. Hubby and I were slow dancing in the living room last night. But in the dream we were FAST dancing. Whatever.) And after that the details get kind of fuzzy, so I'll just stop right there before you start thinking it wasn't just the dream that's crazy.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Our Christmas Tree...


I really should have moved that empty box out of the way before I took the picture. I cropped one out, but that one was too close to the tree. And I was too lazy to move it and take another one. Actually, I was doing all this while I was on the phone with Sweet Girl. Thank goodness for a bluetooth....

Multitasking does not come easily to me. On most occasions UNITASKING is a stretch.

I love decorating the tree, if for no other reason than seeing the special ornaments we have on there. I knew Sweet Girl was officially grown two years ago when we had to split up the ornaments and let her take the ones that were really hers.

I have some red and gold balls, but I never put them on the tree. Instead I put them in a huge crystal vase I was given for a going-away present from one of the many schools I have left, and they look nice in there.

I don't have many ornaments on the tree that are alike. Except for the four Pepsi logo ornaments that came in a set and hubby received at the company Christmas party a few years ago. Back when they HAD a company Christmas party. And got gifts. Actually, I only have two of the Pepsi logo ornaments now. Sweet Girl took two of them to her place. It felt kind of like a divorce, splitting up the ornaments.

I have many Disney ornaments from my two trips to Disney World. I went the first time ever only 3 years ago, the week before Christmas. It turned very cold that week; our car was iced over when we started home. I love Tinkerbell; I remember having a Tinkerbell placemat when I was about four years old, before our SECOND house burned down. That's a story for another post. So I have several Tinkerbell ornaments, along with Mickey on a motorcycle and Mickey swinging a golf club.

I have a replica of the cruise ship hubby and I were on last year. I also have a gold replica of the Biltmore House, where we visited in '99. I've tried to buy Christmas ornaments from many of the places we've visited, but they don't always have them.

Some of my favorites are the glass ornaments that Sweet Girl and I painted together one Christmas when it was just the two of us and we lived in a tiny, tiny duplex. Painting ornaments and raising a pre-teen was just about the only thing that kept me sane in the throes of depression that particular year.

I favor all white lights; hubby prefers multi-colored. Sweet Girl is with me. When I got the prelit tree, it was all white lights. So hubby lost that one.

Sweet Girl hates the ribbons on the tree, and she hates the giant one on top in a giant way. We used to have an angel on top, but she took it to her house. The first year I ever put ribbons on a Christmas tree, Katydid and I were sharing a house. We went and bought fabric and cut and tied the ribbons ourselves. I don't remember whose idea it was. Now they have ribbons with those wire twisty-things, and they're so much easier. But I think I've had ribbons on my tree every year since Katydid and I painstakingly tied all those ribbons on our tree.

I have a few crocheted ornaments that I made myself. Thanks to MamaNeena, I've been crocheting ornaments again this year. Pretty soon I'll run out of friends to give them to. I'm finding that crocheting now hurts my hands, especially using the thread I have to use to make ornaments. Just what I needed, another reminder that I'm getting old(er).

One of my favorites is an ornament that says "Our First Christmas" that HUBBY bought at.... you guessed it.... our first Christmas together. You'd have to know him to appreciate that. Not that he's afraid to show his emotions, but he's not what I'd call sentimental. Especially when it comes to paying good money for things you don't technically need. He looked a little shell-shocked when he came home with it.

On the other hand, this is the same guy I told last weekend about a family two of my students had adopted for Christmas as their senior project. When I told him how sad their Christmas wish list was, he handed me an envelope with his winnings from a golf tournament that weekend. Did I mention he's the world's last perfect man? I mean did I mention it yet today?


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Only Slightly Disappointed......

I added the Library Thing widget to my blog shortly after I started it. It is by no means completely representative of everything I have on my bookshelf. To enter all of my books would have required my getting up and walking across the room. And it takes something really earth-shattering to do that once I've ensconced myself in the recliner.

It isn't just a place to catalog one's books, however. There are all sorts of groups and message boards and other book-related things. I joined something called a 50-book challenge. The challenge is to read 50 books in a year. That should be a piece of cake, if I can ever get through Bridge of Sighs. It's a wonderfully written book, and I chose it for a stupid reason: I have seen the real Bridge of Sighs in Venice. And I didn't even take a picture of it. What a dork.





I didn't notice the first time I logged into Library Thing that they have a section on there called "Early Reviewers." If I'm just way behind the times (as usual) and you already knew about this extraordinary thing, you can skip the rest of this blog.

Apparently you can sign up to be an early reviewer of a book that hasn't been released yet. They post a short description of the book, tell how many review copies they have, when the book is due to be released, and how many people have requested each one so far. Some of it is pure chance; the rest of it is I don't know what because I forgot. I figured it was worth a mouse click or two, because they send you a free book and all you have to do is agree to write a review of it that is at least 25 words. Just try stopping anything I write (or say, for that matter) at 25 words. And it doesn't even have to be a GOOD review. And if you DON'T write a review, well....... They don't even come take you away in shackles or anything. They just might not send you any MORE free books.

Not one to take any chances, I clicked on almost every blooming book in there. Except diet books. And cookbooks. And self-help books. And personal finance books. What a bore. Give me trash, please. Some of the books were actually by some authors that I've read and enjoyed. There were a couple that must have a bunch of sex and killing in them, because they are written by authors my hubby reads a lot.

I went on the message board for the early reviewers once, and there were some pissed off people on there lamenting the fact that in such-and-such a period of time they had only been sent this many books. Get a grip, people! One free book in a lifetime is more than we ought to be able to expect in this world. Not counting library books that get so overdue we're ashamed to return them.

I got a message today that I was not one chosen to receive Early Reviewer books this time around. I was a little disappointed, but I'm not going to gnash my teeth or kick my dog or anything. I'll just click away when they put the next batch up there and hope for the best. And if I NEVER get a free book? The library has lots of them.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Don't You Just Hate it When Someone...

... who is supposed to be in charge of something...... oh, let's just say...... a school, for example........ always takes the easy way out?

... wants people to LIKE her instead of doing her job?

... can often be found with her feet propped up on her desk?

... says she abhors laziness but embodies all the characteristics of laziness herself?

... realizes she has pissed everybody off and THEN tries to make up for everything in the space of a couple of days?

... realizes she has pissed off her VERY LAST ALLY and emails SOMEONE ELSE to ask what's wrong with THE OTHER PERSON?

... exhibits poor leadership but takes offense at any suggestions as to how things SHOULD be done?

... makes excuses to two different staffs that the OTHER one is causing her to be too busy to be involved?

... gets teary-eyed and weepy instead of attempting to communicate with her staff?

... constantly comments that she's getting "picked to pieces"?

... says she'd like to see someone else just TRY to do her job?

... allows someone charged with ARMED ROBBERY back into the building because he wasn't the one with the gun and we can't PROVE that he's a danger to us and other students?

... treats students like she's their friend, perpetuating the myth that the TEACHERS are the problem?

... ignores discipline problems because she "just doesn't want to deal with them"?

... asks a student whom she has just suspended (because she was backed into a corner), "Now you're going to tell your mother so I don't have to call her?"

... refuses to return calls to parents because she "just doesn't want to deal with them"?

... says she's "sick and tired" of one person or another, usually to a colleague of that person?

... takes the approach that some students don't have to be dealt with because, "He's going to do himself in anyway?"

... loves drama even more than the students?

... watches on the security camera monitors so she can get up and close her door if someone she "just doesn't want to deal with" approaches?

... tries way too hard way too late?

Yeah, me too.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Things I've Done...

I copied this from Momma Bear, and I thought it was cool. Don't judge me for what you find here. Hers said to make BOLD the things you've done. Never one for following the rules if I can make up my own, I decided to make the things I've done RED. If you want to play, copy/paste these into your own blog, and leave me a comment so I'll know to head on over there to read about you. Add events if you want; I added #100 because I just couldn't stop at 99!

Have you ever:


1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (as long as a marching band counts)
4. Visited Hawaii (Not yet, but this one is definitely on my list)
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyworld or Disneyland (but only in the last 3 years)
8. Climbed a mountain (as long as Stone Mountain counts....and all the ones I've "climbed" on my bicycle)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung/played a solo
11. Bungee jumped (Not yet, but this one is definitely on my list)
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (line too long in 1988; post 9/11 in 2002)
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb (and fed it a bottle)
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (no, but I rode a water taxi in Venice for about the 3 days it took for it to get back to the train station)
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (I was a Mary Kay consultant for about 15 minutes; Creative Memories consultant for slightly longer)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason (did I mention I'm married to the world's last perfect man?)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check (sigh)
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (does a tailbone count? see #65)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life (perhaps? I yelled "Car right!" to a bicyclist who was about to go through a 4-way stop)
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Made a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Received a bathroom scale as a birthday present