Sunday, May 31, 2009

Calling All Christians.....

I (sort of) witnessed a rather bizarre exchange between two women this morning.

I parked at the grocery store but decided to walk down to Tar-zhay in search of a water pitcher with a filter. It was one of those rare days when I just felt like walking, and I didn't have to rush home or anything. And by walking I could put off, if even for just a couple of minutes, the dreaded trip to the grocery store.

I heard loud voices behind me as I walked down the sidewalk, but I didn't really pay any attention to what they were saying. I actually thought they were friends greeting each other in the parking lot in that loud, (some) Southern women, obnoxious, don't-care-whose-ears-we-violate kind of way.

As I neared the Tar-zhay, however, there were two women screaming at each other, one in a van and one walking down the sidewalk. Apparently their roles had been reversed a few minutes earlier at the grocery store end of the shopping center, and the woman in the van was accusing the walking woman of nearly running over her.

Driver: You didn't stop at that stop sign!

Walker: Yes, I did! You walked out in front of me!

Driver: No, you didn't stop!

Walker: Yes, I did!

Driver: No, you didn't!

Walker: Yes, I did!

[Unintelligible gibberish while they both screamed at each other. The woman walking down the sidewalk was dragging a small girl with her, probably about 3 or 4 years old. Thankfully probably too young to be humiliated by her mother's behavior.]

This is how the exchange culminated:

Driver: I'll pray for you!

Walker: I'll do the same for you!


Here's an idea:

Why not just be nice to each other in the first place, forgiving if a transgression DID occur, whether it be pedestrian or driver, and leave out the middle man?

That would free God up to handle some more pressing issues.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Hubby!

12 - years ago today we got married
5 - minutes before the courthouse closed we arrived at the courthouse in Chattanooga, Tennessee
2 - number of weeks we were married before I left him for a week to go on BRAG
3 - new cars purchased
6 - computers purchased
10 - other major appliances purchased
13 - age of Auggie (Hubby's Pomeranian) when he died shortly after we got married
4 - dogs we've had since then
3 - cats we had to lose before Hubby agreed to allow inside cats
2 - cats Hubby now allows to sleep on his bed at night
3 - cruises we've taken
4 - other exotic vacations we've been on
5 - school changes Hubby has witnessed in my career
1 - doctoral degree Hubby has had to live through
1 - life-changing diagnosis
7 - years Hubby has kept off 30 pounds lost after diagnosis
1 - houses Hubby has lived in during the last 36 years
2 - children who have purchased their own homes during our marriage (his daughter, mine)
50 - number of additional years I hope we have together

Friday, May 29, 2009

Finally Gonna Have To Turn on the Air.....

Unlike MamaNeena, we have yet to turn on the air conditioning in our house. We haven't needed it.....until now. We have had the windows open, and I really enjoy the night sounds and the breezes coming in through the windows.

The breezes are getting hotter, though, and the house is stuffy. When I came in this afternoon, I thought to myself, "It's time." This is probably the latest we have turned on the air conditioning in recent memory. I was going to hold out for June 1st, but I think this weekend we'll break down and turn on the air.

Which means an arctic front is sure to blow through here next week.

Happy weekend. It sure took its damn sweet time getting here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I have used the phrase "I'm depressed" countless times over the years, but I don't think I've ever known what the word meant until now.

That sounds extreme, but it isn't.

In the past when I have used that phrase, it could actually have been any of the following:

  • I'm overwhelmed.
  • I'm sad.
  • I'm angry.
  • I'm stressed.
  • I'm at a crossroads in my life and am not sure which way to go.
  • I'm at a crossroads in my life and I KNOW which way to go, but it's a hell of a lot of trouble.
  • I'm regretting decisions that affected my life.
  • I'm regretting decisions that affected the lives of others.
  • I'm feeling helpless.
  • I'm feeling hopeless.
  • I'm feeling restless.
  • I'm bored.
  • I'm worried.
  • I'm in a rut.
None of those apply to my life right now. Except maybe the regrets part, but I don't dwell on them.

Yet I have this (almost) overwhelming sensation that I can only describe as depression. It's just a funk. It may be due to the fact that this school year has gone on for-freakin-ever, and we still have another week with the students. THEN post-planning. Egads.

I don't want to alarm anyone who knows me and has to work with me or live with me, because I'm not screaming out for help or even considering taking drugs, although those might just help me cope with the end of the school year. If it ever gets here. Never mind the two graduation ceremonies I'll have to endure.

I'm already doing most of the things they say one should do to combat depression. I have exercised EVERY STINKIN' DAY since December 30, with the exception of three. I actually enjoy exercise. Maybe that's the first sign of mental illness itself.

I get enough sleep, usually eight hours a night during the week, sometimes nine on the weekend.

I stay busy working on the computer, crocheting, reading for pleasure, improving upon the courses I teach.

Okay, so maybe I don't eat EXACTLY right, but surely three out of four is good enough? It would get me a multi-million dollar contract in baseball.

I feel like I have a purpose. Many purposes maybe.

I have hobbies and friends and a great marriage and wonderful relationships with my sisters and a self-supporting child and pets and little debt and a steady recession-proof job and good health and a whole whopping six weeks off for summer vacation this year.

I have heard people ask incredulously about someone, "What's she got to be depressed about?" (Actually, I think I've heard my mother say that about ME.)

That's like asking, "What's she got to have a cold about?"

It isn't an emotion; it's a condition. A situation. A thing.

I felt like this a couple of weeks ago, on a weekend, and I was a little frightened. Worried might be a better word for it.

Then on Monday morning, the fog had lifted, and I thought to myself, "Whew, I'm glad THAT'S over."

I'm not spiraling downward, and it's not like I want to curl up in a corner and go to sleep or anything like that.

It's just like I've got this knapsack full of hammers on my back and I can't put them down.

I am completely confident it will pass, probably very quickly. This weekend I'll be floating in the pool with a beverage nearby, and I'll wonder, "What was THAT all about?"

I have a new appreciation for people who are truly depressed. As long as they aren't just sad or something.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Our Fledgling Garden......

I haven't been too excited about our garden for the past couple of years, mainly because we have been in a drought of epic proportions. Last year we managed to harvest a few pathetic little tomatoes, and very little else.

When Hubby and I first married (and our anniversary is this weekend - yay! I think a motorhome would make an excellent gift for the 12-year mark), we had quite a sizable garden in the back yard. It was in a perfect spot, lots of sunshine and good soil. We planted peas, okra, squash, peppers, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. That's when I found out that tomatoes are pretty much the only "vegetable" that Hubby will eat. And peppers.

Then we put a swimming pool in the perfect garden spot. You can't be too picky about where to put a swimming pool. It has to A) fit between the property lines; and B) not be over septic tank lines. Unless you are us (yes, I know it's properer to say "you are we" but that just sounds retarded in spite of its correctness), in which case you pay about a gazillion dollars for someone to MOVE the septic tank lines, and that's BEFORE you spend the gazillion dollars you actually meant to spend on the swimming pool.

We've tried a couple of different spots for our garden, and we've had various degrees of success. Last year Hubby decided to make sort of a "fake" spot where the soil isn't very good but the sunshine situation was better. He used railroad ties and potting soil to make a tiny little garden plot.

Everything died last year. Apparently even if one surreptitiously waters a garden, flying in the face of county, state, and probably federal watering restrictions, nothing can replace good old rainwater. And we had precious little of that last year. And the year before that. And the year before that........ ad infinitum in reverse.

So far this year our little baby garden is doing nicely.

Pardon the bent piece of fence at the back of our yard where part of a tree came crashing down in one of our winter storms. Or maybe a fall storm. Whatever. It keeps the neighbors on their side and us on our side, so apparently it's good enough.

Look at those cute little baby squashes peeking through the leaves there. I can't wait for them to grow up and get jobs. Hubby doesn't really care for squash (except fried), but I can't wait to make a big old squash casserole. He wouldn't eat squash casserole on a dare, but I could live off it. At least for a day or two.

I couldn't get a very good shot of this zucchini without pulling that withered piece of bloom (?) off the end, but I was afraid it would stunt the growing process. I wish zucchini were as easy to spot as the yellow squash; sometimes I miss one, and then it's like Invasion of the Giant Zucchini the next time I go out to the garden spot.

Hello, you shiny little tomatoes. I can't wait until you get big and ripe enough to slice and put between two pieces of bread for a midday tomato sandwich. Ironically, I wouldn't eat tomatoes at all until I was in my late twenties or early thirties. LOVED catsup, but I wouldn't touch tomatoes. Then I had some fresh ones from my own garden with some crisp bacon and cool lettuce on a sandwich, and I was hooked.

Hubby is of the opinion that one cannot have too many tomato plants. He fusses if he thinks any of them might go to waste. When I start cutting them up into his cereal, he might decide it's better not to plant more than we can eat.

He even plants them in buckets when he runs out of room in the "fake" garden spot.

Hubby is also somewhat of a pepper freak. I realize they are slightly out of focus. We can't all be Pioneer Woman when it comes to photography. Or gardens. Or cooking. Or living.

The only way Hubby would ever consider moving to another house is if he were suddenly able to have about 5 acres of land so he could have a bigger garden.

I'm not pushing for it; cooking is enough of a chore without adding in canning and freezing. That's just way too much domesticity for me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Books I Haven't Read.....

I could probably be kicked out of the English Teachers' Club if "they" knew some of the books I haven't (yet) read. I don't know how I managed to graduate from high school and college without reading some of the classics. I'm not going to list them here, because it's embarrassing to admit that I haven't read them.

What brings me to this post is the fact that in preparation for teaching my summer school online course, I'm being forced to read some things I haven't previously read. And reread some, like Lord of the Flies. I taught that one when I was in the traditional classroom, but I'm rereading it so I can be familiar enough with the story, the symbolism, and the characters [for some reason I get Jack and Ralph mixed up] to grade what the students turn in. I could just look at their assignments and give them credit for trying, but that's not the way I operate. If they miss something, I tell them why. And I deduct the points. I figure I'm doing them a favor.

Some things that are considered classics I HAVE read, but I didn't necessarily like. I know I could definitely be kicked out of the Southern English Teachers' Club if I admitted to the club officers that I read lots of Faulkner's work, but I still don't like him. It's just not natural for a sentence to go on for pages and pages and pages. I don't remember in which English course I was forced to read several Faulkner novels. I'm pretty sure I didn't take a course in Southern Literature, because it never would fit in my schedule.

I'm also not really crazy about Hemingway. You shouldn't have to keep turning back several pages to see if you can figure out who's saying what. He's not big on "he said" or "she replied" to provide a roadmap for the conversation. And it's always a conversation. With an occasional running of the bulls thrown in. And lots of drinking. I do, however, like his short story "Hills Like White Elephants." I think because the subject matter is obscure, and when you finish reading the story you find yourself asking, "Were they talking about what I THINK they were talking about?"

I did a project for a graduate course several years ago, back when I thought my doctoral research was going to be about adult readers and non-readers. Not people who CAN'T read, but people who CAN and just CHOOSE NOT TO. In preparing for that project I came across a list of 100 of the greatest books or 100 books everyone should read or something like that. I was a little dismayed at how many books on that list I HADN'T read. I kept counting on my fingers and looking over my shoulder just in case one of the members of the Book Police Force were watching me.

I just went looking for that list so I could add it to this post, and while I didn't find that specific one, I came across about 100 other lists of 100 books. The one I'm going to put the most faith in is put out by the College Board. And I'm going to make a concerted effort to read more quality works on this list and less junk. Never mind that I'm not college-bound and hope never to be again.

Monday, May 25, 2009

One Thing Leads to Another.....

I am not known for my domesticity. In fact, I am rather well known for my LACK of domesticity. It's not that I'm lazy or a slob, although my mother would probably argue vehemently with both of those statements.

I just don't spend my precious free time cleaning the house. I keep the laundry done regularly, although the last load (usually whites) may stay in the dryer for a day or two.

I wash the dishes EVERY night, and I make up the bed EVERY morning. Unless I leave Hubby in it, which is rare, and he refuses to be bothered with such minutiae as making up a bed.

My mother was a fanatic about house cleaning. I don't mean fanatic in the sense that her house was always spotless. With 5 kids, spotless wasn't possible. We all had chores, and I don't think any of us ever did them to her satisfaction. It was routine to be awakened on Saturday morning at some ungodly hour with Mother screaming, "Get up and clean up this $!%#**! house!"

No wonder housekeeping is not at the top of my priority list.

I also have another theory. I don't like doing something only partway. If I don't have time to do it ALL (and I rarely do), I'd just rather not bother.

Because how do you know what parts to do and what parts to leave undone?

Vacuum and not dust?

Sweet and not mop?

Pick up the clutter and not worry about the baseboards?


It's so depressing.

Today, for some reason, I got started cleaning and couldn't stop. One thing kept leading to another. I started at 8:30 this morning, and I finally stopped (sort of) at 3:30 when the sun made a brief appearance. At least I can say I was (sort of) in the pool on Memorial Day. Up to my knees. Which turned blue immediately.

Hubby came home mid-afternoon and could just barely get in the door because I had moved all the furniture to clean the floors. This was a full wall-to-wall cleaning, not one of those where I just cleaned the visible parts. He watched me for a moment and then asked, his brow furrowed teasingly, "You're not planning to leave me, are you?"

"Hell no!" I answered. "If I do leave you, I'm not leaving you with a clean house."

Vacuuming led to rolling up the area rugs to vacuum underneath.

Which led to using Murphy's Oil on the hardwood floors.

Which led to mopping the kitchen. Twice. (Sullen Teenager and her boyfriend dropped by just long enough to march through the freshly mopped kitchen.)

Which led to cleaning the dining table and chairs. How DO those chairs get splatters on them?

Which led to cleaning the china cabinet.

Which led to cleaning the trash can. (See what I mean about not knowing where to stop? Seriously. The trash can?)

Which somehow led to cleaning the oven.

Vacuuming the bedroom (including the baseboards) led to dusting.

Which meant cleaning off the dresser.

Which led to finding a pair of pants and uniform shirt of Hubby's that needed buttons.

Which led to finding three more shirts that had one or more buttons missing.

Which led to cleaning the CPAP machine. All the parts. None of which I was really sure I could put back together again.

Dusting the living room led to clearing off a space to put the charging valet my step-daughter gave me for Mother's Day.

Which led to putting away some candles I bought from a school fund raiser. I don't even know why I bought candles, since we can't burn them at school anymore, not after some dude left a candle burning at school overnight and caught the building on fire. The new addition they had just finished. Duh.

Which also led to putting away some Christmas ornaments I bought in Nashville and which had nestled themselves comfortably on the piano, content to wait there until I put the tree up again in November.

I went nonstop for 7 hours, and I still felt obligated to get on the elliptical.

I'll be quite happy to return to school tomorrow so I can get some rest.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


For the past two years all we've heard is "Can't complain....we need the rain."

Is someone going to let us know when it's okay to complain again?

The drought is officially over, at least in our part of the world. The lakes are full. Our tiny garden is flourishing (so far). If Hubby cuts the grass this year, it will already be more times this year than all of last year combined. Everything is green and beautiful.

Normally I wouldn't complain about the rain anyway.

But Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. The pool is crystal clear. I had envisioned sending Hubby off to the golf course every day this weekend, while I lounged by the pool and soaked up some rays. That may or may not have involved some frozen beverages.

There have been no rays to soak up. While Hubby did play golf yesterday, it was too wet to play today, so we had some "together" time.

That entailed a scintillating trip to Wally World, with a side excursion to PetSmart.

Not to mention that I got to watch him watch television. Except for the period of time I went up to the bedroom to watch baseball.

It wasn't a total loss, however, because I was able to grade every single Senior Project I had brought home for the weekend.

That simply cannot compete with sitting by the pool soaking up some rays.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Foot-in-Mouth Disease......

I know it happens to everyone, but I have a few moments from the past that can still make me turn crimson with embarrassment every time I remember them. What bothers me most is that they make me appear to be callous and insensitive, and that's not the case at all. It's just that sometimes I don't know when to keep my mouth shut, and sometimes I forget circumstances surrounding the person to whom I am speaking (or gesturing, in one case).

Years ago my Uncle Danny was in town, staying at my mother's house. I was visiting with them on my way to take Sweet Girl to stay with a friend of mine while I went to a football game. Uncle Danny has always had the most outrageous stories, and he's hilarious. If you can survive the telling of one of his stories. I've always enjoyed his sense of humor.

On this particular day the television was tuned to a college football game. I suppose it was halftime, because there was a majorette or some sort of drill team member on the screen. Uncle Danny said, "That girl's got breasts just like I like ' on each side." I was too young and immature to recognize the comment as sexist and demeaning to women in general. I just thought he was funny. And I couldn't wait to repeat it to the first person I had a chance to speak to.

That just happened to be the woman I was leaving Sweet Girl with. And her entire family. She had just undergone a mastectomy.

I still cringe in horror every time I remember my carelessness. I wonder if she ever forgave me. Or if her HUSBAND ever forgave me. Or her BROTHER. Or her DAUGHTERS.


Another memory that makes me want to crawl under the sidewalk even years later happened in the hall at school one day. I was experiencing some sort of frustration, probably involving the yearbook, because that seemed to be what caused me the most grief in those days. I've never been able to mask my emotions, so as I approached a co-worker in the hall, she asked if something were wrong. I'm sure she was just being polite; I wish I had told the expected lie, "Oh nothing."

Instead, I held an imaginary gun to my head and pulled the imaginary trigger. It was something I did often, indicating that I was stressed out.

As she passed me, I remembered that her roommate had recently committed suicide by shooting herself.

Arrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! Please, please, please, please don't let her remember that. But I'm sure she does. I'm sure she wonders how anyone could have been so cruel.

Another time when I worked at the vet school, I was talking on the phone to a good friend about one of the professors in the large animal medicine department. He had playfully turned in some paperwork to go to "Alba, Turkey" the week before, actually meaning "Albuquerque" but pretending that he didn't know how to spell it. My co-worker (who was supposed to be smart or something) didn't get the joke, and she started this professor's paperwork for international travel. In her defense, those guys were always jetting off somewhere to operate on a racehorse or something, so it wasn't unusual for them to leave the country.

I was telling my friend on the phone how STEWPID this professor was, causing us all that extra work, blah blah blah. I had no idea he was sitting outside my office door reading his mail. The office door was open. When he walked into the office, I could tell he had heard every word. That man is dead now, and my face still burns with shame when I remember that incident. It's amazing that I kept my lowly (and low-paying) job until I decided to return to graduate school.

Remembering these incidents causes me physical pain. I am so ashamed. I'm sure it happens to everyone, and there is no way ever to make up for a gaffe such as these. I mean, I can't exactly call my friend (whom I haven't seen in years and years) and say, "Remember when I said that STEWPID thing about breasts? Yeah, I'm sorry for that." Like the old saying goes, you can't unring a bell. Oh for a delete key. And I can't email the former co-worker (who currently works in the same county I work in) and say that I had temporarily forgotten about her roommate killing herself when I made that careless gesture.

As for the veterinarian dude, like I said, he's dead, and I'm STILL embarrassed. Will I live long enough to overcome the torture of remembering?

I know it happens to other people too. I feel for them even while I'm thinking, "Way to go, Einstein. That was brilliant." I want to tell them that I feel their pain, but they should be prepared to be embarrassed for about a gazillion years. That is, if they are even bothered by what they say in the first place. I'm guessing some folks aren't.

I witnessed someone ELSE having foot-in-mouth disease the last time we were out in Mississippi at our favorite casino. There was a woman sitting at the poker table with us wearing sunglasses, and I assumed she had watched too many episodies of The World Poker Tour or some such. She seemed a little ditzy too, because every now and then she would ask, "Did I win?"

She got up to go to the bathroom, and her sister was very concerned. She said, "Are you all right to go by yourself? Do you want me to go with you?"

"No, I'm fine," she said.

Sister #2 stood up on the rungs of her stool to watch Sister #1 walk across the casino floor toward the ladies' room.

"Oh Lord, I hope she doesn't fall or anything." She continued to monitor her progress, peering over the crowds in the casino.

The dealer, a young man who should have known better, asked, "Is she drunk? Or just stupid?"

Sister #2 snapped, "No, she's blind. She's had three cornea transplants."

Ouch. Awkward.

I know he wanted the earth to open up and swallow him at that moment. But we're never that lucky when we have foot-in-mouth disease.

You know the worst part? I start wondering how many careless, insensitive, callous, cruel things I've said that I didn't even catch.

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to call my therapist now.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Not a Bragger This Year....

After 17 years in a row of riding in the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia, I'm not riding this year. At least not the whole thing. I may do the first (mountainous!) day, and I MAY do a leg in the middle of the week because it starts close to home, but other than that I'm not doing the ride. I couldn't do the whole week this year anyway because of our retarded school schedule this year. We will still be in post-planning, and although I was allowed to miss it last year, the climate has changed at school this year, and I wouldn't even ask.

Am I going to have to change the name of my blog?

Am I going to have to turn in my license plate that says "Share the Road"?

I don't know if this is the END of riding in the cross-state ride, or if it's just a one-year thing. I'm not EVEN going to predict how I might feel about it this time next year.

My only regret so far is that I'm afraid I may have let Katydid down. She scheduled her vacation around the ride, and it's sort of hard for her to ride on the back of a tandem by herself. Now don't crucify me, she also has a single bike, and she can go if she really, really, really wants to. But mostly we've gone together. There were even the years when our mother went along with us to do the laundry and set up the tent and cook for us and make coffee in the mornings. Sounds heavenly. Wasn't.

This year the hassles finally outweighed the benefits.

I'll be teaching summer school online. Last year I was 98 assignments in the hole when I got back from BRAG, and that was with staying up until 11:00 every night of the ride working on the computer. Then getting up at 5:00 AM to ride 60 miles on a bicycle. In the heat. Only to get to the next town and the next hotel and being FURTHER in the hole.

I have to haul said computer, plus my CPAP machine. That means I really need my car, because I don't trust either of those things to be tossed on the luggage truck. It's hard to get someone to drive my car from one town to another. Rozmo was sweet enough to do it last year (except for the day that Scott drove it), but I can't ask her to do that every year, not when she has other responsibilities as one of the BRAG folks.

I grew too old a couple of years ago to sleep in a tent or in a hot gymnasium that's wall-to-wall with snoring men and women. That means going to a hotel every night, which means wonderful sleep and a (usually) guaranteed spot to use the internet. But it's just another detail that has to be managed. I'm getting too crotchety to manage details.

I only have six weeks of summer this year (SORRY to those of you who are saying "Only? WTF?"), and I was reluctant to give up one of them for something that's physically challenging. More challenging this year than usual because I haven't trained.

And speaking of training, it isn't because I haven't had time or the weather hasn't cooperated. My heart just hasn't been in it. One day when I was on my way to the laundry room, I walked past my bicycle in the basement. I shuddered at the thought of having to get on that bike and ride across Georgia. I had never felt that way before.

When I first felt like I didn't want to go on BRAG, I was afraid I was going through a little mini-depression. It was on a weekend, and I felt kind of blah. But on Monday morning, the fog had lifted, and I still didn't want to go on BRAG. In fact, ever since I decided NOT to go, I have felt like a tremendous burden has been lifted from my shoulders. That's got to mean it was the right decision, right?

I always wondered how long I would continue to ride in BRAG, how many years in a row. I wondered if I would get sick or develop some kind of chronically painful condition that would prohibit me from riding. Considering the age of some of the folks who manage to do it year after year, I was pretty sure old age wouldn't be the culprit.

It just felt weird to get up one morning and not want to go. It even feels weird that it still feels right.

There are some folks I will miss, friends I've met through cycling that I only see on BRAG. There are some folks that I see on BRAG every year that I will DEFINITELY NOT miss. The lady at rest stop #2 who generates so much controversy, for example. I can do without her and her antics. A certain former co-worker. Another someone who shall remain nameless but has pissed off more people in more states than anyone else I've ever known. A cyclist who, upon receiving a sample of lubricant for the "saddle sore" area, proceeded to apply it right then. In mixed company. In a parking lot. She was also the same one who almost made an 18-wheeler go off the road going up a steep hill because she was in the middle of the road writing something in chalk. Yeah, I won't miss her.

Katydid is worried about me breaking my streak of 17 in a row; Sweet Girl had the same thought. I have assured them both that there is no one keeping score.

Besides, if I ride even one day, I can still say I have ridden in 18 straight BRAGs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's Getting There....

This is what the pool looked like when we first took the cover off.

It actually looks kind of pretty because of the reflection. The water, however, is green.

Believe me when I say it has been worse. In past years we had been known to accidentally dump ALL the nasty water AND the leaves on top into the pool.

This is about 3 hours later that same afternoon. Hubby dumped some shock in it, and it works pretty fast.

This is the next day.

You can still see there's some dirt in the deep end. We hadn't yet put the automatic vacuum in the pool. We call him "Kirby."

This one is 4 days later. So much for taking pictures every day.

It gets prettier every day.

Kirby is still working on getting all that dirt out. He works we don't have to.

Libby loves it when we open the pool. This is a rare sight, because when we're out there trying to enjoy the pool, she gets on our nerves. Hubby thought it was cute to teach her to beg for beer. It's not so cute anymore. Usually she has to stay outside the fence. Occasionally she gets desperate and climbs over it.

You kind of expect it of Libby. She's a lab, after all.

Gus, however, thinks he's a lab too.

It's almost there as far as looking good.

Now we have to work on getting it warm enough to get in.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another Sign the Apocalypse is Upon Us.....

Maybe that's a little strong.

I've been known to exaggerate. Once. About a hundred years ago.

You know how at this time of year you see cars all over town with "Senior '09" (or whatever the appropriate year might be) written in them with shoe polish or some stuff made specially for writing on car windows, along with a person's name, perhaps the name or initials of the high school, maybe a dog or cat paw print depending upon which school?

I've seen a few cars like that in the parking lot at our school. A few of them might want to reconsider what year they paint on their cars. I'm just sayin'. I guess they can dream if they want to, but the truth is going to be painfully obvious to them in........oh, about seven days.

I don't know if this is happening everywhere, but among the girls at our tiny little school there is an epidemic of writing their "s's" tipped over on their sides. Sort of like half an infinity sign. Only they're not all the way tipped over. They just look a little drunk. And stupid. The letters, not the girls. Most of the time.

Anyway, the cars of those particular girls just look retarded. It looks like they are proclaiming themselves to be "eniors" with some ridiculous nonsensical decoration in front of that non-word. I've seen people stop and look at their cars, tilt their heads over to see if they can make sense of it, and then just shake their heads and walk away.

When I stopped at the grocery store Monday afternoon, however, I saw a car similarly painted, and it just took the cake.

I don't know when I'll learn to have a camera on hand at all times, like Pioneer Woman, because you just never know when a blog topic might break out. I would love to be able to document this story, because it may sound to some of you like it's too ridiculous NOT to be made up. I promise, I could not make this stuff up.

There was a car painted with the words "graduation" and "09" and "congratulations" and the little princess's name.........and the words "pre-school."

Come on, people.


I really don't remember what the kid's name was, but I am certain that little
Kaitlyn/Katelin/Caitlin/Kaitlin/Caitlyn/Catelyn/Catelin/Katelen/Kaitlen/Caitlen/Catelen/Kaytlin/Caytlin does not give a rip about her own graduation from pre-school. And you know it's a girl, because no self-respecting guy paints words on his car windows. At least not his graduation year. There is one guy whom I meet some mornings with the word "FUBAR" painted on his vehicle window. And it is, so you really can't blame him for that. And there was the car I saw at the park today that had the word "Chevy" painted on the back window. I'm guessing he lost the emblem about the same time he acquired one of the many dents and lost a fender in front and the bumper on back and he wants to make sure everyone knows what particular brand his POS car is.

Last spring I caught two of our seniors in the act of writing something on MY car windows with white paint. I have no idea what they were planning to write, since I graduated for the last time five years ago, but they went back inside with their tails tucked between their legs and their ears singed around the edges.

Back to the pre-school graduate. Does she even have a concept of what graduating from pre-school means?

All she cares about is getting out of the damn carseat.

She wants strawberry soda so she can have a red mustache.

She wants Dora the Explorer underwear. (I may be slightly behind on whatever small female children are wearing in underwear these days. Whatever.)

She wants that little brat in her PRE-SCHOOL class to stop pulling her pigtails.

She wants macaroni and cheese for dinner and chocolate pudding for dessert.

I'm guessing the parents are sending out invitations to this graduation. What on earth does one get a four-year-old for graduation? She can only play with so many dolls. She probably already has a laptop that she uses to keep up with her classmates on MySpace. Clearly she already has a car of her own, because NO ONE would proclaim to be the proud parent of a pre-school graduate.

I wonder if she and some of her four-year-old playmates will head on out to Florida following their graduation ceremony. Maybe a cruise to the Bahamas?

I'm trying to picture the post-graduation party. Juice and cookies and gummy bears and a lot of crying. But not the tearful, "I'm gonna miss you I can't believe it's over you've always been my best friend even when I was sleeping with your boyfriend" kind of crying. I'm talking the "I'm coming down from a sugar high and I'm not getting my way and watch me kick my feet and scream and make my face turn beet red and have mucus running down my face" kind of crying.

Poor little pre-schoolers. They have to be prepared to move on to the real world of kindergarten. It's tough out there. Competition for the blue crayon will be fierce. Kindergarten teachers don't always let the right kid lead the line to the cafeteria. Walking down the hall with your finger over your lips is stressful. And they're going to be GRADED. On things like tying their shoes and using scissors. Shudder.

Come on, people. It's pre-school.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One From Our "We Don't Get Out Much" Department......

I posted about a week and a half ago about lightning striking our neighbors' trees and included pictures of the jagged scars left behind on the two pines.

This afternoon a tree service showed up to cut down said trees. Gus and I went out and sat on the porch steps to watch. We don't get a lot of excitement around here.

Gus must have been intrigued. This is the dog who barks at everyone and goes crazy whenever someone he doesn't recognize walks down the street in front of our house. He figures it's his entire neighborhood, and permission must be granted before anyone, human or canine, walks anywhere near his turf.

I didn't have his leash, and I didn't want him inside barking his fool head off and waking up the Sullen Teenager from her nap.

I took a chance on taking him out onto the porch with me, thinking if I had to I would just hold him in my lap. The tree service guys were standing in our yard, holding onto the rope attached to the top of the tree they happened to be working on. They would pull it tight while the guy in the cherry picker on the truck used a chainsaw to cut it into manageable lengths. Manageable in the sense that they had estimated (accurately, it turns out) how long the piece could be without falling onto my car. Gus, however, lay down on the porch beside me and watched the process without uttering a sound. Here are these two strange men in our yard, a truck making a heck of a lot of noise, falling pine trees making the ground shake, and he didn't even move. What a weird dog.

All this to say that I really wanted to take pictures, or perhaps even video, of this whole process. I was fascinated with the skill of these folks, and I was amazed at the tremendous noise that pine trees make when they hit the ground. Even when they're in pieces. Big pieces make the ground shake when they hit just like a whole tree does.

But I felt like I was trespassing if I took pictures of the neighbors' trees. They were, after all, in their yard, and I noticed that she was taking pictures. But that was permissible because they were her trees.

I had serious photo envy. I wanted to take pictures to show the three people who read this blog how a tree service goes about removing two tall, damaged pine trees. I wanted to document the fact that there used to be two trees where now there are just stumps. And gaping holes in the landscape of the yard. [Actually, he has many more pine trees, and Hubby can't figure out why he didn't just go ahead and get rid of all of them. Pine trees are a nuisance around here in an ice storm.] My desire for the photos, however, couldn't override the idea that I would be considered silly for taking pictures of someone else's ex-trees.

Just what is the etiquette of photographing someone else's trees? Or house? Pets? Children? Oh my goodness, I'm pretty sure you could go to jail these days just for snapping a photo of someone's child.

Would I be offended if we were having trees cut down and the neighbors came out of their houses to gawk and take pictures? Hmmmm....... I don't THINK so. I might just think they seriously needed to get a life.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Loud and Obnoxious People.....

I've been loud and obnoxious people not KNOW they're loud and obnoxious? Or do they KNOW it and thrive on it?

I can't decide.

I had occasion to sit at a poker table recently with two very vocal, loud, obnoxious guys. I don't know if the alcohol had anything to do with it, but they got on my very last nerve. Particularly the one immediately to my right, who felt compelled to shout everything into my ear. Every time he did that, I found something exceedingly interesting on the LEFT side of the room. They told very lame jokes (very loudly) and laughed uproariously (and loudly) at them. The jokes weren't funny. The MEN weren't funny.

That same night Hubby and I sat at the table with one of his golfing buddies (?) who Hubby says may be the most annoying man he's ever been around. I didn't find him THAT bad, but I do think he's missing some social graces. Maybe all of them. He's one of those people who cannot let a statement go unchallenged, and God forbid a short silence should fall upon any gathering.

Just for example, they were calling out ticket numbers for door prizes. Only the women had received these tickets, and each one got a $50 bill. Yeah, I failed to win. Again this year. Last year every woman in the room got $50 except me and one other woman. Therefore I refused to be disappointed when I didn't win this year.

Someone asked my ticket number, to which I replied "727."

Hubby: "You know, like the big old airplane."

Obnoxious Guy: "Well, it isn't THAT big."

See, that's just unnecessary. So I had to challenge him back.

Me: "Compared to a Cessna 182, it is pretty big."

Obnoxious Guy: "Oh no, they've got you doing it too!"

It's not that his comment was THAT obnoxious. He just made lots of them. To be fair, the other guys ganged up on him and teased him mercilessly. But the safest thing to do in that case is just surrender, hold up your hands and say, "I give."

But Obnoxious Guy had to keep arguing with them. Not only was he outnumbered because he's a Yankee and these are all Southern boys born and bred, but he was trying to use REASON on a bunch of drunks who had been playing golf all day. His reasoning was not just lame, it was illogical. They may be drunks, but they're not stupid. They pounced on him like a gazelle on a zebra carcass. Or something. I finally just started playing Brickbreaker.

What brings me to this post, however (I know you're amazed that there actually is a point), is that at some point when all the other golfers were lamenting to Obnoxious Guy just how obnoxious he is, he said, "Do you think I don't know how annoying I am? I know me better than you guys."

First of all, he didn't say "y'all." He was just setting himself up to be a target.

I don't think many of Hubby's buddies heard the comment, because they were all talking at once about how obnoxious Obnoxious Guy is.

But it made me wonder: If he KNOWS he's annoying, why doesn't he do something about it? Is he the rule or the exception? Do all loud and obnoxious people share that self-knowledge and they just want to torment the rest of us?

What if I'm one of the loud and obnoxious people and I just don't know it?

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Three more weeks

Fourteen more school days

Two more Mondays

Three more casual Fridays

66 more class periods

5160 more minutes of class time

Two half-days for exams that we don't give

One end-of-the-year picnic

Two graduations

Four more days of standardized testing

Eleven more times to decide what to wear to school

Two days of post-planning


I can do this.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Design Flaw.....

I may have blogged about this topic previously. So sue me. I can't remember. And I'm typing with my thumbs again, so I'm not going on some protracted search for a blog entry that may or may not exist.

I think it's a design flaw that we can't close our ears. If there is something we don't want to see (gory scenes in movies, roadkill, poor wardrobe choices), we have the option of closing our eyes.

Why, then, don't we have the option of shutting our ears? Think of all the things we could choose not to hear:

Annoying people who talk on their cell phones in the grocery store.

Crying babies in restaurants and on airplanes.

That screaming guy who was on the Golf Channel the other night. (Changing the channel was clearly NOT an option.)

Strangers who regale you with TMI stories of their lives.

Water dripping in the bathroom at night.

Dogs barking at night.

The University of Florida fight song and "Roll Tide Roll!".

That annoying "boink" when you do something illegal on the computer.

A clicking ceiling fan.

Music from a car 50 yards away from yours in traffic.

Fingernails on a chalkboard. Wait, we don't HAVE chalkboards anymore. Never mind.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Yellow Fever.....

My favorite color is yellow, and not that wimpy pastel you see everywhere at Easter. I like the bright, sunshine yellow that almost hurts your eyes. Oddly enough, I can remember almost the exact moment that I decided yellow would be my favorite color. I was around 15 years old, and I was reading one of those books that my Aunt Rosie would call "dippy romances". The heroine of the book (ever more oddly enough, I don't remember the book) wore a yellow gown to some sort of fancy ball in the South during the Civil War, and I was forever hooked on yellow.

I went to the prom that year in the tenth grade, the date of a senior my Aunt Rosie always called "Figment". As in of my imagination. I talked Mom into making me a long dress out of yellow qiana (the only word I know of that is spelled with a "q" but no "u" but still isn't allowed in Scrabble) fabric. Mom made the dress (and a modest, filmy cape to wear with it) and even allowed me to go (and go on living) after I got suspended from school that very week.

Mom also redid my room in yellow, the wallpaper so bright she swore she needed sunglasses to go in my room. I loved it.

When I got married, I wanted a bouquet of yellow roses. And because I got married the year after Princess Di, I had to have a LOT of them. No one told me that two dozen roses would weigh approximately 85 pounds. Some thought I was trembling from nerves. Rather, my arm was about to give out.

It isn't just the color yellow either. I like yellow flavors. Lemon cookies, banana popsicles, pineapple anything.
I gravitate toward yellow even today. A photograph with yellow in it will grab my attention. An advertisement with yellow in it is almost a guaranteed sale. It isn't even a conscious thing; it's more of a visceral reaction. I hope my students never figure out that all they have to do for a good grade on a project is put some yellow in it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Would Have Hated Me....

If I had had me as a student in high school, I probably would have hated me.

I don't think my teachers HATED me (at least not all of them), but I'm sure I was a source of frustration. It pains me to say it, but I was a bit....... no, not just a bit, a lot....... of a brat.

I wasn't a terrible discipline problem. I did the usual mischievous things, like skipping class, smoking in the bathrooms although we had a perfectly legal smoking area outside, skipping school, and writing in my textbooks.

But I made straight A's. I remember a seventh grade teacher pulling me out into the hall, and I'm sure she wanted to snarl at me. That, however, was in the days when teachers were too nice to snarl. I thought this particular teacher was cool because she had hair down to her butt, and she never wore it up or pulled back, and her husband was a veterinarian. I'm not sure I knew much about other teachers' spouses. Anyway, she told me wearily that she was sick and tired of looking at the back of my head and putting 100's on my papers. I don't remember my reaction. I'm sure I didn't feel sorry enough for her to shut up once in a while. I'm equally sure I didn't offer to stop making 100's, although if I had honed my smart-assness at that stage, I would have at least made the gesture.

I had the same teacher for math all four years of high school. (Eighth grade was included in our high school back then. We were called "sub-freshmen". Good Lord. That year I had my best friend's mother for math.) Dane Marshall must have wondered what she had done in a previous lifetime to warrant having ME for Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Trigonometry. We didn't have calculus in my high school. If we had, perhaps I would be a pediatrician today and still paying off medical school loans. Between Mr. College Calculus and Mr. College Chemistry, however, I made a hurried exit from the honors program at UGA and went looking for a degree I could get for reading books.

Back to math. I loved math, because it made sense. Everything had an answer. It was either right or wrong, and I insisted on being right. Dane (I still have a hard time calling her by her first name. I thought it was cool that we had the same name, if we reversed the last three letters) always taught us the procedures, the formulas, the whatevers, and she also taught us the short-cuts. She said once that she thought people who were natural mathematicians were good at math because we were lazy. I still remember some of those short-cuts.

My senior year, I was pretty much out of courses to take, and they didn't like to graduate us early. As it was, they registered me for "home study" sixth period, which meant I left one class period early, but I didn't have a job, or it would have been "work study." I raised sand about it, because I didn't WANT to leave early. Leaving early meant I had to go home and wash dishes or sweep the carport or vacuum or something. Besides, it meant I had to make the mile-and-a-half trip back to school for pep rallies. I was on the drill team, so I had to be there for pep rallies. Besides, they were fun.

Dane allowed me to sign up to be her teacher's aide my senior year. In her mind, it gave her some help tutoring those who were NOT mathematically gifted and assistance in grading papers. In MY mind, however, it gave me yet another period in which to roam the halls. As treasurer of the student body, I felt it my duty to roam the halls. I also roamed the halls during what had been Psychology class. I don't even remember what caused me to pitch the tantrum during which I slammed out of DOCTOR Whatever-His-Name-Was's (was's?) classroom and swear I wouldn't be back. But I said it, and therefore I couldn't go back. Brat extraordinaire.

Back to math. Again. I was assigned to Dane's third period class to help her out. I would have earned the equivalent of one-half credit just for being a teacher's helper. I liked her, I liked the subject. Which renders me incapable of explaining why I never went. Especially considering the fact that Andy, a guy I was crazy about and dated briefly, was in that class.

One day I wandered down that hall during that class, and she had put Andy out in the hall. Me being A) a brat and B) not too bright, stopped to chat with Andy. You know why teachers usually put kids out in the hall? To talk to them later, when they've overcome the urge to separate their heads from their shoulders. So there I stood, chatting away with Andy, in the hall, during the class period I was supposed to be helping Dane. Naturally the door opened and she came out into the hall.

Before she could address whatever egregious transgression Andy was guilty of (I'm sure there were lots), she turned to me and said, "I want you to write an essay explaining why you haven't been in this class all quarter helping me and turn it in to me."

It would have been easy to do. I could write essays in my sleep. I could even have dredged up the fact that the class immediately followed break, during which the student council operated a concession stand, and I was responsible for counting the money and putting everything up. (Treasurer, remember?) She would have accepted that. She wouldn't have liked it, but she would have accepted it.

Only I was too big a brat to write it. I just refused. Because as a brat, I considered it my God-given right to wander the halls and do whatever I wanted to, and never mind writing a stupid essay to explain myself.

One day when I was in trig class, the registrar came to Dane's classroom. I could hear most of the conversation because I was sitting right next to the door. Dane had given me an incomplete for the teacher's aide half-credit I was supposed to get, and the registrar was trying to get her to change it. Dane stood her ground and refused. I graduated from high school with an incomplete for teacher's aide.

I respected her so much for that. Maybe not right then, but certainly after I became a teacher. I know I was one of her favorites (those were the only people who got to BE teachers' aides), and she refused to expunge a black mark from my transcript. Yet she's NOT the teacher who, when I declared my intention to become a teacher AFTER I had already graduated from college, looked at me and said, "You're going to be a what?"

I ran into Dane a couple of years ago at a training institute for AP teachers. I was becoming qualified to teach AP English; she was teaching teachers how to teach AP Calculus. We wound up at the same table during lunch. She explained to the others sitting at our table that she had been my high school teacher for four years. I admitted what a brat I had been and told her how much I respected her for refusing to change the incomplete on my transcript.

She had no recollection of the entire incident.

She had no memories of me being a brat.

She only remembered that I was an excellent math student and had natural mathematical abilities.

Sigh. I wish I didn't have those memories. I wish I had been as nice as Dane remembers me being.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I Always Forget How Much Work It Is.....

It sounds so easy.

"Let's open the pool."

Today it was Hubby's idea. I didn't have to hint at all! Actually, I was going to watch last night's episode of Dancing with the Stars because I didn't have time to watch it all this morning. Maybe THAT'S why he suggested we open the pool.

It sounds so easy.

All you have to do is go out there and take the cover off, right?

Yeah, right.

Said cover weighs 120 pounds. I'm guessing here. And it's bulky, so even though we fold it back over itself over and over until we have it off, it's still almost impossible to manage. At least with this new cover (which is supposed to hold an elephant, but we haven't actually tested that) we don't have a ton of water on it and all the leaves. This cover is a tight mesh that allows water to get through, so it isn't like a tarp full of nasty water.

It's still heavy.

Also with the new cover, we don't have the knee-deep collection of leaves that have blown under the cover over the course of the winter. But the water is still a yucky green. And it stinks.

After the cover is off, it has to be rinsed off and allowed to dry before we pack it back up. It covers a large portion of our back yard.

Then the pool has to be swept down. That's my job, and my back and shoulder muscles are already complaining. Hubby put some chlorine shock in the pool, but we typically don't use chlorine anymore. We had the pool installed in 1998, and in the summer of 1999 we discovered that I was allergic to chlorine. Hubby said, "Only you."

We use a much cheaper salt system now. It wasn't cheap when we put it in, but it is cheaper in the long run if you add up all the chemicals we used to have to buy. I think we get by on about $6.00 worth of salt each summer now. Plus a cartridge each year that goes for about $100. The salt system keeps the pool crystal clear, and the water actually feels softer, if that makes any sense.

I'm taking pictures each day so I can post the progression of it getting clearer and clearer. It really doesn't take long at all.

I'll post them when the pool is sparkling clear. Margarita, anyone?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Shock Factor....

I'm guessing it was an attention-getting thing. In my younger years, I had quite a few t-shirts that were risque at the very least and probably offensive to some. But I never stopped to consider that they might be offensive. I just wore them for the attention and the shock factor.

One t-shirt I stole from a guy my mom was dating at the time. It had a cartoon drawing on it, and it said, "Mabel's Cat House. Our Customers Come First."

I thought it was funny. And I WORE it.


During my skydiving years, I saw a t-shirt in a catalog that I just had to have. This was in the late 80's, and the message was actually kind of appropriate. It said, "Remember when sex was safe and skydiving was dangerous?" The words weren't all that bad by themselves. But on closer inspection, the illustration was a few shades beyond risque. It was drawn from the perspective of being inside a small airplane. You could see little parachutes floating down to the earth. In the background was another airplane. It was shaped like a penis. On the ground was a target, and it was an egg. Not a chicken egg. The little parachutists getting ready to leave the plane were sperm. They looked really happy.

I wore that shirt proudly. Oh. My. God. What was I thinking? If I have ANY defense in this matter, it is that this was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay before the internet, and I only had a tiny picture in the catalog to go by. I couldn't discern what the picture was at all. But then the shirt came, and I STILL wore it.


After I started teaching, I saw someone wearing a t-shirt one day, and nothing would do but I would go to THAT particular marina (who buys t-shirts at a marina anyway?) the next time we were at the lake, and I had to have THAT t-shirt. It was very colorful, covered all over (front AND back) with multicolored cartoon drawings of animals. In every imaginable position of procreation. Only you could tell by the looks on their faces that they weren't interested in procreating.

I wore that shirt. To a faculty picnic.

Our legendary football coach (the stadium is now named after him) was there with his wife, and she suddenly shrieked, "I LOVE that shirt!" It was one of those designs that you might look at all day long and not process what the images were doing. They just looked like cartoon animals. After Foskie saw them, however, (yes, that's her real name), EVERYONE was staring at my t-shirt. And that was OKAY.


It is with great relief that I can report today that I don't have any of those t-shirts so I can post pictures of them here. Even better, there are no surviving pictures of me wearing any of them (that I know of).

Apparently I've FINALLY grown out of that phase. I still wear t-shirts with messages, but they were more likely to be associated with UGA, hating the University of Florida, Georgia Gymnastics, bicycle rides (BRAG in particular), or being a Navy Mom. I think it's okay to wear those proudly.

Every now and then, however, for reasons that I cannot determine, I slip back into those old habits and see a shirt that I JUST HAVE TO HAVE.

That happened this past weekend at the motorcycle ride. Weesa and I spotted the shirt at the same time, and she laughed and said it was cute. She walked on, but I. Had. To. Have. It. Twenty-four dollars for a t-shirt? No problem! I've GOT twenty-four dollars! Never mind that I was purchasing it from a vendor under a tent at a motorcycle ride.

I couldn't wait to wear it. I got home and tried it on to make sure I'd bought the right size.

I sent a picture of it to Sweet Girl and Katydid.

Sweet Girl said, "Cute!"

Katydid said, "Huh?"

I showed it to Hubby when he got home. By then I was already asking, "Where in the hell am I going to wear that shirt?"

He said, "I guess you can wear it to the casino. But please don't wear it if I'm NOT around. I don't want people to get the wrong message."

What was I thinking?

Is there hope that I may yet grow out of the temptation even to BUY things like this?

Good Lord.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Movin' Out Update......

I reread my post from last Friday night about the musical Movin' Out, based on the music of Billy Joel. I really should have posted this yesterday in honor of The Piano Man's 60th birthday (!), but I had the motorcycle ride thing going on.

I realized upon rereading the post that it sounded terribly negative, and I didn't mean it that way. I was posting from my Blackberry during intermission, so I didn't have time (or thumbs) to go into a lot of detail.

One thing I said was that I would be happy to tell you what was going on if I had any clue. It was a lot like a ballet in that respect. I probably could have followed the "plot line" if I had been a little LESS familiar with Billy's music. I kept wanting all the random pieces to fit together, when I should have just sat back and watched and listened.

I was also a little distracted by the guy who was doing all the singing. He had a wonderful voice, but I confess a rather large bias toward the original, and he was a bit too nasally for my taste. He could play the piano like nobody's business, but he was rather.....ummmm......laaaaaaaaarge to pass for the real Billy. I know, I know......he isn't really supposed to. But I couldn't get past that. There was another piano player, too, who joined in occasionally. But Big Guy did most of the playing. I noticed, however, that NEITHER of them were playing when the musical used pieces from Billy's classical collection, Fantasies and Delusions.* They are admittedly hard to play (Billy hired a classical pianist to record them because he didn't feel competent to play pieces THAT HE WROTE), but I found it odd that they incorporated them into the musical but felt compelled to use the canned versions.

On a similar note, I was excited to see "Angry Young Man" in the program. The prelude to that song is perhaps one of my favorite piano pieces in the world. The first time I ever heard a recording of that song (I don't think it was released as a single), I thought to myself, "There is no way one single human being is playing that song." There was just too much piano, and it was played so fast it sounded like at least two pianos. It sounds VERY angry. Then I saw Billy perform it live, and my jaw dropped. Granted, he had to stand up to play it, but he plays it alone.

That being said, Big Guy APPEARED to be playing the prelude to "Angry Young Man," but he was only playing part of it. I can't explain how I knew that. I just know that his hands weren't moving up and down the keyboard as fast as they should have been if he had been playing the whole thing.

We were sitting in the balcony, and we were looking straight across at the "band". They were on an enclosed platform above the stage. Picture a screened-in porch directly above the dancers' heads. Wanda the Warrior Princess said she didn't think they knew we could see them. Tee hee.

I also described the dancers as an ADHD nightmare. I didn't mean that to sound like it was BAD. It was just that there was dancing EVERYWHERE, and you didn't know whom to watch. If you looked at that couple over there, or that soloist, you might miss something over here on this side of the stage. You just couldn't look everywhere there was something going on.

I'm not familiar with Twyla Tharp's style; I only know her (peripherally) by reputation as a choreographer. Now I'm no trained dancer, but I believe in pointed toes. Twyla apparently thinks toe points are highly overrated. Occasionally a dancer would do a kick or some other move with the leg extended and the foot flexed instead of pointed. That felt to me like a golfer whiffing the ball. Or a basketball player going for a slam dunk.....and missing. Or a football player running into the endzone.....and dropping the ball right before he crosses the goal line. Something just didn't look right about it.

"Captain Jack" is one of the few Billy Joel songs that I will push the button to skip to the next song. It's partly because of its subject matter, drugs. But it's partly because it has the word "masturbate" in it, and I just don't think that's a word anyone should sing. I'm just sayin'. Anyway, they didn't do THAT in the musical number, but it was almost pornographic nonetheless. Not offensively so, but it certainly lived up to the song's musical intent. There was a whole lot of drugs, sex, and rock and roll going on. And a transvestite. He (she?) got a real laugh from the audience during that number.

I know this is going to sound petty and picky and ridiculous and all those negative things that normal people say to those of us who are obsessed by details. We are NOT OCD; we just want things to make sense in their natural order.

There is a line from Billy's song "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" that goes: "Brenda and Eddie were still going steady in the summer of '75. / When they decided the marriage would be at the end of July."

In the musical, it says " the summer of '65." I know they were trying to make it fit in with the whole 60's thing and psychodelia and the Vietnam War, but COME ON! Sorry, but I'm a lyrics purist.

All in all, it WAS a good show, and I would go see it again given the chance. Actually, I would go see almost anything at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. As I will do at least two more times this year, for Jersey Boys in June and Chicago in September.


*When I heard that Billy had written a collection of classical piano pieces, naturally I had to have it. It arrived in the mail just as Hubby and I were about to get in the car. I tore into the CD package excitedly and said, "Fantasies and Delusions. Wonder why he named it that?"

To which Hubby IMMEDIATELY replied, "Probably because you THINK you're going to play that in the car."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Ride to Live......

Weesa and I did a motorcycle ride today to benefit the American Diabetes Association. Ever since Hubby was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in 2002, I have ridden in a bicycle ride every year to raise money for the ADA. Called the Tour de Cure, it has options of 25 to 62 miles, and I have ridden it in blazing heat and cold misty rain.

This year, however, I decided that a motorcycle ride would be much easier, and I could still do my part to raise money for the ADA. Weesa and I didn't invite Hubby to go; Saturday is his golf day, and besides we usually have a better time when he's not around. For some reason, Hubby treats me differently when his daughter is around. I think it's a case of showing off for her, sort of like a seventh grade boy. Whatever.

There are pros and cons to both types of ride.

On a bicycle ride, I can go at whatever my chosen speed of the day is (slow, slower, or slowest) and stop as often as I want. Or as often as Katydid will let me.
On a motorcycle ride, the uphills don't bother me at all. [Katydid, remember that hill right before Buford Dam on BRAG 1992? Yeah, it's a piece of cake on the motorcycle.]

On a bicycle ride, riders are spread out over the whole course and I don't have to worry about someone wiping out in front of me and not having time to stop.
On a motorcycle ride, police motorcycles block all the intersections and keep cars from infiltrating the route.

On a bicycle ride, you don't have to worry about fumes. Unless you're Katydid on the back of the tandem.
On a motorcycle ride, you can run through red lights and exceed the posted speed limit.

On a bicycle ride, it's okay to pass slower riders (if there are any) as long as you say "On your left!" or "Good morning!" Unless it's late in the day, at which point you just pass them anyway and growl under your breath, "Where the hell have you BEEN all day? Get out of my way!"
On a motorcycle ride, you don't have to be physically fit. Boy do you not have to be physically fit.

On a bicycle ride, spandex is expected.
On a motorcycle ride, the kids are rarely whining.

On a bicycle ride, there are few smokers.
On a motorcycle ride, the food is just normal food. Not "carb-loading" stuff.

Here are some things both rides have in common:

Porta Potties are your best friend.
Your hair looks like poo when it's over.
There will always be people who make you ask yourself, "Did he/she even LOOK in the mirror this morning?"
Both will make you stop and ask yourself, "What am I doing here?"
Overcast skies are a good thing.
Someone will have an absolutely adorable dog on the premises.

Friday, May 8, 2009

End of the Year Awards.......

I'll preface this post with an apology. I'm always cynical and sarcastic, and never more so than at the end of a long school year.

I try to remain upbeat about students and focus on the ones that make us proud and remind us that we are doing something worthwhile.

On a Friday night when I'm so tired I could cry, however, my natural sarcasm and cynicism are the rule.

Here, then, are my suggestions for end-of-the-year awards for our students.

Most Likely to Have a Baby -- MA, AA, DB, JS, CB with several potential runners-up
Most Likely to Father a Baby -- PO (but he also gets the Most Likely to Succeed award), ER
Most Likely to Check Out Early Because Your Mother is Having a Crisis -- LW, SB
Most Likely to Check Out Early Because You are Having a Crisis -- CU, KK
Most Likely to Check Out Early for No Apparent Reason -- LL, AL, JX
Most Likely to Leave School without Bothering to Check Out -- CW, SJ
Most Likely to Have a Friend Call School to Check You Out -- JC
Most Likely to Violate the Dress Code -- SH, MK, MM, SB, JM, KK
Most Likely to Stare at the Monitor for Hours without Actually Doing Any Work -- SB
Most Likely to Type on the Computer for Hours without Actually Doing Any Work -- AH
Most Likely to Sleep in an Upright Position -- RH, LM
Most Likely to Miss 2 Weeks in a Row and Then Call in with Flu-Like Symptoms -- AX
Most Likely to Miss 2 Weeks in a Row and Then Show Up with No Explanation -- KB, AT
Most Likely to Pretend to Be Smarter than You Really Are -- NK
Most Likely to Write Inane Crap and Give it to Teachers Instead of Doing Your Work -- HB
Most Likely to Think You're Going to Graduate with Three Weeks Left in the Year and Three Courses Not Even Started Yet -- BP
Most Likely to Remind Teachers Every Single Day that You Have a Class at the Home High School and Therefore Need to Leave Early -- BM
Most Likely to Still be Looking for a Senior Project Topic with Three Weeks left Before Graduation -- SS, HB
Most Likely to Appear to Be Under the Influence of Controlled Substances -- HB, BS, TY, MM, BM, MT
Most Likely to Hang Out in the Parking Lot with a Known Drug Dealer -- NR
Most Likely to Wear Pajama Pants to School Which I Can Overlook Because it's Basically Harmless -- TS
Most Likely to Stop Coming to School with Three Weeks Left Before Graduation -- DS
Most Likely to Make it Only Halfway Through Any Course -- TC
Most Likely to Make Us Wish We Had More Students Like You -- QR, JM, AD

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Too Close to Home....

Right before I got home yesterday, lightning struck a tree (maybe two) in our neighbor's yard. He lives directly across the street from us. Two tall pine trees have scars down them that are apparently about 2-3 inches deep. I know that because their son came over to inspect the damage, and I saw him put his hand into the wound on the tree. He's a science teacher at one of our local high schools, so he would certainly know how to measure 2-3 inches.

When the lightning struck, it knocked a speaker off the wall right next to Hubby's chair. It also knocked a picture off the wall and his glass off the side table, but those could have been casualties of the falling speaker.

Worst of all, it killed something in one of the gazillion electronic gadgets that all work in symphony to provide us with television entertainment. We have the 50-inch t.v., a surround sound system, the satellite receiver with DVR, a Blu-Ray disc player, and the Wii system. Needless to say, we have a plethora of cords and wires and remote controls.

After numerous curse words, four calls to the satellite provider, two calls to the television manufacturer, and one trip to the local gadget store for even MORE cords and wires, we once again have television. Which is a good thing, not because I watch a lot of television, but because Hubby had just about run out of curse words.

And the fact that the gymnastics championships will be televised on Saturday, and I need to record them so I can sustain my addiction through the long off-season between now and next January.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Don't Do It Brett.....

I heard this morning that Brett Favre is considering coming out of retirement. Again. This time to play for the Minnesota Vikings.

Apparently even with all his money (after a gazillion years in the NFL, he would have lots of money, right?) Brett can't figure out what to do in his spare time. He does all right all winter, but when spring comes and all his buddies head off to spring training, he gets a little lonely. And crazy.

Who am I kidding? Favre has NO contemporaries left in the league, surely. He will be forty in October. 4-0. A quarterback.


I offer here some suggestions for things Brett can do in his spare time so he will not miss football so much.

  • Start reading the Harry Potter books. By the time he gets finished with the ones that have already been published, maybe there will be a new one out. I know J. K. Rowling said she was finished with the series, but Brett also said he was through with football.
  • Go on Dancing with the Stars. Warren Sapp finished in second place, which was a whole lot longer than anyone expected him to last. Lawrence Taylor also made it more than halfway, and Emmitt Smith won (didn't he?). So there's a good history of football players on DWTS. That alone could take up 9 or 10 weeks of Brett's life, if he's good enough to hang around. And he's had a lot of practice dancing around in the pocket all these years.
  • Hike the Appalachian Trail. That should tell the true story of whether Brett is indeed still physically fit. And by the time he spends six months or so in the wilderness, we might know once and for all if that is really all the facial hair he can manage or if that's a deliberate look he's been going for all this time.
  • Become Hank Haney's next project and perfect his golf swing. I doubt Brett is anywhere near as bad as Charles Barkley, so Hank would probably be relieved not to have such a tremendous challenge. He could even go on the PGA tour. In preparation for the Seniors' Tour, which is right around the corner.
  • Become a basketball fan. If they add any more teams or rounds to the NBA play-offs, pretty soon that will be a year-round sport, and Brett won't have to miss football at all.
  • Learn to cross-stitch. I've got one project that I've been working on since I was pregnant with Sweet Girl, and I haven't regretted not being an NFL quarterback one single moment.
  • Write a book. Call it.....say......."Why I Couldn't Retire from the NFL". Then he can write the sequel and call it "Why I Still Couldn't Retire from the NFL".
Come on, Brett, don't embarrass yourself again. Retire and stay retired. It's for your own good.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

If It Ain't Broke......

When I first started teaching online, we got real checks in the mail. Or at least we were supposed to. I worked for three months before I ever saw a penny. It was a little disheartening, but I really felt sorry for those people who had given up full-time jobs to teach online full-time. On the other hand, when I finally DID get a check, it was a very large one. Sort of like getting an income tax refund KNOW they've been just hoarding your money all year, but it's still nice to get it.

Then they went to a system where the state paid a local education service agency, and they paid us as if we worked for them. They even started having direct deposit. Imagine that, in the online world! It has worked flawlessly. We get our checks on the right date, and they even......get this.....let us know how our pay is calculated and how much we're going to get! I'm serious!

Now we have received some paperwork that we have to fill out and send back to the state department of education. Because they are going to take over paying us. Ummmmm....... those were the people who couldn't pay us on time before. And every time anyone complained, the message we got was, "It's the state department; they have much bigger fish to fry than a few lowly teachers." Hmph. I'll bet the state superintendent wasn't waiting on HER check.


I guess I'll just have to get back to the point where I expected nothing, and when a check DID arrive, it was a nice surprise.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Crazy Dream #3......

Where does my brain come up with this stuff?

I was in an airport, maybe flying home from somewhere, when I realized I didn't have my Blackberry. I had left it in my laptop case in one of the airport terminals. I called it a terminal in my dream, but it was actually one of the gates. Funny that I missed the Blackberry before I did the 30-pound laptop bag.

I was in a panic, but I thought I would just call the NFL to see if they had the bag. NFL as in National Football League. Because it was an NFL flight I was on. I don't mean that I was flying WITH the NFL, and I wasn't going to an NFL football game, although that is certainly not outside the realm of possibility. But the NFL had its own airline, and for some reason I was flying on it.

I got lost in the airport, which is also not outside the realm of possibility.

I came home because I had to pick up the car from the repair shop. The name of the shop was Savage Motors, and the guy who owned it was apparently named Savage, but I know for a fact it was Charlie Mc, a guy Hubby used to bowl with.

When he presented me with the bill, it was $407. I grinned at him and said, "How did you make the amount the same as my birthday?" I was tickled.


I was flying home from Iowa, where I may or may not have been participating in RAGBRAI. I know it must have been a dream because I am still married, and being married and riding in RAGBRAI again are mutually exclusive.

Those are just the parts I remember. There are some more nebulous details niggling at the corners of my mind, but they refuse to be called forth. They probably wouldn't make any more sense than the rest of this junk did.

Where does my brain come up with this stuff?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Flighty Attendant.....

One of my former students became a flight attendant after college. Bless her heart, she was always a little............air-headed.

I'll call her Shelley. That's not her name.

Her mother, also a teacher, was mortified that when she went for her college interview, one of the committee members asked her what type of books she liked to read.

Shelley likened reading to volunteering for a root canal.

She said, "Nancy Drew?" Yes, it was a question.

But she finished college, which is more than I can say for many of my former students, and that is NOT a commentary on my teaching ability. It's mostly a commentary on where I taught at the time.

She became a flight attendant for Delta, which I thought was the most glamorous, coolest career a young single woman could have. Particularly a young single woman without a brain.

Shelley and four of her flight attendant friends had apartments in five cities. They split the rent for each one five ways, and it was like each of them paying for her own apartment. But in at least five of the cities they flew to and out of, they had a familiar place to lay their heads instead of sleeping in hotels. I thought it was ingenious.

One of the cities where they had an apartment was New York City. You'd have to know Shelley to grasp what a leap that must have been. Small town girl goes to the big city.

Shelley's mother had told her over and over again to keep some cash on hand at all times. But like many......most.....young girls, Shelley didn't pay a whole lot of attention to her mother's advice. I really have no room to criticize on that point.....I rarely have cash myself. But this was in the days before debit cards were everywhere.

One night when Shelley was in New York, she got called in for an early morning flight that she had not been scheduled for originally. She got up and got ready, donning her crisp navy blue uniform and preparing her hair and make-up as expected. She had no money for a cab, so she got on the subway.

Shelley knew when she got on the subway that there was no way it would get her to the airport in time for her flight. But she had no money for a cab.

So she stood there on the subway in her crisp navy blue uniform, impeccable hair and make-up, crying her eyes out because she knew she wouldn't make the flight.

In the words of Larry Munson, "Get the picture....."

It's 3:00 AM. In New York City. On the subway.

A stranger asked her what was wrong. I'm sure that in addition to telling her to keep spare cash on hand, Shelley's mother had also told her not to speak to strangers on the subway in New York City at 3:00 AM. Shelley didn't listen to that advice either.

So she told him.

This stranger put Shelley off at the next subway stop and gave her money for a cab to get her to the airport in time for her flight.

At 3:00 AM. In New York City. On the subway.

Man, I love that story.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Feeling Risky.....

Let me preface this blog post with the statement that some things shouldn't be shared even with faithful friends and blog readers. People should have enough self-respect not to tell some things about oneself.

I know that.

But tonight I'm feeling particularly risky. Not to be confused with frisky.

Don't you hate it when you do one thing, but accomplishing it requires that you do something else, and that thing requires that you do yet another thing?

That's why I don't get much housecleaning done. It reproduces itself exponentially.

Today I could not summon my usual litany of excuses not to go to the grocery store, because I was already out and I had to go right past the grocery store to get home. So I stopped to get that onerous chore done, because I knew once I got home I wouldn't want to go out again to shop for groceries. I hate grocery shopping.

Because they had a good sale on cereal, I bought three boxes of it. And when I got home, there wasn't room in the cabinet for all three boxes.

So I started cleaning out the cabinet over the stove, which is where we keep the cereal. I knew there were some items up there that predated my existence in this house.

Did I mention recently that Hubby has lived in this house since 1973? That explains the harvest gold tile in the hall bathroom. We got rid of the avocado green shag carpeting in two bedrooms when I moved in twelve years ago.

But it can't explain some of the things I found in the cabinet today. Please don't judge me based on the fact that I don't regularly clean out cabinets that I can't reach. I just shove things in at the front and hope they don't fall out on my head next time I open the door.

I cannot explain the presence of not one but two unopened bottles of Karo Light Corn Syrup in the cabinet. Even before Hubby was diagnosed with diabetes, we didn't eat pancakes much. And when we did, we certainly didn't put this on them. He says his most recent ex-wife sometimes made pecan pies, and that might be why one bottle is in there. I would suspect that it's the cloudy one that dates back to her days here. Did I mention I've lived here for 12 years? I may have bought the other bottle in the throes of some temporary insanity that made me think I might make candy or something. But I really don't remember.

These cute little guys were tucked back in the corner behind the vegetable oil and some margarita salt. I can't imagine either of Hubby's former wives using these; perhaps they were a gift. I just know that I had never laid eyes on them before. Until today, when I looked at them briefly just before dropping them in the trash can.

This one is really embarrassing. Hubby almost exclusively drinks beer these days, so I was puzzled about the packets of whiskey sour mix. He said he and ex-wife #1 sometimes drank whiskey sours.

They divorced when my step-daughter was a teenager.

She just turned 40.




I also found a box of instant oatmeal that I DO remember buying. The box said "Weight-Loss Formula" on it, and I remember thinking that was a great concept. Just eat this oatmeal and you'll lose weight. It didn't work, and I don't particularly like instant oatmeal (although I love the old-fashioned kind), so it got relegated to the back of the cabinet. Not only did it say "Weight-Loss Formula" on it, it also said "Best by February 2006." Sigh.

This one, however, takes the cake.

The only thing I will offer in my own defense is that there are inherent dangers when you get married and your spouse already has an established household. You can't go in and dump EVERYTHING in the trash right off the bat, because you don't really know what was his, what was hers, and what was theirs. So you have to kind of ease into it, throw things a little at a time so as not to ruffle any feathers. I've merely been polite and considerate of Hubby's feelings by allowing these things to stay in the kitchen cabinets for the past 12 years.

No wonder he pales every time I mention a new house. Our basement is like the kitchen cabinets on major steroids.

I think there should be a law requiring citizens to move every five years or so, just so they have to go through cabinets and basements and get rid of junk.

Particularly following divorces.