Monday, August 31, 2009

I Hate Skinny Girls Who Can Ride 100 Miles......

Team Chi-Chis did another bicycle ride yesterday. We all took our jackets with us to ward off the rain demons. But we left them in the cars, because no way was it going to rain.

Bad move.

This was probably the only ride I have gone on when I have NOT taken a change of clothes to wear for the trip home.

Another bad move.

We decided to ride the 66-mile route (another bad move?), and only the last 20 were miserable. It started raining at the last rest stop, and then it slacked off a little bit. The rain actually felt good at first. But only at first. Then it felt like needles, and believe me, we don't ride that fast. It was also cold rain. In Georgia. In August. Go figure. Every now and then we would ride through a puddle, and the water in the puddle would be warm from pooling on the pavement. I started angling for those puddles just to get my toes warm.

When the lightning started popping, we knew we'd better take cover. But you can only stop for so long -- the end sure ain't coming TO you. We were only 10 miles from the end (only?) when we sought shelter, but we still had to ride those last 10 miles.

At the last rest stop, I overheard the following from a skinny, fit girl who was talking on her cell phone:

"No, it's okay. Just tell him that I've ridden 81 miles, so I've still got about 22 to go. Oh, and my back is fine."

I hate her.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Your Tax Dollars at Work.....

Weesa, my step-daughter, got a red light ticket in the mail.

It showed a motorcycle sort of running a red light in a town about 70 miles from us, at 12:18 PM on a day when she was at work.

The pictures taken by the red light camera were included with the ticket.

The motorcycle rider braked suddenly, fishtailed slightly (because you can't always stop a motorcycle on a dime), then backed up. The ticket read "illegally entering the crosswalk" or something like that.

Oh, and the motorcycle rider was clearly a man.

With a different kind of motorcycle from the one Weesa has. His doesn't even have a sissy bar on the back.

The tag number was illegible, no matter how closely she zoomed in. (Apparently there is also a website where she could go to view the pictures.)

She was able to go online and fill out an appeal form, which will be shown to the judge.

But the only way she can get out of the ticket is to show up. In court.

She will have to take a day off from work and drive the 70 miles to this town where she hasn't been in recent memory and appear before the judge.

It would be cheaper for her just to pay the $90 ticket.

Here's what I think should happen:

The judge should look at her appeal form, call her personally and apologize for the trouble, and then go take the amount of the ticket out of the paycheck of whatever dolt sat down with those images and decided that particular letter/number combination MIGHT be Weesa's motorcycle license plate number.

If she HAS to show up in court, I think that government worker should have to reimburse Weesa for her day off from work.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tour de Pink......

I don't usually use my blog as a desperate plea for fund raising, but my friends VT and Rozmo are already ahead of me in money raised for Tour de Pink.

It's a bicycle ride in Atlanta in October, and the purpose is to raise money for the fight against breast cancer. That cause is particularly meaningful to Katydid and me, because we have a first cousin and two maternal aunts who have suffered from this disease. Most of us know someone who has been affected in some way.

Hop on over and look at our page by clicking on the link below. Even if you decide not to make a donation, take a look at our awesome picture.

If you DO decide to donate, there is a drop-down menu at the top (in the pink bar). I don't really care which team member you decide to donate to.

The ride length varies from 1 to 100 miles, and I won't say at this stage of the game how far we will choose to ride that day. It depends upon many things: how cold it is, what time kick-off is for the Georgia game against Vandy, my general feeling of well-being (or not), my attitude, and what the route looks like.

Our team name is "Team Chi-Chis", and I will cheerfully reveal the meaning of that team name to anyone who makes a donation to the cause.

Friday, August 28, 2009

One-Night Stand......

Hubby and I are in a hotel (?) in a very small town in South Georgia. We made the 3 1/2 hour trek down here after I got home from school today. That is such an unnecessary sentence that any English teacher worth her salt would strike through it twenty times with a red pen.

The purpose of our visit is to look at a motorhome that Hubby found for sale on the internet.

It's NOT like one of these.

Unless we win the Mega Millions lottery tonight, with a jackpot of $333 million. I'd settle for just the 3 on the end of that number.

More like one of these.

And while I would like to say that I will post photos of the REAL motorhome we are going to inspect tomorrow, that won't be possible because A) I left my camera at home; and B) the battery in it is dead anyway. I may be able to take one or two pictures with my Blackberry.

Then a 60-mile (?) bike ride on Sunday with Katydid and the rest of Team Chi-Chis. And sometime this weekend I have to find time to buy groceries and grade the bazillion assignments that my online students have managed to turn in just today.

Damn these over-achievers!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Psycho Parents....

Not my own psycho parents. That's for another blog day.

Just kidding. My mother definitely is NOT psycho. She has her issues, but she's not psycho.

Even in the virtual world, teachers have to deal with psycho parents on occasion.

We are three weeks into the fall semester in my virtual teaching job, and I had a parent call me tonight. I'm still not sure exactly what she called FOR.....

Her daughter got a late start in the class no one told her she was going to need books and where is she supposed to get them you can't even afford the library these days because who can afford late fees and why did her school just sign her up for this course and then not tell her anything she is at a real disadvantage here but she loves to read and she basically has to teach herself because teachers these days just don't care and the principal doesn't do anything about it he just says we have RESA people in observing but observing what not teaching no one does anything my daughter had to go to summer school and what are they going to teach her in summer school in eight weeks if they couldn't teach it all year last year when she was in ninth grade only one person in the whole class passed and that was only by one or two points and everybody else failed and she's always had a problem with math ever since sixth grade you would think there would have been one teacher in all that time who cared but no and I'm trying to get my daughter graduated from high school early in three years because I work down at Hartsfield-Jackson airport from nine thirty in the morning to seven o'clock at night but tonight I had a day off and I can't ever get in touch with anybody at her school to tell me what's going on but she's smart and she started late but she got caught up and I got this email telling me if she doesn't get the work turned in by Friday she won't get credit for it and she gets an assignment every week and she gets it done but it's just very unorganized how the people at her school do stuff and people are just trying to make ends meet and I took her to Sylvan Learning Center and she didn't have any trouble there, she doesn't have a problem learning, but who can afford sixty five dollars an hour never mind how much it costs just to get her there and she does her work thank you for listening to me bye.

Father in Heaven:

Please don't let this woman be an air traffic controller.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Favorite Song Lyrics Part One.......

I've been making a list of my favorite lines from songs. I was going to wait until I had a longer list, but I thought I would go ahead and share some of them here tonight.

Reason #1: A list of any length would be mostly Billy Joel songs.

Reason #2: I am having a hard time coming up with anything resembling witty repartee for tonight.

The songs represented here cover a wide range. Some of them are meaningful and make me think of particular people. Others are just funny or poignant and I just like them.

From Julianne Hough's "Hello" -- "But if you're gonna keep fishing in a pool of shallow water
You can't give the fish all the blame."

From the song "Funny Honey" from Chicago -- "With just one more brain what a half-wit he'd be."

From Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" -- "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun."

From Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Stand a Little Rain" -- "If we're ever gonna see a rainbow, we have to stand a little rain."

From Eagles' "Do Something" -- "Don't just stand there takin' up space / Why don't you do something? . . . Do something / Do something / Don't leave it up for someone else / Don't feel sorry for yourself / Why don't you do something?"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My First Blog Award......

Not that the comments left behind on my blog (and those given to me in person) aren't enough, but I have received my first blog award.

It came from my friend Maggie O'Sullivan over here. I don't remember how I stumbled upon her blog, or if she stumbled upon mine. But we have some things in common (in spite of the 11 year difference in our ages), and I started following her blog back when she still lived in the Wild West.

I sent her an illegally burned DVD of an episode of Moonlighting written almost entirely in iambic pentameter. If you don't know what Moonlighting is (was), it's past your bedtime. And go do your homework.

Therefore I know Maggie's real name. And if she ever wins the lottery, I'm going to blackmail her with the knowledge. Because somewhere in there is a deep, dark secret that I'd love to know all the juicy details about.

Some of the things we have in common:

  • We both have an only child.
  • We are/were teachers. [And you will be again, Maggie, I just know it.]
  • Both of us wish we were . . . um . . . a different size?
  • We both wish we could have just shot our baby-daddies when we were through with them. Okay, I may be projecting my feelings onto Maggie, but I think she feels the same.
  • We both hate ignorance, especially on marquees and advertising.
  • We both love to read, but there's no way I can keep up with Maggie's pace. Because I also love to crochet. And I go to bed when it's still daylight.
  • We work more than one job.
  • Both of us have been to Italy.
  • We have sad/hilarious/pitiful/angry stories about the exes in our lives.
  • We have not always chosen men who were good for us. [It took me a few tries, Maggie, but I finally found him!]
  • We both like to do crafty things. Crafty as in making things, not as in clever and sly. Although that might also apply in some situations.
  • Depression sometimes overtakes us.
Now some ways in which we are different:

  • Maggie is single.
  • Maggie's father is living, but her mother isn't. Just the reverse of me.
  • She has a boy; I have a girl.
  • Shoes are Maggie's things; gadgets are mine.
  • Her favorite color is pink; mine is yellow. Bright yellow. Sunshine yellow. Not that wimpy pale pastel anemic yellow.
  • Maggie has picked up and moved across the country on a whim. I still live within 25 miles of the hospital where I was born. Good Lord, that borders on pathetic.
  • Maggie appears to be completely at ease expressing herself, whereas I am slightly more reserved. Cautious. Chicken.
Isn't it awesome that it's possible to know so much about a person you've never met? I love the blog world.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Monday Madness....

Actually, the words in the image have been on my white board since sometime last week, but they fit with A) the brevity theme I've got going on for Mondays now; and B) the madness theme.

The student who wrote these words claims to be an agoraphobic. Yet he is in two clubs at his traditional high school, one of which involves competing against students from other high schools.

Did I miss something in the definition?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Could Be a Professional Student....

Hubby, Weesa and I went to campus today to visit the campus bookstore. That's always dangerous for me ... I can cheerfully pay the outrageous prices with anything Bulldog on it. I think Hubby only agreed to go because we were on the motorcycles, and there is a limit to how much I can haul. Until I get saddlebags for the Harley.

It's dangerous for me to go to campus. Every time I set foot on it, I feel the urge to go back to school. And it isn't JUST so I can go to football games.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the areas in which I wish I had majored. Or at least studied.

  • Graphic arts
  • Math
  • Interior design
  • French
  • Japanese
  • Arabic
  • Pretty much any language
  • Photography
  • Dance (taking tap dance as a P.E. doesn't count)
  • Physical education
  • Leisure studies (I'm so jealous of you, Mamaneena)
  • Sports management
  • Advertising
  • Music (I sang with the Women's Glee Club, but I would have liked to study it more formally)
  • Broadcasting
  • Housework

Saturday, August 22, 2009

High School Buddies.....

I absolutely love getting together with gal pals from high school.

Please pardon the helmet hair. I rode the Harley to Terry's parents' house, and since there is a rule against high school pals judging you, I didn't bother to do anything to it.

I think the double chins were caused by the motorcycle also.

If you don't know which one I am, please just pick the prettiest one out of the bunch and pretend that it is I.

I hate being grammatically correct.

I just misspelled "grammatically" the first time I typed it.

If you pick the prettiest one you will have picked the wrong person, but it will make me feel so much better about myself.

Amanda brought her sweet girl Emma along. She was so well-behaved. (Emma too.) The poor kid had to be bored to tears, listening to three old women gab about high school and college and men and children, but she never complained once.

Terry is visiting from Germany, where she now lives with her hubby. She will be depositing her youngest son at college in Connecticut before flying back to Germany. I tried to assure her that an empty nest is a GOOD thing, but I don't think she's buying it. Yet.

Terry and I have been friends (when we weren't fighting like cats and dogs) since we were six or seven years old. Her family lived in a house across the road and up a ways from the trailer park where my family lived. We were told ALWAYS to walk from her house to mine or my house to hers by crossing the road and walking on the bank, never the road. It wasn't that busy a road, but still.

One day we decided to be brave and rebellious and walk along the road anyway. We were at her driveway and had yet to cross the road when a car passed us, went up the road a little ways, then turned around and came back. It stopped on the side of the road right next to Terry's driveway, and on that side of the road. The man driving opened his door and exposed himself to us. I don't think I had ever seen one of those before, and I was pretty sure I wasn't supposed to see his. I yelled, "Run!" to Terry and we scampered to her house. I could have been a track star if I could have based my entire career on that episode. We told her parents, the sheriff was called, and somewhere along the way we were threatened with death if we ever THOUGHT about walking along the road again.

Terry and I had a huge fight in the seventh grade because I thought she called me an elephant. By the time I realized she was talking about the elephant belt buckle (or some other ornament) on my clothes, I was too embarrassed to say so. The feud went on for a long time. Because I am such a gracious person, I can now readily admit that I was wrong and apologize for our feud. Thirty-seven years is long enough to carry THAT particular burden around.

Amanda didn't move to our county until eighth grade, and I don't really remember what made us start hanging around. We went to the same church, and I'm guessing we had some of the same classes. We did a lot of things together, some of which should not be mentioned in this blog. We were skipping school together one day and driving to the next town (probably to get something to eat) when we passed her mother on the road. Bad timing.

I always envied Amanda because her parents trusted her, and my mother just ASSUMED the worst about me. Amanda's parents were forever going out of town and leaving her home alone. Man, those were some fun parties. My mother, on the other hand, made me go spend the night with one of my sisters if she ever needed to go anywhere, including the night before I got married. Just kidding. I think. I guess that's the difference between being the oldest child (Amanda) and being the youngest of five (me). Especially if you have to follow two hell-raising brothers (me).

Amanda and I both worked for my mother, and she probably knows my mother better than any of my other high school friends. And yet she still chooses to be my friend. She was the one I wrote about in an earlier post who went way above and beyond the call of friendship on the day of my wedding. That still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it. Oddly enough, thinking about the ending of the marriage leaves me dry-eyed.

I was with Amanda once (EVERYONE could drive before I could) when she had an accident. We were trying to find a parking place so I could go in and pick up my brother's birthday cake. I take full responsibility for the accident.

We went through a couple of yearbooks that Terry had on hand. We laughed at what some people had written, and we just laughed at some people.

Terry and I were cheerleaders together in the eighth grade. Amanda and I were on the drill team together our junior and senior years. I played in the marching band my sophomore year, but I abandoned band for the drill team because I, too, wanted to march in those white patent leather knee-high boots. Plus pompoms weigh a lot less than a glockenspiel. And balloons - we did a balloon routine once, where we popped the balloons at the end of it.

I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Unless it was with MORE of our girlfriends and we had an old-fashioned spend-the-night party. Maybe next time Terry comes to visit we can swing that.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Just Something Else to Be Obsessive About.......

Throughout my teaching career, I have been notorious for a messy desk. It's not that I LIKE a messy desk; it's just that I like having things near at hand when I need them, and I usually need a multitude of things during the school day.

Copies of syllabi, pacing schedules, attendance rosters, planning forms for students, lists of user names and passwords, attendance cards, tardy slips, signed parent information forms, gradesheets, the list goes on and on.

Below is a picture of my desk on the second day of pre-planning. That's not unusual. I ALWAYS start off the year with a clean desk. I have to clean everything off for the summer school teacher, so it's pretty bare when I start the year.

It rarely lasts more than a day or two. Pretty soon students are laughing about the disaster area that is my desk and swearing that I've lost an assignment or three. (For the record I've never LOST an assignment. Sometimes it takes a while to FIND it, but I've never actually LOST one. Trust me, I have a filing cabinet drawer full of projects and assignments.......some from six years ago, when I taught at A DIFFERENT SCHOOL.)

That's why I find it almost inconceivable that the picture below was taken this afternoon, after THREE COMPLETE WEEKS of school.

The file folders you see next to the printer are for the students in my advisement group. I have filed their signed forms in folders (alphabetical, of course), and I can immediately see who has turned them in and who hasn't. My advisement notebook is in order, complete with transcripts and up-to-date planning forms.

If you look very closely, just to the left of the printer, there is a bobblehead figure of Monk. That is no accident. Lawanda the Warrior Princess gave it to me, because she and I have discussed some of our Monkish tendencies.

I offer the photo below in the spirit of full disclosure, readily acknowledging that I TEND TO BECOME OBSESSIVE about things, ridiculous things.

These are my attendance cards. Your eyes do not deceive you; I do indeed have a student named Mercedes. In fact, I have TWO students named Mercedes, and one Porsha. I swear I'm not making this up.

Notice that each period has a different colored clamp. No big deal. What is a little disturbing is that their placement on each stack of cards is staggered.

Lord. Help. Me.

In a rather weak defense of such obvious mental instability, I will say that if the clamps were all in the same place, they wouldn't fit very nicely in the slots of this little wooden file-card-holder-thingie. I'm still struggling with the fact that there are two slots and I have 5 stacks of cards.

I have been obsessive these three weeks about getting things OFF my desk. That forces me to deal with things immediately, filing them or (usually) giving them to someone else. It has been imperative at the end of the day that my desk be spotless.

If only I could transfer some of that to my house.

Check with me at mid-term for a clean desk update.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Happiness Is......

I'm not sure I can define happiness. It's one of those things you just know when you see it. Er....feel it. Whatever.

A woman said something disturbing this morning about happiness, though, and I'm trying to figure out if I'm just picking her to pieces, or if it is really as disturbing as I think it is.

I walked into the cafeteria to get my gargantuan mug of water, and one of the paraprofessionals pointed at an alternative school student, a young lady who is cute as a button.

"_______ said you are always so happy."

I was pleased with that, because I TRY to be happy.

Then she continued.

"I told her you have a Harley. You SHOULD be happy."

Why yes, I DO have a Harley.

But that isn't why I'm happy. I would still be happy if I DIDN'T have a Harley. [Well, now that I've had one, I might be slightly pissed off if I didn't have it anymore....]

I think I was happy BEFORE I had the Harley. Otherwise it would have been a pretty miserable 47 years up until the time I got one.

Is that really how people define happiness?

I didn't know what to say to her, especially in front of students. I said something pretty lame, along the lines of, "I would be happier if I could have ridden it today."

Perhaps it was just something to say. Maybe she thought "good morning" was just too lame a greeting.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

100 Miles and 100 Degrees......

This picture is of the computer on my bicycle. In case you have a hard time reading it, it says 102.47 miles. In one day. On a bicycle.

In the bicycling world, that's called a century ride. Not sure why. Don't get me wrong ..... I'm not so dense that I don't get the whole 100 reference. But century refers to time. And 100 miles is distance. Never the twain shall meet. Unless it takes a century to ride a century, which I was always pretty sure it would.

I never considered myself in good enough shape to ride a century, and I silently envied and admired and hated those who did it every year. Many years on BRAG the century riders got a special pin. One year when I was working the merchandise truck, I stole one. Because I thought it was the only way I would ever get a century pin. [Sorry, BRAG, I guess I owe you $5.00.] I'm not sure why I stole it ..... it's not like I would ever wear a century pin if I hadn't actually ridden the century.

In 2003, however, I decided I would try it. We had started having layover days on BRAG on the same day as the century, so I didn't have to worry about getting into camp and setting up a tent.
I talked to a guy named Bob at the merchandise truck who was planning for a group to ride it together, and I figured with a support group I might be able to do it. We agreed to meet the next morning at 6:30.

I was torn. If I were going to ride alone, I would leave earlier than that, especially to ride 100 miles. But I might ride better and faster if I had the support of a group of other riders. I decided to meet them and hope we could make up the 30 minutes I considered lost at the beginning of the day.

I showed up at the appointed time and place the next morning, and so did Bob. And no one else. We were the group. Bob. And me. Wait, it gets worse.

Bob said, "I think we can do this in five hours."

Oh hell. Excuse me? Five hours? A 20-mile-per-hour average? Me? Including rest stops? My average was more like 12 mph on the bike; 10 mph if you factored in rest stops. I would be doing a good job to finish the ride on the same calendar day. Five hours my foot.

I told Bob he was way out of my league and that he could just go ahead. I wouldn't be out there alone, even on the century route, and I didn't want to have to kill myself trying to keep up. But he would have none of that. He insisted we ride together, and I was stuck.

We skipped the first rest stop, which was my pattern back then anyway. Rest stops were approximately 10-12 miles apart, and stopping at every one meant at least a 30-minute delay. If I could ride 20 miles without stopping, which is what I do at home anyway, I could save some of the time I would otherwise spend standing in line, eating and drinking, and socializing. Mostly socializing.

Then Bob wanted to stop at the home of one of his high school friends. The guy wasn't home, but his wife was. Talk about awkward. It was bad enough being in cycling clothes and being all sweaty, but I didn't even KNOW this person. I didn't even know BOB!!!!

I won't give you the play-by-play for all 100 miles, but I can tell you that we made it. In slightly over 5 hours. Like 9 hours. There were a couple of times that Bob rode beside me and put his hand on the small of my back to help me along. I was sort of humiliated. To make up for it, however, I did save his life. He was cruising through a stop sign that he only THOUGHT was a 4-way stop when I screamed, "CAR RIGHT!!!!!"

It started raining a couple of miles from the finish, and that was absolutely okay with me. I knew by then that I could make it. Bob was a kick-ass rider and a regular on BRAG. I've never seen him again. I'm guessing I traumatized him with my slowness.

The next year I rode the century again, this time just to see if I could do it without the help of a "coach." I don't remember anything really significant about that particular century ride, except for the fact that I lived to tell about it.

The picture above was taken after I did the century ride in 2005, and that one is indelibly imprinted in my mind. I had no intention of riding the century. I had done two of them, and I didn't feel like I had anything left to prove.

Except I couldn't convince my friend Rozmo of that. She had done a century before too, but she was intent on doing this one. And she's pretty insistent. Downright contrary. Mean if she has to be. [Not really, she doesn't have a mean bone in her body. And she reads this blog occasionally, so if she DID have a mean bone in her body, I would never allude to it here.]

That may have been the longest day of my life. We started out strong, but the heat became brutal. It was 100 degrees before we got finished. Literally. And some sagacious person scheduled the lunch stop for the century riders at approximately the 80-mile mark. Which turned out to be completely irrelevant, since they were all out of food by the time we got there. [It was the lunch stop for the shorter rides too, and they had breezed through HOURS earlier.] By the end of the ride, we were stopping at any establishment that looked like it had air conditioning. If I had seen a house for sale that included a pool, I would have bought it and moved in on the spot. When we finally made it back to camp and limped toward HQ for our coveted bandanas (they had stopped giving out pins and switched to bandanas, which are way more useful), we had to "excuse me, excuse me" through the DINNER line to get to the desk. After pretending not to have any more bandanas (not funny at all, by the way), the HQ folks sent us to the American Red Cross van. I'm not sure why, except we basically looked like hell. The Red Cross folks said thanks for dropping by, but we're closing up shop now. Good thing we didn't need a blood transfusion or something.

Rozmo thought it only appropriate that we take each other's pictures in front of the words "Disaster Services." Besides, that was as far as I could walk by then. Note, however, that I did manage to smile for the picture with my precious bandana. Or perhaps that's a grimace.

Now Rozmo wants Katydid and me to do a DOUBLE CENTURY over a weekend. That's a 100-mile bicycle ride, spend the night, turn around and ride 100 miles back.

I think I'm going to change my phone number. And my email. And my social security number. Rozmo can be downright insistent.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It Was My "10-Year Project"........

With every project I finish, I think to myself, "This one is the one I'm the proudest of." Whether it's the hardest or prettiest or most delicate thing I've ever created, the most recent one is my favorite.

The one I just finished, however, will more than likely hold the title forever.

There was a time when I thought I wouldn't finish it at all. It got too tedious, too detailed, too difficult. I put it away. For years.

I started doing counted cross-stitch when I was in college. I picked it up from a friend of mine, a lady who was my supervisor at my part-time job. If we went to the craft store and spent two hours buying supplies, it was okay to be late coming back from lunch, because I was with her.

I spent a lot of time in that store. And a lot of money I probably didn't have. But I suppose it was a rather harmless addiction, compared to what a lot of other folks in college were doing.

Fast forward a couple of years after I graduated from college. I was still cross-stitching.

When I went to buy the supplies for this particular project, the clerk's jaw dropped. She said, "Honey, I've had this design for months, and I've never sold one until today. Pregnancy must have done something to your brain."

Yes, I was pregnant. With Sweet Girl. Who is 25 years old.

I jokingly said to the clerk, "It's my 10-year project."

Joke's on me . . . . it became a 26-year project.

(Click on picture for larger view. I need to learn how to take pictures of things like this. Pioneer Woman could probably tell me.)

I'm not really a religious person, but I was intrigued by the detail in the cross-stitch pattern for DaVinci's The Last Supper.

I did each figure separately, and I've had all 13 of them done for years. When it came time to give them hair and hands and facial features and eyes and eyebrows, however, that's when I balked. The project got shoved to the back of the craft supplies drawer again and again. I kept promising myself I would finish it someday.

Sweet Girl started asking when I was going to finish it. She felt some connection to the project, having been there in utero when I started it.

I was afraid to wash it when I finished. Finally I ordered some special jelly-like substance that is supposedly used to treat rare and delicate textiles and paintings, and I washed it carefully. I just knew if the colors ran, or if one solitary stitch came out, I would be forced to slit my wrists.

Not really. I don't like pain. Or blood.

Or being overly dramatic.

I'm going to have it professionally framed, and frankly I don't care how much it costs to have it done. I will probably auction it off at the Nash Bash (our family reunion) next summer. If I can part with it.

Now there's hope for finishing my cathedral window quilt. Someday.

Perhaps it won't take 26 years.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Just Another Manic Monday.....

Mondays are going to be tough blogging days for me. I tried to come up with the equivalent for Wordless Wednesdays, but I got nothing.

I don't know what's worse: having something to do every night, or having many things to do on one night and getting it over with.

Last year I scheduled my live online teaching sessions on Tuesday evenings. But I always felt that the week was already in full swing, and going over upcoming lessons was pointless because they had already started. Except for the slackers who wait until midnight on Thursday night. But they're on their own.

This year I decided to teach online at 7:30 on Monday evenings and get it out of the way for the week. Which is a terrific idea. Except then I found out that the line dancing class I want to go to at the YMCA is also on Monday. At 5:30. So we either have to eat dinner at 5:00, approximately 45 minutes after I get home from school, or we have to try to cram it in between 6:30 and 7:30, when I teach.

So far we've tried both approaches. I'm not happy with either of them.

I'm thinking next Monday we'll have sandwiches for dinner. On paper plates.

And while you are asking yourself why you bothered reading this meaningless blog post, I will leave you with two random thoughts that struck me during my 5-minute dinner tonight.

#1 - On the package of bacon bits, it says "100% real bacon." Isn't that redundant? I mean, they're either real or they aren't. The bacon bits can't be 50% real, can they? Would that mean that every other bacon bit is real? Or half of each one is real?

#2 - On some literature about a motorhome (yes, I've almost worn him down), there is a statement that "there is still room available for a full size adult to sleep in the overhead cabin." Is that as opposed to, say, a 50% size adult?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Just Because You're One of the Guys.....

.......doesn't mean you can trust them.

......or even than they are really your friends.

Years ago, in a previous wifetime, I was skydiving with a group of guys at a very small airstrip west of Atlanta. It was seriously small. I mean grass "runway" and everything. I don't remember why I started jumping there; I was probably tired of driving two and a half hours, and two hours and fifteen minutes was a MUCH better drive.

Skydiving was an inherently male sport for the most part. I have no idea how much things have changed these days.

I remember the first day I went to jump. I went all by myself, and I didn't know a soul there. We were assembled in this trailer where the gear was stored, and I was sitting on a counter minding my own business. I didn't know the experienced jumpers from the students, so I was just observing and absorbing.

This guy marched over to where I was sitting and stopped dead in front of me.

"Are you here to jump?" he demanded.

"Um....yes," I stammered.

"Shit." He turned around and stomped off.

I was thinking, "Oh great, hostility from the veterans already."

Then I heard him say to his buddies on the other side of the room, "She's sitting there cool as a cucumber, and I'm scared shitless."

I apologize for the language, but I wanted to be true to the story.

All of that has nothing to do with this story, except to point out that the men outnumbered the women by a wide margin.

At the very small airstrip with the grass runway, the guys were always making off-color remarks, but for the most part I just laughed them off. I couldn't afford to be indignant, since I never knew which one of them might be assigned to be my jumpmaster on the next load. You couldn't risk offending the person who would sign off on your logbook. Or not.

My ex never seemed to mind that I went off all day participating in a mostly-male sport. As long as it didn't interfere with HIS plans, it was fine.

One day I took my camera with me, just to take pictures on the ground. [I never reached the level of comfort where I could take pictures in the air. Another jumper once tried to take pictures of me in freefall with an elaborate helmet-mounted camera, but he couldn't catch up to me. I was terrible about backsliding in freefall. I thought it was cool that he had rigged a shutter release that he held in his mouth, and he bit it when he wanted to take a picture.]

This was of course in the days before digital photography, so I had to wait a week for the photos to be developed. For some strange reason, the ex and I were together when I went to pick them up.

The photos were in a little wire-bound portfolio, and I flipped through them excitedly.

"This is the plane."

"This is Brian."

"This is Bill."

"Here is the landing zone."

This went on for a few minutes, with me flipping over to each new picture and identifying the person in it.

Then I flipped to the next picture, and it was......

a penis.

[I thought they didn't even PRINT that kind of picture. No wonder the clerk at the drugstore looked at me strangely when I went to pick up the pictures.]

My ex went rigid beside me. No pun intended. Really, no pun intended. Seriously.

He drew a breath and said through his teeth, "What in the hell is that?"

There was a long silence.

"I know what it is," I said. "But I have no idea how it got there."

There was proof positive of collusion in the taking of the photo. The prepetrator's hands were also showing, as he pulled down his sweat pants. Clearly someone else was involved.

They had taken my camera while I was in the air for a jump and taken the offending photograph without me knowing it. They didn't even have the decency to tell me about it.

Needless to say, that was the last time I jumped there. As the ex put it, and this was one of the VERY few times I ever agreed with him when he said, "And THESE are the people who have your life in their hands?"

I did get a very small bit of satisfaction months later, when I was jumping at a different location (two and THREE-QUARTER hours away), and I ran into one of those guys again. He asked me where I had been, and I told him the sordid story.

"What did you do about it?"

"I mailed the picture to him and told him I didn't appreciate it."

"Wait. Where did you mail it?"

I told him the address where I had sent the picture.

He laughed uproariously.

"He's getting a divorce. You sent it to his wife."

I'm glad I'm not one of the guys anymore. It's way too much trouble.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sisters' Saturday.....

My two sisters and I sneaked off for one of our Sisters' Saturdays today, and it was wonderful. We went to see Grease at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, and I say we sneaked off because 1) that is actually the correct past tense of that verb; and 2) we don't tell our mother when we go off on these excursions. We were so busy talking and cackling that we missed our MARTA train stop, so we walked a lot farther to the theater than we originally intended. We had lunch at a little diner about half a block from the theater, and then we went back there for dessert afterward. Apparently there is no limit to the number of times one can eat at the same diner in one day.

I know some of you are mentally criticizing us because we don't include our mother in our plans, but you'd have to know how it is. We want to enjoy each other's company, we want to laugh and tell stories without being interrupted, and we want to do what WE want to do. I took Mom to a play at the Fox one time, and she bolted out the side door before the last note had died away. You're welcome, Mom.

We try to plan a Sisters' Saturday every month, but it doesn't always work out that way. We don't always do something as extravagant as a play at the Fox. Sometimes it's just lunch and shopping.

But it's absolutely necessary.

Love you, sisters!

Friday, August 14, 2009

You Can't Unring a Bell.....

Throughout my teaching career AND my parenting career, I have tried to teach young people that it is imperative to think before acting or speaking. One must weigh the consequences of actions and words, particularly words, because they can't be undone.

To be perfectly honest, however, I am an abysmal failure at it myself. It seems I am forever sticking my proverbial foot in my not-so-proverbial mouth. And that was BEFORE the days of email. That just opens up an entirely new faux-pas riddled arena.

Case in point: Back in the late spring, right before school got out for the "summer", I sent an email to my colleagues asking if they wanted to get together to go see Chicago at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in September. I asked them if "Ahem.....we should invite anyone else....ahem", referring of course to our principal, about whom I had written a SCATHING blog post a few months before. She never accepts our invitations, never wants to join us in our outings, showed up at the end-of-the-year picnic THAT WAS TO HONOR GRADUATING SENIORS, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, after everyone had left.

After I sent the email, I started feeling sort of bad about leaving her out, and before anyone answered me, I decided to invite her anyway. Only it was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much trouble to compose an entirely new email of those three sentences. I forwarded the first one. I'm sure it wasn't hard for her to figure out whom the "ahem" reference was aimed at. I stand by it, based on the fact that she never wants to do anything with us, but I still wouldn't have sent it with that line in it had I been paying attention. My face burns even as I type this.

Something that hurts my heart even more, though, and something I can never take back or repair, is something I said to my niece when she was 14 years old and had a fight with her mother (my sister). She rode the bus to my house every afternoon so her father could pick her up there, and therefore I felt it my right (?) to confront her about her disagreement, asking what the problem was with her mother. I felt fiercely protective of my sister, who was certainly of an age where she was capable of taking care of herself. My niece told me it was none of my business, WHICH IT WASN'T, and I called her a little bitch.

I thought I was grown at the age of 24. I guess I thought in all my wisdom that this teenager would say to herself, "Why yes, I AM a bitch. Thank you, aunt, for setting me on the right path." Clearly the bitch in question here was NOT the 14-year-old.

There was nothing to be gained from putting my nose in their business. But there was a lot of damage in that little five-letter word.

She never rode the bus to my house again.

I wanted more than anything for us to be close. She was my first niece, and we are only 10 years apart in age. I wanted us to be pals, emailing and texting and calling one another at least once a week. We only live about 15 miles apart, and I'd love for us to get together with our hubbies and socialize.

It's not that we are estranged. We have a terrific time when we get together, particularly at family events, when we spend a lot of time making fun of cousins. And aunts. And grandmothers. Everyone is fair game. With the exception of anyone who might be reading this blog. Five of us got together this past February and went to lunch and a gymnastics meet, three sisters and two nieces, and we had a terrific time.

When she lived in Italy because her first husband was stationed there with the Army, Sweet Girl and I went to visit for two weeks. It was a fabulous trip, and I have many wonderful memories of the time we spent there. [Nurse Jane, for the record, we did NOT go into Switzerland. We DID go shopping in Innsbruck, Austria, and we went camping in Germany. In the rain. You're welcome.]

But I wonder all the time what our relationship might have been like if I hadn't uttered those words back when she was 14. Neither of us has ever mentioned it again, and I'd like to hope with every fiber of my being that she has forgotten it. But I'm sure she hasn't, because I wouldn't forget it if someone had said it to me. I would love to apologize now for something I did almost 25 years ago, but I'm afraid it would be awkward and nonproductive. Unproductive? Whatever.

I would love to unring that bell. Anyone else have bells you would like to unring?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I Don't Think We're in Kansas Anymore.....

Actually, I've never even been to Kansas.

This semester I'm teaching Contemporary Literature online again, and I feel much more comfortable with the course the second time around. At least I don't have to worry so much about staying ahead of the students, since the readings are all the same. Well, I do sort of have to worry about the ones that I didn't get to last year because I couldn't quite stay ahead. It's incredibly difficult to grade assignments over a reading selection I haven't read. I usually just pick out the one student whose assignments are always right on target, and I grade that one first. Then the rest of them pretty much suck in comparison, but I have a general idea of what to expect.

Because the course is usually an elective course, the students typically are hard-working and like to read and write. How refreshing in an English course!

The group I have this semester has surprised me so far, surpassing even the top-notch group of young ladies I had last year. I'm not being sexist -- the guys all dropped out.

Here are a couple of examples of posts from a discussion board topic on what they considered the ideal woman, ideal wife, and ideal mother.

This one is from a young man:

I think we are all equal in every way possible, personally, aside from the inherit physical traits that make us Male and Female. Even then, those lines become blurred at a certain point. The gender dichotomy that used to be painfully enforced for arbitrary reasons (see: the entire Victorian and Edwardian era) is coming to an end with the advent of medical and social advances.

This is from a young lady in the same section:

It's true that if a man marries he is expected to take care of his wife, providing for her and the children she bears. But I'd like to add what I consider to be another example of inequality, which you may have alluded to but did not state...while women are certainly expected to marry, men are not. Though they may choose to do so, few people scorn a man who hasn't taken a wife.

Excuse me?





I may have to brush up on my vocabulary just to converse with these young people. I have a feeling they are going to keep me on my toes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Paying (Sort Of) Writing Gig....

My friend Rozmo, who always knows how to handle people and has the best ideas in the world, approached me via email yesterday about writing regular articles about cycling for Freewheelin', magazine for the Southern Bicycle League. (Don't bother looking for it online; it really ain't that big.)

I was flattered that she (and VT and JC) had that kind of confidence in me. I had written for the magazine before, but to be a REGULAR contributor .... that's almost like I'm a real writer.

I would have done it just because Rozmo asked me. Because like I said, she knows how to manhandle ..... I mean handle ..... people. She just has a knack for making people see things her way. And if they don't see them her way, they will do them anyway just to make her hush.

But the kicker came at the end of the email. She said if I agreed to do it, all my BRAG rides (and t-shirts!) would be complimentary. That's three (or two) rides a year that average about $100 each with t-shirt, and the big cross-state ride is over $200.

So what if they don't send me a check? At least I don't have to send THEM one.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This May Be a First.....

We actually stayed at a ballgame all the way to the end. And the outcome wasn't even in question. Braves won, and there was still food and drink left at the end. I've said it before, but...

You may have a problem if the casino two states over calls and invites you to sit in their luxury booth at a baseball game.Twice.

Dang, I hope they have a suite in the Georgia Dome when football season starts.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Random Thought.....

I had this random thought while I was bicycling this weekend.

I'm just a little freaked out by the weight limit signs that are posted right before you go over a bridge.

I'm not TOO worried about it when I'm on my bicycle.

But when I'm in the car, I am a little concerned.

First of all, I have NO IDEA how much my car weighs.

What if my personal weight is JUST ENOUGH to be too much?

What if I knew how much my car weighed, but by the time I did the calculations and factored in the chips and beer at the Mexican restaurant, I was already on the bridge?

And really, how good are THEIR calculations?

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I had heard horror stories about people who have swimming pools having people invite themselves over all the time.

It has begun to happen to us with a certain family member who shall remain nameless, but it ain't from MY side of the family.

At first we invited her and her man friend over for special gatherings and our usual July Fourth party.

Then she started inviting herself. And she broke up with the man friend, so that was okay too.

Then she started bringing her daughter-in-law. And all three grandchildren.

If they invite themselves over when I'm here, I feel as though I'm not supposed to go out there and enjoy my own pool. I sit inside and watch television while they swim. In my pool.

Their favorite thing to do, however, is to come when we're not here. Not only do they use the pool freely, they also traipse in and out of the house. I can't begrudge them the need to go to the bathroom, especially since that's much better than peeing in the pool, but COME ON.

Today I came home from my weekend of bicycling feeling wonderfully tired, but glad to be home. I unpacked and washed the clothes before I even sat down to rest.

Then I went into the bathroom, where SOMEONE generously left a gift for us in the hall bathroom toilet. And forgot to flush.

There was no toilet paper, so I assume it was a child. God, I hope it was a child.

But COME ON!!! You're in someone else's house. Shouldn't you at least check behind the children? Perhaps school them on the steps to take AFTER using the toilet?

Hubby and I went swimming when he got home, and I found myself looking around the pool warily, lest the "guests" left a little present for us in the POOL also. These people clearly don't use the same rulebook we do.

Hubby feels the same way I do, so I don't have to worry about causing any marital strife. We're going to have to put locks on the gates to the backyard and use the excuse that the new neighbors have small children.

We also have a bad habit of not locking our doors. We're going to have to change that.

Maybe we'll just go ahead and cover it up. My family, whom I would LOVE to have over, never gets a chance to come swim. They would never take advantage, and they would NEVER make me feel unwelcome in my own pool.

When people said having a pool was a whole lot of trouble, I THOUGHT I knew what they were talking about.

They meant family trouble.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bicycling Accoutrements....

Don't you just love the word "accoutrements"? It sounds a lot like the word Katydid uses to refer to the body part that hurts the most after a long-distance bicycle ride.

Disclaimer: I am a novice. I am not a professional, nor am I an expert. I am only reporting my own personal experiences with cycling.

Going for a bicycle ride involves much more than just jumping on one's bicycle and taking off, like it did when we were kids. How could we have BEEN so stupid?

Even for a short ride, there are many items to assemble, check, carry, and ultimately keep track of. Some of these are absolute necessities; others are extras.

First of all, obviously, you need a bicycle.

When I bought my bike in 2004, it was a reward to myself for having finished my doctorate. My only requirement was that it be yellow. It cost almost as much as my first car. And it wasn't even a used car.

Next is a helmet.

All of the organized rides require that riders wear helmets, and I never get on my bike without one. It isn't required that it match your bike, but it's a nice touch. Mine also shows support for the Lance Armstrong Foundaation.

Some kind of air pump is a necessity.

Mine is a mini-pump that (sort of) converts to a floor pump. It has a gauge on it so I can tell how much air I've put into my tires. Our road tires typically run about 100-120 psi. Last week when Katydid and I rode the tandem and I THOUGHT we had enough air (and I couldn't find the pump anyway), we actually had less than 40 psi. No wonder it was difficult.

Water bottles are another must.

I carry two on my bike. These are insulated, and theoretically they keep water cold longer. But it's always lukewarm before we get to the next rest stop anyway. It isn't required that they match either, but that's just the way we do things.

Sometimes on a really long ride, or when we might not have as many rest stops as we are used to, we use a Camelbak.

My friend Rozmo calls it a humpback, which is sort of what we look like when we're wearing them. They come in many sizes, and they also have small zippered compartments for carrying smaller things like cell phones, keys, money, etc. We usually have rest stops about every 10-12 miles, but today the stops were at 17 and 40 miles, so the humpback was a good idea. Plus it felt good in the heat, keeping my back cool.

It has a valve on the end, and all I have to do is bite on it to get the water to flow. It is not only more convenient, but it's safer, since I don't have to reach down for a water bottle while I'm riding.

Gloves are always a good idea. They keep my sweaty hands from slipping on the handlebars, and they are padded to relieve pressure on the nerves.

Theoretically, they also prevent blisters.

Like this one. I don't know what is up with this. It's the first time in 18 years of cycling that I've had a blister on my palm, particularly while wearing padded gloves. Expensive ones at that.

A rear view mirror is another safety item.

This one straps to my handlebars. Some people have the kind that clip onto their helmets or eyeglasses. Whenever I hear a car behind me, I verify it by looking in my mirror, and then I get as far over to the right as I can. I should ride there all the time, but there is a lot of debris on the edges of the road. Plus, if the shoulder hasn't been mowed recently, those weeds HURT when they slap my legs.

Sunscreen is an absolute must.

I find that I am more apt to use it if it's hanging on my seat where I can get to it easily at rest stops.

I can carry some things in my jersey pocket, but I don't like for things like my cell phone to get all sweaty. So I put them in my Bento box.

My route map is there too, folded up next to my phone. It's not optimal in rainy situations, since it has a mesh cover, but it is very handy for those smaller items. That dog tag looking thing you see is my Road ID. It has information on it about whom to call if someone finds me splattered on the side of the road. Cheery thought, isn't it?

I also have a seat bag that hangs down under my seat.

Here I carry a spare tube, because other riders sort of frown upon me if I ask them to stop and help me fix a flat AND I expect them to produce the tube. I also stash extra snacks here, and sometimes my camera.

A bike computer might seem like a luxury to some people, but it's an absolute necessity.

Because if you can't tell your exact milage (down to the hundredth), your average, your maximum speed, and your overall time, it's like the ride never happened.

The GPS on my bike probably belongs in the luxury category.

It gives me some of the same information as my bike computer, but I can download the information to a website (and my computer) and get graphs, maps, etc. of the route I took.

And of course no bike ride would be complete without those oh-so-attractive bicycling clothes.

Spandex shorts (padded).

A colorful jersey, often identifying another bike ride I've done. Bright colors are best. This one is one of my favorites, because it matches my bike. And helmet. And water bottles.

A sports bra. Please forgive me for the ugly bedspread I put this on to take a picture of it.

A bandana is very handy. When I get to a rest stop, I usually tie mine around my head to keep the sweat from dripping in my eyes. And to keep my hair from frightening any small children who may be nearby. On really, really hot days, I wet the bandana in cold water and tie it around my neck. The air movement when I start riding again creates a very nice cooling sensation. Then I tie it on my handlebars, and the blazing speed at which I ride helps it dry out for the next time. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Some sort of cycling shoes are required.

I prefer sandals, not only because it eliminates the stress of having to find cute socks that match every cycling outfit, but they allow my pedicure and my toe ring to show. Oh, and they keep my feet much cooler and don't smush my toes.

Special cycling shoes are necessary because of the pedals that many of us have on our bikes. You can't just wear everyday sneakers, because the pedals aren't big enough.

They have cleats on the bottoms that snap into the pedals, keeping our feet attached to the pedals. It comes in handy on really long rides, because then I can pull up with a pedal in addition to pushing down.

Sometimes we call them suicide shoes. They require that I unclip my feet from the pedals before stopping. They aren't as dangerous as they sound, although every one of us has some story about not getting unclipped in time and falling over like that dude on Laugh In used to do on the tricycle.

And lastly, maybe the most important thing a cyclist needs for long-distance rides is sleep, which I'm not getting enough of this weekend.

I hope you're feeling more informed about the requirements of cycling. Now is it any wonder that I don't do any more riding than I do?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Late Night Post.....

It's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay past my bedtime, so this will be short.

I have survived my first week of school, and I now have 533 school days to retirement.

I'm celebrating with a bicycle ride, 50 miles per day tomorrow and Sunday.

That required an almost 3 hour drive up here.

We're not quite in the mountains, but I can see them from here. It's gonna be a tough ride.

We shut down headquarters at 7:00, which is normally when I'm winding down for bed. Then we went out to eat, and we are just now getting ready for bed.

Maybe I'll have something more coherent tomorrow night.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Precious Child.....

This is one of the most precious children I know. It is no accident that she belongs to one of my favorite people in the world.

She is so very polite. She always says "Yes m'am" and calls me by my Dr. title even though I've told her not to. Now she does it for spite. The little devil.

She also has a wicked sense of humor. For my birthday, she gave me a figurine of our former gymnastics coach because we both love to make fun of the coach. No doubt she's a very good coach; she just doesn't come off as being very smart.

I have to watch myself around her. I forget she's not a grown-up, and I tend to say things I shouldn't.

I'm sure she has her bad days, but I've never seen her be anything but sunny and cheerful. Even when she broke her arm and had to have surgery, she was joking with me on the phone. Could have been the drugs, I guess.

When she comes to our school, she is always willing to do whatever we ask her to. Even if it means she has to stop playing her computer game for a few minutes. When she goes out for lunch with the grown-ups, she doesn't act like a brat. She doesn't command all the attention. I wish some of the grown-ups could grasp that concept.

She knows how to be tolerant of people and she knows that sometimes you just have to be nice to people, even if they aren't very nice. Or likable.

I want to be just like her when I grow up.

She reads my blog, too, and I hope it doesn't give her the big head now that I have bragged on her. I'd hate to have to take her down a notch or two.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Almost Finished......

I'm ALMOST finished with another project, and I'm so excited that I'm dying to tell you about it.

But I want to wait until I'm really REALLY finished. Because I want to have pictures to go with it.

I have this superstition about taking pictures of an unfinished project.

[Forget that I posted pictures of the afghan I crocheted less than a month ago.]

This project is getting to the point of consuming me. It made me late for school this morning. [Oh well, I was on time for two days in a row, and that probably beats last year's record.]

It made me not want to get on the elliptical this morning, and I NEVER skip getting on the elliptical. [I eventually DID get on it, because that's the only way I would allow myself to watch the really sappy, really terrible ABC Family series that I record every Monday night. I have rules, you know.]

This project prevented me from packing tonight for a bicycle ride this weekend. I'm leaving right after school on Friday, which means I should have packed tonight so tomorrow night I could concentrate on remembering all the things I forgot. Like an air pump. Bicycle tires have this habit of requiring air.

It is a momentous project, for reasons that will become clear when I can finally talk about it.

Because clearly I'm not talking about it now.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Favorite Time of Year....

This is probably my very favorite time of year.

Well, it will be as soon as it cools off somewhat. Almost 90 degrees at 8:00 PM.

In the next month, however, temperatures will cool off and the air will be crisp and cool in the mornings. In the afternoons we can go walk in the park without feeling like we're breathing through gauze.

Bicycle riding will be much more comfortable. Katydid and I have at least four organized bicycle rides coming up, two of which are overnighters. We're pretty much over sleeping in tents, however. Comfortable beds, internet, television, air conditioning. Roughing it has lost its charm. Sitting on a bicycle seat for 50 miles or so is rough enough anyway.

School will settle into a routine and I'll once again feel purposeful. (Is that an adjective that can refer to a person?) We'll soon figure out our new computer curriculum and perhaps even be able to explain to students how it works.

More importantly, however, within the next month baseball season and football season will overlap.

Life is good.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Going Out on a Limb....

I'm going out on a limb here, risking judgment (and possibly rightly so) and all manner of criticism.

Have any of you ever had one of those events that made you stop and question what your values really were? Ask yourself if you were really a hypocrite? Not like yourself at all for your first reaction?

This was one of those times for me.

Sweet Girl was on her first deployment to the Persian Gulf, so of course email was the only way we could communicate. It was somewhat lucky in that I was on the computer all the time, so sometimes we could almost "chat" in real time.

She kept talking about Mike, a guy she had met on the ship. Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike. I could tell he was a special guy, and I told her she should send me a picture of him, or one of them together.

Hubby and I were in the Dominican Republic on our first trip there. I went to a little cyber cafe and paid whatever astronomical prices they charged to use the internet for a few measly little minutes. I couldn't stand the thought of missing an email from my girl while we were on vacation. Hubby went with me and stood behind me while I checked my email.

The connection was vveeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy ssssssssssslllllllllllloooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww.

There was indeed a message from Sweet Girl, and I clicked to open it.

To get the full effect of my experience, I want you to scroll down very slowly on the picture below.



I was just checking.

When the picture had opened fully, I said to Hubby, "He's just really dark, isn't he?" Meaning tan.

Hubby said, "That would be a no."

I clicked out of the email without looking or reading any further.

I was sick. And I hated myself for being sick.

I had tried to raise my daughter to be open-minded and accepting and not judge people based on the color of their skin.

But I didn't mean fall in love with them.

What does that say about me? My best friend (at the time) was a black woman. We did everything together. She considered Sweet Girl her pretend daughter. Sweet Girl had known her all her life. I couldn't even reveal my conflicted feelings to my best friend, lest I reveal something about myself that I didn't want her to know. I didn't even want ME to know it.

The first time Sweet Girl ever told a story about a classmate and someone asked what color the person was, she was confused.

"Ummmm ..... brown?"

She didn't know that people were colors. She just knew they were people. I was so proud of her in that moment.

I was not proud of myself for my feelings. I was willing to accept whomever she chose to love, but I didn't know if she (or I?) was ready for the conflict brought about by an interracial marriage in a very small, very Southern town.

I couldn't picture Christmas dinner.

Hubby and I left the cyber cafe, and he was smart enough not to say anything. Remember, this is not his natural child. We walked for about thirty minutes without saying anything. Then I burst out, "Five thousand men on that ship, and she has to fall in love with THAT one?"

She was still about two months from returning, so I kept my fingers crossed that it was merely a shipboard romance and nothing would come of it.

I know that's wrong. I want you to know that I know that.

Several weeks went by, and I kept getting emails about Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike, Mike. Every one of them filled me with dread. I knew I had to support my child if this really was the person for her.

Then one day in an email, Sweet Girl said, "I'll have to send you a picture of Mike."

I replied, "You already did. You were sitting next to one another, and you had a can of Heineken in your hand." [Disclaimer: I cannot possibly be related to anyone who would drink Heineken.]

Sweet Girl responded, "Mom!!!!! That's not Mike!!!!! That's Chief ______!!!!! He's OLD!!!!!"

And I was so happy I cried.

And then I cried because that shouldn't have made me that happy.

She never did send me a picture of the real Mike.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Back to School.......

A new school year starts tomorrow.

540 .... I mean 538 .... school days to retirement.

I've known all along that school started on August 3rd.

But at dinner tonight, it hit me.

August Freaking Third.

What in the world is going on?

Is this a sign of the apocalypse? We start back to school while it's still summer? Are you KIDDING me?

We will hand out our first progress reports BEFORE. LABOR. DAY.

We will have five Casual Fridays before the first college football game.

And we get our lovely furlough days in No-Freakin-Vember? And one of them is on a TUESDAY?


That fits nicely into EVERYONE'S schedule.

Two more (sort of random) signs that the apocalypse is upon us:

  • On The Price is Right the other day (Sweet Girl, I know you can't believe I only watched it three times all summer), one of the models was VISIBLY PREGNANT. And they mentioned it!
  • The church up the street from us has a "For Sale" sign in front of it.
Anyone even remotely connected to the beginning of a new school year, whether it starts tomorrow or at some more decent time, have a wonderful school year.

So far, I've made my lunch the night before (instead of scrambling around madly at 7:30 AM, which I should be leaving the house) one night in a row.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Team Chi-Chis Rides Again.......

I had to recycle (ha ha ha -- I'm so funny) a picture from last year. I took my camera today, but I didn't take a single picture. We pretty much look the same as we did last year, though. My hair is a little longer, but we all wore what we have started calling our Team Chi-Chis jerseys. Again this year we did NOT turn at the 80-100 mile sign. Again this year some people who rode 100 miles got in before those of us who rode 52 miles. I hate them.

Almost as much as I hate the ones who come in from a 100-mile bicycle ride and THEN GO FOR A LITTLE RUN. I aimed at one of them with my car when I left. I missed. I apologize.

I had a nice surprise when I got home. Sometimes it's the little things that make me happy.

I went out to the pool, because frankly it took less energy than taking a shower. It's my pool; I can get in it all sweaty from a bike ride if I want to. I'll still take a real shower before I go to bed. Maybe.

It's been at least a week since I went out to the pool, and I did not realize our figs were ripe.

I didn't like figs at first. When Hubby told me that was a fig tree at the fence between our yard and the neighbor's, I wrinkled my nose. Ewwwwww........figs.

As much as I like most cookies (and anything else that's 90% sugar), I have never liked Fig Newtons. I thought it was the figs I didn't like .... who knew it was the newtons?

My mother has come several times and gathered enough figs to make fig preserves. I didn't like those either. I don't really like most preserves. I'm not sure why. Still, I thought it was the figs I didn't like.

Ripe rigs are actually yummy. I split them open and eat the pulp out of the inside. They are very sticky, which makes it very handy that our fig tree hangs over the pool. When I get the juice all over me, all I have to do is jump in the pool.

Of course, after a 52-mile bicycle ride, I could probably eat rocks ..... and like them.