Saturday, October 31, 2009

It Didn't Work...... And I'm Not Really Surprised.....

I'm not sure God cares about housework OR football, but I wasn't going to take any chances.

So this morning, I tried to bargain with Him/Her.

In exchange for a win over the hated Florida Gators, I:

  • swept
  • mopped
  • vacuumed
  • did laundry
  • washed dishes
  • accompanied Hubby on errands for the motorhome (I'll have to go back without him so I can actually buy stuff)
  • crocheted a Christmas ornament
  • crocheted another hexagon for my next afghan
  • was nice to the little bastards trick-or-treaters who showed up just as UGA scored a touchdown
Once again, my horoscope has lied. In today's newspaper, it said:

"Even with all the negative thinkers in the world [ahem, Hubby, I think they're talking about YOU], a positive outlook will help realize a big hope of yours. Don't let the contrarians keep you from your appointed destiny."

I thought my appointed destiny was for UGA to win today.

On a positive note, I could have paid $500 and driven 6 hours to watch the debacle. I'm feeling better already.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Kindle Update......

Because I raved about my Kindle when I got it, and because my blogger friend Maggie asked, I'll update you on my Kindle status.

I don't really like it.

I miss turning the pages. I miss being able to "flip" back a couple of pages to reread something. Oh, you can go back on the Kindle, but you know how your brain remembers where on the page you read something? When you go back on the Kindle, it might not be in the same place.

And there aren't pages. There are "locations" because of the ability to change the font size. If you enlarge the font size, there would be more pages, so page numbers wouldn't make sense. You can highlight and "clip" selections of text, which I found fairly handy. Even better, they are stored online at Amazon, so you can access them even without the Kindle on. Or even when you are away from it.

I was thinking of selling it on that auction place online, but then I got an email from my friend Rozmo asking about how large the font would go. Her neighbor is legally blind and wanted to try the Kindle, but she didn't want to sink a lot of money in one if it wasn't something she would be able to use. I sent her mine to try out, and I'll sell it to her for about half what she could get a new one for, if she wants to keep it.

It was very useful on vacation, when I could load any number of books (they say it will hold 1500 books), and I only had to keep up with one thing. It's also very thin and lightweight and it fits in my purse. I like that I can think about downloading a book, and by the time the thought is fully formed, it is already on my device. And charged to my credit card.

But I really miss turning the pages. I hope Rozmo's neighbor can use it, because then I can feel all good about myself for helping someone out.

I could use the money to buy some other sort of gadget.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Too Pooped to Blog.....

Tonight was the annual chili cook-off in our town, and our little school fielded a team again this year. We tied for second place . . . . for presentation. That's hilarious, since I spent more on the decorations than I did on the chili ingredients. (And turned in both receipts for reimbursement, and I'll just hold my breath that they both slide by with approval.)

Last year I had only one student to help, and at the last minute she couldn't actually PREPARE the chili. So guess who had to do it?

This year I had a team of students volunteer, and one of them who wants to be a chef when she grows up volunteered to make the chili.

If we do this again next year, I think I will make it again. Nuff said.

The winning in our household continues. Before he left the chili cook-off, Hubby gave me his door-prize ticket, and of course it won. A jar of cookies, which he wouldn't be allowed to have anyway. He sampled chili from enough booths to count as his dinner, which was the only way he was going to GET any dinner.

I don't know when I've looked forward to a weekend like I am this one. Nothing planned, and that's just the way I like it.

Tomorrow afternoon can't get here soon enough.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One Can Never Have Too Much Heat.....

Hubby is headed for retirement, and I'm headed for menopause.

It might turn out to be a bad combination.

He bought a new room heater today to heat the downstairs. Because the wood burning stove that he obsessively keeps filled with wood probably won't be enough for wintertime here in the Deep South.

That bad boy (the heater, that is) has been going full blast since I got home from school.

It's 72 degrees OUTSIDE.

And about a hundred INSIDE.

I guess the good news is I won't KNOW when I'm having a hot flash.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's Really Not That Hard....

I don't enjoy housework of any kind, but as I've noted before, I generally do the bare minimum to keep the health officials from condemning our house. I keep the dishes washed, I make up the bed every morning, and I try to control the clutter. One chore that I find particularly distasteful is laundry.

We seem to go through a lot of clothes for just two people. And I can't pinpoint why exactly. We use the same towels all week, since we ARE clean when we get out of the shower. I generally change out of my school clothes into sweats (or shorts) and a t-shirt when I get home from school, but I wear the same sweats all week. I'll wear them until bedtime, and it's not like they have a chance to get dirty.

Hubby wears uniforms to work, and if he has a short day and doesn't get his shirt dirty, he may wear it again the next day. He's considerate like that.

So I can't figure out why #1) we accumulate so much laundry; and #2) why I find it such an odious task.

It isn't time consuming. I can legitimately put a load of laundry in the washer and sit down to crochet, telling myself, "Well at least I'm getting the laundry done."

Approximately 45 minutes later I go downstairs to the basement and transfer the clothes into the dryer. That gives me another hour in which to kill time or grade assignments or watch television, all the while getting the laundry done.

It's not like I have to take the clothes down to the river and beat them on a rock or something.

Or heat a huge cauldron of water so I can stir them with a stick.

And don't even ask me why I will let a load of clothes sit in the dryer for two days. I'm getting better, but it's a terrible habit. They get all wrinkled, of course, and if there's one thing I hate more than laundry, it's IRONING. It's not like I forget they are down there, because there is this squeaky voice I can hear even in my sleep saying, "Hey! You forgot us down here!" It's the unfolded pieces of clothing.

Why do I put that off? Folding a load of laundry takes approximately 5 minutes. Our socks always come out in even numbers, so I do not have a good excuse for avoiding the act of folding laundry.

It's strange, though, that it has become such a habit that even when I HAVE folded the clothes and put them away, sometimes I hear that same squeaky voice telling me I didn't. One day I went all the way downstairs to get some clothes out of the dryer, and they weren't even in there. I had already folded them.

Good Lord. I'm even hearing voices in the laundry now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

An Enigma Wrapped in a Mystery.......

I may never fully understand Hubby. I realize that his being male, while a particular feature of his that I appreciate, may preclude my ever really knowing him.

I was preparing dinner when I heard Gus barking furiously and heard Hubby conversing with someone outside the front door. I thought it was our neighbor across the street, so I didn't pay much attention.

Then Hubby came in and said, "Would you like to buy some frozen steaks and chicken?"

Not even a moment's thought or hesitation.


I didn't give him my reasons, which include:

  • I don't trust people who have to sell meat door-to-door from a pickup truck. So what if it had a nice logo on the side, it's still a pickup truck. Not even a refrigerated van.
  • Having a seemingly endless supply of meat on hand prevents me from being able to say on any given night, "We'll have to order a pizza. There's nothing to cook."
  • That's what grocery stores are for.
He came back in pretty quickly, and I said, "Did you send him on his way?"

No. Oh no. Hubby proceeded to write a check for $160 for a variety of sirloin steaks, ribeye steaks, strip steaks, t-bone steaks, and hamburger patties. My preference for dinner meat is chicken. Guess how much of that he bought?

Zero. None.

It really is a good bargain, and the meat is guaranteed for up to a year (!) from freezer burn. And we did actually have room for it all, since I don't keep much food on hand just in case I might be expected to cook it.

I cook a maximum of five nights a week (less if I can get away with it), and dinner one of those is usually a pizza. Frozen or delivery. So this quantity of meat that we just purchased may outlast its guarantee.

About a month ago, one of the grocery stores on Hubby's route had a deal on window cleaner where the cleaner wound up being like a quarter a bottle. Or fifty cents or something like that. So he bought some window cleaner. A case of it. Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas this year?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

10 Reasons I'm Not Feeling Perky Right Now....

#10 - The Falcons lost today. And they looked awful doing it. Was the team that was on the field for their first drive the same folks on the field the rest of the day?

#9 - The weather is turning colder. I don't DO cold.

#8 - I didn't exercise today.

#7 - My knee hurts where I fell off my bike yesterday. In the parking lot. Barely moving. I couldn't get my suicide cleat unclipped from my right pedal fast enough. Looked extremely graceful falling to the pavement, I'm sure.

#6 - I've gone from a crochet project that called for a ginormous hook to making some Christmas ornaments with thread whose patterns call for a very tiny one. I'm squinting a lot.

#5 - I have a slight headache. Probably related to #6. And #1.

#4 - Georgia plays Florida in football next Saturday. I'm already dreading the embarrassment. We could win..... but we probably won't.

#3 - Back to school tomorrow. Starting off the day with a performance review for a student who just will. Not. Follow. The. Rules.

#2 - I promised 10 reasons and I'm only coming up with 9.

#1 - I'm sleep-deprived. Hubby woke me up this morning to make the 6-hour drive home. When I looked at the clock, it said 4:07. (Usually that's a lucky number for me, since it's my birthday. Not so much this morning.) I said to him, "That's too early!" His response, "But it's 5:07 Georgia time." But I went to bed on Mississippi time!

Things are bound to improve tomorrow. I hope everyone has a wonderful week.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Starrlight Meme....

Tonight's meme was stolen from TenseTeacher, who stole it from..... I don't remember. It probably doesn't matter.

1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
An after-dinner mint

2. Where was your profile picture taken?
On a lake near my home

3. Can you play Guitar Hero?
I've only tried once, but I think I could if I had more opportunity to play

4. Name someone who made you laugh today. What was it about?
Hubby's friend Victor. It was about my bicycle helmet and the hat he bought that all the guys made fun of.

5. How late did you stay up last night and why?
Went to bed at 8:00 PM because the gambling wasn't going well; went to sleep at 10:00 PM. Eastern time. Which is not where I am.

6. If you could move somewhere else where would you and why?
Somewhere on the water. River, lake, ocean, it doesn't matter.

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks?
I can't remember. So if I was, it wasn't memorable.

8. Which of your friends lives closest to you?

9. Do you believe exes can be friends? With benefits?
No and Hell no.

10. Do you like Dr. Pepper?
Dr. Pepper puts groceries on my table, so I'm particularly fond of it. Ask me again in 68 days, when it won't matter anymore.

11. When was the last time you cried really hard? Really hard as opposed to just sniveling?
Two years ago when my girl broke my heart.

12. Who took your profile picture?

13. Who was the last person you took a picture of?
Rozmo and Lisa and some horses

14. Was yesterday better than today? Why?
Not really, because today there was football. And bicycling.

15. Can you live a day without TV?
Not during football season.

16. Are you upset about anything now?
Gambling didn't go well, but I'm not particularly UPSET about it, because I don't ever EXPECT to win. If I do, it's just a bonus.

17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it?
Of course. Otherwise, why would we bother?

18. Are you a bad influence?
Not anymore. Unless you count making teenagers want to buy motorcycles.

19. Night out or night in?
Night in

20. What items could you not go without during the day?

21. Who was the last person you visited in the hospital?

22. What does the last text message in your inbox say?

23. How do you feel about your life right now?

24. Do you hate anyone?
Hate is a strong word. And it isn't nearly strong enough for the way I feel about my ex.

25. If we were to look in your Facebook inbox, what would we find?
A friend request from the ex-wife of my niece's husband, who inexplicably keeps friend requesting me

26. Say you were given a drug test right now, would you pass?
Unless it tests for vodka and cranberry

27. Has anyone ever called you perfect before?
Um..... no

28. What song is stuck in your head?
Nothing in particular, but if I DID have something in my head, odds are it would be a Billy Joel song.

29. Someone knocks on your window at 2 a.m., whom do you want it to be?
Someone really tall, since our bedroom is upstairs.

30. Do you (or did you) want to have grandkids before you’re 50?
I'm only 17 1/2 months away from 50, and Sweet Girl isn't pregnant or in a relationship, so..... No. But she is going to Vegas week after next, so I'll keep my fingers crossed against it.

31. Tell us your Saturday night.
Football, waiting for Hubby to fall asleep in the recliner so I can wrest the remote control out of his hand

32. Do you think too much or too little?
Too much when it doesn't matter and too little when I should

33. Do you smile a lot?
Yes. It beats the alternative.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Signs of the Apocalypse - Casino Version.....

First of all, I apologize for the lack of a blog post yesterday. I was sitting at the poker table at our favorite casino when I realized it was 11:51 Georgia time. I started to surreptitiously fire off a blog post on my Blackberry, but blogging with my thumbs is a challenge and I probably couldn't have managed it in 9 minutes anyway. Then there is the fact that they will ask you leave a poker table if you have your cell phone out. And then there was the sudden realization that it takes a huge ego to believe that a last-minute, thumb-written blog post is vital to the well-being of anyone out there. I try to keep my ego in check. Having a husband and a daughter usually takes care of that.

Already there have been several signs of the apocalypse in the 15 hours we have been here.

  • In this, our favorite casino, where we have been numerous times over the last few years, where we rarely have to pay for our room because we gamble enough, they assigned us a room with access for handicapped people. Including the drive-in shower. Huh?
  • No, it isn't Vegas, but people usually try to assume a certain level of decorum in a casino. For example, I've never seen a fight in a casino, although it was a close call last night because of the dude I was sitting next to. I almost slugged him for his bad language. If Hubby had been at the table then, he probably would have. Because apparently there is a huge difference in a man using the "F" word in front of his OWN wife, and someone else doing it. Whatever. Back to the level of decorum. As we walked through the lobby this morning, presumably before some people had had a chance to get good and drunk, there was a guy brushing his teeth. In the lobby. And carrying on a conversation at the same time. Huh?
  • I saw a sign for a shuttle bus to the other casino. Seriously? It is located....... wait for it..... Across. The. Street. With a covered, elevated pedestrian walkway connecting the two. It has moving sidewalks. And someone needs a shuttle? Huh?
  • When I came to the lobby to use the internet, because this hotel doesn't offer internet in the rooms because they'd much rather people be in the casino, there was a man with an open book, a pen, and a notepad spread out on the largest table. (I'd point out that he did NOT have a laptop, as three others of us did, trying to balance them on tables no larger than dinner plates, but that would be un-Christian of me.) He was talking to himself and writing furiously. Nothing at all strange about that. Then I realized the book he had open was the Bible. Huh? Was he copying it? Preparing a Sunday School lesson? Is he the opening act for Willie Nelson tonight? (No, we're not going. If Willie Nelson were singing at the adjacent poker table, I would move.) A Bible lesson in a casino? Huh?
  • As I started to type this, I looked up and noticed the same man, the one with the Bible and the notepad, doing toe-touches. In the hall. Right outside the fitness room. Huh?
  • Finally, I am in a casino with several buffets, numerous gift shops, several hours of free time on my hands, more cash (so far) than I came with, my crocheting, and a good book, and I'm about to go ride my bicycle in the general direction of the next town, which is 20 miles away. Huh?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Triple Tasking.....

I'm in an online meeting, and I'm one of four people responsible for tonight's presentation. Yet I'm typing this blog even as they speak. My part is done, so I've wandered away. I still have my headset on, though, so if someone calls my name, I can snap to attention with the click of a mouse. This is definitely a benefit of the online world.

I'm also grading assignments from my online students. I hate, hate, hate to go to bed at night with ANYTHING left in the dropbox. Lately, however, I have really struggled with staying motivated to keep up. But if I don't do SOMETHING, pretty soon it becomes overwhelming. The worst it ever got was when we went on a cruise. In spite of the fact that I spent $130 on internet access on the cruise ship (a substitute for the week would only have cost me $150 - go figure), I couldn't keep up. Not if I wanted to have any kind of vacation at all. When I got back from the cruise, not only did I have to return to my full-time job the next day, I had 98 ungraded assignments in the dropbox. I wanted to cry. Many students got credit for putting ANYTHING in the dropbox; it didn't really matter if they had analyzed the literature with any depth.

And every now and then, I pick up my crocheting. I'm almost finished with a baby blanket I'm making for a former student, and I want to get started on something for ME.

I guess I'm quadruple-tasking, since I'm also typing this blog post.

Corollary to Murphy's Law #491:

The day you wear dress shoes and a white cotton blouse (with pants, of course) that you had to IRON, the day you decide to straighten hair that was never meant to be straightened, this will be the day you discover that you have a flat tire. Guess where the spare tire is stored on an SUV?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy......

I hate having time on my hands, which is why I read, crochet, and play mindless computer games. But there's a fine line between being BUSY and being SWAMPED.

Aside: I apologize here to my friends who are working on various degrees right now. You know who you are. I bow to you. Because the number of things I have to do is microscopic compared to yours.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I'm an almost obsessive planner. It's a good thing at times like right now, because otherwise I would be sitting in the corner waggling my fingers and chanting nonsense.

Our regularly scheduled department meeting for my online job is this Thursday, but we will be on the road to the casino, so I had to attend the alternate meeting, which was tonight at 7:30. That's when I usually have my own instructional online meeting, so I had to move it to 6:30. Then I found out this morning that some committee I'm on (an online committee -- can it get more absurd?) was meeting tonight at 5:00. So basically I've been sitting here with my headset on since I got home from school. And I still haven't finished watching all of last night's episode of DWTS.

I guess it could be worse. During an online meeting I can eat, crochet, and roll my eyes. I can also make sarcastic remarks about the people who are speaking aloud. One of these days, I'm going to be like that guy on the ... is it an airline commercial? ... who is making faces at his boss, forgetting they're in the same room.

Tomorrow night I have to find time to do laundry and pack for our weekend trip. And prepare dinner. And do an online presentation for a group of my online colleagues.

I'd like to be just a little less busy, please.

Monday, October 19, 2009

From Our "Too Much Time on their Hands" Department Part 2......

Below is the text of another email from above we received at school last week. The reason I had so much trouble finding it last night was that it was in my DELETED files. Now why on earth would I delete something so important?

Workers comp issues:

Our workers' comp. consultant has noted that staff wearing flip-flops is a safety hazard. At the principals' meeting, we concluded that a shoe is a flip-flop if it bends... So, bendable flip-flops are not allowed (for staff only). Thong-style shoes that don't bend are not flip-flops... Open-toed shoes are okay.

Also, we have been asked to remind staff that anyone making a workers’ comp. claim for a fall must pass a drug test within 24 hours of the fall. Insert your own comments on that one.

Wouldn't you just love to be in that meeting of principals as they debated just what constitutes a flip-flop?

This reminds me of a school where I taught. The dress code said students could not wear "rubber flip-flops." When I sent a girl to the office one day for shoes that were clearly flip-flops, she and her mother took them to the school board meeting, where it was determined that they were not indeed made of rubber, but of foam.

The school board later voted to change the wording. The new policy said that students could not wear THRONGED flip-flops. I told my students (because I knew I was leaving the next year) that they could interpret that to mean they could wear flip-flops all they wanted, just not in large numbers.

Back to the current shoe issue. I just cannot understand why these folks have nothing better to do with their time. It makes me wonder if a workers' comp claim has been filed because a staff member had on flip-flops and fell. Hell, I can fall off a floor wearing sneakers. I once fell off a horse that WAS NOT MOVING. I don't see why my own clumsiness has to dictate the footwear of everyone else in the county.

My first reaction to the email was to say, "Wait....don't all shoes bend?"

I stand corrected. I think our new uniform shoe will be this:

Those suckers surely won't bend.

Or how about these?

Or maybe these?

Those suckers are guaranteed not to bend.

And another thing.....

Just who is going to be the checker-of-shoes-to-be-sure-they-don't-bend?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Because CLEARLY This is Where the Budget Deficit Lies.....

We received this email message from our boss last week. It came from a meeting of all the principals in the county, presumably originating with the superintendent of schools:

If you are using a lamp in your classroom, please make sure it has an incandescent bulb. Otherwise, you are using more energy than the overhead lights use. Thanks.

Are you kidding me? Do they not have ANYTHING else to do? I know the county is short on money, but puhlease! This is NOT where the money went.

For the record, I do NOT have a lamp in my room. And I only turn on HALF of my overhead lights when I go in every morning.

I've been searching for another email we received about staff members' SHOES. I'll have to retrieve it at school tomorrow and share it tomorrow night. I can't find it from here, and you really have to read the original to get the full effect. It will make you scratch your head, much as I did upon receiving it, asking, "Huh?"

I've wondered what they did in all those meetings. For some reason, I thought they were discussing policy and procedure, or maybe even EDUCATING THE YOUNG PEOPLE IN OUR COUNTY.

Silly me.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Doctor is NOT In........

It's official . . . .

Although I worked long and hard to earn my doctorate in adult education, I HATE the title. I thought I would "grow" into it, but it's been five and a half years, and I still hate being called "Dr." When we introduce ourselves to students in interviews for our program, I say my first and last names. I have a terrible time referring to myself as "Dr."

When I first got my doctorate, it felt funny to hear my name with "Dr." in front of it. Whenever someone said it, I sort of looked around like, "Who around here is a doctor with my same last name?" I thought I would get used to it, but I haven't.

It especially feels awkward for my colleagues to refer to me by the title. I feel a little bit like a fraud. I think the title imparts upon the wearer a level of intelligence that he or she may not actually have. I DO think I'm intelligent, but I think I had that before the doctorate. (I tell people all the time that educated doesn't necessarily mean smart.)

I rarely refer to my title myself. Unless it's in response to a stupid question. I was talking to a finance person one time, and when I told him I was a teacher, he asked, "Do your students call you 'Mrs. _______'?" Duh. So I responded, "Some of them. Except for the ones that call me 'Dr.'" Hubby was a little embarrassed, as if I were crowing about my title. I was only pointing out to the dear finance person what an ignoramus he was for asking that question. High school hasn't deteriorated so far that students are on a first-name basis with their teachers. Yet.

My feelings may be the result of my motivation for getting my doctorate in the first place. In education, the only way to get a raise is to teach for a long time and get additional degrees. I think it kind of sucks that the good teachers, the mediocre ones, and the really bad ones all get paid the same based on years of experience and level of education. And it's pretty hard to get fired from teaching, at least in our state, unless you do something of a sexual nature with a student. And I've known (about) several of THOSE who just moved on to other school districts, a practice commonly referred to as "passing the trash."

When I was working on my doctorate, I had classes with people from many different professions, not just teachers. There were health care professionals, human resource folks, planners, computer people, all different sorts. And many, many of them said getting their doctorates wouldn't give them an increase in pay, a promotion, or anything else beyond the piece of paper and the title.


Why would you put yourself through all that work, all that stress, all that research, all that writing, all those courses, all those long nights, all those committee meetings, not to mention THE FINAL ORAL DEFENSE, if you weren't going to get something material out of it? I'm not critical of those people; I'm in AWE of them. Any time the going got tough (like every day?) when I was working on my program, I would ask myself, "Why am I doing this to myself?" And the answer always came back, "Oh yeah, so I can get a big fat raise. Because I've reached the top of the salary ladder otherwise." And that was what kept me going.

Am I the weird one here?

Because I was most definitely in the minority among my classmates, I began to feel that I was a fraud due to the fact that I was in it for the money. I just quietly went about my business and stuck with the program until I had lasted long enough to write a dissertation and escape with my sanity and a diploma.

It's hard to retrain students (ask any teacher who has gotten married and changed her name) to call you by something different. My mother was visiting my classroom once when a student or two referred to me as "Mrs." She whispered to me, "Why don't they call you 'Dr.'?" She looked a little offended.

Personally, I don't care if no one ever calls me "Dr." again. Just as long as they keep putting it in the paycheck, I'm good.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The New Yorker Magazine......

I came across a story from The New Yorker magazine a while back. One of the stories from my online contemporary literature course had been taken from the magazine, so I started perusing it online. I had forgotten how much I loved the writing in it, so I bought a subscription.

First I bought a subscription on my Kindle, because I thought nothing could be neater that waking up on Monday morning and having the latest The New Yorker already waiting for me. That was shortly before I realized that I don't really like reading on the Kindle, particularly not a magazine. The stories were just as entertaining, but I don't know...... I just missed the feel of turning those pages. Besides, all the cartoons were lumped together at the end, and that just felt wrong.

Therefore I splurged on the paper version of the magazine, and the glossy, beautifully decorated, witticism-filled pages started arriving in my mailbox.

What was I thinking?

I should have known from my flirtations with Sports Illustrated and Time and Newsweek that I just couldn't maintain the commitment involved with a weekly publication. I stacked them up, in order by date, and promised myself that I wouldn't read anything else until I had caught up on my New Yorkers.

It's like having homework. I haven't read one in I don't know how long, and they just sit there taunting me. I can't throw them out, because that's too much like throwing money in the trash. Unlike having purchased a magazine that I don't read, which isn't wasteful at all.

Of the (two or three) that I actually read, the fiction disappointed me. It wasn't at all like the cool, thought-provoking story in my contemporary lit class that had prompted all this literary madness. I did, however, come across a poem that I liked, and I cut it out (!) and put it in my calendar.

It's called: "If a Clown"

Don't tell the president of the English Teachers' Club, but this is how I typically respond to poetry. I'll come across something I like, I'll cut it out, and sometimes I'll share it. I don't feel compelled to analyze it for literary devices such as alliteration, symbolism, imagery, simile, metaphor, hyperbole, square roots, chemical reactions, global economics, verb conjugation, fuel mixture ratio, or anything else. I either like it or I don't. Here's another one I liked a lot: "Pride" by Dahlia Ravokovitch. I can't tell you definitely why either of these poems spoke to me. They just did. That's why I find it hard to teach poetry to young people. I can teach them the techniques and the literary devices, but I don't think it's up to me to make a poem speak to anyone else.

Where was I? Oh yeah....... Back to The New Yorker.

Not only is The New Yorker bad for my guilt, it makes me feel inferior. After I read an article or two, I find myself thinking in their writing style. Then I try to write like that, all witty and terse and succinct and cleverly sarcastic. The sarcasm I can manage, but I fail miserably at putting the rest of it all together. So then on top of feeling guilty that I haven't kept up with my required reading, I also feel inferior.

Now if you'll pardon me, Team Chi-Chis has a bicycle ride tomorrow. In temperatures much lower and winds much higher than I usually choose to ride in.

I have some crocheting to do in preparation.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's All About the Boxes.....

I recently ordered some items from one of those catalogs that is full of kitchen, cooking, decorating stuff. The kind of things I usually avoid like the plague. I was feeling all home-ecky that day, however, and I ordered some things I thought I could use during the holidays. I don't know whom I thought I was going to use them FOR, since we do ZERO entertaining. Ever.

When my co-worker brought me my items today, I discovered why this stuff is so expensive.

They spend all their money on boxes and packaging.

First there was one gigantic box. It barely fit in the backseat of my car. An SUV.

Each item had its own individual box, carefully taped up. With a cardboard layer (or two) of padding inside. All nested and slotted and tabbed and fitting together.

Out of their boxes, these items don't even fill up my sink.

I bought:

A serving bowl with 4 smaller bowls.
A crystal platter that can be decorated with pretty ribbon.
A Christmas appetizer tray.

That's it. I shook the big box and shook it, certain that the money I had spent would render more than THAT.

I'm going to look again. There's got to be something else in that huge box.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Dollar in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush.....

There's a funny story that has circulated among my family members for years. I have no idea whether or not it's true, but it's funny enough to repeat even if it isn't. But I really, really, really, really hope it's true. So we'll say it is.

My mother worked at a company where they took their breaks at scheduled times. You didn't just go take a smoke break any old time you wanted it, because that meant one less person running a machine or packaging fruitcakes, and the whole dang system would break down.

One day one of her co-workers started for the break room with a dollar in her hand. On her way, she stopped off at the restroom.

When she reached the break room and started to use the vending machine, all she had in her hand was toilet paper.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Beautiful Boy and Tweak.....

I have just finished reading both Beautiful Boy and Tweak, books about one young man's addiction to several (many?) drugs, mostly crystal meth and heroin.

I'm not going to review them here, because reviewing someone's memoirs is sort of like judging his life. Beautiful Boy is written from his father's point of view, and Tweak is written from the addict's.

These books were powerful and powerfully disturbing. They made me stop and say, out loud, "Thank you God again today for not making me go through that."

One of my best friends in middle school and early high school was also one of the most popular, talented, beautiful girls in our crowd. When she chose me to be her BFF, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I would do almost anything for her. I wanted to be her. I copied her style, even when I couldn't pull it off. I joined the chorus because she sang. I spent many nights at her house. I borrowed her clothes, even when they didn't fit very well. I copied (almost) everything she did.

But when she turned to drugs, I turned the other way. Why? I so desperately wanted to fit in. To be accepted by that popular, seemingly glamorous crowd. What made me resist the urge to try drugs? I did other things I wasn't supposed to. I drank alcohol before it was legal, and the drinking age waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back then was 18. I skipped school. I left during the school day to go to the store. I smoked in the bathroom. So I can't necessarily say it was good judgment that made me avoid doing drugs. But SOMETHING kept me away from them, even when my friend and her crowd were doing them.

I always say parenting is nothing but blind luck, and by all rights I should have had a hell-raiser of a child. I did my own share of that, after all.

My Sweet Girl was way better than I was when I was a teenager. She was better than I think I deserved. She didn't do any of those things either, and I don't think she even had any friends who did. She wouldn't have been friends with them for very long. (Well, there was that baseball player she had a crush on who went by initials instead of a name, but we won't talk about him, will we Sweet Girl? I was naive enough to think that if he was an athlete he couldn't also be a pothead. Wrong!)

Don't get me wrong - I am GRATEFUL that I had such a good child, and an easy one. I just can't take the credit for her having good judgment during her teenage years. I don't think I modeled good judgment very well, and some of the time I was too busy trying to prop up a disastrous marriage to pay as much attention as I should have.

Thank you, Sweet Girl, for NOT being the kind of child that these books were written about. I don't think I could have survived the heartbreak. There's a reason you're an only child -- I didn't think I could get lucky enough to have TWO good children, and I wasn't willing to take the chance. I love you!

Monday, October 12, 2009

One-Word Meme....

Thanks as usual to my blogger friend Maggie for tonight's topic. After a weekend of bicycle riding, winning a vintage motorcycle, returning to school after Fall Break, and missing line dancing tonight to go to the funeral home for the mother of someone I don't even LIKE, well.... One word answers are all I can summon.

  1. Where is your cell phone? Nearby
  2. Your hair? Frizzy
  3. Your mother? Generous
  4. Your father? Dead
  5. Your Favorite food? Chocolate
  6. Your dream last night? Hazy
  7. Your favorite drink? Bloodymary
  8. Your dream/goal? Retirement
  9. What room are you in? Living
  10. Your hobby? Crocheting
  11. Your fear? Suffocation
  12. Where do you want to be in six years? Retired
  13. Where were you last night? Asleep
  14. Something that you aren't? Tall
  15. Muffins? Lemon
  16. Wish list item? Convertible
  17. Where did you grow up? Georgia
  18. Last thing you did? Changed
  19. What are you wearing? Shorts
  20. Your TV? Huge
  21. Your pets? Needy
  22. Friends? Loyal
  23. Your life? Perfect
  24. Your mood? Content
  25. Missing someone? Daughter
  26. Vehicle? SUV
  27. Something you're not wearing? Watch
  28. Your favorite store? Best Buy (I can't help it if I can't answer that with one word!)
  29. Your favorite color? Yellow
  30. When was the last time you laughed? Tonight
  31. Last time you cried? Saturday
  32. Your best friend? Hubby
  33. One place that you go over and over? "Y"

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's a Little Embarrassing.....

Last year I wrote a post about the fact that Hubby won a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and gave it to me. My niece said I "had a horseshoe up my butt" and everyone else said how lucky we were.

Yesterday in the last 10 miles of the century ride, my cell phone rang. I ignored it, because Katydid prefers that I not try to steer, shift gears, manage the brakes, and talk on my cell phone all at the same time. Apparently she has no sense of adventure. I let the call go to voice mail. Then it rang again. And again.

At that point in the ride, I was NOT in my happy place. I finally checked my phone and didn't recognize the number. I assumed it was one of my virtual school students, and I was already composing an email in my mind, informing them that I am not on duty 24/7, that weekends are mine to enjoy without being pestered with their questions about assignments that were due last week, yada yada yada, blah blah blah.

However, being the dedicated teacher I am (ahem), I DID check my voice mail just as soon as I got off the bike.

The unknown number was a gentleman whose name I didn't recognize, informing me that I had won this:

This was the raffle prize for a motorcycle ride called "Ride to Survive," benefiting our local Rape Crisis Center. The lady who is project coordinator for the center is herself a victim of rape, and she has a powerful, powerful story that she willingly shares with many groups, including the students at our school. One of the board members is a woman who is a social worker for our county, and she is just amazing at what she does.

Hubby, Weesa, and I have done this ride a number of times. It's an awesome sight, seeing those double lines of motorcycles snaking through the countryside and blowing through red lights and stop signs in little towns because we are police-escorted.

This year I couldn't make the ride because I chose to ride my BICYCLE 108 miles (109 if you believe my bicycle computer, but you shouldn't). I still bought raffle tickets, however. Almost at the last minute. I believe in the cause, I support the center, and I didn't want to let my friend down.

The motorcycle is a vintage Triumph, made in 1973. It doesn't even have an electric start; you have to kick-start it. As the project coordinator told me, it's not even a comfortable bike. She said she sat on it, and it hurt her "private parts." Keep in mind I had just finished a 108-mile bicycle ride.

This makes four motorcycles we have in a home with two motorcycle riders. It's ridiculous.

And it's embarrassing.

It's embarrassing enough to be lucky ONCE. When it happens TWICE in the space of about sixteen months, it's almost shameful. It's not right. The world is off kilter.

People are either genuinely happy for you, or they pretend to be happy for you while they secretly hate your guts. Some people call you names, as if you won TWO MOTORCYCLES on purpose.

If I could design that kind of luck, believe me, I would have won the lottery long ago.

Another of life's questions: Why do I feel guilty about winning something?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Century Ride Plus 9......

This is how far Katydid and I rode today on our tandem.

And this is the bandana we got for completing the century ride.

We weren't even last. There were a bunch of century riders who came in after us, which we find pretty amazing.

I wrote a post a few months ago about the mental aspect of cycling. Today was a prime example of this. Yesterday we rode 50 miles, the longest route choice. At 25 miles, I was kicking myself (well, not literally, since it's pretty hard to kick yourself while riding a bicycle) because if we had chosen the shorter option, we would have been finished. At 47 miles, I thought, "There's no way I can finish these last 3 miles." But of course we did, and it wasn't as bad as I thought.

Today we got to the 47 mile mark, and we had 60 miles left to go. I didn't feel bad at all. I didn't really start feeling bad until about the 70-mile mark. Of course, knowing we still had 37 miles to go (we thought) made it that much worse.

Another mental aspect of cycling concerns the all-important century ride. A century is a 100-mile bike ride in a single day. Why we feel compelled to do such a stupid thing is completely beyond me. But Katydid had never done one, so I agreed that this was our best chance. The terrain was SUPPOSED to be flat. And it was, relatively speaking, but toward the end, especially with the brutal headwinds, even the tiniest incline became a mountain.

I have heard cyclists complain when they got in from a century that the mileage was "only" 98 miles or some such. I wanted to say to them, "Well go ride around the parking lot a few times, you dorks." So this weekend's "century" ride was billed as 107 miles. On my computer (which I admit isn't accurate, because it doesn't agree with the GPS that we have on the back of the tandem), the mileage read 109.40. First of all, the extra 7 miles beyond the 100-mile mark were painful. But they had been in my head all day. I KNEW they were there. The other two almost made me sit down on the side of the road and suck my thumb.

It's sort of like childbirth. When you're in the middle of it, you think, "What in the hell was I thinking?"

Then when it's over, you think, "Well, that wasn't so bad."

The things we will do for a bandana.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Life's Questions.......

Why are my knees so much older than the rest of my body?

Why do I continue to chew gum long after my jaws have begun to ache?

Why do I chew gum at all, considering I look like a cow chewing its cud when I do so?

What is a cud?

Why won't big hair come back in style? I can DO big hair.

Why doesn't sunscreen keep my face from getting sunburned, especially in October?

Why did it have to get to 95 degrees today, or whatever the temp was down here?

Why do we do bicycle rides south of the gnat line?

Why do I bring crocheting and TWO books on a bicycling weekend?

Why don't men understand that "Call me when you hear something" really means "Call me whether you hear anything or not, because hearing from you is better than not hearing from you" when someone has gone to the hospital?

Why do things like someone going to the hospital tend to happen when I'm out of town and three hours from home?

Why is putting air in bicycle tires such a CHORE?

How can it feel so satisfying NOT to be joining a group of people for dinner?

How early is too early to go to bed after a 52-mile bicycle ride?

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I am shamelessly stealing this topic from my blogger friend Lakeland Jo, but I'm changing the subjects somewhat.

The idea is that I will share with you my opinion on some rather random subjects. In your comments, please indicate your opinions on the same subjects.

College Football - Live on it. Live FOR it. Nurse Jane says I could see two ants crawling across the floor, and I would pick one to pull for. I love the emotion and the competition.

Professional Football - Not as addicted to it as I used to be. Sometimes the athletes just look like they're out there doing a job. Yes, I know that's what it is.

Purses - Sometimes necessary, but I usually abhor them. I'll cram everything I can into my pockets (if I have them) just to avoid taking a purse somewhere. I usually have ONE purse, and when it falls apart I will reluctantly buy another. My current purse has a strap that splits into two so I can wear it like a backpack when I ride the motorcycle.

NASCAR - Pretty pointless, if you ask me. I'll watch the last lap and pull for whoever Hubby has in the pool that week. But if I had to choose between a colonoscopy and attending a NASCAR race live.......

Christmas - Not the same since Sweet Girl moved away. She didn't come home last Christmas, and she probably won't this year either. Hubby and I have enough stuff, so we have stopped buying each other gifts. Last year we left on Christmas Day and went to the casino for two nights. That was our gift to each other. I hate all the hype and the materialism and the fact that a lot of people can never have enough.

Cars - Not a passion of mine. I bought my last vehicle (SUV) for the simple reason that it was large enough to put my bicycle inside and keep it out of the weather. Cars are just to get me where I need to go. They don't have to be flashy, and I don't ooooh and aaaaaah over other people's cars. If I won the lottery, however, I would probably buy a convertible BMW.

Make Up - A necessary evil, but i'd rather not have to deal with it. My friend Amanda said years ago that women don't wear make-up for men; they wear it for other women. I'm convinced she's right. Men don't really care if we wear make-up or not (in fact, most of them can't tell the difference), but women notice if other women aren't fully made up.

Sushi - Never tried it. Will not consider it a great loss if I never do.

Cruises - Best vacation money we've ever spent. Aside from my $300 pedicure, of course.

Camping - I've had some great times camping, sleeping in a tent, cooking on a fire, the whole nine yards. Now that we've bought a motorhome, however, I'm looking forward to a new definition of camping. "Roughing it" from now on may be an RV park without wireless internet service.

Soap Operas - Right up there with NASCAR.

High Heels - Must have been invented by a man.

Reality TV - The only reality television show I've watched is Dancing with the Stars, and I'm hooked on it. But as for the others, I've never seen any of them.

Your turn - what are your opinions?

Come on, don't disappoint me!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

By the Numbers.....

50: Number of students who inquired about working on their online curriculum this week, in spite of the fact that we are on Fall Break.

5: Number of students who have actually worked so far.

4: Increase in number of students working over the number I expected to do so.

300: Number of dollars worth of stuff (mostly for the motorhome) we bought today.

200: Number of dollars we actually had to pay due to a 30% off coupon at our favorite department store.

600: Number of dollars I would likely have spent had Hubby not been with me.

1: Number of former NCAA champion gymnasts I saw in the department store with her new baby.

22: Number of online assignments waiting to be graded for my part-time job. Not too bad, considering the fact that I was gone all day today and my motivation is nonexistent.

12: Number of days late my September check was for the part-time online job when I received it today.

5: Number of apologies we've received that we weren't being paid.

3: Number of contract addendum packages I received and returned ON TIME for the part-time online job.

0: Explanations received for why we got contract addendums.

40: Number of rows I've crocheted on my latest baby afghan.

82: Number of rows I have yet to crochet.

73: Number of times I've regretted starting this baby afghan.

4: Days left in my Fall Break.

2: Number of chores I've accomplished on Fall Break.

494: School days left until retirement.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Eau de.........Rain?.......

You know how some scents, or sometimes situations, can take you back in time to a certain period of your life?

For example, I can still get a whiff of pine trees in the early summer, accompanied by the chirp of crickets and other night creatures, and I am instantly transported back to the YWCO camp I attended as a girl. I can see the cabins: Dew Drop, Edweda, Hilltop, Crow's Nest, Upper Lodge. I can hear the whack of tennis balls and the bell signaling that rest time was over and we could FINALLY go swimming.

Tonight when I left line dancing class, it was misting just a little bit. There was the very first chill in the air, and immediately I was back in college the semester Amanda and I took an ass-kicker of a P.E. class called Fitness for Life.

It should have been called Fitness If You Can Live Through It.

We took this killer course because it was worth 3 credit hours. We had to have a total of 5 credit hours in P.E., so this one knocked out a chunk. I already had 3 credit hours in P.E. (tennis, roller skating, and tap dance), so taking FFL meant I would have MORE than I needed. (I'm the only person I know who graduated with elective credits in both P.E. and foreign language. The two things that non-majors in those areas take only because they HAVE to.) But it would mean I didn't have to take another P.E. course, and I would be finished. Besides, I would have it with Amanda.

We had a choice between swimming, running, and racquetball. They emphasized that the course was not to TEACH any of those skills, so we chose swimming. I didn't know how to play racquetball (not then - later post), and I knew enough about running to know that I'd rather have my fingernails pulled out. So swimming it was.

I guess we had the idea we would splash around in the pool for a while and gossip about people we went to high school with, and then we would show up for tests and stuff.

They don't give 3 credit hours for that course just for nothing.

We were allowed to start off kind of slow, but we were expected to build up our stamina until we could swim a mile in 30 minutes.

That was 72 laps back and forth across Stegeman Pool. An Olympic-sized swimming pool.

The pool isn't there anymore. It was housed in Stegeman Hall, a dungeon-like building that I think was used by soldiers in World War II. This is NOT one of those times I'm exaggerating. I'm sure more than one student was poisoned by the build-up of chlorine in that musty old building. Now there is relatively new facility with a pool and work-out rooms and tons of equipment, a state-of-the art facility affectionately known as the Ramsey Center.

I want to go back to college just to use Ramsey.

Anyway, Amanda and I had our routine. We actually had to show up and swim (I think it was two nights a week), because we never knew when our instructor would drop in. The smart ones were the ones who chose running -- at least they could duck through the woods. He couldn't watch EVERY runner at the same time.

We showed up to swim, we left Stegeman with our hair wet because we had only so much time between swimming and the classroom portion of the course. It was winter, and remember this was night school, so it was dark and cold when we left the pool.

We had to hurry, because we usually went straight from the pool to Schlotsky's. They had the best sandwich in the world, and I use the singular form because that was all they had. One sandwich. Oh, I take that back ... you could get the regular size or the big one.

And after we finished eating, we smoked our cigarettes on the way back to class.

We were fit for life, all right.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Catfish Memorial Ride....

Katydid, Rozmo, and I rode today in a bicycle ride called the Lewis Grizzard & Catfish Memorial Bike Ride. It was named for late great Lewis Grizzard, a sportswriter-turned-humorist whom I loved because he was unabashedly a UGA Bulldog fan all his life. Catfish was his lovable black Labrador retriever, the topic of many of his columns.

I was slightly disturbed when I went to the Lewis Grizzard website and found there a list of upcoming appearances, since Lewis died in 1994 at the age of 47.

The bicycle ride today was in his hometown (or at least the town he grew up in), Moreland, Georgia.

It was a perfect day for riding. Skies were overcast, keeping temperatures down, no wind, and no rain, unlike our LAST bicycle ride. I didn't hesitate at the decision point for which route to take, not even blinking when we chose the 66-mile route. And I didn't regret it one time. Well, maybe the last mile, since it was one mile further than the "two miles to the finish" that was painted on the road. But I would have hated that last mile no matter WHICH route we rode.

My personal decision to ride the longer route was based on three things: perfect weather, the Atlanta Falcons had a bye week so I wasn't missing a football game (well, I was, but not the hometown team), and I don't have to work tomorrow. Poor Katydid - On the back of the tandem, she's pretty much bound to my decisions. But luckily she usually agrees with them. I don't know what we'll do if she ever DISAGREES.

Katydid and I were on the tandem, and Rozmo rode with us to the bitter end. We were the last three people in, something that used to bother us but doesn't anymore. We left late, we dawdled at rest stops, and we're just dang slow. But Rozmo, being the terrific friend she is, stayed with us all the way, even though she could have finished much earlier if she hadn't hung with us, and we were just happy there was some lunch left when we got back.

After a 66-mile bicycle ride, dinner consisted of three kosher dill pickle spears and a small bag of pretzels. I crave salty things after a bike ride.

If I hadn't forgotten my camera, it would have been a perfect day altogether.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

This One Wasn't in the Plans....

I wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago about how obsessively I plan things. I was working on an afghan for Hubby at the time, and I already had planned the next 3 afghans I would make.

I finished Hubby's and started one for me. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to keep that one or auction it off at the Nash Bash next year. I've got time to decide.

Then Sweet Girl called and asked if I could whip up a baby afghan for a friend of hers who is having a boy. I didn't think I could make one very quickly, but it took me just a week.

I never made a round afghan before this. It was a very easy pattern. Those "bumps" you see are cluster stitches. I couldn't understand the directions for those at all, but I did something that apparently worked, so I'm not sure why I even feel the need to explain that.

Now I've decided to make another baby afghan for a former student, a very special girl, who is also having a boy. I'll get back to mine sooner or later; I don't have any deadlines.


The long-awaited motorhome is actually sitting in our driveway. Yay! Pictures of that tomorrow or Monday.

My team lost today, and the world did NOT stop turning. What's up with that?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Editorial License......

I did something today that I had never done previously.

In our local paper, I usually skim the letters to the editor, mainly to see if anyone has written something stupid.

I skip any letters about politics or healthcare, so lately I haven't had much to skim.

Today, however, I came across a letter to the editor from an idiot.

If you don't want to go read the whole letter, I'll sum it up for you. Basically this guy is complaining that he was "rudely" ejected from the UGA football game last Saturday because he refused to sit down when the people behind him, the ushers, AND the police asked him to do so. According to him, he "deserves the right" to stand up throughout the entire game, and anyone who doesn't want to stand up can either switch seats with him or stay home.

It's people like this guy who give the rest of us UGA fans a bad name. We already have enough fans who are jerks. Why did he have to put the proof in writing?

So I fired off a response to his letter. I've never written a letter to the editor before, although many times I've thought to myself, "I'd like to give that guy/gal a piece of my mind."

Here is what I said in my letter:

To the Georgia fan who was chagrined to find himself ejected from the UGA game last Saturday:

I’m glad you are a dedicated enough fan to sit through rain and help pull the Dawgs through. Fans are a big part of UGA’s football program, and it is exciting to hear the roar of the crowd.

However, your rights end where another person’s rights begin. You do NOT deserve the “right” to stand up if you block the view of another fan. The people behind you are just as entitled to see the events of the game as you are, and they pay the same ticket prices you do (theoretically).

Jumping up to cheer during an exciting play is one thing. Standing throughout the entire game is entirely different. The assertion that people who don’t want to stand throughout the game should stay home is preposterous and immature. How about if you want to stand up, you go stand in the student section?

I hope you do come back this weekend to cheer on the Dawgs. I hope you and your friends can pull them through again. I’ll be home watching on television. And if you insist on standing and obstructing the view of those behind you, I hope you are again escorted from the stadium.

I don't know if they will print it or not. If they do, I'm putting it on my resume. Hey, published writing is published writing.

I'm just sayin'.......

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Picking up Bad Habits......

One of our cats has begun to pick up bad habits from Gus, our Pomeranian.

Gus is permitted to have bad habits, because he makes up for them in oh so many ways. He's almost like a person. Except he has more personality than many people I know.

Not so the cat.

He's not very modest. He appears to be covering his face in shame, while he displays the OTHER end of his body for all the world to see.

His name is Olive, because when we took him to the vet for the first time, they told us his name COULDN'T be Olivia.

But Hubby calls him Brutus, as he has called most of the cats we have had, except for the one named Smokey that he called Smog and the one named Wheeler that he called Wheels.

More specifically, he's Big Brutus.

Because he calls Missy Little Brutus.

As you can see in this picture, there is no plate of cat food on the table as of yet. (PLEASE don't tell my mother that's where we feed the cat. It's the only way to keep Gus out of his food. I always scrub it thoroughly before we sit down to eat. And you can't prove I don't.) That would explain the completely pissed-off look on this cat's face. He wants his food immediately, if not sooner.

And he's very vocal about it.

This picture is when he was still very little and very cute. Before he ballooned to weigh more than Gus. He was probably still Olivia then too.

This one is after he had to have not one but BOTH hips replaced. He looks a little embarrassed at being caught without his britches.

Having animals that DON'T cost us a fortune is apparently not in the tea leaves.

Lately, however, Big Brutus has developed an annoying habit that surpasses all of his other annoying habits.

He has begun to beg for food while we are eating.

Isn't that what a dog is supposed to do?

He starts off with a very subtle approach. He comes to my end of the table and sits there looking up at me. Invariably I cannot ignore the stare any longer, and I make the mistake of making eye contact with him.

"MEOW!" he says. Loudly.

I ignore him, because he eats about ten times a day as it is, and he doesn't have to supplement his pork-laden diet with people food. Especially when the people is me.

When I don't give him a bite of food, he comes closer, eventually standing up on his hind legs and patting my arm gently with his front paw.

"Hello? Did you forget I was down here?" he says.

Because he is so persistent and so loud and I'm a sucker, eventually I give him a tiny bite of whatever we are having.

He sniffs it at great length, debating as to whether or not he really wants to take it.

Sometimes he eventually DOES take it, and shakes his head (why do cats do that with their food? It's already dead!), more often than not dropping the morsel of food on the floor, where Gus snaps it up before Brutus can blink.

I don't know where he got this abominable habit of begging for food, but it is annoying. When we are having a meal like cornbread and soup, he refuses to believe there is nothing suitable for him on the table. He turns up his nose at a LOT of things we have for dinner, but he continues to beg anyway.

I fully expect to come home one day and find him smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer.