Sunday, February 28, 2010

Poor Little Kitty.....

Don't worry, she didn't die or anything. She did, however, force me to admit I was wrong about something, and that is as close to death as we come around here.

The gray and white kitten is named "Missy," although Hubby calls her "Little Brutus." That would be because the orange one he calls ... you guessed it ... "Big Brutus." That Hubby is creative if nothing else. The orange one is named Olive, but he never gets called that anymore.

Little Brutus is as sweet a kitty as you would ever meet. She is very easy-going, undemanding, and easy to get along with. All she wants is an occasional bite of dry cat food and a warm spot in which to lie. During the summer it's the front porch, as in the photo above.

During the winter, it's underneath the wood stove in the living room. Unless it gets really, REALLY cold, when she climbs up behind it. I'm surprised her fur hasn't caught on fire yet.

She doesn't like to be held much, as you can see in the photo below. She is trying to negotiate her freedom with Hubby, and they are both pretty stubborn.

When she was just a little bitty thing, she swallowed thread. Not just any thread, but quilting thread. She had it looped under her tongue, and she swallowed both ends. We took her to the vet, and he said the first thing he would have to do was x-ray her to make sure there wasn't a needle in there. Good Lord. I hadn't even thought of that. To make a long story short, $450 later she was fine.

Then one night we heard a commotion at the foot of the bed, her flopping around and gasping, and Hubby thought she had swallowed something again. He foolishly stuck his finger in her mouth to get whatever it was out, but he didn't leave it in there long.

Turns out the kitty has epilepsy. Her seizures almost always occur when she's asleep, and since she sleeps on our bed, that means that when she has one, we are jarred from a sound sleep to the sounds and sights of her seizing. It is very disturbing. The vet said the seizures weren't harmful to her, and unless they got worse in severity or longer in duration, we should just ride them out. He said she would not grow out of them, but that they traumatized us more than they did her. After all, how much memory can she hold in that tiny little brain?

We kept her seizures noted on a calendar for a long time, trying to decide if she needed to start on medication. The vet was reluctant to do that, since it meant keeping her on it for life, but if they became worse I was willing to do it.

Then they just stopped. I felt all smug and all, since both her regular vet and another vet I met on a bicycling trip told me she would NOT grow out of them.

It's been at least five years since she had a seizure. But she had one this morning. Unfortunately (and also comically, so sue me), she was asleep at the top of the stairs (underneath a wall heater unit) when the seizure began. We were alerted to the situation by the sight of her flopping all the way down the stairs. Gus ran to see if he could help her, and the other cat looked at her like she had lost her mind.

It was over in a matter of seconds, probably less than a minute and a half. She lay there panting, pupils dilated to the point that there was no color in her eyes. Then she got up, shook herself off, and went straight for the food bowl. Apparently having a seizure is hard work; she is always starving right after she has one.

I hope this is not a sign of things to come. Not only is it scary for all of us, but I just washed the sheets AND bedspread on our bed.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

OverSTEPping the Boundaries.....

I was slightly bothered by a newspaper article in our local paper today about the controversy surrounding a recent step team competition in Atlanta.

If you're not familiar with stepping, the routines are comprised of intricately choreographed foot stamping and hand clapping, inspired by cultural dances in Africa.

The uproar surrounds the fact that the University of Arkansas' ZTA sorority group won the competition, and they are .... um..... white. The debate is over whether "the integration of a once-ethnically exclusive activity constitutes a form of cultural theft." I don't think we want to go down the road of what defines a culture and what might be considered cultural theft. I could write an entire blog post on that topic, but it might be dangerous.

I am far from being a racist, but (and?) I am offended by the suggestion that any activity should be limited to any ethnic group. I'm not talking about the Russian ice dancers misrepresenting the Aborigines culture at the Olympics, I'm talking about whether or not a group of white sorority girls should be allowed to come up with their own (apparently awesome) step routines and win a contest that has historically been associated with African Americans.

The article says there was supposition that the judges, awed by the unlikely white competitors, may have been "wowed" by them and inflated their scores.

Come on. They were "wowed" just because they were white?

Or perhaps were they "wowed" because the girls were that good?

Here is a clip of part of the routine.

The article goes on to say that the sponsor, a major soft drink company that is NOT Pepsi, later announced that there were "scoring discrepancies" and awarded the second place team (of African American steppers) an equal amount of scholarship money as the winning team.

Naturally the video itself has generated a ton of controversy on YouTube.

To be fair, I haven't watched clips of any of the other teams, so I can't objectively compare their performances. But they look pretty darn good to my (admittedly unlearned) eye.

They were judged, though. I'm guessing by a PANEL of judges, not just one.

I have to wonder....

What race/ethnicity were the judges?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Night.....

Spending the night with my sisters after going to the gymnastics meet tonight. It was a win for UGA, but we've got some work to do before UCLA comes to town next Saturday.

Tomorrow morning we are going to meet with our brother and mother to make final arrangements for Mom. She's not dead (that would be why she's invited to the meeting) or even sick. She just wants to make sure everything is taken care of.

We just want to get together for breakfast and laughter.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gus and the Beauty Shop.....

I realize that having to search for a new dog groomer doesn't rank up there with one of life's GREATEST problems, but it is an inconvenience. Valerie was recommended by a co-worker and his poodle Pebbles, and we have taken Gus to her for about three years. She has (had) a small shop behind her house, and she was on my way home from work. Hubby would drop Gus off at Valerie's place at 2:00, and I would pick him up at 4:00. It worked so much better than those places where they insisted I leave him at 8:00 and pick him up at 4:00.

I think he looks cute with long hair, but it was a mess to brush. I suppose. When we let his hair get this long, Valerie charged us extra because it was so matted underneath.

The first time I took him to a groomer in a strip mall, it was a brand-new place. I was excited about getting Gus groomed there. Until I went to pick him up.

"Don't shave him," I said.

And this is what we got. When we got out of the car at home, Hubby met us at the door.

"Well that sucks," he said.

Notice that Gus is too embarrassed even to face the camera.

I gave the place another try, next time telling them, "We don't want him shaved. Leave some length."

They shaved him again. We didn't go back there again.

The next place we tried was in town, and they said I could drop him off at 8:00. "But if you need to drop him off earlier, just let us know and we'll be here at 7:30."

I did let them know, they weren't there by 7:30 or 8:00, and I was late to school. Then they sort of forgot to call and let me know he was ready and charged me $50.00. We didn't go back there again either.

I was relieved to find Valerie. Her price was VERY reasonable, her location was perfect, and Gus loved her. She said when she was blow drying his hair, Gus would almost fall over because he was on the verge of going to sleep.

And now Valerie has decided to get married and move to Texas, of all places. I thought she was already married, but apparently that was her parents' house she had her shop behind.

We are once again in the market for a good groomer. Gus has high expectations, so it won't be easy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What's He Going to Eat NOW?.......

Hubby went for his regular check-up for his diabetes today, and I think he was nervous about it. He doesn't always check his blood sugar regularly, but he starts checking it right before it's time for him to go to the doctor. He also starts eating better about a week before he goes for his check-up. He KNOWS that his A1C is an average over the last three months, but he somehow thinks that being "good" for a few days before he sees the doctor will make a difference.

His blood sugar has been creeping up for the last week, and it has about driven him crazy. Then I remind him that stress also affects his blood sugar, and I think THAT stresses him out. Then I remind him that he is 62 years old, and he tells me to go crochet or something.

His A1C this morning was 6.7, which still isn't horrible, but it's higher that it has ever been for him. As if that isn't bad enough, the doctor told him his cholesterol is high. We can't be absolutely sure that's what the doctor says, because he mumbles so horribly that I've never been able to understand a word he says. Hubby claims to carry on entire conversations with him, and I suppose that must be because they are both members of the mumbling fraternity.

Now in addition to carbs, we have to watch out for cholesterol.

For myself, I could do this very easily. I DON'T, but I could.

For Hubby, however, it is a real challenge.

He likes steak. And potatoes. And very little else.

No fish, no seafood of any kind (except canned tuna and salmon, which don't really count but I guess I have to be thankful for anyway), no vegetables (except the occasional green beans, which the Army forced him to eat "three meals a day" according to him), no pasta, no rice, no grains. He will eat a salad if I put it on the table, but not really by choice. He will eat cole slaw, but that is loaded with mayonnaise. He will eat both squash and zucchini - if they are fried. He will eat chicken on occasion, but he'd rather not.

I fretted all afternoon about what kind of changes to make to his diet. We've been very lucky with his diabetes in the 8 years (good Lord - has it really been that long?) since he was diagnosed. I've even joked that because I can't understand anything his doctor says, perhaps he doesn't even really HAVE diabetes. He may have diagnosed a pulled groin muscle and Hubby just THOUGHT he said diabetes. His blood sugar counts have always been reasonable, and he's gotten away with way more than he should. He religiously eschews all sugars, however, which is much better than I would be able to do myself.

After careful consideration of what we had on hand, Hubby's health concerns, and what he would eat, together we decided on tonight's dinner.

Steak and deep-fried onion rings.

You gotta die sometime.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Motorcycle Snobs....

If you don't ride a motorcycle, you might have never noticed this. I didn't before I rode a motorcycle, but my sister did.

Motorcyclists acknowledge each other with a downward wave when they pass each other. I saw this numerous times before I became a rider, but I just thought it was a coincidence that every motorcyclist seemed to know each other. Duh.

When I got my first motorcycle almost four years ago, Hubby took me on a few short little rides so I could get used to the bike. Well, that's what I THOUGHT he was doing. He only knows one speed: wide open. And he doesn't know that he's supposed to look in his mirror every now and then to see if I'm still back there. That's why he didn't even know I had dropped my brand-new motorcycle the very first time I tried to ride it out of our subdivision. I had ridden it one quarter of a mile. Broke its little taillight off. A stranger stopped to see if I needed help, but Hubby was long gone. But I digress.

On one of those short rides, we met another motorcyclist, and he acknowledged me with the downward, sort of two-finger wave. I got all emotional and almost had to pull over. I had a Sally Fields moment, thinking "They like me! They really like me!" I was a member of the club.

My step-daughter said she and her then-boyfriend only acknowledged "real" bikes. When she said that, I took it to mean that they only acknowledged other Harleys, and I was a little offended. I also secretly wondered how the heck they could tell what brand a motorcycle was by looking at it from the front going 60 mph. Or in my case, 40 mph. In retrospect, I think what they meant was they didn't acknowledge the so-called "crotch rockets". Or those little scooters that sound like a mosquitoes on steroids, but I'm with them on that. Now that I ride a Harley myself, though, I don't have to have motorcycle envy. Hubby swears he doesn't care for Harleys and he's prouder of his Honda, but I'd like for him to explain then why he went to the trouble and expense to have new pipes put on his almost brand-new Honda last year. What do they do? Make his Honda sound like a Harley. But I digress again.

Sometimes when I'm riding my bicycle, I like to throw down the motorcyclists' gesture just to see what the rider will do. Most of the time they ignore me completely. Occasionally one of them will, probably out of sheer habit, return the gesture, and I can tell that he is thinking, "Damn, that is a BICYCLE. I didn't mean to wave at that broad." Because I'm pretty sure most of them would refer to a woman on a bicycle as a broad.

Occasionally I just make eye contact with a motorcyclist and smile, and sometimes one of them will make an awkward wave-type gesture, not entirely sure of what to do in that situation. Once on BRAG a motorcyclist was stopped at an intersection waiting for about a gazillion bicyclists to go past, and I gestured that I wanted to trade bikes. Either he didn't understand my sign language, or he didn't understand why there were a gazillion bicycles on the road in the first place. He didn't even have the decency to smile, much less laugh uproariously, which is what I thought it deserved.

When I'm on my motorcycle and I see a bicyclist, I feel obligated to let him/her know that I also ride a non-motorized two-wheeler. But most of them glare at me for polluting the environment and not getting my arse out there to pedal myself. When I come up behind two of them hogging the entire lane and making me go into the oncoming lane to get around them, I want to stop and tell them that it's bicyclists like THEM who get the rest of us killed. Or at least have bottles and cigarettes thrown at us. Sometimes I give them the motorcyclist greeting, left hand extended downward, but most of the time they look at me as if to ask, "What in the world are you pointing at?"

When I'm on my bicycle and I see a motorcyclist, I also want him/her to know that I have one of THOSE, I'm just CHOOSING to pedal and get some exercise. I don't want motorcyclists to speed away all smug and all.

When I rode my bicycle on Sunday, I saw several motorcycles on the road at different times. It was the first decent day of the year, so I wasn't surprised. I also saw a robin and a family getting their boat ready to go to the lake, but they may have been rushing things just a bit. One motorcycle that I saw was one of the larger ones, and there was a .... larger .... man riding it. I waved, he nodded, we went on our way. Then I made a turn or two, and there he was again, coming out of a driveway. I don't know if he lived there or if he just decided to take a break. I smiled and rode on. He came out into the road behind me, and he slowed down to match my pace. That means he was just about to fall over. He pointed at my bicycle and said, "That's what I NEED to be doing."

I nodded at his motorcycle and said, "That's what I'm GOING to do, just as soon as I get home." And then, of course, I had to.

I just wanted him to know that I had a choice. Just in case he happened to be one of the motorcycle snobs.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ten Things.......

My super sweet blogger friend Maggie (hey, that's two days in a row!) gave me this beautiful blog award. I don't think we ever get too old for awards of any kind.

I'm supposed to tell 10 things that make me happy, link it to the friend who sent it to me, and send it to 10 friends. Two out of three isn't bad.

These are in no particular order, but a la Jay Leno, I'm starting with #10.

Ten things that make me happy:

10. Sisters' Saturdays.
9. Riding my motorcycle
8. Riding my bicycle.
7. A stuck landing.
6. Fried pickles.
5. 63-degree days in February.
4. Hearing our national anthem at the Olympics.
3. Finishing a crochet project.
2. Getting comments on a blog post.
1. Field trips that take two-thirds of our student body away for most of the day when I'm not going with them. Can you tell I'm excited about tomorrow?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Randomness......

I actually had another post topic for tonight, but I'm already triple-tasking, so I don't think I can concentrate well enough to do it justice. I'll try for tomorrow night. I also want to do justice to a blog topic passed on to me by my friend Maggie. I'll just continue with the Sunday evening random thoughts trend I started a couple of weeks ago.

  • One of the things I'm doing is wondering why NBC broke away from bobsledding to go to the USA-Canada hockey game for the last 30 seconds of it. And they've stuck with it for 15 more minutes, talking to players about how they feel about the win. Come on, people, how do you USUALLY feel about a win?
  • I rode both my bicycle and my motorcycle today. But not at the same time. This weather is awesome.
  • The Russian ice dancers (or whatever they call themselves) looked ridiculous.
  • Once again I put off grading online work all weekend. Today I put it off until 7:30 PM. But I got everything done and grades updated. A couple of my students are actually passing. My cell phone rang at 9:35, and it was a student. Are you KIDDING me? What part of "No calls after 8:00 PM PLEASE" don't you understand?
  • Hubby starts back to work tomorrow for Pepsi, but only part-time and only for a few weeks. He can't turn down extra money, even when he doesn't really need it.
  • My department chair approached me about substituting for an online teacher who is going to have knee surgery. It's journalism, which I've never taught in the online world before. Of course I said yes, because I can't turn down extra money, even when I don't really need it.
  • Being a substitute teacher in the online world has to be one of the strangest things I've ever heard of.
  • I just ended a sentence with a preposition.
  • My sisters and I had one of our Sisters' Saturday get-togethers yesterday, and we had a wonderful time. The purpose of our visit this time was to work together on the family scrapbook for the family reunion in June. I even planned ahead and uploaded the pictures to be printed at Tarjay a whole day in advance. Those nice people called me at 4:00 yesterday afternoon to tell me they were ready. So we played Super Mario Brothers on the Wii instead.
  • It's two hours past my bedtime, and I want to see the American ice dancers. I don't know if I can stay up that late. Bob Costas (isn't he adorable?) has just assured me that we are going to return to ice dancing after these gazillion commercials.
  • Not washing my hair for two days and then taking a bicycle ride has made it pretty scary-looking.
  • We have 8 long weeks before we get another day off. I don't know what genius thought it was a good idea to have spring break at the END of April, when school gets out the third week in May. Duh.
  • I am a Facebook failure. I just don't have room in my life for another addiction.
  • The more people you tell about your blog, the fewer things you can write about.
  • I'm convinced that it was a man who came up with the idea of women wearing make-up. I'm pretty sure any woman worth her salt would have seen it as a ridiculous waste of time, money, and energy.
That's all I've got.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What a Difference a Week Makes.....

Last Saturday we had a 4-inch blanket of snow on the ground here in the Deep South. Today the temperature reached somewhere around 65 degrees. I'm not sure either of those is an accurate picture of what the weather SHOULD be at this time on the year, but I'll take today over last week anytime.

Part of me wants to think winter is over and pack away the sweaters and turtlenecks. The more intelligent part, however, knows that just when we get used to 60-degree days, Mother Nature will zap us with another deep freeze. Or two.

I have several pressing things to do tomorrow, and the Olympics are on. But I fully intend to get outside for at least part of the day and enjoy the warmth and sunshine. Maybe even (finally) go on that first bicycle ride of the year.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Couples Skinny Dipping......

WARNING: This blog post contains both nudity AND absurdity.

Sweet Girl, this is about your father, so you might want to stop reading here.

Back in my first wifetime, before there were child(ren), my baby daddy and I spent a good deal of time at the lake with another couple. Good deal as in every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Every weekend. Without fail. They had a boat and a tent, and we camped and skied and boated and ate and drank and laughed and slept and started all over again the next day. They were fun folks to be around, and our daughters were born only 4 months apart. That has nothing to do with any of our camping trips. I think.

It usually wasn't just the 4 of us. There was a large group of folks who camped together, some more than others. You never knew what the group's chemistry was going to be like on any given weekend. Each couple or family unit was responsible for providing groceries for one particular meal. For the life of me I can't remember how we divided that up or knew who was bringing what, but it always seemed to work. I would remember if we ever went hungry.

One night we were out in a cove in what felt like the middle of the night, probably around 10:00 or so. I was always impressed with Mark's ability to navigate the lake at night. Heck, I couldn't even navigate it during the day. Every cove looked just alike to me.

This one particular night we just dropped anchor and sat around in the boat, drinking (sodas I'm sure) and talking. Isn't it weird how people who spend so much time together never run out of things to talk about? I don't remember who first suggested it, but the subject of skinny dipping came up. Perhaps we DID run out of things to talk about. "What the heck?" I figured. It was dark anyway, and I didn't want to look like a wuss in front of Gail. Only later did I learn that she had never skinny dipped before either and didn't want to look like a wuss in front of me. The water was calm in the cove and it was bathwater warm, and we just felt like being a little wild. Besides, there was just that tiny sliver of time between when you got naked and when you jumped into the water. Almost non-existent.

Before I tell the rest of this story, however, you have to get the mental picture. My Baby Daddy's mother claimed he was seven feet tall. He himself claims 6'10". Personally, I think he's no more than 6'8" or 6'9", but over 6'4", does it really matter? (By the way, I am 5'2" on a good day. Our wedding pictures were nothing short of hilarious.) He isn't bulky and muscular, but he isn't lanky either. He's just big. He wears a size 15 or 16 shoe. In truth, we had to get a divorce because I couldn't afford shoes for him. Or food. He would eat however much food was left. On one of our camping trips, the cooks made homemade hamburgers. A bunch of them. I'm not talking those little square hamburgers that you can put 12 of in a sack. I'm talking huge homemade hamburgers. With buns. Baby Daddy ate 9 of them. Nine. With buns. That's how many were left, so that's how many he ate. But he wasn't fat. It's hard to be fat on a 6'8-9-10" frame. But he is big. Just remember that part.

On the skinny dipping night in question, he was quite willing to join in the slightly illicit activity. None of us worried about anybody else "seeing" us nude. Like I said, it was dark, and we were all such close friends. No one was jealous, no one felt threatened.

Well, perhaps Baby Daddy felt just a little bit threatened.

Because he stripped off his swimming trunks, but he put ON a life jacket.

He was perfectly capable of swimming, but he went skinny dipping with a life jacket on. I can't get that image out of my mind.

Except when I try to picture what all of us must have looked like climbing back IN the boat.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Police Blotter......

I'm sure ours is not the ONLY small town in America with its share of humorous arrest stories in the local newspaper. It's possible that I'm deriving a lot of pleasure from today's edition because these are the same jerks journalists who published my salary last month, along with the implication that I'm making way more money than I deserve.

I offer for your reading pleasure a few excerpts from today's paper. You may consider yourself lucky that this paper comes out only once a week.

"Deputies were dispatched to a West ______ Industrial Park business after two brothers engaged in a physical confrontation. The brothers, who are co-owners of a business, were reportedly arguing about money and the business when one of the brothers made a rude comment about the other's wife. The brother whose wife was insulted claimed his brother rushed at him and threw a table at him. The other brother claimed he was the victim and that the table broke while he was defending himself against his brother. due to the conflicting stories, the deputy was unable to determine which brother was the primary aggressor. The deputy wrote, 'I mediated the brothers and advised them of the proper way to behave as adults.'"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Financial identity fraud [was investigated] on ______ _______ Drive. A woman accused her daughter of forging over $107,000 in company checks. The daughter allegedly committed the forgeries with the full knowledge of her step-father who is now divorced from her mother and romantically involved with her."

Now THERE'S a class act.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Cattle theft on ______ Road. Five calves valued at $2,500 were reported stolen.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Motor vehicle theft on ________ ______ Road. A woman said her friend borrowed her 1996 Ford Ranger truck to visit his son in ________. Days later, the woman learned that the man had taken the truck to Miami, Fla. and did not plan to return it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Complaint on ______ Road. A woman arrived home to find a wild rabbit being chased by dogs running across her yard. Several shots were then fired in the wooded area behind her home. The woman said she had not authorized any hunting on her property.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Complaint on _____ ______ Road. An intoxicated woman dialed 911 because her son and his girlfriend were arguing.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

An _______ man called police after his soon to be ex-wife threatened to "kick his ass." The threat came on the heels of a Feb. 10 argument in which the man learned that the two-year-old girl he had been raising as his own was not his child.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Complaint on _____ _____ Road. A wife walked into a bar and threw two bags of medication at her husband. The bar employees reported the incident after the wife yelled at them for serving alcohol to her husband.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Complaint on ______ Drive. A woman claimed her neighbor does not like her children and swears at them when she sees them.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Domestic dispute on _______ Avenue. A husband was concerned that his wife was taking her medication while drinking beer.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Damage to property on ________ Church Road. A homeowner reported that several loose cows had damaged her newly landscaped lawn.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Harassing phone call on _____ _____ Road. An unidentified caller accused the complainant's son of being a derogatory term just like his one-eyed father.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

And it's not even the weekend yet!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Crazy Dream #8.....

Last night I dreamed I won a trip to spend a day with Pioneer Woman. She must have been in a cheap mood, because I didn't get to spend the weekend. Just flew in for one day and then had to fly home.

While I was there, I also went with someone (a girl?) to visit a school. That's pretty weird itself, since Pioneer Woman's children are home schooled. But whoever this girl was introduced me to her teacher. It was a P.E. class, but they were doing everything EXCEPT P.E. When we were introduced, the teacher held out his left hand for me to shake, but I reached and grabbed his right hand, and his right arm didn't work at all. It was paralyzed and deformed, and that was why he stuck out his left hand in the first place.

Then I asked Pioneer Woman what time it was and whether we were on Central Time or Mountain Time, and she said Central Time, but only for a little while longer, because then Daylight Savings Time would start and they didn't observe DST.

I don't believe Pioneer Woman cooked a single thing the whole time I was there. Some kind of food blogger SHE is.

Then I woke up and realized I had to go to the eye doctor this morning.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

1-800-How's My Driving.....

On two separate occasions, I have called to report commercial-type drivers for infractions. One of them I still feel bad about.

When I taught at my first nontraditional school, we also had nontraditional hours. Students went to school from 10:00 to 5:00 Monday through Thursday. We worked until 8:00 PM to accommodate night school students from the two county high schools, and we were off on Fridays. Sounds like a dream schedule. It isn't all it's cracked up to be, though. For one thing, the house was always dark when I came home, particularly in the winter. And Friday was the day that everything ELSE had to be scheduled: hair appointments, dental appointments, doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, dry cleaning. Because most of those places were long closed by the time I got out of school at night.

I still got up at 5:00 AM when Hubby got up to go to work, though, so I had tons of time in the mornings to do whatever I wanted. It came in pretty handy when I was writing my dissertation. After I finished my doctorate and didn't know what to do with all that extra time on my hands, I got into the habit of riding my bike in the mornings a couple of times a week. I could get in a decent 10- or 15-mile ride, come home and shower, and still get to school by 10:00.

The only small problem was that in one direction from our house is a major highway that I avoid like the plague when I'm on my bicycle, because some drivers apparently have mistaken it for Atlanta Motor Speedway without the banked turns. In the other direction are both an elementary school and a middle school.

One morning I was riding along, minding my own business, hugging that white line to the point of risking running off the road, when a school bus came up behind me. And a car was approaching from the other direction. Now the law in our state says that a bicycle is a vehicle -- in my case, a veeerrrrrrrryyyyyyy slllllooooooooowwwww vehicle, but a vehicle nonetheless. The bus driver should have treated me just like a car, and stopped/slowed down behind me until the approaching car passed.

But nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

She went right on about her business, the bus almost brushing my elbow, my front tire clinging perilously to the little scrap of pavement I had left.

I was pissed. That is putting it mildly.

I went ahead and made my loop, however, and probably put in a couple of extra miles in my allotted time. Adrenaline can do awesome things to one's cycling stats.

Then I headed home about 45 minutes to an hour later, feeling good about getting my ride in and celebrating the fact that I had lived through a scary moment.

Until I was almost run off the road again.

By a school bus.

The same freakin' school bus from earlier.

I might have forgiven her once, but twice? In the same morning?

I called the county transportation office and made my complaint, but I was pretty sure nothing would be done about it, since she hadn't actually killed me and all. Especially when the woman on the phone, who was nice enough but apparently equally ignorant, asked me, "So......I've always wondered..... Which side are bicycles SUPPOSED to ride on?"


That is NOT the time I felt bad about calling in on a driver. I would have felt completely justified if the woman had lost her job. I almost lost a heck of a lot more than that.

The other time, although the driver was clearly at fault, I probably should have allowed myself some time to think about it.

On my route to my current school, I make a turn onto a road that parallels another. You have to turn off the first road, a major road, cross a railroad track, and then make an immediate turn onto the secondary road. There are stop signs at the entrance from the railroad crossing for cars going both directions on the secondary road. Incoming cars crossing the railroad track have the right of way.

A fact clearly lost on the cable company truck driver.

I made the turn, crossed the track, saw him stopped at the stop sign, and then had to slam on brakes as he started off without allowing me to turn. I threw up my hands in a "What are you DOING?" gesture, and he threw his up in a "What's YOUR problem?" gesture. Or it may have been something worse. I'm not sure.


I picked up my cell phone and called in to report him. Gave the dispatcher his truck number, the road name, the direction he was traveling, and the fact that he had failed to yield the right of way.

I was steaming.

When I looked back on it later, though, I felt guilty. In reality, I was steaming because I had just spent 35 minutes on the phone with our internet provider, trying to convince them that I just couldn't wait an indefinite length of time for them to amble out there and restore our internet service.

But I took it out on the cable company driver. And he was probably just ignorant of the fact that incoming cars had the right of way. I was having a bad morning. His pulling out in front of me might have delayed me for .... oh .... about 5 seconds. And I called in and tattled on him like he shot my dog or something.

I hope he didn't get fired for that. I hope it wasn't like his sixth offense or something. I hope his wife didn't leave him and his baby have to go on welfare because I caused him to lose his job.

I hope he can forgive me for having a bad morning and taking it out on him.

The bus driver?

I hope she has to walk through hell wearing gasoline drawers.

I'm just sayin'.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Breaking the Rules.....

I'm mostly a rule follower when it doesn't count.

Mostly in crocheting.

I have been known to rip out a few rows of crocheting, or even start over on a project, if I discover that I have made a mistake.

My latest project is an afghan that I SWEAR I'm going to keep for myself. I'm not going to auction it off at the family reunion, give it to Hubby, or use it as some yet-to-be-determined wedding gift. I'm going to put it in the motorhome and use it when we travel.

This one is multi-colored. As in multi. Lots.

There are nine different colors in this pattern, which was precisely what made me like it in the first place. Both sisters were with me when I bought the yarn for it, and they kept asking, "Are you sure all these colors go in the same afghan?"

It starts off with a light mint, then a light blue, then a light rose, then lavender (I know it sounds like a baby afghan so far, but it isn't). Then a row of dark mint, then a row of light mint popcorn stitches, another dark mint, a couple of light blues, another light rose, a lavender, a yellow.

And this is where I decided I would break the rules and NOT follow the pattern.

The next row around called for one side to be light mint, one light blue, one light rose, and one lavender.

Seriously? There's not enough color in this sucker already that one row has to change color AT EVERY FREAKIN' CORNER?

Uh, no.

I'm not doing it.

I added a second row of yellow, thank you very much.

Four different colors in one row.

How stupid.

The crochet police can just come get me. I don't believe it'll ever stand up in court.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day........

I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day. Part of it stems from all the years when I didn't HAVE a Valentine. I remember one time waking up to the sound of Katydid and her then-boyfriend laughing hysterically because they had bought each other the same card. I grumped out of my room and snarled something about hating Valentine's Day. That afternoon, one of them had bought me a precious stuffed unicorn (was it REALLY necessary for me to tell you it was a stuffed one?) and Mack had bought me a gift card to a department store. I used it to buy myself some expensive lacy pajamas, and I still have them to this day. Every time I've cleaned out my clothes and thrown out worn/outgrown/outdated things, I could never bring myself to get rid of those pajamas. They're now faded and slightly less lacy, and I doubt if I can wear them, but I still hang on to them. I guess I keep them as a reminder that even when you think life really sucks, it won't ALWAYS suck. Probably. Maybe.

Then I was married to a man who didn't know how to do anything on his own, so surprise flowers on Valentine's Day weren't going to happen. One year I hinted and suggested and probably even threatened, and he still didn't get it. When he called me at work, I railed at him for not sending me flowers. We couldn't even AFFORD flowers, but I was too young/insecure/stupid/immature to face that fact. Poor thing, he called back and said it was too late to have flowers delivered, but we would pick them up on the way home. I hung up on him. Then I saw him parking illegally in the teaching hospital parking lot, bringing me flowers himself. I hid from him. I HID! Oh, how it embarrasses me to admit that. I threw the flowers in the trash, but I later fished them out.

After that I was married to a man who just didn't do anything that didn't benefit him personally. I griped every year about how depressing it was to see 14-year-olds get flowers at school on Valentine's Day and not get any myself, when I was pretty sure I was more deserving of them (especially being married to him, but I only added that part in my head). It didn't matter; he didn't believe in planning ANYTHING in advance, so flowers on Valentine's Day never happened. The only time he gave me "flowers" was before we got married. I got home from school one day to find a 5-gallon bucket on the kitchen table with a GINORMOUS weed in it. There was a note (written in orange crayon) sticking in the weed that said: "I would have bought you roses but they cost too much. I took the vodka." The most embarrassing part of THAT story is that I still married him. One year after we were married he disappeared somewhere late afternoon on Valentine's Day, and then he came home bragging that you can get cards for half price if you wait that late. For a freakin' card.

Then Hubby came into my life, and suddenly Valentine's Day wasn't that important anymore. Well I shouldn't say that, because we actually moved in together on February 14th (before we got married in May.....shhhhhhh.....). Not because of the significance of the date, but because my rent would have come due on the 15th, and Valentine's Day fell on a Friday. It poured rain. Poured and poured and poured. I think it has rained EVERY time I have ever moved. I could have put an end to our state's severe drought long before the governor's prayers did, if only we had thought about moving somewhere.

For a few years we continued giving each other cards, then we stopped doing even that. It's not that we don't love each other - it's that we DO. I used to tell people it was because every day is Valentine's Day at our house. But I stopped saying that so people would stop sticking their fingers down their throats and gagging at me. It's true, however, even thirteen years later.

Yesterday Hubby and I went to the grocery store, and naturally it was packed with people buying Valentine's Day gifts. (I would call that last-minute shopping, but perhaps that label should be reserved for the people I know were shopping this morning.) As we went through the florist section of the grocery store, I asked him, "If you were going to buy me flowers, which ones would you buy?" He pointed at some very pretty pink ones, although he should know that yellow roses are my absolute favorite flower. Being a good sport, however, I said, "Those are very pretty. Thank you, honey." And I stopped to pick out some sweet potatoes.

We saved the money he would have spent on flowers, and I still know he loves me.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

You're Welcome, Florida......

I guess everyone in the free world has heard by now that yesterday was an historic day. There was snow on the ground in 49 out of 50 states, and if I heard correctly, that has never happened before. Come on, Hawai'i, get with the program! Don't you have any mountains with a scattering of snow on top?

I don't know how Florida feels about having snow on the ground, but they can thank/blame me.

Last May, Weesa and I went on a motorcycle ride to benefit the American Diabetes Association. Hubby is diabetic, and it was a motorcycle ride. Nuff said. Anyway, they had a silent auction, and one of the items was a certificate for two nights in a two-bedroom condo on the Gulf Coast. The minimum bid was $300, so I wrote my name on the first blank. I checked to make sure it was the Gulf of Mexico and not the Persian Gulf, because I was pretty sure I couldn't afford the airfare. The Gulf of Mexico, however, is just around a 7-hour drive, completely doable.

"What a bargain!" I exclaimed to Weesa.

"I'll split it with you and we can all go together," she said. This was becoming a better and better bargain. Now I was down to $75 per night for a condo ON THE BEACH!

Then I called to schedule our little mini-vacation. I like to plan really far in advance.

I found out you weren't allowed to schedule the condo more than 30 days in advance.

And the coupon wasn't good during "high" season. In Florida, that's most of the year.

It also wasn't good during Spring Break. That's the rest of the year.

Except for February.

Okay, that's not true. We could have used it starting in October. But Hubby was still working at the time, and he had to work on Sundays. I have to work on Fridays, and I'm guessing the resort folks would insist on our two nights being consecutive. So weekends were pretty much out.

Then Hubby retired at the beginning of the year, and I knew we had this long weekend coming up, with Presidents' Day on Monday. Therefore I called and talked to a VERY nice woman who scheduled our trip for this weekend. Everything was set.

Only Weesa and Sullen Teenager couldn't go. Something about work and a church trip. Bah. Then we asked another couple, a man and his wife with whom we've been on a number of golf and/or gambling trips. Since the condo was already paid for, we told them if they would drive and pay for the gas, we'd be even. Everything was set. For real this time.

And then it snowed. From here to Florida. It MAY have been okay to travel this morning, and it MAY have been decent enough weather in Panama City to enjoy the mini-vacation, and we MAY have had a wonderful time.

At least I can consider it a donation to the ADA. The only decent thing for them to do now is find a cure for Hubby's diabetes.

Friday, February 12, 2010

It's Official......

I'm a die-hard. As if there were any doubt before.

It DID snow. It snowed hard here.

And the gymnastics meet DID NOT get canceled.

So we went. Hubby didn't want to, as it was snowing hard when we left home. His fear ... and secretly mine too ... was that during the meet, everything would freeze hard. And then we would have the 30-minute drive home.

I almost couldn't enjoy the meet, because I was so nervous about driving home in the snow. I don't know that I'd ever done that before.

It wasn't icy when we left the Coliseum, thank goodness, and I drove veeeeerrrrrrrryyyyyy slllllloooooooowwwwwwwwlllllllyyy all the way home. I don't think I ever got over 40 mph. The roads weren't bad, just slushy, but I still didn't take any chances. Tomorrow everything will be a solid sheet of ice, as temperatures have already started dropping.

Since we assume everything will be icy tomorrow, we are NOT going to the beach after all. And I'm okay with that. I'll explain in tomorrow's post why we were going to go to the beach at such a stupid time of the year in the first place.

Oh, and we won the gymnastics meet. Toppled the #3 team in the country. I'm glad we went.

But I'm gladder we're home.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Feeling a Little Cheated.....

They're calling for snow here in the Deep South tomorrow. Oddly enough, the farther south you go, the MORE snow you are likely to see.

I'm kind of bummed out about it.

Usually all it takes is the hint, the ghost, the mere suggestion of a snowflake to close schools around here. Schools are already closing for tomorrow in our area, and it isn't supposed to start snowing until around lunchtime.

That means that at the very least we should have a short day tomorrow.

Except tomorrow is already a day off. It was originally a teacher work day, which is the next best thing to a holiday because the grown-ups get to gossip a lot more, go out for lunch, and leave earlier than we usually do on a Friday.

Then our governor decided schools needed to furlough teachers an additional three days this semester, and tomorrow became a FWOP day. Furlough Without Pay. They actually indicate it as such on our paychecks when they deduct it. Yes, I realize I explained it the last time we had a FWOP day.

So the snow tomorrow won't close schools at all. I can sleep in and bum around all day.

Except that I have to drive 40 minutes to my least favorite type of doctor's appointment at 9:30 in the morning.

And if the snow starts after lunch as they are calling for it to do, it will make driving treacherous. At the very time I want to leave to go to the gymnastics meet.

I wish it wouldn't snow. And if it does, I hope the gymnastics meet gets postponed.

But not Saturday or Sunday, as we are supposed to go to the beach.

Unless the snow cancels that too.

I'm too tired to explain THAT one. Story at eleven. Or tomorrow.

Praying for no snow or enough to postpone the gymnastics meet,


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shoulda Left Well Enough Alone?........

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post about having laser eye surgery and how thrilled I was with it. And I mostly was. For the first time in years, I could read, use the computer, thread a needle, and crochet, all without glasses. I did have to start wearing glasses to drive at night, which I never had to do before, but I don't do a whole lot of driving at night, so it was worth the trade-off.

Until this morning.

When I couldn't read the newspaper. Oh, I could manage the headlines, but I have no idea who died or what the comics said this morning. I'm sure my horoscope was another lie as usual, but it may have told me that I was going to have a screaming headache by the end of the day, and I would have known to stay home.

I only had the laser surgery done in one eye, the left one. I had (have?) excellent distance vision, so he made my left eye for up close and the right one he left alone for distance. Evidently the brain is smart enough to compensate.

I am almost due for a check-up one year after my last post-op visit, so I called the doctor's office. I'm going in for an "enhancement evaluation" next Wednesday. The "enhancement" apparently costs freakin' $750. Although this happens to almost everyone who has the surgery, it's not included in the initial cost.

I don't THINK I'm sorry I did it. But I hate being in this position. Either I have to start wearing glasses full-time, or I have to have the enhancement.

Caught between a rock and a blind spot.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dear Cormac McCarthy.......

Your writing is fraught with detail. As an English teacher, I am tempted to edit some of it out. Some of the details you include really add to the story. Some of them......well, they just add to the junk.

You could have easily omitted some of the unnecessary stuff and included .... oh, I don't know .... maybe some FREAKIN' QUOTATION MARKS TO LET ME KNOW WHO IS SPEAKING?

I'm the one who gave up on John Steinbeck, remember?

I'm not above giving up on you too.

Had a long week today,


Monday, February 8, 2010

The Decline of Professionalism.....

I'm only speaking of my own professionalism here, not that of anyone else.

And I'm not really talking about professional behavior so much as dress. This occurred to me as I was dressing for school on Friday.

Friday has become jeans day for most high schools around here, except for one county where I used to work, where the former superintendent said that blue jeans were never acceptable.

Back when I first started teaching, I wore mostly dresses and skirts. And pantyhose. And relatively high heels. Not stilettos, mind you, but pumps. I don't think I EVER wore sandals. We were allowed to wear jeans on Fridays then too, as long as we wore school colors. The only thing I hated was that particular school's colors were red and gold. Yuck. I was embarrassed if I had to stop at the store on the way to school and I was wearing spirit wear. It looked like someone's color-blind mother was dressing me. And she was mad at me.

Sometimes I wore suits to school, and I didn't look out of place at all. I remember a couple in particular. One was a green plaid jacket and solid green skirt. My aunt gave me that suit, and I loved it. I wore it with a frilly white blouse and the obligatory pumps. On a shopping trip with my mother when she was feeling generous, I fell in love with a navy blue suede leather skirt and vest. I remember wearing that suit poolside one afternoon when I was coaching swimming. When I lost 50 pounds, I went through my rayon pantsuit phase. I had a navy blue one, a red one, and a gorgeous coral colored one. That was the one I was wearing one morning when our school was experiencing a rash of bomb threats and resultant evacuations (nine in two weeks; two in one day) and it started to pour rain. Bye-bye coral pantsuit.

I used to accessorize, too, mainly due to the influence of my ex-friend Angela. She shopped with me, advised me on what to wear, and had no qualms whatsoever about telling me that something I had on was tacky. I wore scarves with some outfits, pins with others. I remember one of my favorite dresses from that time period. It was red linen, with a tiny pleated panel at the bottom. It also had a black-and-white-polka-dotted ribbon between the pleated part and the skirt part. I found a pin of a clown riding a bicycle, and the clown's outfit was red and white polka dots. That's how much into matching my accessories I was back then.

At another high school, there was a lady who participated in the 3-day walk to raise money for breast cancer research. She was a breast cancer survivor herself, so the principal allowed anyone who donated money to her "buy" the privilege of wearing jeans. A certain amount bought you ten days of jeans on any day you wanted to wear them, a higher amount twenty days, and so forth. I donated the amount that would allow me to wear jeans any day of the week I wanted to, unlimited, for the whole school year. All I had to do was wear my pink ribbon that day to indicate that I had earned the privilege. Man, that was freedom. Having those random days when I just didn't feel like dressing up, just to be able to put on jeans and sneakers. I miss those days.

I have discarded every single dress and skirt in my closet, except for one denim skirt and a couple of dresses that I may (or may not) wear to formal night on a cruise. I haven't worn pantyhose since my friend's funeral six years ago (except to my teacher-of-the-year banquet), and I may never wear them again. Pantyhose are OF. THE. DEVIL.

I still try to dress somewhat professionally, though. I wear black slacks with a mock turtleneck or a shirt and jacket at least once a week. I have an awesome pair of sort-of-big-legged black-with-white-pinstripe Ralph Lauren pants that I would wear every day, but I try to limit them to about every other week. They are so comfortable, and they feel almost like heavy denim, so when I wear them I feel like I'm getting away with something. I have a pair of almost-but-not-quite herringbone slacks, a dark gray, a couple pairs of brown (all of which I hate and detest), and a couple of requisite khakis.

I'll be glad when spring is here, so I can go back to wearing capris. Please, God, don't ever let capris and crop pants go out of style. I have a much larger selection of those than I do slacks in my closet. And as long as you pair them with something mostly professional looking (as opposed to, say, a t-shirt), at our school we can get away with capris, crop pants, or walking shorts. I'm getting too old to wear shorts above the knee, however. Damn it.

I need to go through my dresser drawers and throw away all those pantyhose (and some tights) that I've had for years. If an occasion arises on which I MUST wear pantyhose, I will fake a coma or something. I also need to purge my shoes, but that's for another post.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Random Musings Part Deux.......

I think this will be my new Sunday night blog topic. It's the way my mind works on Sunday anyway: so many thoughts whirling around, fighting for attention, teasing each other like rival siblings. It used to be much worse, when I had lessons to plan, papers I hadn't graded all weekend, yearbook deadlines approaching. No wonder I used to take the day after the Super Bowl as a personal day.

  • Thank you SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH to the readers who sent well wishes my way. They must have worked, because I feel much better today. Well enough to go to school tomorrow. Damn it.
  • I crocheted a scarf for one of my students. God, I hope that doesn't start ANOTHER wave of requests. It calls for flowers. I have finished the scarf and the flowers, and for three days I have avoided actually sewing the flowers to the scarf. Why?
  • Sean Payton (head coach for New Orleans) has gorgeous eyes.
  • So far the Super Bowl commercials have been a letdown. Except for a couple of the Bud Light ones. Maybe I'm just prejudiced because Pepsi doesn't have any ads this year.
  • I have also been avoiding doing a couple of simple assignments for an online professional development course I'm taking. I don't really need the PLU's, but I signed up because I was interested in the course. I just don't like homework.
  • I have been denied access to the teachers' retirement website because I didn't know my password. When I clicked on "forgot password" and answered the two secret questions, it told me I didn't know my mother's maiden name or where I was born. Huh. I've been wrong all these years.
  • Today I made a dessert to take to my co-workers tomorrow. It has chocolate cake mix, chocolate pudding, chocolate chips, peanut butter, and peanuts in it. It's the only reason I'm going to school tomorrow.
  • Both the dog and I have hair appointments this week. His will cost more than mine.
  • I haven't been out of my pajamas all day. Seems kind of pointless now, don't you think?
  • We have a four-day week this week. I'd like to be excited about it, but Friday is a FWOP day. Furlough Without Pay. To add insult to injury, I scheduled my yearly exam and mammogram for that day. I didn't schedule it very well, however. My doctor's office is about 40 minutes away, in the same town where I will go to a gymnastics meet about 9 hours later. Duh.
  • I am so clearly a numbers person that it is baffling to me why I became an English teacher. I'm crocheting a new afghan, one that goes round and round instead of having to be pieced together at the end. I fretted over the stitch count because it wasn't looking right, and the pattern didn't tell me on EVERY round how many stitches there should be. When I figured out that the number of stitches was the row number times four minus one, the earth settled back into its natural orbit. And then I started over.
  • I wanted to be an Olympic ice skater when I was a little girl. There's so much opportunity to practice THAT here in the Deep South. Then my brother told me that you couldn't weigh over 100 pounds or you would crack the ice, so I gave up on that dream.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Streak is Over..... least I think.

I don't think I've been sick in at least two years. I apparently have a powerful immune system, but I attribute it to the fact that I exercise EVERY DAY. I'm glad it's good for something, because it certainly isn't melting off any pounds.

And I'm not really, really sure I'm sick now.

It began yesterday morning. I had exercised, and I was getting ready for school. I hadn't eaten breakfast, but I often take something with me to eat when I get to school. Suddenly I felt extremely dizzy. Hubby blamed it on the fact that I had worked out but not eaten. It didn't really feel like a low blood sugar dizzy, though. The vertigo continued through the day, but I didn't have any other symptoms. I almost hesitate to write this part, but it's true: the vertigo is worst when I cut my eyes to the right. Not left, not up or down. Only to the right.

Naturally I still went to the gymnastics meet last night. It would take a heck of a lot more than a simple cold to keep me from going to gymnastics.

Today I've become more and more congested, and now I feel achy and possibly feverish.

This isn't the way I usually get sick. Usually I wake up one morning with a sore throat and feel like a truck has run over me.

It doesn't usually sneak up on me like this, one little symptom at a time.

I'm waiting for the big whammy. But I'm attempting to ward it off with drugs.

I'm sorry I couldn't write something more meaningful than a state-of-my-health post tonight. I'll try harder tomorrow.

Friday, February 5, 2010

We're Baaaaaaaaaackkkk..........

The gymnastics team I have come to know and love is back.

Thank goodness.

We might not yet be in championship form, but there were certainly some championship moments. Including a 9.975 on bars from a sophomore. Two 9.95's on floor. A 9.95 on beam.

Deep sigh of relief.

I won't bore you with ALL the details. But after all the whining I've done about our recent tragic performances, I thought I at least owed it to you to include some of the positive things.

And I made my midnight deadline for blogging....but just barely.

Good night!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Can you hear that?

Listen closely........

If you mute the television and shut off the dishwasher, you can probably hear the sound of teenage asses being kicked all over the state of Georgia.

Those would be the parents of my online students whom I had to call tonight.

You know, those calls I ABHOR? The ones I will actually avoid by balancing the checkbook and washing the dishes and possibly regrouting the tile in the bathroom?

Yeah, those.

I bit the bullet and made them tonight. I figured I may as well, since I was on a roll. I pissed off several of my regular students today and made two of them cry. That I know of.

For the four students with a zero average because they haven't submitted ANYTHING, I simply used the phrase "grade is currently failing." I wanted to say, "Tell me again why he/she signed up for this course?"

For the girl with an average of 2 because she thought (WTH???) that all she had to do was participate in discussions, I have had two conversations with her explaining how to listen to a recording of an online session (it's called "click a link") and one call from her mother asking about getting a tutor for literature. I'm not sure she understood that I don't actually work at her daughter's school.

For the young man with an average of 6, this was the third consecutive week I've called his house and spoken to his grandmother. Seems he's very smart, but he just doesn't do his work. Not a good sign in an online course. Apparently he's trying to drop this course. I hope he waits until after pay is calculated, since I deserve SOME compensation for having to call his house every stinkin' week.

The one I felt the worst about was the kid with a 44. He has already been switched to a later group, and he's still behind. He says he gets bogged down in discussion forums because he reads every single thing everyone else has posted and tries to come up with something that hasn't already been said. He also indicated on his student information form that he "forgets things...a lot." I'm guessing he forgets due dates, his course schedule, his checklist, and the address for logging in.

Experience has taught me that the rest of the semester will be much better for my having made those calls tonight.

But damn I hate being the bearer of bad news.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I Am NOT Fearless.....

Way back in the days of long ago, when Hubby was still working -- you know, last month -- he talked to a guy about delivering some firewood. The guy was going to deliver it on a Saturday when I was home, and he asked Hubby if he needed to call me first so I wouldn't be scared when he drove up.

Hubby replied that he didn't have anything to worry about, because in his words, "She ain't scared of NOTHING."


I have jumped out of airplanes, I have parasailed, I have rappelled off the side of a mountain, I ride a motorcycle, I have ridden a bicycle down a hill at 47 mph with Katydid clinging to the back, and I would bungee jump in a heartbeat.

But I'm not fearless.

Case in point:

A couple of weeks ago, I went down into the basement to put a load of laundry into the washing machine. Keep in mind that our house is almost 40 years old, and our basement is a scary place all its own. Hubby has lived in this house since it was built, and he hasn't discarded one piece of junk. Oh that's not fair....he once threw away enough stuff in the basement to make room for his '69 Ford pickup truck.

Before I put the clothes into the washer, for some reason I peeked inside. I don't normally glance into the washing machine before I dump the clothes in.

There was something small and furry at the bottom.

I pounded back up the stairs, wringing my hands, breathless and nearly crying.

"There's a mouse in the washing machine."

I cannot explain my deathly fear of mice. It's illogical, I know, to be afraid of something that much smaller than I am. And it's not a jump-up-and-down-I-might-wet-my-pants kind of fear. It is a gripping, PARALYZING, I-just-might-hyperventilate kind of fear.

Hubby just looked at me at first. I KNOW what was going through his mind. He was thinking, "I don't do rodents EITHER, what does she want ME to do about it?"

But he's the man. That is clearly a man's job. Feminism can go straight to hell. It is a man's job to get a mouse out of the washing machine. It came in our vows, right after "to have and to sickness and in mice and snakes...."

He stalled. He asked, "Is it dead?"

Hell, I didn't know, I didn't stick around to take a pulse or have a conversation or anything.

He hesitated just long enough that I flounced back through the door to the basement, muttering "Never mind" as I went.

I don't know what I thought I would do, because there was no way in a hot place that I was going to reach into that washer and get that mouse out.

Hubby did come down, the mouse was dead, probably having starved to death and wondering how he got into such a mess, and all was right with the world.

Only I couldn't stop thinking about what might have happened if I hadn't glanced into the washer.

What if he had made it through the wash cycle and I had come across his lifeless body when I was transferring the clothes to the dryer?

What if he had made it through that cycle as well, and I had come across his corpse when I dumped the clothes on the bed to fold them?

Or what if he had made his way into the pocket of something, and I didn't realize he was there until I was standing at my desk one day, talking to a student about active and passive voice?

It's hard to say whether I'm more deathly afraid of mice or snakes.

You know what's worse than finding a mouse in the basement?

Finding a snake. I haven't found one of those yet, but I know they're there somewhere.

Because you know what's worse than finding a snake in the basement?

Finding a snakeskin.

On the dryer.

If you'll excuse me, I have to go pack.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Who Inspires Me?.........

I read a post over at Shabby Chic Diva's blog the other day asking who inspired us. She wrote about her mom and her grandmother and included some quotes from other women who had inspired her.

I always feel guilty when I read that kind of question, because I know we're SUPPOSED to say our mothers. Or our grandmothers. Or it's supposed to be a close race between the two.

I am not inspired by my mother. Was not inspired by my grandmother.

I guess it all depends upon one's interpretation of the word "inspired".

My grandmother inspired me not to have favorites. Or to frown and purse my lips in judgment against someone I'm supposed to love. Or stay away from a granddaughter's wedding just because the groom had been married before.

My mother inspired me not to spank a child with a butcher knife. Or scream at random strangers in parking lots. She inspired me not to promise something casually if she wasn't going to follow through.

I was lucky enough, however, to have two older sisters. They inspired me in my early years and continue to do so. They gave me my values, my appreciation for things that really matter, and the realization of the importance of having fun.

They gave me laughter.

And a lot of babysitting jobs.

I also had some teachers who managed to inspire me, when they weren't wishing I would just sit down and shut up. Mostly shut up. My wonderful math teacher in high school, about whom I wrote an earlier post, had to suffer my presence in her class all four years of high school. What a lucky woman she was! More recently I wrote about Roger, English teacher extraordinaire, who made me feel much smarter than I really was. He could have warned me about the comeuppance I would experience in college, though.

Sometimes I wish I had had a better relationship with both my mother and my grandmother. But that would make me a different person, and I (mostly) like who I am.

My greatest fear is that my own daughter will also look back and say she didn't have a good relationship with HER mother, and that HER mother didn't inspire her either. Sometimes I wish I had at least given her a sister to fall back on.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Life Out There Somewhere......

I am absolutely convinced there is life on other planets somewhere in the universe.

When you consider how "large" our earth is, and then think about the fact that it is a mere pinpoint in the vastness of the universe, it just seems inconceivable that we are the only planet with intelligent life. "Intelligent" being a relative term, of course. The earth is 93 million miles from the sun, and yet our solar system is tiny compared to the rest of the universe.

I wonder if the "people" on these other planets are behind us or ahead of us in intelligence. If they're behind us, someone is going to have a tough time explaining the internet to them. And the infield fly rule. And why two wrongs don't make a right, except in algebra.

If they are ahead of us, why haven't they found us? What if they don't like the names we have given to their suns, stars, and planets?

What if they live on Pluto? They're probably going to be pretty pissed about getting kicked out of the universe.

Earthlings are so cocky.

Just some of the things that occupy my mind on a cold Monday evening.

I apologize for sharing them with you.