Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Slave to Our Conveniences.....

And notice I said "our" in the title, because I refuse to travel this road alone.

Remember way back when, before there were cell phones that made us instantly (and constantly) available? Remember when you often traveled from work to home and were out of contact for that exact length of time, and people had no other choice but to call you back? On the HOUSE phone? That may or may not have had a CORD attached?

Sometimes I miss those days. But I cannot (or will not) voluntarily return to them. Occasionally I will go out to the pool without my phone, and sometimes I will go walk in the park without it, but more than likely I have my phone with me at all times.

Hubby wasn't home when I got home from school today, so I took a short (but luxurious) nap. He woke me when he called the house phone. I was only slightly irritated that I had to get out of the recliner and walk approximately four steps to answer it.

When I hung up, I wondered, "Why didn't he call my cell phone?"

"Why didn't I get my cell phone out of my school bag?"

"Why isn't my cell phone in my bag where I put it?"

"Where is my cell phone?"


On any other night besides a Tuesday, I might have shrugged my shoulders (my twitching shoulders) and said, "Oh well, I left it at school, I'll get it in the morning."

But Tuesday night is the night I teach online, and sometimes students can't figure out how to log in. Even if they just logged in last Tuesday, the entire process is a mystery to them. I needed my phone. I'm not supposed to let them have my home phone number, and it would only confuse some of them at this point anyway.

I was going to meet Lawanda the Warrior Princess at school, because she has A) a key; and B) the code to the alarm system. I've been terrified of school alarm systems ever since I set one off at a school where I was legitimately working on a Saturday. Put that in the same category as my fear of riding lawn mowers.

That would mean LWP would have to meet me at the front of the school, unlock the door, disable the alarm system, walk all the way to the back of the building, fetch the phone out of my classroom, walk back to the front, arm the system, and depart.

Luckily, however, Tuesday night is also the night our board of education meets, and our principal stays at school until the meeting starts. I went back to school and went in the front while Hubby drove around to the back so I wouldn't have to trek all the way back up there. I retrieved my phone, jumped out my window/door (I haven't yet figured out what to call it), and everything was right with the world.

I COULD have survived the night without my cell phone. Really I could have.

But then I would have to write a blog post full of other drivel.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lessons from the Spastic People.....

I decided tonight that there are lessons to be learned from the spastic people.

There is a guy in my line dance class who is positively spastic. Want me to see how many times I can say the word "spastic" in one blog post? Okay.

He has no sense of rhythm whatsoever. If there is a turn in the choreography, you can bet he's going to turn in the wrong direction. If there is a clap, his will come a full beat (or two) after everyone else in the room. If it's a rock step, he's doing a triple step. If it's a grapevine, he's doing a shuffle. The poor guy can't even stand in front of the mirror, because everything is backward. Dancing backward might actually be an improvement for him.

But he comes every week, and he enjoys himself immensely. He knows he's terrible, he makes fun of himself, but by golly he keeps trying. Every now and then he'll ask Tonya to repeat her instruction of a difficult step, and everyone in the room (except possibly him) knows he won't get it that time either.

He leaves his workout in the weight room to come to line dancing. At which he sucks. Terribly.

Watching him tonight, however, I realized I could take some lessons from him.

The spastic people have much more fun than the rest of us.

If I was terrible at line dancing, if I couldn't get the steps, if I had no sense of rhythm, if I knew I was terrible and I knew everyone in the room knew it, I wouldn't come anymore. I would find something at which I COULD succeed, and I would do that because it would make me feel good about myself. You don't see me out there trying to scuba dive in front of people, do you? No. Because I suck at it. I tried once, in a murky lake, sucked up a week's worth of oxygen, went back to the surface and drank a beer, never to scuba dive again.

I might be a happier person if I were spastic. I could have a good time and not care if I got the steps right. I could appreciate the camaraderie and the fellowship of my fellow dancers without worrying about timing my Lindy steps perfectly or making my turns finish in the right spot. I wouldn't be embarrassed when I miss a step or completely forget an entire sequence in the middle of a dance I've done a hundred times.

Here's to the spastic people. They know how to have a good time.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Another Wilson 100 Ride.....

Only half of Team Chi-Chis rode the Wilson 100 today, the half that rides the same bicycle. But we wore our Team Chi-Chis jerseys, and we got a gazillion compliments on them, so the team spirit was there. Katydid and I rode the 65-mile route, mainly because we rode the 54-mile route last year and we wanted to do something different. And less wimpy. But not the 100.

Then I looked at my blog from last year, and we rode the 65-mile route then too. How soon we forget these things.

I looked back at the post I rode after last year's ride, and it is eerie how similar they are. Today was overcast and sort of drizzly most of the day, but the rain wasn't enough to be annoying. It didn't even require wiping off the mirror. But it did mean that I could ride without my sunglasses, which leave indentations on the sides of my nose and become quite aggravating by the end of the day. When we were at the last rest stop, the rain started pouring down, and we thought, "Uh oh, just like last year...." Last year we eventually had to stop and seek shelter because of thunder and lightning. But today the rain stopped pretty quickly, and we never actually rode in much rain. My feet got wet but we didn't have that stinging experience of riding in a hard rain.

The downside of riding on a cool day is that it's easy to forget to drink enough water. The heat isn't draining you like it does on a sunny day, but you're still losing fluids through perspiration and wind. I heard many, many people talking today about their leg muscles cramping, even the die-hard century riders who finish in the same length of time it takes us to ride 65. My legs felt just a tiny bit like they wanted to cramp, and they were KILLING me during the post-ride meal. (Not a good day to forget to take my potassium. Along with all my other medicine. Duh.)

But I came home and had French onion soup for dinner in an attempt to replace the sodium lost during the ride, and my legs feel better. They still hurt like hell, especially in the knee region, but at least they don't feel like they are going to cramp.

An early bedtime is definitely in store for tonight. The only bad part about a Sunday ride is I don't get enough recuperation time before starting a new school week. Oh well....

Saturday, August 28, 2010

We Have a New Rule in Our House.....

Beginning this weekend, we have a new rule in our house:

  • If you bring any ONE thing into this house (new, old, refurbished, free, damaged, pristine, borrowed, stolen, inherited, whatever), you have to get rid of TWO other things.
We have made two trips to goodwill and one to the trash dump, and we haven't even made a dent. How in the world did we accumulate this much junk?

I guess Hubby has a better excuse than I do, since he has lived in this house for going on 38 years. I've only been here for going on 14 years, and it seems that I have a lot more junk than he does.

I've already warned him that I'm on a roll, and the basement is next. I won't insist that he get rid of his prized possession, a '69 Ford pickup truck that lives in the basement because he bought it brand new and had it semi-restored a few years ago. But everything else is fair game.

Except my bicycle. And the tandem. And my kayak.

If we'd had the energy and the time or organize a yard sale, I'll bet we could have made $1000. And we aren't even finished yet. But if goodwill can benefit from our stuff, I don't mind donating it.

I'm just tired of hauling it downstairs.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Someone is Always Worse (Off) Than You Are.....

I've been beating myself up (when I'm being honest and not trying to blame it on Hubby) all week because of all the C-R-A-P I have to go through so we can get these renovations done. I am far from a packrat, but I do tend to hang onto things "just in case" I ever need them. I had a junk room in the "computer room," which is also where all my clothes are stored because for some reason in the late 60's and early 70's home builders APPARENTLY DIDN'T THINK PEOPLE NEEDED CLOSET SPACE. Then when Sweet Girl moved out and took her bedroom furniture, her old room became a convenient place to store things. Or just shove them in the room and shut the door so we didn't have to look at them. I've known for weeks....months that I needed to declutter my house.

I read an article online tonight, though, that makes me feel better. Apparently a 67-year-old woman went missing in Las Vegas, and they've been searching for her for 4 months. Four months, people. Several times police had searched the home where she lived with her husband, even using dogs from the same unit that helped locate bodies after 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. Posters were put up, rewards offered, leads investigated, the desert searched.

Then her husband found her.


In their home.

When he noticed her feet sticking out of a floor-to-ceiling pile of junk.

Four months, people.

They don't know how long she's been dead, but I'm relatively certain she didn't just lie down under all that junk to take a nap.

Seems she was one of those hoarders, evidently a pathological one. Investigators had a hard time investigating the scene because of the horrific odors and the piles of junk.

Suddenly I feel better about myself.

You can read the whole story here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Terminal Grumpiness.....

I don't know if it's possible to die from terminal grumpiness, but I'm certainly flirting with danger if it is. It's a good thing tomorrow is Friday. I'm planning to ride the Harley to school tomorrow for the first time since school started, so maybe that will help my disposition. Hubby's ex-brother-in-law is coming tomorrow morning to knock out the wall between the two rooms we are combining, so I'm guessing I'll be back to being pissed off when I get home tomorrow afternoon. I have worked every afternoon and evening and haven't made a dent in what needs to be done. I'm angry about the whole situation, angry that I have to do it all by myself, angry angry angry. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.......

It's not that he wouldn't help if he weren't so helpless. I don't know why, but I'm the only one who can go through our files and determine what needs to be pitched and what we have to keep. Not that we are going to have ANYWHERE TO KEEP THINGS.

Oh crap, I'm not going to burden you with my horrible mood. I'll just go to bed.

Rereading yesterday's post about the preggie who wants to come to our school, I realize I left something out. She wants to come to our school because she doesn't want people talking about her.

I promise not to I hope I won't I'll try not to be I probably will be just as ornery tomorrow night as tonight.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Don't Get Some People......

Yesterday we interviewed a young lady for our program who wants to leave the traditional school and come to us. That's not unusual, because most of our students come to us because the traditional environment doesn't meet their needs, they are not into the social scene, or they just want to focus on getting credits and they don't "do" school.

I especially like the ones who come to us and say they can't stand school because of people. And teachers. We like to say, "We are teachers. And we have people."

But I digress.

This young lady is beautiful, as is her mother. Parents don't always come to interviews, and sometimes we wish they wouldn't. This one wasn't a pain, though, so it was okay. I was thinking she was very real.

Maybe not.

The young girl is very well spoken, her grades are excellent, she's a cheerleader, she has never given her parents a moment's worth of trouble, and she's very smart. Except for one thing.

She's due in January.

I don't condemn the girl for getting pregnant. I realize it happens all the time and teenage girls think their options are limited to becoming mommies.

What disturbed me was that the mother and the girl were both dismayed when we explained to them that students don't typically come to us just for a short period and then go back to their home high schools. They stay with us all the way to graduation so we don't becoming a revolving door. The girl began to cry, and her mother said, "I just want her to go back to her high school and have a normal senior year and be able to cheer again."

Excuse me?

Has no one explained to the daughter (hell to the MOTHER?) that her definition of NORMAL has changed forever? Do we really want to encourage young mothers to return to typical high school activities like cheerleading?

I realize we can't discriminate against the girl because she got pregnant, and if she makes the squad after giving birth, I guess she has every right to cheer.

I guess what bothers me is that she WANTS to. She didn't mention childcare or health insurance or midnight feedings or children's illnesses or any of those other things that would scare the bejeezus out of me if I were having a child right now. She wants to cheer.

Sweet Girl, a million thank yous again today for not putting me in that position.

Have I officially become a fuddy-duddy? Cold-hearted? Come on, you can be honest with me.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Doubting Myself.....

I wrote a few months ago about how I had become so obsessed with gymnastics that I decided to become a gymnastics judge. I thought I knew a lot about gymnastics.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

As soon as I learned that the Level 5-6 competitors do the same exact routines, I lost a little bit of interest. I became a member of the national governing organization, took the online safety course (to be a JUDGE?), bought the compulsory materials, and my eyes glazed over.

There was a judges' test in June, but I didn't think I was ready for it. There was supposed to be another one in August, so I decided to do that one. I kept checking for the link and the location, but it was never there.

So I didn't study.

Until suddenly it WAS there.

But oops.....I had a bike ride that day.

So I didn't study some more.

And then they posted a September date for the test. I wrestled with whether or not even to proceed. I thought about the money I had spent getting the necessary credentials even to be allowed TO TAKE the test, but it wasn't the money. At least it wasn't ALL about the money. Heck, once money's gone, it's gone, and there's no bringing it back.

I made the decision to go through with this thing, though, because I have never given up on anything in my life. Except for a couple of marriages and scuba diving, but that's a whole other issue or two.

I have started studying relentlessly. My desk is covered in note cards. I have highlighted, arranged, taken practice tests, used a cool quizzing program (just for gymnastics judging - who knew?), and I still don't get some things. I still forget whether an arched position is an up to .1 deduction or a flat .3 deduction. And I haven't even started trying to learn the order of the elements and their point values.

But I am going to go through with it, studying as hard as I can until September 11th, and if I fail the test I fail it. I'll probably take it again.

I may never judge a single gymnastics competition in my life, but I don't want to be a quitter.

Unless I win the lottery. Then I'm quitting everything.

Except my marriage.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Randomness......

I am way too tired to put together a coherent blog post tonight, so I will have to fall back on the old random thoughts thing. I just hope I can think of more than one.

  • The new bike I wanted is out of stock. I have to wait until the 2011's come in (out?), and then it probably won't be red. Please, please, please, please don't let it be ugly.
  • I just saw a scary thing on the Little League World Series. A foul ball hit the home plate umpire in what I thought was the throat, and he went down like a sack of flour. He later walked off under his own power, though, and they were talking like it might be his clavicle.
  • I have completely emptied out the closet in Sweet Girl's old room. How can the contents of a closet cover an entire bedroom?
  • Here's how long it has been since I cleaned out Sweet Girl's closet: In it I found an old poster of the UGA gymnasts. It featured a freshman by the name of Julie Ballard who graduated in 1998 and is now the assistant coach at Georgia.
  • I almost dozed off before it was time for line dancing tonight. Then I nearly dozed off WHILE I was line dancing. Jeez, could that song GET any slower?
  • Some people don't appreciate my humor. Or what I think is humor. At Subway tonight the girl asked if I wanted either of my sandwiches toasted. I told her to toast the one I ordered for Hubby, "because that way it will be like I cooked." She didn't even smile.
  • When I left for school this morning, I knew I needed to stop for gas. As soon as I left our subdivision I realized I had left my credit card at home. Along with my driver's license. By the time I went back for those, I didn't have time to stop for gas. Good thing it's only 7 miles to school.
  • The humidity was down to about 45% here today. So 90 degrees only felt like 90 degrees.
  • I see two women walking every morning on my way to school. Evidently they meet at the house of one of them and walk up and down her driveway. On my way home the other day I saw the one who lives there stop her car at the end of the driveway to get the mail. Instead of walking.
  • I want to retire the same way Lou Pinella of the Chicago Cubs did yesterday. Just get up one morning and say, "You know what? I'm not coming back tomorrow."
  • When I don't want the clothing donation folks to call me, it seems they call every other day. Let me gather up several bags of items to be donated, and the phone is stubbornly silent. I can schedule a pick-up online, but I am also stubborn.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Status Update......

And I don't mean Facebook.

After my whining post about how I looked in some pictures VT sent me in the mail of my huge belly hanging over the top of my bicycle, I joined Weight Watchers online and have been following it diligently for a little over a week.

As of this morning I have lost exactly 5 pounds. The pessimistic side of me wants to say, "Thirty-five more to go," but the Pollyanna side (who doesn't rear her head nearly often enough) wants to say, "Way to go! That's 5 fewer pounds than you were hauling around ten days ago." WW only recommends losing 1.5-2 pounds per week anyway, so losing slowly is the correct way to do things. It just doesn't work for my impatience.

It's hard in that it takes careful planning and forethought, but it's easy in that the program is really flexible. If I wanted to have a piece of chocolate after lunch every day, I could. The problem is that I can rarely stop at one piece. Or even two or three. So I don't eat any, and I don't feel deprived at all. Well maybe not much.

Cyclists (the gung-ho ones) talk in GRAMS about the stuff they carry on their bikes. I figure I can afford a lot of gadgets on my new bike if I lose 18160 grams of fat.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lying Weather People........

Katydid, Rozmo, and I had planned to ride our bikes today. I mapped out a 50-mile route and made sure there were sufficient store stops for refueling. I ate a breakfast to give me enough energy to pedal to the first store stop. I aired up the tires on the tandem and got out the chain lube. I was excited to spend a day on the bike.

When I went out to get the newspaper this morning, it was drizzling just a little bit. I checked the weather on my favorite news channel, and the weatherman said it would rain in the afternoon but not in the morning. Even the radar showed no rain.

Katydid and Rozmo both called to see if we were still on for riding, since both of them live an hour away. I said it was drizzling but it was certain to blow over.

Yeah, that's what Noah said.

As soon as I aired up the tires, it began to rain in earnest. Katydid arrived first, and it began to rain harder. Rozmo called from 2 miles away and said she was waiting at a gas station under the cover so her bike wouldn't get any wetter than it was already.

We sat around my living room gossiping for about an hour (which sent Hubby upstairs to watch television), and we decided it wasn't going to get any better. Rozmo left, and Katydid and I decided to go to the store where I had decided to get my new bicycle.

It was raining so hard we could barely see the road. I thought, "We shouldn't even be DRIVING, much less riding our bikes."

Then the sweet young precious adorable helpful cute salesman at the store said he was excited about my ordering a new bike, but I would have to call during the week when the manufacturer is open so he can make sure they have what I need in stock.

I almost called him last week, but I stopped because I thought he would think I was dumb, ordering a bike over the telephone.

So Katydid and I had lunch and came home. And naturally this afternoon the sun came out and shone brilliantly enough for my sister-in-law to come use my pool AGAIN. Oh, and before she left, she didn't mind going in our motorhome to show it to her used-to-be-boyfriend-now-just-a-hanger-on.

To top it all off, Hubby in one of his impulsive maneuvers last night bought from one of his buddies a bedroom suit that is too big for our bedroom. Hell, it's too big for our house. It may be too big for the state of Rhode Island. He is adamant about having it, though, so we are going to have to do major renovations to the upstairs. As in combining two bedrooms into one. One of them is our junk room, and the other is our ........ other junk room.

Guess whose job it will be to clean out the junk? I realize I have fallen into his mode of keeping stuff that should have been thrown out long ago. My sweet precious daughter (**ahem ahem**) has also kept everything she has ever possessed, and she left most of it behind when she moved out seven years ago. I don't mind weeding out and reducing the amount of clutter in our house, but I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate doing it with a deadline. And I'm pretty sure I'm going to hate doing it alone when SOMEONE ELSE will probably be at the golf course.

Here are just a few of the things I have to get rid of sometime in the next couple of weeks: a queen-sized bedroom suit (Katydid may take that one), a cedar chest (belongs to Katydid, but I don't know if she has room for it), a gargantuan L-shaped computer desk (along with the outdated computer and printer), a craft table, an armoire that belonged to Sweet Girl and still has middle-school stickers all over it, a sewing machine and cabinet that belonged to my former mother-in-law, a small bookcase, a dresser and mirror, a dining room table, and a china cabinet/hutch.

I jokingly said to Hubby while we were at his buddy's house looking at the bedroom suit that it would be easier if we just bought his house. (His buddy is being transferred to Fort Lauderdale and is getting rid of everything in his house.) Hubby actually entertained the idea for a little while and allowed his buddy to show him all around. He eventually nixed the idea, though, as I was pretty sure he would.

At this point I wish he would just call his buddy and say we made a mistake, our house won't hold that bedroom suit, just tear up the check and sell it to someone else.

But he's way too stubborn for that.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I Think It's Already Too Late to Correct Her......

One of my first duties as an online teacher is to call the students and parents and introduce myself. It's one of the few times I love getting someone's voice mail. I can leave a message, introduce myself, leave a number to call back, and document the fact that I called into my communications log. Voice mail is an especially good friend of mine when I have 11 or 12 new students to call because it's a real time saver.

Because I have been the victim of garbled messages to which I have to listen again and again just to understand a) the name of the person calling; and b) the number I'm supposed to call back, I try to speak very slowly and distinctly in my messages. I introduce myself as so-and-so's online literature teacher, say I'm calling to see if student or parent has any questions or concerns, and leave my number. I pause after the area code, pause again after the prefix, then pause at the end of the number. I know how it is to need to write down a number and the person on the other end is speaking too fast for me to get it. Then I say my name again and the name of my institution, since they may have forgotten way back before I started with the whole telephone number nonsense.

I have mentioned before that I'm a trifle uncomfortable with the whole "Dr." title, so I usually introduce myself (especially to parents) using my first and last names. I do the same on voice mails. I figure they'll pick up the "Dr." part in my email signature soon enough. And if they don't, that's fine too. "Mrs." is fine with me, since I have failed miserably at any weak attempt at feminism.

One student hasn't quite picked up on that yet. She may not pick up on it at all this semester, as it has taken a solid week and four phone calls just to get her through the student orientation course. She leaves me cheery voice messages addressing me by my first name, and she begins her emails with "Hi [Bragger]!".

I have signed every email to her with the "Dr." before my name, I have left voice messages saying, "This is Dr. Bragger," and I even sent her a text message saying, "This is Dr. Bragger." I assure you that I am not trying to force her to use the title, but I think it's inappropriate for her to address me by my first name.

I'm not sure how to correct her, though.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Getting the Hang of It......

Tomorrow we will wrap up our third week of school, and I'm getting into the swing of things. Every year is new, and every group of kids is different, particularly at our school. I still shudder to think back on that horrid first year..... Yikes. At least we have some room to pick and choose these days. These are the things I'm getting down pat so far:

  • I'm learning which students you can joke around with.
  • I'm also learning which students you should NEVER joke around with because they take that as a sign that you are friends with them, which I am definitely not.
  • I already know that my 3rd period class is one time during the day I will have to get up and walk around the room, perhaps even pulling up a chair behind two students and doing my work in my lap, as I had to do today. Need I remind you that these kids are supposed to be engaged with their computers?
  • I know which students are going to log off and pack up their belongings 10 minutes before the end of each class period.
  • I'm figuring out which students are probably going to be late every day and which ones are going to write "Late" on their tardy slips on the line where they are supposed to give a REASON for being late.
  • I know which students shouldn't be allowed to go to the restroom at the same time.
  • I'm catching on to which students are going to consistently violate the dress code and then be pissed off if we ask them to fix it.
  • I am aware that some students feel a sudden urge to go to the bathroom because some things just can't be conveyed in a text message and they actually need to talk. Oh, and text messaging is against the rules also.
  • I know which students are going to stand out in the hall yakking until someone (usually me) comes out there and runs them into the classrooms.
  • I know that subtlety is absolutely lost on a certain faculty member, and we are going to have to employ the sledgehammer technique with him.
Happy Friday tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Returning to the Scene of the Crime......

Hubby and I have planned a trip to Jamaica the week before Christmas. We have reached the point where we'd much rather spend money on something we can both enjoy rather than buy each other more STUFF. We've got just about all the stuff we can handle in our basement right now. We are also both pretty bad about buying whatever we want for ourselves, so there's nothing left for the other to buy as a gift.

Hubby has never been to Jamaica before. I went with my ex on a trip that I lovingly (**ahem**) refer to as the trip from hell. Sweet Girl went too, and I wish I could just erase the whole trip from her past.

To start with, I brilliantly scheduled this vacation to fly out of Atlanta on an August Sunday in 1996. Specifically, the day after the FREAKIN' OLYMPICS ended. You know, the ones that will always be remembered for the bomb going off in Centennial Park? Yeah, those. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that we were in the airport with just about everybody else in the entire world.

Secondly, it is never good advice to travel with a drunk. Because a drunk just cannot NOT be a drunk at an all-inclusive resort. We got to Jamaica on Sunday; the drunk threatened to kill me and Sweet Girl on Monday. I will forever wish I had taken all our documents and left him there. Better yet, I should have had him arrested and let him rot in a Jamaican jail. I just wish Sweet Girl hadn't had to be there to witness that debacle.

We're not going to the same resort, or even the same city in Jamaica. I want to give the island another chance; it wasn't the island's fault I made the mistake of taking a trip with an alcoholic, abusive, evil, scumbag of a person. Perhaps he did me a favor when he shot up the house a month after this trip.

I wish I had a delete key for that whole marriage. Instead I just continue to carry life insurance on his sorry ass.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Karma and Her Sister Payback.....

You know what "they" say about karma. And payback. I think they're sisters with the same name.

That being said, however, I am gleefully going to go ahead and write tonight's post. I have no doubt it will come back to haunt me in the form of a humiliating loss during football season. Or, heaven forbid, gymnastics season. I am a born risk-taker, so I'm going to do it anyway.

This won't mean much to you if you aren't already aware of how much I loathe the University of Florida and all things associated with it. I despise the color orange. The Gator chomp makes my blood pressure go up. I was pulling for a gymnast in the Visa Championships last weekend until I learned that she has signed to compete for Florida next year. Then I pookie pookied her right off the uneven bars. I think. I just can't stand anything related to the Florida Taters....I mean Gators. Last year when Sweet Girl and I attended the NCAA gymnastics championships on their campus, I programmed her GPS to say "arriving at Gators suck".

A reporter for a radio station in Fayetteville, Arkansas showed up for a news conference with Razorback head coach Bobby Petrino (whom we all love to hate here in Georgia ever since he dumped the Falcons and slunk away in the middle of the night practically mid-season) wearing a FLORIDA hat. The coach answered her question, apparently noticed her hat, then said he would answer no further questions as long as she was wearing that hat.

She went back to work, and the radio station FIRED her. Now I hate to see her lose her job, but I have laughed all day because it was a FLORIDA hat. She claims she didn't think about the hat and just grabbed it as she ran out the door because it was raining, but I don't buy it. I think it was more of an "I'm by God going to get the coach's attention this time and he'll have to answer my questions" kind of thing.

What is a Florida grad doing working for a radio station in the hometown of another SEC school anyway?

I'm just sayin'.....

You can read the whole story here.

Call me evil. It won't be the first time.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Internet Woes.......

I love technology.

When it works.

Last week, on the night I was SUPPOSED to teach online for the first time, my internet let me down. I wasn't sure it was the internet, because they had suddenly "upgraded" the whiteboard program we use for our live online sessions. Don't you love it when they "upgrade" something with no warning? There are always glitches.

It was my first session with my new students, and the audio wouldn't work at all. Then it randomly kicked me off. And kicked me off again. And again. And again.

My students couldn't hear me at all, so I had to TYPE every word I wanted to say to them. What a wonderful first impression. I even had to type the part about having a back-up plan in case of technological difficulties, because there are NO EXCEPTIONS when it comes to turning in work.

I'm supposed to teach again (again?) tomorrow night, so tonight I thought I would have a trial run with Sweet Girl and see if it would work.

Same problems. She patiently waited while I went to Hubby's computer and tried there.

No luck.

Then on a whim I tried to use my connect card. You know, the things that are supposed to be wonderful out in the wilderness but are notorious for being slow?

Worked like a charm.

After the session last week, I tried to upload a document for my students. It sat there and spun for 15 minutes before I gave up in frustration. At school the next morning, it didn't take two seconds for the same document to upload into my course.

So now I have to call my internet non-provider and educate them as to just how many other internet providers there are out there. It's just such a pain in the rear to change email addresses. Maybe my bluff will work. We'll see.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Motivation Breeds Motivation.....

I don't consider myself a procrastinator for the most part, but sometimes it's hard for me to get started on something. Particularly on Sunday. On our way home from camping this morning, I was thinking about all the things I had to do and sort of mentally coming up with a schedule for doing them.

And then I proceeded to sit around all afternoon. I watched a gymnastics show I had recorded from last night (and whose results I already knew), I watched a baseball game (Braves routed the Dodgers), I played the Nintendo (still need the cheat codes from the internet), and I took a nap. I grew grumpier and grumpier the later it got, knowing the things I had to do were still ahead of me.

Finally I got busy after dinner. I folded the load of laundry I had done earlier, cleaned up the kitchen from dinner, made tomorrow's lunch, made sure I have something ready to wear tomorrow, created news announcements for my online classes, graded the few assignments I had waiting in the dropbox, called a new student and left a message, and printed out my course schedules.

Suddenly I'm not grumpy anymore. And I think I will work on my cathedral window quilt.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hattie and Maddy.........

The campground where we are staying is pretty small. It's right next to a creek, and it has some adorable little "bunkhouses" that are just wooden tents with bunk beds in them. No amenities. Not that we need amenities....we brought our own. Complete with satellite television and air conditioning. And bloody marys.

A cute little blond girl with pigtails was riding her pink bike around and around the campground today. On one of her passes Gus was sitting in my lap while I read from my Kindle, and she stopped to pet him. Her name is Hattie, she is six years old, and she is very articulate.

Me: How old are you?

Hattie: Six, almost seven. My birthday is in two months.

Me: When is your birthday?

Hattie: October 28th.

Me: Oh, that's my brother's birthday!

Hattie: How old is he?

Me: Let me see.....He will be 53.

Hattie (pointing at Gus): HIM?

I should have known that Hattie would be more interested in the age of Gus, who was present and visible, than she would the age of my brother, whom she is unlikely ever to meet. I quickly corrected myself and informed her that Gus is 5.

She has a Saint Bernard named Moseby and her mother teaches middle school. She claimed her favorite subject is P.E., but then she giggled and admitted it is math. She wanted to hold Gus, which she did briefly, but she wasn't big on dog kisses. She said it would take 100 people to pick Moseby up. I love the perspective of little kids. I'm thinking she really thinks it would take 100 people, since most kids that age don't have a firm grasp on exaggeration yet. Or am I wrong? It's been a long time since I had a six-year-old.

Hattie said she had seen someone riding a bike around the campground and wanted to know if it were me or my husband. I didn't let my indignation show at the idea that she could have confused me with a bald-headed 62-year-old man. I did have on a helmet, after all. I rode up a steep gravel road that Hubby and Gus and I had walked up this morning. It was coming down that I realized I had no brakes. Zero. Nada. Zilch. Note to self: adjust those brakes before riding in the mountains again.

I'm keeping a map of states in which I've ridden my bicycle, and I wanted to add North Carolina. Call me silly; it won't be the first time. The map looks funny right now because I've colored in all the Southeastern states - Georgia (around home and many BRAG rides); Florida (Bike Florida in 1998); South Carolina (a couple of Festivelo rides in Charleston); Alabama (BRAG began just over the border in Eufala one year); Mississippi (I took the bike on one of Hubby's golf/gambling trips last year); Tennessee (having ridden JUST over the border on the Summer Ride a couple of weeks ago). And then there's Iowa, up there all by itself, but by golly I rode all the way across that state too. Twice.

I didn't ride a bunch of miles today, but I did ride UP the side of the mountain. It's by God going on the map.

As for Maddy, we didn't actually meet him, so I don't know what his name really is. But he was pretty angry by the time we saw him. We saw him when he came into the campground pulling a travel trailer, and we watched to make sure he wasn't going to pick the spot next to us. Our satellite dish is sitting in the next camping space, and the manager said it would be okay as long as no one else wanted that spot.

He eventually chose the spot two over from us, and he commenced trying to back it in. It must have been his first time, because he had no clue how to do it. His wife was trying to direct him, but she was probably like me and didn't have a clue what to tell him to do. Since they weren't going to need the spot next to us, we went off on our walk.

We returned about 30-40 minutes later, and he was still trying to back in. Actually he had gotten the trailer backed in, but it was too close to a tree, and now he was trying to get it OUT. I could see Hubby debating with himself whether or not to go over and offer assistance. You never know how people are going to receive such an offer, and they are just as likely to tell you to mind your own business as to be appreciative. It appeared he was going to be able to get out, though, so Hubby didn't butt in. Then Maddy pulled forward, scraped a tree, and sort of ripped off the back part of his travel trailer. I don't think it rendered it unusable for the weekend, although they would certainly want to get it repaired when they went home. (They were from the county where I did the Summer Ride a few weeks ago. Why couldn't they stay home and look at their OWN mountains? I'm just sayin'.....)

We didn't hear any shouting, but Maddy stalked over to the manager's office, seemingly to get his money back. His wife sat down crying at another campsite. I wanted to go over to her, because I knew she felt terrible. Again, I didn't because I didn't know how it would be perceived. She may not have WANTED my sympathy. Before we knew it they were driving off up the driveway, probably headed home. I wish I had gone over to her.

There was one other rhyming word that I could write about, but I couldn't think of a nice way to say it, so I'll just leave it at that.

Friday, August 13, 2010

On the Road Again......

Hubby and Gus and I are on the road again this weekend, "camping" in Cherokee, North Carolina. I always forget how much I love the mountains until I see them in front of me, hazy and blue. Hubby makes fun of me because I have a jillion pictures of mountains taken from those scenic overlooks, and they all look the same. I did NOT insist that we stop and take pictures today, however, because A) I was driving the RV; and B) it was pouring rain. The rain didn't last long, however, and it is very pleasant here. We are within walking distance of the little town, with several restaurants and a casino. I really, really offered to cook, but Hubby insisted that we not bring any groceries except for snack foods. Not even breakfast stuff. I wish I had prepared a little better so I could eat less fattening stuff this weekend, but I'll just have to watch my snacking and my portion size until I can get back home.

Nothing tragic happened on this Friday the 13th, at least that I know of. Nurse Jane might disagree with me, since she is entertaining our mother for the weekend. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

We did get some wonderful news. My nephew's wife is pregnant, and today they found out they are having a boy. They already have a precious six-year-old girl, and I know my nephew was hoping for a boy. I only hope the sonogram isn't a hoax. I guess if they make a mistake on a sonogram, though, it's more likely to be the other way? Like you might not see something that is there (like happened to my OTHER nephew), but it's not likely that you see something that IS there and think it's a girl?


Happy weekend everybody! And I hope it cools off for you, wherever you may reside.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not Really Superstitious But.......

One of my students told me today that he wasn't coming to school tomorrow. He asked if I could figure out why. I asked, "Is it because it's Friday the 13th?"

He said, "No, I didn't know that, but now I'm REALLY not coming."

He told me he wasn't coming to school tomorrow because he was working tonight and he would be getting paid, and I told him that was the lamest thing I had ever heard.

Another girl overheard me and said she wouldn't be coming to school on Friday the 13th.

Give me a large personal break.

I'm not superstitious, but I have had a couple of significant things (bad) happen on Friday the 13th. Once when I was teaching in the traditional high school, I went to pull down my overhead projector screen. Egads, does anybody even remember those? The handle slipped out of my hand, so the screen snapped back up, bounced off the hooks it was hanging from, and landed squarely on top of my head.

My students were convinced they were going to have a "free day" due to the head injury. They underestimated my ability to teach a vocabulary lesson while holding an ice pack on my head.

Another memorable Friday the 13th was the last time I ever set foot in my ex's house (I guess technically it was still my house then too), with the exception of going to retrieve my belongings. Sweet Girl and I had gone to the American Legion just to visit with some friends for a few minutes. To be perfectly honest, one of the reasons I went there was because my ex had been banned (banished?) from the establishment after he assaulted a video poker machine with a folding chair. I already knew our marriage was on the rocks, and I wanted to go somewhere I knew he wouldn't be. Besides, I took an enormous perverse pleasure in going somewhere his friends could go, I could go, almost everyone in the county could go, but he couldn't.

I'm not sure where Sweet Girl and I went after that; maybe a football game. We were down a house key for some reason, and we had started just leaving one outside. On this day Sweet Girl had let herself in the house, and we forgot to put the key back outside when we left.

The ex (I have to come up with a name despicable enough for him -- help here?) came home, found the door locked, assumed we had locked him out on purpose, and Shot. His. Way. Into. The. House. (Sorry, Sweet Girl, I know you don't want to relive this.)

When we got home later, there was the front door all shot to pieces, shotgun pellets throughout the living room, and him passed out on the sofa with a drink beside him. I swear by all that is holy, I seriously considered setting the couch on fire and walking away. He was known for smoking in bed. Or couch as it were. But I knew my conscience would never let me live with myself, even if he really, really, really NEEDED killing.

I called his daughter, who lived right down the road, and waited outside for her to get there. She took one look at the damaged door and front of the house and said, "That bastard is crazy. You've got to leave him." She later decided she hated MY guts, but that's another story.

The number 13 haunted me a little bit when I was skydiving too. I was preparing for a jump one day when I realized it was going to be jump #13. I freaked out a little bit and started thinking about all the things that could go wrong. I was really concerned because if something happened to me, it was important for those left behind to understand it was jump #13. I fretted and freaked, and you know what a self-fulfilling prophecy is. I was doing a 5-second delay, and when I pulled my ripcord (thank God it was there that time), it was a little tougher than usual to pull. I didn't maintain correct form, tumbled a little or a lot, and then blessedly my parachute opened above me. Only I was hanging sort of upside-down. My right leg had gone through the right riser, sort of like putting on a tank top but getting your arm in the neck hole instead of the arm opening. I remember thinking, "I don't think I can land like this."

All it took was reaching up, grabbing my leg with both hands, and lifting it back inside the riser. I'm not sure you can picture that without a live demonstration. And I'm not sure at this age I could actually do a live demonstration either.

And now I've wasted a perfectly good Friday the 13th post on a Thursday the 12th. Perhaps that is the worst thing that will happen this time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010



I have long acknowledged that I'm overweight. In terms of "standards" (whatever those are), I qualify as obese. Not chubby, not overweight, not heavy, but obese.

I don't FEEL obese.

I received proof in the mail yesterday, though, in the form of some pictures. My friend VT sent some pictures of me and Katydid on the tandem that the BRAG photographer took. There I am, waving at the camera, smiling, having a wonderful time.

With a huge belly hanging over the top tube of the bike.

I could ignore it if it were one picture, but she sent three different shots. Three different days, three different outfits. Same huge belly. I would scan the pictures in and post them here except that I'm afraid the reaction would be, "Well damn if she isn't right....That's one huge belly."

I wouldn't be so inclined to whine about it if I didn't already try my damnedest to do the right thing. I exercise almost every stinking day, except for the days when I exercise TWICE. I eat right for the most part, since Hubby is diabetic and I have to watch what he eats (though I have to admit we've been lax about that lately). Still, I don't pig out on a regular basis. I talk about beer a lot more than I actually drink it; most of the time I drink water. We don't eat a lot of junk.

Seventeen years ago I joined Weight Watchers and lost 50 pounds. Now I weigh 10 pounds more than when I joined WW. I was successful enough that I became a WW leader, but over time I stopped being diligent, then I stopped being careful, then I stopped caring I guess, and the weight all came back.

I realize I'm almost 50 years old and my metabolism has crept away stealthily, but I'm TRYING. Everything I read these days says that in order to lose weight at my age, I need to exercise 1-2 hours every day. Great. Now I need to get up at 4:00 AM instead of 5:00.

I'm not just going to wallow in self-pity (tempting though it may be). I am going to give WW another try, especially since I can do it online now instead of going to weekly meetings. I know I will never be rail-thin, but maybe I can get to the point where it doesn't ruin my whole day to see a picture of me on a bicycle.

Damn getting old. Damn having these genes. Damn being 5'2".

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I love some statistics. I think they can provide useful information. In the computer age, however, they have statistics for EVERYTHING. Whoever "they" might be.

Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves hit a homerun in yesterday's game, and it was his 21st birthday.

Do YOU know how many players in major league history have hit homeruns on their 21st birthdays?

Does it even matter?

By my count, this is the 812th time I have posted something ridiculous rather than tax my brain coming up with something intelligent.

And I only have around 740 posts.
And in case you care, only 4 players have hit homeruns on their 21st birthdays.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Gold Star, Please.........

Subtitle: I'm such an excellent nagger, I can even nag myself.

I didn't exercise this morning, which is unusual for a school day. I had plenty of excuses:
  • The elliptical is making a horrible grinding noise and I didn't want to bother (retired) Hubby.
  • My foot hurts. (It's been hurting for months, but I can always drag it out to use as an excuse if I'm desperate.)
  • Exercising in the morning makes it difficult to put make-up on my sweaty face.
  • I can always count the Monday night line dancing class as exercise.
So I used the extra 40-45 minutes to play Zelda on the Nintendo DS this morning, always an excellent use of time for someone who will be 50 on her next birthday.

This afternoon I got an email that tonight's line dancing class was canceled due to the imminent eminent expected arrival of the instructor's granddaughter.


I could have skipped it altogether, but I had already skipped both Saturday AND Sunday. It's rare that I go two days in a row without exercise, much less three.

So I dragged myself home and talked Hubby into going to the park with me. In the heat of the day. On the very day I'm to teach live online for the first time this semester. When I could have used that time to prepare the lesson I'm going to teach.

Just in case no gold stars were forthcoming, I had a beer with dinner. It's almost the same thing.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My Criminal Past.....

Settle down, I haven't really BEEN a criminal in my past. I've just known a few. And I don't count my brother, whom I don't consider a real criminal in spite of the fact that he did time in the "semi-big house." He was just mischievous and the victim of rotten luck. Besides, he's my brother.

There was a guy most of us had a crush on in the seventh and eighth grades. He came to our county in one of those years, and of course every girl fell for the new guy. I wasn't one of the pretty and popular ones, so I never had a chance with him, but man did I think he was cute. By the time we were sophomores and I was marching in the band, we always ran into Reid at Six Flags Over Georgia on the day they allowed us to escape from band camp right before school started. It seems his reform school took their inmates to Six Flags on the same day every year. We didn't think it at all odd that we kept bumping into Reid at Six Flags, and he didn't seem a bit embarrassed that he was there with his reform school and we were there with the marching band. Five years after I graduated, a young woman was murdered on the UGA campus, and it was all over the news. Then a friend from high school called saying that it was Reid who had murdered her. I brushed it off as just some of her high-strung histrionics (is that redundant?), because I had heard the name on television and it wasn't Reid. I didn't know he had a different first name, and Reid was his middle name. He is now serving a life sentence; I don't know how he escaped the death penalty. I can't even bring a picture of his face up in my mind anymore.

Then there was a couple we used to go camping with in my first wifetime. Our daughters were born 5 months apart, and both their first and last names both began with the letters "Br". It was quite alliterative. We were very close to this couple. We slept in the same tent for goodness' sake. One night he and I both slept in the same BOAT because we couldn't stand my ex's snoring. We were at the lake every single weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and we only stopped then because the campground closed and football season started. I do have my priorities. After I divorced baby daddy, having lost custody of most of the friends, I ran into the wife of that couple one time at the mall. She said they had divorced and that Mark was in prison for child molestation. I could have bent down and picked my jaw up off the floor. It wasn't their daughter, it was her SON from a previous marriage who was the victim of the molestation. Oh, and some neighborhood kids who had been invited to the party too. Sadly, if he hadn't involved the other kids, he probably would have gotten away with it. I don't think his stepson would ever have told on him. Mark was sentenced to five years and I'm guessing he didn't do all of that time. I see him from time to time because he works at one of the local motorcycle dealers. I feel so icky seeing him. On one hand he paid his debt to society and deserves (maybe?) to be forgiven, but on the other hand.... KIDS!???!!! His defense at the time of his arrest was that there was "no penetration." Apparently he just allowed the young boys to touch HIM. Gross. I'm so glad he's NOT the one I bought my motorcycle from.

The last (I hope) criminal I've been acquainted with was also a high-profile case. He was a renowned educator whose students wrote many books about their boarding school experiences in the mountains of North Georgia, and he wanted to come to the city where I was teaching to see if his methods could be applied to inner-city-type students. But he was also committed to a great deal of travel and public speaking, so he couldn't take on a class on his own. Therefore he was paired with me and we team-taught one ninth grade class. He was very likable and incredibly intelligent. He was in great demand as a speaker, and he always took students with him. He would take them on out-of-town trips, and it really was an educational experience for them. But for some reason I started getting bad vibes about him.

He didn't do anything overt to make my alarms go off. I felt guilty even thinking poorly of him. But when one of my (male) students, a very gentle ninth grade boy, began talking about the possibility of traveling to a conference in Hawai'i -- HAWAI'I!!!! -- with the teacher over the summer, I had to say something. I first went to my department head, also a male teacher, who was a little puzzled at my worry. He didn't question it, per se, but he kept asking me what made me think there was anything wrong, and I couldn't tell him.

Then rumors started floating around, and my department head and I decided that although they weren't substantiated, it might not be a good idea (ya think?) for him to take a student on an out-of-town trip. My department head suggested I talk to the principal about my concerns. This is the same guy who had chewed me out about the girl on my yearbook staff on the first day of school. I went to him immediately because school was about to be out for the summer, and I wanted something documented before we left. I told him my concerns, and he sat there thinking for a few minutes. Finally he said, "Tell _____ to give me a call."

Excuse me?

I have just reported a concern about a possible child molester to my principal, as I am required by law to do, and he suggests that I ask the potential molester to give him a call?

I left his office and thought to myself, "Screw you, buddy. I've done what I was supposed to do."

I was going to call the young man's parents, even though I didn't have the tiniest bit of evidence, but there was no way I could allow that man to take a male student to Hawai'i.

The matter was taken out of my hands, however, when he was arrested for molesting a different male student, one of the elementary school students he was also working with in our town. The story blew up in a huge way because of his fame and the past success of both him and his students, and it was all over the news for days. The most disturbing finding for me personally was that he had been guilty of these acts for at least the 25 years he had worked in our state.


His. Students. Protected. Him.

That was how much they loved him. Even his victims remained silent about their abuse at his hands because they didn't want him to get in trouble. I just looked him up, and he is living in Florida as a registered sex offender. Gives me the heebie jeebies just looking at his picture.

When the story broke on the news, the first person at my door was my department head. "How did you know?" he asked me. He was in awe. And all I could say was "I don't know."

Do you think I ever heard a word out of the principal? You must be kidding me.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Alice's Restaurant......

I don't know if Alice even knew of the Arlo Guthrie song when she opened a restaurant in the tiny town where I lived in a previous wifetime.

It was big news for a restaurant of any kind to open. This town was even tinier than the one where I now live. It was big news when they got a traffic light, and to this day they only have one. Unless you count the one out on the highway that connects I-85 to Athens, but I'm sure they don't count that one. The residents are proud of only having one traffic light.

There was a waitress named Holly who worked at Alice's. Sweet Girl was about three years old, and she had heard the word "Hollywood" before, so she associated that with the place where we sometimes went to eat. She began saying we were "going to eat at Hollywood's," in addition to calling the waitress Hollywood.

Holly was a sweet girl too, but a little ditzy. On April Fools' Day, she called her mother and told her she was pregnant. You know, just to be funny. Shortly after that she realized that for the previous week she had been taking the placebo instead of her birth control pill. She panicked and took seven birth control pills all at one time. Then she panicked again, thinking that if she DID happen to be pregnant, that couldn't be good for the baby, so she made herself throw up. I guess that baby is about 23 now.

One night my ex tried to wipe some ketchup off Sweet Girl's face at Alice's. She wasn't keen on the idea, and he wasn't the kindest or gentlest type, so they butted heads. He was determined to win, so he pinned her down and wiped her face. A little too rough in my opinion. Sweet Girl glared at him, snatched up a french fry, crammed it in the ketchup, and proceeded to smear it all over her face. It earned her a trip outside, but it was priceless.

There was another waitress, an older lady named Evelyn. Every time we were in there, she would ask Sweet Girl if she wanted to go home with her. One night we were finishing up when it was time for Evelyn to go home, and as usual she asked if Sweet Girl wanted to go home with her. My ex said we could pick her up on the way home (I told you it was a small town), and Sweet Girl went out the door with Evelyn.

"She'll be back," I said. I didn't think she would really go with someone who was pretty much a stranger. I didn't know Evelyn that well myself, and I was a little uneasy watching my girl toddle off with her.

Sure enough, the door opened again and in came Sweet Girl, running as fast as her little legs would take her. She came to my side of the table and said, "I forgot my coat." Grabbed her coat and she was gone again.

I met up with Alice again a few years ago. She works in the cafeteria at one of our middle schools, the one that provides lunches for our school. They send one worker to our school with hot lunches for students and faculty, and for a long time it was Miss Alice. She was too generous, though, giving faculty members double portions and allowing students to charge lunches when they didn't have money. In another example of no good deed going unpunished, they pulled her from our school and gave us a real beeyotch, who is the reason I will go hungry before I will eat school lunches anymore.

Man, could Alice cook.

Friday, August 6, 2010

One Week Down.....

I had two blog topics planned, either of which would have sufficed for tonight, but it ain't gonna happen. One is about criminals with whom I've been acquainted (including a murderer) and the other is about a quaint little restaurant that used to be in the small town I lived in. Most of the memories about that restaurant revolve around Sweet Girl. I'll get to those topics in the coming days.

As usual, it has been a crazy first week of school. Nothing really out of the ordinary, just busy settling into the new (old) routine. To all my blogging pals whose sites I have sorely neglected in the past week (or two), I PROMISE I will stop by sometime this weekend and leave a comment. Y'all are wonderful about leaving sweet comments for me.

I can't promise next week will be much better. Next week will be the first week of school in my ONLINE job, and I'm teaching two different courses this fall, one of which I've never taught before. After that things should settle down and I'll get comfortable and convince myself that, yes, I CAN work two jobs!

In the meantime, happy weekend to everyone and thanks for being my friends. Love you all!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Heat Wave.....

Yet again I'm going to complain about this heat wave. We've had about a bajillion straight days of temperatures in the 90s. The heat was oppressive this morning when I went outside to get the newspaper. At 5:10 in the morning!

It wouldn't be quite so bad except that, because our county has no money, we are forbidden from turning our thermostats below 76 degrees. Which won't be a problem very much longer, because they are going to install thermostats that we can't adjust. Yeah, that probably won't cost anything.

Our school is in a very old, very poorly insulated elementary school. In the afternoons the sun shines directly on my side of the building. I have a window-door, and we are also forbidden from putting anything over the window because it is a fire hazard. Not a sheet of paper, not a curtain, nothing. And if the students can't see their computer screens because of the glare..... oh well.

I didn't get on the elliptical this morning because my foot was aching from what I think may be a stress fracture but may just be old age. Therefore this afternoon when I got home, I felt obligated to go walk for my daily exercise. We took the dogs to the park, and oddly enough, there was no one else there enjoying the 90 degree heat and +90% humidity. It was brutal. Way to go, Einstein.

We got in the pool when we got home, and it was like bathwater. No, I am NOT complaining about my pool. It was slightly refreshing if we got out of the pool and sat where a stray breeze might blow by.

I want to get some August mileage in on my bicycle, but it's too hot to ride. Hell, it's too hot to ride my MOTORCYCLE.

I usually hate to see summer come to an end, but if I've got to be back in school anyway in blazing temperatures, bring on the fall.

And bring football season with you if you don't mind.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Some of My Proudest Moments as a Parent........

One thing I say all the time is that parenting is nothing but blind luck. It's a little more than that, but the concept of luck is easier to grasp when you're trying to understand why people who were well-behaved teenagers wind up with hell-raisers for kids and vice versa. Personally, I believe I got a much better child than I deserved. I can only blame it on luck.

When she was in second grade, she came home talking about something one of her classmates had done at school. I don't remember the incident, but I remember her grandfather asking her, "What color was she?"

Sweet Girl looked puzzled for a moment. She thought for a bit, then she said, with a question mark at the end, "Brown?"

It was the first time she had ever been asked to describe the color of a person's skin. It didn't occur to her that people were different colors; they were just people. I was so proud that she didn't classify people by color, and I wanted to kick her grandfather in the shin.

When she was about 14 and Hubby and I hadn't been married too long, I insisted she go with me to a church we hadn't been to before. I played the piano at a small country church for a few years, but I had resigned. I wanted to try a church closer to our new home, and I thought it was important for both Sweet Girl and me to have a church home. Actually I just wanted to go to church somewhere and I didn't want to go by myself, so I dragged her along with me. I picked a fairly large church, the one closest to our house, and unfortunately (for us) it was Baptist. Now I was raised a Baptist, married (the first time) in a Baptist church, and I guess some of my beliefs will always be Baptist. But not a lot of them.

On the Sunday I made Sweet Girl go with me, the regular minister wasn't preaching that day. It probably wouldn't have mattered, because the message would likely have been the same. I don't remember who the guest preacher was or what he was talking about, but sometime in his sermon he made a remark along the lines of gay people going to hell or something like that. I felt Sweet Girl bristle beside me, and I heard her sharp intake of breath. He had offended her. I don't think we had ever talked specifically about gay people, but I think Sweet Girl had made up her own mind that just like you don't judge people by their color, you also don't judge them by whom they choose to sleep with. I was so proud of the fact that by her indignation at the preacher's remark, she was defending gay people and their right to be who they are. And I don't think I ever mentioned it to her after that. We never went back to that church.

One of my proudest moments, however, had to be watching the USS Harry S. Truman sail back into port after a 7-month deployment to the Persian Gulf and knowing that my Sweet Girl was one of those little people up there manning the rails.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another First Day of School......

This one was years ago, but for some reason I thought about it today.

I think I was in my second year of teaching high school. I was in charge of the yearbook because it came with the job. Seriously, the principal called me and said, "If I were to offer you a job, would you be willing to take the yearbook?"

What do you say? Of course I would! I was eager to get out of teaching middle school, and I was terrified of my principal at the middle school. I taught there for three years, and then I like to say I was paroled.

Anyway, the former yearbook adviser was a tremendous help to me, and one of the things she said was that we didn't put freshmen on the yearbook staff. There were many reasons for it, all of them good, but mainly it was because the staff was chosen the spring before (by application only), staff members had to sell advertisements during the summer, and the staff had already attended the summer workshop. Theme, cover, and other decisions had already been made, and an incoming freshman wouldn't have been part of any of it.

At Open House the week before school started, this sweet girl showed up with Journalism on her schedule. She had been put on the yearbook staff. I explained to her that there had been a mistake and we would have to get her schedule changed. Then the counselor came to me, and I explained the same thing to him. I went over all the reasons, and I know he had a bazillion schedules to fix, but it wasn't fair to her or to the rest of the staff members to put her on the staff. I thought the matter was settled.

On the first day of school, about 30 minutes before school started, I was walking down the hall with my miniature coffee pot to get water for coffee. The principal stopped me in the hall and asked about that young lady and her being on the yearbook staff. I explained my reasons AGAIN, and that's when he went kind of crazy. He started saying things like that young lady needed some special help and he thought I would be the one to give it to her, but apparently he was wrong, and blah blah blah blah blah. I just stood there with my mouth hanging open. He yelled at me so loudly that when he finally left, a co-worker came out of his classroom to see if I was all right. I still remember the feeling of standing in the hall with a carafe of water in my hand, just staring at the principal open-mouthed.

I thought to myself, "What just happened here?"

Needless to say I let the matter drop, and I let her stay on staff. I wondered what kind of problems she had that she needed "special help" with. She came from a stable family, was an excellent student, was popular and well-liked, and she balanced all her responsibilities very well. I wondered if there were a deep, dark secret that I would only find out later.

In all honesty, she became one of my go-to staff members, one of the hardest workers and one of my favorites. I could turn to her for anything. We became very good friends (there was a Roy Orbison song she started singing every time she saw me), and one day (months into the school year) I sort of hinted but didn't come right out and ask why it had been so important for her to be on staff. She looked puzzled and said her dad wanted her to be on it, and she thought we chose her. Turns out her daddy worked for the mayor, and THAT was the "special help" the young lady needed.

Her daddy wanted her to be on the yearbook staff, the principal wanted to make the mayor's employee happy, and so he lied through his teeth to make me keep her.

I adored her. I never had any respect for him after that. Especially when I told him my suspicions about a child molester who was working in our school, and he didn't do anything about it. But that's a blog post for another day.

Monday, August 2, 2010

First Day of School.....

As first days of school go, this one wasn't bad at all. I always dread it, but it's never as bad as I'm afraid it's going to be, particularly in my current setting. I don't have to talk the whole period, though I talked more today than I'm used to just because I was going over all the rules and procedures.

We have a new superintendent, and I'm not going to pass any judgment here because I don't want to be encouraged to resign for something I've posted on the internet.

On our first day of pre-planning, all the high school teachers had to meet together. We had assigned seats by department. There was a little semi-circle of teachers right in front of the new superintendent. Guess what department that was? P.E. coaches.

Our new superintendent




Oh yes she did.

I had been told that she is a tremendous reader of body language and facial expression, so I tried very hard not to let my feelings show. I was embarrassed. I was embarrassed for her. And I thought I was going to have to discipline the teacher next to me, a former student of mine who has been teaching for five years.

Can I be that old?

I also have it on good authority that our new superintendent made a surprise appearance at one of the high schools today -- always a fan favorite to show up unannounced in the chaos that is a first day of school in an overcrowded high school -- and there was a scene with a student who wasn't supposed to be there because he had been assigned to the alternative school.

The superintendent then called a meeting with all three high school principals at 1:30 today at the board office. On the first day of school. Pulled out of their buildings on the first day of school. Because of one student.


But I'm not passing judgment.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wasps and Bees and Things that Sting....

I saw a wasp nest in the corner of one of our back windows today, and that started me thinking about my experiences with stinging insects.

It also made me realize how different incidents like those with children are treated today compared to when I was growing up.

I am not allergic to stings, at least as far as I know, but I do have reactions to them. Once when I was young, I was staying with my father for the summer. I think it was the summer he convinced me to come live with him, bribing me with a pony. I was eight years old, for crying out loud. What a lowlife he was to use me that way. Anyway. He lived in a trailer, and there was a huge wasp nest on the corner above the doorway. We had seen it there for days. Note the fine parenting skills.

One morning we were leaving the house, and the screen door caught the wasp nest on its way by. Naturally I was the last one out of the house, so they attacked. I was stung several times (not the thousand it felt like), and one sting got me right in the outside corner of my left eye.

Both eyes swelled shut. They probably didn't stay that way long, but I'm sure it wasn't fun to be stuck with my witchy old aunt all day while my father worked ON TOP OF being blind.

Another time I stepped on a bee (I didn't believe in wearing shoes) that I thought was dead, but the stinger still got me. That sounds like I stepped on it on purpose; I assure you that's not the case. My foot was so swollen it looked like a football attached to the end of my leg. I had brand new patent leather Easter shoes, and I couldn't even put one on that foot.

Once I got stung on the bus on the way to school. It got me on the outside of my left hand. Did anyone else play with rubber gloves when you were little, filling them up with water? I'm not sure what we were trying to accomplish with that.... Maybe pretending it was a cow's udder? I'd rather not guess. Anyway, that was what my hand looked like by the time we got to school. It was grotesquely misshapen and turning colors. I'm pretty sure I just spit on some tobacco (from the pack of cigarettes I'm equally sure I had in my purse) and rubbed it on the sting. That was the remedy we had always used. At any rate, it certainly didn't warrant a phone call home, a trip to the doctor, or even the suggestion that I might need to carry an epi pen.

Epi pen? What the hell was an epi pen? We had no such thing back then, and if I had one, I probably would have used it to cause mischief anyway.

My mother would no more have taken me to the doctor for a wasp sting than she would have taken me to a salon for a pedicure.

My how things have changed.