Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Cars that go crash in the night...and why really old people shouldn't drive

It was inevitable--the panicked phonecall to Daddy. Vicky was hit last night on the way home from school. No one was hurt, and the damage to the car is neglible, or bad, depending on what the insurance adjuster says ( a dent in the wheel well and a scratch down the back quarter panel. To look at it, it doesn't seem like much).

Nevertheless, the local constabulary came out and did their thing. John went to give her moral support and do his thing. I stayed home and stewed and fretted, which pretty much amounts to me doing my thing.

A good time was had by all.

Anyway, it was a harmless fender bender full of good lessons. It was an impact with impact. Ha! I crack myself up with my loquaciousness. One hopes she will be ever so much more vigilant and willing to anticipate that there are morons all over the place ready to do something stupid.

In this case, a 70 year old guy, probably with failing eyesight, decided to back out of his driveway without checking to see if there was a car coming. He wasn't going too fast, and neither was Vic, which is probably why things turned out well.

No pics though, Vic probably thinks it's bad enough I posted about this.

Monday, February 27, 2006

I see little tiny people...

I had some very weird dreams last night, and after the alarm went off at six, I rolled over to try and catch some more Zzzz's, only to have another odd dream, so I gave up and got out of bed.

It's probably my own fault for eating dinner very late last night. No doubt it was the raw onions.

I won't recount everything, mostly because I don't want to be reminded of the imagery, but let me just say that in the menagerie of freaks and scary things that made cameos last night, the creepy guy from Lord of the Rings was featured prominantly. You know, the little guy who says "My precious."

I decided to throw in the towel when in my dream I went to the bathroom, and a little tiny toy soldier-height marching band followed me. I wasn't going to be able to top that, so here I am at the computer.

I was going to write about the silly things that we all did as kids, and we revisit later through our own kids. Remember counting how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop? Remember those pots of paste from kindergarten? I loved to smell the paste, and I had classmates that ate it! Gross. I probably destroyed thousands of brain cells inhaling the fresh dittoes we got in school.

The other day I had one of those laugh out loud blasts from past, complete with a post-modern awareness of discourse, when Jonathan peeled the little Chiquita Banana sticker off the banana and stuck it on his forehead. Remember doing that as a kid? Me too! I think everybody did it.

Here's the funny part: read the sticker on the boy's face.*

* "Paste sticker on forehead. Smile." Chiquita

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Mardi Gras 2006

Another year, another bizarro costume. In a trend that includes too much cleavage, here we are as Lancelot and Guinevere. I'm beginning to get a complex about the wenches I play. This one is an upgrade as an adulteress. Next year I'm going to dress as a man.

Our best friends, who intelligently opt NOT to wear a costume. Why? Afterall, I show cleavage for both of us.

Guest cute couple of the evening. Just cute and mushy. And gracious. Did I say cute?

Who knew there was dancing? It seems that the servers had a better time than the old folks at the party.

There were posers, and poseurs. And lots of breaks.

Aaaah. I ditched the unfortunate rat that was nesting in my head. This looks a lot more natural for us, no? He's still my leige, and I don't look like a dumb blond.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Party Time? Maybe Not

Lent is just around the corner. This weekend I’ll be attending a Mardi Gras celebration, a nice little Gala for the local Habitat for Humanity board. The will be plenty of purple and green and gold beads, and some beautiful masks, but happily the debauchery and excess often associated with the holiday will be missing. Not that I want it, just the observation that in the increasingly secular world in which we live, yet another religious tradition gets turned around and becomes a caricature of itself.

Excess rules the day. It would be easier to accept if there was a real effort to pursue the 40 days of Lent with a sense of sacrifice and deprivation, but we all know Lent has nothing to do with any of these parties.

It does, however, remind me of my own faith journey, and how I look at and embrace the lenten season. Long ago as a child, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday was a mini-mardi gras for my friends and me. We’d gorge on chocolate or coke until we were sick, as if we could stockpile the pleasure of those treats, and then bemoan our existence until Easter, when we’d gorge again, after a supposed (and more often than not, failed) period of sacrifice.

As I matured, I was able to see the season a bit more clearly. Spiritual preparation replaced the easy, and easy to break, sacrifice of giving up a favorite food. I started, instead, to give up bad habits and replace them with good ones. Things that made me weak spiritually, replaced by spiritually healthy alternatives. The idea of course, is to become a better person, and maintain those spiritually healthy habits.

It’s a good opportunity to improve prayer life. Instead of giving up chocolate, only to resume eating it on Easter, why not learn to meditate on the rosary? Instead of denying yourself McDonald’s, why not attend a daily mass on a day you ordinarily wouldn’t? Stretch yourself spiritually. Not only is there a physical sacrifice involved, but it will be a habit after 40 days, and way better for you than the stomach ache you’ll surely have on Easter Sunday.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

FINALLY!!! Phew, what a relief

Vicky finally received her acceptance to Georgia Tech. Things were getting tense around here. I think maybe I'm going to break out now.

Go Vicky! We are proud of you!

Ultimate Frisbee

Let's face it ladies, guys are just way different from us. Yesterday, a group from church got together for an ultimate frisbee game. Not a crazy idea, after all. It's fun, it builds camaraderie and teamwork. In short, it's an opportunity to live the gospel on a soccer field.

The problem was a little rain. Well, actually, a lot of rain. The kind that looks like it comes down in sheets.

I thought the game was cancelled, as I found them all cozy in the teen room, watching a goofy movie. I was wrong. It was just a warm up for the rest of the silliness.

You see, they went outside anyway and played their game. In the rain. Oh, and there were two adults playing, too.

Guys. You gotta luv 'em.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Daniel!

Who's the greatest puzzle maker in the world? That's Daniel, my nephew!

Happy birthday, buddy. Hope you had a great day. Don't forget to check the mailbox in a few days.


Tia Bego, Tio John and the Cousins.

Antibiotics are my friends

And I'm awfully fond of my pharmacist, too.

So now that I'm feeling better--back to small town observations. I'm concerned about the mom and pop operations being eaten up by mega-stores. I'm not here to rail against the likes of Walmart, or national chain pharmacies. I'm like everybody else, I like to buy cheap. I have a particular fondness for Walmart because for the most part, the overall savings on a grocery bill for a family of five can be as much as 20%. It can be more when you look at clothes and other household items. LONG LIVE WALMART!

I definitely don't begrudge the stockholders their profits either. All these people in the media grumbling about big business making big profits. Hello? Isn't the point of running a business -- to make money? Isn't making more money better, from a business perspective? Get over it.

My beef, is really no beef at all. It's more like grief. I'm grieving for the small businesses that can't keep up with the mega-competition. Survival of the fittest means that these small businesses are closing their doors at an alarming rate. Our Old Town is suffering from a slump because there is a huge decline in retail business there. On the one hand, they can't compete price-wise or convenience-wise with the mall that opened less than ten minutes away. There's more variety, better prices, and longer business hours available at the mall. On the other hand, it's tough for these business owners to have to close the stores and find other work. It's regrettable, but the nature of the beast.

My lament is not geared towards a grand plan to save these businesses, or even to lobby for limits on what the mega-stores can do. The lament is a bit more selfish than that. I like shopping in the small stores. You can't beat the customer service. You can't beat the ambience. You can't beat that fleeting moment when it feels like you could be in an episode of Mayberry, RFD, and all is well with the world.

My favorite bookstore had to close, unable to keep up with rising rent and declining sales. It's true that I have a discount card for Borders, and shop there often to take advantage of the sales. I've gotten pretty good at using the computer that stands conveniently at the center of each major area, so I can find out if a book is in stock. I even think the smell of all that frou-frou coffee is enticing.

Nevertheless, it's not nearly as satisfying as the smell of old books and wood as I walked up and down the aisles at the old bookstore in town. The floors were creaky and somewhat uneven, and the displays, while tastefully done, were crowded together and likely to fall over if they were bumped on the way to another aisle. But I never saw a discount sale there--you paid full price for Harry Potter. Maybe that's why they went out of business. It sounds like a sad little tribute to The Shop Around the Corner, but that's how it is. I miss taking my nieces and nephews there to buy them books. I paid full price, sure. But I also got the pleasure of spending time in a bookstore that smelled like a bookstore--that had character. That had a clerk who could tell you where to find a book, or tell you to hold on while she went in back to open up a new delivery.

That's why I love my pharmacist. The clerk knows me by name, and asks about the family.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Road Trip!!!

OK, so Miss-I-see-the-world-through-a-camera-lens-Christy took her camera on a tour of Atlanta on our way to pick up Vic from Ga Tech. This photo essay brought to you by the Mouse.

I haven't quite figured out the interest she has in the signs, but the surprise one in the middle really tickled us.

STILL SICK, though not as bad

Suffering from a painful sinus infection kept me away from the computer, but not from the insanity of a camera on the road. First, some pictures from the weekend. The girls at Christ the King for Vic's youth of the year mass and awards, and then Christy at the lax game in Chatahoochie. She looks hoochie in that short skirt, too! Of course, Vic and I overdressed and freezing in the icey rain. They had their butts handed to them, too.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sick as a DOG

How sick do dogs get, anyway? No post today; it's enough that I moved my fingers in the general direction of the keyboard.

Maybe later I'll get one of the girls to post some pictures from the weekend.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Age of Privilege

How have we raised a generation of children for whom negotiation has replaced accountability? It is a question I ask myself every time I start my university classes, on time, and students trickle in, interrupting me and causing a minor disturbance. The door used to lock, and so, by closing it I handled the situation. Now, it is considered insensitive to the student. Poor baby. Meanwhile me and everybody else have our trains of thought broken.

I retaliated in the grade book. My syllabus states 3 tardies equal an absence, 3 absences equal an "F." Period. Case closed. Done deal.

For good measure, missing an assignment also results in failure.

Next week I’ll probably be facing the dean over some crybaby with 9 tardies, 3 absences and a zero. I wonder what she’ll have to say—it could rival some of the best science fiction stories on the market, no doubt. There’ll be pleading, excuse-making, and finally --accusations. That will just be the preliminary pre-meeting babble. Luckily, so far the administration has stood by statements listed in syllabi.

Those of you who know me, and know how vitriolic I can get when it comes to stupid behavior, will be surprised to find out that I get little satisfaction from these meetings. Sure, I win, if you define winning as having my side of the argument supported. But I don’t win, not in the big picture. No one does, least of all the student.

Accountability is no longer taught as a virtue. Children are taught, either directly, or by example, to question all authority, to provide excuses couched as reasons or explanations. They demand the time to be heard in order to spew this counterproductive drivel. "I know the rules. But…."

As parents, coaches, teachers, we accept that behavior, and reward it. Every time we give in to an excuse, we empower that child, and embolden her to continue to make the same choices. By default we teach our children that they can do everything they want, but we fail to see that double-booking and sometimes triple-booking their time results in all the activities suffering from inferior participation.

My student is working full time and has signed up for a full load. It can’t be done, at least, not well. At this point she has missed 40% of the instruction. No wonder she didn’t turn in the first assignment—she wasn’t there to get the instructions. If I don’t fail her now, she’ll continue to be sporadic in her attendance. I haven’t checked her schedule, but I fear she could be a nursing student. Woe to me if I should ever encounter her in an emergency room. I’d hate to see that she misses administering 40% of my meds because she’s double-booked. It’d just kill me.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Powerball at US $363 million

That's an insane amount of money. US $363 million! Wow. Really, I can't wrap my mind around that kind of money.

What would you do with it?

Oh sure, friends and family would be well taken care of, and I'd like to see the priest's face when that tithing envelope hits the desk. In fact, I think the fun of having such an obscene amount of money would be in the anonymous distribution of it. The problem is, how to be anonymous.

Mt husband and I have lain awake on numerous nights, playing the pretend game of spending a giant lottery winning. I wonder, though, just what happens to these people who win big.

I've heard stories about people squandering the money, and then finding themselves in debt, or living beyond their means and having to cut back after becoming accustomed to a different life style. I've heard of families and friends breaking up because there wasn't enough "sharing" or "appreciation" shown over the gifts. Hmmm.

It's all hearsay of course. Is that human nature making up those stories from the proverbial sour grapes syndrome? Or is there truth to not valuing what isn't earned?

The quick answer is I'd like to find out for myself! What a joy to travel anywhere in the world, for as long as I like. Don't think for a moment that I wouldn't charter a plane to Australia first thing, and make my way back home following Marco Polo's adventures across Asia to Europe and then into South America, making a pit stop at the South Pole and heading up through the Andes to the Rockies and hitting the North Pole. Yeah. What an adventure!

Of course, then what? What new dreams? What new adventures?

I'll go buy that ticket and find out. Heck, I'll buy five and give up an artery clogging meal at Micky D's. And because Jimmy the Greek was right, the house has the odds stacked in its favor, I'll go home, dream a little dream, and wake up tomorrow no closer to the Great Wall, but as carefree as a kite, waiting for the next great breeze.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

another wednesday, more routine

9:51 pm

And finally, the day ends. Another loss for the team, but my Samurai came back safely. Better luck on Saturday.

5:34 pm

Waiting, waiting and more waiting. My view from the taxi while waiting for Jonathan to get out of play rehearsal. There's still dinner and Spirit Life tonight at church.

note the engine light, which will cost $300 to reset, as there's nothing wrong with the engine. guess who can ignore the light?

3:51 pm

A depressing visit to the mailbox. A letter from Ga Tech! Not the right one--more garbage from financial aid. Vicky is going to have a stroke any day now.

2:09 pm

I'm sick of grading papers. I'm saturated by laundry. Taking a break with the bane of my existence doesn't seem like a normal thing for me, but it's a lovely afternoon, the sun is shining brightly, not a cloud in the sky, and we both just needed to get out of the house. PJ refused to sit still for a picture, and I'm feeling antsy myself. Of course, no one was around to get the picture of me rolling in the grass.

11:14 am

Where do the socks go? Sock heaven? Launderer's hell? I've got way too much grading to do to look for the missing pairs.

9:13 am

After coffee, reading the news, taking out the garbage, and tidying up the kitchen, it's off to do laundry. Joy!

7:33 am

The morning started with some agitation. Vicky had a test, the siblings not moving fast enough. Christy couldn't find her lacrosse stick and Jonathan was feeding the dogs.

My job just to watch them take off and leave me behind, metaphorically speaking. I'll just have some coffee and contemplate the laundry.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Random thoughts

A little shout out to my friend Leonie in Australia, who in spite of my weakness in never sending letters, appreciates and understands the lost art of snail mail correspondence. I love to get mail (I know: one must send mail to receive it) but she nevertheless pops a card in the post to me every once in a while. This week I got a delightful package with a sweet card and a very funny book about the Darwin Awards. Very funny indeed. It is amazing there can be so many stupid people in the world, and while it is distressing to die tragically, how much more distressing to be captured forever in the Darwin Awards for doing the kind of embarrassing and stupid things recorded in the book. HAHA. Losers.


Another shout out to Yuyi! Come on board quick, girl, and get your blog going, too!


My brother is a moron, but he's a lovable moron. We play this little game, where he instant messages me a lot of neat little things to entertain me throughout the day. Silly pictures, games, whatever. Then, right when he has me hitting the links without reading the text, he nails me with something ... how can I put it? Offensive. Yesterday he really got me, because we had been on for a while without talking when he asks me to log out and then back in, so what do I do? Comply.

Why? Well he answered it for you. As soon as I logged in he sent me a link. To the dictionary definition of "gullible."


Jonathan is off to the regional science fair this morning. He's hoping to have a terrible judge that dislikes him and his project, so he can quit wearing a tie at the interviews. He managed to avoid shaving this morning, but I spied him putting gel in his hair. I'll update the results tonight.


A friend of mine introduced me to a neat project for recording her activities through out the day, so tomorrow, check in to see what going on.

In the meantime, here's some entertainment in honor of my brother:


Monday, February 13, 2006

UPDATE: It's not a baseball bat

A loss. A bruised knuckle. A smashed chin (thank God for the mouthguard).

A yellow warning card. (mental note: maybe the whacking with a stick not a good idea)

All in a night's game. Better luck next time.

Whack 'em with a stick

Well, Christy's lacrosse season kicks off today. It snowed overnight (the real thing) so those poor girls are going to be freezing up in the north part of the city tonight. The sticks have metal shafts, the uniform jerseys are short sleeved, and they play in a skirt (called a kilt). I sure hope they win tonight or it's going to be an especially cold ride home on the Cheese Wagon.

They already played a scrimmage at a jamboree last weekend, losing the first match and winning the second. Maybe they just needed to warm up. Literally.

I don't know much about the game yet, but I love it. I wish I had been able to play it. Of course, it requires a great deal of running so maybe I would have opted for playing goalie, but anyway, there's a great deal of skill needed to move the ball. It's kind of like soccer, in the running up and down the field only I think the field is larger than soccer's.

They play with sticks like field hockey, but the sticks have nets at the end, and instead of whacking tha ball, you're supposed to catch it in the net and either carry it or throw it to a teammate. Scoring looks easy enough--you zing the ball into a hockey like net and hope it sails past the goalie. If you miss, the goalie gets pelted by a really hard ball. On second thought, I wouldn't be all that interested in being goalie after all.

It's a cool game and I love that Christy is getting into it. Maybe they'll win. Maybe they won't. They'll be having fun, though. When else can they get their frustrations out by whacking people with a stick?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Happy Birthday Critter!!!

Haha, not as mean as the gecko picture, but it is up there in the top 5 "why-did-you-do-this-to-me" category.

Enjoy your birthday weekend. I wish I was there.


Friday, February 10, 2006

Car Wars

Note to Young Parents: If you can establish the illusion of omnipresence when your children hit puberty, and can carry over the affectation of omniscience through their freshmen years in high school, I guarantee that fear will be their constant companion.

They’ll still do plenty of stupid stuff, and because it’s stupid, they’ll get caught sometimes, thus feeding the illusion that you are all-knowing, but I have the hope (and possible delusion) that it has stopped them from doing colossally stupid stuff.

Anyway, that’s my consolation. If ignorance is bliss, feel free to keep me in the dark.

I’ve stumbled into my superpowers by accident. It’s truly been a case of being in the right place at the right time, or if you’re the victim, of being in the wrong place at the right time for mom to appear out of nowhere.

The girls can probably share their experiences with that "busted" feeling, so it was with a great deal of amusement when earlier this week while on an errand, I was detoured around the back property of the high school and discovered Vicky’s car parked in an "off limits" area. Believe me, my psychosis could lead me to shadow them around all day, but even I have my limits. I just happened to be trying to avoid traffic, and drove by a spot where ordinarily, Vicky would not park.

I lost no time in asking why she was parked there, and satisfied by a logical and plausible explanation, ended the inquisition. She said someone was parked in her spot, and there was nowhere else to park. Evidently my superpowers still bug her, because a couple of days later, very casually, she asked me how I knew she had parked in back of the stadium. Parents, this is the part where you smile, shrug and say something vague, like "Oh, I dunno, I kinda get around and see all kinds of things."

It annoys them, but I figure they annoy me plenty of times.

At any rate, it brought to my attention a terrible injustice that the kids at the high school must deal with daily. Teachers are taking the parking spots that these students have paid for. How unfair is that? Understand that as far as I’m concerned, not only is driving a privilege and NOT a right, I’d rather they didn’t drive to school at all. Well, maybe I need to back up a bit on that one, I’ve grown accustomed to Vicky taking over my taxi service, but anyway, the point is, these kids have paid for those spots, and those teachers are taking them.

I’m afraid (and amused) that I’ve created some work for a few security guards. I got a call from Vicky this morning to tell me she had no parking again, and was going to have to look around the area for a spot. I immediately paid a little visit to my friend the principal, and in moments she had mobilized everyone in the office, and had the police resource officer running the plates. Oh oh. Somebody’s not going to like me very much. I’m guessing there’s going to be a bit of a crack down on the faculty today, because THEY had been complaining that the kids were in THEIR lot. I’m a little bit sorry for it—it stinks that teachers have to park very far and carry all their stuff, but they must have some grievance procedure they can use, that isn’t taking my kids assigned spot, so she ends up parking somewhere illegally.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Road Kill Chili

A few months ago I hit a deer while going home late at night. It was a terrible experience, for the deer and me. I drive a minivan with those sloped front ends, and I guess Ford knew what it was doing with that design, because that deer flew over the car and into a ditch. It reminded me of the cowcatchers on trains. For the record, before y'all label me a deerkiller, that deer jumped onto my car--no kidding. There was no damage to the front end, the air bags didn't deploy. That crazy animal jumped onto the hood and crushed it into the engine!

Nevertheless, that stretch of road is pretty bad at night. The area is still relatively rural. There are no sidewalks, no streetlights, it's pitch black at night, and the road curves a lot, so you happen upon things suddenly.

For years we have complained about a man (maybe homeless, maybe not) who rides his bicycle on that stretch of road. The thing is, we never know what side he's going to be on, or what kind of hazard he's going to cause, because he's usually laden with giant bags of...who knows what's in those bags, but they are giant, and they always take up a bunch of room on the road. He looks like those people in pictures of the Third World, with all their possessions piled high on a bike. We've nicknamed him Menace, and we are in a constant state of vigilance because we never know where he's going to show up.

Recently, he's been joined in disrupting the peace of mind on that road by Menace II, new and improved, and capable of stunning the motorists into spasms of swerving and braking. This new guy travels up and down the road in an electric wheelchair. He seems to enjoy playing a game of chicken with the cars, because he chooses to exit his driveway right when the car is about to cross it. He couldn't wait two seconds?

Now there's yet another wacko on the obstacle course that used to be a road. This new guy is clearly mentally afflicted (what, like the other two aren't?) because he stands guard at the end of his driveway. In daylight, he stands there, rigid as a post, as if he were at attention or something. At night, however, he becomes animated. He plays in the traffic. For real. We don't know what he's doing in the middle of the street, directing traffic? counting cars? trying to get his wings? This weekend he did something very special for me. As I slowed down because I saw him perched at the end of the driveway ready to do something weird, he lifted his shirt and exposed his voluminous belly to me. Does anyone have a hot poker so I can put out my eyes?

I've decided that the best course of action is to improve my hand eye coordination, because those nutjobs aren't going away, and I have to be prepared. I found this little game to help you waste endless hours at work, while you're still on the clock. Don't get caught.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Four Presidents and a Funeral

I got caught off-guard yesterday as I was going home from school, and ended up in the presidential motorcade. OK, not really. I ended up in the rolling stop where the presidential motorcade was travelling. It’s a misnomer, because there was no rolling anywhere. It was a full stop.

I realized my mistake as soon as I merged onto the interstate, and entered the parking lot formerly known as I-20. I immediately turned on the AM news station, hoping to get a traffic report. Instead, I heard Bill Clinton’s hypocritical audacity quoting from Isaiah and pretending to know what he was talking about. I know, not supposed to be judging others. Not to be outdone, Hillary blubbered on about things for a while, too. Boy, did they get applause. Disgusting. Meanwhile, I heard that Bush was dozing. And they didn’t even stay for the whole funeral. Can you believe they stopped it to let those guys off the stage? Amazing.

There was some more bla-bla-bla from people, some sincere, some obviously grandstanding and some who were clearly real friends of the family. I love that after all the dignitaries, one of Mrs. King’s real friends got up to say she was proud to be listed in the program with the title of Friend of the Family, and as far as she was concerned, that was the only thing on that page that mattered. It was brilliant! HA!

By then, the presidential motorcade was upon me, and it was pretty impressive. Lots of lights and police cars, plus 3 or 4 ambulances (40 years later getting proactive?). I imagine everyone was travelling in the line of about 10 black Excursions, a bunch of white SUVs/Passenger vans, and a cool looking fortified truck/van/boxy thing that must be a communications vehicle. Impressive, did I already say that?

Anyway, I know four presidents zoomed by me while I watched the engine temperature slowly inching it’s way up the dial. I supposed I can capture the moment and one day talk about seeing a motorcade with unidentified passengers heading towards the airport. If only I had listened to Vicky and we had crashed the viewing.

I wasn’t too terribly put out by sitting in traffic for almost two hours. I was caught up in the drama of the funeral, and I must not let my cynicism surrounding the funeral mar the work and sentiments of the Kings. Nevertheless, the grandstanding and posing was obnoxious and offensive. However, none of that politicking came close to what Stevie Wonder did.

He was scheduled to sing a beautiful song, one that is personally meaningful to John and me, "His Eye is on the Sparrow." He performed it, but I can’t bring myself to say that he sang it. He butchered it by singing scales all up and down the song. What is it these days? A contest to see who can demonstrate their full range with one song? More thunderous applause, of course. It was a disappointment, and more annoying than the traffic jam.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Where's PETA when you need them?

Sometimes inspiration comes from some crazy places, and in the few hours that I've been up today, I've managed to observe a whole week's worth of blogs.

Let's begin with Vicky coming right back home because her class was cancelled. She met me at the door, excited about going to the Coretta Scott King viewing before the funeral. True, it was literally down the street from us, and it would have been an incredible source of people watching, but....No. Wrong reason to go. That, and we would have been sucked into the mob of mourners, poseurs, and attention-getters and emerged sometime late next week.

She had to console herself with an episode of The Gilmore Girls before going to her meeting.

Then at the university, another one of those moments presented itself when I wish I had my camera. We are always bemoaning the fact that we rarely carry around our cameras, and then I cry and moan about it. And today a photo opportunity happened, and where is my camera? At home. Fully charged. Sitting on my desk.

If I wasn't usually trying to use my time wisely and grade papers or plan classes, I'd be sitting in the center of campus watching the moving exhibits. Unfortunately, it would suck all my time, so I try to get to my desk in a hurry, and stay there doing my penance, uhm, grading, until it's time to go.

Not today! Today I decided to treat myself to some fancy fruit juice from the juice bar (pear nectar--yummy!), when my eyes were assaulted by a student wearing, of all things, an ermine stole. She looked liked some freaky anachronism, Cardinal Richelieu in the flesh.

A stole and jeans, complete with emu boots. Man, I wish I was a spy and had a hidden camera hooked up to my glasses. Everytime I gasp in horror or amazement or amusement it automatically snaps a picture. Unfortunately I would have missed that shot, because in my shock I forgot to breathe. Sadly there was no one in the vicinity that I could direct a comment to, so I took my juice and ambled back to my hole.

Mental note: don't forget the camera again.

Monday, February 06, 2006

SNOW!!! yet another "psyche"

It's so exciting to have snow around here. It literally shuts down the entire city, and people inexplicably buy all the bread and milk available. It becomes some kind of crazy self-fulfilling prophecy of milk shortage because you have to run and buy it before the crazy people go buy all of it.

Where do they think we live? Vermont? Our piddling little inch of snow (that melts by midmorning, by the way) doesn't even register as a minor nuisance up north.

Nevertheless, the local weathermen have been blustering on about snow all weekend. Sure. OK. I woke up at 5:30 to the crunchy sound of ICE hitting the windows, but not snow. I wish it were snow, and not for the obvious reasons. This ice is bad. It brings down trees laden with it. A couple of years ago, my neighbor's pine tree fell into our yard, the branches brushing the corner of our bedroom. I'll pass on the ice, thanks.

And yet, it's the snow that gets coverage and attention. For my money, an ice storm carries way more drama. It's pretty, too.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Ostrich with its Head in the Ground

Not too long ago, the kids and I gathered together on a freezing Friday morning before dawn, to watch Vicky, who ordinarily has a good head on her shoulders, throw herself off a tower face first. Did I say this was by choice? There were pictures, of course, and video to document it.

At the bottom, after successfully rappelling "Australian-style" we made small talk over the experience. Top (Master Sergeant Esslinger) asked me which one was the good one, while pointing to the kids. Naturally, I grabbed Christy, who was standing innocently by. She benefited from the silliness mostly because it wasn’t her fault that my heart was beating a mile a minute. It could just as easily been Jonathan, but he was on the other side wondering when he could get out of the cold.

But that makes me think about playing favorites with the kids. Of course, I am guilty of that if playing favorites means having my mind in an eternal state of vigilance or concern —in short, the preoccupation that nags just under the conscious level when one or more of the kids are unaccounted for or away or on a trip.

I’ve had that nagging preoccupation bubbling along the surface of my consciousness a little more than usual lately. Christy traveled to Savannah last week for the 5th time in as many years. She’ll be traveling late again tonight, only I’m going, so I guess that doesn’t count. Vicky finally has the car, with all its parts and pieces and things that had to be done completed. Already, we had an argument about having her on a leash. She’s a good driver; I’m the one with the problem. Jonathan, too, has some prolonged field trips and retreats coming up.

In short, if my neurosis is caused by the mere bubblings of consciousness, woe is me if my anxieties should escape and come to the surface as full blown anxiety attacks.

And so, today I get to play favorites again as John, Vicky and Jonathan travel to Ohio for Tio Humberto’s memorial mass. I’m lucky to be actively involved in taking a group of kids to the thespian conference performance. At least I’ll be entertained. Tomorrow, more activity with the Lacrosse scrimmage.

Then the rest of the weekend will loom before me, with the stark emptiness of a near empty house. I think I’ll play a different kind of favorites, and enjoy my company with Christy, uninterrupted and exclusive. Maybe we’ll snuggle together in bed and watch endless hours of The Gilmore Girls. I better go find the number for Pizza Hut.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Groundhog Day!!! It's Just Another Woodchuck

So Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, and that means I get 6 more weeks of Cream of Wheat, bad breath be damned. Things could be worse.

You know I had to look up the spelling for that little guy, and got carried away by the tomes of information available on this overglorified rat. I thought groundhogs were just hairy 'possums, but I was wrong. It's not a rat, it's a woodchuck. Yes! Of the woodchuck who chucks wood kind.

Anyway, my reading took me on an educational adventure, and being a teacher, I thought I'd pass that on to you. I promise, no quiz.

First of all, Punxsutawney Phil first started popping out of his burrow in 1887. Who knew 'possums, I mean, groundhogs lived so long? But I digress--Punxsutawney is in Pennsylvania, which, besides being home to the Steelers (I'm rooting for Seattle) is also known for its German influence. The idea of a fuzzy animal having magical meteorological powers comes from them. This from a people who invented beer and trains that run on time. Proof that you can't have everything.

Anyway, the story goes that if a hibernating animal sees his shadow on Candlemas (TODAY!), then there will be a prolonged winter. If not, Spring comes early. There's even a little poem:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

Isn't that beautiful? The problem is of course in the actual predictability of this phenomenon based on one city. Today, it's pouring rain again in beautiful, exquisite Georgia. Not to be outdone, the southerners, or rather, Southerners (their own species) have hijacked this Pennsylvania Dutch tradition, and in spite of primarily English influences (and thus, not even remotely Catholic) celebrate Candelmas with their 'possum, I mean groundhog, named, of all things: General Beauregard Lee.

Some people never got the memo about the outcome of the Civil War.

Well, according to General Lee, Spring will come early. Dissention in the ranks? I think not; it's all for fun. Anyway, last time I checked, March 21 is still the first day of Spring.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I hate Wednesdays; they fall so inconveniently in the middle of the week. Mondays tend to be organizational days, and Tuesdays are just nondescript. But Wednesday! A daylong reminder of everything that's coming due by the end of the week.

At least I have the day off, which is a big relief. I used to teach on Wednesdays, and that was pretty bad because then I'd be gone all day, and still have Wednesday night duty with catechism at the church, so I wouldn't set foot in the house until after 9 o'clock.

Anyway, at least now I don't have to go into work, I can stay home and do more work. The sad thing about Wednesday is that it's a psychological trap. I always make a big effort to get some cleaning done, so I don't have to do too much on the weekend. If I could cue some music now, it'd be that piece they play when people lose on gameshows: wah, wah, waah. No matter how much laundry I get done today, the hampers will be overflowing by Saturday.

It's a conspiracy.

I'll just sit here drinking my coffee and eating my bowl of Cream of Wheat (have I mentioned at all that it's cold?) and wait for the dryer to finish. Meanwhile, inexplicably, Peggy Lee sings "Stuck in the Middle with You."