Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm heading out with the kids to my mom and dad's today. We've all started to gather in honor of my family reunion. I'll check on you all as time and DSL connections permit.

Actually About Reptiles, Nothing More

You can tell it's summer by how many garter snakes are smashed in the residential area streets.

I keep working at ways to encourage them to come live at my house while others work hard at keeping them away. I can feel the anger of the hood directed at me...just kidding.
I know most people don't like snakes, or in other words, HATE them. I understand that sentiment. But I appreciate snakes. I could list a bunch of reasons why but I won't. Instead Ill submit some interesting past associations with snakes. Interesting to me...

We lived in my father's family's little ramshackle house on 80 acres in the country. This place was exceedingly old and not in a good way. Not in the vintage sorta way. However, it was a wonderful place for me to grow into and develop my naturalist mentality.
I remember the first snake encounter. My sister and brother were at school so I was playing outside by myself. I spied what I believed to be a copperhead(poisonous, Simon) but thinking back, since my mother didn't go haywire I wonder now if it was. I ran in and told her and she said to get a hoe (garden implement, people) and kill it. So I committed reptile-cide. For the first and last time in my life.
We had a massive blackberry bramble there that, even after we moved into town, we picked from it in the summers. My father farmed this 80 acres as well. So we heard stories from him about the huge black snake that would be ambling across the cotton field and make a mad dash for the blackberry bush. It had been plowed over once or twice and had the scars to prove it. We assumed it was hiding in the blackberry bush which made picking berries very scary.
Then someone torched the house one night and when we went to look at the smoldering remains, there was a blue racer snake that hadn't raced quite fast enough out of the fire. It's back half was fried. The black snake was never spotted any more either.
Another time, we were camping one summer near a river. My brother and I took off on a walk. I was being silly and walking right behind him step for step. All at once he stopped and I bumped right into him. I looked around him and saw a huge black snake of some kind coiled very near us. He wasn't paying any attention and almost stepped right on it. We ran screaming back to the campsite. It is sweet to use that against him every now and then.
In my more mature years (don't laugh- it's true) I've managed to keep black snake eggs that were laid by a very large female in my garden straw bales and hatch them. I've even had a chance to lose two hatchlings in the house. That was freaky, yes...
And at this very same house in the country I had many encounters with different snakes -nothing but sightings really.
J stepped on a copperhead barefooted at this very house while his father still lived in the house. . It's the only time I ever heard of one there. It didn't bite him thankfully.
I kept my lookout for those since the kids were small. I even got a couple of dogs to help out in that manner.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How to Make a Woman Happy
It's not difficult to make a woman happy. A man only needs to be:
1 a friend
2. a companion
3. a lover
4. a brother
5. a father
6. a master
7. a chef
8. an electrician
9. a carpenter
10. a plumber
11. a mechanic
12. a decorator
13. a stylist
14. a sexologist
15. a gynecologist
16. a psychologist
17. a pest exterminator
18. a psychiatrist
19. a healer
20. a good listener
21. an organizer
22. a good father
23. very clean
24. sympathetic
25. athletic
26. warm
27. attentive
28. gallant
29. intelligent
30. funny
31. creative
32. tender
33. strong
34. understanding
35. tolerant
36. prudent
37. ambitious
38. capable
39. courageous
40. determined!
41. true
42. dependable
43. passionate
44. compassionate
45. give her compliments regularly
46. love shopping
47. be honest
48. be very rich
49. not stress her out
50. not look at other girls

51. give her lots of attention, but expect little yourself
52. give her lots of space, never worrying about where she goes

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT: Never to forget:
* birthdays
* anniversaries
* arrangements she makes

1. Show up naked
2. Bring beer

Seems like it's going to be wet forever around here.
I still don't have stuff like squash and green beans planted because my garden is very much the consistency of chocolate mousse. My 5 x 5 raised bed is doing great with the beets, carrots and now a few potatoes planted. Between the rain showers, with thoughts of weeping sore's comment, I used my webbing sunflower seed sacks and newly emptied potting soil sacks to plant my potatoes in. We will see how much too late I am for planting potatoes.
I instead got jobs like this cast iron sign put up finally.

I absconded with these cool patio chairs from the kid's dads. They looked horrid but I can see potential.
It's too moist to work on priming and painting them and I don't have a sheet of plywood or a band or jigsaw to cut the new seat out of nor do I have the waterproof fabric or foam rubber to make the seat cushion out of. So I just laid everything out and took pictures after I dismantled them.

I have 3 such jobs waiting for me in my garage. A set of metal kitchen cabinets that need stripping and perhaps sandblasted to take of some rust. I'd like to see what the local body shop would charge to put a coat of paint on them. It would be nice to get them up in my laundry room by the end of the summer.
I also have an old chest of drawers I wanted to sand and maybe paint for Erin to use at her father's house since he doesn't have any furniture for them to speak of..She wondered about just sanding and putting on a coat of sealer so that's the route I'll go to get it done.
Then there is the crawl space doors to the house that happen to be in place on the house but the siding I saved from the ones that fell apart needs to be put on (ack, don't know what I'm doing here) as well as the new doors needing primering and sealed. And along that vein is the primering and painting of the shed in back and the siding washed on the house and both porches needing sealed. The kids get to help with ALL of that. It just needs to stop resembling the South American rain forest around here before we can get started.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My reading material has been reproducing. I have a quiet weekend (fingers crossed) to catch up and get some much needed mental down time. There might be a bit of soul searching going on as well....

I had my fill of margaritas last night so no mixed drinks for me. Maybe a six pack of ice cold beer and a chair will be the route I take. Lots of home repair and cleaning, gardening, craft projects and just relaxing. The kids will be gone until Monday.

Hope every one's weekend is spent exactly how you please. It's time to kick back .


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thursday Afternoon and the Livin' Is Easy

After yesterday, any day would seem lovely.
Title I people covered a double recess for every grade- K thru 5th in the morning, which translates to 4 hours straight of standing up. (Sitting gives the wrong impression to passersby on the street who look over and see playground teachers sitting on our fat rumps.) We did this so the teachers could enter their grades on the computer and any last minute paperwork needed. We are loved.
Then, much to all our distress, the principal decides to cover a long afternoon of non-work with a faculty softball game. I have to admit it was fun. But by the end of the day my feet first felt like balloons and then like cement blocks. And..I broke a nail.

Today, however I find myself able to investigate the repair info for my 5 year old Kenmore washer which is slowly losing its transmission oil and putting out a distinct whining sound once in awhile during the rinse cycle. Yeah, it's pretty much shot craps as I understand it. Too much to pay to get it fixed unless I DIY. Might as well either repair it myself if I can find the tools or buy a new cheap one. About 5 years is all you can expect. And I figure a new one will last even less time. I may just use this one until it quits and THEN buy a new one.
I even had a chance to head down to the local Asian restaurant and get take out which usually increases my weight by 2/3rds more with the sodium/MSG content. My fortune cookie held this- "your talents will prove to be especially useful this week". Anyone, anyone?

Everyone wave goodbye to Simon who has been here in the U.S. perusing the pro shops and country clubs of Northern Illinois and a bit of code writing when he has a chance...He leaves tomorrow. Ciao, Simon.

Tomorrow is our last day of school - half a day. We leave school to head up to a friend's house in Springfield who will ply us with margaritas and a hot tub for visiting her. She retired two years ago and she is finding herself increasingly lonely since her husband is a consultant that is out of town most weeks. I hope she stays needy....I need margaritas and hot tub time....

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Just Some Funny Stuff

China is getting ready for the tourists...

...which is just one step up from just lovely

-Starbucks should be very afraid

-There's one thing we DON"T need help with

-It would be once you start chewing it.

Excuse me - not trying to be politically incorrect here but this stuff is hilarious!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Last Saturday

Graduation day for Slim. Sasha went with us to Slim's open house prior to the ceremony.

Just before the ceremony. What a gorgeous day it was!

Slim giving his Valedictorian speech.

Receiving his diploma...

It was a very nice day all around!

Friday, May 16, 2008

What's on my mind?.... We have my daughter's boyfriend, Slim's graduation this weekend which should be a good reason to start her on a glass of wine to calm her. Hey, whatever keeps her from crying incessantly, worrying and fretting about him being gone, etc. I'm frayed from all that emotional drama.
Because he is a bookworm, I bought him a couple of books that might help with the transition. "Where is Mom When You Need Her", a book on cooking as a new college student to health and finances, and a book of advice given from college students. It doesn't give advice on how to find the best beer on tap prices or how to bag a freshman boy/girl in 24 hours of being on campus, not that that's not eventually useful, mind you..) It's more useful things like how to deal with anything from running out of cash to automotive stuff. That kid is dang intelligent but he is not too smart. He needs some reference material.

One of the other books I picked up with Slim's books is don Miguel Luis Ruiz's book "The Four Agreements". I thumbed through it a few months back and didn't buy it but something told me to pick it up this time. It's pretty "out there" for me in it's presentation but the core meaning of it is sensible. Code of conduct for your own life-
1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
-I think of the people who I admire and when they speak, its after a pause to reflect what it is they want to say. That old adage of "think before you speak".

2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.
-Ok, really useful if I'd understood that concept a long time ago. And I try to help the kids with this as well, reminding them when someone is hateful directly to them, no telling what else is are has gone on in their lives to cause them to lash out. Understanding some can take some of the sting out of the meaness.

3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life
. -Simple and oh, so helpful to have learned this years ago. There was much more to this agreement than just the communication encouragement.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
-When I read this agreement in the book, I thought "how stupid! How can we expect to do our best when we many times don't have it in us?" But it manages to take the pressure off by the next few sentences and then it does make sense.

Anyway, as they say, these are guiding principals we can use on a daily basis if it helps flesh out existing principals we live with. I'm pretty much a "do unto others" kinda gal but but I need more.
Ok, talk amongst yaselves. Get back to me.

Those of you in Chicago should look up Simon while he is over visiting from across the pond.
It would have been fun to have met my rich English playboy but things are not conducive to traveling this weekend or coming week. But everybody give him a wave...We will see if he shows back up in the states any time soon. Then maybe we can converge on him!

Our weather today is fantabulous spring weather! I plan on opening my bottle of cold sparkling Merlot and having a glass on the patio while soaking up the sun. My poor skin.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Quotes For the Day

Don't worry about avoiding temptation. As you grow older, it will avoid you. -- Winston Churchill

Maybe it's true that life begins at fifty .. But everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out. -- Phyllis Diller

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Found this test at Mathman's blog.

Good grief, this is exactly me.

Your Brain's Pattern
You have a dreamy mind, full of fancy and fantasy.
You have the ability to stay forever entertained with your thoughts.
People may say you're hard to read, but that's because you're so internally focused.
But when you do share what you're thinking, people are impressed with your imagination.
What Pattern Is Your Brain?

Ode to Mothers

This is something my sister sent to me...
I don't want to be accused of plagiarizing.

This is for the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, wiping up puke laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherry Kool-Aid (insert "smoothies" here Iamnot) saying, 'It's okay honey, Mommy's here'. Who have sat in rocking chairs for hours on end soothing crying babies who can't be comforted.
This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse.
For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who DON'T.
This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes.
This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on their refrigerator doors.
And for all the mothers who froze their buns on metal bleachers at football , hockey, BASEBALL or soccer games instead of watching from the warmth of their cars, so that when their kids asked, 'Did you see me, Mom?' they could say, 'Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the world,' and mean it.
This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice cream before dinner. And for all the mothers who count to ten instead, but realize how child abuse happens.
This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about making babies. And for all the (grand) mothers who wanted to, but just couldn't find the words.
This is for all the mothers who go hungry, so their children can eat.
For all the mothers who read 'Goodnight, Moon' twice a night for a year. And then read it again. 'Just one more time.'
This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead.
This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot.
This is for every mother whose head turns automatically when a little voice calls 'Mom?' in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home -- or even away at college.
This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomach aches, assuring them they'd be just FINE once they got there, only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up. Right away.
This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them.
For all the mothers who bite their lips until they bleed when their 14 year olds dye their hair green.
For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting.
For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school, safely.
This is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from a war.

What makes a good Mother anyway?
Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time?
Or is it in her heart? Is it the ache you feel when you watch your son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time?
The jolt that takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 A.M. to put your hand on the back of a sleeping baby?
The panic, years later, that comes again at 2 A.M. when you just want to hear their key in the door and know they are safe again in your home?
Or the need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you hear news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying?
The emotions of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation...
And mature mothers learning to let go.
For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers.
Single mothers and married mothers.
Mothers with money, mothers without.
This is for you all. For all of us.

Friday, May 09, 2008

I hate being so emotional. I can't let my mind wonder over certain issues/situations/people without getting a lump in my throat and a throb in my heart. And I'm gripey and feel hateful.

I have not shed a real tear for many months. I can't remember the last time (but then again, I forget everything). I won't let myself. I control myself not to think about certain people and scary stuff to the point I will cry. Bad thing or good thing?
I used to let it flow but I don't anymore. I don't want to get caught up in all that emotion. I also feel almost no sweetness of life anymore either. Some things used to fill me up with emotion they were so wonderful. Now I feel a deep hardness inside. I guess I am propagating this tendency by not allowing myself to feel.
I am describing the same way my grandmother was. She displayed the same characteristics. I didn't like her very much. Hehe, I have to laugh about it. And my family has never been big drama people. We keep our emotions except anger and irritation to ourselves mostly. Good grief, I never knew what my father was thinking except when he was mad. My mom would tell me to quiet down when I would be too emotional about something.

Not to worry. I'm not losing sleep over this- I'm losing sleep, just not over this.

Anyway, just thinking out loud.
Hope you all have a nice weekend planned out. Make sure the patio furniture comes out of hiding and plant those seeds and flowers in some patch of earth. Mix up a nice pitcher of some libation and sit for a spell in the sunshine or the warmth of the heater if the sun won't cooperate. Hug your kids/spouse/mailman/dry cleaners owner/cat/dog. Tell 'em that you love 'em or at the very least, that they have a nice pack/price per shirt/coat of fur.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Last night as I pulled down the covers of my bed, I found a ladybug nestled among my jammies.

Things may be looking up.....

One by one my large house plants have been making their way outside. I feel less claustrophobic with them gone plus they are all in need of some washing down which should be no problem since it really has never stopped raining here.

My garden is still empty except for the Conservation shrubs and tree seedlings I heeled in at least a month ago -at least empty of intended planting. I have some volunteer cilantro which I will take and some lillies and a garlic chive plant that just won't quit. I also let the straw from my tomatoes sprout wheat and it's grown to more than waist high. I guess it's time to cut it and use as a green mulch.

My raised bed is doing well with it's small rows of White Icicle radishes (spi-cy!), carrots, onions and shallots. That and my whiskey barrel are doing fine with the rain.

More later....

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Prom Alert!

Thank god there won't be any disgust when she looks at theses a few decades from now. Whoops! Did I say that outloud? Sorry if that was openly gushing.

They clean up pretty well. And it was supposedly the best prom anyone had had in ages.

Sasha is killer in this dress. This pic doesn't do her justice.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A Year In the Life of Education

  • Enthused, excited, focused, full of energy, review, review, review
  • hitting work hard, getting things accomplished, settling into smooth routine, have control of class/students.
  • waver before the holidays, working hard to keep students focused/deal with unhelpful parents/troubled students, feel work is sliding and taking backseat to holiday turmoil.
  • come back after holiday break and work extra hard to refocus students. REVIEW, lock horns with same unhelpful parents/students, hit books hard but with less force/focus from students, sickness/snow days losses, gripe
  • Return from spring break and refocus with even less steam, fight to make gains adequate for testing knowledge, gripe.
  • test, bite nails to quick, gripe
  • lose focus entirely, endless class field trips, gripe
  • give in to lost focus, gripe

Not much left to do but gripe except cry. I choose to drink....

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Too. Tired. To. Post.