Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorable Memorial Day

Well, I couldn't have had a better Memorial Day weekend, in my opinion. Friday I graded (gross but necessary) and got in some quality plunking time (on the couch, in bed with a book, etc.). Saturday we went whole hog and had Mom and R. out to help us with our backyard--R. brought a chainsaw and shovels, so he and T. did many manly things with cutting down tree limbs and unearthing an old stump that became our new fire pit. DH is VERY excited about this, as well he should be.

Here's how economical and green we did things: We used the organic material from the stump as one level of dirt for my new, tiny vegetable garden! We had a bunch of old tree trunk parts to use as the border, dug up the soil, laid the organic stuff on that, add a dash (OK, a lot) of peat moss and cow manure, add plants and water, and hopefully I'll send future shots of my gorgeous little tomatoes and peppers. Either that, or I'll send pictures of my brown and dead efforts, lamenting the fact that I didn't put the garden in full enough sunlight or something. Seriously, the four of us had such fun weeding and cutting and creating. As Mom says, gardening works so well because it's instant gratification: When you weed, you immediately see a difference. She directed me and we did quite a good job, only flinching after R. pointed out that we had poison ivy growing near one of our trees. Thus, I am saving money for the future, AND I got the plants at the farmer's market, so it goes from pretty local to backyard-local. Plus we used all the weeds and sticks as fuel for the fire. Not bad, I say.

Once a stump, soon to be a fire pit

See what I mean?

My wee garden!

Sunday must have rocked, because I can't even remember what we did--oh yes, nice, slow day doing more puttering in the yard and getting full use of the new hammock. Oh, and while I biked around town (exercise, no gas, no emissions--can you tell I feel a little proud of this? I do. I totally do.), DH went and bought me a present: A red wheelbarrow ("So much depends..." for you William Carlos Williams fans out there). It's not every woman whose husband buys her a wheelbarrow that she'll actually use. I did get excited: This is one of many reasons why we're together. DH got to use his fire pit that very night as we entertained, and I have to report there's something very satisfying about sitting around enjoying something you created, no matter what that something is. Life doesn't get much better than this, my friends.

Monday I did a bunch more grading (again, gross) and that evening we went to Mom and R.'s for an absolutely delicious dinner that we did not have to cook, although I did ring in summer officially by making gazpacho. Just cutting up the cilantro and parsley made me decide to have a small indoor herb garden when winter comes: I loved the smell of fresh cut greenery!

Friday, May 23, 2008

If You Never Watched Beverly Hills, 90210, Skip This Post

Truly, Papa, just ignore it. You won't like it. It has to do with 90s TV you disliked intensely.

For the rest of you, have you seen this? It's the NEW 90210.

I think the Fug Girls put it best in their post at NY Mag, but seriously, can we please find something new to watch instead of more of the same old crap? At the same time, I may find myself watching an episode or two in order to know what my students are watching, laugh myself silly, and stare in that can't-tear-my-eyes-away, train wreck kind of way. For those of you who admit to having watched Nip/Tuck because it's so completely voyeuristic and trashy (I have, on occasion, for that reason), I think the one chick was on the show, mainly dressed as a Catholic schoolgirl tart who liked to entrap older men in her web of young sexiness. Yuck. I can only assume she'll reprise that kind of role on this new show.

At least they got Kelly Taylor--possible Dylan McKay showing???? Oh, he was sooooo dreamy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Separated at birth?

My friend L. made the comment that Penny looks like Fizzgig from The Dark Crystal. You be the judge:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Taking your time

So as I looked at my iGoogle page today, I scrolled down to see my latest eHow: How to Get Started in the Slow Food Movement. Well, first of all I had to see what Slow Food meant: Basically and simply, it's the opposite of fast food and has to do with taking time to eat food that's good, clean, and fair. This means no more fast food, pre-packaged, chemically- and DNA-enhanced foods. It means buying from your local farmer's market instead of getting something that came thousands of miles by plane, truck, and who knows what else. It means taking time to actually cook and grow your own food when possible. Really, it espouses what a lot of us have tried to do already--and thanks to my sister C., I will soon plant my own tiny vegetable garden complete with tomatoes, red onions, zucchini, sweet peppers, and hot peppers. That's all I got this past weekend at the farmer's market; I may even get more if things go well, but I don't want to go crazy. She's also informed me how to make my own compost heap, which greatly excites me. It all goes along with the Slow Food movement. If you check out the site, a lot of places have "conviviums" where like-minded slow-foodies get together and discuss...how to eat, buy, and grow more slowly, I guess. I've already found one in my general area, so I may check it out.

It's all about what Crunchy Chicken and Feather Nester have written about lately, in a way. I think it all comes down to slowing down and taking stock of what we have. Now, I'll admit freely, I do love the convenience of a Lean Cuisine sometimes. I do. Call me a hypocrite if you will, but I do what I can to make my little changes, and I love to cook, so if I can incorporate good, healthy, local/organic food with minimal prep time, I'll be the happiest camper in the world. And if you have any suggestions as to how to do this, please let me know.

Here's my real question: How do you buy local/organic, Weight Watcher-friendly, non-expensive food and put it together in a fairly simple, timely way? Riddle me that, folks. Ooh, ooh, and it can't always be salad. Any thoughts? Want to help me put that cookbook together, Savory and Sweet, after your current one? Seriously, I'd love to hear any of your thoughts!

P.S. If you go to the eHow page and scroll to the bottom, it always has "thing you'll need". The first one listed? Time. I got a kick out of that, on several levels.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The skin you're in

Today became one of those days where I wish I'd stayed in bed or worked at another job, preferably one with mature adults: The kids clearly hadn't read, we had little to no discussion even though they have a quiz (well, a "quest"--part quiz, part test) tomorrow, and I wanted to tell them that as much as they had mentally checked out, their teachers had similar feelings but refused to give into them. Sigh. So, at least I have something positive to contribute to all of you that makes the day worthwhile:

Just got this from Real Simple a few days ago online: The Skin Cancer Foundation and Aveeno are combining to give free skin cancer screenings around the country this spring and summer. As someone with skin just this side of ghost white, I take my sunscreen and skin cancer very seriously. Click here to find a location near you, as well as the date. Anyone in my area, there are two different places close to us that we can go to, which is a nice change from tours like this only getting as close as NYC and maybe Cleveland. Use SPF 30, people! Don't go tanning! Embrace your freckles and pale selves (or use fake tanner, like I do....)!

Famous pale people:

- Nicole Kidman (particularly in Moulin Rouge)
- The Pillsbury Dough Boy
- Kirsten Dunst (sans the fashion sense)
- Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City)
- Casper
- Rose McGowan (of Charmed fame)
- Kelly Taylor in early episodes of Beverly Hills, 90210
- Julianne Moore
- Conan O'Brian
- Frosty the Snowman
- Early seasons of Friends Courtney Cox

Any others I can't think of?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Summer Reading

We've decided to do something a little different in my school this year: The English teachers each chose a book for the kids to read, so we have a fairly short list. The students can read any of them (at least two) and then the third week of school in September, we have a Summer Reading Week where the kids meet with the teacher who's "in charge" of their book and we have groups and discuss it and all that fun stuff. It's all-inclusive, so we could have seniors discussing with freshmen, which is a nice twist. We make them accountable but don't do some old-style book report or a test or something. We're trying desperately to get kids reading again, so the list has fiction, non-fiction, young adult, fantasy, autobiography, and one book-made-movie (for the media teacher). Thus, I'll give you all the list because I know I haven't read some of these and I always love to get titles from informed readers. I plan to read them all, if I can. I'll make comments on the ones I know about.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
-- Stephen Chbosky
- I have heard nothing but good things about this one. Kids who don't like to read enjoy it.

The Road -- Cormac McCarthy
- Also wrote No Country For Old Men, heard lots of praise from colleagues

Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
- True story of the Mt. Everest disaster

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time—Mark Haddon
- This one's mine; I loved it. It's told from the POV of an autistic boy and has points of hilarity and pathos.

The Kite Runner -- Khaled Hosseini
- Another great one; very powerful; I think most of you have probably heard of this!

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
- Much more a young adult book, told from the POV of a dead girl who watches over her family from heaven and sees what happens after her murder

King Dork -- Frank Portman
- I am very excited to read this one. It helps if you've read Catcher in the Rye. The narrator is a typical teenage boy dealing with high school hell as well as the death of his father. He finds out about his dad through dad's book collection, unearthing a lot he didn't know.

The Path to Purpose: Helping Our Children Find Their Calling in Life -- William Damon

The Audacity of Hope – Barack Obama

Black and White (Speak) -- Paul Volponi

Winesburg, Ohio -- Sherwood Anderson

The Princess Bride – William Goldman
- Yes, what the movie comes from, and the book is much better!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
– Sherman Alexie

The Eyes of the Dragon – Stephen King
- Fantasy: A kingdom of old, an evil wizard, a conspiracy against the king...fun stuff.

So I'll be looking at some of those this summer. For those of you who actually have time to read, I think this makes for a pretty full list. Enjoy!


A thought, which Feather Nester just commented on and it's so weird that she did, that I had to post about it: Have you ever thought of a person, a song, a movie, etc., that you haven't thought of in months or even years and suddenly it pops up in your life about three times within the span of a week? Why does that happen? How does it happen? As I wrote on FN's blog, I think it's just the universe's way of checking in and giving its two cents. Still, quite a phenomenon. It makes me feel connected somehow, though I'm not sure to what. That same universe? Who knows. I meant to post this on Saturday and do a Six Senses Saturday, but I didn't get around to it. :-)

Speaking of connections, I had a great girls' night out with my friends D and H on Friday night-- we went out to dinner and talked about EVERYTHING and laughed until we cried. I'm sure the waitstaff lurking near our table had a more interesting evening; I feel pretty sure they listened to everything we said. My mom did the same thing last week for her birthday (Happy b-day again, Mom! My friends said to tell you the same. Call me and I'll tell you which ones) and they had a blast. We get so busy and it's so important to make that time with our friends, to reconnect. Even if it seems they've gone off in different directions than we have, we can always call them up and get together. And if that doesn't work for whatever reason, well, we do find new ones to laugh and dish with, though it may take time. I guess this little blog does something similar by keeping me connected with friends and people I love, and it introduces me to new people and them to me. I like that.

Happy Mother's Day a day late to all those mommies and mother figures out there--you mean so much to all of us! It's all about connections, people! Call! Write! E-mail! Visit! Blog! Let them know what's going on and that you're thinking of them.

On a completely unrelated note (and that's my M.O., folks, it keeps you on your toes), I found another way to fill my rain barrel: When I let the water get hot for my shower, I put a bucket under the tap and then pour it all into the barrel. Laugh as you will, but it cuts down on waste and fills it up. We haven't gotten the drain pipe on the gutter to filter into it yet, and filling it drop by rain drop doesn't quite seem to work, though with all the rain lately, I have the makings of a mean herb garden going.

I think I'll go home and tend to Penny and my tired husband, who had a regatta this weekend in Saratoga and didn't get home until 11:15 last night, so they both need attention in their own ways.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Getting greener every day

I just went paperless with my credit card, and here's a site where you can go to eliminate the catalogs you receive all too frequently: http://www.catalogchoice.org/. This other one's for junk mail: http://www.directmail.com/.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

More pictures of the pup

OK, I promise not to become one of those weirdos who gets all overcuddly about her dog in public, but would you agree that this puppy has an incredibly sweet face?

And a funny one?

Check out a few more if you want on Flickr--I added it on the side of the blog.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

An Imperfect Offering

In church today, our minister referenced James Orbinski, head of Doctors Without Borders and winner, with that organization, of the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize. Orbinski also wrote a book called Imperfect Offering; the title comes from a line in the song "Anthem" by Leonard Cohen:

"Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything."

Orbinski took it to mean that, while he couldn't fix everything, the offering in itself was enough. If you do the most you can, it's all right if that "most" doesn't encompass everything. A friend's post reminded me of that and I want to offer this to her and to myself and to all of you. Remember that none of us are perfect and it's the cracks that make us who we are. This doesn't mean, "Oh, I made a halfhearted effort, so it's ok." It means for those of us who hold ourselves to impossible or unfair standards to let ourselves off the hook every once in a while, that what we offer to others and ourselves doesn't have to be perfect.

I just wanted to pass that along as each of you go through your week.

A dream come true

Sting, Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers

Last night I had a wish of my childhood realized: I saw The Police in concert. Let me tell you, as a longtime Police fan, they exceeded my every expectation. You have to understand, as a kid, my first ever "favorite band" was The Police. I belted out "Roxanne" at age ten waaaay before I ever knew what putting on the red light meant. I stood there in the pouring rain with the world turning circles running round my brain. They wrapped me around their finger. I felt total synchronicity with this band.

Elvis Costello and the Imposters opened, and they kicked ass themselves, stirring up the crowd. Great stuff, but I actually began to get stomach flutters waiting for The Police to come on. At various moments in the concert I would suddenly think, "I AM WATCHING THE POLICE IN CONCERT!" and just get excited all over again. I sang all the songs, screamed until I was hoarse, and marveled at these three talented musicians. I'd forgotten, as many others had, probably, just how well Andy Summers can wail on a guitar, and Stewart Copeland rocked the percussion like a madman. Sting has remained a favorite throughout the years, but he would've taken a much longer time to get noticed without his bandmates to complement that voice. They started their tour in Ottawa, so we, as the second stop, got the show where they'd gotten some of the initial kinks out and still liked each other enough to play the songs true. I'm sure along the way they'll remember why they got together in the first place and why they broke up as a band, but we got three happy men blasting out their greatest hits, playing off each other in every sense of the word, and the crowd ate it up, baby. They didn't miss a trick and it all seemed familiar and new at the same time. I loved every single second of that show and have totally renewed my love of The Police.

On another note, saw Iron Man this weekend and I have to give that a solid two thumbs up for comic book excitement, good acting, and fun with explosions but not overdoing it. Plus I love Robert Downey, Jr.--please, please stay out of trouble so I can continue to adore you in theaters. See? The Police have made me gush over everything. EVERYTHING! My dog is so cute! I just love my hair today! My husband is the sweetest man in the world!

I hope you all had a good weekend, too.