Tuesday, December 29, 2009

YEAH, we got the camera back! (and Christmas pictures)

First of all, I must show you all the apparatus used to fish out the camera because it's pretty high tech:

A driveway stake...
and a wall hook tied to a piece of string:

That and a magnetic flashlight that adhered to the back of the fridge, along with the brilliant teamwork of me and T, got us back our camera. As I said to several people, think of an old movie with the scene of kids getting a dime of a sewer grate with string and a piece of gum, and that's about the long and short of it.

Thus we had the camera ready for Christmas. This year we once again did the great Christmas Road Trip, but it wasn't nearly as taxing as it has been in past years; we just went to my mom's, my grandmother's in Batavia, and back to my mom's on the actual Christmas day. Christmas Eve we go to my dad's and this year I had the opportunity to speak German to the exchange student who spent the evening with us and Spanish to my stepsister's parents, who are from Spain. Fortunately I remembered just enough not to 1) make an ass of myself and 2) understand about 3/4 of what they were saying. Makes me excited to use them again, in some capacity. It's so true that if you don't use it, you lose it. Have to look into that for 2010, find some opportunities.

But I digress. We had a lovely time seeing all the family we have, direct and distant, biological and situational (through marriage, friendship, etc.). This year we made a lot of our presents, cheese bread and cinnamon raisin bread for everyone except my sister C, and I can't say what I made for them because I haven't given it to her and her BF yet--they spent Christmas in D.C. with his family. We missed her a lot, but I know she had a great time with J. By the way, the bread was ridiculously easy to make, so let me know if you want the recipes and I'll post them. All you need is a loaf pan, yeast, flour, sugar, salt, and a few other easy ingredients. I would post pictures, but the bread was eaten too quickly, so that gives some indication of how it tasted. My FIL also enjoyed it--we got to see him on the 26th. And on Sunday, we rested. All day.

Here are just a few pictures for you to enjoy. Hope all those who celebrate Christmas had as wonderful a holiday as I did.

Mom and R

T and me--he's wearing the jersey I gave him, and I have used the hair straightener he gave me (seriously, it rocks)

Tree at my grandmother's

My sister M and her husband C

C wearing his new blazer, the scarf he gave my sister, and R's new hat we gave him. Quite the ensemble, yes?

Penny in her Christmas bandana

Our tree! Isn't it beeyewteeful?

Utterly random wondering

Scarlet Lily's recent post brought to the surface a question that has swirled in my own personal Pensieve for a while: What is with the rash of celebrity perfumes? Seriously, why the mania to be immortalized in scent? What does it do for your celebrity cache? And good Lord, not to sound snotty, but would I ever admit I wore a scent created by KISS? (It's true.)

Let me just throw out a few of the celebs who either have their own scents or endorse them:
  • Carlos Santana
  • Michael Jackson
  • Alan Cumming
  • Enrique AND Julio Iglesias (separately)
  • Debbie Gibson, briefly in the early 90s had "Electric Youth" fragrance
  • Tim McGraw
  • Victoria Beckham (yikes)
  • Clive Owen for Lancome
    - Note: Lancome has a number of celebrities as the faces for various scents, including Uma Thurman, and Kate Winslet
  • The Olsen Twins (double yikes--HAH)
  • Jeff Gordon
  • Luciano Pavarotti
  • Paris Hilton
  • Kimora Lee Simmons has two called "Baby Phat Goddess" and "Fabulosity"
That's only part of a list. I just don't know what to make of it. I know Liz Taylor's "White Diamonds" has lasted the test of time, but I don't see Hilary Duff and Usher's scents doing the same.

What say you? You have to admit it if you've tried any of them, too.

P.S. Gloria Swanson has one called "Youth Dew". I find something incredibly wrong with that. I don't know why.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Something to do today

Go click on the Free Rice banner on the right-hand side of my page and play for a while, and donate rice to those who need it. You can learn new words, do some math, expand your geographical and art knowledge, or polish up your foreign language skills by clicking on "Subjects" at the top.

Take a few minutes away from Facebook to play constructively! That way your boss can't question it. :-) Have a wonderful Monday.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Taking Stock

I haven't even had time to read others' blogs, much less really post to my own. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas for a teacher flies at breakneck pace, and I just finished up my last ever certification class, so that's one part off my plate. which is nice. Don't get me wrong; I love what I do, but I think when you mentally prepare for something that's coming, like a break, you get into a certain mindset that's hard to get out of. I've felt alternately Grinchy and supremely Christmassy at different times over the last few weeks.

Last weekend I went to a memorial service for a family friend who died of breast cancer. She was 41 and left behind a loving family, including her husband and four year-old twin boys. Wait, no. Don't get too sad. Yes, of COURSE it's tragic. But I went to her service and realized just how much she did with her life, every day, even though she knew it was limited. She fought her cancer for about seven years, if I remember correctly, and it even went into remission for a while. As her husband so eloquently said at the service, she faced each day as an exciting challenge and did so with a good deal of grace and optimism. She didn't ignore what was happening to her; she just didn't let it rule her life. Every time I saw Gyda, she had a smile on her face and she lit up a room; the number of people there to bear witness to her life demonstrated just how much she affected those she came into contact with. What touched me most was that her husband pointed out to his boys that all the people in that room loved Mommy and would help them remember and love her.

It just put a lot into perspective. I'm so grateful for what I have, grateful that we had to make room in the refrigerator last night for the food we'd just bought. I have so much that I try not to take for granted, although I have my moments, just as anyone does. It's funny that at the holidays, this time of "peace", I and others feel so frantic all the time. I haven't gotten my holiday cards out yet, and I have friends who made SURE they were there on my doorstep on December 1. I'm trying to keep a budget but not shortchange anyone. I don't know if it's consumerism that makes us all crazy because we buy into it (hah! I made a funny!) or what? The kitchen is a constant mess, along with other areas of the house. If I hear one more "news" story about Tiger Woods that doesn't involve his performance during a golf tournament, I will go completely insane. I feel that friends I attempt to make contact with don't return my phonecalls, and I wonder if it's that they're simply busy or it means we're slipping away from each other. I keep meaning to exercise but something always gets in the way, whether it's school or grading or grocery shopping or my own lack of motivation. The other night I was in a hideous mood for no reason I could put my finger on, my head full of doubts and negative thoughts.

I don't know where all of this is going. The two paragraphs seem to completely contradict each other. But I guess what I'm trying to express is that I think we all need to find our tiny moments of peace and serenity when and where we can get them, and we need to remember that what's important is how we live our day to day moments. At the end of your life, nobody cares if the kitchen was clean. So I leave you with something that the King of Consumers, Starbucks, put together. It's actually pretty fantastic, so enjoy. Enjoy each other.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How Amazing is This?

It's right out of the Jetsons! Or something that actually depicts the future. Erm...The Matrix? Star Trek? I, Robot? Take your pick; this is pretty mind-blowing, I think.


Does anyone think the gigantically full moon had anything to do with my mood yesterday? I do. It's like a movie moon, it's so huge and bright and sharply defined.

I have already had some lovely, kind responses, so thank you. And I'm fine today, really; I'm good about 90% of the time and I wrote that post in the 10% that I'm not. But I'm still glad I did it.

You understand.

P.S. I have already received two holiday cards. Way to be on the ball, people!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


So in my banner I write about how I put things on this blog so I won't send those who love me screaming into the night. But I never do that. I keep it all light, for the most part. So here it is, at least some of what I'm thinking. It's a bit of a pity party, but I'm getting it off my chest and they're my feelings, so leave the judgments elsewhere.

Heard today that one of the teachers who has been out for six years on maternity leave wants to do a job share (half the day) with another teacher who's currently out on maternity leave as well. If the other two who do a job share currently go for it again, which they probably will, this means no positions are open next year. Mind you, two MORE teachers in my department are pregnant and will probably take a year off, so that's good if I get one of their positions. But it just reminds me of how completely tenuous my position is here. I try never, ever, to talk about my job too specifically on this blog, but I'm just so tired of watching other women do what I so desperately want to do: Start a family and take off a little work, and then have a job to come back to. I'm going to be 33 years old and I've got people telling me I should do fertility testing in case I have trouble conceiving because I'm not getting any younger. I know full well how old I am. Eff off.

On the one hand, every time I've freaked out about my job situation, I have been extremely fortunate in that I always found a job. I know I'm good at what I do, plus I'm getting a second certification in Special Ed, so I should be able to find something. Selfishly, I would love to stay in the same building I've been in for the past 2 1/2 years and not start over again, putting myself at the bottom of the totem pole, at risk for budget cuts and adrift once again. I know I shouldn't complain because in an unbelievably difficult market, I have a job. I'm pretty sure I'll get one somewhere next year with my credentials. I just have those irrational fears that get in the way, my stupid biological clock's ticking (and I thought it was a MYTH...it's SO NOT, for me at least), and I know it's logical and right to wait until May when I know more of what's happening to me next year, but I'm damned impatient. I feel this also makes me sound as if my current life is unsatisfying or insufficient; it's not at all. I know how deeply fortunate I am to have the home, husband, job, and life that I have.

I just get scared and jealous, if I'm being totally honest. I feel that part of our life is on hold due to circumstances totally beyond our control and it makes me insane. It's not anyone's fault that things are this way. I've had people blame my husband for my frustration, and I find that unfair and wrong and none of their business. This is how I feel right now. Later, I'll be fine and I'll deal and I know everything will work out. In my head, I know that. But I got on Blogger at a weak moment and here it all is, raw and mostly unedited. It's also Tuesday, and for some reason Tuesdays kick my butt. I think it's because on Monday you have the cushion of the weekend but once it's Tuesday, it's just...Tuesday.

However, I have good hair today and a sweet puppy waiting and a loving husband and leftovers in the fridge, and that's saying a lot. I'll go with that. It's more than enough.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Random Question of the Day

How do you eat your M&Ms? Any special way?

If they're peanut, I tend to bite off part of the shell and then eat the rest. In terms of color, I eat them in this order: brown, orange, blue, red, yellow, green. Green always go last. I will also often make it so that I have an even number of each color (e.g. 1 of each, 2 of each) when I eat them.

I am strange. I know this. Who's with me?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stolen Time is Good Time

Well, my class got out an hour early, and I'm waiting for my sister to take a shower before we go to dinner, so I've got a few minutes. Been CRAZY busy and woefully neglectful of my blogging duties.

I think the biggest life change is that we finally dumped my trusty old Daewoo (referenced in the bizarre and funny movie Pineapple Express) and went to Indiana two weekends ago to take my grandmother's even trustier Buick LeSabre off her hands. We haven't officially gotten rid of the 'Woo yet--because it's technically a salvage (damaged in the October Storm of 2005 and fixing it cost more than the value of the car, which tells you something), the dumb DMV never sent me my title back, so I will get it in six to eight glorious weeks. Hooray. At this point, we'll take any money we can get for it.

So we flew to Indianapolis and stayed at my grandmother's retirement place, which in my eyes is pretty nice, though she says the construction is a little bothersome. She's 91 and sharp as a razor--man, with my two grandmas as lucid and together as they are, I am SET. We had a lovely weekend despite the fact that the brake line was rusted through and my thankfully charming husband managed to find a mechanic who was 1) semi-open on a Saturday afternoon and 2) willing to help us. Truly, they didn't have to and they fixed our brake line for $100. Oil-covered angels they were, and I mean that. Thus we had a friggin' palatial ride home--lots of room, cruise control, and it didn't feel like the slightest gust of wind would blow us off the road, which I have too often felt in the 'Woo. T is a little envious of my sweet ride, but I'm not giving it up. Plus she sold it to us for $1 because she had to have us pay something--I don't think you get a better deal than that. All in all, we had a hugely successful visit on all fronts--lovely visit with Grammie and a nice car to boot. Not a bad weekend, all in all.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy 40th Birthday, Sesame Street

A complete staple of my childhood, I just wanted to quickly share a few of my favorite clips, although there are too many to count. I dare you to try not to sing along. As far as I'm concerned, it did nothing negative at all for me; it did not hinder my attention span, make me eat too many cookies, or anything else. It taught me how to be a good friend, to say "open" and "closed" in Spanish, to count to twelve, to not be scared of monsters, and countless other important skills. What a brilliant, wonderful creation.

Who's your favorite character? I always loved Grover the most.

- Opening

- Oscar singing "I love Trash"

- "C is for Cookie"

- Ladybugs Picnic

- Counting to ten (I had totally forgotten this!)

- One two three FOUR FIVE, six seven eight NINE TEN, eleven twelve!

- Orange sings "Carmen" (totally odd, but I always remembered it as a favorite)

- Elmo's song

- a little Spanish

- a loaf of bread, a container of milk...

- The Twiddlebugs!

- Typical Bert and Ernie

- Prairie Dawn reciting

- Kermit and Cookie

- Super Grover!

- Big Bird deals with the loss of Mr. Hooper (I know it's sad, but I think it's beautifully done)

- So here's a happier Big Bird and Snuffy

- And we'll end with one that everyone knows (hint: it's about something that makes noise when you squeeze it....)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Weight of Weight

I mentioned this a little while ago, but I thought I'd get going. Sometime over the last year or so, my weight has crept up. It hasn't been anything drastic; otherwise, I would have noticed. (OBVIOUSLY) Oh, sure, I've observed that things that used to fit did not fit quite as well, but I could still get them on and thus continue the denial. I've never had to worry before. Don't despise me for writing that; I just got lucky that until my mid-2os or so, I had a great metabolism where I could eat more or less what I wanted.

Cut to over 30: No longer the case. Plus I can no longer exercise for two weeks and retransform. Ah, aging. For me, it's a combination of denial and poor habits. I don't eat badly, but I do eat too much of things. I've watched T deal with it for as long as we've been together, supporting him while silently, secretly thinking I was glad I didn't have to deal with all that. Well, I do.

The final straw came when I went to put on a pair of pants from the winter wardrobe and could not close them. I burst into silly tears, though T assured me that I wasn't being stupid or silly. He was lovely. Fortunately as well, we have many Weight-Watcher friendly cookbooks and recipes that I will now utilize in terms of portion control. Plus I have a great friend who's a personal trainer and she gave me suggestions and showed me all kinds of tummy and butt moves. She also suggested this wacky "no carbs after 1pm" idea, which I know is wise and right, but it's sooo hard to do. I didn't realize how many of our dinners, albeit Weight-Watcher friendly, have carbs in them. EVIL CARBS! So I have attempted to not eat as many carbs after 1pm, which is total crap and I need to step it up. I've gotten better about exercising and writing things down, which, I swear, is the key to stopping overeating. Seriously, if you know you have to write down everything you eat, you actually, shockingly, think about what you're eating before you simply shovel it into your mouth-hole. I'm also trying to do the whole smaller-meals-more-often thing, and with my 10:00am lunch period, that's working out quite nicely. Then I eat the rest at 2pm. I think my problem, too, is that I do wait too long and then I'm RAVENOUS and I overeat.

I haven't been 100% diligent for various reasons: I got sick. I had grades due. I wanted to sleep past 5am. Those things. And I swear, every time I start a new exercise kick/routine, I get sick. Is my body trying to tell me something? But I've done more, exercise-wise, than I have in the past, which is good.

I think it's all about control, and I'm also fortunate in that this is something I can control, if I so choose. In fact, my jeans feel a bit looser today than they have. I don't care if it's all completely in my head; it gets me motivated. I don't feel the need to get back to my college weight or anything; I just want to be healthier and to fit into my clothes because, as I've said and written before, I don't have money to buy all new clothes.

I realize you might not be super-thrilled to hear about my exercise habits, but it's just one more way I'm trying to keep myself healthy and gain control over a certain part of my life. It's a reality face-slap, and I'm willing to take the slap if it means I can get healthier than I've allowed myself to become.

Thus, when I go out to dinner tonight with Mom, I'll take care in what I order and skip the bread. Happy Friday, folks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sookie, My version

As promised, here are the pictures of me as Sookie Stackhouse, or, a vampire-bitten waitress. T is the Buffalo Bills' offensive coach; hence the clown nose because the guy's a joke.

See the vampire bites? (You can see them better if you click on the picture. I got the bruising and everything!) I also had to wear jeans because it was 40 degrees out and I was outside a lot, so I couldn't do Sookie's little shorts she wears. I do NOT live in Bon Temps, Lousiana.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 2, 2009

OK, if you don't watch the show...

I was Sookie Stackhouse from the dark HBO show True Blood. If you don't watch it, I was a vampire-bitten waitress. Apparently I did a good job on my vampire bites: I walked into my brother's house and he and his wife gasped, "Oh my God, what happened to you?!" The trick: dark red nail polish surrounded by small circles of dark purplish-blue eyeshadow to look like bruising.

Feathernester, you will go CRAZY when Season 2 comes out. You won't believe what happens! Let's just say I have a newfound respect for Jason Stackhouse. And I haven't read all of Eclipse yet, so I may switch from Camp Jacob back to Edward. We'll see....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Guess who I was for Halloween?

Originally uploaded by kfclark

I'm trying this from Flickr--guess it does work

Friday, October 30, 2009

Update on costumes

Costume contest at school:

Winner for individual:
- The girl who dressed up like Roz from Monsters, Inc AND did the voice perfectly.

Winner for group costume:
1st place: three girls who dressed as "God's gift": They wore wrapped gift boxes and had their heads sticking out
2nd place: An amazing Alice in Wonderland group
3rd place: Four guys who dressed in full regalia as KISS.

I'm so sorry I don't have pictures of the real thing, but I wanted to point out that these students all made their costumes and worked hard, so I thought the blogosphere should know about it.

Halloween Friday Musings (or What I couldn't post on Facebook or Twitter because I left my phone at home)

I also forgot my camera because I am a sillyhead, so no pictures! :-(

- The teachers all dressed up as clowns today. I have a parent conference at 2:00, so my make-up is minimal. Not sure what it would mean to a parent if I came to a conference dressed in full make-up and rainbow wig.

- As usual, students push the boundaries of proper school costumes. I saw two students dressed as the gentlemen from the "dick in a box" video. I nailed both of them and said they had to remove the boxes. One kid said, "But Mr. L [vice-principal] saw it and didn't say anything...." to which I replied that he might not have gotten the reference, but I did. I even told the kid: funny but inappropriate. We also always have a few sexy something-or-others and two boys dressed as Teletubbies. I've seen some other fun ones as well; this is the best day of the year for some students.

- We found a tick on Penny this morning. I had to remove it and felt like Bad Mommy because I KNEW we were late with her flea-and-tick treatment but this neverhappenedbeforeofcourseshe'llbefinemypoorfuzzylittlegirlnoooooooooooo. She seemed fine. The vet said to keep an eye on it and keep it clean. Crisis averted.

- It is hard (or just lunacy) to give a test on Halloween Friday when teachers down the hall are playing "Thriller". Everyone's either giving tests or throwing a party.

- Tonight I think we're going to build a fire--our first of the season! It's going to be one of those hideously rainy fall evenings, perfect for bad movie and crackling warmth and Southwestern Mac and Cheese. Yum!

- I can't stand Bella Swan...yet I can't stop reading Eclipse. Damn you, Stephenie Meyer, and your Harlequin teen trash. You suckered me right in. Does anyone else feel Edward's a totally static character and kind of wish Jacob would get a break...by falling in love with someone who's worthy of him who isn't the hot mess that Bella is? Am I getting too into this? Probably.

- How is Monday already November 2? When did that happen? And don't forget to turn your clocks back!

Have a great weekend and Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Odds and Ends

There's not a lot to report, really. I'm enjoying the fall colors--one benefit of our cold, wet summer is a riot of gorgeousness right now. This has always ranked as my favorite time of year, perhaps because it's so fleeting, perhaps because I love the crisp, briskly cold, sunny days and the sharply nippy nights that make you want to snuggle in a warm bed (and a sweet, cuddly dog on your feet doesn't hurt), perhaps because I get to break out my courderoys and my leather jacket. And there's just something about a fall sky with the clouds on one side and the sinking sun on the other that just sings to me. I can't quite explain it. Do you know what I mean? Mind you, having a fire drill occur on Monday during one of those 45 degree mornings didn't suit quite so well with me, but the state requires us to perform a certain number, etc.

Anyway. Rambling, sorry. I'm just moving along, business as usual. The faculty this year have decided to dress as clowns for Halloween. How fitting. Just kidding. Maybe. I thought about dressing up as a famous politician but figured I'd keep that sort of humor for when I get tenure. In addition, in my freshman classes we were talking about our biggest fears and more than one student named clowns as the biggie. Considering it's tradition not to tell the kids what we're dressing up as, this year could potentially send numerous kids into therapy. (I'm thinking of The Simpsons: "Can't sleep...clown'll eat me. Can't sleep...clown'll eat me....") I'll let you know. We do have a party to go to and I'm dressing up as something different, but I won't tell you what. It's nothing that amazing; I just thought I'd give you all something to look forward to.

In the meantime, as I wrote before, the flu has begun sweeping through our school. I had one girl take a test today who'd missed two days, saying, "Yeah, I was sick but my mom made me come in." GET WITH IT, MOM. WE SENT LETTERS HOME ASKING THAT YOU DO THE OPPOSITE OF THAT. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, KEEP YOUR LITTLE SICKIE AWAY. We're at 10% right now out, and if it keeps going up, they'll close school for a few days. That happened when I was in high school--some 36 hour virus spread through and they closed school for a day. Mind, I was in a boarding school in a smallish environment and a quarter of the population meant 125 kids out of 500.

One final point in this odd post and then I'll end it (HAH! Get it? Look at the title! I am so witty.) If you plan to take your kids to see Where the Wild Things Are, reconsider it. It had gorgeous sets and monsters, but the underlying added psychological elements made it a bit dark for kids...and adults, frankly.

So have a good day and wash your hands!


The absentee rate is due to illness. Colds and FLU. Yes, FLU. I think most of it is regular flu. I'm getting my shot on Monday (regular as well) and I just sprayed my entire work area down with Lysol. Now I'm going to go home and gargle with bleach. When you work in a building with 1300 teenagers, you don't take chances.

OK, maybe not bleach. At the least, I'm going to stock up on Airborne. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but I had SEVEN kids out in one of my classes yesterday. You understand.

30 second post

Doing fine. Absentee rate at school is at 10% and climbing. We're watching To Kill a Mockingbird in 10th grade and reading about Greek gods in 9th. I've started to kick my own butt because none of my pants fit (more later on that gem). It's Wednesday.

That is all.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Another quick one

We had a surprise birthday party for DH two weekends ago: I told him we'd invite his parents over for a nice, quiet dinner and then had everyone else show up about half an hour later. It helps that I live next to a parking lot, so the cars would be hidden. I don't know how I pulled it off, since he's so sneaky, but it certainly helped that Mom and R came over to assist, transforming our house into an oasis of party-readiness and comfort. I couldn't have done it without them! Everyone had a great time and it was just very chill and fun and a good Saturday night. It was just about fifteen people or so, and they brought food as well in lieu of gifts. This also saved me from having to explain to T why I was making food for 20 for just three people. Oh, and I made my friend H's mother's mushroom and onion soup:

- lots of different kinds of mushrooms (portobello, white, shitake, cremini, etc.)
- lots of different kinds of onions (red, white, scallions, shallots, Vidalia, even garlic, etc.)
- a thickener of flour, milk, salt and pepper, and melted butter (can't remember the proportions--ask and I'll find out)

- Cut up and saute the onions and mushrooms until onions are translucent and mushrooms are cooked through
- Throw all into a huge pot and puree
- Add milk to thin

It's T's favorite!

Anyway, for our main course, we did pizzas. I'm telling you, this is the way to go. Even if you have small kids, they can help by putting toppings on. We had a few with pepperoni, a few without, and my new fave is to combine mozzarella with ricotta and basil and just add sauce. YUM. Do it! Go now! Oh, and another I just missed the season on: Goat cheese, basil, and plums on a pizza. How's that for gourmet, chickadees? Finally, and my friend M. made this amazing cake--I'll have to get a picture. She experimented with fondant and created this beautiful Masonic symbol:
...and it came out great and tasty!

OK, gotta go--two more periods to teach, one hour of alternative ed, and then off to the hockey game. I need the distraction!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Still here

Just been sick, pretending to call it "allergies" so I wouldn't succumb. Got lots of grading and stuff to do, but Penny's still cute, T's still a great husband, and I adore and want to throttle my students sometimes within the same five minutes. Mostly the former.

Right now it's an incredibly blustery fall day, and I need to read two chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird, so I think I'll jump on the exercise bike and, to make a bit of a joke, kill two birds. Promise more soon!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Domestic Tales, continued

i wanted to post Friday but realized I didn't have a camera, so you'll have to wait for pictures. But here it is:

Last night (Friday) T and I had our own very different, very stereotypically male/female victories and excitements:

1) T. got himself a great deal on a Sony PlayStation that, admittedly, does have amazing graphics AND the ability to play Blu-Ray DVDs. Plus it gave him the initiative to set up our surround sound, which has lain dormant in a closet for two years. This rocks, from the movie end of things. I honestly don't care as much that the car racing video game he got looks almost real, though I appreciate the quality of it. Truly, you could see extremely realistic clouds...and they moved so the sun randomly shone on the track. As if there was a breeze. Now, that's detail.

2) I finally got the drill bits needed to put up new shades in T's den and our bedroom. No more ratty, vinyl, ripped pull-down shades for THESE suburban dwellers. Our one window faces the street, so the partially ripped blind gave the house that oh-so-fashionable abandoned look. House & Garden was thinking of doing a story on us.... Plus I got top down-bottom up shades (the kind that go up or down from either end...it's like we're the freakin' Jetsons, we are so modern) because our bed cuts off the entire bottom third of our one window, so it made sense to get shades that actually could give light from both directions. I have never cared that deeply about window shades before now. I love them. They fill my heart with a joy heretofore unknown. Truly, we lay down to sleep and marveled at the change. I'm not kidding. Plus I got to have fun with the drill, so the handyman side of me got a charge out of the whole process. I'd say that's a big plate of WIN.

Weather predicts a typical fall day: low 60s, windy, maybe rain later on, and it's Homecoming Weekend, so I may have to take time today to watch the parade as it goes by my house and see some of the football game, especially since I have a student on the team and he will ask on Monday if I saw him play. Which just makes me smile and want to reach up and pat him on top of his 6'2", newly shaved head.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Week in Review

(I wrote this on Friday and got distracted. Whoops!) Very quickly:

Today marks the end of the first full week of school. I've gotten most of the kids' names down, although those last few will take a little while, and that always embarrasses me when I have to say, "Yes, ma'am!" in a teasing way to a student with her hand up because I can't say, "Yes, what's-your-face!" without looking like a creep. Students for the most part are great--freshmen can be very sweet because so many of them still want to please you. It's kind of heart-warming. I also had one huge sophomore ask me hopefully if I would come to his football game and I almost melted into a puddle. Already made a few parent calls, but when we have three assignments and one has been turned in, that actually denotes the start of a pattern. And when I look at last year's comments on the student and see a litany of "Does not turn in homework", 1) that's a pattern, and 2) it means when I talk to the parents, they won't be surprised that I'm telling them this. But that's the minority. Most of them are very nice and just eager. I kind of love that. I want to pat them on the head...while admonishing them for muttering, "That's what she said" to classmates when I say, "Ok, we're at the part in the story where the main character says, 'Harry'...." Yes, that happened. But then the kid raised his hand a lot and chose to read aloud when he knew he wasn't great at it, so he made up for it.

So that's it in my world, a lot of crock pot cooking and grading and reading for class and a little New Moon thrown in for spice. Stephenie Meyer is not a great writer, but these Twilight books are like this generation's Sweet Valley High or something by Joan Collins: It's not great writing, but you just can't put them down. Nice diversion.

OK, leaving in ten minutes, then class, then sushi birthday dinner with DH. Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How much is she? Priceless.

It's a little dark, but click to enlarge and you'll see why I love coming home every day because I get to see this:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Domestic Tales

So...while I loved my picture of laundry on the line, my grandmother became quite worried about us walking outside to get frozen shirts off the line in December, breaking the foot of snow that probably would have accumulated on them. A few phone calls later, dear, dear R. let us know that Sears was delivering a spanking new dryer on Saturday. In a serendipitous moment, the dryer was too wide to go down the basement steps, so T. and I had to go to Sears to get a narrower model. Labor Day voodoo worked its charm and we got an amazing deal on a washer and a dryer. Both of our old appliances were of legal drinking age, I think. The washer doesn't have a gentle cycle; I've been simply putting my delicates in for less time and hitting the "wash and pray" button. Wheeeeee.

While we didn't get one of the space-age looking, uber-energy saving jobbies (because one of them alone costs upwards of $800 and I do not have a secret stash hidden anywhere, much less one I would use for a washing machine), we got a solid machine that has a gentle cycle AND a handwash cycle. It's not a front-loader, but boo-hoo, poor me with my nice, new washing machine. NOT COMPLAINING ONE BIT. I LOVE IT.
Our fabulous washing machine

Ah, but the dryer. Well. Huh. The dryer itself is wonderful. But I mentioned I'd give you a saga of sorts, and here goes:

our beautiful dryer

First of all, the delivery guys were running behind, showed up an hour later than they'd promised (although they did call ahead to let us know), etc. They put in the washing machine no prob. As I'm upstairs with arms thrown wide, spinning in circles and picturing the loads and loads of hot, non-crusty-from-the-line-in-the-basement, clean clothes, I hear, "Oh, we gotta problem...." Thud. Langston Hughes moment, dream deferred, nooooo..... The gas pipe on our wall was the same size opening as the dryer attachment, so one wouldn't screw into the other. You know, both were 5/8ths around instead of one being smaller, so it wouldn't thread properly. I needed to get an attachment to get this all to work. I told them I'd run to Lowe's and get the thing if they could just please wait (mom was there, so all was under control), but they were behind, everything else was installed, they had to go. So the one guy gives me the necessary bolt I need to get said attachment and mentioned something vague about "pipe dope" and sent me on my way.

I wandered Lowe's for ten minutes until a very nice salesperson handed me exactly what I needed in five seconds: an attachment that cost $1.21. I went home, put everything together, called T., and we spoke fondly of our newfound love of laundry. Tra la la.


Woke up the next morning, opened the basement door, and smelled a lot of gas. Awoke T., who intelligently turned off the gas valve to the basement. We called Sears to explain our dilemma--we didn't call the gas company because we knew where and why the gas had leaked: the dryer hadn't been properly installed. Keep in mind it was Labor Day Monday, the 7th. Sears said, "Well, we can get someone out there on the 10th sometime between 9am and 5pm." I'm not kidding--that's not an exaggeration. T. tried to impress upon them the direness of the situation, but "that's the best we can do". Plan B was to call A., T.'s extremely handy stepfather, who probably saved us a decent chunk of money and possibly our lives by realizing that we needed thread seal tape, which is similar to the mysterious pipe dope. For those like me, who don't know what it is, pipe dope and thread seal tape are "used to make a pipe thread joint leak proof and pressure tight." (wikipedia). I did not know that you cannot simply put metal to metal because, guess what, gas leaks out. Perhaps the whole "get pipe dope" bit could have been explained more thoroughly and intensely by the delivery worker, as in, "DO NOT TURN GAS ON UNLESS YOU HAVE THIS". Wouldn't you think?

So now all is well and we have a sealed gas pipe and two gloriously working appliances. T. called the Sears delivery people and pointed out that we were lucky that nobody got seriously hurt. Truly, I've written this entry rather humorously, but had we been smokers or candle lighters.... I don't want to think about it. I've certainly learned a few lessons about installation of major appliances.

Oh, and school started last week. Kids seem fine, though I may have to inject my first period students with a coffee IV. I've got a cart this year, which I may ask the kids to decorate. I figure if I have to use it, why not make it interesting? Ideas welcome.

Still Here

At work/school, so can't post REALLY because I already have umpteen assignments to grade (so I should stop giving homework, I know but I sort of have to).

Prepare yourselves next time for the short but fascinating saga of the new washing machine and dryer!

And yes, it's totally crock pot heaven at our house. So far, it's been orange teriyaki chicken and a big, fat lentil stew with lots of veggies. Oh, and my lunch period this year is at 10:00am. Yesterday I had a snack at that time and then ate the rest at 2pm just before I began EATING MY OWN HAND instead. Adjustments, kids, adjustments!

Happy hump day, my ducks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oh yes...

Here's the Thai chicken salad:

Now, tonight, I made Chili con Pollo (chicken chili--it just sounds better in Spanish), which will eventually turn into chili casserole: take some of that chili, add penne pasta and cheese, bake, eat. Those are serious leftovers, man.

A stray can of coconut milk later...

That's it. When school starts again, I've decided that when I get home, instead of unwinding by sitting down, I plan to cook. I've enjoyed it so much this summer that I just don't want to give it up. I can control what goes in, which helps with the healthy and weight conscious aspect of things, and it means that when we go out to dinner, we're more likely to make a good choice because it won't happen as often. The fact that a sushi place just opened within walking distance of our house--and we live in suburbia, where they fear such wacky cuisine and consider it living on the edge to eat raw fish, ew--makes this even more enticing. If you read this blog at all, you know I've loved sharing my recipes, so I warn you, it may continue.

I still operate in the "follow the recipe" stage; I don't have the skill that some friends do, the ones who can open a cabinet and whip together an amazing meal from a can of kidney beans, ramen noodles, mustard, pepper, and a bag of rubber bands (Yes, Yum and Dr. M, I'm thinking of you). My friend M. has begun to teach me a few things, as well--you can thank her for the jicama-apple slaw and the avocado-cashew cakes. I feel fine about using recipes--I don't aspire to get on Top Chef; just to create meals that DH and I find tasty and sharable from time to time.

One of my new favorite re-found cookbooks is Now and Later, a Weight Watchers cookbook that has you make one recipe (now) that gives you leftovers for another (later). Last time Mom and R. cleaned out their kitchen cabinet, they gave us, among other items, a can of coconut milk. I took it because, well, it came in a bag with other items. I kept it because, well, I don't know why. But in this cookbook I found a recipe for Vietnamese chicken curry that called for...(guess) coconut milk. Ohh...it was so good. I served it to DH and a friend and both raved. Now I have leftovers for Thai chicken salad. I forgot to take a picture of the first, but I'll get one of the second.

Happy Wednesday and goodbye, Ted Kennedy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A good wind-down to summer

We spent this past weekend at my parents' house in E., about 25 minutes away from our house. It's just out in the country enough to not quite see one's neighbors and for us, it became the perfect staycation. They have a beautiful home, a "real grown-ups house", as my one friend put it. You know, the kind you can have once you've put in quite a few years of working and have earned and deserved such a place. I've definitely mentioned it before, I know. Penny especially likes that she gets to run around free and get delightfully filthy in the creek and pond nearby. Truly, she comes out all wet and bedraggled with reeds sticking to her. Then she sleeps the sleep of the tired puppy, looking like a discarded stuffed animal that some child left behind, all flopped and still. Now, home in her dog house, she's still pretty quiet:

(She's getting a haircut in a few days; I know right now she looks like the stand-in for Sandy from Annie.)

I didn't get any pictures, but you can get the gist of a lot of relaxing both outside and in, great meals, and, particularly yesterday, getting into a great book (The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon) as we sat on the screened-in porch, listening to the rain.

Now that we're home, I have to deal with a clogged drain that has not yet responded to industrial strength Draino. Next, the snake.... I may have pictures of that. To end the post on a good note, I must point out there's something incredibly satisfying to me seeing my laundry on the line, blowing in the wind:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lessons from the Dog

I know I always croon about Penny's latest (if only you knew how much I held back. Thank my brother for that, who begged me not to become "one of those people"), but having spent quite a lot of time with her this summer, she has taught me a few things.

Don't worry about getting dirty. Hell, if there's a puddle there, go for it. If the mud's there, don't be an adult--splash in it! You can wash your clothes and yourself later.
Love with your whole body. Light up when that person you loves comes home or even into the room. You may want to wiggle your behind in delight; I leave this up to you. Go ahead and greet that person with kisses. Lots of them.

Eat when you're hungry. Otherwise, it's not necessary. But find yourself good, healthy things to snack on in the meantime...as long as it doesn't require replacing anything expensive.

Go on walks with friends. Everybody benefits. And there might be fun puddles to jump in.

Play well with others. If someone snaps at you, you need to figure out whether to snap back or turn and walk away. Otherwise, just have fun.

Take naps whenever you can. Self-explanatory.

Enjoy life every day.

I don't care if this sounds corny. I like it, and this picture of a filthy, happy dog says it all:

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Goodbye, John Hughes

Sorry, Innspecter, but I had to take this one. Feel free to expand. I just read that John Hughes, director of almost every '80s comedy that I loved, has passed away of a heart attack at 59. God, that's like having part of my childhood gone. The man launched the careers of almost all the Brat Pack members (Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall, Molly Ringwald, etc.) and he wrote Home Alone and National Lampoon's Vacation. Plus he was behind such eminently quotable films as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. While he hadn't done anything in about 20 years, he influenced a generation of young filmgoers, including me.

YouTube won't let me embed the video, but here's a clip of the eight movies directed by John Hughes. Here are a few quotes.

Oh, and in other news, Penny got fleas, probably from walking in the woods...where there are fleas. I gave her a bath and sprayed the house. Hopefully she does not have fleas anymore. That is all.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

OK, here's another one

Why doesn't everyone do this? I made almond butter at home in ten minutes rather than paying a zillion dollars for it at the grocery store. It involved truly complex steps:
  1. Buy three cups of roasted, unsalted almonds.

  2. Using a food processor with the big blade, add the nuts 1/2 a cup at a time, waiting until they're somewhat broken up to add the next portion.
    - It will be loud and scary at first, so if you're doing this with little kids, warn them.

  3. Add salt if you wish. I added about a teaspoon or so.
  4. Let the food processor do its work. It'll take about ten minutes (or less), but you may want to stop it every once in a while because my processor got pretty hot when I let it run for too long.
  5. The nuts will produce their own oil as they break down. If you want it even smoother, add some olive oil. I didn't need to do this.

  6. Goggle at how easy it is to make your own almond butter!

I found that using two cups worked better than one in terms of making the "buttery" consistency. Three cups of processed almonds filled a pint jar--I bought Ball jars to keep it in (4 for $5.39); you just need something air tight. This will work for just about any nut you want. I've read that roasting makes the butter taste better, so I just bought roasted from the bulk bin. You can easily roast them in your oven (check the web for details). Numerous websites have recipes, but they all boil down to this one. DH suggested adding Splenda or honey, which I know others have done. I used almonds because they're heart-healthy and I got bored with peanut butter. Why should it get all the press, anyway?

The minute the school year starts up, I think recipe writing will go waaaay down. That may relieve you or sadden you, but there it is. That's when I move back to the crock pot, bay-beeeee....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Avocado-Cashew Cakes

I didn't mean for this to turn into a foodie blog, but hey, I've got a lot of good recipes and figured I'd share. My friend M, who's an amazing cook, made these for us yesterday and we loved them. You only need to eat one, as they're pretty rich. I know they're high in fat, but it's all good fat and you'll see it's something you'd make and eat only every once in a while. We made them last night as appetizers for my sister and parents, and they all asked for the recipe. So, M and C, here it is for you, too! We all agreed you'd love it, especially you, M, with your love of avocadoes. :-)

Avocado-Cashew Cakes
- 2 avocadoes, diced
- a little less than half a pound of chopped/crushed cashews (1/3 cu. or so)
- I put the cashews in a plastic bag and whacked them with a rolling pin to break them up.
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- ~2 tsp lime juice
- cumin, pepper, and kosher salt to taste
- 2-3 finely minced scallions
- bread crumbs and a pinch of flour
- 1-2 TBSP olive oil for sauteeing

  1. Mix all ingredients except bread crumbs and olive oil together in a medium-sized bowl. Add lime juice and spices according to your taste after the original mixing.
  2. Spread bread crumbs and flour on a plate.
  3. Form patties about the size of a ping-pong ball and flatten slightly. Roll gently in the bread crumb/flour mixture to cover. The patties will be pretty fragile, so add flour as a binding agent as needed.
  4. Transfer patties to a plate and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to set them.
  5. Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Start with 1 TBSP and add as needed. Add patties and cook 3 minutes on a side.
Serving size: 1 cake

Dipping Sauce
- 1 part horseradish mustard to 1 1/2 parts mayonnaise
- lo-fat, if you wish. I suggest avoiding Miracle Whip because it will alter the taste
- hot sauce to taste (I used about 1 1/2 tsp)

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Give each person a good-sized dollop to eat with the avocado-cashew cakes. The bite of the sauce pairs well with the smooth richness of the cakes.

I would have posted a picture, but we ate them too quickly!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Recipe: Southwestern Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

Southwestern Skillet Mac and Cheese

Prep: 10 min.
Cook time: ~25 min.
Serves: 6

- 1 cu. elbow macaroni
- 1lb. ground skinless turkey breast
- 1/2 cu. chopped onion
- 1/2 cu. chopped green pepper
- 2 TBS chili powder (we used a heaping two because we like it spicy)
- 1 tsp ground cumin (see above comment)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 (14 1/2 oz.) can dices tomatoes with juice
- 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce [for those who don't make their own!]
- 1 (4.5 oz.) can chopped mild green chilis
- 1/2 cu. water
- 1 cup shredded (extra sharp) cheddar cheese (reduced fat)

1. Cook elbow mac according to box directions.

2. Spray a large, nonstick skillet with nonstick spray, set over med-high heat. Add turkey and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 8 min.

3. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 3 min.

4. Add tomatoes, sauce, chiles, and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are blended, about 10 min.

5. Add the macaroni and cheese, stirring to combine.

So tasty!

I do have another one for stir-fry pork tenderloin and one for lo mein pork and peanut noodles, but it requires things like hoisin sauce. Thai curry paste, and Asian sesame oil, which we have on hand because we like to cook Asian food. If you want me to post them, please let me know. They're delicious. I put in the Southwestern Mac and Cheese because it's easy and relatively cheap to get the ingredients and so delicious!

Oh, and here are the calzones we made; I've linked the recipe for the dough and the calzone itself. I'm sure you can buy pizza dough if you don't want to make it yourself. If you do make it yourself, please note that you have to chill it overnight before using it; we found this out the hard way and had chopped all the ingredients and realized we had to wait. However, that actually worked out because then everything was all ready. It's kind of a Sunday night meal because it's a little intense to make, but it's TOTALLY worth it.

Just out of the oven!

The recipe calls for grilled vegetables, so we used our George Forman grill. I'm sure you could saute them just as easily.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Time Flies!

Wow, I had no idea it had been that long since I posted.  I've been up to my earballs (I coined that.  Like it?) doing this project and preparing for an exam in my one special ed class and I haven't made time for much else, aside from some serious procrastination in terms of cooking.  I'll post those recipes later because they were so good that T and I had an actual fight over who got the leftovers.  Anyway, turned the project in Tuesday, had the exam today, and I already know I aced the exam, did well on the project, and got an A- overall.  I didn't do as well in college as I would've liked, so it's my aim to rock all my grad classes.  I loved the class and learned a ton, but cramming a semester into four weeks felt pretty exhausting.  So now I get to read some books that I want to read, finally!  Of course, now this class has got me thinking I might want a master's in special ed, too, but the insulation in our roof needs fixing first, so I'll put that on the back burner for a while.  Priorities, man.  Anyway, I have a lot of new ideas for the fall that I want to put into place, so that's exciting to me.  I don't know if you all get that same thrill, not all being teachers.  Heck, we get thrills by going to Office Max and staring at all the pens and sticky notes and things.  Our eyes glaze over as we take in all the possibilities and consider whether or not we can keep the receipt for reimbursement from the business office...ohhhhh....

So I'm off to lunch with my mom and sister because I'm hungry enough to eat my own hand.  Happy Thursday and I'll get to those recipes soon, now that I've got the time. 

Friday, July 10, 2009

School, wedding, summer fun

I feel I've been so out of posting, but then I look and realize it hasn't been THAT long. I've just been insanely busy. My last day of the school year was June 25, a Thursday. My other summer class started on the following Monday and I've been up to my eyeballs in Special Education since then, considering a four week summer class has to squish a semester's worth of information into that time. Plus I have another class on Wednesday nights. It's all fascinating stuff; things I wish I had known years ago as a teacher. I feel out of sheer ignorance that I have too often unfairly glossed over the needs of my students with special needs or even my students who just need extra help, assuming that "someone else" would take care of them, such as the special education teachers. It's not that I don't help my students; I just think I can do more, now, to reach a broader spectrum. Now I know how to work with numbers, see patterns in what errors they make, and have more ability to alter my teaching style to best fit them. I'm very excited about implementing new strategies in the fall.

So yes, that's been my summer so far, with a few nice interludes in between. One of longest-known friends got married last weekend at her family's summer house in Canada. For those of you who don't know, that's not that strange around here to spend the summers across the border; it's right there. With good traffic, I can get there in half an hour. Anyway, she got married at the house and had the reception right in the back yard. Everything went perfectly and we all had a wonderful time. Here are just a few of the pictures I took:

It looked so gorgeous once the sun went down

Bridesmaid L, the bride, and me--we've all been friends since we were tiny

The bride's sister pulled out the boas for us all when they played "Lady Marmalade"

The bride and groom

We also took the weekend to spend it with T's cousin, also in Canada, and Penny spent the weekend at doggie day camp at Pet Smart. Combine that with a visit on Sunday to T's friend's family place out where there's a lot of land and numerous dogs, and we had one tired pup on the way home. Plus she fell into the pond, so she looked and smelled like something that had been following the Grateful Dead all summer, as T said. She was so tired that she slept all the next day, which was what we wanted to do after our fun weekend.

Now my sister's home for a while, the annual Taste of Buffalo is this weekend, and Harry Potter's coming out on Wednesday. Makes for a good summer! But I think this picture sums up summer for me:

Friday, June 26, 2009

wrap-up and rambles

Well, it's the end of another school year. If I look back, I see all the many ups and downs, the highs and lows. And there were a lot. If I had to summarize, I'd say that I loved my students and had a lot of frustration with school politics. I suppose it's not so odd that when working in a high school, some of the teachers begin to act like high schoolers, complete with cliques and gossip. That happens everywhere, I know. I think because as a kid I was excluded, I try my hardest not to do that and still find myself surprised when others do it. I just don't see any purpose in it. Of course, not everyone will like everyone; I'm not naive enough to think otherwise. I just still get surprised sometimes by the lack of collegiality. But I plan to continue my own friendships and try to include everyone, even if it's just asking how someone's weekend went. Not to sound sanctimonious, but I think life in general would be a lot better if more folks did that, stopped being so selective and afraid and reached out a little more.

Next year I'll be at the same school, thankfully. After that, it all depends on a lot of factors that I don't have control over and a few major ones that I do. I'm going to continue to improve my teaching, utilizing what I'm learning in my special ed classes to improve my methods of getting as many kids as possible to learn as much as possible. One of my students used the word pugnacious in his essay and I felt like giving him an automatic 100%, I felt so proud. I've got ninth graders next year, the first time I've taught ninth grade boys. I just have to remember they're all bravado and still very sweet to an extent, and they're all scared out of their minds to come out of their comfort zone of eighth grade and into the big high school, surrounded by large, cool upperclasspeople. I plan to work a little harder and a little smarter, and focus on my strengths rather than my weaknesses. Actually, I'm trying to work on that as a general life mantra.

On the off-for-summer note, I'm currently sitting on the couch watching early-round Wimbledon and switching occasionally to CNN to watch footage about Michael Jackson. What a strange, amazing, sad life he had. What a musical talent who seemed to have gotten tangled up too tightly in his own fame. Thriller was the first real record I ever owned, and I listened to it incessantly, though at age five or six the video terrified me. (I had an overactive imagination: For a long time, I convinced myself that E.T. moved in his poster on my wall, which also frightened me.) Anyway, Penny is lying on the adjacent couch, asleep on her back with her feet in the air. It ranks as one of my favorite sights. Ohp, looks like a dream coming on: I see the toes twitching. Love it.

Speaking of sights (wow, this post really has rambled), I came home last evening to find this:

Part of a dead tree collapsed in our backyard. I don't know if it was wind or hit by lightning or what. Mercifully, it didn't hit anything but the other tree. Yesterday we had thunderstorms of epic proportions that came and went for hours. We lost power briefly, and I almost hydroplaned on the highway while going 50 mph (where the usual speed is about 65, mind you--you could barely see in the torrential downpour). Thunder crashed so loudly, you would have thought Industrial Light and Magic created it. I kind of loved it, actually. I don't think I would have minded if the power had gone out.

So anyway, when I look back on all this introspection of teaching and dogs and storms, what it all comes down to is that I need to relax and take more stock in myself. I can't promise anything, but I'll try.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Response to Ouiser

This is a response to Ouiser's latest post. Here, SNL hits it on the head. Why didn't more people think of doing this sooner?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why I love Sesame Street

Just watch.

Only Sesame Street would put in "disenchanted". I love it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Odds and Ends

First of all, I learned today at a bridal shower for my good friend J. that Macy's packing peanuts are made of starch, so you can put them in the sink and they'll dissolve, so no leftover toxic styrofoam mess. Isn't that cool?

Next, dear sister C, I finally thinned my garden. A ton of rain has brought out the slugs, so I got a bit more beer and I now have lots of radishes, a few skinny little turnips, and a lot of radish and turnip greens. Why waste them? C, they're totally OK to eat, right? I also hung up the Irish Spring soap to ward off the deer. I'll let you know how that one works. C, why isn't my lettuce growing? The arugula's awesome but the regular lettuce is weak at best. Suggestions?

Thirdly, doesn't this cartoon pretty much sum up...a lot of relationships, high school or otherwise?

Whoops, I just killed a mosquito. Perhaps PETA will issue a statement.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Allentown Art Festival

Buffalo has such fun events in the summer, and so many are free...at a time when everyone's trying to save, it feels nice to have so many options. This past weekend we went to the annual Allentown Art Festival, which is always a great mixture of quality work, chintzy and kitschy stuff, great food, and great people watching. We usually get one or two fun things, and this year we spotted a fun find: This man makes all sorts of statues and gizmos out of metal. If you saw the Pixar movie Robots, they look a lot like that. We found a key holder (with hooks--I don't know what to call it) that looked...familiar:

Pretty fun, huh? We've needed somewhere to put our keys for a while and this seems perfect to me. Here's a slideshow of the festival, in case you want to see some interesting folks and fun art. Better pictures of this one man's metalwork are at about 2:45 if you just want to scroll ahead. Another note: The guy blowing bubbles does so as soon as the weather gets warm, from his second floor apartment. It's one of my favorite signs of spring.

The Allentown Art Festival from Dan Fisher on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Brief garden update

Beer v. slugs: Beer won. I won't take a picture of it, unless you ask me to post one. I'm guessing you won't. The death toll so far is 3, I think.

C, I haven't had time to prune my radishes yet, but I will this afternoon or tomorrow. Tonight we're going to a crew potluck and I'm making a double batch of the Jicama Apple Slaw I mentioned a few posts ago so we can keep some for ourselves. Yum....

Now I just have to figure out what to wear. Ladies, do you ever have this problem, where your S.O. takes you to a function of some kind and doesn't tell you how formal it is? Honey, I love you, but unless it's Ladies' Night for lodge, you rarely know. Thus I've begun calling other wives who've been to these things before, or I wear something that can be easily dressed up or down with a necklace so I just keep the necklace on or off as needed. It's all about flexibility.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


So my last post was my 250th. Should I celebrate? Have a montage of the "best of previous posts"? Put together a string of Penny photos from first day home to now? Thank all previous posters for making all of this possible? Put together a slo-mo of snippets from previous posts to music?

How does my garden grow?

I promised pictures of my garden, and here they are:

From left to right, I have arugula (which I picked a lot of, so it looks a little mangy), turnips, radishes, and lettuce.

Here's the arugula--It tastes really peppery and is great in a salad. There's something incredibly satisfying about eating it.

Above and below: Close-up of the fava beans and the whole "crop"



Peas! See how they're beginning to use the trellis (below)?

Annnd...slugs. Does anyone know how to get rid of slugs? I know about using Irish Spring to get rid of deer. We bought some yesterday; I'll let you know how that turns out. Now I just have to add basil and maybe tomatoes.