Monday, January 31, 2011

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

I know I don't usually write book reviews here, which is all well and good, but earlier this month I invited my blog readers to read The Forgotten Garden with me. I only picked this one because it's the book I read for my first (and last) attendance into a book club. I wanted extra motivation to finish it. Here's my review, thoughts, and analysis of the novel.

It tends to sound a bit academic in spots, but it's how I think sometimes, it's how I wanted to talk about the book-- and trust me, there was more to say. Sorry this runs a bit long!

I hope you all feel free to leave as detailed a comment as you wish, whether you've read it or not!

Fair warning--- SPOILER ALERT- SPOILER ALERT- I am discussing important things that will totally ruin your reading experience, so if you haven't read, but think you will, SPOILER ALERT!!!

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton is one of those huge, sweeping epic stories that spans 4 generations and more than a 100 years. The story is around modern day Cassandra, who is a young widow and an antiques dealers; Nell, her grandmother who raised her; Eliza, the mother of Nell who tried to do right; Rose, the woman who is the cousin and best friend of Eliza; and, finally and briefly of Georgianna, mother of Eliza.

Nell was found at age 4 years, sitting on a suitcase at the ship dock in Australia. The ship-master brings the child home and since no one ever tries to claim Nell or is hunting for a missing child, and the ship-master and his wife can bare no children, they keep her. On Nell's 21st birthday, her father reveals how she came to him. Nell then extracts herself from her family (her parents later finally had children, 4 other daughters), ends her engagement and leaves for parts unknown, on a quest to find how she ended up on a ship.

Nell leads a lonely life, but she does marry and has a child herself. Nell knows she's a terrible mother, feeling disjointed and disengaged from her own daughter. When her own daughter is grown and gone from home and Nell is widowed, she embarks on a journey to discover her real family, the one she never knew existed, the one she can't remember (even though she was four and should remember something, she was sick with fever on the ship from England to Australia and doesn't have any memories). With the help of a clue found in a the suitcase she arrived with, through research, and the aid of a private detective, Nell starts untangling her past. Just when she's about ready to solve the riddle of her life, her wayward daughter arrives and dumps Cassandra, Nell's 15 year old granddaughter, in her lap.

Nell is a better grandmother than mother, does the right thing and raises her granddaughter, then dies before she can solve the mystery of her life.

In The Forgotten Garden we have Cassandra taking up the mystery, journeying in her grandma Nell's footsteps across the wordl to see if she can solve the mystery of her grandma's life. through Cassandra we learn of Nell's own journey, the story of the wild child Eliza and her sickly cousin Rose, and about the humble beginnings of Eliza's life with the tragic loss of her baby brother Sammy and her mom Georgianna.

The story's chapters are chunked into the voices of the various women, through diaries and the voices of other's who knew the various women involved. Eliza, who was a story teller, wrote her own fairy tales and these tales are sprinkled throughout the entire novel.

I loved the story of Eliza the best. She had a such a deep connection to her cousin Rose. She overcame a huge amount of adversity, from losing her mother and finding her baby bother dead, trampled beneath horses' hooves in the streets of London. She was then taken to her "family" where she survived the continuous denigration by her Aunt Adeline (Rose's mother and Eliza's guardian). She and Rose become such close friends, like little soul mates. She has a remarkable personality and it fun and silly; her resilience is admirable. I love the story of her.

I admire the storyline of the novel, though I'm really not one to be a fan of the "grand, sweeping epic" novel. I usually avoid these at all costs. And while I love the intricateness of this plot-line, if falls into the trap of most other "grand, sweeping epic" novels- it's way to long and becomes mired. I couldve hacked about 200 pages out of this and still told the story, and I would've liked it a lot better, too, actually.

I do like the richness of all the characters. The story is a fair tale in and of itself, and then weaves fairytales within so I like that cleverness. The evil aunt Adeline who makes the poor wretched child's life miserable while doting her on her perfect, yet ill, child. The handsome princess, the tragedies.

Something else that I do love is that I didn't have it completely figured out- almost but not quite. I knew that Nell was Eliza's baby but I hadn't figured out the father. It was a toss up between Nathaniel (Rose's husband) and Eliza's creepier Uncle Linus. Eliza and Nathaniel became so close during the writing and illustrating of the fairytale book that I thought they had an affair, but Eliza had such a fierce love of Rose and would do anything to please her, I thought that would see our of character for Eliza. After Uncle Linus attacked Georgianna and with his obsession with Eliza, I thought he raped/ molested her. So the twist at the end, of the final parentage of Nell, with a surprise. I also liked how it all fell into place, why Nell actually arrived on the ship and sailed alone, at age 4 years old.

The dirtiness of turn of the century London lead to the bleakness of this tale. I've studied that time period of London quite a bit because I have a fascination (albeit twisted) with London of that time- so I was secretly thrilled and appalled with this part of Eliza's young life. It was deliciously horrid to think the children played a game called "Ripper" or about Mrs. Swindle being for Fagan-like in her evilness that she robbed the dead who washed up on the shore, or stole frocks right off the little rich girls of London. Oh how Dickensian dark and gloomy this part of Eliza's life, but still an important part of the story.

Rose was the most unlikeable character, I think. I realize she was a product of her evil mother and the creeper Linus but she was so unlikeable. to think she was so close to Eliza and then to turn on her after she gave her the baby. Even as Cassandra reads the scrapbooks, letters and diaries of Rose, we see she never even tells the truth there, that she lives in lies and fantasies. It's sad she couldn't even manage the truth in her own journals! It's sad, really, and her constant worrying and whining became dreary. Yes, it's terrible about the radiation scars and the killing of her womb, and her sickness because of it, but to grow to hate Eliza was just so sad, and showed how small and much like Adaline she really was.

The one thing that puzzled me all the way through the story was a piece of Nell's story. she had wonderful loving parents and doting sisters. She had a such a great life and was shown so much unconditional love and happiness. Her father revealed her secret to her and she changed entirely. Why? Why couldn't she still love the man who raised her, that she called dad/ Why coudn't she still love her sisters? Why did she pull away and become so cold, such a shrew, so unbending and unforgiving? Why? This is what I never understood. I comprehend she wanted to learn where she came from and all the abandonment emotions that went with that, that she needed answers. But why did she change so abruptly? Why become almost a different person entirely? I could see being mad at her father but to shun them all , to become so unfeeling, to grow apart, to not even be able to love her own child. I don't understand the harsh line that was drawn, especially since she was show so much love and affection all her life from those who found her.

As an academic study, I can find I could discuss the book, but I didn't really like it, or enjoy it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What's up his sleeve?

I told ITSam he doesn't have to make a big deal out of Valentine's Day because he had been asking me for the last 3 weeks where I wanted to have dinner on Valentine's Day so he could make reservations, Finally, I told him we should just go out to dinner at one of our favorite places on the Friday or Saturday before and maybe see a movie. I told him a card would be nice and maybe a heart shaped box of candy but not necessary. I told him on the actual day, a Monday, we could just hang out and rent a DVD or Netflix.

He wanted to know and at our age, I appreciate him asking. I guess in his previous relationships, the expectations on V-Day were high. I told him he does so many nice things for me all the time he didn't have to cater to the trappings of Valentine's Day- other than a card.

However, he decided that since I love steak, we should go to a Japanese steak house in Northern Civilization. I guess the chefs "perform" while cooking your dinner, with the throwing and chopping and stuff like that. I've never been there before but it's one of Sam's favorite places so that's the plan. (He said he thinks I'll love it, and I can cross off something else on my 40 before 40 list- haha!)

He told me this last night and then said I should bring my camera. I said okay. Then he said I should dress warmly. Then he changed the subject.

Is it cold in a Japanese steak house or did he ignore my plea for just a causal dinner and up the ante that's going to involve something? The camera thing made sense because I thought if the chef performs then I could take pictures. I didn't get the dress warm part and he's not talking, so I'm not asking.

But I sure am curious.

Could be interesting, sweet, fun and grand. Or potentially hazardous.....


Saturday, January 29, 2011

What doesn't kill you makes you...

So, you know how I have take a spinning class and take a yoga class on my 40 before 40 list? And lose 10 pounds? Well, I now have no excuse to not do the first two which are the steps to either the third one, or steps to death. Could go either way.

A friend of mine from work gave me 2 free passes to our YMCA. Our Y gives members passes to give to friends who are non-members. Cool idea and cool for me.

I said I wished I could afford a Y membership and we were all talking about how prohibitive it is. It was funny that everyone at the table thought it was spendy yet everyone but me belonged. Everyone there either had a discount membership or a free one because of where their spouse worked. So later in the afternoon this colleague friend gave me 2 of her free passes. AWESOME!

So I hopped on the Y website and you will never believe what I found. In the month of February they are holding their very first "Beginners Yoga" class. One hour a week for 4 weeks. On Tuesdays. AND they are also trying out, for the second time to see if it's as successful as the first time, a "Beginning Spin" Class. One hour a week for 4 weeks. On Wednesdays.

Since I have these passes I can go to the first class for free to try it out. If I like it I can pay for the rest of the classes or if I don't, then forget it and move one, thank you very much.

It just seems like fate, doesn't it?

Guess what I'll be doing on Tuesday night, and God help me if yoga doesn't kill me, then a spin class on Wednesday. And I'll blog about both--- unless I'm dead from all the exercise.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Nervous about good things

I'm used to things being wrong or bad or rough for me that when something that has the potential to be good I worry about it. I wait for the other shoe to fall. I'm leery of the good.

I'm so worried about such that I won't even write about it here. I'm afraid it will be jinxed. I don't want to talk about it at home or anything. I don't want to jinx the good or own up if it all falls apart... again.

That being said, I have some exciting news that could potentially be excellent news. So, if you could send me your good luck wishes and prayers I'd be appreciative!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

17: Join a monthly book club with my friend who keeps inviting me

Last night I went to the first book club with my friend. She's been inviting me to go since last summer and I was usually busy which is why I put it off. It's funny because many of the books I read last year were from her book club because I had the intent to go and then never did.

Since it's part of my 40 before 40, last night was the best time. I didn't want to put it off any longer and I thought if I enjoyed it then I could, of course, go the rest of the year.

I love my friend who invited me. I love her house where I'm super comfortable. I love her personality and our friendship. She's amazing. I even work for her sometimes. She's smart and funny and down to earth. She's very "REAL"; she doesn't gossip and tries to not say hurtful things. She's a good person, and I want to be like her when I grow up.

What I didn't like was her book club. I felt uncomfortable or out of my element. The women in this club are part of our local high society ladies. They are the "ladies who lunch." They are Junior League-ers. They are wealthy and very conservative. I have no idea how or why my friend is in this group of ladies- but, hey I appreciate the cross over of the classes.

But I don't think it's a place for my debut into the society scene. I don't run in this crowd at all. Don't get me wrong, they were nice enough since I was a guest and our hostess was VERY welcoming. I was just... uncomfortable.

This book had discussion questions at the end of it and the leader/ hostess for the month read the questions and then we sat in silence until someone answered. This went on for about 20 minutes and then everyone gossiped/ socialized. Ummmm, okay. I don't know what I was expecting. Some people contributed to the discussion and most didn't. Two women hadn't read it. The rest all LOVED it, and gushed over its wonderful-ness--- um, I was the only one who didn't like it. Yeah, I'm such an uncultured swine.

I think I'm used to discussing books in an academic setting- as in when I was in college- and I was expecting maybe a more intellectually rousing and stimulating discussion of the book. Maybe if I liked the book things would've been better. Maybe if I felt more comfortable with these people it would've been better.

And as for the book, I wasn't a fan of it. I don't really like sweeping, epic novels. I could've pared this thing down to about 375 pages and still been happy, but more about that later.

So......... I look at the things I want to do and it says "join" the book club. I'm not sure I'm joining but this is one of those times when I reserve the right to change up the list a little bit. I went. I might not join, but I read the book, I attended, and I participated in the discussion, for what it was.

2 down and 38 left to go!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Foray into Facebook

Reasons I don't Facebook:

1. I will not do anything that supports Mark Zuckerburg

2. Anyone I like well enough to be in contact with, I already am

3. I blog

4. I don't care

5. I would be upset if I was blocked or un-friended or if people wrote bad things on my wallpaper.

6. I'll be the person who can't keep her mouth shut and would wind up fired because I said something inappropriate or had pictures of me doing something "inappropriate."

That being said, I have apparently been a topic of discussion on my son's Facebook account, and ITSam has pictures of me on his. The easy one first: Sam did ask me if it was okay to have pictures of me on his Facebook AND he let me pick which ones I wanted him to use.

As for Mac... well, the background is that Sam and I were kissing on the couch the other night, after we thought everyone had gone to bed. We were not naked, touching naughty bits, or having sex, not groping or dry humping. We. were. kissing. on. the. couch. At my dad's. Mac came downstairs; he didn't say anything, but he did make gagging sounds. I thought nothing of it.

Until after school yesterday when Mac TOLD me he wrote it on his F-book, about it was "gross and disgusting to see" his mom and her boyfriend making out. Well, I guess he's gotten about 100 comments. The kids are teasing him to death- hey, he asked for it. And he told me I have a fan club. I've met most of the kids who said anything, either while they were hanging out with Mac or when I worked at his school for 8 weeks. One girl (she and I had a discussion one day about the difference between black and white guys) asked mac if my boyfriend was chocolate. Mac said, "NO! He's hairy, bald and vanilla- and mauling my mom." (there was no mauling, I swear!) The girl responded "Oh yuck- what is she thinking?" (Is it yuck that he's bald, hairy or vanilla?). The kids have really razzed him and love me, and just him to get over it. Mac said he was shocked at the number of kids who said they walked in on their parents having sex. He decided at that point, it could've been worse.

I can't believe he wrote any of if. I can't believe the kids commented. I can't believe I have a fan club.

Sometimes I wish I had a Facebook account only to see the pictures my sister-in-law posts of Fab Finn and the Divine Ms K. She takes tons of pictures and the kids are adorable and I would just love access to that. Sometimes I would like access to Facebook to ask, for example, Sam's cousin's wife (his 2nd cousin in law?) for a copy of a picture she took of him and me last summer at a picnic. That's pretty random, I know, but it's an example I can think of right now. Or when Farrago is going to sing karaoke or be in a show I could easily see this info- if he would let me be a friend.

Actually, Farrago had an idea. He said if there was stuff on Facebook and I didn't want to have contact with people in my past, that I could Facebook as Maggie. Now, that's a thought. Though, he did say this about 8 months ago and I haven't done anything like that so I think that's just what it is: a thought.

I think Mac gave me a new reason to stay off Facebook.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Not in the mood meme

I have a huge list of things on my mind right now. Our school got some sad and disturbing news and I need more time to digest it before I post it. My mind isn't in a writing place right tonight so I'm cheating and here's a meme. Honor among thieves and all that, so thanks Sunday Stealing.

I have a scar on my knee that I got when I was learning to ride a bike

a shoe calendar

grind my teeth--- or at least I used too


8:33 am

With the state of mind I'm in right now, that's a long list. The easy solution- a vacation

Princess, my own apartment, my dog Shelby, my horse

I don't have one


yes, sometimes

very rarely

I can't remember


that usually doesn't matter but I like blue/ green eyes

I can't see myself proposing at all....



a very decadent dessert


nope, and I never intend to, either

What came to mind immediately was a Franklin Covey planner that I got from my Uncle S and Aunt P when I graduated from HS



anything that fits

J0hnny Depp

I have a 17 year old son- is that close enough?




I'm a brunette

"There but for the grace of God go I."
Or "It's the journey not the destination" or "walk softly and carry a big stick"
"Therefore my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain"
Or "If you don't have something nice to say, come sit next to me"
Or "I've had a good time, but this wasn't it."


Monday, January 24, 2011

Frightful Weather

Okay mother nature-- we get it already. You control the weather. We get it already! Stop with the weird weather. Either rain or snow but do one or the other, not both at the same ti,e! I?m really sick of a weather forecast that states "freezing drizzle."

When we left for school this morning there was about 2 inches on the ground that fell overnight. It snowed like mad all day alternating between freezing drizzle and snow. It was a slushy, wet, icy mess. I hate slush. I told the school secretary this morning we didn't have this much snow where I lived in the Wild West!

We've just been pounded this season with snow and then ice on top of that with rain on top and back to snow. It's been cloudy and overcast for days, weeks. I don't mind it all, really but I hate having Mac drive in this trashy weather. Thank goodness my insurance is paid up! I hate clearing off the car all the time, and frozen windshield wipers. And I just think what I really want is a dang snow day. Let's get to the heart of the matter- I want a snow day!

There's more wind, smow and ice coming our way again. And you know what? You never hear about us on the weather channel or having CNN correspondents coming to get footage and interview folks here-- because this our normal winter, I guess. Or no one cares about the Midwest. Wusses in the east coast make headlines every time the wind blows and we get three days of snow and freezing drizzle and no one says a word. Ugh!

I wish I had better snow boots. This is not me looking for an excuse to get new footwear either!!! I really need boots that are warm, water proof with good grippy bottoms and preferably that are stylish! Tall order. Maybe next year. Maybe I could appeal to Mother Nature's woman side and see how she feels about shoes?

I have no idea who ticked Mother Nature off but I wish they'd stop it already.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

I know you can't catch up on lost sleep but I'd like to try

On the weekends when I do my part time secretary gig I get all stressed out over Sunday. Sunday is my only day off and I get myself into a dither over it. Yeah, I know-- talk about needing to learn to relax.

Here's the thought process: there are so many things I want to do and there's not enough time in a day. I want to just read, watch movies, maybe get dressed and hang at my favorite coffee shop for a change of atmosphere and to be left alone- sometimes I like my alone time. I feel like I should just relax and a big part of me wants to do nothing more than relax and lay around but then I think about cleaning the garage, doing laundry, grocery shopping, finish my book club book, cleaning my room, gathering tax papers, responding to emails, paying bills... I think of all the things I SHOULD be doing. I argue with myself that I worked all week and almost all weekend so I deserve a day to just hang out. Then I look at the list of crap I should do.

What will probably happen is that I'll do the shopping, get my tax papers together and I'll do laundry while just hanging out here at the house and reading or watching Netflix. I guess it's a happy medium. I keep pushing the big chores to the back of my mind.

I think it's the thought that I worked 12 of the 13 days. The idea of that makes me tired.

I was telling Daddy-O that when I work on the weekend my Saturday mornings are shot. I always think I won't set my alarm because I usually can't sleep much past 8:30 am on a weekend. But for the last 4 or 5 Saturdays, I've gotten up between 11am and noon. I feel like I sleep the sleep of the dead. I think it's because I go a million miles an hour during the week and then the weekend gets here and I mentally crash.

I remember a few weekends when I lived in the Wild West where Friday night would roll around and I would make no plans. I get some groceries and movies on my way home from school and then put on my jammies around 4 o'clock in the afternoon. I would often crash by 8pm and sleep until nearly noon on Saturday. I would just lay on the couch and watch movies and nap all day Saturday. I wouldn't even get dressed or shower and I would usually go to bed around 9pm and sleep all night. On Sunday I would finally take a shower late in the afternoon or early evening and put on another pair of clean jammies. I remember the re-charging of the battery feeling of those weekends. I didn't do that often- I didn't need to- but when I did I was just a big slug, but come Monday morning, I was ready to dance back into the classroom and impart learning!

I'm wondering if my ability to crash on a Saturday morning and sleep until noon is a much shorter version of "re-charging my battery"? My body and mind finally meet up and realize I need to sleep for one long unbroken period of time?

Here it is, Sunday morning at 9:40am and I'm awake and blogging. I've been up for about an hour. No coffee or shower yet, but I've still been up for an hour. And after I hit 'publish' here I'll be taking care of those. Then I'll get the laundry going. And at least I'll be dressed and ready to go when I feel like tackling the grocery shopping.

And then I'll sit in front of the fire and read. Even if it's just for a little bit.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cake or pie?

I feel with a blog post entitled "Cake or Pie" I should have pictures of both desserts to have at least a visual feast for the eyes since about the only thing the Internet hasn't allowed is "smellability" or a "tasting feature." But I have no photos. Just thoughts.

Which is better- cake or pie?

I realize there's a fount of wonderful desserts I'm abandoning by only arguing for cake or pie. I'm omitting the much beloved cookie, eclair, ice creams, cobblers, brownies, tarts, and many more lush sweet pastry goodness. But sometimes, in a small town such as mine, what it all boils down to is cake or pie for that end of meal sacchariferous treat.

Is a brownie a cake? Really. Is it?

What is cheesecake? Is it a category all its own or is it a cake? It's not all floury and such, like a regular cake so is it cake or more like a pie? Key Lime Pie is of the same consistency as cheesecake but it has pie in its moniker. Both often have a crust, which is a feature of a pie. USUALLY cheesecake is round, which is also a pie feature, albeit a cake can be round, too. Hmmmm, is it a pie or a cake? ITSam thinks it's the Platypus of the bakery world. It's really not cake, he thinks; he feels it's a pie, but overall it really fits into no category at all. Not flour so not a cake, no fruit so not a pie.

I love round cakes. I never make a round cake- I don't know why since I have about every size and shape of cake pan known to man, woman or beast- but I do so love a round cake. And with all the cooking shows on the Food Network not to mention special cake shows (Ace of Cakes, Cake Boss) everyone and their sister now knows tricks to making a perfect round cake.

When it comes to cake, I'm sort of picky on flavor. I love lemon cake. I also am a fan of vanilla cake. Sometimes I like chocolate. We must also not neglect the yellow cake, or the delightful bunt cake! There's the celestial offering we like to munch known as the Angel Food Cake- which can be topped with fruit or icing, or just plain. I do like carrot cake BUT only on two conditions: no nuts and it must have sweet cream cheese frosting. Speaking of frosting, all the cakes must have frosting. I don't like chocolate frosting on my vanilla cakes- it throws off the look as well as the taste for me. I often stand in the cake mix aisle at the grocery store and look at all the flavors and I generally to default to one of the aforementioned choices. Though I should admit that of late, I've become quite the fan of red velvet cake, with sweet creme cheese icing. Oh Divine! Da-Voon! De-Lish!

I love jell-o cake. LOVE LOVE LOVE it! And do I even need to mention the yummy goodness that is wedding cake? And my mom's Texas chocolate sheet cake that gets iced with warm frosting? Since it's my cake world and my blog, I say that strawberry short cake is cake. But it must have strawberries atop said cake or otherwise, it's just a sweet biscuit, not cake at all.

But regardless of the flavor and look, it has to be moist. Dry cake? Pshaw! I hate dry cake.

I must say, however, that the birthday cake I remember most in life was one my Aunt Rita made for me. (Yes, I know she's not really an aunt but actually a more of a distant cousin but I always have thought of her as Aunt) I was just a little bit of a thing and she made the most extraordinary cake ever. It was a round, two layer cake. The flavor was cherry chip. The frosting was white and I can't remember now if it was vanilla, butter creme, or creme cheese. Then she poured a can of cherry pie filling over the whole thing. Finally, the pièce de résistance were 3 models of carousal horses. It was the most glorious looking and tasting cake ever. I wonder if she would do another one since I'm going to be 40? About 37-35 years later... is that long enough to wait? I think it was the best cake I've had in my life.

When I go to a restaurant I'm so visual that if a server brings a dessert cart/ tray and there's a decadent looking cake, I'm a complete sucker for it. I really and truly am.

But what about pie? I do love pie. Before I started scribing I thought there were more pie flavors that fit my picky dessert palate than cake, but now I'm not so sure. I love sugar cream (OMG- Wick's!!!!), peach, cherry, apple, chocolate, strawberry, rhubarb, lemon, peanut butter, and banana creme. I do NOT like meringue. Ever or at all. I love the fact that pie can be served with a full top crust or none. And don't even get me started on my love of criss-cross, scalloped top crusts that are so pretty.

I don't believe in pie a'la mode- usually. Take the following as an example. Yes, I swiped this from a film (When Harry Met Sally, one of the top 3 movies ever made!!!), but prior to the movie's debut, I had this conversation with waitresses on dinner dates long before it hit the silver screen:

Sally: I'd like...the apple pie a la mode.
Waitress: a la mode.
Sally: But I'd like the pie heated and I don't want the ice cream on top I want it on the side and I'd like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it if not then no ice cream just whipped cream but only if it's real if it's out of a can then nothing.
Waitress: Not even the pie?
Sally: No, just the pie, but then not heated.
Waitress: Uh huh.

What else could I say about pie?

I like pie. I like cake. I love pastry and in the end, I would choose some glorious European style pastry over cake or pie anytime, but for the the sake of argument, would I rather have cake or pie? Well...

Both, please.
Who said I could have my cake and eat pie, too?

Friday, January 21, 2011

You want me to buy what?

"Ancient Chinese secret, huh?"
"Please don't squeeze the Charmin!"
"Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is!"
"Have a Coke and a smile."
"My bologna has a first name, is O-S-C-A-R..."
"Honeycomb big, yeah yeah yeah. It's not small, no no no."
"Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids."
"Mikey'll eat it. He'll eat anything!"
"Calgon take me away!"
"Bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan...cuz I'm a woman with Enjoli."

I miss the days when we could sing along with commercial jingles. I miss the days when I could watch a television advertisement and actually understand what was being sold. I'm not a stupid woman but there are times when I watch TV ad and I have no idea what "they" want me to buy.

Mac laughs himself to death because I don't "GET" the AT&T commercial of "Rethink the Impossible" with the Willie Wonka/ Gene Wilder song. I just don't get it. What are they selling? AT&T? I do like the cartoon graphics, but I don't get what I'm supposed to rush out and buy.

I get excited as the next person over the Superbowl ads (so there's about 4 of us) to see what sort of creative, fun commercial is going to catch my eye. And usually I'm very disappointed. Very. I remember the cowboys herding cats but for the life of me I can't remember what was being sold. I remember the ad and it debuted at the Superbowl but that's as far as I can go with the memory- and I refuse to Google it! I also like the revolving/ magic refrigerator of beer. I can't remember much else except for some guys staring at their fridge would spin around and come back with beer. I don't remember the type of beer or why it was spinning- some silly thing- but again, I don't remember. is it because I'm not a beer drinker? Or is it because advertisers aren't doing their jobs or because I'm not the target audience? Or because I just don't care?

I'm sitting here writing this post with the television purposely off, wracking my brain in an effort to think of a single television commercial that's on right now that I like. And I can't come up with a one. Frankly, I'm thinking and can't come up with any commercial at all. I have no idea what McDonald's current tag line is. Are the "ing" and lion/ park bench commercials still on? I don't know Coke's jingle- do they even still sell products on TV any more?

I remember some older Coke ads. The famous "I'd like to teach the world to sing" of course, even though I was a fairly young child when that debuted. I also remember the Diet Coke commercials. I love the Cindy Crawford one with all the guys drooling over her. I love the spoof a few years later, when she was a mom. Were they selling the image that Cindy is still sexy even though she traded in her super modeling for mommy-ing, or were they selling Diet Coke? And I remember the one with all the women looking out the window of an office building at the hot sexy guy and the Diet Coke.

I remember the giant Kool-Aid man ("Oh yeah!") and Tony the Tiger ("They're Greeeeeaaaat!!"). I remember that if I want to be strong I should eat my Wheaties.

I guess this is one of those, I'm getting old, back in the day type of posts. I'm not saying old ads were better. I do know they interested me and even now, I can remember the ad, what was being sold, or I can sing the song. I know that now I have no clue, don't have any desire to buy whatever's being sold, and I couldn't sing a current jingle to save my life- even if there are such things any more. I just know that now, if I watch much television at all, we mute the commercials.

I bet there's a commercial for that...


Thursday, January 20, 2011

So ya gotta have faith...

The question of religion is coming up now that I declared that I don't think I'm an atheist. And it's funny because before I usually avoided religious conversations because people get offended or angry when they meet an atheist. And I don't want to make people angry or uncomfortable.

But since I said that here, it seems like religion is popping up everywhere. First, I've had several blog readers send email asking about it. I've also had several comments from readers in the comments section. Outside of the blog world, religion came up at work several times this week and it came up again today in a discussion of foster parenting.

I'm not really sure I can pinpoint my change of heart as far as religion goes. First and foremost, I want to say I am not ready to believe in Jesus, God, the Bible, or ready to commit to Christianity. I think I've become agnostic. I believe in a higher being of some kind, but am not really sure of who or what. I would say I'm not faithless any longer.

In reality, I would say I lean more toward Judaism than anything else.

And for those who wonder what changed my mind... that's sort of a weird evolution. I think it boils down to the fact that since I've started at Alcatraz, which is a faith based institution, and working with those kids, seeing them change and turn for good, seeing what they've survived in their home lives, hearing people's stories... well, it's influenced me. I also think I was called to serve at this place, at this time... it's not easy for me to say that but I really feel that's why I'm changing my ideology.

I don't know if that's a very good answer to any of this because I'm still sorting it out myself. It's interesting. It's challenging. It's... well, I guess it's faith.

Oh sheesh. Faith. Just what I need. I have a teenage son about ready to go to college, I'm looking for new housing, I might get married, I might be a foster parent, I have a fairly new job--- yeah, let's just toss God in here. Yeah, that helps a lot. Hmmmmm, looking at that list might indicate I could use some god.

I liked it when religion was Madonna and "Like A Prayer" or George Michael and "Ya Gotta have Faith".

Maggie Mae

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Uncomfortable sport

I've decided that I'm profoundly uncomfortable at high school boys' wrestling matches. There. I admitted it.

The athletic director at our school asked me if I would operate the concession stand for him and I've done that twice, yes two separate occasions- and both times I'm just very uncomfortable with the entire process.

First, the one thing that bugs me and it has nothing to do with being uncomfortable is that wrestling scoring makes no sense to me at all. The ref (judge? umpires? official?) has to lay down on the ground and get mat level with the two boys to see what's going on. It has to do with pins and holds and how long, and how fast they extract and all that stuff. It makes no sense at all to me. I do not like to watch "sports" with impossible to follow scoring.

As for the rest of it... ewwwwwww! It's not the 2 boys grappling around on a mat together that bugs me. I don't really care about that, though I must say at a few points during some of the matches those guys got to know each other really well, with their hands and heads in very INTIMATE places on each other's bodies. Actually, that sort of makes me laugh because these are often the same boys who make "gay" jokes. I know they're not gay, but it's more of the irony of it all for me.

It also looks painful, with the mashing of their faces and all their other body parts against the mat and then held there for an undisclosed amount of time, up to at least 2 minutes. They circle each other and smack each other on the head and grab at each others hands before rolling around together and slamming and crashing into each other. Why call it wrestling- we might as well call it "bullying."

I am very uncomfortable with the little stretchy outfits they wear. All their junk it hanging out and outlined. Then the boys have to go around and "adjust" themselves. Repeatedly. And in front of everyone... well, in front of me. It's awkward and just a bit gross. When they're waiting their turns, they have their hands down their pants, apparently straightening their compression shorts (think SPANX for men) they wear underneath but it still looks like they're playing with themselves in public. They also have to take their shirts off and smack their naked chests and pull the straps of the body suit up, right before it's their turn, and then that involves more fondling of their man parts. The man parts which are outlined, highlighted, very visible--- it's all distasteful.

I was at a meet and a invitational and this is COMMON behavior. I thought it might be just one weird school or something but this is something that all the boys at all the schools do! What is up with this weird grossness?

I don't like the bully style and the almost naked of it all. I also am NOT impressed with the foul language of the athletes who are standing mat-side waiting their turns to wrestle. It's not my new found "anti- swearing" but it's more the "way" they swear rather than actually swearing itself that I find distasteful. I also think since they are athletes representing their schools they could clean up their mouths while little kids and old people and anyone else who might be offended are standing around.

And don't even get me started on how the boys try to stay in their weight class- binging, purging, water diets, over eating, plastic wrapping of the body. It's awful!

So between protruding penises, ugly uniforms, the bullying aspect, and their apparent need to cuss like sailors makes me very uncomfortable. I think it's not going to make me a "wrestling superfan."

Not a grappling groupie,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Potty Mouth

I'm trying to stop swearing. Again. Thank God I don't smoke because I would be dead from lung cancer if smoking and swearing could be equated to each other. I am trying!

I have found it's easier to not swear in print. So I think I'm doing a pretty good job here on my blog. I gave myself an out to use "damn", "piss", "ass" and "hell." I wasn't ready to quit cold turkey so I've been keeping those four. I'm really trying to get rid of "B*t*h", the f-word, Sh**, and taking the Lord's name in vain. I do alright, for the most part.

What prompted this little bit of "stop the cussin'" campaign was that I dropped "sh**" at school one day, without thinking at all, right in front of a library full of kids. That was enough to make me re-think. I'm supposed to be a good role model and swearing in front of them is not an example of that! So, I'm working on cleaning up the language and to stop my foul mouth.

So I've decided that my friends can be a bad influence. Well one friend. One friend and Mac. When XRay Girl and I are together, I tend to cuss more or it becomes easier to accidentally drop the bad ones. ITSam and I are pretty good and he's swearing less too, in an effort to support me. He didn't swear that much to begin with so it's good to have help.

Mac swears like a sailor and I'm all over him about it. He thinks me telling him to stop swearing is stupid but he's trying. Though I actually made a 'swearing deal' with him. Things you never think you'd say or do... anyway, the other night Mac and I were driving and we passed Sperm Donor coming the other way and I called him 2 of the no-no's with the word bastard (I can't decide what to do with that one...). Mac called me on the swearing. I asked if I could have an out and swear only at him. Mac laughed and rolled eyes. The next day Mac and I were once again in the car and we passed his Step Monster who was driving and Mac called her a the f-word B*T*H. I told him to not say that. Then somehow or another we agreed he could call her that and I could call the Sperm Donor what I said- it's my get out of jail free swear. But only if we see them, not just because we want to swear.

The one I have the most trouble with is taking the Lord's name in vain. It just seems to flow. I know that God's last name is not "Damn it". Well, I think I know that. Wait, what is his last name, anyway? Maybe it is Damnit!!! Yeah, wishful thinking. Probably not.

Someone one time said that people who swear sound common and I've always thought about that. There's something about it that rings true, I think.

I've also tried making up words to insert instead of the actual swear words. It ends up just sounding stupid. I can't even give you a good example because I usually get out "mutherfoolishratsdarncrap carpet". Yeah, it sounds dumb and it's totally random and you never know what I'm going to say. I just realize that I'm going to not say made up cuss words. I also say "bad word." I don't say any particular Bad Word but I say the actual words: BAD WORD. I sort of even chant "BAD WORD BAD WORD BAD WORD!!!!!" It's a sad and twisted mantra. So i say "Bad Word!" or I'll just remain silent or say "shoot fire."

Yup, "shoot fire". That's what I usually say these days. "Shoot fire."

Hey, it's all a work in progress.

Are there potty mouth support groups?

Monday, January 17, 2011

New meaning to hand held computer

The Verizon contract has come to its bitter end and I'm now taking a new adventure into the world of cell phones. Not only do I have a new phone and with a new carrier we shall refer to as Sprint, I also have joined with ITSam and am on his contract. So many chances I'm taking here! Who said almost turning 40 is no longer full of adventure!

And what a phone did I get. Before I reveal all that is my new phone I want to point out I had an EnV 2. I could text and talk. I could download cool ringtones. I could use the calendar feature. If I wanted to pay a small fortune and sacrifice my first born to the cell phone gods, I could've gotten email and the Internet on it but I didn't. I would talk, text, calendar, use the alarm feature and use the calendar. It had a camera on it that I used in photographic emergencies, and I could email the picture off my phone to my email as a text. That was the extent of the coolness factor of the EnV2.

I now have a HTC EVO 4G phone. Basically I have a mini computer that is also a phone. The HRC is Sprint's version of the iPhone. I'm online. I have apps. I've already got the Kindle app and the screen is big enough I could read an entire book on it. It will also act as an iPod. Apparently I'll be able to put my music from my iTunes on it. Yeah, I have a computer for a phone. I can take pictures and text. I can load my pictures from my computer on it. I can blog from it. I can surf the web on it. I'm just overwhelmed with the coolness of it all. And I am super excited that it seems fairly easy to use (SO FAR!!!) and when I get stumped, I can actually walk into Best Buy, Radio Shack or a Sprint store for help! (As opposed to using my old Verizon phone when I had to go to the Verizon store for help, which was usually a 20-45 minute wait. Yeah, great.)

Did I mention I got to keep my cell phone number? They "ported" it over, whatever that means in lingo. For me it means, I get my same number so there's no hassle in changing it with everyone. I also got all my contacts, pictures and ringtones ported, so I didn't have to re-download everything nor re-enter everything. That is awesome!

It's really weird. I'm never the person with new technology. I'm usually the last one to get it, if I get it at all. I'm sure this is waaaaaaaaaaaaay more phone than I need. But it sure is FUN! I mean, it's really cool to say I have 'apps'. And I will never be caught anywhere without a book ever again, which is supremely awesome. I'll always have cool music, too, which is also amazing. (though I think I need to get a pair of cheap-o headphones to keep in my purse so I have a set on hand at all times... or on head at all times?)

I'll keep you updated on how this works out for me. Thankfully I have 30 days to see how it all goes. If I don't like it, have problems, find it's way more phone than I need, whatever, I have 20 more days to change it over for something else.

Technology is in my hand!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

#2: Get High-lights in my hair

I have high-lights in my hair.

Here's the deal. I'm not yet 40 and I have white hair. I have quite a bit of white hair, as a matter of fact. If I didn't color said hair, I would have a perfectly shaped, white, skunk stripe over my right eye and down over my right ear. Just a stripe. I also have some miscellaneous white hairs at my temple and... well, everywhere else.

I do color my hair. Typically I color it the natural color of my hair, a nice brown with some red in it. Now, the question has always been, how do I color it brown and red? Well, the obvious answer is to get some highlights of red after coloring it brown. This costs about $50-85 at a salon, which is prohibitive to my personal pocketbook. So for years, since the white monsters have reared their ugly heads, I've had to choose. I usually color my hair sort of an auburn-ish color which is pretty close to my natural.

I've had some coloring incidents in life. Once my hair turned pink, when I lived in the Wild West. The color solution with the chemicals in the water there were not a good combination so I was pink about about 14 days. Once time I picked a color that was more... magenta than auburn and that was weird. Once I went "too brown" and it wasn't a good look. I also went too red and after a few weeks it was sort of orange-y looking. But most of the time, it looks like normal hair, but just not my natural brown with auburn highlights.

Until a few weeks ago. I found a store kit that was an all-over color and then highlights. COOL! So, one day Princess and I dyed our hair. She went back to her natural chocolate brown (from a weird dirty blondish red she attempted) and I colored mine medium/ light brown. And she placed the high-lights.

I was worried because I've seen people get highlights from the salon, and at home, where they look like they have stripes in the hair, zebra-esque, you might say. I didn't want that to happen to me. I kept telling Princess to not zebra me. She said she wouldn't and to not worry. Famous last words from the kid who tried to go blond and her hair is almost black naturally!

I have to say it turned out beautifully! I love it. It's lovely! No stripes, just natural looking color. It's been funny because, since we did it, people look at me and say I look different but no one can actually seem to put their fingers on what's different about me. That means she did a good job- it should look normal and natural. She's awesome! (and we didn't highlight her hair; we just colored it and it's stunning!)

We also read the directions and when it's touch up time, I don't have to do a whole all over kit; we can do some highlights! I am so excited by this. I know I'll have to "all over" color again, of course, but in the mean time, I can squeak an extra couple weeks with a highlight treatment.

So, I can cross "highlight my hair" off the 40 before 40 list!

And, while this has nothing to do with the coloring, I got a "straightener" for Christmas. A hair straightener, that is. My hair is curly and after a blow dryer it's often... fluffy. So now I straighten it and with the color-- well, I look like a whole new person! Like a before and after make over that went well. And more people notice I straighten my hair than the highlights. Now how weird is that?

What I do wonder, though, is what color is my hair now, really? Other than all the white ones, I wonder if my hair is still really that brownish red or if it's getting darker as I get older. Other than the white ones, of course. I don't want to find out, though. I'll live with it the way I remember it before the white infiltrated!


1 down and 39 more to go!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

And she wore a pink....

Here's the sweet surprise I got from ITSam on Christmas!!!!!

As regular readers know, I have an obsession with Tiffany & Co. so this was just an amazing treat and a wonderful surprise! I think people could hear me scream from the shock of opening a REAL Tiffany & Co. bag! I adore the Tiffany keys and to have a genuine one and with a hint of pink, and on a pretty chain to wear around my neck... well, ITSam did very well!

Happy Pink Saturday- thanks Beverly for hosting!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Car and library updates; plus a day off that wasn't

Well the car started! Finally!

ITSam and a guy from work went out and put in some sort of new filter and sprayed some stuff on some part (obviously I didn't listen when I was told all the details.) It still didn't start. Sam consulted with 3 mechanics and all three said the same thing: bad gas caused water or ice in my fuel line. All said the same solution: put a bottle of HEET in the gas tank.

So XRay Girl and I (ITSam would've done with but I already had girl time with her planned) go to Big R and buy HEET, which was on sale for 99 cents a bottle- thank you Curly for spotting that bargain- then we headed out to the car. At 9pm. In the parking lot in the middle of the country. While it was snowing. I poured the stuff in and the car started up like it had never stopped running. Now how weird was that??????

Thank god for small favors! It started again in the morning and after school and is fine. Today is pay day so all the mechanics concurred again that I get fuel (somewhere else with a better reputation) and fill it up and add another can of HEET! Also, thank god for Sam. I swear- a car problem that I didn't have to handle or manage. I'd marry him for the sole reason of NEVER having to deal with a car problem again!

As for my student in the library... today is her last day with me. After many meetings with the powers that be, we decided it's really more of a hindrance than a help. She'll be doing something else- I've no idea what. So rather than coming to work with me for 3 periods a day, she'll just be there for 1. One is good. One is do-able, manageable. One I can live with one easily. And the work study supervisor told me if all else fails, let her read magazine and newspapers and books if I have nothing else for her to do. (She likes magazines!)

Lastly, yesterday at school the power went off during lunch. After all the right people made all the right phone calls, we were told that the power would be off for 3-4 hours. So our residential staff canceled school and sent all the kids to their campus housing. As a staff we had to wait for the actual school system to cancel us before we could go home. As our principal is on the phone being told we can go home, the power came ON. We all went back to our classrooms (library) and the kids were called back. All we really missed was about 35 minutes of school. So close, yet so far!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The list of 40 things to do before I turn 40! The final list is here!

Well here is the long awaited list. Here are the 40 things I'm going to do before I turn 40. The big day is September 26, 2011 so I have a good nine months (plus a little more) to get these 40 things done!

As I complete each thing, I'll blog about it, and when applicable I'll show photos. I'll have the list in my sidebar and cross off the list as I get it finished!

And because I'm a tad obsessive-compulsive (okay more than a tad. And we could say anal- retentive) I have one thing I can cross off already- get highlights! I needed to start on the right foot and on the plus side.

Since it's my list and my rules, I've decided I can combine things when I want. I can also change the list as needed (hey, my blog, my birthday, my rules). For example, I can dye a streak of pink in my hair but I have to do it over a period of time when I won't be in school because it's against policy. I might only have it in for 2 weeks and then color over it but I'll still count it. I also want to get my nose pierced but Daddy-O said as long as I live with him, absolutely not. I don't have an exact reason as to why I "can't" but his house, his rules (I remember my mom made him sleep on the couch when he got his ear pierced so the no nose thing is interesting. *A-Hem* Just an observation!) . And I like having shelter, food, electricity, Internet, so no nose ring. BUT if I move out before the BIG BIRTHDAY the nose ring will happen, something on the list will be bumped, hence the concept of changing it! Ditto moving to Europe, winning the lottery, etc.

The cool thing is that I've never done these 40 things. I tried to come up with stuff that I could afford, that I wanted to do, that interested me, that was realistic and were also affordable. I also wanted to keep it as things I've never done. I might have done a variation but not "exactly" as it's listed to accomplish here.

I also wanted to be realistic. I would love to put "Win the lottery" on here but that's out of my control, same as "Marry Johnny Depp", "Win an Oscar" and "be as thin as Julia Roberts." All of these are out of my control and not realistic. Like in magic, you can't control the free will of others!

This is certainly not a Bucket List, of sorts. That would have LOTS of travel involved which also involves LOTS of money and time, neither of which I have much of right now. But it's a nice list of goals to say I've done before I turned 40.

It's funny because as I spoke with friends and family as I complied, it was pretty cool to hear all the stuff I've already done. people would make suggestions and it was fun to say "did that" or "checked it off already", etc. (That will be a post sometime- a list of suggestions that I've already done!)

I'm also going to give myself permission to not get them all done. If I don't then I don't. It's something to strive for. I have 257 days, counting today, to get them all done.

I hope my friends and family will be part of the fun; be my partners in crime of sorts! I also wish Bragger lived closer because I see that our lists are quite similar and we could take names and kick butt! And thanks to Bragger for our conversations about our lists (she's doing 50 before 50!)!

Thank you to everyone who made suggestions. I appreciate it. What I appreciate even more is how much you all really "know" me. You recommended things that are so completely "me". Thank you! Please don't be offended if I didn't pick your ideas- it was probably either because I did it or because it was out of affordability.

So without further ado, here's the list!!!!!!

1. Dye a streak of pink in my hair.
2. Get highlights in my hair
3. Lose 10 pounds
4. Give a make over (facial, pedi, mani) to a friend
5. Bake cookies to send to troops rather than eat them all myself!
6. Make a Baked Alaska
7. Cook an exotic dish or a fix a food I've never prepared before
8. Make homemade bread 2 or 3 times
9. Eat at a restaurant I've never been to before
10. Plant an herb garden, and then use the herbs when cooking
11. Tour a vineyard
12. Drive part of Route 66
13. Take a day hike, or part of a day hike, on a portion of the Appalachia Trail
14. Take a mini-road trip to somewhere I've never been
15. Meet one of my blogging buddies
16. Get a globe, give it a spin, and blindfolded, pick a place and then learn all about it!
17. Join a monthly book club with my friend who keeps inviting me
18. Read a book by a Russian author (the English translation)
19. Leave a couple books around with inscriptions that they're free to those who find them
20. Read 7 books that are considered "classics"
21. Subscribe to a new magazine and actually read it before the next issue arrives
22. Take a day to do nothing but lay around in my jammies, reading my back issues of 2010 fashion magazines, and eating junk food
23. Mail a postcard to "Post Secrets"
24. Memorize poems that make me laugh or feel good
25. Buy a CD by an artist I've never heard before and listen to the entire thing
26. Learn to play an instrument or re-learn one I already know how to play
27. Learn to juggle
28. Take ballroom dancing lessons
29. Take a zumba class
30. Take a pottery class
31. Take a spinning class
32. Take a jewelry making class
33. Take a yoga class
34. Try to learn a craft I've never done before
35. Perform a random act of kindness
36. Volunteer at a charitable/ not for profit organization
37. Make a list of 40 things that are wonderful about turning 40
38. Re-arrange/ re-decorate my bedroom
39. Attend synagogue
40. Watch a classic Christmas film I've never seen like White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, or A Christmas Story


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Be careful what you wish for

I've really wanted a work study student in the library. We have a few spots on campus where students can work and after I begged and pleaded, the library was added to the list. I was given a student. She's supposed to work for me three periods a day.

This is where the title comes into play. I should've be careful what I wish for. Or maybe I should be much more specific in what I wish for.

See, I wanted someone who could put books away, straighten shelves, cover books, help with inventory, put the shelves in alphabetical/ Dewey order, make bulletin boards, and do some desk top publishing to promote library activities. This was my dream person.

What I got was a girl who is special education and very low functioning. One reason she's at our facility is that she couldn't function in a regular school setting, and her parents don't want her. While this is a heart breaking story, and it is, this is the person they assigned to WORK IN THE LIBRARY. This is not a good fit.

She worked with me for a week. She is a very sweet child. I don't think she would harm a fly. She is certainly not a troublemaker. But she is very, very slow. And she doesn't really read very well. She can't do complex tasks. I saw this was not going to work well but I tried. At the end of the week when the Work study director and I met with her, we asked what the most difficult task was she was given. She said that straightening shelves. people, straightening the shelves is the easiest thing I have to do in the library!

No one knew how low functioning she was when she came to our school so no one can really be blamed. The problem is we have nowhere else to put her. Most of the work study jobs are independent and I think she would be better as part of a team, where she would have other people to keep her on task, keep her motivated and for her to follow what they do.

I like her and I feel bad that after a week and a half, it isn't working. I just can't afford to stand next to her to show her the steps over and over again. This isn't me being mean and not wanting to work with special ed- ah, contrary since that's what I did for the last year and a half in education. And I like working with special ed. kids. This is just an a bad fit job for this particular child.

We think we might have some other choices rather than a work study for her. But if she's pulled from the library, I won't be assigned another person. All the kids in the program have been placed. Drat!

I had such great plans! Ah, maybe next semester!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Books Needed

I wrote a post the other day asking for donations for my school library. One reader, the brilliant Leslie in Adams Morgan, suggested I post the titles of the books I want to see if people would donate a copy (copies) rather than send money. That is such a brilliant idea!!!

If you want to provide the reading club with a copy of any of the following please leave me a comment and I'll get you the address.

We need 10 copies of each book. Here are the first three we want to start with, for Feb.-April

Thanks again to Leslie for a great idea, and thanks in advance for donations!

The Books:
  1. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
  2. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
  3. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

New car? Yeah right. What was I thinking?

I've needed new tired on my car for a very LONG time. On Saturday mac and I were headed to a movie and on the highway we had a blow out. Mac and ITSam changed the tire and it was determined that I was getting new tires, come hell or high water.

So yesterday I got 4 brand new tires. I can't remember the last time I had new tires. Oh wait... that would be never. The few times I've had tire issues, they're been repaired or I've had a "slightly used" tire put on. After I got the 4 new ones yesterday, I proclaimed driving my car was like "driving a new car! It's such a smooth ride now!" Me and my big damn mouth.

Picture this, if you will. It's snowing. All. Day. Long. Steadily. It's not stopping nor slowing down. There;s about 4 inches on the ground now. The wind is slightly blowing. We have a snow mess out there. And it's about 28 degrees. Mac calls me after school to report that the car will not start. I'm trying to get him to describe the sound the car makes when he turns the key to determine if the battery is D*E*A*D or... something else. As he's telling me the car "almost" starts and then doesn't the principal comes to help Mac. Mac said he would call me back.

I have to sit in the front office of Alcatraz to await his return call because I have no cell service in the library. I wait and wait. Of course everyone wants to know what's happening and I tell them. Twenty minutes go by and I finally try to call mac again and get no answer.

Then the school office phone rings and... it's one of the Alcatraz secretaries. She left (with her husband) to get her girls from school; they go to the same school as Mac. She saw Mac was having car trouble and was told by all the adults who were helping him (2 teachers and the principal) that the car wouldn't start so she was bringing Mac to me at school. Then she and her husband offered to take us home- into town about 10 miles one way out of their way because they LIVE on the Alcatraz campus.

I was so thankful to them both. And to the folks who stood in the blizzard at mac's school. I was going to call our public transit system for rides but they insisted. MY principal and guidance counselor both offered to run us home, both gentlemen live 2 miles from Alcatraz so they would be going out of their ways as well. I'm thankful for wonderful people who helped us & who offered aid. I also had a fellow teacher friend say she would come get us in the morning if we have school, too.

The guys who were helping Mac said it could be anything from a frozn fule line, fuel filter, corroded battery wires, fuel injection issues to a problem with the starter or a combination. Sheesh. Great. None of that sounds very promising.

BUT what torques me off is that yesterday I blabbered my big, stupid mouth about my "new" wonderful car feeling and here I am, now, stranded. If it's not one thing, it's another.

Cars suck.


Monday, January 10, 2011

I still just love awards!

I've recently been following a blog called Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies, which is all about Meg Ryan and Michelle Pfeiffer and I thinks it's a fun spot, and the author of that blog, Paul, has given me an award- thank you Paul!

As with all awards there are rules:
1 - Thank and link back to the person that awarded you this award,which I've just done.
2 - Share 7 things about yourself.
3 - Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers.
4 - Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award.

Here are the seven things about me:
a. I have freckles
b. I want to move to England or Ireland to live but have no idea how to go about making this happen
c. I need new black penny loafers because mine have identical holes in each shoe, over the big toes
d. I think I'm outgrowing being an atheist
e. Mac's driving makes me nervous which is ironic since I taught him to drive
f. I still didn't see some of the most famous, popular Christmas movies of all times like White Christmas, It's a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Story. Can I still watch 'em in January?
g. I want a big blizzard so we get a week's worth of snow days.

Now, I'm supposed to 15 recently discovered bloggers. This makes me feel terrible because I haven't been out trolling the world for new blogs to read; I can't keep up with all the ones on my current list (thank you to those who do not post daily- hahaha!) So the following nominations are to people I read who I've either recently discovered (we're not going to define recently) or who I know who have been blogging for less that a new. And no, there are not 15...

1. D-Nice
2. Mignardise
3. Pink in the City
4. Mommy with a Penis
5. Phlog
6. The English Writer

Thanks again to Paul for the award. And thanks to all the great bloggers out there!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Relaxing is necessary

This is the first weekend in about 8 months where I didn't have 'plans.' When I say plans I mean even things that were under my control that I scheduled, that were fun, when I was working or had obligations for Mac or family stuff. This is the first weekend I didn't make any plans to do anything, with friends and family, to work, not a single thing.

And I loved it.

Yesterday I slept until noon. My body must've needed the rest. Seriously, I didn't stay up all night on Friday; I was in bed by midnight. I lazed around in my pj's until almost 2pm when I decided to take Mac to a movie. But on the way to the theater, I blew a tire so ITSam drove out and changed the tire to the mini donut spare. (Mac and I tried to change it! We got as far as trying to the tire off and it wouldn't budge. Apparently the rim thingy was bent. It took Mac and Sam to both yank it off, after kicking it, swearing at it, and beating it with a tire iron... Anyway...) When we got back into town we stopped to see XRay Girl at the ice cream parlor and then I came home and read all night.

Today I plan on more lazy. ITSam and I talked about going to see Country Strong but with the mini tire I don't want to take my car out of town so that's off the list

It's really cold here today, the sort of day when you just want to stay inside. I might watch something off Netflix, or I might just read. I have about a million chores I could be doing but I just need to be a worthless layabout. I'm healthy and well and I just want to enjoy doing nothing.

Hope your Sunday is this relaxing!


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Day 25 and Day 26 of the Truth challenge

In an effort to finish this truth writing challenge, and because I am just not feeling the writing right now, here are 2 days combined into one:

Day 25: The Reason You Believe You're Still Alive Today

I think it's because it's not my time. For whatever reason, I'm still here. Have I done stupid things that should've resulted in my death- well, probably. A poor driving moment, drinking way too much, walking in a scary part of town after dark-- all those things could've resulted in my death, I suppose.

The bottom line is that, as funny and wonderful fellow blogger Wiley would say, The big Chicken isn't ready to take me yet.


Day 26: Have You ever thought of giving up on life? If so, when and why?

When I read that I interpret it as a "have you thought of killing yourself" sort of question, and the answer to that is NO. I'm too much of a big chicken. I don't like pain. And what if it didn't work and I was half paralyzed or a vegetable or something horrid like that? Or if it didn't work, and I was fine, but everyone would know that I was the person to tried to commit suicide. I would also end up in jail if it didn't work. In the state in which I dwell, it's against the law to kill yourself. Punishable by jail time. And I don't want to go to prison. I don't look good in florescent orange or horizontal stripes.

Another way to look at this would be to just give up on life like become a hermit or disappear and become another person. There are times when I wished I had about cash to buy another identity and move away and become someone else. It's usually when I'm depressed about money and my life, but those moments are very few and far between, and so fleeting that I can't really remember a specific "when" those thoughts occurred. And frankly, when those thoughts do occur I get so wrapped up in thinking about where I would go, what name I would give myself, the job I could do, and the fake fantasy life I create, I usually forget to be upset.

Only 4 more days of this to go!


Friday, January 7, 2011

Donations welcome

I've been researching grants so I can buys stuff for the library like new books, books to have a book club, and funds to sponsor an "art and lecture" series.

My idea for an "art and lecture" series is to bring in guest speakers who would give a 15-20 minute program and then teach the students how to do a craft/ art project. I have a woman in town who makes jewelry. She could come in and tell her story and then show the students how to make something. I would need money to cover the cost of materials. I know of a woman who makes her skeins of wool yarn. It would be awesome for her to share the process and let the kids knit a hat. Ditto a candle maker. Ditto a soap maker. Ditto an organic gardener. These people will donate their time and sell me supplies at cost but I need money for the "cost" part.

As for book club, I want to be able to get 10 books a month so 9 kids (and me) can participate each month. I would like the students to be able to keep the books if they want- I can't even begin to explain how much would mean to some to these kids to be "given" a book. (And I have a sign up process so different kids will be able to participate monthly; I don't want it to be the same kids over and over.)

Any suggestions of where to go for money, please let me know. I know about our community foundation, local churches, and utility company foundations. I used to write grants for a living in a previous lifetime, so I know the basic drill. But I've been out of the game for awhile and it can't help to give me some ideas, please!!!!

The problem I have is that we have a development office who writes grants for stuff for the entire facility and I'm not "ALLOWED" to write to the same places. I understand, on principle. But I want a couple hundred bucks where they ask for several THOUSANDS.

Someone suggested I tap into private individuals I know who would give some money. Ummm, okay. I don't that many individuals who could give me $100 a month so I can do book club, and another $50-100 a month for art and lecture. I'm going to give that a whirl. I know I could just people for whatever they can give, and do it in small increments, and that's probably what I will do.

So, I'm cheating and starting here. If any readers would like to make a donation to the library for either of these projects, please let me know. I can start a paypal account, or for those of you who know me/ trust me, I'll give you my address and you can send the funds to me, made out to the school of course. And I can provide a receipt- tax deduction!

Thanks for your support!
Maggie the Librarian

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Last minute updates and teasers

I didn't have a chance to talk to the principal about the nasty comment described in yesterday's post but I have a meeting with him on Monday!

I applied for a part time job (like a need another one!) to direct a school musical at a neighboring high school! More on this if it comes to fruition!

January is not having me start as a good blogger. I can't believe I forgot to blog today. Well, I didn't really forget. I thought I was going to have an update about yesterday to post this afternoon and when it didn't happen the thought of blogging flew out my head. I was swamped with the mundane today.

ITSam has his son this weekend so I have a BF free weekend. Sadly, I'm looking forward to that. I think I'm still upset about Tuesday. I don't hold grudges usually (does the one I have against my ex count?) but I'm struggling to get over this.

Speaking of the ex, SD still hasn't called Mac since the day they went shopping. What a jerk. He tells Mac he wants to try and improve their relationship and then goes on hiatus. Mac said he's waiting for the other shoe to drop. Smart kid.

My Verizon Wireless contract is up in 11 more days. Can we hear a round of applause? I think Sprint will get my business.

We [we being teachers and parents who give a crap about their kids' homework assignments] yell and yell at our teens when they write assignments in "texting" language but I have what I feel to be a legitimate question. The word "I" is spelled "I" as in "I can't wait for the weekend." So why isn't the word "are" spelled r and the word "why" spelled y and "see" spelled c? Hey, I'm just sayin'...


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Absolutely abhorrent comment

Princess does rub some people the wrong way. As teachers, we all have students who we just don't like. As people we all have to interact with other people we just don't like. Okay. That being said...

Wait, I need to make one more clarification. In the 10 years I've been in education I have said the following things to either a family member, friend or a colleague:
  • "Oh well, I try not to worry about him since he'll end up in prison as some point."
  • "Oh well, I try not to worry about her since she'll end up serving my McFries someday."
  • "I can' wait for that bully to meet someone who'll kick his butt."
Yes, I've said these things. However, I think there's a line a teacher can cross and the science teacher made a comment to a table full of teachers at lunch today that went way beyond crossing.

The science teacher and Princess hate each other. It goes both ways and it's no secret. Science teacher sits down and starts complaining about how rotten the kids are this week. I'm sitting and eating and not speaking. I was in a hurry because I had stuff to do and I don't like sitting with those people, either.

He goes on with with rant, complaining about one kid then another. He gets to Princess. I figure I'll just shut up because I know they hate each other and teacher's need to vent, and just because I'm her mentor/ pseudo mom/ potential foster mom that I need to let him speak. Then when he speaks I think he should be struck dead by lightening.

He actually said, "I can't wait for about 3 years when [Princess] is living in a trailer park with her squally brats and her husband. No wait her boyfriend because who's gonna want to marry that mouth? And he beats the crap out of her. I can't wait because she deserves it."

He. said. that. He's a teacher and he said that.

I picked up my tray, my coat, pushed in my chair and walked away. I didn't stomp, slam, say anything, or make a scene. I wanted to say, "So, how often do you beat your wife?"

I can't believe an educator would say that about a student. I have said some crappy things, yes, but NEVER something like that. Does it make me feel worse and more angry because it's Princess? Oh hellszyeah! But I just can't believe a person who would work in a place like Alcatraz, who has to be there because it's a calling practically, should think like this, let alone even say anything this, this, this... sick, this wrong.

I was about sick. I never want to be anywhere near him again. I'm appalled.

And to think, that jerk has tenure.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Not ready to make nice

My library computer died today.

I checked books out all morning. When I got back from lunch and went to check out a book, I got an error message. I couldn't log back in without getting the same error message over and over again.

I let kids checkout books the rest of the day and just wrote the info down. Not a big deal, it seems, right?

I also should point out that 98% of campus used the library today. It was the first day we were open after a long Christmas break so all three English teachers brought all their students into day and all of them got at least one book, most of them got two.

So, at the end of the day I called our IT School Support guy. This is NOT ITSam. This guy is a liaison between the school and the IT department. So I called my Liaison and he came and did some stuff to my computer and discovered that not one single book I check out to student, nor any books I checked in or new library cards I issued were in the computer any longer. A called was placed to our library software support department and they went 10 rounds.

What it all came down to was that no back up files were made due to an errors someone made 3 years ago. Okay, so then we just go to our server, right? So our Liaison calls ITSam who says that he can't get that information because it was all corrupt. WHAT???

All day long different people called the ITSam department and reported our email wasn't working and we kept getting "can't connect to the server" message. ITSam's response to everyone all day was that there was nothing wrong with the server.

So now at the end of the day, after about 200 hundred books went out the library door to a school filled with kids who are mostly criminals, nothing is checked out. The computer shows all the books as "in." OMG... and did I mention that the majority of the books that were checked out were new books that I processed right before Christmas?

ITSam said that he could get information off the server when it did the morning back up but after that, the information is corrupt. So wait a minute. First he said it wasn't his server's fault, then he said my library computer wasn't on his server, then he said he could only get some information? Which story is right here?

I told him at the end of the day we were NOT going to discuss this at home. I was in tears at work over this whole debacle and I didn't want to talk about it with him. He said it wasn't his fault. I said I thought it was his department's. Mac stepped in and said to ITSam, "Dude, just back off mom. She thinks you're wrong and you think you're not. She said not to talk about it and man, I've known her a lot longer than you. Walk away from it while you can, before she annihilates you." We agreed to not talk about it.

The evening went on fine and after dinner I wanted to run out to Big R to see about a sweater sale. Well, ITSam couldn't let well alone. We argued about it and it was ugly. When we got back from Big R he said he just wanted me to drop him off at home, and I said I planned on it. And that was that.

I was right, by the way.

I might not be healthy for me to date a man with whom I work.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Random Monday stuff

I'm going to read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton this month. If anyone wants to read along and then chat about it via a blog post/ comments/ emails, that would be cool! Drop me a comment if you want to take this challenge on. (It's available on Kindle and Nook, for those of you lucky dogs with such devices!)

Daddy-O subscribed to Netflix. We can download movies to our laptops. All three of us, Mac, Dad and me, can watch a different movie all at the same time. OMG- this is gonna be cool. Dad and Mac spend hours looking at the huge list of downloadable films. I was semi-comatose on the coach during this but it seems pretty awesome. Maybe I'll feel better enough to give it a whirl!

I'm still sick. I'm still running a fever but not as high. I ache everywhere; even my hair hurts. I can't believe I'm staying home sick on the first day day from Christmas vacation. I was up and down most of the night, too. I said I wasn't ready to go back and wanted to stay an extra day but this wasn't what I had in mind. Daddy-O asked if I needed to go to the ER and I said no (I have no health insurance so I'd probably end up at the morgue before the ER. I HAVE life insurance). I had dreams about being dipped in tubs of ice cubes and Little House on the Prairie and Mac shining bright lights in my face and questioning me over and over. I had all sorts of weird dreams.

I remember in 1999 I was super ill with a really high fever. I remember when that fever broke I woke up drenched in sweat; my skin literally looked like I had been swimming, and I was all glistening. I was that slick with sweat. My hair was drenched, too. It was so gross. I was living with CanadaSam then. I remember he helped me into the shower and then he changed all the sheets on the bed and got me clean jammies. I remember I felt better but just weak. I keep thinking this fever will break like that. But I think it's just going to go down and then away; nothing real dramatic.

I want to write a post about New Year's Eve and Christmas day but I just don't have what it takes, yet. I can't believe I wrote this much.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

For the love of...

I'm sick. Again.

Temp of 102, upset stomach, vomiting.

Saturday, January 1, 2011