Saturday, March 31, 2012

The power of the bow

I was at the check out line at Walgreens the other day and the woman who was the cashier had a bow in her hair. She was probably about 45-48 years old, had really short frosted blond hair, was a bit hefty and she had this little, bitty bow in her hair. It was cute, really, but I wasn't sure what I thought of it on a woman her age.

She saw me staring at the bow and I felt caught gawking so I smiled and told her "cute bow". Well, holy shit, did that ever burst a dam in this woman.

She gush a huge "THANK YOU HONEY!!!" and patted my arm and patted her bow and preened a little bit.

She said she wears a bow in her hair every single day no matter what and has for yeas and has bows to match every thing she owns, even her Walgreens smock.

I wasn't sure what to say so I sorts smiled and mumbled "cool" or "nice" or something like that.

She went on to tell me it just makes her feel so much BETTER about life and so much BETTER about herself to wear a bow. I'm still smiling, wishing she wasn't holding my change hostage.

She also told me that she just never had customer mad at her because it's so hard for people to yell at someone with a bow in their hair. I smile and double blink trying to hold back the laughs. Really???

She said, as she handed me my milk and money, that life is so much better with a bow.

Wonder if I should try that life altering fashion trick?

Friday, March 30, 2012

New mentee

I have a new kiddo at work that I'm going to mentor. I'm going to give the mentor thing another shot and see what happens. Things didn't end well with Princess but much of that was her doing. Her behavior got worse and worse the longer she was at our facility and to be honest, she used up people, manipulated others and was generally a pain in the arse to everyone who encountered the child. She's gone now, at college, and really doesn't have anything to do with anyone who won't give her stuff or money. That's sad, but it's the way it is.

Our facility has redone the mentor program and actually gave it some structure. It was a new idea when I started working with Princess and now there are guidelines and rules which actually help rather than hurt. So I said I would give it another try.

I've been matched with the child who is the anti-Princess in every single way, which I personally think is really cool. I've been matched with Girl.

Girl is 17 and has been "in the system" since she was 7 years old. Her mom died in a car accident and her 2 oldest siblings went to live with an aunt and the 2 youngest went to grandma and she went into foster care. After being there for awhile, grandma felt guilty and let her come live with her but Girl didn't make that easy and was then put back in foster care again. Then the aunt tried and again Girl ended up in foster. Her dad terminated his rights when she was 2 or 3 years old. She's bounced around foster homes and group homes for many years, running away, drugs, living with a cousin here and there. She's had a mess of a life and also made poor choices along the way. Right now she's at our place and is clean and sober for over a year. She's soon to be 18 years old and is taking independent living classes and working on her GED. She's making good choices right now!

She's pretty hard core but super nice. She doing all she's supposed to do and then some extra. She's funny and kind and a little reserved. She talked A LOT. She is not girlie AT ALL. In all honesty, she's a lesbian and is very "butch". I don't mean this ins a disrespectful way- she says this about herself. She shaved her head and has about 1/2 inch of black fuzz remaining, and wears men's clothing. She doesn't like anything girlie like pink of shoe shopping or dresses.

BUT she loves to talk and laugh. She's a smart kid so I can have a conversation with her and not feel like I'm addressing a wall. She's very funny- a great sense of humor. She has a direction in life and some goals. She loves music and reading and movies. She likes to do just about anything and she can be silly.

We've hung out twice and talked on the phone twice, in addition to seeing each other at school. She's actually a good fit for me. She doesn't whine or throw a fit when she doesn't get her way. She likes getting a Mountain Dew and sitting at park, gabbing. She flat out said we don't have to do stuff because it's nice to have someone to talk to who will listen to her and that she doesn't have to share my attention and I'm not a therapist.

So we'll see where this goes. In the meantime, we had a hoot of a time the first few times we were together, eating, walking the park, and me trying to convince her hand lotion is a good thing! HA!

Maggie the Mentor

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lotta discounts

One thing that's super cool about being a teacher are all the awesome discounts I seem to be getting lately. Not on awesome stuff like plane tickets, but on things like office supplies and books and at Walgreens.

I have a wallet full of cards that get a teacher discount at Half Price books, Walgreens, Jo Ann Fabric, Staples and at Barnes and Noble. I had to show me teacher ID and then fill out a little form at all these places and they give me a discount card that I can show every time I go to one of these places. Then I get a discount from anywhere from 10%-20% off most everything in their stores.

The cool thing is that it doesn't seem to matter what I buy. Seriously. I can buy deodorant at Walgreens and BAM discount. It doesn't even have to be on teaching supplies. Same with all the other places.

I think it's a nice perk. I think of all the money I spend out of my own pocket for school stuff. My photographer friend's husband said he wanted receipts for 1 school year of all the money she spent for her classroom. She's an English and the school journalism teacher- and she has one remedial HS group of kids. He kept receipts for 3 months and when she hit a thousand bucks he threw a huge fit. Uh, yeah. But she said after he got over the shock of it, she reminded him it could be a provable tax deduction. Personally I don't think that made him very happy. I can easily see how she spent that much. I was always buying folders, paper, highlighters, pens, anything that I thought could be a learning and organizational tool for kids. Paints, markers, poster board... It's just the pitfall of being a teacher so I think it's nice that some businesses want to reward people for choosing this asinine profession.

I wonder if there are more companies that offer discounts that I don't know about?

Sorta makes me want to go shopping!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Break Books and other vacay plans& dreams

So spring break starts on Friday!!! This is the big perk of education. That being said... what am I going to do with a week off? Well since I never have any money, I shall dedicate myself to the pursuit of fine literature. Or I'll read a bunch of stuff I have in my TBR stack that in no way, shape nor form is declared "fine" nor "literature" but I'm going to read it nonetheless.

Though... a brief aside... since I haven't been teaching for several years I feel rather shabby about the fact that i neglect reading anything considered to be a classic. Since I had to teach classics I was always reading such along with my personal selection of material but now I just read anything that suits my fancy and of late, that runs toward the... well... the beach reads, if you will. Cotton candy for the brain. something delicious and fun and that I can devour in hours or even a day. The running joke in my family is that no one reads what I like because I read "smart intellectual analytical" books, either of the fiction or non-fiction variety. But lately that hasn't been true at all, and the trend will continue through my Spring break. After all, I should read beach reads even if I won't be at the beach, right? I can PRETEND!

So the Spring Break line up of reading is Kill Alex Cross (Patterson, James- like I need to even put his name here?), Defending Jacob (William Landay), Home Front (Kristen Hannah), The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern) and Explosive 18 (Evanovich). If time allows I'll finish my Pat Conroy's My Reading Life. This should take care of all the books I have from various libraries and will then let me dedicate my reading time to stuff on my Nook- either that I bought or that I checked out as a library ebook.
I have plans to have a girlie day with my friend Lilith and another one with XRayGirl, and a family day with some cousins. That's it, other than reading.
Unless a windfall comes my way, that is. If so, then I'm temporarily ditching the books and heading to Memphis- Elvis is calling my name.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why do we 'snap'?

The day starts out normal and then something small happens and all hell breaks loose. Why does this small thing send us over the edge?

I missed school yesterday and today was nuts. I had students all day long needing something from me other than library books: when is art club, what are we doing at art club, why can't we have books over spring break, where was I yesterday, will the library be open over spring break, is the crocheting group going to meet this week... then the can I talk to you, can I have a magazine, will you cover a class for a meeting... EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!!!!!!!!!!!

I was calm and cool and collected with the kids all day even though I wasn't feeling 100% normal yet. It's not their fault they're so needy today and that I wasn't running long on patience.

Then I got home and snapped. A clothing company sent my dead mother of 4.5 years a catalog and we're requested to be off their mailing list many, many, MANY times. This was nuts and I "lost" it, I guess we could say. I found their 800 number and called and gave hell until someone got her off the list. The operator on the phone didn't like me any more than I liked her or her company or her crummy attitude. (I want to say I didn't chew at first. I was nice and she was snotty so then gloves were off.)

Seriously, I had a good day. It was busy but not a bad day at all. I have no idea what made me pop but I did.

Another friend of mine had the same thing today, too. He's looking for a new job and everything was going along swimmingly for him and suddenly he "snapped" this afternoon when a prospective employer called him and wanted to know why they couldn't reach any of his references and wanted him to call all his references and have them call the potential employer. He was at his current job and it was awkward. Then he learned than his insurance payment was screwed up and he snapped. Not at me, but just snapped yelling and growling in frustration.

I see this happen with Mac; he's happy and content one minute and then next he;s biting the heads off live chickens. I see it in my students all the time.

I just wonder what causes us to go over the edge over something small and insignificant yet we can be pelted with lots of BIG things in the course of a day and never lose our cools. I don't know, either.

But snap we do and snap we will...

But we won't be getting any more of those stupid catalogs.


Monday, March 26, 2012

oogie again

still yuck. I even stayed home sick again today. Being sick sucks. and thanks Evil Pixie for this title post.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Feed or starve a fever?

I think I have the flu or some virus or something like that.

I didn't "feel good" yesterday. I couldn't put my finger on it but you know when you just don't right? that's how it was for me yesterday.

As the day progressed I really knew I felt poorly. My stomach really hurt and my back and I had a headache. Did I also mention I had a terrible stomach ache? And the shakes from a fever or what I thought was a fever. And tummy troubles.

I covered up with a blanket and shivered for an hour and fell asleep, sort of an in and out of consciousness feeling. I remember waking up and laying in the bathtub in a shower, shivering. I remember wrapping up in a warm blanket and falling asleep, or passing out, or whatever.

I was staying over with a friend who helped take care of me. I woke up in the night and the fever had broken. I was covered with sweat and the bed was practically wet with it. I took another shower and got clean sheets and jammies. I ate some toast and went back to sleep.

Today I feel a little better. It's a huge better when I no longer felt like I had a fever/ chills/ uncontrollable shivers. But my stomach has still hurt all day today, and I've felt icky, sort of blobby, achy still and a little bit of a headache.

And the weird thing is that I guess last night I said i was hungry and we went to dinner to Applebees and I don't remember going at all. I guess I got sick there and we left. I don't remember AT ALL! And no alcohol was involved.

Maybe there's something going around or all the stress in my life caught up with me and it's now manifested itself in physical ailments. Or maybe I don't want to go to work tomorrow, but that doesn't explain the icks yesterday.

I dunno. Whatever it is, I hope I feel better tomorrow!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Random Saturday stuff because I don't know what else to write about

McDonald's oatmeal, with fruit and brown sugar, is the new love of my life.

Spring is so early this year that it's unreal. Flowering trees are blooming and flowers and it's just beautiful. I'm still a little worried that we could get snow and kill it all. And I'm worried that our new state bird is going to be the mosquito since it never got really cold this year. Oh dear!

I have a totally new, cool app for my phone that's called the dinner spinner. I actually have to shake my phone and the choices spin around and then gives recipe suggestions. It's awesome!

Daddy-O and I had been DVR-ing SMASH and neither of us liked it. I just deleted that whole thing. I love cleaning the DVR!!! It's like crossing stuff off a list.

I really need new conditioner for my hair.

Criminal Minds is no longer a marathon on Sunday afternoon and that I don't get unlimited Derek Morgan. That's makes me so sad.

I have 4 teams left on my NCAA brackets. Crashing and burning this year. I really suck at this basketball thing. I should never be an odds maker.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Too many ways to read

I have a ton of ways to get books and I can't even begin to organize.

I now have a Nook and it's totally amazing and I love it. In addition to being able to buy books for the Nook, I can also now check out books from our public library using a program called Overdrive. That's just amazing. I can get books for 2 weeks for free and that's awesome!

And I can also use our public library and get real paper books. I can use the school library. There are books stores, too. So much! So much!

I just bought 7 books for the school library that I want to read. I decided one of the perks of being the librarian is reading books before they hit the shelves. But I feel bad because I'm not using my Nook. I carry my Nook with me everywhere just in case I get in a place where I need something to read and don't have paper.

And did I mention audio books? I'm not really a huge fan of audio books, I borrowed one from a fellow teacher. It's a book that's been on my TBR list- The Glass Castle. it's 10 CDs long so it will take me forever to listen to. I'll get in about 20 minutes a day is I only listen to and from work. (Yeah, right. That will never happen because I'm usually on the phone! haha!) Thank goodness that she doesn't want it back anytime soon.

I think i should win the lottery so I can read my life away! So many books and I have no idea where to start sometimes! What a good place to have indecision!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Whodunit party to start with

Well, I've now decided I just don't have enough on my plate that I've decided to host 3 reading parties- cum- book club for kids at school.

The kids can apply and I'll take 10 of them. Those picked will get to attend a mystery party next week. It's like a mystery dinner theater but without the dinner (we'll have snacks!). I have a scripted party for them called "The Body in the Library" (<--- real original, eh?) and it's geared for teens. They'll be given clues and information and can solve the crime. Sort of like the game CLUE.

Then those kids will be given a book to read and in the middle of April we'll reconvene and have a book discussion and then have snacks and watch the Tim Curry film called CLUE, which is a spoof of the board game.

I was going to have the kids all read And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and I started reading it. I figured not a single kid would finish the book; heck, I DIDN'T want to finish it. So I've been doing some hunting around on the 'net and found a book called The Westing Game. I haven't read it but I will, right along with the kids. It's supposed to be a teen book and it won a Newberry. That doesn't mean it's great, but the description sounds like something similar. AND several librarians I spoke with recommended it. We shall see!

I think it sounds like fun and the kids have been really excited about it so I hope it all comes together. I have to recruit people to work my party and order the snacks. And make the invitations. And And And... haha!

After the mystery party, I'm planning a scavenger hunt and then hoping to come up with a modern day treasure hunt type of book. (I'd love to take them on a GeoCache hunt but I would need an amazing amount of people to pull that off). For the last one I want to do a food theme; we can do something foodie and they can read something food themed. Please feel free to suggest titles for either of these ideas!

So that's one thing that's taking up my time these days!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Burn Out

I've been suffering a huge amount of burn out lately. I think I've kvetched about that expression before and I can't believe I'm resorting to it, but I am. I'm saying I'm burn out and I am burn out.

I would like to blame this weather. We're having super unseasonably warms temps here in the Midwest. We are usually very cold right now and most of the time in mid March we have snow up to our keisters. I love this weather and the last place I want to be is at work. i have no windows; I'm not even near a window. I know there are other jobs with no windows so this isn't really a big deal but I think I just want to be in the 80 degree weather while I can.

But if I'm really honest, I'm burn out on work. I love the job and books and most of the students and the ability to be creative and basically run my own department but I am so tired. I'm tired of constantly worrying about money and getting sick since I have no insurance. I'm tired of the high maintenance kids at this school. I'm just done.

I know that's lame but I just can't seem to shake this feeling. Sometimes I take a couple days away to clear my head and I come back all ready to go and that hasn't happened for a long time. I dread getting out of bed- and NOT just because I'm not a morning person- but because I don't want to do this anymore or come here any more.

Ugh, sorry to be such a whiner. Maybe I'd be better off if it snowed 3 feet!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Book Review Rant: Summer in the South

Summer in the South by Cathy Holton is one of the worst books I ever read. The main character Ava is nothing but "whine whine whine". The writing is full of cliches and is in need of editing: repetition of words and phrases alert! The story meanders and Ava goes from strong woman to whiner to just plain chick lit stereotype.

I have never been so pissed off about (at?) a book in my entire life.

In short, Ava wants to be a write but instead has a crummy job and crummy boyfriend in Chicago. She keeps in contact with a college acquaintance Will (though how and way is vague and completely unbelievable) who just invites her to live with his aunts in Tennessee so she can write a book and she says yes. WTH?

She moves in with these old ladies and then of course the books is full of all these quirky little stereotypical southern characters. Blah Blah Blah. Ava has a sleep disorder and she is either suffering hallucinations because of it or because the house is haunted.

Ava keeps bringing up past family secrets and everyone in the South is all "hush hush" except for the town gossip. Ava snoops around and suddenly gets past her writers block and turns Will's family into her novel.

In the middle of all this mess Ava, whose mother who was a hippie and never gave her a stable childhood and has died, learns that the man that's on her birth certificate isn't dead as her mother told her but alive and well in Michigan. Ava communicates with him and also finds out a whole bunch more of her OWN family secrets. Also, Will wants to make Ava his wife and she wants to be friends, and she's also falling in love with Will's estranged cousin who is the family black sheep named Jake.

Blah blah blah.... all this crap is thrust into one book. It meandered and Ava is totally unfocused. What a hot mess of a book. Pathetic.

I don't mind when an author leaves some things to the readers imagination but it feels like author Holton just got bored and gave up writing the story. And let me tell you something, I was bored reading and ready to give up around page 150. I persevered thinking I would get some answers and to find I was left with nothing really infuriated me as a reader.

Spoilers follow:

So were the apparitions Ava saw really a ghost or just part of her sleep disorder? Or was Josephine slowly poisoning her and the hallucinations part of that?

Was Will going to kill her at the end? Did Will toss her room or was in a ghost?

Who the hell was her father? Who the hell was her mother? How did the woman she called mom ever get her?

Who will she end up with: Jake? Will? None?

Will she go back to Chicago? Does Will kill her?

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENS??? None of these questions are answered. Not a single one. I read about 360 pages of this crap to find no answers. I hated each and every single page of this wretched novel.

Worst book ever, ever, ever.

There's a free copy of this book being given away on Goodreads. Consider yourself a winner if you don't get a copy of this book!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Girlfriend fun

This weekend was so nice because I had a chance to spend time with some girlfriends! Yay me! Beautiful weather, beautiful friends, relaxation--- it was wonderful!

Saturday Curley, Daddy-O, and I went hobby shopping. We just lounged around Hobby Lobby and Joann Fabrics for a few hours, looking at everything and finding about a million ways to spend money we don't have. We laughed and talked and just had a good old time. We even ate lunch at the biggest Asian Buffet style restaurant I've ever seen! I had 2 visits to Starbucks. It was a glorious and super relaxing day filled with lots of giggles and fun.

Today was a good day, too, XRayGirl and I hit Starbucks and then had pedicures. We got all caught up with each other and laughed a lot. We also hit the Bath and Body Works and smelled all the new scents (I just LOVE the new candle called Flower Shop- it's my very favorite!) and we bought some clothes for her little 5 year old niece. It was so much fun!

I'm blessed to be able to have so many good friends!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Paddy's Day

I didn't even drink. What kind of Good Irish Lass am I? Obviously not a very good one.

It's no fun to drink in Irish fashion alone and the Man I See Sometimes had to work.

A funny, though... I bought a coffee at Starbucks and the barista wrote the following on my cup:
Happy St. Patty's Day!

True story!

Luck of the Irish to you all!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Basketball--- now that's the orange ball with black stripes, right?

I filled out a bracket for the NCAA tournament this year. I did last year, too, I guess. And apparently, I have a reputation...

The Athletic Director at our school organized it all last year and he laughed at my picks. He still laughed at my picks. After the first weekend, though, he was just giggling at me because he couldn't believe I had the best picks of the whole school. Well, it went down hill very quickly after that and I ended up being the first person out.... way out. But last year I was notorious because I made lots last year's picks based on whether or not I liked a team's colors or their mascots (and a few other reasons but mostly on color and mascot).

So I thought I would try again this year. I have a very unique way of choosing teams for this year; I did something different, for the most part. For example, I really like the name Gonzaga because I like to say it and the way it rolls off my tongue: Gonzaga! Same with Marquette. So I picked 'em.

I also chose Kentucky because a woman at work who is a super person loves them. I picked Baylor because a cousin went there and I selected Notre Dame cuz my Uncle is a fan. I like the way the letter combinations of UNLV and VCU look- picked! I picked Montana for obvious Wild West love. I picked Harvard because I thought how cool it would be to have a smart and athletic team have success. Gotta pick Indiana since I'm a Midwest girl. I picked Kansas because their mascot is cute. And Ohio St because I like red.

I picked Duke to win it all because I want proof that something named Duke can be positive.

And as of this post.... well, my picks aren't doing that great. I've picked 14 wins and 11 losses. I don't think I'm going to sweep this tournament. Bummer.

But I don't think losing this is gonna kill me. I mean, there's always next year!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Oh Nook why?????????????

My Nook, why had thou art forsaken me?

Okay, forsaken might be a little strong but.... well, let me tell you this.

When you read your Nook and you get a little message that says you have 13 minutes of battery life, the Nook really means that. It will shut off in 13 minutes.


When the little battery picture turns red, starts blinking and gets all striped, the Nook WILL shut down. It really will. It's not kidding.

So I had NOTHING to read at lunch today. Damn technology hates me.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I fell alseep before blogging










Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Journal prompt

I'm brain dead for a topic for today so I just googled journal writing prompts to see what I would get. On thing I hate, as a writer and as a teacher, is that all journaling topics are so personal and force self reflection. The times when I turn to a journal topic is when I don't want to be self reflective.

In all honesty, I had a GREAT day and then Mac had a shitty night at school and he talked about it with me. He wasn't mean or nasty to me (for once) just shared about his class experience which ten grew into a why he hates himself conversation. Or rather, he conversed and I listened and felt bad. So my super great day just feels so distant because my only child is so unhappy and miserable and I can do nothing to help him; his issues are greater than me.

So I turn to google to give me something NON Personal journal topics and instead find myself inundated with self reflective personal introspective junk.

In my last year of teaching I bought a fabulous book that was titled something like "Journal Topics for the Classroom that are not introspective nor personal." I loved that book. I know many of students hated being given a topic that forced them to share with me if they didn't want to. I tried variations and lots of things worked through the years but then I found this book and it was fun and different and creative. I got some great ideas and some great writings from my kids, too, which was the whole point. And until you teach high school and have kids write personal stuff to you, you haven't "lived" *Yes there's sarcasm there. Frankly. it was sometimes (often) scary to read student personal journals, especially when they decided to trust you. So I loved the book with its silly topics. And if I couldn't found that book right this second, I wouldn't pulled a topic out of it and wrote.

Hmmmmmmmmmmm, gee this whole post about not having a topic turned out to be a post. Has that sort of Seinfeld-esque quality to it, eh?

And here I thought I was going to resort to writing about the topic "are you afraid of the dark? Explain" Guess I can save that one for another day.


Monday, March 12, 2012

The library computer system network & my day

Well, I guess I should come out and say it: my library software seems to be working. I'm afraid to admit that because I don't want the technology gods to smite me and the computer down in the morning.

Today I had a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng day. The only data I lost was one day's worth but it was the day all the classes had 'library day' so all books checked in and out on that Tuesday was lost. So about 200 transactions were lost.

So, today I went class to class and asked each kid for his or her library books. Lots had books with them or in their lockers and I took those. Then I pulled a fast one on the kids who told me they left them in their residential halls. I played dumb and said, "Well, I don't have a list or a computer in front of me. What are the titles of the books you have out?" and I wrote them down.

Then after I did that, I returned all the books I collected, which was about 150 items. Then I ran an "items out list" and went to the shelves. I went through the list and found about 60 tomes and checked all those in.

Then we put all those books away.

Then I ran another "items out list" and checked it against what the kids said they had out. I found 2 errors of books being checked out that no one claimed. I marked those as lost in the computer and checked all the books out to the kids who said they had them.

I then emailed all the residential parents and asked them to check the halls for random books. Then I emailed specific res parents to tell them what each kid had out and asked them to send the books back with the students either after school today or first thing in the morning.

I also planned this week's art club, went to a staff meeting, entered 11 new students in my patron data base, processed 12 new magazines and replaced 4 days of old newspapers with new newspapers, supervised after school t-shirt painting and unpacked 3 shipments of NEW BOOKS, which was the best part of my day.

Whew!!!!!!!!!!! I'm tired.

And this thing better work in the morning or I'm quitting my job and joining the circus or the Peace Corps, whomever takes me first.


(and from now on, at the end of each day, I'm going to run a list of "materials check out" list! And Once time a month I'm going to run my shelf list!! I never want this to happen again!)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A bibliophile's work is never done

I did a movie re-cap a few days ago so I guess it's time for a book re-cap. I usually do this in January, part of my New Year's Resolutions, to summarize the books I read last year and then to make some projections for the new year. I can't believe I've done neither. So, a few months late, here's my 2011 book reading experience in summary.

I think 2011 was the year of the blah books for me. In the previous years I've been able to spout titles of some of the greatest books I read that year but in 2011 I can't seem to find any that just make me scream, "WOW THAT WAS AWESOME!!!!!!!!" I also know it was one of those type of years because I actually re-read some of my favorite books in the entire world like 19 Minutes and The Smoke Jumper. That being said, there were some standouts. So my votes for the best books I read in 2011 are:
  1. The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian, with its twist ending and its tie to The Great Gatsby.
  2. And I thought Ella Minnow Pea was super cute, about the island of people to started banning certain letters from the alphabet.
  3. Everlost, a YA book about a land of children who died in this world but are still alive in another one. And it wasn't creepy!
  4. Bliss Remembered was just a wonderful fictional story of a dying woman who was sharing her memories of WWII and the Olympics when she had a chance to swim for the USA
  5. The Paris Wife is probably my favorite book for 2011. It's a piece of historical fiction about Hemingway and his first wife and their time in Paris.
  6. State of Wonder is probably second favorite book of the year. It's a wonderful tale of a trip into the Amazon and science and the characters are amazing, the words are textured and rich. I loved it!
  7. South of Superior is about a woman who goes to the UP to care for a relative and about what she learns of herself and her family during her time in this isolated place
  8. Burnt Mountain is a strong novel with complex characters and storylines that all run together to make this story come alive.
Honorable mentions: Case Histories, a thriller that's Cold Case TV style but with one PI instead of the police; Shiver, the first book in a YA trilogy about a girl and a wolf and a boy; Mourning Gloria, part of the China Bayles series of mysteries which is always a favorite of mine; The Midwife's Confession about people left in Noelle's life after he suicide and her friends and family discover who she really was after her death; The Ninth Wife is about a woman who is proposed to and discovers that if she says yes then she'll be the 9th wife so she goes on a journey to discover if this would be a mistake or not (and it's not chick lit); Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult who is one of my fav author's ever; Sisterhood Everlasting, which is the latest and probably the last in the Traveling Pants novels which finds all the girls now 29 year old women; Then Came You by another fav author Jennifer Weiner who explores woman and child baring and family make ups; and finally, Smokin' Seventeen about bounty hunter Stephanie Plum and her crazy crew in this mystery series.

My least favorite reads of 2011:
  1. I didn't like Room. Reading an entire novel in the voice of a 6 year old was enough to make me scream.
  2. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake had such potential to be an AMAZING book. A girl can "taste" the feelings and emotions of the people who make the food she eats. This could've been astounding but instead it sucked.
  3. The End of Everything- creepy, creepy book.
  4. Last Night at Chateau Marmont- stupid chick lit and i want Lauren Weisberger, author, to write another smart, sassy, grab you by the hair novel again like Devil Wears Prada and she doesn't in this one. Not even close. I would rather have worked for the Devil without Prada for a year than have read this book.
Here's my other dilemma. I'm looking at titles of books I read that I either gave 4 out of 5 stars on my Goodreads account OR I gave a high B or even an A on my books blog and without reading my own review, I can't remember what it was about. How could I have liked a book so much that I rated/ ranked it that high but here I am months later and I can't remember a single detail. In all honesty, if I wasn't looking at my own list, I probably wouldn't even remember reading it at all!!! These books would be The Peach Keeper, Red Hook Road, and Friendship Bread. WTH? I don't remember any of these. If I rated them so high, shouldn't I be thinking these are the best books of 2011??????? Ack!

I also, occasionally, pick a theme through the year or get on a certain kick whether it be an author, a subject, a genre. At one point in 2011, I tried to read as many books as I could IN A ROW with a female in the title: Gatsby's Girl, The Reliable Wife, The Zookeeper's Wife, The Postmistress, The Paris Wife, The Weird Sisters, and The Bird Sisters. And ironically enough, all of these had something else in common: they all took place during WWII or right before or after WWII and WWII influenced the storyline.

Because I'm a librarian in a high school, which was a new gig to me in 2011, I read LOTS of young adult fiction (YA) and that's out of my normal realm. I think that while I enjoyed some of it, I'm not the target audience as I like to say, so I think it's hard for me to feel astounded by some of that writing. I read 2 YA trilogies and I thought the first ones in each trilogy were AMAZING and then didn't particularly care for the rest of the books (the Skinjacker trilogy in which Everlost is the first book, and the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy in which Shiver is the first.)

So that was my 2011 reading year. I miss 2010 when I read astounding books so I have high hopes that 2012 is better!

See ya in the stacks,

Saturday, March 10, 2012


I know this sounds really silly but I wish I could run. I've never been a runner and I'm pretty overweight and don't really have an exercise regime but for some reason, on days like today, I just want to run.

I don't mean "run away" but run like jog/ exercise/ marathon.

The sun is shining and it's supposed to be fairly warm today, for the Midwest in the middle of March- high in the upper 50s and sunny is certainly not typical or usual March weather. But in the spring time and in the autumn, I really always have the urge to run.

I read about it and about those who do run and it sounds great: something to do in solace, feet pounding on the pavement one after the other, finding a rhythm, letting my mind clear, measured breathing, covering miles on foot, warm sun, finding that 'good burn'.... this all sounds appealing.

I'm 40 and overweight. Is it too late to try and get in shape to be a runner? I have no idea how to even start the process. Obviously, working out to get in shape is the first step but I wonder if I could run at all, ever?

If nothing else, I think I'll at least take a walk today and get out in the sunshine!!!


Friday, March 9, 2012

I Twitter but there's stuff I don't understand; same issue with Nook

Okay, so I Twitter but I need a class to get down all the lingo and jargon and what it all means. Is there a Twitter 101?

What #FF mean? Why do people say that or do that?

Also, I see that lots of people comment back to someone like @maggiemaeos but what's the original comment that started it all? And sometimes when I read the @whatever I'm not sure what the response is and what's the original comment.

And can I get to some of these links via the 'net, like to read book reviews or see recipes? Do I have to log into my Twitter online to do that? I don't always have the time or battery power to do it on my phone.

What's Pintrest and why is everyone on Twitter using it? Should I be pintresting?

I think I figured out trending but if anyone wants to clarify this, I'm open to another explanation.

And my big Nook problem is can I really lend and borrow books from people I don't know? If so, how?

And when I look at a book on Nook to buy and it has a "lending" tag, what does it mean?

Maybe I need to move somewhere where there is no technology? Or not this much technology?

I'm so in over my heard,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Update 3 on the computer crash

This is hopefully the last post about the computer crash of 2012! Read here for all the drama.

Well on Wednesday I went to work...

And the IT guy called me first thing and had me click a bunch of stuff and nothing worked- I could NOT open the library program at all. He said he would call me back "in a few minutes." Two hours later the IT guy called me back and said he could see information on the server but he can't figure out why I can't get it. Well, gee, neither can I!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He had me click more stuff and when none of that worked he said he could just come over to the library and he would be there in a few minutes.

As my day went on and he never showed up I got fed up and decided to take the day off on Thursday. I spent about 90 minutes lining up stuff so I could take the day off. And about 10 minutes before I went home, the IT guy showed up and fixed it all. In ten minutes. I was out of commission for a week and a half and he fixed it in 10 minutes when he showed up. Allegedly.

I did a bunch of clicking and logging off and on and it seems to work. The bottom line is that he could restore every thing from the library program up to the day of the crash. So I lost just 1/2 a day of information- yay for some things!!!!

But I was fed up and tired of having been giving the run around from the IT department all week. I already spent 90 minutes doing leg work to take the day off. And who knows if I'll log on Monday and it will work or not.

Guess we'll see Monday because I'm not dealing with this crap today,

* I know this seems sort of blase but I think I'm just so tired of it not having worked for almost 2 weeks, the actual fix seems anti- climactic.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you so much to blogger Evil Pixie for the beautiful earrings. I love love love them! She sent me these beautiful Pixie Drop earrings. And I'd take a picture of them and post it here but my camera is 'misbehaving' so I'm re-posting the picture from Evil Pixie's blog so you can see the lovely gift I received in the mail (and after the week I had, thank you thank you thank you- it was a wonderful pick me up and they are just stunning!). Thank you again Evil Pixie for the earrings!!!!


* Image taken by Evil Pixie and used with her permission- thanks!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Update 2 of the Computer Crash

In a word:

The saga continues. Click here to get caught up to now. Go on, I'll wait. I'll be here.

As of today... well, the head of IT called and said he did all he could and the Feb. 23 update will not work because it was corrupt. He said I have to take the 7 week loss and use the last usable update from January.

Okay, again it's better than starting over as if I had lost everything.


This afternoon I tried to log into the program and it wouldn't open. I got the original error message from last week: the program is gone, doesn't exist, no paths, no drivers, no server, no info. I have no idea what the heck is going on.

I call the head of IT back and of course he doesn't answer so I leave him a detailed voice mail. I let him know I will be at my desk from 11:45 am until 3:30pm and he can call, come over, email me, text me, whatever.

And I heard NOTHING from him at all.

What and I gonna do now? I've cleaned and repaired and made copies. I've prepped several art club activities. I've covered classes for others. I think I might stay home tomorrow. Why the heck not? Because I'm out of stuff to do. This is so frustrating.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Update 1 of the Computer Crash

When I last left you the word was that I 1) I had a virus/ malware/ trojan on my actual computer than rendered me unable to even turn the dang machine on; and, 2) the kids hacked stuff they shouldn't and crashed the entire library software program, making it disappear and the IT department was trying to retrieve anything- circulation information, patron info, materials info but it looked like ALL OF THAT WAS GONE!

Over the weekend I got the call that the virus was contained and removed and I would need to create a new password when I logged on Monday. As for the library software.... well, they were still "working on it."

So, at work today, I had high hopes, like that little ol' ant. When I got to work and went to turn on my computer, the tower was gone. Well, that's a new development because I was told all I had to do was log on with a new password. I called IT and they had to get my tower to see if the library software was a problem on my computer only or network wide and they would return it "sometime this morning." Okay...

When I finally got my machine back, and the idiot tech guy spent 20 minutes trying all the different cables, I could go online and check my mail and all that seemed normal. The library software was still being worked on, I was told.

Later in the day the head of IT called and said for me to try to log in the library stuff. He said he found a back up of all my library info from January 20. I logged on and there it was. The problem was that ANYTHING i did between January 20- to now was gone. Any books I added or deleted from the collection were gone, all circulation records were gone, all new patrons added or old patrons were deleted. BUT the upside is that I don't have to start from scratch. I printed a list of materials that the computer indicated were currently checked out and I was going to start fixing the mess when the head of IT called and said he found a backup from Feb 23 and if I could wait another day, he would update the library software with that back up.

Well, HECK YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can wait a day. If he can make the Feb 23 update work, then I lost only 2 days worth of information. Only 2 days as opposed to 7 weeks. (But yes I know that 7 weeks is better than starting from scratch...)

I'm patiently waiting to see what happens tomorrow. Will they or won't they be able to make it happen!?!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Not wowed by 2011 movies

Mac asked me what my favorite movies of 2011 were and I couldn't come up with one that I thought was OUTSTANDING. Which ties into me watching the Oscars. As I watched, I kept thinking that I didn't see these movies.

And those must've been the good ones. Because the best I could come up with as really good is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I saw 176 movies last year and of course some of these are old movies but seriously, I could only come up with one title that made me think "wow." Now, I did see lots of movies that entertained me and I enjoyed quite a bit, but to come up with a title of a film that really changed my life is just not possible.

Now, I did see The Help and I thought it was really good but it didn't bowl me over. The book knocked my socks off but the movie was just good to me, not HOLY CRAP WOW! Same with Moneyball- good but not astounding. I saw Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and it was so sad I couldn't wrap my mind around "good". I also saw Bridesmaids- and it wasn't my style of movie.

I guess I need to see more movies in the theater. Or maybe I need to see better movies when I do go to the theater. One issue I have is where I live. We don't live where we can see "artsy" movies; we don't have a theater that caters to that genre. If it's not big budget, popular, where stuff blows up or with kid appeal, it's hard to find a place to see "smart" movies, or however we classify movies that are USUALLY nominated by the Academy. And after the nominees come out, our local theaters are scrambling to get a copy of a movie out if it hasn't already been released on DVD. For example, I was just dying to see My Week with Marilyn but the closest it was to me was 2 hours away until the week before the Oscars and then it was 45 minutes and my schedule didn't let me get there.

Now the Descendants was near for 1 week only, as was The Iron Lady, both I want to see by the way. And The Artist was in my hometown but in all honesty I said when it came out I would have to wait for the DVD because I don't think I could sit through a silent movies in black and white for 2 hours. I'm sorry; right now in my life I don't think I have what it takes to do that. It was here for 2 nights only, by the way.

I really do want to see the 3 aforementioned movies as well as Albert Nobbs, Tree of Life, Midnight in Paris (another I wanted to see but wasn't near me; I love Woody Allen; I think I'm Annie Hall), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (never heard of it until Oscar nomination but looks good), and Beginners (not near me).

I didn't have a big desire to Hugo nor War Horse but I might DVD them just because.

My other issue is that in the Midwest in the Bible belt, I'm not exactly 'in the loop' of what's hot or not in Hollywood so I usually don't know what's going to be Oscar worthy until near the end of a year when the big push happens to get votes and nominations.

This is not to say that only Oscar movies are good. I don't think that at all. There are lots of good movies that I love that have never won awards (Twister, Armageddon, Gone in 60 Seconds to name a few). But last year there are no movies that just stuck out in my head as being AWESOME, that I want to run out and buy on DVD or watch over and over again, regardless if they won awards or not.

Maybe 2012 will be a better year at the movies for me. Maybe not. Guess I'll see you at the movies to find out!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Random Saturday calls for Random thoughts

I have no idea what happened in blogger this week. Last night when I sat down to blog, 2 of my posts that I had scheduled to post.... hadn't. I opened them and clicked publish and they did. I think maybe I shouldn't touch technology this week, all things considered.

It's snowing today. Yesterday people were wearing shorts.

Mac is taking his online class midterms. I think he's working harder during these 60 minute sessions than he has during the entire courses. He got instant scores on one of the exams (except for a bonus question) and he ended up with an A. GO HIM! Yay Mac's GPA!

I'm wearing yoga pants to lounge around the house in, again. And no I'm not doing yoga. But I still haven't gone out in public in these. Yet. I'm sure I'll forget and BAM... !

I'm in the throes of laundry. Everything I have right now is wash cold and hang dry and I'm running out of places to hang. So, I guess that means I should just stop doing laundry, right?

I watched the pilot of SMASH finally on DVR. Is anyone else watching this show? Does anyone I know like it? Opinions please!

When I have a day off I lay in bed the night before and make a huge list of things I want to accomplish but when the actual day off rolls around, I end up doing very little that's on the list. I made no cards nor quilts today. I did, however, empty the dishwasher, buy groceries, fix dinner, do 2 loads of laundry (maybe 2 more if I get my detergent on), watched some back logged DVR and finished a novel. I should focus on the "dids" rather the didn'ts.

I love Adele.


Friday, March 2, 2012

Bad to worse

Yesterday I wrote that my entire library program was probably gone (deleted) and that my students were the one's who deleted the whole thing, either on accident or on purpose.

Would you believe that it went from bad to worse yesterday afternoon?

When I got to work on Thursday morning, the library program was still deleted. I was told that "they were working on it" but it didn't look good. They hadn't found the software yet anywhere on a server or the network. They said the entire backup file was even gone. THE BACKUP FILE WAS GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, then. Well... So...

I spent the day doing paperwork. I repaired a pile of books. I cleaned the cupboards. I straightened shelves. I did filing.

I was in the middle of making a list of new books to order and I clicked on an author's website and sudden my computer went nuts. Our virus program lit up like a Christmas tree, blinking red, that I had a virus. I got a bubble that there was a virus. All my programs shut down and weird icons popped up on the screen. Then a window opened that looked like everything was being deleted. I called 4 IT guys and the forth one told me shut my computer off and to click nothing. I did.

Finally a different- the newest and most inexperienced IT guy came to the library and looked at my system and confirmed I had a virus. Well duh. And he said he would have to go back and do some checking to see if he could figure it out.

As of 5pm yesterday, the new IT dude couldn't find my computer even on the network's list. Oh gee, nice. And the computer dude with experience is at home sick. And the new guy is really rude, I just want to add, as a by the way.

So I get a call today and they manage to find my computer, and get rid of the virus; the experienced IT guy was back today. It looks like the author website was contaminated and the virus was not linked to the kids destroying the library software, which, there was no word on yet. Gee, that's great.

(when ITSam was there, he had given me unlimited rights on our network with no filters. I wonder if they figured that out since they had to fix me?)

I'm not so much a fan of technology right now.

I'm not worrying about this crap until Monday because what can I even do today, right?


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gone baby gone

Yesterday was not a good day. Oh shit are the only 2 words that come to mind.

Yesterday afternoon, the program I use to operate the entire library froze up. Weird technology stuff happens all the time, right? I try to do all these fixes and none of them work. I do the ultimate and shut my entire system and machine off and start all over again with a reboot. Only this time when the software opens and I click on the tab marked "circulation" I get an error message. As a matter of fact, I get an error message over and over and over again on each tab I click.

I call the school system's head librarian to see if she knows what's up. I tell her the error code and she flips out and tells me to call the software company's tech support. I call tech support and they tell me the error code means 1 of 2 things:
1- human interaction has screwed my system up
2- the system needs rebooted from our server or our network.
And what does the error code mean, you might be asking. Oh... well... the error code means that the library program has been removed/ deleted.

Yes, you read that right. GONE. G.O.N. E. As in no longer there. As in ALL the library data has been deleted, removed, vanished.

As in all records of books, of the patrons, of the circulation history, or patron holdings, EVERYTHING is gone. All I have are the books on the shelf. There is no record of them in any system anywhere.

Oh. My. Fucking. Shit.

This means that if our IT staff can't find the program on the server or on the network, then I have nothing. I will have to hand enter each and every book, one at a time, all over again. I will have to reconfigure all the software and the settings, enter all the patron information as well as the books.

To make matters worse, once I told my principal what happened, he told me that they caught kids messing around with the program and he thinks they might have deleted it when they got caught doing what they weren't supposed to do, and they accidentally deleted the library stuff while deleting their own stuff, trying to cover their tracks.

We called the IT department at work and they are seeing what they can do. They're trying to see if it exists on a server or network somewhere.

I can't even fathom what will happen next...