Monday, December 29, 2008

How good can it be if they are giving it away?

So if you go to Starbucks on Tuesday, you can pick up a coupon for a free iTunes download. I see the little cards lying there, but rarely pick them up. I mean, nothing good is free right?

Have I mentioned that we have a communal computer for iTunes? Well, when I recently updated my BRAND NEW, LOVELY PURPLE IRIS iPod Nano, I got this song....

The song has really grown on me...I especially love the mariachi band chorus.

I was playing this song on the docking station when Madelaine walks into the kitchen (during the mariachi chorus): What ARE you listening to? Me: It's Noah and the Whale. I thought you downloaded it? I like it alot! Mad: Oh...that was one of those free things from Starbucks. Me: I am going to start actually picking them up from now on.

PS...I think I need to start giving some of those Mexican Wrestling masks as Christmas gifts....just not to my children.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Blahs?

There is a lot of talk about the Christmas Blahs. Most people think that we stress ourselves out so much around the holidays that there is no way they can meet our expectations. The Christmas Blahs seem to be attributed to the modern commercial version of Christmas but I don't know that this is the case. I was listening to the lyrics of We Need a Little Christmas and if you think about it, the song almost seems to talk about forcing yourself into the holiday spirit. The song was written for the Broadway Musical Mame in 1956.

Seems like maybe the Christmas Blahs have been around for a while.

Haul out the holly;
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again.
Fill up the stocking,
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now.
For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute,
Candles in the window,
Carols at the spinet.
Yes, we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute.
It hasn't snowed a single flurry,
But Santa, dear, we're in a hurry;
So climb down the chimney;
Put up the brightest string of lights I've ever seen.
Slice up the fruitcake;
It's time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen bough.
For I've grown a little leaner,
Grown a little colder,
Grown a little sadder,
Grown a little older,
For we need a little music,
Need a little laughter,
Need a little singing
Ringing through the rafter,
And we need a little snappy
"Happy ever after,"
Need a little Christmas now.
Need a little Christmas now.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Perfect Gift....Jesus!

There are times when I miss my former place of employment acutely. Mostly when I want to talk to one of my friends, formerly co-workers, immediately.

For the longest time, I wondered if I loved being a librarian or if I just loved being a librarian with the great group of people that I worked with. I have found my answer but I still miss my friends.

My office mate Amy is a prime example. She gets my slightly offbeat sense of humor. She knows why I will laugh uncontrollably at something. I can't tell you how many times we would end up in tears we would laugh so hard. I really miss that.

That's why, when walking through Kohls the other day I laughed out loud. I found the perfect gift for Amy!

I chuckled all the way to the register. When the young man, with funky hairdo and Buddy Holly glasses checked me out, I laughed again. Thinking I was another stressed shopper gone off the deep end, he gave me a look. "Jesus is a gift" I said. "Do you want a gift receipt?" he deadpanned. "No...she needs to keep Jesus." "You can't really return God can you?"

Ah...someone else gets me.

My only regret is that he isn't plastic. That would have made this the absolutely perfect!

jesus 009

I am meeting her for lunch today. I am looking forward to laughing til I cry over Jesus.

It is good to have friends that understand...

Home Improvements

With the holidays coming, everyone wants their house to look nice for company. This is only normal. This season, I purchased some pretty throws to soften the browns of my sofa. And every year I add an item or two to the seasonal decor.

However, I wisely resist doing any major home painting for instance.

I love to paint. As a matter of fact, I would say that before I started back to school, painting was my hobby. I have painted every room in my house (except for our bathroom and kitchen, which were both wallpapered). I did a splash technique on the kids bathroom when they were younger....I have done an "aging" process in our sitting room, which I did about 8 years ago and still love today.

I'm not afraid of color either. Our bedroom is marigold, our living room yellow, sitting room green and our kitchen and half bath blood red. Ok...yes, there are chickens on my kitchen wall, but that is another blog.

The point I am trying to make here...I like to paint. I love color.

So four years ago, my daughter and I painted her bedroom. The color was called Cranapple and we decided to go with a semi-gloss...just to be different. Mistake. I don't know if it was the color or the finish, but the walls were never quite right. You could see brush strokes in areas, see where you cut in the edges. It was not perfect, but we had to give up after 3 coats and move the furniture back into the room.

As the years have gone by, there have been other issues with the walls. The semi-gloss seemed to attract dust. Furniture, like her bookcase, pulled segments of the paint off the wall. One night, Madelaine was lying on her bed, talking on the phone. She found an air pocket in the paint and absent mindedly peeled it away. She continued to do so until the whole was the size of a dinner plate. Grrrrrr.

So a few weeks ago, Madelaine tells me that she and Travis will be re-painting her room (the same color just in flat) over the Christmas break. Fine I say. Then she announces that they are going to do it the week before Christmas, as opposed to, I don't know...the THREE WEEKS SHE HAS OFF AFTER CHRISTMAS?

I make a fuss. "Why this week? I don't have cookies made; I could use some help with Christmas cards and laundry...can't this wait?"


You see, when you live with a teen-aged girl there are factors that allow for this type of drama. The timing for this conversation was perfectly wrong. She also just found out that she owed her father and I money. She just received her grades for her first semester of college. Our policy is: We only pay for As and Bs. She owes us for her Statistics class.

"Fine." I say.

And she and Travis spent Wednesday painting.

I can see it now...the two young people trying to replicate all those cutsie scenes in almost every chick flick ever made. They probably dabbed the paint brush on each others nose and kissed. They sang along as they painted, with wide open windows and songs playing at top volume on the stereo. They probably even write "I Heart You" on the walls, so that the message would always be there, even when their were many coats of paint on top of it.

As a matter of fact, I know that they wrote "I Heart You" because I can still see it through the two coats of paint that they have decided is enough. After spending all day with paint fumes; after a coat of primer and two coats of paint, they have given up and are calling the room good.

It is so not good. It is bad. It is, dare I say it? Worse than it was to begin with. I cannot begin to tell you how bad it is.

On Wednesday night when I came home from work, I looked up through her open window and said..."Please God, tell me that is just the first coat." It wasn't.

I ranted and raved. I reiterated my initial arguments. I yelled. Fred play negotiator, tyring (in vain) to calm me...trying to soothe a weeping Madelaine. We weren't budging. I have trained her well.

Now, even though my cards still aren't in the mail and not a single cookie has been baked, Fred and I will spend this evening painting a room that was not on the agenda.

Even I know that you should never attempt home improvements the week before Christmas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cranky Old Woman Blog...

I guess I am getting old. I am also getting crankier with age, which makes me sad. But maybe it isn't just me. Maybe I have a right to some of the crankiness I have been feeling lately.

For example: I went to WalMart the other day to pick up three items. I found them and went to the register with the least amount of people. I bypassed the self check because one of the items I purchased had a security strip. There was one man ahead of me and he only had a single item. Score! I will be out of there quick.

Turns out the woman standing behind the register, was just re-stocking bags. The cashier took her time walking over to the register and began to tidy up. She checked that all of the bags were positioned just so. She moved some of the fliers that were lying about. Then after a minute or so, rang the man in front of me up. It was my turn.

Guess what? She proceeded to count EVERY SINGLE BILL in her till. She looked over at me and said..."Sorry...I am just signing on to this till." Now I am a patient person. I used to work a cash till. I understand that she wants to make sure she has what she is supposed to have. Then she turns on her little light over the register and calls the manager over. She needs change. If she had started to count the change I think my head would have exploded. Nope...she didn't, but while she was waiting for the manager, she made all of her bills face the right way.

Cut to the next day at the gas station. I went inside to pay cash. The man behind the counter was...I kid you not...picking his nails...he looked up at me and said..."I'll be right with you..." Wait a beat....wait a beat....wait a beat....wait a beat....wait a beat....wait a beat. He finally looks up at me and says "Yes?"

Being a cranky old woman, I said: "I'll be right with you." Then I stared off into the distance for a couple of minutes. He gave me a look. I didn't really care.

Then I got my gas.

Seriously. What's up?

Monday, December 8, 2008


PS (pre-script): Fabi, this blog is not for you.

OK...I know. I am a librarian and a doctoral student. If you didn't know me...and didn't read my blogs, you may think I am an intellectual.

Those who do know me...and do read my rants here, know otherwise.

I am pretty down to earth. My thoughts tend to be as deep as the saucer my grandmother used to cool her coffee in. I end sentences in prepositions. Often. I even write in fragments!

That said; I am a reader. I love to read. I will read anything but not everything.

I recently read a review of a wonderful book about Einstein and his mistakes. Wow! I though (I also overuse exclamation marks, ellipses and parenthetical asides), what a great book. The book also coincided with my qualitative analysis class readings on keeping a research I placed a hold on the book and took it home. I read the first couple of chapters. Then (can you imagine) the book started to get heavy on the physics side of things. I had physics...I even made an A in the class. This is a different kind of physics though. The kind that gave me a headache. So I put it down. (Hans C. Ohanian, Hans C. (2008) Einstein's Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius)

Anyway...the point of this blog.

I am aware that I don't read the most stimulating books published. I read tons of "pop" lit, some "chicklit," but more young adult and children's literature than anything. So there are certain things I do to keep up with what is being written and by whom.

1) I try to read the yearly publication of the best American short stories in The O'Henry Award Winning Stories collection. This just lets me have a little taste of the style and process of the great writers out there. In this years' collection the only author I am really familiar with is Alice Munro who also ended her title with a preposition: "What do you want to know for?" HA! Great minds think alike. Although I am sure hers is artistic and mine is just bad form.

2) I read reviews. Lots of them. Then I put books on hold and read them. If they cause headaches, I put them down and move on to the next book. is the part of the blog where I get to the "faker-pants" portion of the title.

I subscribe to Barnes and Noble Booksellers email notifications. I get to hear if there is a sale and they often send out coupons for free cookies with the purchase of coffee. Like you can even go to the bookstore without purchasing coffee? Have you ever heard of something so ridiculous?

Today's automated email had a column called "A year in reading" in which book reviewers wrote about the things that caught their eyes and imaginations this year. I thought: "Well, this will be a great way to catch any titles that I have missed!"


Here is a snippet of the column:

The most surprising book I've read this year is The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English, by Henry Hitchings, author of Defining the World: The Extraordinary Story of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary. It has just been published, by Farrar, Straus. I've always been a logophile, and, like many of my fellow roundtablers, I bet, I've read a lot of the books that are clinically symptomatic of logophilia -- starting with The Elements of Style and coming up to the recent past with Woe Is I, by Patricia O'Conner, copyediting legend of The New York Times Book Review. The Secret Life of Words is one of the few such books that succeeds in making a really engrossing narrative out of the development of a language. Hitchings has a cheerful, almost ebullient style, and so, for example, as he describes the evolution of the hegemony that the East India Company had over commerce on the subcontinent, he cleverly works in the 18th- and 19th-century equivalents of etymological verbal pop-ups: of one contemporary author, Hitchings writes, "He was the first to write of an avatar, the sweet song of the bulbul...and dharma."

The italics are in the original, and they're keyed to a wonderful index in the back, which allows readers to look up any word so italicized in the text.

Did you catch where he commented that he read "Elements of Style?" Seriously? I thought that was just a book they made every freshman in college buy for the sake of having it on your shelf.

I'm sorry. I may have to call a "Faker-Pants" on this one. I don't for a moment believe that anyone read that book for fun.

And who are they trying to impress here? This is an email sent out to Barnes and Noble car members, not the Pulitzer committee!

I am sad, because these reviewers had a chance to reach people like me, time crunched readers, and they missed out on a unique opportunity. Instead they leave me, and I am sure countless others yelling "Faker-Pants."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Google Maps - Street View

I don't know if you have looked at this recently, but google maps has added a "street view" feature to some of its locations. Right now if you "google" my address, you get the option of "Street view" which shows you a picture of my you are standing right out front! I have tried this for some friends I have back east and it doesn't seem to be available there yet.

Wow...big brother really is watching.

I wonder how and when they do this though. Our tree is still out front, and my car is in the that would suggest sometime early in 2008 before I was working full time...but before we chopped our poor dead tree down.

Google your address and see if it is an option....

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

There's no place like home....

20th anniversary 211So Frd and I got some interesting news the other day. The resort that we have gone to for the past several years is being divided into two.

We had heard that once upon a time the Adventura Spa Palace was once two “palaces.” One was sports themed (the Adventura part) and the other was the Spa. Because of this, they each had their own lobby. The sporty lobby has pool tables and ping pong, one REALLY good restaurant (another that is mediocre at best) and a disco. The other has…THE SPA!...and two amazing restaurants. Fred and I have really enjoyed the dichotomy of the resort. The sporty part has always been the “louder” of the two and the spa side where you go when you want to have a nap and some quiet time.

Now, the resort will once again be two…but…and here is the kicker…Children will be allowed on the Sporty side!

Part of me is thrilled by this!!!! We could bring our children! We could spend most of the day with them on the sporty side and then Fred and I could have some quiet time while they were otherwise occupied at the Kids Club! Fred and I could have a salad with them at dinner and then go off to the quiet “adults only” portion of the hotel for our own meal.

Fred was quick to point out the downside of this. When we are sitting by the pool with our own children, we will get to hear the screaming of everyone else’s children. And what kind of parents would we be if we spent a portion of the day AWAY from our children? He has a point. Besides, he says….it is OP… “Our Place.” Not the family’s place. There should be some things that we don’t share with our children. After all, we started going on couples vacations to get away from our children and strengthen our marriage.

The jury is still out as to what we will do. I guess we will figure it out when it comes time to book our next Mexican vacation….which is 10 months away! We also have to decide if it will be with the children or adults only. So there will be many decisions along the way.

It does make me a bit sad that things change so often. My last year or so has been filled with change and it just doesn’t seem to ever stop. I understand things change, but it is always nice to know that there is something you can return to that is wonderful and just the way you remember it. That is what this place has been for us. When you walk in and your concierge says “Bienvenidos…Welcome Home” Fred and I always break into a smile…and then accept the glass of champagne that is being handed to us.


There is no place like home. L

Christmas Trees and a poem by e e cummings

(excuse me while i slip into cummingsese...)

yesterday, while driving to and fro I saw many trees strapped to many tops of cars. i remember this, remember the excitement and the smell and the bristle tough touch of the fir. now we have fake firs and candles to fool ourselves into thinking the something is as real as the other. its not.

i thought of this poem and thought i would share....

little tree by e e cummings

little tree

little silent Christmas tree

you are so little

you are more like a flower

who found you in the green forest

and were you very sorry to come away

see i will comfort you

because you smell so sweetly

i will kiss your cool bard

and hug you safe and tight

just as your mother would,

only don’t be afraid

look the spangles

that sleep all the year in a dark box

dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,

the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,

put up your little arms

and I’ll give them all to you to hold

every finger shall have its ring

and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy

then when you’re quite dressed

you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see

and how they’ll stare!

Oh but you’ll be proud

and my little sister and i will take hands

and looking up at our beautiful tree

we’ll dance and sing

“Noel Noel”

"little tree" was originally published in The Dial Vol. LXVIII, No. 1 (Jan. 1920). New York: The Dial Publishing Company, Inc.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pardon me sir, but could you spare some Turkey?

For the last month I have been reading articles in women's magazines that contain recipes for what to do with all of that leftover turkey.

What leftover turkey? We cooked a 23lb turkey yesterday. We used one half of it for dinner yesterday and as of right now, there may be enough turkey for two more sandwiches. You know what that means don't you?

We cooked another turkey today.

Sad, isn't it? This is our family's spare turkey. We made it just so that we would have leftovers.

So, if you are in the neighborhood and are hungry...come on by. Guess what we are having for dinner tonight?

You got it! Leftovers!!!!

I would be willing to bet that by Monday there will only be enough leftovers to make a pot pie out of dark meat.

Picture Perfect - Everyday Thanks

Picture Perfect this week is about giving thanks for the ordinary. This shouldn't be your friends, or family...not really a sentimental post, I think, but a thank you to the things that help get us through the day.

Here is my photo contribution to this weeks' theme.

tgiving 020

(pardon the dust!)

Our computers have become such a daily tool in our lives, it is a wonder how we ever lived without it. I recently read a blog by Wicklowmick about the various tools he used before computers and I did a little self recollection. I don't think I have ever used a manual typewriter. One of my earliest jobs was with the Executive Vice President of Temple University. I was a "student assistant" and I did some light typing. I hated it and became very good at the "correction" feature. I remember that we also had a dedicated word processing machine that I was eventually trained on...and then the desktop computers. The first word processing software I used wasn't a windows product it was WordPerfect. Mail Merge and I were close friends.

Being a doctoral student as well as I teacher, I use my computer every day. So do my students and I often have to spend time explaining why it is plagiarism to cut and paste paragraphs from the Internet. Good thing there is Google. I just cut and copy portions of their homework into Google and search for the real source of their assignments.

For me, it means always having a backup. I was speaking to the mother of a friend who got her PhD in the 60s. She talked about the typing and typing and typing some more...then of mimeograph copies of all that was typed hidden for safekeeping all over her house. She had a copy on her - AT ALL TIMES, a copy in her home office, a copy in her campus office, a copy in her car and...this is the best one! A copy in her freezer. In case of a fire. I guess the contents of your freezer don't burn!

Nowadays we are told about having two external hard drives to back up our dissertations. I also plan on emailing portions of it to myself. That way it will always be "out there."

In addition to the Word Processing applications...and the cheating capabilities of the Internet, there is also social networking. I am reading an article right now on this topic and how it impacts "emerging adults." I think we are all pretty much emerged, but isn't it interesting that this little laptop has given birth to

  • new forms of cheating
  • new forms of creating
  • new forms of friendship
  • new forms of frustration
  • new forms of research
  • new forms of procrastination

And with that, I am going to head back to my homework!

The Master Plan for Thanksgiving

My daughter just woke up. She spent part of last night getting sick. It wasn't that she ate something that was bad, it was just that she ate too much. This was her first Thanksgiving where she had to eat two dinners.

She and Travis ate at our house at 2:00 and then they went to Travis' house to eat again. I guess this is pretty indicative of where my life is heading. Now that my children are getting older I have to share them with others. I know it is normal and unavoidable, but I realize I was in a really bad mood yesterday and I am blaming this realization for it.

So....since Mad was up at the wee hours, she texted her aunt, Fred's youngest sister, who is 24. Liz shared with her the THANKSGIVING MASTER PLAN for eating two meals with two families. According to the plan you eat a little Turkey and one starch at one house with plenty of water, then a little turkey and a different starch at the other house. The WATER IS KEY. Pie is a no-no.

Sigh. No pie? Glad I only have one house.

I wonder what the Christmas plan is....

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, I stayed up late last night and made two pies:Mincemeat and Blueberry (first time from scratch) and three loaves of fruit bread (a pumpkin and cranberry for Mad to take to TBs house and a cranberry for us).

Fred has stuffed the 23 lb turkey and it is in the oven for the first stage of the roasting process. We are making a second turkey after this one comes out so we have enough for sad is that?

Hope you are all enjoying your time with family and friends! I will spend most of today studying, writing and eating. Finals are next week and this long semester will be over. Boy am I thankful for that!

I am also thankful for all of you!

Have a great day!

Yes, that's our 23lb Turkey running for its life!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Retro-post - More bars in more places...

Do you know the AT&T commercial where the "bars" are hidden in the background this...

Well, Owen has taken this commercial to heart. We were walking to the grocery store the other day and he made us line up in height order. Then he says..."More bars, in more places!"

On Saturday, his birthday, we were in the sitting room, chatting. I asked to see his feet, and placed mine along side of his. "Oh my gosh! Your feet are bigger than mine!"

"Wait," he said, and got on the other side of where I was sitting...."We have to do "more bars."" Fred was sitting at the computer and Freddy was in the other room, so we lined up for a group shot. (*Madelaine was out with Turd Boy, so her foot is not in the photo)

Just for the, small, dainty foot is the one on the right. Also, please note how hairy my 14 year old son's legs are (2nd from left). I think he will be shaving soon!

Retro-post - Happy Birthday Owen

Happy Birthday (Saturday the 22nd) to the baby of our house!

Owen is now 12. At this time next year, I will have 3 teenagers. Then in May 2010, I will be back down to two.

Do you think the 7 months of having three teenagers, all living in the same house, qualifies me for Sainthood?

I think it should.

Retro-post - Webkinz

I meant to post this...well, about a month ago. But my camera was out of batteries and then I forgot and then I had to put away the Halloween decorations. But here are some shots of Owen's Webkinz dressed for Halloween.

Demonata Pug

Skullduggery Chiuaua

Fang the Pug.......................................................

and lastly, the Frog Prince.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Takes me back....

I think we all have certain songs that immediately take us back to a particular time and place. The song Fred blogged about not too long ago by Green Day (Time of your life) has, in my head, been retitled "the chemo song." We used to hear it all the time on our way back and forth to the Hospital. Fred doesn't remember the song as being association to his illness at all.

Right now, I'm at work, listening to Sirius online and this song comes on. I think the song is pretty good, but the opening whistling thing is that part that makes me smile. When I hear this, I am waiting in the customs line to get into Mexico. The line was long, but I didn't care. Fred and I had two weeks of doing nothing ahead of us and we both really needed it. Someone was passing the time by whistling the opening bars of this over and over again. I didn't have this song on my iPod before we left for Mexico, but I did afterwards.

It is hard to imagine that it has been over a year since our anniversary trip and it will be almost another year before we get to go again (311 days, but who is counting) is the song.

PS...What are we going to do if River gets high speed? We will be down another thing to blog about and tease her about. Maybe we should pettition the cable company to make sure she stays out of the "loop!"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

How could I have missed this?

I don't know if you have read any of Wally Lamb's books before, but they are simply heartbreaking and heartfelt. In case you don't remember, his previous books were She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True.

In She's Come Undone, we meet Dolores Price who has dealt with a severely disappointing life, filled with abandonment, rape, and abuse by self medicating with FOOD. While none of these things are laughing matters, Wally Lamb makes lemonade out of lemons and this is an engaging and entertaining read.

In I Know This Much Is True, Dominick Birdsey is one of the brothers who make up identical twins. His brother Thomas is a schizophrenic who at one point in the book, slices his hand off. But Dominick is the central character in the book which explores self denial, self discovery and the wreckage left behind every dysfunctional family. It is a little imposing at 928 pages but the language, dialog and humor are worth it.

While researching this blog I found that he taught a writing class for incarcerated women and wrote a book, or editing one, that compiled their stories. Couldn't Keep It to Myself and I'll fly Away are composed of essays written by the women inmates of a maximum security prison. These are next on my reading list.

In case you hadn't noticed, both of these titles are based on song lyrics, so when I saw the new book, I was "looking" for the music attached. It finally dawned on me....Amazing Grace.

The new book is about a teacher who was present and "survived," in a manner of speaking, the Columbine School Shooting. Never quite recovering, she retreats to her husbands small New England town where the story continues on a different but connected vein.

Again, not a pretty topic, but I am looking forward to reading something new by Mr. Lamb. It has been 8 years I think, since his last book. I guess you can call him the opposite of James Patterson. I am sure this book will be worth the wait.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hearing Bells

10:57 am. I pull into the parking lot of the FWISD Professional Development Center and lock my car. I will only have to make this drive one more time since the semester is almost done. It has been a tough class. Nothing has worked out well for the class or my students. It has been an eye opening learning experience for me but I am tired and looking forward to the class being over.

Have you ever noticed how sound is different at different temperatures? It seems that sound gets muffled in the heat. Maybe it is the moisture in the air that causes the sound to lose some of its edge. They become muted by the humidity.

Not today though. It was cool and crisp and quiet. I walk across the parking lot in downtown Ft. Worth and I am aware of the noise my boot heels make on the paved surface. I can hear a gang of grackles in a tree at the end of the block. I hate those birds. They don't have a song, so much as they have the noise of a broken fast food speaker. I can hear the sound of traffic but my boots still serve as the central soundtrack.

11:00: I think to myself, "Ha...I am almost right on time!" and then I hear it. The church on the corner has a bell tower that rings out marking the hour. I stop and listen. Being a city girl I have grown up in neighborhoods that have many churches. One intersection in Philadelphia has 3 Irish Catholic, one Polish Catholic and one Greek Orthodox. Each church was built by construction workers of that parrish and then attended by their family, friends and descendants. They all had bell towers and I grew up with this familiar sound. I stop and listen.

As the bells finish, I start to open the door of the building but then they start again. They ring out a tune and I smile and tears spring to my eyes. I am a sap. I stay outside to hear the end of the song. My class will wait for me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Never noticed....

You know how you see something all the time and never notice...

On my way to teach class this morning I noticed the sign for the Fort Worth Zoo....

Get it.... F.....W....?

Sometimes I worry about my brain function.

Sorry River....

But this was too I thought I should post it.

Gee...and I thought my cat was vocal....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Isn't it pretty?

If you look a little closer, you will see that this tree is made of Mountain Dew Cans. You can click HERE to see the step my step version of it...

In a Fowl Mood

You know those days when you wake up and you just KNOW it is going to be a bad day?

That is today.

I don't know why.

I did a lot of spring cleaning this weekend; watched a funny movie with Fred; read a good book; took a bath; almost took two naps (Mad walked in during both of them to see if I was alright, which startled me awake and then made continuing the nap impossible); had a couple of good beers; went out to breakfast.

All in all a very good weekend. I did not complete laundry, but I never seem to no HUGE surprise.

So anyway...woke up this morning and kids were complaining about school, and no socks and no pants and then Fred, Madelaine and I did the dance around our too small kitchen, packing lunches and making breakfasts....the usual crap. By this point I had a headache and realized that the day is not looking so good.

Now I am at work and preparing for storytime. Some days I find that storytime makes everything better...sometimes it makes it worse. I am not sure what today will bring. I guess I can always hope.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Halloween Night

Yes, I know. This is late. But I still wanted to tell you about it.

We live in a great neighborhood for Halloween! Many of our neighbors dress up and decorate their houses. One house, a block over, has a graveyard with moving bits in their front yard. They have a storage rental just so they can keep everything. The head roasting on the BBQ spit is my favorite. Other houses have their teenagers on the roof with chain saws, and chains.

The house cattycorner to us had a grim reaper, 11 feet high posted in his front yard like a scarecrow for weeks before Halloween Night. He also had a creepy clown sitting on his front porch. Then on Halloween Night he would climb inside one of the creatures and chase people half way down the block (if he was the reaper) or if he was the clown, he would put the bowl of candy in his clown lap and wait for people to make a grab for the candy before blinking or grabbing them.

Like I said, we live across from them and Fred and I just sit back and watch the show.

This Halloween, our friends who live in the "big house" neighborhood decided to come by and hand out candy with us. (They don't get any trick or treaters).

I opened up my car windows and put Sirius radio on. They had a "Haunted House Noises" channel so we cranked up the volume...sitting in the driveway on camping chairs, drinking beer. We watched kids go by and chatted with them about their costumes etc. Some neighbors stopped by and we chatted some more. We handed out about 12 bags of candy...probably $60 worth. We even sent Mad to the store to by more.

There were some interesting costumes. But of all of is the scariest. Are you ready?

hweensoup 001

I hate the king!!!

A dark Tale of Pokeno, a wtich candle and enternal torment!

So, I mentioned that I help Pokeno at my house last month and my friend Laurie commented that she was going to come by and steal my witch candle. Ha! Like she could. First of all, she is in Indiana and missed very much. Secondly...I stole it from her fair and square.

In case you don't recall, you get to steal gifts during the second round of Pokeno. Laurie and I went back and forth stealing the Witch candle...but as you can see by the went home with me.

I even got some new little friends for her to hang out with.

Laurie...Neener Neener! :-%%%%%%

PS..I have to store the "hat" candles in my master closet...since they would melt in the attic with the rest of the Hween stuff.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Savage Chickens...because I am currently out of ideas...

And because librarians are big on Metadata

Yes We Did Sticker!

Whether our President-Elect was your candidate or not, you have to admit, this is history. In case you want a free sticker to commemorate the occasion, please click on the link below.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

You might be a librarian if....(stolen from an email sent by my friend Jennifer!)

You might be a librarian if:

You compulsively reshelve items and straighten shelves when browsing at Barnes and Noble

Ok...I do not do this....mostly because there are no spine labels on the books.

You alphabetize your spice rack (and everything else) should see my spice area. It lives with my over the counter medicines...and is a mess....

You own more cardigans than shoes

Define cardigans? The group? No...I do own lots of sweater twinsets, but not a lot of cardigans.

You own cats named "Ernest, "Kerouac," or "Flannery"

I have a cat named can pick your reference...Star Wars, or as in II Society.

You have a secret desire to be a bookcart drill team

Those people kind of scare me.

You know the Dewey Decimal System by heart

Nope...but I do know a great deal. spend your days surrounded by something and not absorb it!

Nancy Pearl is your idol and you own her action figure

Guilty. Photo to follow....

You go on vacation and visit other libraries

See the blog photo. Look familiar?

You don't have a Netflix account and borrow all of your music and movies from the library instead

I just ILLed Surname Viet First Name Nam today!

Your home library has just as many books as a small public library

Nope...we have rules about that. The only books I keep at my house are my orphans.

You were totally blogging and social networking before 2003


You read banned books

This goes without a matter of fact I wore my "I'm with the Banned" shirt today to workout.

You can kick everyone's butt at Scrabble

Well...not everyone's. I have a lot of librarian friends!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

M.I.A. - Missing in Austin!

Hello. Where was I yesterday? Um...I was in Austin.

I love Austin.

Most of the time I don't even mind driving there. Yesterday I had a 10am meeting there. So I left at 5. Yup. AM. That meant I got up and dressed at 4:30.

Now it really only takes 3 1/2 hours to get there. If you do 80mph the whole way; which considering the speed limit is 70, is not hard to do.

But I have a weakness. Cracker Barrel.

There is one is Waco (yes THAT Waco) and it is about a half way point, so I stop. Yesterday I had the Old Timers Breakfast with Hash Brown Casserole. Yum. They game me grits too, even though I tell them every time that I don't need them....and they can hold the gravy for the biscuits as well. They still bring it. Then I poked around in their country store...but didn't buy anything.

I always have a hard time finding my way in one section of Austin. My GPS tells me to turn onto Mo-Pac, but the visual shows a straight path. After missing the invisible turn, it has to "recalculate route" and sets me on the right course. It tells me to make a legal u-turn and then a hard right. I don't see a hard right. And I don't see anything listed as Mo-Pac.

After another bit of time "recalculating route" it decides I must be blind and puts me back on the main, and highly trafficked, road, I35. I don't mind this either since I get the full impact of the Austin Skyline. I can see the Capitol Building AND my favorite skyscraper, the Frost Building, which looks like an Owl in the evening. If you click on the link you get to read about some of the rumors and urban myths about the design.

I was in Austin for a meeting about a committee I am on with the Texas Library Association. The meeting was productive. Not as passionate as the first, but I think we are making progress. We have one more in February, so it is always nice to see the end in sight.

After we finished with our meeting we were going out to dinner. I managed to get a quick visit into Tesoros before hand, and purchased a couple new things for my Dia de los Muertos altar.

Austin is great in a way that my part of TX is not. There are people running, walking and biking. There are old homes with mature trees on winding and hilly roads. There are tons of people out...all doing there thing. It is a true city where people live and work in the same area, not make a quick retreat for a McMansion in the suburbs. Local eateries and bars litter the sidewalk. The people are less barbie-beautiful there.

We went to dinner at Z-Tejas where I had the Smoked Chicken Chili Rellano. Yum. The chili was not batter dipped and fried, but roasted and stuffed with smoked chicken and apricots and then topped with a sour cream sauce and pumpkin seeds. The black beans rocked. As I mentioned before, the people are as eclectic as the town. There were many couple out and some, you could tell, were on dates, but they were missing the anorexic, over exercised, fake tan, fake boob, HUGE diamond, style that prevails in my area. I love that!

We got done dinner and I hit the road at 7 pm. I made one stop at the Starbucks in Temple, TX and quickly got back on the road. I made it (even with the stop) in 3 1/2 hours. I guess I may have been driving faster than 80 during certain legs of the drive.

Sorry for the rambling post, but I am still tired. And still very much in love with Austin. I would love to move and be able to roam the streets, walking of course, eating and shopping my way to the point where I am as comfortable in my skin as the natives seem.

PS...My lovely and wonderfully fuel efficient car made the 500 mile drive using only a half a tank. The average mpg for the trip (including getting tied up in a bit of traffic and some slight city driving) was 46 mpg. I love my car!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Trial and Error

So, my very good friend Tiffany, is having a birthday on Wednesday. I happen to know that her favorite cake in the world, is red velvet. I am a very good cake maker...especially when it comes to the kind in the box, so I thought I would make her some cupcakes for her birthday and bring them to her in a pretty cupcake stand...which is her actual birthday present.

Plan A:

Hhhmmm. Did you know they don't make boxed mixed of red velvet cake? At least none that I could find readily available.

Plan B:

Scratch. I did my research. Looked up recipes. Found out some interesting things. Some of them called for crisco. I crossed those off the list early on. Shortening is just bad bad bad. I found another interesting ingredient...but it appeared in many of the recipes, so I am taking their word on it. Vinegar!

I also looked at the comments people made on the recipes. They all agreed that it needed more cocoa powder.

I made my notes and went to the store.

Now, I have learned lessons the hard way in I thought I would do a trial run. I start getting the ingredients out this afternoon.

Rats, forgot the buttermilk.

Went back to the store.

Got home and went back to work.

Rats...I don't have any vinegar.

I send Owen down the street to borrow some from my neighbor, Karen. She isn't guess what? Back to the store.

Guess who I run into at the store? Karen!

Got home and put the last ingredient, the vinegar into the wet bowl.

Uh Oh....I used the Tablespoon. It only needs a teaspoon.

Call Fred and ask him to pick up a small bottle of RED FOOD COLORING. Yes, I said a bottle. I had to explain to him that it required a whole bottle, 1 oz of RED FOOD COLORING, and yes, they sell it at the store.

When he came home I emptied the whole bottle into the cake batter and finished the recipe once and for all.

Fred was playing with my timer though...and the tops have a little stiffer in texture than I would like. Here they are....

hween red velvet 006

I used this recipe.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Joke....Happy Halloween!

A man is walking home alone late one foggy Halloween night, when behind him he hears:




Walking faster, he looks back and through the fog he makes out the image of an upright casket banging its way down the middle of the street toward him.




Terrified, the man begins to run toward his home, the casket bouncing quickly behind him.






He runs up to his door, fumbles with his keys, opens the door, rushes in, slams and locks the door behind him. However, the casket crashes through his door, with the lid of the casket clapping.




on his heels, as the terrified man runs.

Rushing upstairs to the bathroom, he locks himself in. His heart is pounding; his head is reeling; his breath is coming in sobbing gasps.

With a loud CRASH the casket breaks down the door.

Bumping and clapping toward him.

The man screams and reaches for something, anything, but all he can find is a bottle of cough syrup! Desperate, he throws the cough syrup at the casket...


(hopefully you're ready for this!!!)

The coffin stops

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Picture Perfect - Festive

meurtos 008

So...what is a white girl doing with an altar for Dia de los Muertos? Well...I'll tell you.

1) I live in TX. Sadly, the part of TX that I live in is a pretty normal suburb. I am sure that my neighborhood looks pretty much like many in the US. But if you go south for a bit...well, that changes everything. Texas has an amazing connection with Mexico. Fred and I traveled to San Antonio a few years back and learned a great deal about the beauty of this state and its culture. One of our, now favorite restaurants, Mi Tierra, was decked out from head to toe for Christmas. It was a sight to see...but the thing that interested me was the altar. There was the traditional creche, but it was surrounded by devils and calaveras. I asked around and did some research, which eventually lead me to learn more about the Day of the Dead.

It is a remarkable holiday where people clean and decorate their graveyards, and have picnics while visiting their dead. It is a way of keeping our family members close and loved.

2) I grew up in a very Irish household, raised by my step-mother, who I didn't even know was not my birth mother until I was 7. Even after this was acknowledged, it was never spoken of. I don't know why, but I am fairly certain it is not healthy.

We carry so much of our past with us...whether it is emotional baggage, or genetics which carries pieces of our past into the future. Regardless, there is room in all of our lives to look back and forward at the same time. It is that space in between where we live.

So, here is my festive post. I type with my past watching over me knowing that for better or worse, they have influenced who I am today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


"I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about."
-- Oscar Wilde

So, like my friend Ang, who wrote about all the blogs that are still trapped in her head, I have to confess...I've got nothing.

Oh, I have ideas. Inklings of blogs that are half-formed, floating around the amniotic fluid that is my brain.

I have a really good one on an article I am reading for Qualitative Research. This article actually made me cry a bit...and I think I finally found out who I am as far as research theories go.

I have another one on being a disgruntled reader. The best books I have read lately have either been nonfiction or YA. I see trends people (yeah, it was kind of a play on words that alluded to 6th Sense...did you get that at all? No. It works better aloud..)

Oh...and I have a really good one about Post Traumatic Stress and my Quantitative Class presentation. For some strange reason I don't know why someone would do paired t-tests instead of an ANOVA. (I am just parroting the words here people...much of this is still Greek, although my Prof seems to think this is ok. ) I had a serious anxiety attack on my ride home from school.

And then there is the election. I will be so happy when it is over. I am tired of the hate being bantered around. It is wearing me out.

So...I am going to go to bed now and read. Tomorrow is another day. Maybe I will have a blog of substance to share.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Freeze Warning

I know River is going to get a kick out of this one....I got an email today from my employing city notifying us that we will have our first freeze tonight. It made the news too.

This is early for us...I have had years where the air conditioning was still on for Halloween!

Now I guess I need to go cover my plants (butterfly bushes and vinca are still in full bloom) and cover the spigot. Not.

Someone in our neighborhood has a fire going. It smells great.

I better stock up on some firewood...I think it will be a long winter.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Naaaaaame That BOOK!!!!

(cue wild applause!)

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is time to play Naaaaame That BOOK! By the way, this is a blatant rip off of River's Name That Crap. is the book cover...

hweenpool 011

1) Can you name that book?

Rosco Report

I recently posted some photos on Facebook, including the one of Rosco the day we got him.

I thought I would update you on his growth...

Here he is.

hweenpool 020

You have seen previous videos of Rosco diving off the side of the pool to get his orange retrieval toy...well, he is quite confused about what is happening to his favorite toy...the pool.

While I was taking photos of the pool...he was chasing me around with the retrieval toy dropping it at my feet. hweenpool 022He Finally got tired of me not playing and decided to do it himself.

hweenpool 023

He dropped the toy into the pool...then climbed down the steps to fetch it for himself.

hweenpool 024

Seeing that there was a new game afoot, I played along. I dropped it into the water...and again, he went down the steps to fetch it. I knocked on the glass door and asked Fred to come on out to see. Rosco and I went through the routine again...then Fred had a turn. He tossed the toy into the 6 inches of water...and Rosco flew through the air...

He came out with a limp, which has since gone away. We stopped playing that game but it does go to show...That dog will do anything Fred tells him to do.

I'm taking bets....

We cleaned the pool out today. When I suggested to Fred that we drain the sucker and start over he said "Do you know how much it will cost to re-fill the pool?" I then asked him how much he spent last month in chemicals trying to get the algae under control. He agreed that it may be time to start with a blank slate.

So...we set the pool to drain yesterday around 11...and we turned off the pump last night at 7. It was almost empty. Here are the guys this morning, using the shop vac to get the dregs of the pool....

hweenpool 013

Now we are filling it. The water was turned on around 3 o'clock....what do you think? How long will it take for the pool to fill?

hweenpool 016

Friday, October 24, 2008

Picture Perfect - Favorite

Asking a person who likes to take photos to pick just one favorite is tough....and yet, this is what Picture Perfect has asked us to do this week.

I chose this one. I like the composition...the blues...It was taken at my favorite place in the world...while spending time with my favorite person.

20th anniversary 227

Thursday, October 23, 2008

PO-KE-NO Anyone?

I am a sad sack of a person. I am very, very social. I will find any excuse to have people over. I like entertaining…I like people…and I especially like having people in my house.

Except when I am stressed. Like this semester. Actually, I was talking to a co-worker about stress and I said that I am actually too busy to be stressed. I get one thing done and move on to the next. There is no looking up…there is no time to breath, just one step after another. Oh, I still freak out when there are big *ss assignments due, but who doesn’t.

Sadly, when I am stressed, I tend to retreat inward a bit which is not good. I have discovered that I am an extrovert. I like being around people. When I teach, or present, I feel energized; if I start the day in a bad mood or a little sleepy…doing a storytime or two will knock that right out of me.

So, since my schedule has me out of the house from 8am-9pm Mon-Wed and taking ½ hour lunches all week long; when someone calls to have dinner or lunch I explain that I can’t right now….but call me in December.

I ran into a neighbor the other day and she said: “When is POKENO? Halloween is coming…that means Pokeno at Marianne’s house.”

**Side note…I love Halloween. I have a lot of decorations…and I like to show them off, so if I am going to host something, it will be around Halloween, so people can be ooh and ahhh about what a great collection I have. And now I have added our Dia de los Muertos altar, so there is even more STUFF!

So, I thought about it and decided to invite some people over to play Pokeno…and it is tonight.


You don’t know what POKENO is?

You obviously don’t live in the suburbs of Texas!

Pokeno is a game that people (ok, women) play. I have never seen a man play POKENO…although I have seen them fight over dice during Couples Bunko. (another blog) Each player picks a card, very similar to a bingo card. On the card are random playing card faces. We all sit around and people take turns being the “caller.” If I was the caller I could say that we are going to make a T or do the second column on the card….then I would shuffle and flip through the deck of playing cards, calling them out. The rest of the players place chips on the card faces that are on their card as they are called. When they make the desired shape or column on their card, they call “POKENO.”

Every person who plays brings $5.00 cash and a wrapped gift that should cost about 10-15 dollars. The person who calls POKENO, gets to open one of the gifts and show everyone what they got. This continues until all the prizes are opened.

Then we take a break and eat and drink. I am making some Halloween themed foods: Bat Wings (Buffalo wings); Cat vomit dip (spinach dip); poached brain with coagulated sauce (cream cheese with Berry/jalapeño jam); Chopped Hansel Sandwiches (mini chicken salad sandwiches); Devil Eyeballs (deviled eggs). I still need to think up a name for a baked brie dish with apricots, pecans and jalapeños. TO DRINK: Witch’s brew (white wine sangria) and Zombies (no really, they are called Zombies) I have a cool Erlenmeyer flask that the Zombies will be served from. DESSERT: Spider web cake and Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater Bread (chocolate bundt cake and pumpkin bread) I will also have KEEL-OVER COFFEE (Keoke coffee…brandy, Kahlua and chocolate liquor with coffee and whipped cream)

After our break, we set the timer for a random period of time and we play again….this time…when you win, you get to steal a gift from someone. This goes on until the buzzer sounds. At that point it is time for BLACKOUT. Whoever is next in line (which really stinks) has to call the cards, and the object is to have a chip on every spot of your card. The first person who does this wins the cash.

Then there is more eating and drinking….

So…if you are in the neighborhood…come on by. The cool think about POKENO is you can play with any number…so there is always room for more!

Oh…and if you can think of a gross name for my baked brie dish with apricots, pecans and jalapeños dish, I would be obliged!

Monday, October 13, 2008

McPalin Haiku Hysteria

My friend Lisa sent me this link to People for the American Way's McPalin Haiku Hysteria . As you all know, I love a good Haiku...and have written some bad ones in my day as are some of the examples they have on their site.

McCain on judges:
“I like all the ones Bush picked.”
We're in trouble, now.

Driving our nation
Over a bridge to nowhere
Thats McCain-Palin

I am composing mine as we speak.

I can't help but wonder...what will we blog about when the election is over?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cell Phone Survey

So...our family currently has Verizon Cell Phones...4 of them. This Christmas, all but one of the contracts will be up and we are thinking of switching services. I desperately need a new phone! I have a Razor and it stinks beyond belief when it comes to texting...which is what I do most on my phone. The photo option is horrible! You wouldn't believe some of the bad bad pictures I have taken with this phone.

Fred and I went to AT&T the other day and I played with many of the "Berry" phones with QWERTY pads and I found the buttons too small. I also played with the iPhone which I really liked, except for the touch screen QWERTY. all of my technophiles out there....what kind of phone do you have? I want my phone mostly for text, but it does have to take pictures and, you know, make calls as well. I don't play on using it for the internet...but it would be nice to be able to access it once in a while. (What movie is playing right now)

So....what kind of phone do you have? Do you love it or hate it? How about your provider? Any serious issues, or do they all stink and charge too much? (especially once you are already in their grasp!)

Happy 21st Anniversary!


This time last year, Fred and I were lying in bed eating room service, sipping champagne and playing backgammon. But not every year can be the grand celebration we had last year. And not every year can be as tumultuous as this last one.

Fred and I have been married for 21 years and we know a few things about ourselves now. We know ourselves better as individuals and know what we can pull off as a couple. Not everyone could have survived the ups and downs that the last 21 years have seen....cross country moves, cancer, sickly children, unemployment, and the big one: teenagers. But Fred and I are good in a crisis. We are a good team.

So, happy anniversary sweetheart. I can't imagine living my life with anyone else but you.

Thanks for be my partner in crime and my cheering section. I love you!

Friday, October 3, 2008

What would happen if....

*Disclaimer...this is not a wish for anything bad to happen to McCain, just something we were talking about at work and I didn't know the answer. I am sure there is someone out there that has the knowledge I lack...

What would happen if.....

1) John McCain died before the election?

2) John McCain died before being sworn in?

Just wondering....and worrying!

Nora Ephron's take on the Debate...and listing calories.

Thanks to Huffington Post for keeping me informed and entertained!

The Graph and I by Nora Ephron

I tried to watch the vice presidential debate tonight but it wasn't easy. This was because I was forced to watch it on CNN. I happen to be an MSNBC junkie -- but the TV set was already tuned to CNN so that was pretty much that.

This was the first time I've watched a debate on CNN, and it turns out to have this graph running along the bottom of the screen, a graph that allegedly represents the moment-by-moment feelings of a group of supposedly independent voters in Columbus, Ohio, who sit, with some sort of electronic devices, and register their warmth or cool as the debate goes on.

Well, this is no way to watch a debate. It reminded me of this thing that's happened in New York City, which is that all restaurants with more than fourteen locations have to put on the menu the calorie count of each food item. This is an appalling development. It's hard enough to figure out what you want to order without someone explicitly telling you that you're going to drop dead if you eat it. But more important, I don't believe those calorie counts. Who knows how many calories there are in a grilled cheese sandwich? No one, that's who. But there it is, on the menu, in a grim black and white parenthetical, and it affects you, you can't help it, and as a result you end up not ordering the thing you wanted and instead ordering some stupid bowl of soup that barely gets you through till three in the afternoon.

Well this graph on CNN affected me, it affected me so much that I could barely focus on the debate, I was so busy watching the graph. I knew it was completely unreliable and irrelevant, and yet my heart sank and rose according to it. I sort of heard what the candidates were saying, but mostly I watched the orange (for women) and green (for men) lines rise and fall as each phrase was uttered. When Sarah Palin spoke and the lines went up, I felt irritable. When Joe Biden spoke and the lines went up, I felt happy. Don't get me started on Gwen Ifill.

Every so often Sarah Palin would say things like "darn right" and "bless their hearts" and "you betcha" and I noticed that the people in Columbus were unmoved by Palin's folksy expressions, at least according to the graph; this gave me faith in America. But then I reminded myself that the graph was probably as unreliable as the calorie count that caused me not to order what I really wanted to eat for lunch.

When the debate was over, we were all sad to realize that it had not been the exciting blood bath we were hoping for (I mean, let's admit it) but thrilled to hear that Biden was the winner. So I came home and celebrated: I had a grilled cheese sandwich (530 calories) (not really).