Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Those Who Forget History Are Doomed To Repeat It

As you know if you are one of my avid blog readers (and to the three of you - thanks!), you know that Tom and I are in the middle of a Stargate Marathon, catching up via DVD with all the old seasons. This is how we spend our evenings. We are such party animals. I know you are jealous.

There was an interesting episode we watched the other night. Through a series of scientific mistakes (those wacky scientists!), one of the main characters was cloned but actually created as a 15-year old instead of a baby, with all the memories and experiences of the adult person who was cloned. The end of the story showed them sending him off to high school to continue his life all over again. It was the only thing they could do because the original person still existed as well. Of course, his life would be different from that point on since he would have different experiences.

But all I could think was, Oh My God. That would be HORRIBLE. I would hate to be 15 again and have to live my life again. He had no family so that was not an issue, whereas that would be the biggest problem for me because it would tear me up to have to leave my family behind. But even if that were not an issue. I would NOT want to be 15 again. Let's see, I was a sophomore in high school then. My high school years were not an incredibly painful experience like they were for some people. I was not really popular, but I had friends and a pretty good life. I had a boyfriend. Although I did admire Pete Hansen, the captain of the football team. I wonder what he's doing now? Probably some fat, bald guy who I wouldn't know if I passed him on the street. And he wouldn't recognize me either because I look so fabulous. Of course, he didn't recognize me then, so this would be no different.

I certainly would not want my 15 year old body. I was way too skinny and had acne on my forhead, which I kept carefully covered with bangs, which of course exacerbated the acne. I could stand to lose 20 pounds - OK, 30 (shut up!) but I certainly wouldn't want to be that skinny again. I'd like to have...mmmmm...my 35 year old body, I think. And I wouldn't mind getting rid of a few wrinkles and this extra chin I have starting. But no. Not 15.

Think how frustrating it would be to know everything you know now but be only 15? You would already know most of what your teachers were trying to teach you. And, I just thought of how horrible this would be - I would have to take Geometry and Algebra again. Just kill me now. But this time around, I would make sure I paid attention and passed French my Junior year. Summer school was a real pain, especially when I couldn't go to the beach and one of my friends stole my surfer boyfriend. God, I sound like Gidget! But I did have a surfer boyfriend, I swear. His name was Herbie. That kind of takes away from the whole surfer aura, doesn't it?

And, man! I would be a virgin again. I would certainly be a little more careful this time about how I lost that. Not the best experience, in hindsight. Oh yeah, hi mom! Enough details about THAT.

I wonder if I would make the same choices, knowing what I know now? If I didn't go to the same college, I would live someplace completely different. If I didn't pledge my sorority, I wouldn't make the friends I still have today. If I didn't go on that blind date, I wouldn't meet my beloved husband. So it would be really hard to change anything. But also hard to keep everything the same. If you know anything about time travel, you know when you change one little thing, it changes everything. And can cause a paradox.

So I don't know what I would do if I was 15 again. But I do know one thing. The most important thing of all.

I would invest in Google. Lots and lots and lots of Google.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Caffeine Withdrawal Recognized as Disorder

I like me some o' that caffeine. I usually have a Diet Mountain Dew for breakfast (I know, I know. But it's no different from a cup of coffee, right?), something similar with my lunch and dinner, and often another one with a snack. So, always three and sometimes four or even more. I KNOW I drink too much pop. Too much caffeine. Too much artificial sweetener and whatever other chemicals and crap they stir into those lovely tasting, sparkly, addictive drinks. I KNOW I should drink more water.

But Tom came in last night and casually mentioned that he had seen a news report that more people who drink caffeinated drinks have heart problems than those that don't. Now, as you know, we are planning to retire in a couple of years. It would not be good to keel over with a stroke and die before I can actually enjoy my retirement. I knew he was probably right, but I did a little research. And, let me just tell you, it's a little scary. One cup a day increases the risk of heart attack by 24%. Two - three cups increase it by 67%. And four or more cups increase it by 133%. 133% people. Those are not very good odds. And that's just a CUP of coffee - there is more than a cup in a can of pop.

So, I decided I was going to have to cut back on the caffeine. I wasn't crazy enough to give it up completely because I knew there would be some withdrawal. I have had a caffeine headache before when, for some reason, I couldn't get my fix and I wasn't looking forward to it. It's a little embarrassing to admit that I have an addiction (and not a harmless one like my shoe addiction) but there it is. I am Mrs. Who. And I am addicted to diet pop. I decided to start having water for dinner. That's pretty easy.

The first morning I woke up with a headache. That's not uncommon for me since I get sinus headaches and migraines often, so I took some medicine and went on my merry way. Especially merry once I had my Diet Mountain Dew.

Then, this morning. I woke up with a headache. Quite a pounder. But I also felt nauseated, achy and just generally kind of funny. I had to get some lab work done, just as part of my annual physical, so I couldn't eat or drink anything. That compounded the problem. By the time I got to the clinic, I felt awful. I took some headache medicine, but it wasn't helping. I knew in advance I would need an immediate infusion of pop right after the lab work, so I had a container of ice and a Diet Mountain Dew in my car. AS SOON as I got in the car, I poured out that sucker and gulped it down. Felt better pretty quickly.

As soon as I got to school, I did a little more research. This will be a little more complicated than I thought. But I'm glad I decided to do it.

"Caffeine is the world's most commonly used stimulant, and it's cheap and readily available so people can maintain their use of caffeine quite easily," says Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins. "The latest research demonstrates, however, that when people don't get their usual dose they can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating. They may even feel like they have the flu with nausea and muscle pain."

This is crazy and a little scary. And now I'm definitely cutting back. But I think I'll cut out lunch pop instead of dinner pop. Going from lunch the day before to breakfast the next morning is just too long. My body simply can't take it. And, typing that, I feel like a crack cocaine whore. But I'm going to take 12 hours at a time. And, when I'm adjusted to that, I'll cut out the dinner pop.

I don't think I want to be a junkie anymore.

Check it out if you are a caffeine junkie too.



Friday, July 27, 2007

First Date

Flash Back Friday

I've been writing and thinking a lot lately about memory loss. It is annoying that I have forgotten so much of my life.

But I do remember a few things. It's funny how they stand out in my memory.

I remember the first date with my husband, so I thought it would be interesting to have him write his perspective on our first date and then post them together to see the different points of views. Interesting and funny. But, when I asked him, he didn't remember enough details to write about it. He DIDN'T REMEMBER!

But I do. It was a blind date. Actually, I found out later that he had seen me at a fraternity party, but I had never seen him. So I guess it was half of a blind date. I was working at Walden Book Store at the mall and he picked me up there. He walked in. Oh. My. God. He was wearing yellow pants. And a flowered shirt. And shoes with big heels. (Giving him the benefit of the doubt, it WAS 1975. But still.) He also had the bluest eyes I have ever seen. The same eyes our grandson has now.

We were going to see "Jaws" (the first one) but we had some time, so we sat by the fountain in the mall and we talked. I'll never forget it. He told me a story about old Buck and the one and only horseback riding experience he had ever had. They neglected to tell him that old Buck fell down a lot. He had me laughing so hard I almost peed in my pants. And that was long before I had children, became middle-aged and actually, occasionally, do pee in my pants a little when I laugh hard.

We had a great time together. I ended up almost in his lap at the movie, I was so terrified. I guess he probably liked that. We got pizza for dinner. We made plans to see each other the next day. We were never really apart after that.

And he still makes me laugh. Every day.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It's Not the Prom, But...

In 1970, I was 17 years old. I was excited about the most FABULOUS event of my life, up to that point. The prom. My mom made me a Scarlett O'Hara dress, white lace with a very full skirt, fitted to my tiny, tiny (tiny) waist and with a pink velvet ribbon that tied in the back. I had big (big) hair twisted up in curls, intertwined with matching pink velvet ribbon. I was wonderful. I was THE BOMB. Sigh.

And now I'm going to tell you about the most exciting event in my life this week. Redoing my bathroom. That's right. I lead the most exciting life of ANY LIVING HUMAN BEING. But, seriously, though. New towels? New baskets? A NEW KLEENEX HOLDER. Catch me, I'm fainting.

I had to do SOMETHING. We bought a new bed last week. And, wow, did you know new beds are really expensive? Well, they are. We got rid of our water bed we have had for (ahem) a few years (25) so we haven't bought a new bed in quite some time. We knew we wanted an oak sleigh bed to matching our existing bedroom suite and we knew we wanted a big ole huge, comfy mattress. So, we got all that. But it TOTALLY used up my budget for the entire bedroom. So, no new carpet and paint. Tom took the purse strings, tied them into a double knot and slapped at my scrabbling hands as I tried to spend more money. So I was reduced to fixing up the bathroom as economically as possible. And finding a new comforter as economically as possible. So, you know how everyone talks about Target and how fabulous it is? Well, it TOTALLY is. I got everything I needed for less than...well, never mind. Tom reads this. And he might get a little tiny stroke if he finds out what I paid for a Kleenex holder and some baskets.

But it TOTALLY transformed the bathroom. OK, I may be getting just a little carried away with TOTALLY today. But, really. It did. Look. Here's the old bathroom. I didn't even clean it beforehand, so you could get the full effect of the transformation!

Now, look! Wouldn't you get carried away with saying TOTALLY also?

This may not compare to a prom. But new baskets! A new picture on the wall! Flowers! Hey. I take my excitement where I can get it these days.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Back to School

I am back at work today. School librarians go back earlier than classroom teachers here in our neck of the woods.

For almost twenty years, my life has been regulated by the school year. Back to school, Halloween (but not anymore - we can't MENTION that in a public school), Thanksgiving, Christmas (I mean winter break - heaven help us if we wish someone a Merry Christmas), a couple of snow days (if we are lucky), Spring Break, then students running out the door on the last hot, sunny day of school. The days fly by. And then it begins again.

Tom and I will be retiring in a couple of years. The school calendar will become meaningless. Our lives will be measured by holidays spent with our family and planned vacations. Even the clock will become meaningless as we won't have to set it to get up to go to work ever again. We might possibly have to set it to catch an early plane to some tropical island. I think we can handle that. No problem.

This is a strange concept for me. I can't imagine what it will be like. We have both worked since we were 16. Even through college, we both worked. I stayed home for a few years with my children but, even then, I worked part-time. Our grandparents and parents always worked. They raised us that way. With a strong work ethic. Both our children have always worked. We have worked our whole lives. And now...we won't.

When August comes and the back to school sales begin, I won't feel that rush of excitement that a new school year brings. New students, new plans, new ideas to try, new books to order for the library, everything new and fresh. Teaching is the only job I can think of where we get a new beginning every single year. But no more.

I'm not sure how I will feel when that first August rolls around and the kids go back to school and I don't. I'm really not sure.

But I'm pretty sure I'm ready to find out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Egg Makes Break For Freedom: News at 11

We usually have a big, hot breakfast on the weekends. During the week, I leave for work before Tom and we each normally have something quick and easy. So we enjoy a hot breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday morning, I put on some country ham to fry, set the bread in the toaster ready to toast and got the eggs out of the refrigerator. I took out the ham, sprayed the frying pan with Pam and cracked one of the eggs.

Then it happened. The GREAT ESCAPE. I cracked the egg like I always do, gently on the counter, and the entire egg SLITHERED from the shell, completely intact. It landed halfway on the counter and halfway to the stove, right across the seam which separates the two. For a moment, I stood, dumbfounded. I have never seen an egg do that. Some of the white might slip out of the shell or a couple of drips might escape, but never an entire egg. While I was staring at it, it quickly began to slide into the seam between the stove and the counter. It was like some gelatinous, alien entity, making an escape. I dropped the shell and began scrabbling at the slimy mass with both hands, trying to keep it from sliding completely down into the crack. It was determined. Slipping between my fingers, some of it oozed down the crack. With the fingers of one hand (ewwww...it's getting under my nails) I kept pushing it back and with the other hand, and reached for the paper towels with the other hand. Further...further...ha, got one! I smooshed the paper towel into the egg and began the cleaning up process.

It took several paper towels, including one wet one to completely clean up the mess, before the area was again free of oozy aliens. I guess I'll have to pull the stove out later and get the part that escaped. I just hope it can't recreate itself from the part that oozed away. What, you haven't seen any science fiction movies?

I'm looking forward to lunch. How much harm can a tuna sandwich do?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Do You Feel Lucky? Well, DO YOU PUNK?

Flash Back Friday

When my daughter was in high school, she hurt her wrist. I can't remember how she did it. I remember she gave herself a mild concussion by slamming her head on the tampon dispenser in the bathroom (and, oh, what a lot of laughs we have gotten from that story!) but I can't remember how she hurt her wrist.
They called me from her school and I went and picked her up and took her to the emergency room. The wrist was pretty swollen, she was in pain and I was thinking an x-ray would be an excellent idea. When we finally reached the check-in desk, the receptionist called our pediatrician to confirm that she could, indeed be treated but, here's the kicker. The woman she spoke to said we had to go to the pediatrician's office first. Before they would do the x-ray. She hung up and informed me of this.

"Are...are you sure?" I stammered. I couldn't believe it. I had to drive across town before they would fix her wrist? But, being the good and obedient person that I am, who bows before authority, I bundled my crying daughter into the car and we drove across town.

We were seen immediately. As the doctor was examining her wrist, she said casually "Why didn't you just go to the emergency room?" I stared at her, stunned. "I was told we had to come here!". "Oh, no", she replied. "That was a mistake. You should have been seen at the hospital."

I could literally feel my mothering instinct sweeping over my body, like an alien invader taking over as puppetmaster. "Well, who told them that at the hospital?" I inquired politely, not letting her know the heated anger that was raging through my body. "It must have been our receptionist", she replied. And she sent us to yet another location to be x-rayed.

But on the way out, I stopped by the office. "Who?" I asked in a deadly calm voice, "Who did I just talk to on the phone who told me we had to come to this office from the hospital?" One of the women in the office looked up. "Oh, that was me. Ha, ha, my mistake."

And the heated angry alien mother let her have it. I yelled at her that I had just driven my daughter all the way across town with a broken wrist (actually, sprained, but we didn't know that then) and it was all her fault and she should know her job better than that.

The office was right by the waiting room. It was full of parents and children. They were all watching. I didn't care. I don't care.

I'm still glad I yelled at her.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Summer In The City

Here is a schedule for my typical day when I am working.

1. Get to school at 7:00 a.m. to meet the students who put on the morning show.

2. Teach a kindergarten class.

3. Work on a book order.

4. Teach a fifth grade class.

5. Shelve some books.

6. Teach a third grade class.

7. Help a teacher pull some materials for a lesson.

8. Have lunch.

9. Teach a first grade class.

10. Work on the school web pages.

11. Teach a second grade class.

12. Help with bus duty.

13. Stay after school for a committee meeting.

14. Go to another school for a district librarian's meeting.

15. Go home. Tidy the house, do a load of laundry, make dinner, clean the kitchen.

Here is my schedule for a typical summer day.

1. Sleep until I am ready to get up.

2. Wander into the kitchen in my pajamas and have some breakfast, while reading my book.

3. Check my email.

4. Work on my blog. Read my blogs.

5. Read for a little while.

6. Try to decide whether I should get dressed.

7. Decide not to.

8. Have some lunch.

9. Read some more.

10. Try to decide whether to go to the Y and exercise.

11. Decide not to.

12. Read some more.

13. Check my email. Write a blog post

14. Read some more.

15. Decide I should probably get dressed before Tom gets home.

16. Take a leisurely bath and get dressed.

17. Make a light dinner.

18. Watch TV until bedtime.

19. Go to bed.

20. Do not set the alarm.

I have to go back to school in a week. Sigh. I love summer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Washing Hands and Chocolate Pudding. Not Necessarily In That Order.

Art Class is over for the Summer. Wes and I went to the last class on Friday. So, here's a little pictorial history lesson to help you share the whole experience with our little Van Gogh. And me.

They had smocks for the little guys to wear. Our little guy was a little too little for the smock. One of the funniest things all week was when we were singing our animals of the forest song, which we sang every day until the lyrics were drilled into my freakin' skull...uh, I mean, until we just enjoyed ourselves so much! The last day we sang the song, Wes really got into it. As soon as we started singing, his head started bobbing. And you know in Flashdance that scene where she is dancing her feet so fast and so hard, it just makes you tired? Yeah, his feet started doing that. If only I had a video of it. Because I know you don't believe me. But I swear. It happened.

When we went outside to fly our kites, someone accidentally squeezed their keys in their purse and set off their car alarm. Wes is trying to figure out who the dodo was who did this. That could totally happen to anyone. I'm just saying.

Wes kept trying to make Mimi stroke out by persisting in trying to draw with a sharp pencil. Finally, Mimi hid the pencils and told him they were "all gone!". Please don't tell him. I will lose all credibility.

One of the most fun activities was painting with colored shaving cream. Until Wes realized it was stuck to his hands. We had to make an emergency trip to the bathroom to wash our hands. Like, RIGHT NOW, Mimi. Get this crap OFF ME!! Which was fine, because in all actuality? I think he enjoyed the hand washing in the little kid bathroom more than any of the art projects combined. It would have saved me a lot of money if we had just gone to the Center and washed our hands every day.

On the last day of class, we had a special treat which consisted of chocolate pudding and crushed oreo cookies to simulate dirt with gummy worms stuck in it. A fitting end to our forest animals unit. The teacher put the rest of the oreo cookies in a bag. Wes knew they were in that bag. He wanted more. He pointed an accusing finger at the bag and looked at me. "Kee-kees." He said it very clearly. The boy is a genius. I'm already looking forward to next summer.
The accusingly pointed finger.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

One More Day

Have you heard that country song "One More Day", by Diamond Rio?

I just heard it on the radio today and it got me to thinkin'.

What if I had just one more day? What would I do?

I would want to see my friends one more time. I would like to go out to eat with them and sit around and talk and eat and drink lemon drops and laugh. And I would want to hug them and tell them I love them and I care so much about their lives and their health and their happiness. I think they know. I hope so. I would want to make sure.

I would want to spend time with my whole family. I would want to sit and laugh and talk and listen to my mom tell stories and enjoy all the girls being silly and talking a mile a minute. And tell my sister and my sister-in-law how much I value them and how they are my very best friends. I think they know. I hope so. I would want to make sure.

I would want to spend time with my immediate family. I would want to cook a meal they all like and make an ice cream pie and sit and eat and talk about books and movies and their lives and laugh out loud. I would want to tell my children and my son-in-law how much I love them and how they are the absolute center of my life and, without them, my life would be an empty, hollow and very lonely shell. And I would want to hold my grandson and kiss his soft blonde hair and read him a book and play with a ball with him because I know he loves that. And I would tell him how much I love him and how much he has enriched my life. I think they know. I hope so. I would want to make sure.

I would want to be with my husband in Alaska, because that is his absolute favorite place. We would be on the ship when we saw the whales because he was so excited his eyes were that sparkly blue they get and he was so glad he was there with me. And I would tell him that he is my very best friend and lover and I like being with him more than anyone in the world. I think he knows. I hope so. I would want to make sure.

I don't think one more day is going to be enough to do all that.

So, God willing. I hope I will have more than that.

One more day, one more time;

One more sunset, maybe I'd be satisfied;

But then again, I know what it would do;

Leave me wishing still for one more day with you.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Just A Few Strawberries

So, I had a late breakfast today. I just wasn't really hungry when I got up, so I waited a little while and made some scrambled eggs and a chocolate VitaMuffin (which, seriously? Order some.). I didn't really want much lunch, but I thought I would want a little bit of something. So, while I was out running around, I thought, oh, you know what? I have some of those little containers of cottage cheese. And that would be such a nice, light lunch with some fresh strawberries. So, I stopped at the store to get some fresh strawberries to slice and have with some cottage cheese.

And I spent $47.00.


How does that happen? Well, here's how.

1. OK, got the strawberries. Wait, maybe I should get some lettuce. I can make that blue cheese lettuce wedge salad that Tom likes for dinner. Now, I need blue cheese dressing, crumbled blue cheese and bacon bits. And tomato.

2. Ooooooh. Those avocados look good. Those would be really nice sliced for lunch. I think I'll get a couple. Ooooooh, fresh watermelon. That would be so good.

3. Maybe that's not quite enough for lunch. What about some of that good confetti slaw they have in the deli? OK. Hmmmm. That seafood salad looks good. And the Thai chicken salad too. And, ooooh, I love their pimento cheese. But I need some crackers to spread that pimento cheese on.

4. Ooooh, cereal. I'm out of cereal. I think I'll try this kind too. I don't like to have just one kind of cereal.

5. Oh, yeah, I need hamburger buns. And bread. And some milk. Let me see? Anything else?

6. $47.00??????

And that's just how it happens.

Friday, July 13, 2007

They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

Flashback Friday Post

We were watching some show the other night where they were filming a bullfight. The toreador swirled his cape, danced around gracefully, enticing the bull to charge him. Then he plunged in a pick, holding another ready in his other hand. The blood flowed. I turned my eyes away. "I hate bull fights" I said. They are always offered as an option for tourists visiting Mexico. Never for me. Never. "I hate them. I know they are a tradition in Mexico, but I hate that they kill the bull".

Tom's head snapped to the side when I said that. "What? They kill them? I didn't know they killed the bull." He, like many other Americans, thought bull fights were just the matador dancing with the bull, playing with him, entertaining the crowd. No. They kill them. That's what they do. The bull never leaves the ring alive once he enters it. He is dragged out.

When we were in Cancun a few years ago, the group we were with was transported to a rodeo. I hate rodeos. Long ago, rodeos were about real cowboys taming real broncs, riding real wild bulls. Even though some kindness would have been a better way to tame broncs, at least it was real. Modern day rodeos are just an exhibition of cruelty to animals. Have you ever been to one? Have you ever noticed that strap around the horse's hindquarters? That's called a "buck strap" and it forces them to buck because they are trying desperately to get it off.

I didn't want to go because, not only were we going to a rodeo, we were going to a rodeo in Mexico and I dreaded what we might see. But it was a work-related outing and we didn't have a choice. I reasoned that it was for tourists and probably wouldn't be bad.

Everyone filed into the seats and rodeo began. It really wasn't bad until one of the "wild mustangs" - actually some underfed, ungroomed small horses - were ridden into the enclosure. The horse was frantic and began bucking frenziedly. He was so hysterical that he came down on one hoof wrong and, with a loud snap everyone in the audience could hear, his leg broke.

The rider jumped off and they led him out of the enclosure, limping. His leg was dangling crookedly. The audience was quiet. A minute later, a voice came over the intercom, assuring us that the horse would be fine, they had a vet on staff, he would be fine, they would take care of it. Everyone in the audience heaved a sigh of relief. Except me.

I knew very well they would not shoot that horse until everyone was gone. Even the naive Americans would know what it meant if they heard a shot. They would wait until we were gone. And the shot would sound. And the little horse would fall.

I still think about that horse, limping out of the ring with his broken leg dangling.

It is a memory I would love to erase.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Can You Get There From Here?

I was just reading an article in the July issue of O Magazine called "You're Middle-Aged But Are You Done? Discuss". The author, Caitlin Flanagan, got a group of middle-aged women together to take stock of their lives and discuss them. The women all had different takes on the way their lives had turned out, but one of the things I found the most interesting was the questions Flanagan used to get the discussions started. I found myself answering them.

1. When you were 18, what did you imagine your future would look like? How close does your life today come to that vision? I imagined I would be a teacher, happily married with children and grand-children, living in a nice house. Pretty darn close to my life now. I'm very lucky and I never take it for granted.

2. What is the one piece of advice you wish you'd been given as a young person? Don't change your major in college. Stay in education. It's really what you want to do and, instead of becoming a teacher/librarian at 36, you can do it at 21 and have SO many more years in the system when you retire.

3. What was the best money you ever spent? The money we spent on our first cruise for our 20th anniversary. Tom never wanted to vacation before that - never felt the appeal - but he loves it now. It has literally changed our lives. We will be traveling until we can't get around. And maybe we will push each other in a wheelchair even then!

4. What was your biggest financial mistake - the complete waste of money that haunts you to this day? All the money we wasted when we were first married. We didn't save, we didn't invest, we just wasted money paying on credit cards and doing other stupid things. We should have planned better.

5. Is sex with your husband a pleasure to savor or just one more item to check off your to-do list? If the latter, when did that change take place - and do you actually care? Since my daughter AND my mother read this blog, I'll just say a pleasure to savor. Enough said.

6. What has been the best surprise about married life? And the worst? I never realized how close we would become when our children grew up and left home. We are best friends now. But it's a real pain to have to cook dinner some nights when I would be happy with a bowl of cereal.

7. What is the best thing about being a woman? The worst? My friends. I love spending time with them, talking to them, sharing things with them. Men don't seem to have that same experience. The worst was first having periods, then going through menopause. Both are a real pain. Literally.

8. At this point in your life, is there a dream you will never get to fulfill? What is it - and what makes you so sure it's out of reach? I don't think I am ever going to write a book, which I had kind of always thought I would. I like to write, but I just don't think I am talented enough to describe the characters and the settings. Just don't think it's going to happen. Although you never know. Who knew a year ago that I would be writing a blog?

What about you? How would you answer these questions? Share in your comments if you want, of send me a link to your blog. I'm interested.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Maybe We Shouldn't Call MENSA After All

So, Wes and I have been going to ART CLASS. I think that totally needed to be in capitol letters, because really. Art class. With a toddler. How fancy can ya get? With his mom's approval, I signed him for an art class at the Living Arts and Sciences Center which is kind of like yuppie central for classes for children. I have longed to take my children to classes there for years but seriously. $60 for a week long class? When my children were small, that might as well have been $6,000. It was that far from our financial capability.

Now that we have a grandson, $60 is nothing. We spend that much on kee-kees (cookies, you nit) for him in a week. OK, not really. His mom already thinks we give him too many kee-kees at our house. But we don't. (yes, we do.)

So. ART CLASS. I was totally naive the first day because, well, wouldn't you be? Here's the description of the class:
64. Our Forest Friends With Michelle Newby Armstrong We will learn about the different animals that live in the forest through art, stories, songs, and games. We will learn about plants and insects from the forest, too.Ages 18 - 24 mo + Parent 9 - 10 am $50(m), $60(nm).

So, I'm thinking, like stories and games and stuff. And maybe some coloring with crayons? I was going to lunch with a friend after the class so I had on a darling (of course) green capri set with matching green shoes (but you knew that) and was made up and primped up and good to go for a chick lunch outing. And then they got out the paint and the paper and the glue sticks. Crap. I managed to hold him at arm's length while we dipped the leaves into paint and not get any on me. The other mothers who were dressed casually in jeans and t-shirts (and $1,000 diamond bracelets) gazed disdainfully down their noses at me. I could see they were wondering just what kind of grandmother I was all DRESSED UP for ART CLASS.

I got smart the next day and dressed much more casually. Good thing. Because she got out the paint and THE PAINT BRUSHES. God. But it was OK. Wes grasped the paintbrush and dipped it into the blue paint, all ready to paint his plant pot we were planting with flower seeds, oh so natural and talented. My heart was swelling with love for this natural little artist, so ready to paint his little clay pot. He is such a genius. Maybe he will grow up to be a famous painter. I can see it now. His artwork will hang in museums and I will go visit and hang out by the framed, famous works, and casually examine my fingernails and say "Oh, me? I'm just the artist's grandmother. I took him to his first ART CLASS, you know. It's thanks TO ME that he is famous and rich now."

He held up the paint brush, dripping with bright blue paint, getting ready to dab the pot and create a masterpiece.

Then, he stuck the paintbrush in his mouth and attempted to eat the blue paint.

I bet his mom never even noticed. I'm sure I got it all washed off. Except that little bit in his hair. Never be noticed. I'm sure.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

And Now It's Summer

I finally made it to the Farmer's Market. Every summer, I think I'm going to go to the Farmer's Market every day they are open and I'm going to buy all these lovely fresh fruits and vegetables and we are going to have them for all our meals and the heavens will open up and a hallelujah chorus will sound because I am the best, the healthiest, the more phenomenal person in the whole universe.

And then I don't make it there. I forget that it's the right day. Or I find I'm too busy to get there. And if you don't get there before early afternoon, forget it. They have packed up and gone home. And I still think that is dumb. Why don't they stay there until, like 6 or 7? Doesn't it seem logical they would sell a whole lot to people who are heading home from work? But, apparently, it just doesn't work like that. I stopped one day at about 4 and the parking lot was empty except for some corn husks and a discarded candy bar wrapper. Probably from someone who stopped to buy fresh vegetables and had to resort to junk food in desperation.

But I finally made it! And I bought tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, new potatoes, a cantaloupe and a watermelon. That was quite a workout getting to my car, let me just tell you. The watermelon may have just possibly been one thing too many. But I managed. I went home for lunch and sliced some tomatoes and put them on a plate with some cottage cheese and put some cut up watermelon in a bowl and that was lunch.

The tomatoes were still warm where they had been sitting in the sun on the farmer's stand. They smelled like sun and fresh air. I took one bite and that warm, red, rich, tart taste filled my mouth.

And it was the taste...of summer.

Monday, July 9, 2007

What Happened to Plain Coffee?

I hate coffee. Seriously. I hate the smell of coffee brewing. I think it smells like someone has set the drapes on fire. Not just any drapes, but those old drapes that had that weird fiberglass lining. It's a sharp, strong smell that I put up with on the weekend mornings because my husband loves coffee. He's in a rush on the weekdays so he doesn't take the time to make coffee, but he likes it on the weekends. During the week, he normally goes to McDonald's to get coffee. Or at least, he used to.

He has taken a few days off work, along with the 4th of July, so we went out to breakfast and went shopping for a new bed. After breakfast, he announced he wanted to go by Starbucks to get some coffee. I knew someone he works with had introduced him to Starbucks and he sometimes went there for coffee. He had come home one afternoon with a cup of something he insisted I try - "It's great, you'll love it, it has caramel in it!" "Well, is it...COFFEE?" "Yes, but it's good, it's great, it's delicious, it doesn't even TASTE like coffee!"

He was so insistent that I tasted it and then immediately had to go rinse my mouth out with water. It did, indeed, taste like coffee. Sweet, caramely coffee. But coffee nonetheless. He was puzzled and little hurt that I didn't immediately gush about how fabulous it was and run right out to Starbucks and get one for myself.

So, we went to the Starbucks drive through. And this is what he ordered. With no trace of embarrassment at all. A Grande Non-Fat Marble Mocha Macchiato, Stirred. Apparently, the stirred part is important. Otherwise the marble swirling is too concentrated and you can get a big mouthful of espresso. Which is not a good thing. He used to stir it himself and then his Starbucks friends told him they could stir it for him. So, now he orders it pre-stirred. He took his Starbucks cup with the little brown cardboard holder on it, so you won't burn your hand, and he sighed in contentment. I, on the other hand, was EXTREMELY amused.

Tom is not a snob. He has raved for years about "the yuppies" this and that and how I like to eat at yuppie restaurants and how I am such a yuppie and how the yuppies are taking over the world and how he is so not a yuppie.

And as he sat there drinking his Grande Non-Fat Marble Mocha Macchiato, Stirred, I thought "You are SO totally a yuppie. A super yuppie. You know what. You are the King of the Yuppies!" I didn't say anything. Because he didn't care if he was now a yuppie. He had his Starbucks coffee. And he was happy.

Friday, July 6, 2007

I Could Have...

First thing - I was reviewed at Ask and Ye Shall Receive today. Got an average review. I was prepared to be slaughtered, so that's OK.

I was reading my sister's blog the other day and she had a meme with eight things about her. The one that got me to thinking was the one about her dogs. My family was always a bunch of animal lovers. My brothers and my sister all have animals and even my children and my nieces all have animals. Tom and I are just about the only ones that don't have animals. I had dogs and cats when I was younger and I even had a cat when we got married. But Tom has allergies and is simply not an animal lover, so that's something that was just put aside. At this point in my life, I am fine with it. We find ourselves traveling a lot and I have my house fixed the way I want it and, frankly, I'm a little too fastidious to have animals in my home now. I cleaned up dog poop and cat vomit for years and thought nothing about it but now I don't really want to deal with that.

But, here's the thing. It got me to thinking about how my life might have been different if I had married someone who loved animals.

One of my favorite movies is Sliding Doors, with Gwyneth Paltrow. The basic premise is that she catches the train and her life turns out one way; she doesn't catch the train and her life turns out a completely different way. One tiny event. Big changes. I think about that often, how a person's life could be so different.

I could have had animals if I had married someone who loved animals. We would have dogs and cats in our house, I am sure of it. I would love them and deal with them and I wouldn't think anything about it. We would have just always had animals and my life would not be any different. I would not know it could be any different.

I could have camped and owned an RV if I married someone different. One of my good friends and her husband own a big RV and travel the country in it. Tom and I were talking about it the other night and just laughed at how awful it would be. We like hotels. We like flying. But, I camped when I was younger. I can camp. I can cook over a campfire. I could travel in an RV and live in it and cook in it and see the country and I would not know any different. I would have been fine with it.

I could have been more active if I had married someone who enjoyed that. I never really liked organized sports but I could have hiked and run and learned archery, although I would never, in any of my lives, have done sky-diving. Although, who knows. Maybe I wouldn't be afraid of heights in another life.

I could have been a gardener if I had married someone who liked gardening. I could have a vegetable garden and a flower garden for cut flowers and I could have canned vegetables for the winter. If I had someone who was into that.

There are probably other things I could have done. Would have done if I had married someone else.

But here's the important thing. The things that I did, the life that I chose, the man that I married - have all made me the person I am today. I don't have animals but I have the children he lovingly gave me and raised with me. (Yes, they also involved quite a bit of poop and vomit clean up.) I don't go camping or travel in an RV, but we fly around the world and cruise and I have seen an iceberg and climbed a waterfall. We don't camp but we have stayed in a luxury hotel in New York City and a Victorian bed and breakfast in Seattle. We are not very active but we enjoy movies and TV and the computer. Together. And we are are going to get active. Very soon. We keep promising each other. I don't have a garden or plant flowers but that's mainly because I'm lazy. Not because he is not remotely interested in that.

So, it's interesting to think about. I could have done a lot of things differently if I had married someone else.

But then. Here's another thing. So could he. He could come up with his own list of things he could have done differently. But I'm really glad he did things the way he did. And married me. I wouldn't change a thing. Even if I could.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Pirate Buns

I honestly don't know what sororities are like these days. My sorority no longer has a chapter at my university, I'm not active in the alumni group anymore and I no longer have kids in college. So I don't know exactly how rush is handled. If they still have rush parties and skits. I guess they do. There has to be some way to impress those college freshmen with how absolutely fabulous the sorority is. In half an hour or less. We had to really impress them in a short amount of time. So we put on skits. Musical skits.

We got scripts from the head honchos, who had taken real plays and made them into our own sorority versions. I don't know how musical the other sororities were but we were the singin' sorority (although I couldn't sing) and all our skits were musicals. I LOVED performing (even though I couldn't sing) so I was generally in the skits. In hindsight, I guess as I was belting out the songs, the others just sang a little louder to drown me out.

One fall we put on our own version of "Peter Pan". I wasn't talented enough (in case you didn't get it yet - I can't sing) to be one of the stars but I was one of the pirates. Although I can remember a lot of the songs we sang, I can't remember the pirate song. But I do have a very distinct memory of that time.

We were practicing in the basement. It was summer so we all had on shorts and, at one point in the song, we had to bend over, pick up our swords and brandish them. (yes, we were seriously on our way to Broadway) Every time we bent over to pick up the swords, a couple of sorority sisters who were watching the practice would laugh hysterically and whisper something. I couldn't quite hear what they were saying. Pirate...something. Pirate...ones? Pirate...funs?

I never would have figured it out. And then, kindly (because we were sorority sisters and we did actually like each other - most of us), someone finally told me the truth.

Because these were the days before skin cancer became the buzzwords of the day and nobody in their right mind put on sunblock (the only lotion we rubbed on while sunbathing was to encourage a deeper, darker tan), I had a beautiful, golden tan. My long, slim (sigh) legs were darkly tanned. But when I leaned over, my white short shorts (again, sigh) were riding up so you could see my white buns which had been hidden by my bathing suit.

So, pirate buns. They were saying pirate buns. Every time I bent over, I was showing my pirate buns. I'm not sure whether it is more embarrassing that my buns where so white they were creating a spectacle or that my shorts were so short, I was showing them when I bent over.

Anyway. I'm sure they were just jealous of my singing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Now What Was I Going to Do?

My nose was really stuffed up last night. Allergies, I guess. So, I got up from the computer and headed back to the bathroom to get some allergy medicine. On my way back there, I decided I might as well change into my pajamas because we would be starting the nightly Stargate Marathon soon. So, I put on my pajamas and came back to the computer.

Damn. I forgot the allergy medicine. So I went back down the hall and saw that Wes had left a toy car by the door of his room. I'll just put that away so I don't trip over it in the night. I put it away and picked up a few toys, then came back to the computer and sat down.

Damn. The allergy medicine. So I went back down the hall to the bathroom and noticed I had left my retainers out and they really needed to be washed and put away. So I did that and saw my chewable calcium in the drawer and remembered I had forgotten to take that, so I took some and came back to the computer.

Daaaaaaaamn. I forgot the allergy medicine again. I got up to get it and the phone rang. I answered it, talked to a friend for a few minutes about plans to get together for lunch next week and that's so nice, I'm glad she called. I want to hear all about her vacation and...

Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn. Allergy medicine. I went down the hall and into the bathroom and got the allergy medicine and took some. Finally.

Now. Where did I leave my glasses?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


He wakes up crying from his nap so I go in to get him and, when he sees me, he stands up in the crib, holds up his arms and says "Mimi." It's the first time he has said it so clearly. My heart breaks into a million silvery pieces that fly away but one lodges in my throat and chokes me and brings hot tears to my eyes.

I pick him up and his blonde, downy head lays down on my shoulder. It's heavy and warm. He's not quite awake. I go in the family room and sit in the recliner and rock him a little bit to wake him up. But he's not ready to wake up. He tucks in close and nestles his head against my breast and his hand drifts lightly, softly against my other breast and falls open like a soft flower. His eyelids flutter and fall slowly closed again and his breathing is soft, soft against my neck and his foot is warm against my bare leg.

He is warm, warm and he relaxes into sleep and I recline the chair and lay my head back and close my eyes. His body is soft and warm and relaxed against my chest and now he is deeply asleep and his small foot relaxes against my leg. And it is so small.

I am dozing now too and the fan overhead turns, turns and the cool air bathes us both but we are warm, warm and content and sleepy and life is good.

And it's naptime.

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Unit of Cultural Information

Ha! Aren't you impressed with the title of my post? I thought it sounded a lot more impressive than a meme, which is actually what it is. I have been tagged by Linda, of From the Back Nine fame for this one. It's another one where I have to tell some stuff about myself so, hey, twist my arm, that's why I have a blog! Because I like to talk about myself. And all the various permutations which my life can take. And so you might read it and say, whoa, my life took that very same permutation! Only you might not say permutation because you might not be a librarian who uses those big ole fancy words.

I'm supposed to tag eight other bloggers but, honestly I think my family bloggers may be tagged out and I am too intimidated by any other bloggers and their omnipotence to tag them, so the meme may come to an end here. Or maybe not. These things seem to have a life of their own. Anyway, eight things about me. Here goes.

1. I sometimes think I am REALLY good at technology. I maintain the school web pages, have designed a complete online library information skills curriculum and have even presented at national conferences. And the other day I sent an email to my boss in which I criticized her (luckily, in a nice way) that I had intended to send to someone else entirely. Just clicked on the wrong name. That's just what happens when you get too full of yourself.

2. I used to write book reviews for School Library Journal. Every month, I got free books or dummies (a book before it actually becomes a book) to read and review. The prestige was incredible. All my fellow librarians fell to their knees in awe. OK, not really, but it was pretty cool. And one day I realized it was an awful lot of work for absolutely no pay. So I quit. What a relief.

3. I make my bed every single morning. I have, like sixteen pillows on it, and I make it and arrange them nicely. Then I fold my pajamas and lay them neatly on the covers so I can put them on that night. Anal much?

4. My husband and I have a date night every single Friday night. We go to a different restaurant and just eat and talk about our week. We look forward to it. We really enjoy it. Every Friday.

5. I have tons of fake plants and flowers in my house. Not like plastic bright red and yellow K-Mart flowers but pretty nice stuff. I know it's pretty nice because my sister commented on how my silk plant was growing towards the water fountain when she was here one time. The silk plant. Growing. Must look pretty damn real.

6. I think there is something wrong with my gall bladder. Or it may be diverticulitis, which my mom has. For several years I have had attacks of severe, deep down pain in my stomach which can build to nausea very quickly. It hits and then it's gone. They can't find anything wrong with my gall bladder. Every time I think it's gone and months and months go by, it hits me again. But it's so rare, I keep forgetting about it. I'm hoping it doesn't get worse.

7. People always say you don't know who your friends are until you really need them. People are right. When my dad passed away, my friends sent cards, flowers, food, called me and came to the visitation and the funeral. You just don't realize how important that is until it happens.

8. Every time I start to really worry that I won't be able to write anything for this blog and I am going to run out of ideas and everyone will be so disappointed in me, I come up with about three or four ideas and whip out some posts. And now that I have written that, I will probably tap out and not get any more good ideas. That would be extremely annoying. I should probably shut up about running out of ideas.

OK, that's eight. If you are reading this and you have a blog and you want to write eight things about yourself, you are officially tagged. Link to me if you want. I can use the comments. And if you are reading this and have never commented, think about it. Sometimes I feel like my words are stones falling into into a deep, empty well. Thanks.