Saturday, April 29, 2006

Work party!

Whew. What a day. Libby organized a work party at Harlan's house, and work WE DID! Below are a few of the photos...go to and watch the slideshow to see more.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

A sweet day...

Here's something weird and wonderful that happened to me yesterday. I stopped by Karen's teen consignment store to drop off some homemade cookies that I know she likes. (In fact, we're the *only* two people in the world who like these cookies; they're made with Splenda, stone-ground whole wheat flour, and natural peanut butter. Very healthy...except for the brown sugar and CUP of butter.)

So, anyway, I kept my distance from the counter because Karen had a customer. A sweet, older lady was trying to sell Karen some jewelry, but Karen was telling her that they didn't take jewelry consignments. The pieces were so pretty and interesting, though, that Karen called me over to see the lady's canary diamond ring, cluster pearls, and other unusual items. The lady was so nice and sweet, and Karen asked me who she reminded me of. I thought about it for a while and then said that I wasn't sure exactly who, but that she could totally pass for someone in our family. They both burst out laughing and admitted that, unbeknownst to me, Karen had said the *very same words* when the lady first came in the shop.

I suggested she try selling some of the nicer pieces to Weinkauf Jewelers because he not only MAKES jewelry, he sells it, too. She thought that was a good idea, and we hung out at the counter talking about teaching and other things. I asked if she liked cookies made with Splenda and offered her one from the Baggie in my hand. She said that she hadn't had much to eat that day, and could she please have TWO instead? Karen exclaimed, "Wow! You really are from our family!" and we all cracked up.

Karen got the lady a tissue in which to pack her "to go" snack since she said she needed to get to a manicure appointment. The next thing I knew, she pulled a ring I'd been looking at earlier from the jewelry box and gave it to me. (It had nine red stones arranged like a tic-tac-toe board, and she must have heard me ask Karen if garnets were Mom's birthstone.) I refused to take it and put it back in her jewelry box and closed the lid. She handed it to me again, but I gently pushed it back and said that I absolutely could NOT accept it because I'd accidentally overheard that she was going into the hospital next week.

She said, "I want you to have it. I don't need it, and I have a husband who works!" I weakly replied that it didn't seem like a fair trade for two peanut butter cookies. She finally handed it to me again, insisting that it was a Love Gift and that she WANTED to give it to me. She also said that I'm not allowed to tell anyone who gave it to me so last night, at Bronco Bonco, the ladies made up all kinds of funny stories about how this ring is hot.

It doesn't help that an armed fugitive who pulled jewelry heists in Odessa and the Metroplex escaped police this week by running into Abilene High School and blending in with the students. See,1874,ABIL_7959_4629493,00.html .

So now all the ladies are teasing me about "aiding and abetting" armed fugitives by providing them diet peanut butter cookies.

Oh, and then I won the consolation prize last night because I lost more rounds of Bonco than any other player. Check out the booby prize:

Lucky in life, but unlucky in love..I remain,

Friday, April 14, 2006

I know I bombard people with requests to read Haven Kimmel, but I can't help it and make no excuse for it. (I just got her new book yesterday and am already on page 180. The greedy joy of reading this book is tempered by the knowledge that each page turned means one fewer page left.)

The author Lee Smith says "Haven Kimmel can do anything she wants with language." That is a powerful compliment in my family of preachers and readers and linguaphiles.

Every page is as good as this one, page 49 in her new book, She Got Up Off the Couch, dedicated to her Quaker mother who lost 100 pounds, performed the titular deed, and put herself through college:

"I never could get what was the big deal about being pretty, it all seemed like a bunch of hokum to me. Who had time to think about such things, and who would bother? I knew girls who even had those life-sized decapitated Barbie heads, and they would concentratedly paint Barbie's eyelids a shade of blue not seen on a human face since Mooreland's too brief acquaintance with a town slut (or as my mother called her, man-dependent). And Barbie's lips would get painted a cheap crayony pink, with lumps and streaks, and it was not many hours after Christmas morning that my toiletry-leaning friends discovered that no matter what one did with Barbie's hair it turned out creepy and couldn't be undone. Then there she sat, gathering dust on her cheerful, ruined face and chopped-up vinyl hair and I don't know why my friends didn't just get themselves a talking evil clown doll and be done with it."

And here's Kimmel's description of a cat she found at the city dump:

"I could see that he was junkyard-colored, probably a gray tabby under all the layers of grime, and one of his ears was a hopeless jigsaw. Every cat I'd ever owned had, during some brawl, lost a hunk of ear. It was a standard cat condition. The Dumpcat's left eye drooped, too, and he appeared to have lost all his whiskers. This stopped me in my tracks, because I knew from my dad that cats used their whiskers to help them see. Dad told me a cat won't stick his head anywhere his body can't fit through, and his whiskers tell him how wide his body is. Good Lord, I thought, this cat is headed for disaster.

As I got closer, he made a little rumble sound deep in his chest and darted away. This kind of cat was a test; one could either lose one's temper and dive at him or be a good Quaker and keep going at him with gentleness. I pursued him nicely, in a way that would have made my sister proud, with the vague idea that I might catch him and put him in the treehouse with the chair and the dirty magazine we'd found in the barn and couldn't hardly stand to look at."

Do you see what I mean? Run, do not walk, to the closest library or bookstore and get yourself some Haven Kimmel. For an amazing interview, go to
and download the audio.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Goodbye, National Library Week.

I had a WONDERFUL day yesterday! It was the last day of National Library Week and right before I got on the P.A. system to give out the final day's reading prizes, the principal used the P.A. to brag on the Madison library. She told everybody to pat Kirsten and me on the back and thank us for a job well done. She also gave me a beautiful plant and announced that there would be a cake in the teachers' lounge for faculty and staff to celebrate National Library Week.

All day long, people sent cards and sweet email messages or just said kind words in the hallway. One student even came up and hugged me as I did hall duty! If Mayor "Stormin' Norman" Archibald had given us the keys to the city, I couldn't have been more pleased.

What a wonderful day. What a wonderful campus. What a wonderful job.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The other day in the park, there was a guy who just didn't seem to *grasp* the concept of walking on the right-hand side. Both times we passed each other, I had to take my dog and cross to the other side because he and his GIANT dog were walking toward me...on "my" side of the track.

The dog wasn't the only scary thing about this guy, BTW. This man was terrifying...huge, overly-tattooed (IMHO), a straggly beard which came nearly to his enormous waist, denim overalls, and a permanent scowl on his face. His dog was on a metal chain which led to a metal choke collar, and in the man's right hand was a big stick. I definitely got the feeling that he was on some kind of weird power trip as everyone who walked/ran/skated/etc. either had to move left or WAY over into the grass to get out of his way.

So about a quarter of a mile after I passed this guy, I started wondering *why* we all walk on the right. 99% of the people in the park circle the track in the same direction, probably without thinking about it. Kids are taught to do it in school hallways. Americans even do this in our shopping malls. (Think about matter what mall you visit, it feels like you're going against the flow if you try to walk on the left of the kiosks/benches/fountains in the middle of the mall "boulevard.")

Okay, then I thought...Oh, maybe it's because we DRIVE on the right. I've been told Americans drive on the right because during wagon-train days, men walked to the left of their animal teams to keep control of them with their (usually) stronger right hand. Therefore, when two teams met each other, both "steered" their teams to the outer, right-hand side of the road.

But, wait a minute. If that's the case, do Britons walk and jog on the left-hand side of the track? If I went to a shopping mall in London, would everyone circle the mall in the other direction?

Hey, maybe Scary Beard & Overalls Man wasn't weird! Maybe he was just visiting from another country...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Generation gap.

My favorite exchange this week occurred during Hall Duty after I saw a student walking toward me with enormous black jeans and a FACE on his lower legs. (One half of the face was on one calf of the jeans, and the other half of the face was on the other calf.) Since the boy was walking and not standing still, I didn't recognize the celebrity until the young man was nearly next to me.

Me: "Cool jeans! Is that Redd Foxx?"

Student: "No, miss. It's Fred Sanford."