Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Random Thoughts...

*I didn't pull A muscle at the gym on Saturday. I pulled ALL of them. Note to self: Don't skip the gym for a month and then go to back-to-back weightlifting and yoga classes.

*A team from Houston came to the library last night and replaced eight of our twelve computers! They’re black with flat-screen monitors, and they look so pretty. The kids are gonna’ flip today…but no one’s gonna’ want to be stuck surfing on the old Amish GX100s…

*CNN just did a story on wolves that freaked May Bee out. The howling wolves made her run to the TV like she was going to fight it…and then run under the computer desk to hide under my knees!

*After Masterpiece Theater Sunday night (the touching and beautiful Jane Eyre), I snapped off the TV and fired up the laptop to see if this blog had any comments that needed approving. I must have nodded off at some point because the next thing I knew, I was opening my eyes and seeing the fifteen-year-old picture of Russell and Bethany making fun of my Santa Tree Topper on my monitor...and my heart swelled in my chest (seriously!) and filled with love and gratitude.

The words "Thank you! Thank you!" were out of my mouth as a prayer of thanks took audible voice before I knew what was happening. (Maybe because Jane Eyre was just so pitiful and didn't have any family members...and there was that one scene where she was stoic when she learned she'd inherited 20,000 pounds, but *giddy* with delight when she learned that her three rescuers were actually her cousins. She gave the reserved St. John an uncharacteristic hug that left them both amused…simply because she was so thrilled to have FAMILY.)

And here most of us are, swimming in family members we often take for granted! And since we don’t say it enough:

*Thank you, God for my beautiful/funny/aggravating/inspiring/WONDERFUL family!! (And thank you, wonderful family, for your heart-warming affection and love and kindness. Life in this world would be pretty grim without memories of Bobo’s buttermilk and love of words, Nanny’s award-winning back scratches, Karen’s light-hearted spirit, Russell’s “dere-it-is” and “petzel” and Stretch Armstrong and all of the ways he united our family, Dad’s stories and sermons, Mom’s love, Grandma Fowler and the crazy way she could become a monster by messing up her hair and popping her dentures out, Grandpa Fowler’s John-Wayne style steadfastness, Ricky’s innocence and enthusiasm…and the cool part is that these are just a *DROP* in the Family Well…)

Blessed and blessed and blessed,

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Rhinovirus Season...

How long can we dodge the bullet called the Common Cold?

So far this school year, neither Mike nor I have had a cold…and for public school teachers, this is huge. HUGE! (We catch everything, at least once, each year.)

Rhinovirus. It seems so pretty...

Librarians go from one disgusting keyboard to another all day long. All day. Every day. Last week, one teacher really grossed me out when she said a recent scientific study revealed that keyboards were more germ-laden and infectious than toilet seats.

Toilets? Worse than TOILETS???!!!

Thanks a lot, lady. Ever since she shared this news nugget, I keep imagining everyone's fingers furiously typing away on potty seats all day...ick…

So, anyway, partial credit for our unprecedented healthy streak must belong to the new Black & Decker juicer Mike got for Christmas…and all the fresh lime juice we’re enjoying in our tea and mojitos. (I *always* drink mojitos without the sugar…and often drink them without the rum, so please don’t go thinking we’re alcoholics or anything…)

So let’s all stock up on citrus…Punxsutawney Phil won’t make his prediction until 7:25 a.m. on February 2nd, and I’m betting he tells the good people of Gobbler’s Knob to expect six more weeks of winter. (Hmm. Having some zinc lozenges in the medicine cabinet might be a good idea…just in case the limes aren't as powerful as they seem…)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Red Mary Cash" wants to know...

...my pirate name. And even though it's not a good one, here it is, maties...yarrr...

My pirate name is:

Calico Charity Flint

Often indecisive, you can't even choose a favorite color. You're apt to follow wherever the wind blows you, just like Calico Jack Rackham, your namesake. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network

BORING. I'm apparently (yawn) "Calico Charity Flint." How am I going to intimidate anyone with that name?

P-) (See my eyepatch?)

Saturday, January 20, 2007


...that Bethany has always hated my Santa tree topper.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Are you kidding me? SNOW?

SNOW? Seriously?

A high of 30? (26 degrees colder than the average daily temperature for this day.)

A delayed 10:00 start?

And the weatherman just said we won't see temps in the 40s again until NEXT WEEK?!?


We have SNOW and MISTLETOE. (And clouds of frozen breath.)

Misha got the paper...

...and is ready to trade it for her morning spoonful of PB!

Read 'em and...smile.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

In response to Karen's "Weird Dreams" post.

Okay, if you read my sister's blog, you may have read about the recent "paint factory" dream that caused Karen to frantically spit on her new groom in the middle of the night. She HAD to spit. There was a bad taste in her mouth, and she's what the government calls a "Super Taster." (I didn't make that up; she did.)

So, anyway, mine's not as dramatic and doesn't involve me spewing saliva on anyone as he slumbered innocently in my arms, but it still made me smile...and if any of you are skilled in the art of dream interpretation, have at it.

***Weird Dream Starts Now***

So I'm at my parents' brick house in Virginia ("Sweet Dominion"), and my new hedgehog tinkles on my paperwork. Oh, dear! I hadn't even given a thought to his potty training! I run outside and set him in the grass. (A little after the fact, perhaps, but it was worth a try...)

Suddenly, the entire field between my parents' porch and the trees my brother planted down by the road is COVERED in hedgehogs. Hedgehogs and their holes are EVERYWHERE!! Finding my pet hedgehog among the teeming masses of hedgehogs is going to be IMPOSSIBLE.

But then, it dawns on me that my hedgehog will know a trick that none of the other hedgehogs will know. I can't remember if I said "Cookie?" or "Brusha' teeth?," but whatever I said, it worked. All the hedgehogs that feared people scampered for their hidey holes when they heard me shout...but one little hedgehog came running toward its home and its mommy.

It was very heartwarming. Too bad I don't know how it ended because May Bee's shrieking woke me up. I guess my subconscious could hear May Bee crying, knew it was somehow potty-related, and wove it into my perfectly average "Brand New Hedgehog" dream.

Everybody has those, right? New hedgehog dreams? Anyone? No one?

Sweet dreams, y'all.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Icy Clutches of Death Update!

This side was hopeless...but I finally got in through the passenger door!

And here's what I saw!

Like my earmuffs?

Pretty ice formations. Glad we didn't have to go anywhere today!
In fact, this was a pretty great weekend for those of us who were able to stay inside.

For the folks who endured the 120 Abilene car accidents logged SUNDAY ALONE, it probably wasn't so fun...

See http://www.reporter-news.com/abil/nw_weather/article/0,1874,ABIL_7980_5280537,00.html for full details.

Forget Winter Wonderland...more like Icy Death Trap.

The neighborhood.

Okay, enough's enough. I haven't left the house since Friday afternoon...because I CAN'T! Last night, the police chief and the KTAB news anchor both said the streets are more dangerous than anyone can ever remember, and for the first time, the word "impassable" was being bandied about.

My favorite neighborhood mailbox.

A close second.

Freezy. Lemme see you put your tongue on that.

Will NOT open. You can see where I broke the ice trying to get in this morning. Will try again at 1:00 or at 5 p.m., when we're supposed to reach our daily *high* of 31 degrees.

Neighbor's frozen cedar.

Neighborhood walkabout. Can you see frozen berries?

Ooh...better icy berries in this one.

Frozen pampas grass.

More frozen pampas...next to a fence with a "Beware of Dog" sign. (I risked a limb so you could see how pretty it was outside this morning!)

Currently reading: Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey by Jane Goodall

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Church is cancelled...so get your mittens on!

How my car has looked for THREE days...ever since Friday night!

Pretty. I wonder what kind of berries these are? Maybe I should eat some to find out...

Frozen Dumpster.

Frozen forsythia.
(I disturbed about twenty birds when I snapped this shot. They all flew right towards the flash, nearly causing frozen *britches.*)

Frozen cactus.

Frozen Traveller.

Frozen lantana.

And mistletoe.

Blurry romp.

Frozen oak.

Frozen tug-of-war rope.

Frozen tree stump in the backyard.


Frozen meter.

Everything encased in ice...beautiful, but SO scary. As I took these pictures, a car would occasionally CREEP by at two miles an hour...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mawwiage. That dweam within a dweam...

Finally…The LONG Trip update!

We left on the 27th (Mike’s birthday) and drove a little out of our way to see Karen’s family; Karen was able to give Bethany a tour of the house and introduce her to their new dog, Bennett. The kids played a few hands of Nerts, and *Molly* was winning when we had to hit the road! (Karen maintained that Houston was unbeatable while I insisted that Bethany was "She Who Can Not Be Defeated"...and Molly proved us BOTH wrong.) :-)

(I *won’t* post the surprise photo Karen’s kids left on the digital when we accidentally left it at their house. We were almost out of their little town when the call came saying that we'd left the camera, and while we were U-turning and heading back to retrieve it, those scamps left us a digital token of their affection. Good taste prevents me from displaying it, but I will say that I named the picture "Never leave your camera BEHIND.") :-)

Next, we stopped in Fort Worth to have lunch at Uncle Julio’s with Falisha. We also exchanged presents, and one of Falisha’s presents to me was an ‘80s mix CD that made the Dallas-Shreveport leg of the trip a lot more enjoyable. The bad news? I was sick to my stomach after Dallas so poor Bethany had to drive the whole day. We stopped at a truck stop and bought me some Mylanta, but Monroe, Louisiana smelled so bad that we were BOTH gagging. Bethany, driving with her left hand and keeping her nose plugged with her right, forbid me to throw up in the car, telling me it was simply “bind over batter.”

Then we stayed in the world’s worst La Quinta (ever!) in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Even though Karen booked us a non-smoking room AND CONFIRMED IT WITH MY CREDIT CARD, we were greeted at the desk with the news that they only had smoking rooms left. I couldn’t wrap my mind around that news nugget and kept trying to give the lady at the counter my confirmation number…for our NON-smoking room. Because it was RESERVED. With a RESERVATION. Complete with a CONFIRMATION NUMBER. Which means you are out of non-smoking rooms for *other* people--but NOT for those with RESERVATIONS, like us. (Am I in Crazy Land? What does the word “reservation” mean here? WHAT?)

So we asked if we could go smell it first. When we first opened the door, Bethany said the reek hit her like a punch, but we eventually got used to it. It was late, we were exhausted, and so we took it, determined to make the best of things.

After trying unsuccessfully to get on their “high-speed wireless Internet” for thirty minutes, we gave up; Bethany slipped under our nicotine-soaked comforter decorated with CIGARETTE BURNS and BURN HOLES. At one point, when I was plugging the laptop into an electrical socket to charge overnight (a socket which didn’t work, btw, and we woke the next day to a stone-dead computer!), I looked up at the ceiling. The beam that separated the Rings of Hell in the room (Smelly Sofa Ring from Reeking Bed Ring) was coming away from the ceiling. And not just sagging away cleanly, but sporting a growth of black mold in the crevasse where the wallpaper had torn in two.

“Um, Bethany? Did you happen to look up at…?”

“Yeah, I saw it. Don’t talk about it. Don’t look at it. Just come get in bed.”

All was redeemed the next morning (despite the lackluster breakfast AND the fact that Front Desk Guy told me that Room 226 can’t even get ON the Internet, wirelessly or otherwise!) because of the view from our balcony…the mighty Mississippi River running RIGHT BESIDE our black mold/ashtray cell. I do NOT plan to dash off a zinging missive to La Quinta or complain on their toll-free phone line because the view was so pretty. (Yes, we smelled like longshoremen the rest of the day, and yes, Taylor laughed and recoiled when she smelled my pajamas when we finally got to Charlotte, but it’s okay.)

Bethany continued the drive the next morning, and with the exception of the three-hour traffic jam they call “Atlanta,” it was beautiful. Great weather, fun conversation, lots of music, and yummy food all the way to Charlotte. We were so glad to finally arrive, and Russell and Amanda Faye and Taylor couldn’t have been more hospitable.

We met them for lunch the next day and then took Taylor on a hike in Renaissance Park. She led us in stretches before we began (to say that they were *unusual* calisthenics is putting it mildly), and she also wanted us to role-play as we hiked. (And hiked. And hiked. Three miles of twisty-turny fun…SIX if you do both trails!) Bethany was Queen Babushka, Taylor was The Princess, and I was Old, Fat Nurse. (After we went for another walk in Virginia a few days later, they started calling me “Old, Fat, DEAF Nurse” because I couldn’t hear the high-pitched deer repellent screeching machine one guy put in his yard.)

She's not heavy. She's my cousin.

Mom and Dad came in that night, and the next day was filled with manicures, pedicures, shopping, golf (for the boys), and dinner with family and friends at the Azteca Mexican restaurant.

"Who cares about golf? We're gettin' pampered, baby!"

Kissin' at The Azteca.

Returning the favor.

Sunday was church at Providence Road Church of Christ (early 8:15 service!), lunch with Russ, picking up the cake at Dean & Deluca, and THE WEDDING!!!

Everyone kept saying how much Karen would have loved it, and we all couldn’t stop commenting on how our joy would be have been complete if Karen could have been there. OTOH, keeping a straight face during the wedding ceremony would have been impossible with Karen around because she gets the giggles at inappropriate times; the first time the preacher said the word “marriage,” Karen would have lost it, remembering the clergyman from The Princess Bride.

“Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethaw today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam...”

After The Wedding, it was off to dinner at Frankie’s. Delicious food, great service, nostalgic music, flattering lighting, wonderful company, and a terrific atmosphere…whoever picked Frankie’s picked well!

Then it was time for New Year's Eve, celebrated in our hotel room with chocolate milk and Coke, in front of Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve in Times Square!

The next day---New Year’s Day--Mom and I listened to the breakup of a band while we ate breakfast (“Dude! We are going to make history! Who cares about your union card? Are you gonna’ make history working in a factory? It’s all about the music, dude…you gotta’ be true to the band and your music!” Etc., etc., ad nauseum.) They came and sat right next to us, even though there were plenty of free tables. We actually got up and moved, but not far enough away to avoid the rapid-fire cursing and twenty-something angst. (Maybe we’ll all see this painful band breakup recreated someday on VH1…)

Then it was off to Virginia, with Lil’ Miss in the backseat, to see Danville and Dry Fork and stay with Margaret in Chatham. We had tons of fun with Mom in Danville, snapping up bargains at The Gingerbread House and Goodwill (Senior Citizen Discount Day! Squee!) while Margaret was at work, eating lunch at Libby Hill (one of my all-time favorite restaurants…try the homemade vinegar & oil salad dressing…or the diet-defying hushpuppies!), Girls’ Movie Night, and lots of hands of Nerts.

Libby Hill! (Wish they would have had this sign in Charlotte...)

Margaret’s home is lovely, Belle is a delight, and we had tons of fun! My shins still ache from Margaret’s leisurely 5:30 a.m. “stroll,” up and down the hills of Chatham. (I’ve met my match in Lanier Street’s vertical climb! Poor Margaret, probably wondering if she should dial 9-1-1, had to wait as I huffed and puffed my way to the crest.)

Then, on the way home, we stopped in Greensboro to visit the Historical Museum, which was as wonderful as ever, and we ran into at least 4 people who remembered me from 10 years ago! (Betty K. can’t ever, EVER leave because she knows how to keep the Education Department running like no one else! When I grow up, I wanna’ be just like Betty K.!)

Since we missed having lunch with Russell and Amanda Faye, we stopped by his work to say goodbye and drop off the housekey Amanda Faye gave us the day of the hike. He convinced us to stay overnight, and I’m so glad we did…not only did they treat us to dinner at their favorite neighborhood Chinese restaurant, but it gave Bethany and me a chance to play our family’s little game of hiding tacky stuff in each others’ homes during visits. (So far, they’ve only found one of their three surprises, but it was the best of the three: a mechanical Santa in shades who dances with one hand on his, um, posterior.)

Then it was off to fight the rain and tornadoes and fog that soaked the Gulf Coast. There were lots of really scary moments, and we stopped to buy new tires in Brandon, Mississippi. I don’t know quite how this happened, but I drove from Charlotte to East Texas, slept for an hour as Bethany took the wheel, and then was back at it…probably 22 hours. We were so eager to get home, or at least just die on Texas soil, that we were like horses to the barn and finally made it home at 4:00 in the morning.

After three *whole* hours of sleep, I was up at 7:15, played with the dogs, ate some breakfast, and then emptied the back of the car enough to take the dogs to the park. We enjoyed a mile and half run/walk…and it was HOT! I wore a t-shirt and shorts! OTOH, a cold front blew in last night and today’s high is only supposed to reach 47. Yep, we’re back in West Texas!

Thank you to everyone who made this vacation so wonderful. After all the traveling I've been doing in the last three months (Pennsylvania! Michigan! NC! Virginia!), being a homebody for a while sounds so restful. One quick trip next month to Austin for a technology convention, and then I'm nailing my feet to the floor of The Barracks...