Monday, March 26, 2007

Wordless Wednesday is coming!


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to post a picture of a couple.

Any couple.

Good luck.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

See how her garden grows...

Last week's bluebonnets...

...look better this morning!

Six days ago.

Hmm. The snow drops look worse.

Last Sunday's purple iris.

A little past their prime?

Last week's lone daffodil... no more.

The white iris...

...aren't looking too healthy.

Lilacs and dogs.

Lilacs one week later...not as pretty without dogs.

Back to weeding...ugh...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Yesterday's exercise partner...

Why it’s SCARY to take May Bee to the park:

*May Bee doesn’t seem to care for children; in fact, she views all short people as something to bite. Or eat. (Either way, it involves *chewing children*, and that’s just wrong.)

*She HATES all wheeled conveyances…roller blades, baby strollers, scooters, bikes…pretty much all of the things people enjoy at the park.

*Children on wheels make her muy LOCO!!

*She bit Ms. Batko’s dog(!)…and seems to want to fight all canine comers. (How can a dog so zenned out in her basket at home be so pugnacious in the park?)

*She can not grasp/does not care to learn the “Heel!” command; yesterday's walk/run was a three-mile contest of wills. (OTOH, it’s a great workout for my left arm; I look like Popeye on that side.)

*Unlike Saint Misha, May Bee hasn’t learned the cardinal rule about NOT CROSSING IN FRONT of a human companion, thereby tripping Her Person with the leash. She sends me sprawling if she sees anything potentially edible on our right-hand side…a plump dove, an unattended toddler, a moth, a poodle with a limp…

*May Bee likes to dive head-first into holes, hoping to come up with a mouthful of rodent. Yesterday, she dove into one that was covered with leaves; I didn’t even know it was there! She must have smelled it or somehow sensed it because, all of a sudden, she jumped into the air and converted her body into a streamlined missile as she plunged back earthward. Her long nose cut through the dense leaf cover, and she went a good 8-10 inches headfirst into the HUGE hole. It looked like the ground was swallowing my dog.

Why it’s FUN to take May Bee to the park:

*When she’s not trying to bite people, they always say how pretty she is.

*Watching her dive into holes is kinda’ funny. (If she ever comes up with a prairie dog, it will cease being amusing.)

*That dog can run. I’m beat after three miles; May Bee could go on for hours.

*She’s so shiny and sleek and pretty. If you have an eye for beauty, you’d be proud to run beside this dog. (Also, perhaps passers-by will be so interested in the little black “Weimador” that they won’t see the waves of pale fat rippling across her mistress as she huffs and puffs her way around the track.)

*She’s learned to drink from a sport bottle after our walk. (It’s adorable.)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Thanks for all of your prayers!

Here's the text of the email I just sent out to friends & family...

The good news is that Bethany PASSED HER TEST with flying colors (and even got positive comments on the comment cards left by passengers!) and is officially a flight attendant for Republic Airways. She has until the 25th to find an apartment in Houston, her home base.

Our Bessie Lou is learning so much about herself and people and professionalism and business and safety and the world...and the value of comfortable shoes, too.


We've actually had THREE different phone conversations this morning while she endured *another* long wait in an airport. She figures she's spent more than 20 hours sitting in airports in the last week alone. (Good thing she keeps a pencil & crossword puzzle book in her purse like her Grandma Fowler!)

BTW, Bethany says that I'm the only person she can safely call at 5:45 in the morning (I was on my way to Kirsten's house to feed her Rottweiler when my cell phone rang), but she teased me about going to bed at 7 p.m. each night. We joked about how I'm on "European time," getting up earlier and going to bed earlier than most Americans, and we also came up with a new term for the obscenely early hours we keep..."blankety blank o'clock."

(We don't use dirty words; we really say "blankety blank.") LOL!

Thanks again for lifting Bethany up in prayer this week...and I'd LOVE it if you'd keep her on your prayer list as she moves to crime-riddled Houston to fly the terrorist-peppered skies! (Nanny's "worry gene" is working overtime...)


UPDATE: Later in the morning, while on KTAB looking for the weather forecast, I saw the list of Abilenians with warrants at .

TONS of my former students were on the list including one of my all-time favorites in twenty years of teaching. This poor kid had the world's worst luck. If a ceiling tile fell in a freak accident, it would land on "Johnny." If anyone had a weird vein in their burger, it would be him. He could break desks or pencil sharpeners just by standing next to them; brand-new pens would run out of ink if pressed into his sweaty hand. Once, while taking a walk behind his house, he found a dead hobo. (Not kidding. And it's not funny, anyway!) Just a poor homeless traveler who just decided to nap under a bridge WAY too close to "Johnny's" bad karma...

Oh, and you can imagine my shock when I saw "Kristy Fowler" on the list and amusement at "Alexander Graham Bell." (Do you think someone gave the officer a false name?)
Hey! It's St. Patrick's Day! Wishing everyone I love (and my former student, "Johnny") the Luck of the Irish today!
Your Leprechaun Name Is:
Greenie Greenknickers

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spring Break, Baby!

Wheee!! Abilene’s on Spring Break! Margaret asked me about my Big Break Plans, and I said I wanted to have my car inspected. And a weird mole on my thigh inspected, too.

(Woo-hoo! There certainly is a big difference in vacation plans between the ages of 23 and 43…)
Oh, well. At least it’s off to a productive start; here’s what I got accomplished yesterday:

*re-registered my illegal, expired car

*got it inspected

*read 90 pages of Candyfreak

*went to the bank

*turned in my library books, paid my fine, & placed a hold on Suite Francaise

*went to Albertsons & Wal-Mart (ugh)

*got my glasses fixed at Eyemasters

*mailed Bethany a little money & returned Michel Serrault's Le Papillon to NetFlix

*made beef curry & mojitos for dinner

Today, I’ve already fed the dogs, made bacon, done two loads of laundry, and emailed my dad. Next up is weeding, especially the ones that turn into stickers that get into Misha’s fur, and if there’s any energy left, I want to go to a 4:30 step class at the gym.

Ooh, and I need to call the doctor about that mole…


Sunday, March 11, 2007


Two minutes ago, I deleted an astrological chain email Kirsten sent me (pasted below). I'll be were some of the stream-of-consciousness thoughts I had while scanning it from top to bottom (including the vulgarities…sorry…):

Astrology…what a load of crap. Just because KAREN the Scorpio is adorable doesn't mean every person born at that time of year is adorable. Remember all those babies around Bethany in the Hendrick Hospital window? There's no way they ALL share the same physical or personality traits...some were irritable and screaming while others (like Bethany) seemed pretty blissed out...
I’ll bet people who share birthdays with Hitler and Michael Jackson and Ann Coulter would beg to differ that astrological star charts have *nothing* to do with your personality.

Oh, wait...but Russell, the other Scorpio in the family, is adorable, too. Oh, good grief...that's exactly how these astrological readings scam read them through subjective eyes.

Oh, check this's Aries. The LIAR? Ha! My dad is so honest he makes Abe Lincoln look like a Clinton. How can anyone buy this line of baloney?

Hey, what’s Mom? Aquarius? Oh, big shock…she’s an “attractive” person and a “great kisser” who loves being in “long-term” relationships.

(Notice how EVERYONE just *LOVES* being in relationships. Duh.)

Of course, we're ALL above-average kissers. Disregard the rules of mathematics and percentages! Notice how not one of these says "Terrible kissers; should end dates with handshakes or hugs."

Hold on, did someone just call Cancer a "freak"? Wasn't this supposedly written 35 years ago? Ha. What a crock of...oh, okay, here we go...according to the subject line of this email, Kirsten's apparently a Pisces. Let's see what they have to say.

Huh. Actually...Kirsten’s sounds about right, especially the part about getting what she wants and "weird, but in a good way." She IS caring and kind and smart and thoughtful. She does like having the last word, but then again, who doesn’t? Loves to joke, for sure! Yeah, okay…hers is pretty much dead on.

Hey, Capricorn is next. Let's see what they say about Jesus. “Sassy?” “Loves to bust?” (What in the world does that even mean? Loves to bust the chops of hypocrites like the Pharisees? Loves to bust greedy money-changers’ tables and dove cages?)

“Predict the future?” Well, at least they got ONE right. He KNOWS the future!!! AND the past AND the secrets of the universe AND the depth of the oceans. Omniscient AND eternal!

Oh, lookie here. Sagittarius is the last one on the list. Let’s see what they say about me. Promiscuous? WHAT??!!

And I want to be in “long relationships,” too? Long, promiscuous relationships? In a long relationship while being promiscuous? I’m supposedly “amazing in the you know where…”??????

The library? Am I amazing in the kitchen?

DELETE!!! DELETE!!! What a crock of poo!

Hold on a sec…Kirsten’s a Pisces? What time of year is that? Um…oh, dear. She’s going to Austin to celebrate her birthday. Oh, no. That’s THIS week!!! ARGH! The email from Sandra with the exact date is in the Inbox of the old, broken computer!

Don't panic, don't panic…please, please, PLEASE tell me that I haven’t missed her birthday!!!! With all of the craziness last week, I didn’t think of anything except that stupid, stupid Distance Learning Cart and bridges and directories and cables and remotes and missing keys and adaptors and non-consortium fees and…OH, NO! OH, NO! I JUST MISSED KIRSTEN’S BIRTHDAY!!!

So…HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Kirsten, from the world’s worst friend. You’ll be getting your present when we go try the new Abilene Beehive. I’ll meet you there, covered in Ribbons of Shame…

***Bring on the baloney! The email that started it all...***

Once you have opened this e-mail, there's no turning back. Below aretrue descriptions of zodiac signs, with traits from a book written 35years ago by an astrologist predictions. Read your sign, then forwarditon, with your zodiac sign and label on the subject line, This is realdeal, try ignoring it, and the first thing you'll notice is having a horrible day starting tomorrow morning - and it only gets worse fromthere.

VIRGO - The One that Waits Dominant in relationships. Someone loves them right now. Always wantsthe last word. Caring. Smart. Loud. Loyal. Easy to talk to. Everythingyou ever wanted. Easy to please. The one and only. 7 years of bad luckif you do not forward.

SCORPIO - The Addict EXTREMELY adorable. Intelligent. Loves to joke. Very Good sense ofhumor. Energetic. Predict future. GREAT kisser. Always get what theywant. Attractive. Easy going. Loves being in long relationships.Talkative. Romantic. Caring. 4 years of bad luck if you do notforward.

LIBRA - The Lame One Nice to everyone they meet. Their Love is one of a kind. Silly, funand sweet. Have own unique appeal. Most caring person you will evermeet! however not the kind of person you wanna mess with... u mightend up crying... 9 years of bad luck if you do not forward.

ARIES - The Liar Outgoing. Lovable. Spontaneous. Not one to mess with. Funny. Excellentkisser EXTREMELY adorable. Loves relationships, Addictive. Loud. 16years of bad luck if you do not forward.

AQUARIUS - Does It In The Water Trustworthy. Attractive. Great kisser. One of a kind. Loves being inlong-term relationships. Extremely energetic. Unpredictable. Willexceed your expectations. Not a Fighter, But will Knock your lightsout. 2 years of bad luck if you do not forward

GEMINI - Irresistible Nice. Love is one of a kind. Great listeners Very Good in the you knowwhere... Lover not a fighter, but will still knock you out.Trustworthy. Always happy. Loud. Talkative. Outgoing VERY FORGIVING.Loves to make out. Has a beautiful smile. Generous. Strong. THE MOSTIRRESISTIBLE. 9 years of bad luck if you do not forward

LEO - The Lion Great talker. Attractive and passionate. Laid back. Knows how to havefun. Is really good at almost anything. Great kisser. Unpredictable.Outgoing. Down to earth. Addictive. Attractive. Loud. Loves being inlong relationships. Talkative. Not one to mess with. Rare to find.Good when found. 7 years of bad luck if you do not forward.

CANCER - The Cutie MOST AMAZING KISSER. Very high appeal. Love is one of a kind. Veryromantic. Most caring person you will ever meet! Entirely creative.Extremely random and proud of it. Freak. Spontaneous. Great tellingstories. Not a Fighter, But will Knock your lights out if it comesdown to it. Someone you should hold on to. 12 years of bad luck if youdo not forward.

PISCES - The Partner for Life Caring and kind. Smart. Center of attention. High appeal. Has the lastword. Good to find, hard to keep. Fun to be around.Extremely weird butin a good way. Good Sense of Humor!!! Thoughtful. Always gets what heor she wants. Loves to joke. Very popular. Silly, fun and sweet. 5years of bad luck if you do not forward.

CAPRICORN - The Passionate Lover Love to bust. Nice. Sassy. Intelligent. Sexy. Predict future.Irresistible. Loves being in long relationships. Great talker. Alwaysgets what he or she wants. Cool. Loves to own Gemini's in sports.Extremely fun. Loves to joke. Smart. 24 years of bad luck if you donot forward.

TAURUS - The Tramp Aggressive. Loves being in long relationships. Likes to give a goodfight for what they want. Extremely outgoing. Loves to help people intimes of need. Good kisser. Good personality. Stubborn. A caringperson. One of a kind. Not one to mess with. Are the most attractivepeople on earth! 15 years of bad luck if you do not forward.

SAGITTARIUS - The Promiscuous One Spontaneous. High appeal. Rare to find. Great when found. Loves beingin long relationships. So much love to give.Not one to mess with. Very pretty. Very romantic. Nice to everyoneThey meet. Their Love is one of a kind. Silly, fun and sweet. Have ownunique appeal. Most caring person you will ever meet! Amazing in theyou know where..!!!Not the kind of person you wanna mess with- you might end up crying. 4years of bad luck if you do not forward.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Livin' on the edge(mont).

WHY AM I UP AT 2:20 IN THE MORNING? Because Mike and I just answered the doorbell with guns drawn. (And that's not just an expression.)

At this moment, there are two drunk men being arrested in our driveway. (They pretended that this was their house, pulled in, and turned off the motor when they realized they were being followed.) The policemen--TWO POLICE CARS, WITH THOSE COOL SPOTLIGHTS TRAINED ON OUR YARD!--asked us if we wanted them off the property. (Mike said "yes," if you were wondering.)

So we're completely awake now. Mike let the dogs (going CRAZY in the laundry room during all this) in for some play time. I'm back in bed, but not a bit sleepy anymore.

Here's what I fear. The police will arrest the men and leave their car behind mine so I can't back out and go to aerobics in six and a half hours. Or worse...the police will realize (as I did when I passed a policeman on the way back from Ann Thai Kitchen earlier today!) that my registration ran out in February and there will be a ticket under my windshield wiper.

Oh, well. At least the drunks and I park in the driveway like Republicans. Mike parks in the yard. (Hold on...isn't THAT illegal? Mike and I may *both* have citations on our vehicles in the morning.)

Life is so FUN!!!! There's always an adventure in this neighborhood...last week, Miss Ina and this week, the Driveway Drunks. :-)

UPDATE (7:15 a.m): The car was gone so it seemed perfectly safe & normal to let Misha go out and fetch the paper and earn her daily spoonful of PB. Well, there were WAY too many curious smells out there. There was a used tissue and a soft drink lid.

Plus, three cigarette butts and two pepper packets.

But here's the MOST INTERESTING Drunken Driveway Detritus...this suspicious moisture:

It's on the other side of the car from the discarded soda lid. This is on the driver's side. Did he tinkle? Upchuck?

I personally think it was the former because May Bee went crazy when she got to this smell, and Misha tinkled around it. (May Bee ate both pepper packets, btw...AND the man's used tissue, which I extracted from the back of her throat before she could swallow it. Ick, ick.)

Notice complete lack of regard for the newspaper Misha was sent to fetch...and completely ignored to investigate the Smell Smörgåsbord.

Time to take this crackerjack K-9 unit back outside to hunt for any Baggies tossed into the lantana bushes...

Currently reading: Candyfreak

Friday, March 09, 2007

Distance Learning with Ed

"El Diablo" is what we have named our Distance Learning cart. (It's "Ed" when he's behaving.)

That thing took seven years off my life this week...wrong number, schools missing from the directory, a blown subwoofer, unattached cables, a missing adaptor, all kinds of loco connections (video with no audio, audio with no video, video with distorted Garbly Speak, schools that simultaneously COULD and COULD NOT see the laptop screen when we switched to Camera 4, etc.).Frantic phone calls to ALL of the AISD techies, Edinburg, and even Region I in The Valley. More email than I care to remember. Repairs and adjustments and tests and help from Cary and Chris who wheedled and cajoled and patched and threatened that cart into service.

And, in the end, it was SO worth it. Yesterday was an amazing experience!!

Here's Mr. Gonzales' unofficial thank-you note, dashed off a few minutes ago:

Yes, I'm up at 4:00 in the morning again...don't know why, except with all the sleep I've lost lately over El Diablo (the name of our Distance Learning Cart), maybe my body thought that six hours would be excessive. (I *crashed* last night when I got you did, too!)

Don't worry about that last session. We taped three good ones! And actually, I emailed all the Tech Team relating that I was happy overall with the experience, though just a little sad that the last class didn't get to have the same experience. OTOH, several teachers in that last group responded along the lines of "Who cares? It was cool!" or "We were the first ones!" or "It's technology. You warned us to have a Plan B, and fortunately, we didn't need it." and (my favorite), "Who cares? These kids don't know what a GOOD DL session is them even the last one was good!"

You just wouldn't believe all the positive comments we received yesterday. One of the Big Bosses at the Tech Center said that we were the first school in the district to ever connect directly to an off-district location without the help of Region XIV or some other Regional Service Center. ("Service Center? We don't need no stinkin' Service Center!")

Plus, everyone is thrilled that YOU were the first author to ever speak via DL to the kids here in AISD. Wheee! A *working* high school English teacher, an outdoorsman like our dads and grandpas, a positive role model of a family man...and a TEXAN. :-)

And just when I think it doesn't get better than that, I remember the story itself.

"Grandpa's Truck" was a gift to you from God; I *thoroughly & enthusiastically* believe He helped you out a little on that one. Whether He provided the inspiration, knew you worked well on a deadline so He gave you a WHOPPER of 1,500 words in 90 minutes, or even helped you with certain word choices, I am convinced that there is a touch of the divine in that story. The response you are still receiving, years later, is proof that God smiles on you when you use the talent He gave you!

Please tell Sandie and Cali, Jr. that Abilene sends our love and regards and that I'll be sending Sandie a copy of the tape. Please respond with the address where you'd like it mailed. (I'll copy and send it asap. Thank Heaven our Spring Break starts at 4:01 this afternoon!!)

Thanks again, Cali!
Kristy, Kirsten, Cary, Chris, Gaylon, the students & staff of Madison Middle School...and El Diablo!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Saturday, Saturday! (Part two.)

Saturday was so fun! Here's Karen's first-ever trip to The Container Store. She arrived with class, too--in the front seat of Falisha's hot, red Camaro!

Oh, and you can see the *jacket* of the sweat suit that only cost me TWENTY CENTS! It's pink and quilted, and Mike doesn't like it and calls it my "Russian peasant costume"...whatever that means. (Ha! That only makes me like it more, Comrade! )

Between us, Karen and I would have made Nanny so proud. We packed Wet Wipes, brownies, apples, Wheat Thins, rosemary nuts, Nilla Wafers, and 2 kinds of Pringles. We had a full-page printout of Fort Worth consignment shops (which helped us find the totally excellent Plato's Closet, which Karen's former boss used as a business model).

The only "Nanny thing" we didn't pack was her traveling staple...a Thermos of coffee; however, we DID meet at the Eastland Starbucks to fuel ourselves with caffeine before we hit the road. (Nanny would have liked that, but she would have fussed about the prices.) :-)

Another thing we did that would have made Nanny and Bobo proud was a slight trip deviation to visit the Eastland County courthouse to show the kids Ol' Rip, the horned toad that lived all those years in the cornerstone of the old courthouse (?) and then traveled the U.S. in a sideshow, eventually visiting Calvin Coolidge in D.C.! He was lying in his plush little coffin in a viewing window of the courthouse, with a little pedestal in front so kids can peek in, too.
R.I.P, Ol' Rip.

We didn't get to have long with Falisha because she was headed to the science museum's Body World's exhibit.
This exhibit is here until May, and *part* of me wants to go, but *most* of me is pretty creeped out by it. Falisha and my friend Ann say it's a don't-miss, but they love All Things Medical...and I, otoh, had to be given smelling salts after watching Karen's out-patient minor surgery. (She wasn't allowed to drive herself home after the procedure so Squeamish Big Sister came along...and nearly passed out. Everyone had a good laugh at how pale I went, including Karen who giggled through getting stitched up! Ha, ha.)
Karen and the girls also paid their first visit to the delicious la Madeleine on Camp Bowie.
You could live your whole life on Camp Bowie and Hulen and not miss anything but the joy of travel. Seriously! Hospitals, bookstores, Central Market, Double Exposure, Ben & Jerry's, health clubs, Souper Salad...if there's a funeral home, you could go from cradle to grave on these two streets alone. (The bad news is that the audio bookstore where I bought the Gregory Peck-narrated Bible is gone. So is the Camp Bowie Dunkin' Donuts AND the Borders near the Hulen Mall. Sniff.)

Oh, hey--leaving the la Madeleine, I found a dime in the parking lot near my tire. Guess that means this outfit only cost TEN cents! lol (Now Scottish Grandpa Reid is proud.) :-)

Reading: The Dream-Maker's Magic (grades 7-10) and Romans 9
Today's health food: apple (a.m. snack) & spinach salad (lunch)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

"Saturday! Saturday!"

I think the Bay City Rollers said it best with their 1970s ode to Saturday...the most laid-back day of the week.

Don't feel like taking a shower? Skip it. Need to take a shower? Take it. Want to cook? Take all day to assemble ingredients, load up an audio book, and spend hours in the kitchen. Sick of cooking? Run to Ann Thai for yum woonsen or Jason's Deli for the best salad bar in town (now that Green Jeans is closed...sniff...).

PowerPump class, reading, work parties, sleeping in, shopping (I got a sweatsuit last Saturday for TWENTY CENTS!), going on dates, baking, Internet surfing, playing Frisbee with the dogs (M & M just split our last Frisbee in two, fighting over it), traveling, going to the movies...whatever tickles your fancy.

Today is going to be especially fun, Lord willing. Karen and her girls are going to Fort Worth with me to see Falisha! Let's hope we have better travel conditions than LAST Saturday when half of El Paso blew through town, leaving sand in our eyes, hair, throats, and all over our cars...