Saturday, March 29, 2008

Some Days are Odder Than Others (Sorry, Morrissey).

I need to write every day, and I've been castigating myself about not doing so as my first blogiversary approaches.  "What is so different?" I ask myself. "What happened to those evenings when, after Small Child's bedtime, I'd settle in with a glass of wine and craft petite essays? You are a lazy slacker, Blue."

Maybe it's the Swiss cheese-like holes left in my brain by the departing estrogen (yeah, I know estrogen doesn't live there, but it makes a good image and I'm stickin' with it. What lovely grottoes will remain to be filled with....what?), but I'm only now twigging to the facts.  I've got a freaking job.

Students. Papers. Tests. Preparation. And no lessening of other responsibilities, although I did dump the PTA President gig. Those of you who know me and who were unaware of my former title may now stop your uproarious laughter.  Shame on you.

So I'm going to offer you two little lists today, as that's about all the thought I can marshal.

I. Things I Did Today That Don't Sound As if They Were Done By the Same Person
a. Attended the County Democratic Convention as an alternate Obama delegate.
b. Prepared 9 bags of healthy snacks  for Small Child's soccer team and attended the game.
c. Watched a downloaded episode of South Park.

II. Things I'd Like To Do When I Finish Teaching This Term
a. Read at least one book a week (and I mean a physical book, not an audiobook) from my "as yet unread" shelf.
b. Make some small piece of visual art every two weeks.
c. Write, in longhand, one letter a month.
d. Figure out why Small Child does not adore reading.
e. Head west for the summer.

If you have anything you'd like me to write about, please let me know.  The well is pretty dry.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

West Virginia Blue

Here's a picture of Barack Obama, taken from waaaaaaaay up in the balcony in Charleston, WV.  When the second Miss Mac arrives next week I'll have the software to adjust and improve it, so check back for a better version!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Temporary Relief

Back through Bowling Gr(rrrrrrrrr)een on Saturday, but no trace of Miss Mac.  And what's worse?  None of the hotel filters would let me access my blog due to "objectionable content."  


Then, somewhere, half of The Man's adaptor cord went missing. That would be the second strike. 

I was so looking forward to going to my office today. I could prepare for class!  I could check my emails!  I could, given time, blog!

Third strike, right across the plate.  The person previously in my office, who retired at the end of fall term, had arranged to buy the aging desktop PC he was leaving behind. He finally did so over spring break.  I unlocked my door and found a VERY empty desk (oh, all right, a messy desk with one very clean and empty spot).

A plaintive call to IT, and a nice young man arrived with a 17" (no...don't go know who you are....) PowerBook G4.  It's old, but - hey - so am I.  And we both get the job done.

So this will tide me over until I can make up my mind about what to buy.  

Now I'm off to retrieve Large Dog from the kennel.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Yes We Can!

Today, my West Virginia friends and I took Small Child and Small Child's Best Friend to hear Barack Obama speak about Iraq and the economy at the University of Charleston.

He was wonderful. I've been trying to find some code to embed so you can watch the speech, but the Net Nanny on the Embassy Suites business center machines blocked me from the clip on CNN since it included the text and he used "objectionable content" - the word "hatemongers." Until I can pry the Man Dell away from The Man and upload my photos and find a good bit of code, the best I can do is post this link from the local paper. It's edited but contains 21:00 of the speech, which will give you an idea.

Our friends here are leasing office space to the campaign, but declined VIP tickets so we were up in the balcony. I actually liked it. The venue was small (maybe 500 seats) and crammed to the gills with, the paper said, 800 people with over 200 in the overflow seating. Hillary Clinton was here yesterday and apparently did not fill her space.

He is more handsome in person, for those of you who care about that kind of thing.

We tried to meet him afterwards, but had no luck. Our friends thought he might visit headquarters, but he didn't - he ate wings instead.

An ironic note: Small Child's Best Friend's Mother kept SCBF out of school today to hear the speech. All the second and third graders from SCBF's Montessori school (which would have included said child) were on their way to the UC gym for PE when they neared the departing candidate and started waving. The Secret Service tried to divert them, but Senator Obama insisted on meeting the kids, talking to them and shaking their hands.

More when I have better equipment!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Pony Formerly Known as Prince

I started writing about my pony as a reply to Red Molly's comment, but my comment grew so long I decided to turn it into a quick post.

When I was little, my next older sister had a wonderful, gentle buckskin gelding that she rode in barrel racing and other redneck competitive events. Like many little girls, I loved the idea of the horse, and my sister's mount was placid enough for me to plotz around upon with no fear. I began to ask for a horse of my own. This is an unpleasant memory so I'm uncertain how old I was. I'm guessing about 4 or 5.

If you're reading this and fondly remembering your own pony club days, put those associations aside immediately. This was a purely working class/blue collar/clip-on tie jodphurs, no wicker picnic baskets, and certainly no helmets for god's sake. I probably saw someone knocked out in a fall about every third "playday."

Apparently, in conversations around the concession stands (which featured Frito Pies - the real kind, served in the Frito bag) my father mentioned my desire for a ride of my own and someone saw the perfect opportunity to offload the demon spawn of the horse world. My dad couldn't pass up the opportunity to purchase a pony at such a reasonable price and, perhaps, bring his bookish youngest daughter into the horsey world.

Riding my pony was nothing like riding my sister's sweet horse. If I asked Prince to go, he'd stop. If I asked him to stop, he'd go. If we were standing still, he'd reach around with his head and try to bite me. My dad, of course, thought all of this was my fault. You can imagine the joy-filled sessions of father-daughter bonding.

I would cry. My father would yell. Inside his little pony head, Prince would neigh with glee, "I am accomplishing my purpose on this earth, sowing misery wherever I trot. Truly, I have earned my oats - and I think a carrot as well - this hot Texas afternoon. Thank you, horse gods, for sending me to this stupid human family."

After a few weeks of this, tempers were wearing thin. I no longer wanted Prince, but my father was determined I would learn to ride. Our hopes were covered in the red dust. The fantasy of two sisters (we were nine years apart) growing closer through their mutual love of horses, exploring the woodlands and creekbeds, encouraging each other in competitions, and making their father proud with blue ribbon after blue ribbon had disappeared into the sweaty reality of a short-tempered, middleaged man leading his bored, nervous daughter around an arena on a vindictive alpha-pony.

Looking back, I've decided that Prince was some kind of reverse Mary Poppins. She stayed with a family long enough to make them happy; he stayed long enough to make them unhappy. But he didn't have a magic horse trailer to truck him out of our lives and into the lives of another family. Obviously, we were too stubborn for his usual tactics. What was a malevolent miniequine to do?

Lie down. With me in the saddle. And my dad holding the reins.

I cried. I think both Prince and I got a spanking. And I suspect that my mother played a huge role in saying, "Enough is enough." But shortly thereafter Prince moved on to another happy family. And I never felt comfortable on horseback again.

I'm sorry for any undetected typos. I'm using a giant Dell laptop (grrrrr), and for some reason the spellcheck isn't working.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In Which I Give In to the Meme

I found out that, even if I did order the second Miss Mac (will she be my Trophy Mac?) with priority shipping, she might not arrive before I was ready to point The Family Truckster west. And, try as I might, I simply can't write - really write - on this humongous Man Dell XPS. It's just cumbersome.

And I could not play Photo Hunt this week because all my pics were on my stolen machine.

So what is there left but to succumb to Meme Fever?

I have resisted meme-ing (is that a word?) because it looks like the PERFECT form of procrastination. I mean, I'd be writing wouldn't I? And I never wanted this blog to be the Chronicles of Me.

But stuck here in the Embassy Suites, sipping a bourbon and water from the "complimentary manager's reception," it just feels right.

So I'm giving in to Seven Random Things About Me.

Readers, forgive me. I know not what I do.

1. I like espresso drinks lightly sweet, but any trace of sugar in regular coffee makes me gag.

2. I am a recovering black shoe addict.

3. I go internally ballistic when people mispronounce words, but only if they should know better.

4. I love cold weather, so much so that one winter when money was tight and I needed a new dress coat I decided to go without on the principle that going coatless in the record cold would help me lose weight.

5. I know now, more than ever, that all those vocational aptitude tests we took in school were right; I should have been a lawyer.

6. I have absolutely no interest in ever reading a science fiction or fantasy novel.

7. I, very briefly, had a very mean Shetland pony when I was a little girl.

I really don't know how to tag people. But I hope some of you will tell me seven random things about yourselves via the comments below!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Laptopless in WV

The Family Truckster rolled into Charleston, WV around 4 p.m. today.

I am, however, still without Miss Mac, who is sharing her favors (and a bazillion pics of Small Child) with another. I fervently hope those photos don't end up somewhere they shouldn't. Shudder.

Your thoughts:

15 inch MacBook Pro, which is more power than I need but a larger screen for my old eyes?

13 inch MacBook, which is waaaaaay cheaper but miniscule (and I can afford a big ol' 23 inch display to plug her into...that is if I can see the instructions)?

Please advise, as I will probably order tomorrow.

I cannot live in the PC world for much longer.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Instant Karma Got Me

My laptop fell out of my overloaded tote somewhere between The Family Truckster and the hotel room and a fellow guest took advantage of the opportunity to help himself or herself to a an old, battered iBook with everything I love dearly on it.

This is so very bad, I cannot describe.

Now I do not like Bowling Green, Kentucky at all, at all.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Road Trip Yikes!

Just checking in quickly on night one of the Spring Break Family Road Trip to West Virginia. As the old saying goes: Want to make the gods laugh? Tell them your plans.

Our plans to depart by noon were, as the corporate folks says, negatively impacted by two significant events.

1. Our washing machine stopped spinning at 10 p.m. last night, four loads short of the goal.

2. My recently widowed mother-in-law was distraught at the thought of her son leaving town for ten days (those of you who know us will find this simple fact hilarious, but not as hilarious as what is to come....wait for it.......), and actually began to shed a few tears this morning. Her son suggested that she come along, assuming she would decline and that if she accepted she would fly to our destination. Oh no, mes amis. "I'd love to come along! Let me throw some things in a bag. When do we leave?" Those of you with mothers-in-law know the impact this has on everything involved with a 1000+ mile automobile journey, and those of you who know my mother-in-law know the impact this has on everything involved with a 1000+ mile automobile journey.

After spending the morning at the Wonder Wash, the early afternoon running various errands, and the mid afternoon (finally) packing, we hit the eastbound trail at 5 p.m with me behind the wheel of the Family Truckster all the way.

And now I am going to put my head on a pillow in North Little Rock, Arkansas and sleep off the horror.

Hopefully, I'll have time tomorrow to post a proper entry. But for now zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Monday, March 10, 2008

On My Mind...

We've had 15 inches of snow in the last week and I have a stack of grading at least that high (I exaggerate, but it is daunting), but I am thinking vigorously of things to write about.

"Like what?" you ask, full of skepticism.

Like a list of things, emotions, and ideas that folks seem to be experiencing in new and often difficult ways as 50 looms, things like

* Saying Goodbye, When You Thought You Were Done With Such Things
* Watching Young People Doing the Same Things You Did 30 Years Ago
* Sadness
* Taking Over the Reins
* Skin

I would welcome any additions or suggestions.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Photo Hunt 100 - Different

I've never played Photo Hunt before, but I thought, "Why not? Let's give it a try? What a lovely way to procrastinate. Maybe those essays will grade themselves!"

So here's my very first Photo Hunt find, for the category "Different:"

I took this picture (May 2005) in the graveyard adjacent to a tiny Church of Scotland building in the middle of sheep pasture, somewhere west of Lockerbie. At church had been on that site, in some form or another, since the 600s, according to a plaque inside. This building had been there since either the 1100s or the 1300s...I can't recall.

Why is it different? Because it makes so much sense. Walk through any American cemetery and you will find floofy angels and chubby cherubs and plastic flowers and national flags. While all of those things may reflect our beliefs about death, do any of them have one tiny little thing to do with the fact of death? No. But this stone? The one that's been hanging around in a sheep pasture since 1689? It tells the truth. A skull. That's what lies beneath.

And I loved the ribbons.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Snow Joy!

Substantive words will have to wait while I play in the Texas snow.

The yard is gorgeous, as you can see....

Large Dog is hard at work on his St. Bernard imitation...

Small child has enjoyed a snow day...

All are romping, and there's no place to lounge!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Turning Texas Blue!

Look for a new substantive post in the next day or so, but for now just


I am a happy veteran of last night's Texas Democratic Caucus process, democracy at its sloppy, beautiful best. Texas had record turnout. Our precinct convention, normally an intimate affair to say the least, spilled out of our room and down the hall. We were forced to delay our start because the last DEMOCRAT didn't vote until after 8 p.m., over an hour after the polls closed.

Over 200 people - aged 18 t0 90 - stood in line to sign their names and write, in their own hand, their picks for the Democratic nominee. In our building, both precincts went for Obama, one narrowly and one overwhelmingly.

I'm under no illusions about November. I suspect Texas will still glow red on CNN. But last night I was proud to be from the Lone Star State.