Friday, March 31, 2006

I, who know nothing whatsoever about such things, am posting about politics. Tread carefully.

I am not a political blogger. Politics, as a general rule, are boring to me. I am not interested in statistics, or Washington DC *, or lobbyists, or special interest groups, or really much of anything about politics. But I am wondering more and more if perhaps I had better start paying a little more attention to politics, because even though I am not a rocket scientist, there are things that even someone like me can't help but notice. And I don't like them. They are wrong, wrong, wrong.

Specifically, I do not like the fact that our country has become a repository for people who have no skills, don't intend to ever get any skills, and live off people who took the time and trouble to learn some skills. I do not like the fact that our country has become a repository for people who have no intention of learning the language, accepting the customs, or obeying the laws. I do not like the fact that our country, once a nation of hard-working people who valued education and honored the learned, has somehow morphed into a sissy cowardly thing that gives all its attention to those who least deserve it, gives most of the money to those who will benefit least by it, and pretty much ignores anyone who dares to continue to work hard in spite of the fact that nobody with authority seems to give a shit. I do not like the fact that even though our country prides itself on equality and tolerance, there are those who demand special favors, and they get them. They don't earn them, but they get them. I do not like the fact that our country is allowing these special favors, and bowing and scraping and all but cringing and Uriah Heeping, for anyone who openly declares hatred of this country, and who refuses to accommodate himself/herself to any country in which they have chosen to live. I do not like the fact that our schools cater to the lowest common denominator, discourage individual progress, and penalize the bright students by forcing them to endure day after day the monotony of a curriculum that favors the slow and pretty much instructs the bright to shut up and endure, because 'you're not as needy as these others.' I do not like the fact that schools get more money for improving, than for being good in the first place. I do not like the fact that ANYONE is allowed entry into this country without proof that they can and WILL earn their own way. I do not like the fact that people who sneak into our country illegally, are allowed to take advantage of things that our citizens must pay for. I do not like the fact that our country allows generation after generation of families to live off the government dole. I do not like the fact that anyone in any institution of learning or business or factory or classroom or university or neighborhood or church or synogogue or mosque or pentagram circle or house or condo or tent or cardboard box or mansion or, or, or. . . . (you get the picture) can demand and RECEIVE any kind of special favors because of their particular beliefs, over and above anything anyone else gets.

If I moved to another country, I would consider it my own responsibility to learn the language, the customs, and conventions, the holidays, and the regular accepted procedures of life in that country. I would never, in a million years, consider it the duty of that country to accommodate me in any way. Anything in my life that went contrary to the 'ways' of my new country, I would do at home. I would never expect everyone else to do things my way. It would be rude and presumptuous beyond description to expect anything like that. If my own particular ways were that important to me, I should not move elsewhere in the first place.

And yet, when anyone comes to our country, we don't require them to exert any effort whatsoever, to learn the ways, the language, the customs, or anything, really. We bend over backwards to accommodate them. Why do people move to other countries, if they won't and don't seem to even like it here, and refuse to change, and refuse to accept? I don't mean that people must put aside the ways of their old country, far from it. But why do people leave a country to come here, and then expect us to make everyithing seem exactly as it was in the old country?

I do not like the fact that our country has become a repository for people who don't work, who refuse to learn English, who demand exceptions and favors, who see nothing wrong in living off the public dole, and who show no respect or loyalty for us. I don't like it a bit. I am a big believer in helping people. My heart breaks for people in need, every day. I do all I can for anyone I know who needs help.

But yes, there is also an aspect of me that believes that those who don't work, don't deserve to eat, either. As an analogy, that means, those who don't put forth the effort, should get no results. Apply it to school, to the workforce, to anything you want. Unless a person is severely disabled, I resent any freebies they might demand and get. And if a person can get to the Social Security or the Unemployment offices, they can get to work.

I actually qualified for disability years ago. But as long as I am able to hobble to work, I will continue to do so. I would be ashamed to take money when I am still able to earn it myself. To accept that money, right now, would be taking advantage of the system. I can't do that.

Immigrant or native-born: I do not like the fact that some people take gross advantage of all the freedoms they have here. Yes, taking gross advantage IS one of those freedoms, but somehow, there is that part of me, rebel that I have always been, that thinks there is a huge difference between exerting one's freedoms, and being totally lacking in gratitude.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch,
whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!”
cries she With silent lips.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Those who answer this invitation should be grateful, not hostile.

*unless Kevin Kline is there.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:40 PM | |

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hallmark isn't good enough for people I love.

When people I love are grieving, or having troubles of any kind, or are feeling ill, I'm not very good with words.  I want to just go over there, and do their laundry and cook for them and pack their children's lunches and set their table with pretty dishes and a candle and scrub their bathtubs and and empty the cat litter and grocery-shop for them.  I want to DO for them.  I want to not disturb them, and to not intrude, and to not make them feel they have to make conversation or be a host. <--split infinitives 
 I want to hug them and let them know someone cares.  And then I want to get in there and show them how much.  <--fragment
But the words?  <--fragment  I try, but what comes out is often not unlike some cheesy Hallmark card or the irrational cliches of a moronic person who feels too deeply to be coherent or even rational.  I do not want a sorrowing person to feel they need to pat ME on the back, and assure me that it will be all right.  I'm supposed to be doing that for them.
In many ways, I'm good with words.  I make my living with words.  I love words.  I love to write stories, and poems, and essays, and articles.  <-- incorrect comma usage  And blog posts.  <--Fragment. 
But finding the right words to comfort someone I love? <--fragment   I turn into a slobbering, stuttering echo chamber of idioms, cliches, and unintentional* sentence fragments.
Right now, there are several beloved people out there who are going through some pretty hard times.  I'm sorry.  If I could, I would come over and do for you.
I would lift all the household burdens off you.  It's my way of condoling.
I figure, you'll get enough cards and flowers and fruit baskets, but some baskets of clean folded clothes and a few meals are something you might actually use. That's just how I think.
Since I can't do what I really want to do, I'll just say this:  I'm so sorry.  God bless you.
And maybe throw something in the mail. <--fragment
*I use intentional sentence fragments for effect.  On purpose.  <---there's one now.
This blog post has been graded.  Any "mistakes" were intentional.  You see, <--parenthetical expression   sometimes the conventions of writing are suspended, that a person might express himself/herself as the heart dictates.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:04 PM | |

Mother never danced through fire showers.

I have never once seen an episode of Cowboy Bebop, but I am fast becoming obsessed with the music from it.  I'm old.  This just isn't done.
But, but, but. . . . Steve Conte rocks.
I tried to talk myself out of it by listening to some old-people music but I hate that stuff so it didn't work. (It's old-people music if I say it is.)  (That usually just means I don't like it for some reason.)  (Just being 'old' doesn't make it 'old-people music.'  It's all in the attitude.)  (Cole Porter, for example, has attitude.)  (Some of those people on the Lawrence Welk show don't.)  (And some of them do.)  (Bobby Burgess was cool.) (He was cooler as a Mouseketeer, though.)  (Most of those Lawrence Welk people were lip-synching.  That's cheating.  If they were really good, they'd go for it.)  (Milli Vanilli found that out the hard way.)  (But they were never on Lawrence Welk.)
Just look at that weird meandering tangent string up there.  See?  I'm old. 
But Steve Conte still rocks. 
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:23 PM | |

Do As I Say, Not As I Do.

While it is very true that I am somewhat of a Grammar Nazi, it is also true that on my blog, I often regress.

It is also true that when I do, I really don't care.

I'm off duty here.

But thanks for asking.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:42 PM | |

Always have a good book in the car.

Welcome to Indiana. Please plan your trip accordingly.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:54 AM | |

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Cops and robbers.

It seems there was some excitement yesterday morning at the bank across the parking lot from the local Community Learning Center where I teach for my college on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Only a couple of hundred yards from where I was droning on and on enthusiastically sparking interest about parallel structure, the proper placement of the comma, and the little-realized fact that a plain ol' plural noun doesn't get to have an apostrophe (SO STOP PUTTING THEM THERE, AMERICA!!!!!) a man put on a ski mask, pulled out a gun, and robbed the bank. And, he got away. He still hasn't been found. A guy wearing a bright orange sweatshirt, a ski mask, carrying a bag of loot, disappeared into thin air.

There are two elementary schools across the street from the CLC and this bank. If this hadn't been Spring Break week for them, the buildings would have been locked down and the neighborhood thrown into a panic. My mother and MIL (as well as a real-life and blog-friend!) all live in the addition across the street from the CLC. I hope they are all keeping their houses locked up tight.

Apparently the parking lot was full of police cars of all shapes and sizes that morning. Apparently, the bank was a beehive of activity, action, and panic that morning. Apparently, the thief took off like a bat out of hell, and disappeared into the morning Burger King traffic of this town.

All that action, all of which I could have seen from my huge picture window, which has no curtains or blinds, and which looks directly out across that parking lot and into the face of the bank.

That's right. I could have seen it all. If I had been paying attention.

I didn't learn about the robbery until noon, when the students were gone and LaSH, (the boss), and I went out for lunch.

"Did you hear all the sirens?


"Did you see all the cop cars?"


"When did you find out about the robbery?"

Just now.

"Your big window looks right smack at the bank and the parking lot."

I know. Sigh.

I blame it on my educational enthusiam; trying to make grammar interesting has kept me from noticing lots of things. Among them, a bank robbery pulled off by a guy in a bright orange sweatshirt, a ski mask, and waving a gun, all two hundred yards from my face.

It makes me feel a little bit better to know that my students didn't notice the robbery either, being as how they too were enraptured by rogue apostrophes and structures that were not parallel.

I'm sure that the mass spelling of 'comma' as 'coma' was merely a coincidence. I just KNOW they were interested.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 5:30 PM | |

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A house with no books is not a home.

 I don't think it's a coincidence that the children who grow up in households wherein there are no books or music, are generally the kids who end up in the slow class at school.  There are exceptions, of course, but I haven't seen very many.  I was always happy to see the exceptions, but I was also really surprised.
It wasn't always the poor families who raised their children in houses that had no books or music, either.  Often they were families who just didn't like books or music.  They'd rather watch TV or go to the races.  Families who love and respect books and music will get books and music into the house one way or another.  I would do anything for those families.
And sometimes, kids from these families would come to school hungering for something and not knowing what.  And once finally finding it, were transformed.  I loved that. I lived for that.  I still do, only at a different level now.
Some families teased their kids for bringing home books and wanting to read them.  Imagine.  Some parents got angry when their kids brought home books.  Books were suspect.  Books might contain something Uncle Reverend Billy-Bob didn't already know.  Why does the kid want to read a book?  Nobody else in this family does.
I've posted about this before, but it bears repeating.  Back when classes were grouped (don't get me started because some of you won't like what I would say) EVERY KID in the top class knew dozens of nursery rhymes, poems, and stories, many by heart.  Down in the slowest group, few if any kids even understood the question.  They didn't know no pomes.
Many of those kids weren't grouped in the slow class because they were stupid.  They were in there because they'd been exposed to so little, culture-wise, that they had no frame of reference for much of anything that didn't involve chaw, huntin' dawgs, Nascar, Carhartt, the 4-H Fair, Junior Samples, and Blue Collar Comedy.  Not that there's anything wrong with any of those.
People who don't know poetry, music, books, and plays have no frame of reference when it comes to cultural literacy.  One thing builds upon another.  If we have no prior knowledge to bring to the table, it won't much matter what's on the table.  We won't get it.
There are good books, poems, and stories about chaw, huntin' dawgs, Nascar, and county fairs.  Great stuff.  Billy Coleman might have worn Carhartts.  He might have listened to the Blue Collar guys. 
By that same token, it won't hurt literary-types to get outside and experience life, and do some physical labor.
We get too one-sided, we lose each other. 
But "A house without books is like a room without windows.  No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them." --Horace Mann
And books for the children should be purchased before chaw and Nascar tickets for an adult.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:00 PM | |

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Educational Connections, Dirty Words, and Sherlock Holmes.

Sometimes, teachers assume that their students have a background in cultural literacy when in fact they do not.*  And sometimes, helping a student make and understand a connection between one thing and another, makes it all worthwhile.    Sometimes, teachers do not agree on what is worthwhile and what is not.
A few years ago, my sixth graders were getting ready to read a Sherlock Holmes short story: The Adventure of the Speckled Band, to be specific, which is my favorite Sherlock Holmes story.
About ten seconds into my enthusiastic introduction to the story, I realized that my students had never in all their lives even HEARD of Sherlock Holmes.  They will never be able to make that claim again, however.  I assure you.
We read the story and most of the students agreed that it was pretty cool.  Snakes.  Poisonous snakes.  Gypsies camping in the yard.  A cheetah and a baboon wandering free.  A huge powerful man given to fits of violence.  A bed, nailed to the floor.  Bending the iron rod.  Holmes, bending it back.  We discussed the physics of the iron rod; all the students, young as they were, knew that bending the rod in the first place required strength, and that bending it BACK required even more.  Holmes' powers of observation fascinated the kids. 
When we had finished, I recommended other Holmes stories, and the bell rang, and they left my room.  I sat there hoping the unit had gone as well for THEM as it did for me.
I knew it had been a good unit when I overheard a group of boys talking about it in the hallway. 
"Now I know what it really means when somebody says 'No shit, Sherlock!'"
No, I did not stop short, drag the student to the office and demand that he be punished for saying 'shit.'  The P.E. teacher who also overheard the boys wanted to, but I asserted myself, which didn't often happen because I am pretty much of a wuss in spite of my big talkin' ways, and anyway, I do not believe in jumping on kids when their conversation was not directed towards me.  Eavesdroppers often hear negative things, and if they would mind their own business, it wouldn't be such a big deal.  
I figured that we were eavesdropping on those boys, and that whatever they said to each other in their supposed privacy (unless it was about bombs or threats or clues about who TP'd the restroom or whispers of abuse, etc.) was their business, not ours. Kids deserve some respect.
The other teacher walked off in a huff, carefully, so the corncob wouldn't fall out.  I smiled at the boys and said, "That's right, guys."
Knowledge is power.  Education is all about connections.  And that, as far as I was concerned, was a legitimate connection.
*more on this later.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 8:58 PM | |

One of my favorite cartoons. . . .

Life is so much more fun when we have some prior knowledge to bring to the table.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:03 PM | |

Friday, March 24, 2006

Good and decent parents, I honor and respect you. The other kind, not so much. Or even, 'at all.'

This post refers to the kind of parents who put their own selfish desires and habits above the needs of their children. In other words, scum. You good parents, please don't think this is you. It's not.

When I was still teaching in the public schools, we teachers would always be especially watchful when the kids got off the buses on Monday morning. Many parents are so wasted over the weekends, more so than usual (if such a thing be possible) that teachers are better able to tell which kids are being victimized in any way, than we are on the other weekday mornings. Other mornings, this kind of parents have had a little time to come down from whatever they were on, that was so much more important than feeding, clothing, or in any way caring for the inconvenient results of their unprotected urges. On Monday mornings, children who haven't had a square meal since their free lunch the previous Friday get off the bus and run like frenzied antelope to the cafeteria for their free breakfast. They are literally starving. (After a long weekend or vacation, these children are sometimes skeletal.) On Monday mornings, children whose parents always have a fresh pack of cigarettes in their pocket or purse but haven't got $1.25 for a pair of socks for their child, are often underdressed for the weather, have no coat, and are still wearing last week's playground dirt on their arms and necks. Sometimes, a child who was wearing a winter coat on Friday, gets off the Monday morning bus in his shirt sleeves, because the winter coat was hocked or sold to get drug (nicotine is a drug) (alcohol is a drug) money for an adult. An ADULT.

Elementary schools in this county had to stop giving free winter coats to shivering coatless children, because the odds of the child coming to school the next day wearing that coat were pretty grim. We once had a mother who actually showed up for a conference wearing the coat we had given to her child. The child was in shirt sleeves.

And I'll mention once again, but not for the last time, that the majority of these parents (those few of this type that we saw; most of them couldn't find their child's school on the best day of their lives. . . .) almost always reeked of tobacco, and had unopened packages of cigarettes on them. And had socks. I don't know if they were actually clean or not; the stench of other substances generally drowned out any possible afterglow of shower gel or soap. Somehow, I doubt it.

Cigarettes and beer are expensive. You could buy a lot of socks and underpants and shirts for a little child with the money spent on a personal habit, and I really don't care about your addiction and how you can't help it, and when you tell me that you deserve a little consideration too, I don't believe you. You're an adult. Act like one. Spend the money on your child. You created him; to continue to indulge yourself and neglect your child is so disgusting and reprehensible, I have no adequate words to describe you. "Scum" doesn't begin to cut it.

Tiny kindergarten children often have the worst vocabularies imaginable. That's how we learn to talk, you know; we mimic those around us. We all slip up and use words we know we shouldn't, in front of our children, and we generally regret it when they start echoing us. For most people, it's not a lifestyle.

But "parents," it's not cute when your 5-year-old child uses the 'F' word in every other sentence. It's not cute when YOU use it in a conference, either. In fact, there's nothing remotely cool about any aspect of you. When you are wearing shoes that are intact, and your child's shoes are held together with gray duct tape and rubber bands, I honestly despise you. When you tell me about your big-screen TV and your membership in the tavern dance club, and your child is dirty and hungry and dressed in rags, I loathe you. When you stand before me, grinning like a simpleton, your breath smelling like Skank Beer and your teeth coated in slime, and hee-haw about your child's hifalutin' desire to brush his teeth every night, I really have to stifle my longing to kill you and bring your child home and feed him and love him and never let him be cold and miserable and unloved and neglected again. You know, like he is whenever he's with you.

Whut, you cain't hep it if yer luck hain't changed in yars? They ain't wantin' to give you no more bennyfits cuz you ain't worked in so long, but you cain't work cuz yer back, it acts up awful sumtimes? This here county, it's run by a bunch o' cheapskates whut don't wanna give out no more money to you? Yer sister-in-law is wantin' you-uns to move outen her trailer cuz you ain't payin' her no rent? Don't she know you ain't got it? @#$+_)^&*, ya know? Them store clerks don't treat you good about buying them cigarettes even though you pay cash money fer 'em after yer food stamps done bought the baloney? Yer sick o' movin' back an forth 'cross the county line cuz the bennyfits dates change so much. This here skool don't know nuthin' 'bout the life you lead, cough cough wheeze wheeze cough wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze and yer tard o' bein' treated like dirt.

Golly, I wonder why THAT is.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:40 PM | |

Thursday, March 23, 2006


This is one of my favorite sights: crocuses bravely peeking up out of the snow.

It was time for them to grow and bloom, so they did it. That there was an obstacle in the way did not prevent them from doing what they were supposed to do.

If fragile little blossoms can do it, so can we.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:34 PM | |

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The piano was grand.

My parents raised four kids in a tiny house.  My sister and I shared a bedroom, and my other sister and my brother shared a bedroom.  After that sister got to be of a 'certain age,' though, she moved in with the two of us and my brother got his own room.  So unfair.  The house had a small living room and a small dining room.  How small were they?  Over half of the dining room was taken up by the grand piano.
Yes.  In our house, we didn't have a table and chairs in the dining room.  I was probably in junior high before I knew that people ate in their dining rooms.  We didn't.  We played the piano, and sang, and practiced our violins and violas, and watched tv in our dining room. 
Eventually, Mom and Dad did buy a dining room set, but we seldom ate there.  It was covered with clutter.  (Kind of like my dining room table, now.)  (maybe it's hereditary?)  But the purchase did force us to move the tv into the living room for a while.
I loved that grand piano.  I used to sit under it and read, or pretend things.  Castles.  Princesses.  Caves.  I used to sit on top of it and play sailing ship.  Flying carpet.  I wasn't supposed to climb on top of it, but I couldn't resist.  My shoe buckles put scratches all over the top of the piano.  I always had a sore throat when I was a kid, and I bet there are at least a hundred half-sucked cough drops here and there between the strings of that piano, right NOW.  Or maybe not, as the piano has been serviced several times since then.  I had more fun with that grand piano than I ever had with any of my toys.  I played on it, and I played ON it, and I played under it, too.  Kenju would understand.
My parents knew that a grand piano that took up a great proportion of the living space needed by a big family wasn't very practical, so eventually Mom sold it to a friend of hers.  I cried for days.  The beautiful spinet piano that eventually replaced it was lovely, but it wasn't my grand piano. 
It's surprising how soon we all got used to having all that extra room in the house.  Wow.  We kids hadn't even known we were so cramped.  We'd never known any other way for a dining room to be!  We moved the tv back and set it against a wall I hadn't even known was there.  It stayed in that spot for about fourteen more years, till we moved to a bigger house just in time for one of the sisters to get married and move out.  A year later, I moved out.  My youngest sister ended up with a room of her own, which is something I have never had in all my life.  And so did my brother.  He also got a car, but I won't go there.  I also won't mention how he got to go to Florida over a high school spring break and none of the rest of us ever did.
Back to Mom's friend who bought our piano. . . . .  years later, she put an ad in the paper for the piano.  My cousin/friend C saw the ad, needed a piano for her three young sons, went to look at it, and bought it.  She had it refinished, and it's still in her house, and it's still beautiful.  And, it's still in the family!
My parents' beautiful spinet piano now resides in MY living room. (On an inside wall, which is very important. . . .)  My dining room contains a large table and many chairs, and a hutch, all very normal dining room things.  You'll be sitting there when you come over.  When you visit you might also notice that there's a humongous stereo system in there, but doesn't everybody have immense speakers and a thumpin' cd jukebox in the dining room?  What, you eat in silence? 
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:48 PM | |

Welcome, sweet springtime, we greet thee in song. . . . .

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:42 AM | |

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

. . . still waiting. . . .

Me too, kid.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:21 PM | |

Monday, March 20, 2006

Penny Candy

Let's see now, how old am I. . . .
When I was a really little kid, there was a tiny grocery store about a block away called Brown's Groceries.  Mom would sometimes give my sister and me a nickel apiece, or a dime if we got lucky*, and let us walk there and buy penny candy.  Mr. Brown had a glass candy case in the front of the store, and it was a zillion feet high and contained every kind of candy in the known universe.  My sister and I would stand there for a half hour, while Mr. Brown, who never smiled and seldom talked,  put five or ten individual pieces of candy in first my sister's bag, and then mine.  No duplicates!!!!  We chose our candy carefully and only after giving it much serious thought.  It was an important thing, and we were never in a hurry.  He often was, but we weren't.
Does anybody else remember those wax bottles full of sugary liquid?  You drank the liquid and chewed up the wax.  How about (GASP) candy cigarettes?  Wax lips or teeth?  Bazooka bubble gum?  Lik-m-Aid?  Black Jack gum?  Sugar Babies?  Sugar Daddies?  Slo-Pokes?  Red Hots?  Teaberry gum?  (can you do the Teaberry Shuffle?)  Bit o'Honey?  SweeTarts?  (still one of my favorites; I love sour things.)
Most of those, and lots of others whose names I can't think of at the moment, were a penny apiece, although a few were a little more.  For a nickel, my sister and I would walk back home with a little sack half-full of candy.  For a dime, the little sack would be full.  Those were the days. 
Most towns had an ice-cream man.  We had a sno-cone man.  He drove a yellow pickup truck, and had a freezer installed in the back.  He employed two high school girls every summer, who took turns ringing a hanging cowbell CONSTANTLY as the sno-cone man drove all over town, all day.  We could hear his truck all over town; it was hard sometimes to know exactly where he was.  His specialty was sno-cones; not the finely ground snow-like things that pass for sno-cones these days, but a huge pile of small-but-coarsely-ground ICE, in a pointed paper cone, saturated with the flavored syrup of your choice.  I'd love to have one right now.  He also sold Popsicles, Fudgies, and Dreamsicles; they were a nickel.  But for a dime, you could get a real sno-cone, and in my memory, they were huge.
If you weren't in the mood for any of those, you could always take your nickel and buy a Hershey bar.  Or any other kind of candy bar.  They were a lot bigger then, and the recipes were different.  It's not just age and imagination that makes me say that, either.
And if you somehow had a QUARTER to spend. . . . .you could get six candy bars for a quarter. 
But for your quarter you could also walk down the street to Little Jerry's (not to be confused with Big Jerry's, the chain restaurant) and get a hamburger, fries, and coke for twenty-five cents.  And if you had thirty cents, you could get a BIG coke.
Prices have changed a little since then.
*In later years, this expression took on a different meaning.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:21 PM | |

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Spotted Asses

Once upon a time, a long time ago, a bunch of Camp Towaki counselors were reading the newspaper and saw that The American Council of Spotted Asses was giving a show that next Saturday afternoon. We decided to go. Some of the girls wanted to go because they taught horseback riding, and were actually interested in seeing the donkeys and mules.

The rest of us just wanted the t-shirt. Did they sell t-shirts? If there were t-shirts, I was there.

A t-shirt that said "Spotted Asses." I wore that shirt till it was too raggedy to dust with. I wore it mostly because my mother hated it and made the mistake of telling me so. And also because it had the word 'asses' on it, in proper context so nobody could make me take it off. Well, maybe they could, but that's a whole 'nuther story and has nothing to do with 'asses.' Well, actually, no, wait. . . . . oh never mind. Too much information, huh.

Sometimes when I'm bored, I type in names of people, places, and things I know, just to see what's out there. Tonight, I typed in "American Council of Spotted Asses" and whatta you know, it still exists. And they still sell t-shirts.

No, I'm not going to buy one. Not now. But I did get the giggles looking at them, and remember all those years ago when I wore mine defiantly proudly, revelling in the attention and the questions and the coolness of wearing a shirt with 'asses' on it.

Did I mention that it was, um, a really long time ago?

Believe it.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:13 AM | |

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Spring Break, Pt. 4

My Spring Break is over now. I did get a few things done, but mostly I just hung out with friends, stayed up late, slept in, ate, read, goofed off, listened to music, burned cd's for people, and behaved as though I actually had a. . . . . break.

I haven't done that in a long time. I feel guilty, but I think I'll get over it.

I wonder why it is, that when we are young, Spring Break, or any kind of vacation for that matter, represents OUR TIME, time to hang out, sleep in, go places, goof off, kick back, be ourselves, and have fun. Whereas when we are older, any kind of break, while it might represent fun, also represents time to catch up on chores, fix up the house, take care of vehicle problems or responsibilities, help out friends with their childcare problems caused by other people's vacations, transport our own parents and kids here and there because they're on break too and the lack of routine, which is what you've looked forward to all year, is making them, shall we say, not so pleasant to have around?

Which brings me to my point, I think: this is the first actual break I've ever had in all my adult life that did not require me to work three times harder than I ever worked at work. Oh, I should have, but I didn't, and it really doesn't affect the universe that I didn't.

My furniture isn't as dusty, my tables and countertops aren't quite as cluttered, my laundry isn't any more done than it would have been if I'd been working this week, and I barely touched the horror that is the downstairs family room.

Oh well, I never go down there anyway. That's where our only cable-connected tv is, and I never watch tv. Well, unless it's three a.m. and there's absolutely nothing else to do; I do go down there occasionally and surf through the channels. But that doesn't count.

But if I'm going to have company this summer, I'd best get down there and do some serious clearing out. I've got time, though. Between this semester's end and the summer session's start, I'll have another free week! Don't worry, when you get here, I'll be ready.

This evening, I'll be working in the guest room, formerly Belle's room, and when I'm finished, it will be ready for company. Well, all except the big closet in there, which is where I've been storing all the Christmas things. I'll move them later.

If you get here before I get that done, you'll have to drape your clothes over the chairbacks. Sorry. That closet is next on my list, though.

I have a large house. It has many closets. Most of those closets are full of my kids' things, because their apartments don't have much storage space.

Surprisingly, with all their stuff in MY closets, I don't have much storage space, either. That's one reason my countertops are so cluttered.

It's a puzzlement.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:38 PM | |

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Pogue ma'Hone

St. Patrick, driving the snakes out of Ireland. This is a Tim Nyberg delight.

I swiped this from the current issue of The Wittenburg Door, which is a really funny online magazine of religious parody and satire. Don't get all huffy and offended though; the Wittenburg Door is a genuinely religious magazine; they satirize the church because they love it, and it would just be wrong not to make fun of the idiots out there. Not all Christians are Pat Robertson or Jan Crouch. In fact, only two of them are. (The rest of us are really grateful for that statistic.) My favorite segment of the Door is the roundup of hilariously bad and merely hilarious "religious" videos. Those of you who watch late-night TV probably already know about "Godstuff." These videos are not faked. They're the real thing. That's why they're so funny. (And also why they're so sad. Sigh.)

You don't have to be a Christian to love the Wittenburg Door, and if you are, you have to be an intelligent one. The online subscription is free. It's satire, parody, and vicious opinion, and it's hilarious. Go now, or the devil won't put all his money in my personal bank account, and you won't get to see a video of a so-called 'evangelist' who is knocking sick people over like tenpins, in a frenzy of 'healing' that looks more like a gang war.

Check it out. If you love some good sarcastic wit, you'll love the Wittenburg Door. And no, I don't work for them. I just love them.

I also love making fun of Jan Crouch. But then, who doesn't? Not many women can out-Tammy Fae even Tammy Fae herself. Scheisse, she looks like a nickel hooker and sounds like Melanie Griffith on crack.

And I'm being kind.

P.S. Don't expect another "Landover Baptist." There can only be one of those. And it's divinely wonderful.

P.P.S. If you don't enjoy or understand vicious satire and parody, or if your religion is so shaky and uncertain that it can't stand up to some questions and humor, don't go to either site. You wouldn't like them. But then, if that's the case, why are you here?

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:40 PM | |

Ordinarily, I do not believe the death penalty is a good thing. However, there are exceptions to every rule.

Joseph Smith? The scum that tortured, raped, and brutally murdered an eleven-year-old girl?

He's asking the courts to let him go, so he can continue to be a positive example for his own daughters.

Joseph, I hate to burst your bubble, but. . . . . the only kind of example you will ever be to anyone is a BAD example. People will point to your name, for all eternity, and warn their children against you. Parents all over the planet will shudder at the mention of your name, and double-check their sleeping children to make sure nobody like YOU could possibly be near. You will be used as an example of sub-human scum and slime and filth forevermore. And why is that? Because that is what you are, sir. That is what you chose to be. That is what you chose to do with your life.

The innocent child you tortured unto death will haunt your family for the rest of their lives. You have destroyed the future of your own children. You did it of your own free will, when you destroyed the future of little Carlie Brucia.

She might have grown up to cure cancer, or taught someone else to do so. She might have helped colonize Mars, or pushed a toddler away from an oncoming car. She might have grown up to be a happy woman, loving life and contributing to the lives of others. She might have been the pivot upon which the fate of the world depended.

We'll never know, because you, in your selfish disgusting perverted power-hungry mission, chose, of your own free will, to torture and slash and crush and then snuff this little girl like a candle flame. I sincerely hope that you will never be able to erase from your soul the sound of her cries, and pleas, and desperation, and pain. All caused by you. What you did was no accident, you perverted freak. It was a choice you made. You did it. YOU DID IT.

And don't try to give me that pathetic "I was on drugs and drunk and I didn't know what I was doing, I don't even remember it, it wasn't my fault, etc" line. Anyone who would fall for that is just as moronic as you are. There are no excuses. There are no decent reasons.

Because, mister, it WAS your fault. Every. Single. Bit. Of. It.

Life is full of choices. You chose to be scum. Live with it. But not much longer, I hope.

(Patriside, who posted about this same topic today, goes a step further and wonders not only how it would feel if his child had been the victim, but also how it would feel if his child had been the murderer. The parents of criminals don't get a lot of press or attention, but their lives are surely horrible beyond description. We all want so badly for our children to be honest and good and kind and compassionate and successful, but it doesn't always happen that way. Death row is full of people who were once the joy and hope of a parent's heart. Judas's mother weeps forever.)

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:22 PM | |

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Rockin' in the Dining Room

How am I supposed to diet with all this peanut butter fudge calling my name?  Who made this stuff anyway?  Darn you.  DARN YOU.
Oh wait.  Heh.  I made it.
I made it, and I was going to eat one tiny piece and give all the rest to my friend Pam.  She loves fudge, and she's a tiny slender woman who can eat all she wants and never gain an ounce.  To make it even worse, she's gorgeous.  I try to hate her for that, but I can't; she's too darn nice.  It's just not fair. 
Yeah well.  There's some left, so I'll box it up now to prevent any other sneaky inroads on it.  You know how the neighbors are, always breaking into your house when you're not looking, and eating fudge, and making it look as though YOU did it. 
My husband never falls for that one either.  Hey.  It could happen!
Tonight Hub brought the HUGE speakers up from the family room and hooked them to my stereo in the dining room.  Two huge speakers, now, plus the old medium-sized speakers.  When you visit me now, there will be surround-sound.  Those life-size seventies speakers are awesome.  Of course, you can get the same effect now from a four-inch Bose, but the ambience just isn't the same.  Besides, you can't put a whole lot of framed snapshots on top of a Bose.  There's just no room.
These speakers of ours, now, have a top surface that's the size of an end table; lots of pictures there!
Besides, the one that sits on the floor makes all the dishes in the hutch vibrate, and it's just. . . . . really cool.
Two days left of my Spring Break.  How much cleaning have I done?  A little.  Yes.  Definitely.  Some things appear cleaner.
Those speakers, for example, are polished within an inch of their lives. 
And I don't think anybody is ever too old to rock, unless they never rocked in the first place.  Even then, there's hope, if the attitude is there.
And honeys, I gots the attitude.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:16 PM | |

A Tooty Ta

You know who really annoys me?  Dr. Jean.  I'm not putting the link on here.
That stuff is NOT music. 
Did I say "annoys" up there?  I think what I meant to say was, "offends."
There is so much great music out there for our small children.  Why are parents and schools subjecting tiny children to nasality and poor musicianship?
I've heard this stuff, and it's horrible.  Blah.
Even if she hired a real musician to sing it, instead of droning it herself, it would still be poor music.  Besides, a real musician wouldn't touch it.
This is, of course, just my opinion.  Many people think Dr. Jean is the shizznit.  Some lower elementary teachers might as well put up a shrine. She's pulling in the big bucks.  Well, good for her.  I'm always glad when someone is successful.  She'll not get any of my money, but I doubt she'll miss it.  She's getting plenty from other sources.
But me?  I believe our children, even the tiny ones, have a right to be exposed to real music.  The good stuff.  We can put cute words and mini-lessons to music, sure; but can't we select better music to put this stuff to?  And use better language skills when we do it?
And stop it with the condescending stuff?
I loved it when my children were tiny, and we sang and did finger and hand plays to the music, and giggled over nonsensical lyrics.  But before I would have used Dr. Jean with my kids, I would have taught them to sing 'The Real Slim Shady" for Mamaw.   I'm not kidding.
I did teach them to recite Monty Python's 'Dead Parrot Sketch' when they were tiny.  There's just nothing cuter than a three-year-old girl in a princess dress and clear jelly shoes that look like glass slippers, saying "beautiful plumage" in a British accent.
But Dr. Jean?  Absolutely no way.  I can not recommend it. 
If you like it, and have it for your kids, that's lovely.  Tons of people like her stuff.  She's making a killing in the Kindergarten market.  It won't hurt your kids.  Life is full of choices.  This is mine. 
"No way."
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:43 PM | |

Teacher's Pets

I have former students who are doctors, lawyers, teachers, parents, merchants, clerks, salesmen, mechanics, plumbers, you name it. . . . .

I'm proud of them all. I love seeing them out in the community, taking pride in their work, loving their children, and making a valuable contribution to the planet.

All teachers feel this way. We like to see that what we've done and said and tried, years back, has maybe somehow helped someone to become what they were meant to be: happy loving people who are fully able to make their own way, pay their own way, use their leisure time to enhance themselves culturally, and raise a family (or not) who will grow up to make and pay their own way, too. I love to see former students making a good living, using their brains and their skills and maintaining a good work ethic. I LOVE it when a former student sees me in public and comes over to talk. Heck, I love it when they just remember who I am. ("She looks familiar; was she that fat in 8th grade? Jeepers. She put me in detention four times. Let's go say 'hi.'")

Tomorrow, I'm having supper with one of my dearest teacher-friends, and two former students who are very dear to my heart. Both seniors in high school, both fine, upstanding, intelligent, hard-working young men whose lives and careers I will be following all their lives.

One of them has applied to be in the Cirque du Soleil. I am overwhelmed with the coolness of it. And if he doesn't make it, then the Cirque ain't what it's cracked up to be.

Both young men have already been awarded several scholarships, from businesses and agencies that certainly knew what they were doing. Congratulations on selecting the perfect recipients, by the way. Good job, you. I never want to lose touch with these two. They are so incredibly special to me.

I seldom had a student I disliked, really. And teachers are not supposed to have favorites, of course. But sometimes, there would be a student who nestled right smack inside my heart, and I never wanted to lose track of him/her. Tomorrow's two are seniors. I also have two who are freshman. The main one, of course, has been grown up for a long time and lives in Massachusetts, where he teaches music at a college; he long ago made the transfer from student to friend.

See you tomorrow, Pam and Josh and Dustin. I'm really looking forward to it. And Wes: You have a good time at your bachelor party tonight. Wow. Time really does fly.

Oh, and Pam? I've got some more stuff to tell you. Yeah, you know what it's about, too. Are you hyperventilating? Stop that.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:16 PM | |

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


. . . have I mentioned before, how much I love the three good doctors?  I hope you all read this blog every single day, because it will make you smarter every time you go there.  And holy cow, they've mentioned my name again!  Go here, and see how opinionated I am.
What, you already knew?  Well, so much for my ladylike reserve.
I'm serious.  These guys are brilliant.  I'm pretty sure I adore them.  You will, too. 
BRILLIANT, I'm telling you.  Brilliance, and wit, and snark, and cool. 
Plus, they have excellent taste in women.  (no hints, no clues, and you didn't hear it from me.)  (no, it's NOT me. sheesh, didn't you see up there where I said they were smart?)
Intelligence rubs off, if we let it.  Hang out with smart people, and you get smarter, too.  The three good doctors will enrich your life.  Git on over there and rub up against them.  Do it daily, and before you know it, you'll be filling out the New York Times crossword puzzle with a pen.
Yes, they're that cool.
And they're nice, too.  It's an irresistable combination.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:20 PM | |

Monday, March 13, 2006

Judgemental again, whoopsie.

I'm wondering if maybe I should start shopping at Kroger's, because every time I go to Marsh, I run into the strangest people.

Wait. Kroger's?

Never mind. I'll stick with Marsh, even with last week's little boys racing up and down the aisles, and today's little boys bowling with heads of cauliflower.

And say, Mumsy, your sweet little sons sure had an extensive vocabulary of dirty words. Maybe you should sit down with them and teach them to use them properly; grammar is important, even if it's just to determine which obscenities are nouns and which ones are verbs, and when it's appropriate to use "shittin'" as an adjective. You know, as in, if I may quote your innocent little child, "Hey bro, this shittin' head's a-rollin' and it's goin' fer yer dick!" Oh, it was darling. Too bad the mean old kindergarten teacher will probably try to nip all that cute creativity once your kids start school. Well, you can always make yourself a constant presence to be reckoned with at their school. And I bet you do, too.

What, you don't understand that sentence? That's okay, dear. Just go home, unload your beer, licorice, chocolate milk, Red Man, Pepsi, and frozen chicken nuggets, and you and the boys settle in to watch Jerry Springer to see if that episode featuring your sister is on today. The TV guide is somewhere but it's too hard to read, anyway. And since I couldn't help overhearing some of your extremely loud conversation, I know your plans for tonight, too.

So don't doze off. Your church's Harry Potter Protest is tonight, and you don't want to miss that. Imagine, the schools trying to get kids to read anything you don't personally understand that awful stuff. After all, your neighbor's mother-in-law's hairdresser's minister's wife's grocery boy heard from the deli lady's brother that there was BAD STUFF in those books. You don't have to read anything yourself to know what's bad.

You'll only be gone an hour or so. The boys will be fine till you get back; your cable will keep them interested and occupied, and will no doubt give them even more vocabulary words with which to impress the people who are trying to dodge the rolling cauliflower heads in the grocery store aisles. They're four and five years old, after all. Not babies any more, sniff sniff.

If I knew where you lived, I'd call the cops on you. The grammar police alone would lock you up for life.

Also, you're a lousy parent and a terrible influence on your children.

And your kids are smelly, dirty, foul-mouthed, obnoxious little brats, but hey, consider the source. You.

But it's still better than Kroger's.

P.S. Where did you get your tattoo? Three words, and two of them misspelled. I hope you didn't pay full price. "Heavon Down Yondir" over the buttcrack of a 250-pound woman ain't a purty sight. You don't have a muffin-top; you've got a mushroom cloud. Cover that up, thankyouverymuch.

P.P.S. If you're going to show your buttcrack in public, buy a razor.

P.P.P.S. Use it on your upper lip, too.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:23 PM | |

Spring Break, Pt. 3

My original plans for the first official day of Spring Break:  Stay up late.  Sleep in.  Put on disgusting jeans and old ratty t-shirt.  Remove clutter from kitchen counters.  Change all the sheets.  Vaccuum.  Begin de-cluttering family room.  In between, read and watch movies. 
But. . . .
Here are my actual plans for the first official day of Spring Break:  Get up early.  Dress respectably.  Take son with broken ankle to doctor, then to hospital for x-rays, and decide whether to bring him back here or take him to his apartment, which is on the third floor and has no elevator.  And while he is here, stand around tapping foot impatiently because he's been USING MY COMPUTER ALL DAY.
I did get the sheets changed.  I did it while I was waiting for my turn to use my own computer. 
I do not own a t-shirt that says "plays well with others." 
I suppose I could have begun my Day One plans a day early, on Sunday, but that would have disoriented me even more. 
I have a bad feeling that this house will be just as crusty and cluttered at the end of my break as it is at the beginning.  It won't be my fault, though.  I can't help it if my plans were thwarted by a muddy hill and a loud popping sound. 
Besides, a mommy's little boy is never too old to need his mommy.  Even little boys who are seven feet tall and living on their own.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 2:54 AM | |

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Kiddie Lit: Leave It Alone

Dear Editors and Publishers and Screenwriters Who Are Revising and Updating and Therefore Ruining Young People's Literature:
Stop it.  Immediately.  Cease and desist.
What's the matter with you?  Just because you don't have the ability to view something in the context of the times, don't assume our kids don't know how.
I want Nancy Drew to be wearing her hair in a pompadour and driving a roadster.  I don't want to read about Nancy and Ned discussing safe sex and worrying about global warming.  I want Nancy to chase crooks named Frank Semitt and I want her to solve mysteries for people named Sadie, not Misty. 
I want Margaret to learn about sanitary napkins with long tails, and I want her to learn how to fasten them to the belt.  I do not want to read about Margaret removing the waxed paper to reveal the sticky strip underneath, and fastening it to her panties.
I want Dinah to live with her husband Sam above the Bobbsey's garage, and I want her to talk like servants talked back then. 
I swear, if you people tamper with Ramona, I'm coming after you with a book of matches and a jar of gasoline.  And you'd better not ruin the Happy Hollisters, either.
Ramona's mom went to work because her husband had lost his job and the family desperately needed an income.  She did not go back to work because she felt unfulfilled as a stay-at-home mom.  Don't you dare change it.
I'm serious.  What's wrong with you?  Do you really think our kids are too stupid to understand that things were different back in the day?  Part of the coolness of reading older books is learning how things 'were' a long time ago.  What kind of moron would advocate CHANGING a book that is already just the way the author wanted it to be, and just right in the context of the times..
And authors:  if you are giving the go-ahead for this travesty, shame on you. 
When a person of any age reads a book, that reader is not only enjoying a good story.  That reader is also learning about the customs of the times, the customs of the place, the customs of various kinds of people, against the background of cultural mores, values, and history.  Yes, some of it is different.  Some of it is upsetting.  Some of it is (gasp) politically incorrect.  But changing a book to suit the times will not change anything except the coolness of the book. 
Please.  Stop modernizing our children's literature.  Keep it just the way it is.  If YOU don't like it, tough scheisse.  Let our kids read these books as they were originally meant to be read.  "Little Women" took place during the Civil War.  Don't change it.  "A Little Princess" takes place in England, and her father was an English soldier in India.  Which idiot moved it to New York?  I refuse to even watch that version.  Mary and Colin are first cousins.  They are not going to get married.  Who wrote that in there?  You're an idiot.
Please, editors, keep your hands off our wonderful children's literature.  Let our kids read these books exactly as they were first written.  Let them learn how things were back in the olden days. 
And if Beany's dad was sent to Hawaii to report WW2, don't change it and say he was sent to Hawaii for the paper.  Cowards.  Keep to the context of the times.  Our kids will benefit by it.  They're smarter than you might think, so stop treating them as though they were stupid and needed everything to be modern.  That's YOU, not them.
And while I've got your attention, stop dumbing down these great books.  I absolutely loathe and despise condensations and "junior" versions.  How condescending.  Just because most major magazines are written at a fifth grade reading level, doesn't mean our kids should be subjected to the same dumbing down of great kiddie lit.  Dumb it down for adults if you must, but leave the kids alone. 
Hasn't the success of the Harry Potter books taught you anything?  When a book is good, kids will read it.  And they will LOVE the extensive vocabulary and learning all about another culture.  Are you planning to dumb down and Americanize those, eventually?  Nobody will buy them except stupid adults. No self-respecting kid would touch an edited version. 
I know it won't do any good to protest, because you've got this bee in your bonnet that all kids' books must be modern, but give it a thought?  Please?  Because you're destroying something really, really precious.
P.S.  I hate you.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:27 AM | |

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Lunch with a BlogFriend!

In about an hour, I'll be heading up to the city to have lunch with. . . . Buffi!   Now, don't you all wish you were me?
And how lovely to actually meet another blogfriend!
We're meeting at the Steak and Shake on the west side of town.  Would anyone care to join us?
It's pouring down rain and the thunder is crashing, but it's going to be a wonderful day.  The sun always shines when you have lunch with a friend.
Hey, I've had lunch with friends in rainstorms so bad, we had to sit out in the parking lot for a half hour before we could see well enough to leave.  Which meant, of course, another half hour of pleasant conversation before we had to go our separate ways.  I remember that as a very pleasant day.  When we are with friends, it's always good weather.
This day is pleasant, too.  Pleasant in the anticipation, and pleasanter still in the meeting.
(That really should be "more pleasant," but I like the sound of "pleasanter" better.  Also, it should have been "don't you all wish you were I,"  but I'm on Spring Break now so who cares?)  And it's my blog, so there.)
See you in a few, Buffi
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 1:02 PM | |

Friday, March 10, 2006

Spring Break, Pt. 3

<-----All OVER the lawn.

Haha, did I say "lawn?" Do you see any grass there? Me either.

Erma was wrong. The grass ISN'T always greener over the septic tank. We had ours drained last summer, and even though I planted grass seed, nothing's come up. Well, except the crocuses. We've got a huge segment of front lawn that's absolutely bare. And in places, the sinkhole that is under most of the land in southern Indiana, is rearing its sunken little head.

Crocuses are my favorite flower. So brave. So small, and perky, and pretty. So willing to risk everything just to bloom. (Jeepers, I feel as though I just wrote a Maidenform advertisement!)

The forecast for next week is snow. It won't matter to the crocuses. They'll peek out of the snow, too.

All over the lawn yard. Purple, white, and gold. Oh, and a few stripedy ones.

Stripedy. Did you have a question about something?

Soon the daffodils will bloom, and the tulips. In Indiana, they bloom out of the snow sometimes, too. When they do, they come back even prettier and stronger the next spring. Having to work hard, just to bloom, is good for them.

This works for people, too.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:09 PM | |

Spring Break, Pt. 2

Day One of Sleeping In:  Doorbell rings at 7:10.  
I lie there waiting for whoever it is to go away.  Doorbell rings again.
I don't hear frantic cries for help, so I ignore it.
One more time:  DING-dong.
I continue to lie there, violently hating whoever it is.
"Sound of truck leaving my driveway."
I get up.  Day One of Sleeping In is ruined.
Who was at my door at that hour?  I don't know.  If I knew, I'd be sticking pins in a voodoo doll.
Besides, if I answered the door, in this ratty nightgown and with my Einsteinian bed-hair, I'd frighten somebody into a heart attack.  And if they didn't conveniently drop dead, I'd probably kill them myself.
If my doorbell is going to ring at that hour of the morning, it had better be a dire emergency, a long-lost friend, one of YOU, or Ed McMahon with a really big check.  I'd be nice to any of those.  Sincerely nice, not just the typical pre-murder graciousness of a psychotic mind.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 11:11 AM | |

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Music, Aliens, More Music, and Hogwarts.

Random playlist of music that came up while I was burning my MixMania cd's:
1.  Barenaked Ladies:  Be My Yoko Ono
2.  Leonard Cohen & Elton John:  Born To Lose
3.  Refreshments:  Sucker Punch
4.  Off Kilter:  The Rovin' Dies Hard
5.  Muse:  Ruled By Secrecy
6.  Paul Williams:  Phantom's Theme (Beauty and the Beast)
7.  David Essex:  A Winter's Tale
8.  Elliott Smith:  True Love
9.  Jump Little Children:  Angel Dust
10.  Pete Seeger:  Barbara Allen
11.  Roxette:  Listen To Your Heart
12.  Tommy Tutone:  867-5309
13.  Paul Mauriat:  Love Is Blue
14.  Viva Voce:  He Touches Stars
15.  Yvonne Elliman:  I Don't Know How To Love Him
16.  Pantera:  Proud To Be Loud
17.  Moxy Fruvous:  Every Grain of Sand
18.  Maria Friedman & Michael Ball:  I Wish I Could Forget You
19.  Ravel's "Pavane for a Dead Princess"
20.  Strauss's "Radetzky March"
And as I type:  The Chieftains:  T'Saimse "Im Chodladh.
(This is NOT my MixMania playlist; it's what I listened to whilst mixing it.)
MixMania participants, be sure to get your cd's mailed before March 17th, and to post your playlists on your blogs on April 1st.  But of course you all already KNEW that because you read Patriside's blog faithfully.  I wouldn't miss a day, that's for sure.  You'll find all the rules for MixMania on his blog, as well as some mighty fine writing.  Remember, too, that you're supposed to use HIS return address, not your own.  If you have any questions, you may ask me, but if you want a really good answer, you should ask him. 
As of 5:01 this afternoon, I'm officially on Spring Break.  I also got my latest Harry Potter movie in the mail today; Amazon rocks.  So guess what I'll be watching tonight! 
I found the DVD "Cocoon" in a bargain bin for three dollars the other day.  As I was reading the back of the case, I realized that I've never seen this entire movie, and I wanted to.  So I bought it and brought it home and put it in my kitchen player and I've been watching it in fits and starts for three days.  It's hard for me to sit down and watch a movie straight through.  This drives my daughter crazy, but it's just the way I do movies.  In and out of the kitchen, up and down from the chair, doing this and that while I watch, and sometimes turning the thing OFF and coming in here to blog for awhile. 
I finished it.  It rocked.  And the daughter who called the cops was played by Raquel Welch's real-life daughter. 
I do that all the time.  Find quirky trivia in movies, that is.    Ron Howard directed this movie, and his brother Clint and father Rance were both in it.  Cool.  I love to find funky nepotism in films.
Heck, if I were in charge of a movie, or anything else for that matter, I'd hire all my relatives and most of my friends, and make sure they got a cut, too.  Nepotism would be my middle name.  Besides, what's wrong with it, unless the relative was a nimrod and couldn't do the job properly?  I see nothing wrong in hiring relatives first, and I see nothing wrong in firing them post-haste if they prove unworthy.
Now, to get these cd's labelled and packaged and addressed.  I do love Jim's MixMania!
I think everyone should sign up for it, next time.  Yes, everyone in the whole world.  Wouldn't THAT be cool?  And please, if you DO sign up, don't then back out or, worse, don't just slack off and leave someone who mixed and burned and mailed without a cd in return.  That, my friends, is just reprehensible, and nice people would not do it.
Sign up, mix, burn, mail, get one in return.  See how easy it is?  And it's fun, too.  Free music, dudes. 
And now.  Harry Potter. 
I swear, I'm more addicted than any twelve-year-old on the planet. 
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:27 PM | |

Spring Break?

Let's talk about Spring Break.

I do not give assignments over Spring Break. To my way of thinking (which is, I admit, more than just a little bit outside the box, euphemistically speaking) a student with a lot of homework due the first day back from a break, isn't really getting a break. That student is merely getting a few days of excused absences.

Isn't the express purpose of a break, to give students a (gasp) BREAK? Isn't a break supposed to be personal time, or family time? Shouldn't a break be free of the scheduled obligations that the student is supposed to be getting a break FROM?

My students were grateful for my announcement, and they were very expressive in telling me so. They've got mountains of math and accounting due after the break. Some of them have to give a big speech their first day back from break. They've got massively large biology projects, assigned this week to be done over break and presented the first week back.

My question, I suppose, is WHY?

Why call it a break, and then load the students with work that will consume most of it?

I believe that students deserve to have some free time during Spring Break. My older students deserve to have some time to spend with their children and spouses during Spring Break. My students should be able to take a trip, visit friends, have guests, play with their kids, eat in a restaurant with their partner, get in some extra hours at work, etc, without worrying about the swinging pendulum of big assignments hanging over their head. They are on a break; they should GET a break.

I do not think I am unreasonable to think this way, either.

If our students are to be given a week that is labelled "Spring BREAK," then that week should be a genuine break.

Back in my student days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, there were instructors who loaded us down with projects and work over a supposed break. We had names for them.

I think students today use those same names. I think those names are deserved.

I load my students with work during the work weeks. When it's break week, I give them a break.

I would be very interested in what other people think about this issue.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:47 PM | |


At eleven thirty, I'm meeting my cousin/friend C for lunch.  I plan to order the salmon.  I plan to have a great time.  She's 'family,' but she's more like a friend.  All our lives we've had fun whenever we're together.  Our mothers are sisters, but C and I are more like sisters than they are.
Immediately afterwards, I'm going back to class, where I'll be giving a three-hour MidTerm that's really hard.  I pity the fool who forgets to bring a dictionary.  It's the last big test of this week, and WHEW.  Next week is Spring Break for me, and already I can hear my pillow calling my name.  Yeah, I'm staying up all night and turning off the clock.  Well, MY clock.  Hub will still be getting up at six thirty, so HIS clock will still be blasting away with truly terrible local radio personalities at dawn.
I won't be smirking later in the month, though, when he'll have his spring break and it will be just my alarm clock jerking me awake in the pre-dawn hours of the morning, which are horrible and I hate them except when I've stayed up all night, watched the sunrise, and then hit the sack.  Have I mentioned that I'm definitely not a morning person? 
Neither are my kids.  Or my siblings, except for one bright perky morning sister.  All of us, except for Perky, love to stay up all night and sleep in the morning.  Perky loves to go to bed at eight thirty and get up before the sun does.  Freak.
I love her, and I'd do anything for her, but. . . . .please, not before the stores even open.  Oh, all right, I'm busted, I'd do anything for her even at that hour.
Stay up all night.  Stand out on the deck and watch the sun rise.  Put the phone off the hook.  Go to bed.
Now, see, THAT'S my idea of spring break.  Kids, see what happens when you start getting old?  Look out.  Beware.  If you find out now, maybe you can nip any such tendencies in the bud.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 10:39 AM | |

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Don't call me Shirley

Q: Who's been whiny and grouchy and no fun all week?

A: Me.

Q: Who needs to straighten up and fly right?

A: Me.

Q: Who needs to make sure she gets up on the RIGHT side of the bed in the morning?

A: Me.

Q: What do you put in a toaster?

A. Bread. If you said 'toast,' come sit right here by me cuz we're both disoriented tonight.

Q. Say 'silk' five times. Now spell 'silk.' What do cows drink?

A. Water. Duh.

Q. Who needs to go to bed before midnight tonight, but probably won't?

A. Me.

Q. Who's been lost in a reverie of poetry lately?

A. That would also be me.

Q. Why am I so grouchy lately?

A. I don't know. Surely it will pass.

Let's all hope.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:22 PM | |

Because I'm worth it.

Nothing, that's what. Bah.

I read somewhere that moronic wrinkly women have been suing companies such as L'oreal because their products didn't make them look like the models in the advertisements. Did these women really think that cleanser, toner, and lotion would turn them into Eva Longoria or Heather Locklear? Or Andi McDowell? Now really.

But oh, let's sue anyway, because this is America and they can. And the really sad part is, they'll probably win.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:45 PM | |

Noah! Waitttttttt!

I feel like a unicorn running as fast as it can across the meadow screaming "Noah!  WAITTTTTT," to no avail.  I don't think it's ever going to stop raining, and the boat is leaving without me.
Indiana's scattered showers.  This morning on the way to school, there were completely dry spots, then a mile or so of blinding rain, then another dry spot, etc, all the way up to the city.  And on the dry spots, I could see the torrential downpour just ahead, like a gray moving curtain.  It was freaky, even for Indiana.
We're heading into tornado season here, and I am deathly afraid of tornadoes.  In the public schools, the tornado drills will be starting soon.  There was something about hallways lined with kids, all in 'the position,' that always made me want to start kicking everything in sight.  It was a reflex; it wasn't my fault; I should been given government money to help me control it.  It's not my fault I'm lazy, either; show me the money.  I've got disabilities. 
When the Big Tornado went through here back in '92, it left such a trail of destruction that even today, you can see its path in places.  Mangled trees are the biggest clue; you can always tell by looking if a tornado did it.  We heard the tornado, that day, but our woods kept us from seeing it.  This county is known for its railroads; the tracks are everywhere, even through the middle of the downtown square, and any time, day or night, you can hear trains.  Now, whenever I hear the trains, I flash back to that day and all I can think of is "take cover."
Schoolkids tend to take the tornado drills very lightly, when they're young.  In 1993 I had a boy in class who didn't.  When the tornado hit the year before, he and his mother and sister were living in a trailer in a crowded trailer park, and the funnel hit them directly.  His mother was paralyzed, and lived out the rest of her brief life in a wheelchair.  After that, when the tornado whistle blew at school, he went white as a sheet and took it very seriously indeed.
That same tornado sucked a baby out of the arms of its father as the family ran for their lives across a cornfield. 
No.  Here in this county, most people take tornadoes very seriously.  We have to; nature isn't to be bargained with, or even competed with.  Nature will always win.
Nature has no compassion; nature doesn't care if it blows a stick or a child across a field.  Nature would just as soon freeze a person to death as a sunflower.  Nature doesn't know, or care, if it floods a deserted riverbed or a heavily populated below-sea-level city.  I have a sneaky feeling that if Nature had a brain, nature might shake her head in wonder at anyone who would choose to live in a danger zone, but that's probably a very unpopular opinion and I should shut up now.
Besides, right here in southern Indiana, I have chosen to live right smack on the New Madrid Fault, and any day now the earthquake of the century could hit here.  Do I believe it could happen?  Yes.  Am I in a hurry to get out of here?  Well, yes, but not because of the earthquake.
So yeah, rain rain go away, etc, etc.  Please don't wash away too much of my driveway; I'm hoping to have company soon.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 4:25 PM | |

Another email from another twit.

I got an email from a student last night.
"I wuddn't feeling all that great this week so my mom say I could stay home.  Did we do anything in class?"
(This question always absolutely infuriates me.  Did we do anything in class.  Gahhhhhhh.) 
Well, let me think here, honey.  What did we do in class this week. . . . . oh yes.  MIDTERMS.
Hers will be easy to grade.  I won't even need to take off my shoes to figure her percentage.
Don't you ever look at your syllabus, you stupid twit?
Ahem.  I mean, "You really should be more concerned with your academic progress."
Yeah, whatever.  Stupid twit.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 7:49 AM | |

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What big eyes you have! (and don't anyone DARE say "grandma.")

Everything on my computer has a huge font. My blog, your blogs, everything. I didn't change any settings. Even my email has a huge font. I went into my email options and sure enough, it was somehow set to "larger." I changed it back. It's still "larger" but I'm hoping it will settle down and be a good boy before the night is over.

But the blogs? How do I fix THAT?

And by the way, everybody's blogs look really freaky with those humongous fonts.

Tris? Help?

P.S. Just once, couldn't somebody else have a freaked-out computer? Please? Just to take the pressure off me for a little while?

In fact, the font on Qumana is really big on my monitor.

I need caffeine.

Update: "never mind." sigh. I am such a nimrod. I turned my computer off and on again, and things are fine now. Too bad everything isn't as easily fixed.

Ahem. I mean, "It's fine now; I fixed it myself."


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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:48 PM | |

Monday, March 06, 2006

Not judgemental much.

It's Monday, so after class I stopped at Marsh to pick up a few groceries.  The sales were wonderful; I do love me a triple-coupon/buy one, get one free day.
The store was nearly deserted at one in the afternoon, the shelves were newly-stocked for this big sale, there were five cashiers on duty, the lines were short, and I got through the store in twenty minutes.  It was pretty much just a bunch of senior citizens, and me.  And a woman with her two little boys.
But before I sign off, I would just like to say a word to the mother of the two little boys who were running up and down the aisles and screaming like banshees:
Did she not see those old people who were nearly knocked down?  Did she not see that people were staring, and glaring, and even frightened, and having to steer their carts carefully lest they hit or get hit by a careening out-of-control little boy?  Did she not hear all the noise rolling cans and falling boxes make, when they're bumped and dislodged?  Could she not hear the screeching laughter?  If my kids had even dreamed in the night about behaving like that, I would have set them straight so fast their little heads would still be spinning into next Thursday.
What in the world was WRONG with this woman?  Is it really possible for someone to be that selfish and stupid and nonchalant about the less-than-negative impression she and her rotten little sons were making there in the grocery store today? 
She's probably the kind who would sue the store if one of her little demons got hurt, too. 
Ahem.  More to the point, I saved nearly thirty dollars at the grocery store today.  And as for that woman who allowed her two brats to wreak havoc in a public place. . . . well, to quote Auntie Em. . . .
Yeah, well, I can't say it either.  Sigh.  But I was thinking it.
I hope she homeschools them, because I'm betting that she wouldn't allow the mean teacher to injure their delicate self-esteem by insisting on proper behavior.
Spawn of Satan, and her sons.  Today, at Marsh, in aisles 1 through 24, and at the speed of light.  Watch your footing, and come again.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 5:08 PM | |

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Nobody expects the Inquisition.

I will be giving MidTerm Exams in every class this week.  I capitalize these words, because to my students, these exams are a living entity with the power to make or break a social life, an unemployment check, job status, and in some cases, a marriage.  Living entities have names, and names are capitalized.  You know, like "Beelzebub" or "Torquemada."
On the bright side, all I have to do is walk into each class, pile of tests and pile of Scan-Tron forms in hand, distribute, and watch.  On the down side, I find this boring and would much rather be actively teaching something.  On the bright side, maybe I can get caught up with some of those essays that are really piling up on me.  On the down side, maybe I can get caught up with some of those essays that are really piling up on me.  Scoring essays is depressing.  But on the bright side, occasionally there will be an essay that is creative and grammatically correct and has no horrible spelling errors that leap into my face, an essay that is original and makes me smile and think things like, "Maybe somebody IS paying attention!" and "Everybody has a story to tell, and this one is awesome!"  And on the down side, sometimes students just copy/paste something from the internet, print it off, sign their names, and swear to me that the likeness is a coincidence, an amazing happenstance of physics.
And sometimes, I am just tired, and tend to find fault with everything.  I mean, I'm facing a full week of nothing to do but sit there and make sure nobody copies, and I'm whining about it.  I need to stop doing that.
I don't even have to grade it.  The test is scored by a ScanTron machine.  The machine doesn't recognize ink.  I wonder how many students will remember to bring #2 pencils?
See there, I did it again. 
If I concentrate hard enough I can hear Gomer Pyle singing "The Impossible Dream."  I've got to stop concentrating.
Tomorrow, I try to cut down a tree with a herring.  Wish me luck.
NI!  Ni, ni, ni, ni, ni! 
Ahh.  Now I can't hear him.  Shazayum.
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:25 PM | |

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Stuff in the bottom of my purse. . . . .

The intense nostalgia will hitya when you least expect it, and usually the simplest thing will trigger it. . . .
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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:28 PM | |

Come on down. Bring lots of money.

The little town of French Lick, just to the south of us, was recently purchased by the mob a major casino, and is in the process of being razed to the ground rennovated to befit the taste of the rich and the hoping-to-become-rich. French Lick has an incredibly interesting history, and I sincerely hope that these new owners, in wiping the old ways off the face of the earth and replacing them with their version of new ways, see fit to remember the past, at least a little bit. Sometimes it's hard to hear the whispers of those who went before us, when the clatter and jingle of cold hard cash becomes not only an obsession and a goal, but a way of life.

Most of the residents of French Lick can not afford to pay their taxes, newly raised to the zenith to help finance the new persona, and the majority of private homes are for sale now. Soon the only people living there will be new people, richer people, people who can afford the nouveau riche lifestyles that are now encouraged there.

This is not exactly a new concept to this small town. Back in the day, French Lick was where it was at, baby. Casinos. Gambling. Renewed health. French Lick had all that and more.

Famous people used to flock to French Lick. They were lured by the Pluto Water, smelly sulphur springs bubbling up out of the ground that promised renewed health. FDR used to come to French Lick. Dillinger was a regular. Famous people of all kinds came to French Lick, on their private railroad cars and in their limousines, and before that, in their fancy carriages.

Joe Louis used to fight, for big crowds and big money, at French Lick. Of course, he couldn't STAY in the big hotel; he had to sleep in the servants' quarters a mile down the road. But he sure drew a big crowd when he was escorted into the Hotel for his big matches. Such were the times. Think of Marian Anderson and the DAR. Sigh. Shameful.

My husband's step-grandmother, the fantastic Margaret Crowder, worked in the big Hotel when she was a young woman. She hob-nobbed with presidents, and celebrities, and notorious characters. She's in the process of writing a book about it, and it should be fabulous. Dillinger once tried to carjack her. Suave actors hit on her.

As I write, my husband has taken his mother down to French Lick for a last look-around before most of the homes are demolished. My sweet MIL grew up in French Lick, and it's very precious to her. It's going to be a sad and nostalgic glimpse, and possibly the last one. Already the bulldozers are manned and revved up, ready to start removing the landscapes and ways of life from this little section of the planet, and replacing them with the glitter and flash of casinos and neon lights.

I like casinos. But I also like nostalgia. Can the two co-exist? Sometimes.

But not in French Lick, Indiana.

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Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:46 PM | |


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